SACRAMENTO — The National Basketball Association (NBA) abruptly suspended the rest of the season Wednesday after a player tested positive for Coronavirus, and thousands of fans were forced to exit Golden 1 Center as the league cancelled the Sacramento Kings matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Ushers at Golden 1 Center escort fans out of the facility after the NBA canceled the game between the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

Earlier in the evening, the NBA announced that Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the Coronavirus. The Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder cancelled their  game in Oklahoma just before tipoff, a couple of hours before the Kings were to play their first nationally televised game of the season on ESPN. 

The game at G1C was cancelled when it was revealed that one of the referees officiating the game between the Kings and the Pelicans had worked the game in Utah between the Jazz and Toronto Raptors on Monday, March 9. 

The Kings-Pelicans game, one with playoff implications, was cancelled “out of an abundance of caution,” the NBA issued in a statement. The fans at G1C expressed disappointment by booing, but understood the severity of the situation. 

J.D. Delgado and his friend Reggie Warren drove three hours from Ukiah to see the game.

“All I know is that this is serious. It’s definitely serious because they found out at the last minute and wouldn’t let anyone else in the building,” Degaldo said. “So if it’s a last-minute thing they are not going to risk it.” 

Golden 1 Center had not suffered a canceled NBA game in almost two years since protesters shut down the facility after two Sacramento police officers killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark in the backyard of his grandparents’ South Sacramento home. 

The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is reportedly responsible for more than 1,100 cases and more than 35 deaths in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, stated. 

The outbreak, a respiratory illness, first began in Wuchan, China, and cases have been increasingly growing in other international locations. 

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

OBSERVER photo by Antonio R. Harvey