From Rocky Season to No Season, Inside the N.B.A.’s Decision to Freeze

The Knicks, according to two people briefed on the discussion, were among the teams who said that the league should wait for more direction from local government agencies before committing to next steps.

There was also another call — with the N.B.A.’s Advisory/Finance Committee, a smaller subset of team owners — and a league office meeting with the players’ association to discuss a path forward.

Earlier Wednesday, it had been announced that the Golden State Warriors would host the Nets at Chase Center in San Francisco without spectators after city officials there had banned public gatherings of more than 1,000 people. The template for what was coming in cities all over the N.B.A. map had seemingly been established.

Then came Gobert’s positive test for the coronavirus.

“I think once a player got it, that’s when you see everybody say, ‘Uh-oh,’” Charles Barkley, the Turner Sports analyst and former Hall of Fame player, said by telephone. “They wanted to keep some money coming in and play some games, but when a player got sick, that was the tipping point.”

Within 24 hours, the other major North American men’s sports leagues had followed the N.B.A.’s lead and suspended (N.H.L. and M.L.S.) or altered (M.L.B.) their regular-season plans. The W.N.B.A., which is to start its preseason on May 1, has not announced any changes, but the National Women’s Soccer League canceled its preseason match schedule and the N.W.H.L. postponed its championship game.

Barkley caused a stir Thursday morning in an appearance on the ESPN show “Get Up” when he suggested that his employers at Turner and CBS Sports who “write a check every year for March Madness for a billion dollars” should “bite the bullet” and encourage the cancellation of the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament.

“I felt bad, but I’ve got to tell the truth,” Barkley said by phone. “They’ve got to do the right thing and protect these players.”