NBA grinds to a halt

Posted on Mar 16 2020


For many of us who practically live our lives around the National Basketball Association schedule, last Thursday’s announcement by commissioner Adam Silver that the NBA was going on a hiatus was nothing short of sports apocalypse.

There I was watching the Miami Heat squander a 20-point first quarter lead against the lowly Charlotte Hornets, which was a disappointment in itself.

Little did I know that even before the former Bobcats had somehow managed to hoodwink an 11-point win against Miami, an even bigger surprise awaited—all NBA games are suspended for two weeks (later amended to 30 days) after Jazz all-star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

This was followed by the NCAA’s cancelation of March Madness, MLB foregoing spring training, Major League Soccer postponing games for 30 days like the NBA, and ditto for the NHL.

In the grand scheme of things, sports is just sports and it makes sense for us to focus more on the big picture—the coronavirus outbreak.

But let’s be honest. Sports junkies like me only finally came to our senses about the pandemic (yes, WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic the same day) when the NBA was suspended even as the death toll from this super bug has reached more than 5,000 with nearly 160,000 cases worldwide.

There was also some sort of karmic justice that Gobert is Patient Zero as far as the NBA is concerned after the Frenchman openly joked about the virus and even touched the microphones and cellphones of reporters during a press conference days before he tested positive.

Don’t get me wrong. I feel bad that the Stifle Tower—who later supposedly infected teammate and fellow all-star Donovan Mitchell—contracted the bug and hope for both their quick recoveries. But let that be a lesson to treat COVID-19 seriously and give it the respect it rightfully deserves.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a month from now, COVID-19 would be relegated to the annals of history and—as Gov. Ralph DLG Torres recently said—we can all go back to living normally, including getting my daily fix of pro basketball.

Closer to home, the 2020 Saipan Marathon came and went last Saturday and so far no one has tested positive from the coronavirus.

However, given its incubation period we’re not out of the woods yet. Days before the Saipan Marathon, many sounded of the alarm as more than 200 runners from Japan and Korea registered for the event.

I begged off from running a second consecutive Saipan Marathon. I know if the virus somehow reaches our shores (not necessarily from the runners as it could come from other tourists and residents that have flown here), it’s just a matter of time that it spreads and I don’t want to be the person to infect my family.

Being immune-compromised, I’m at a higher risk of contracting the virus. So, better safe than sorry and there are other races to slay in the future.

It doesn’t diminish a tinge of regret though that I didn’t get the finisher’s shirt and medal I’ve been pining for more than a year.

To all the winners, participants, volunteers, and organizers of the 2020 Saipan Marathon, strong work, if I could borrow the immortal words of former CNMI triathlon and tennis national team member Peter Sinclair.

As for what to do without the NBA and other sports we’ve come enjoy on the boob tube, computer, laptop or any ubiquitous mobile device, there’s still Ultimate Fighting Championship and WrestleMania.

If those don’t tickle your fancy you can binge watch shows on your favorite streaming service. I just finished watching Outbreak and will soon play Space Jam on Netflix. Seems appropriate for the times.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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