Everyone remembers when they first heard 'Coronavirus' and 'COVID-19.' Whether it was as early as December of 2019 or late as February 2020, people quickly became aware that their everyday life was going to be disrupted. It felt like the eerie silence before a tornado rips through your town.
The NBA knew a storm was fastly approaching. Memos about deep-cleaning and best hygienic practices began circulating. By early March, the media was no longer allowed inside locker rooms. It was the very beginning of a practice known as 'social distancing.'
Despite the growing anxiety, it was meant to be a celebratory night. The Hawks organization had organized 'Hispanic Heritage Night' and had a show to put on. The Knicks were in town and Vince Carter's farewell tour was on its final leg.
Finally, the storm hit land on March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 just before the Jazz played the Oklahoma City Thunder. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly suspended the season. However, the Atlanta Hawks were in the middle of their game.
As luck would have it, the game went into overtime. The Knicks won 136-131 thanks to Julius Randle scoring 33 points. Not to be outshined, Trae Young went off 42 points and 11 assists. The last assist was to Vince Carter.
Luckily the fans and Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce knew to act fast. As the final seconds ticked down, the crowd inside State Farm Arena began to chant, "We want Vince!" The veteran was quickly subbed into the game, where he knocked down a three-pointer - the final play in a 22-season career.
Emotions were running high after the game. A teary-eyed Carter said, "If it ended today, this is something I'll always remember," he said. "At least I made my last basket."
Young took a more blunt look at the situation. "I couldn't care less about the game," Young said. "The safety of everyone is the most important thing."
After a lengthy break in the action, some teams made the sojourn to Orlando, Florida, for the infamous 'Bubble' experience. The Hawks were not one of those teams. They would not play again until December 2020.
March 11, 2020, will likely go down as the most bizarre night in NBA history. Let's hope that the worst is behind us, and we never have to go through another situation like that again.
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