Even “28 Hours Later” took longer.

In less than one day, the American sports world collectively quarantined itself without leaving so much as an ESPY Awards show to fill the time.

The NBA, MLS, MLB, NHL and NCAA have all bent the knee to the new acronym in town –– Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19.

To put it into cliches worthy of a framed poster in a coach’s office, “When in doubt, spread ‘em out.”

As in, the fans. Get it? Like that one?

How about, “If your sneeze hits my leather we’re too close together”?

Reaching? Yeah. Okay. Maybe not frame-worthy.

But think about this: Wednesday night, everything was still on. Games were being played and would be played, with fans or without fans.

What changed?

Clearly, you can leave this at the doorstep of one man.

So, to Utah Jazz center and American sports’ COVID-19 Patient Zero Rudy Gobert, I would like to offer the following heartfelt sentiment. Ahem.

“Thanks, dumbass.”

I mean it. Both words.

Last word first.

Sure, there’s gallows humor. There isn’t a journalist covering a crisis who hasn’t uttered or chuckled at a joke about it that would get their mother to slap them at a dinner table.

But Gobert poking the coronavirus bear while exhibiting symptoms, touching reporters’ microphones and clowning with his teammates like a snot-nosed three-year-old in a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit, has got to make you consider karmic truth.

Gobert is fit and expected to make a full recovery but, probably because of him, we have to say the same thing for Donovan Mitchell.


Rudy Gobert, reverse fairy godmother, sprinkles his magic and -- POOF! -- the ball disappears!

Not just the NBA's ball, either. NCAA Cinderellas are left crying in mid-major obscurity.

Baseballs. Soccer balls. Even college sports' softballs, tennis and golf balls.

The pucks. The pucks!

But I do also mean “Thanks”,

Yes, it's back-handed, but still.

Gobert’s positive test single-washed-less-than-20-seconds-handedly punched American sports out of denial and into the reality that we are dealing with a global pandemic. And, as American sports go, so goes America.

They. Were. Going. To. Keep. Playing.


Until Gobert’s positive test got an NBA team doctor in a suit to sprint in said suit onto the court as the Jazz and Thunder were warming up in Oklahoma City and tell everyone.

Suddenly, the NBA stops thinking about its fans coughing on each other and starts thinking, Hey, all our players touch the same basketball…and one of those players just tested positive...and then they lick their hands and wipe them on their sneakers…and high-five each other…and give those sneakers to little ki…WHAT?!

And the sports world essentially realized the same thing.

In less than a day.

Stunning to think that lives might be spared because a Frenchman wanted to act like Jerry Lewis.

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