In his first public comments since testing positive for COVID-19, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert apologized on Instagram for his “careless” actions that exposed others to the disease, saying he hopes that his “story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously.”
Gobert tested positive for coronavirus in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, causing the postponement of the Jazz’s game against the Thunder seconds before the scheduled tip-off and the suspension of the NBA season soon thereafter. Teammate and locker room neighbor Donovan Mitchell also later tested positive, the only other member of the Jazz’s traveling party to do so.
Gobert, an All-Star center and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, described his emotions since he became aware of his diagnosis as being “mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment.”
On Monday, Gobert jokingly mocked the NBA’s temporary rules requiring media members to keep a 6- to 8-foot distance from players. Gobert, a Magic Johnson Award nominee last season due to his cooperation with the media, made a point to touch all the microphones and recording devices on the table in front of him after finishing his post-shootaround availability, which was set up in an interview room at the team’s practice facility instead of the normal court-side area.
Gobert had a similar cavalier attitude in the locker room, Jazz players privately said, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As with other NBA players, Gobert exchanged high-fives with teammates as usual in recent games despite the coronavirus crisis escalating into a pandemic.
Gobert began feeling symptoms on Tuesday and was upgraded to questionable after he began feeling better on Wednesday. He did not go to Chesapeake Energy Arena for the Jazz’s shootaround or pregame, but Gobert hoped to play if the COVID-19 test was negative.
The Jazz, without identifying Gobert, said in a statement that a player “tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of [Wednesday], however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19.”
Utah also said that it “immediately informed the league office” when it was determined the player needed to be tested.
No players from the teams that the Jazz played over the previous two weeks — the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors — have reported coronavirus symptoms. Several of the those teams announced plans for the players to self-quarantine. The Raptors, the Jazz’s latest opponent on Monday, announced that their traveling party had been tested for COVID-19.
“We await those results,” the Raptors’ statement read, in part. “Our players, coaches and traveling staff have all been advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days, which means minimizing contact in accordance with public health guidelines. Our team doctors remain in communication with infection control specialists and public health authorities, and we will continue to abide by their advice.”
Information from ESPN’s Royce Young was used in this report.