The first points of the NBA’s Disney World reboot came from the man whose positive COVID-19 test originally shut it all down.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had the first touch, shot and score of the team’s first game back against the New Orleans Pelicans. After winning the tip-off, Gobert got the ball in the post and went to work, just like he had been four months ago.
Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 all the way back in March, at a time when the NBA was still handling the spreading coronavirus through muted warnings and barring reporters from locker rooms. It was the first known coronavirus case among athletes in the professional sports world.
The NBA suspended its season mere minutes after word broke of Gobert’s diagnosis, leading to months of waiting and a new plan in Disney World that would have sounded fantastical when the year began.
Gobert caught an enormous amount of flak — including from his own team — for the carelessness he showed before the test, the most infamous moments coming when he jokingly touched reporters’ recorders following a news conference. Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the virus shortly after Gobert, leading to a fracture in their relationship that took months to heal.
Gobert apologized repeatedly following the test and urged people to not repeat his mistakes. He is still reportedly recovering his sense of smell, underscoring the long-term risks of even elite athletes contracting the virus. But he still made it back to the court with the Jazz, and him scoring their first points back feels full circle for the league.
New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, NBA, Zion Williamson
World news – CA – Rudy Gobert re-opens the season his COVID-19 test closed with first points in NBA bubble