Richardson Details Initial Reaction When Sixers Found Out the NBA's Season Was Suspended
On March 11th, 2020, the Philadelphia 76ers hosted the Detroit Pistons for the first time during the regular season. After previously defeating Detroit twice, Philly was looking to make it three-straight wins over the Pistons this year on a soon-to-be unforgettable NBA night.
A day before the matchup was set to take place, the City of Philadelphia was reminding everybody that they should avoid large crowds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For a moment, it seemed the Sixers might be willing to prevent fans from attending -- but it never happened.
The doors remained open, and over 15,000 Sixers fans attended that night. The game itself went as expected. The sixth-seeded Sixers knocked off the underperforming and injured Detroit Pistons with a final score of 124-106. By the time the game concluded, everybody there was hardly worried about the results in Philly, though.
Over in Oklahoma City, a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus. After the Jazz versus Thunder matchup had a lengthy delay, the game ended up being called off due to Rudy Gobert's diagnosis. Once word got out that Gobert was positive for COVID-19, the NBA immediately shut the season down.
Just like that, the Philadelphia 76ers played their final NBA game for a long time. The events that night were shocking for everybody. And recently, Sixers shooting guard Josh Richardson opened up about what happened within Philly's locker room as everything unfolded within minutes after their matchup with Detroit.
"We were in the locker room just confused," Richardson told The Athletic's Shams Charania. "[We were] trying to figure out what was happening and what was going to happen. When it first happened it was like chaos almost. Everybody was getting the notifications -- we found out Rudy [Gobert] had it. We got a notification a couple of minutes later [saying] they were postponing the season. It's like every couple of minutes it was like: 'Ah, no way -- ah, no way!' It was just like, 20 minutes of surprise."
The following day, the NBA issued a 30-day hiatus as requested by team owners and governors. The Sixers, specifically, were told they had to self-quarantine for the next 14 days since they played the Detroit Pistons, who were a recent opponent of the Jazz at the time.
Since the league went on suspension, Richardson has been spending his time gaming, working out as best as he can, and interacting in many different ways with his followers on social media. At this point, the self-quarantine timeline is up for Sixers players, staffers, and coaches, but the NBA is still nowhere near a return. Soon enough, the 30-day mark will be here, and there's a little-to-no chance the league is back in action by April.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_