Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert may be forever associated with the NBA suspending its season in March because of COVID-19.
The league made that call after Gobert tested positive. The Jazz said that he officially recovered a couple of weeks after, but Gobert said that he’s still plagued with symptoms. He talked about it in an interview with L’Equipe.
“The taste has returned, but the smell is still not 100 percent,” he said. “I can smell the smells, but not from afar. I spoke to specialists, who told me that it could take up to a year. I still feel strange things, but I have never been so long in my life without playing a basketball game.”
He continued, “I don’t know if that is it or the aftermath of the virus. I’m starting to train thoroughly. I still haven’t played five-on-five, but I train individually, I do boxing, swimming, I run in the mountains. Today, I would not say that I feel more tired than before. But I had experiences, a month and a half ago, which scared me. I felt like ants in my toes and wondered what it could be. There were quite a few little things like that.”
Gobert was vilified by many after catching COVID-19. The backlash had to do with reports that he didn’t take the virus seriously early on and was high fiving teammates in the locker room, despite being told not to.
On Monday, March 9, in what seemed an attempt to downplay COVID-19’s seriousness, Gobert wiped his hands on microphones at a news conference at the Jazz’s practice facility.
Before long, Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for the virus, which reportedly caused tension between the two men. Gobert sent an apology on Instagram in March after Mitchell’s diagnosis was revealed and said that he was sorry for being “careless.”
In his new interview, Gobert admitted that he felt scapegoated when it was announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 and feels like he shouldn’t be blamed.
“The NBA was waiting for a first case to stop the championship; it fell on me,” he said. “I became the image of the coronavirus for the Americans, the domino that triggered the end of the season, but it was not I who brought the virus to the United States.”
The NBA is scheduled to resume play on July 30 with 22 teams at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, where all games will be played without fans.
There have been many players who’ve voiced concern about returning, especially since numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in Florida have been going up in recent weeks.
Additionally, on Friday, June 26, the NBA and the players union said of the 302 players that were tested for COVID-19, 16 tested positive. Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdom and Sacramento Kings forward Jabari Parker were two of those players.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed concern about the increase in Florida’s COVID-19 cases during a conference call on Friday, June 26. He said if there was a “significant spread” of cases at Walt Disney World Resort, it may lead to the NBA stopping play.
“The level of concern has increased, not just because of the increased levels in Florida, but throughout the country,” said Silver, according to the New York Times.
Some NBA players, including Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler, have already opted out of playing in Florida for health reasons.