The NBA had just four weeks left in the 2019-20 regular season when it suddenly was suspended after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
News of the indefinite suspension caught some by surprise, including Enes Kanter.
The Boston Celtics big man was with the team in Milwaukee on March 11 when the news first broke. And at first, he didn’t quite believe it.
“I was watching this game on TV — I think it was Dallas (Mavericks) against Denver (Nuggets) — and at the same time I’m, of course, looking at the news and what’s going on and stuff,” Kanter told NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg on the latest edition of “The Enes Kanter Show.” “And then, the news just broke out, they said, ‘The NBA just got suspended.’ And I’m like, ‘What?!”
“As soon as I hear that, I went up to my trainer’s room (in the hotel). I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on? What are we going to do?’ And he said, ‘… We don’t know how long it’s going to be. Let’s just see what’s going to happen.’
“So me and my trainers are playing pool, right?,” Kanter added. “And then I saw the Bucks’ head coach (Mike Budenholzer) in the lobby, and I’m like, ‘OK, something’s going on.’ And then, obviously, our game got canceled.”
Kanter realized the gravity of the situation when former Thunder teammate Steven Adams texted him and told him Oklahoma City’s game against the Jazz had been canceled because of Gobert’s positive test results. And while he felt bad for his friend at the moment, Kanter quickly became concerned for him and his team.
“I thought to myself, ‘We played against those guys 10 days before,'” Kanter said. “Then I’m like, ‘OK that game, did I guard him? It doesn’t matter if I guarded him or not, are we touching the same basketball? So, it was a lot of questions going through your mind and stuff. But even if you don’t have it, you worry about if your teammates got it or not.”
The team returned to Boston the next day, and players have remained in self-quarantine since. Marcus Smart is the only member of the organization to test positive for the coronavirus, with all other tests reportedly coming back negative.