NBA player's $500,000 apology after virus stunt backfires brutally

Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player known to have tested positive for the coronavirus, is donating more than $500,000 to support both the employee relief fund at the Utah Jazz's home arena and COVID-19-related social services relief in Utah, Oklahoma City and the French health care system.

“These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference, while continuing to learn more about COVID-19 and educate others,” the Frenchman said in a statement released by the Jazz.

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The pledged donation will provide $200,000 in aid to part-time employees at the Jazz home arena who are not able to work due to the postponement of NBA games and other entertainment events, in conjunction with employee assistance efforts already being undertaken by team owners, the Jazz said.

Additionally, Gobert will contribute $100,000 each to assist families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Utah and Oklahoma City plus 100,000 euros for his native France.

Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus after a stunt mocking the crisis. Image: Getty/NBA

The NBA suspended its season indefinitely on Wednesday after it was confirmed Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19.

The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of Wednesday’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City and the game was canceled.

Gobert had mocked the coronavirus crisis by jokingly touching all the microphones and reporters’ phones after a press conference 24 hours earlier.

“I was careless and make no excuse,” he said in an apology.

“I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously.”

Third player reportedly tests positive

Meanwhile, multiple outlets are reporting Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood has tested positive for coronavirus.

Wood becomes the third known NBA player to test positive for the virus after Gobert and Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell.

In fact, Wood went up against Gobert on March 7 in Detroit, and the two got mixed up in an incident that resulted in double technical fouls.

Wood had 30 points and 11 rebounds in that game, while Gobert had 10 points and 12 rebounds. Videos from the game show many times where their bodies come together or their sweaty faces are in close proximity.

The 24-year-old Wood was in the midst of a breakout season prior to play being suspended Wednesday night after Gobert's positive test. Mitchell's test came back positive on Thursday.

Christian Wood in action against the Utah Jazz. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wood averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 62 games. The UNLV product had a career-best 32 points against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, official Courtney Kirkland's coronavirus test came back negative, ESPN reported on Saturday.

Kirkland was one of the officials assigned to Wednesday's game between the New Orleans Pelicans and host Sacramento Kings that was postponed.

Kirkland had worked the Jazz's game on Monday in Salt Lake City against the Toronto Raptors. After news of Gobert's positive test broke, players on the Pelicans and Kings became aware that Kirkland had officiated the game involving Gobert and expressed their reluctance to play the game to NBA officials.

The game was canceled a short time later.

According to ESPN, Kirkland is now cleared to leave Sacramento and can resume all activities without restriction.