Rudy Gobert believes he wasn’t first NBA player to contract coronavirus

Jazz center Rudy Gobert
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Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player known to test positive for coronavirus.

Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell followed. Then, Pistons big Christian Wood – who recently matched up with Gobert – also tested positive.

Gobert became viewed as the NBA’s patient zero.

Ben Golliver of The Washington Post:

He tried to piece together how he had contracted the virus, concluding that it probably happened on the road trip in New York, Boston or Detroit. He wondered how it was possible that other members of the Jazz didn’t test positive given that he shared locker rooms with his teammates and received massages from team staffers. As he recovered, he concluded that he probably wasn’t the first NBA player to contract the virus — just the first to return a positive test.

I understand why Gobert wants to believe this. He has been unfairly vilified for exposing the NBA to coronavirus.

And maybe he’s right. There are hundreds of NBA players, and many of them got coronavirus. It’s definitely possible one contracted coronavirus before him. Gobert could have gotten it from Mitchell or Wood rather than given it to those two. Heck, it’s possible another player tested positive for coronavirus before Gobert and just kept the result secret.

But also remember, Gobert was the face of coronavirus in the NBA even before testing positive. His reckless actions ensured that. Testing positive only cemented his reputation.

That’s unfair. His behavior deserved rebuke without knowing whether it’d result in Gobert getting coronavirus. He didn’t deserve extra scrutiny for actually testing positive.

Gobert having a bullseye on his back also shielded the NBA itself from deserved criticism for its early-stage handling of coronavirus.