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Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Franck Fife/Getty Images     

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his decision to suspend all NBA games on March 11 came without input from the board, the benefit of guidance from major health organizations, or public understanding of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: In an interview Wednesday with Axios Re:Cap, Silver recalled staring down the barrel of an 11th-hour choice — made well before the dire reality of the pandemic had taken root — that would impact the livelihoods of 55,000 people and millions of fans around the world.

Flashback: "We also recognized that we had 19,000 people in that arena. And so part of the decision was what do we tell those people?" Silver said, reflecting on the March 11 game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz that sparked the shutdown.

  • "There wasn't a lot of information around the terms of this virus. Like meaning if one person had it in a building, did that mean it would spread to everyone?"
  • "We then conferred with the Oklahoma City health authorities. The first question was, have we been ordered to shut down? And the answer was that order hasn't come yet. But I think it was in that moment that I realized we didn't have any more time to deliberate."
  • "We didn't have time to have a board meeting, but that was within my authority to say, we are hereby suspending operations in the entire NBA."

What happened: Silver got a call from the NBA's general counsel saying that Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert had tested positive. Gobert's game was scheduled to start in 15 minutes.

  • Silver realized "an immediate decision" needed to be made. Both teams were sent to their locker rooms until the game was canceled.
  • Mid-progress games across the country were allowed to continue, since "no one had even suggested we shut down." The Sacramento Kings game also needed to be stopped, since a referee had been at a Utah Jazz game earlier in the week. "It then became clear to me ... we needed to suspend the season."

The big picture: Silver said he was envisioning a 30-day period to revise testing protocols before getting back to normal.

The bottom line: He figures his decision directly impacted the livelihoods of 55,000 people working with the NBA — not to mention nearly 2 billion fans connected on social media.

  • "On a global basis, 1.9 billion people connect with the NBA in some way."

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Axios is looking back at the week of March 9, 2020 — the week high-profile leaders were forced to make consequential choices that upended our lives and society. Subscribe to Axios Re:Cap here.

Go deeper

Elon Musk's mega-billion bounty

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Here's how insanely rich Elon Musk is: He has unloaded $10 billion of his stock in the past month — and could do that 15+ more times given his silos of shares.

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Huawei sanctions snarled chip supply chains

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The largely successful U.S. effort to hobble China's Huawei has benefitted a host of other tech companies — from smartphone makers such as Apple and Xiaomi to chipmakers like Qualcomm to network vendors including Nokia and Ericsson.

Yes, but: The massive disruption to the industry furthered an industry wide mismatch between supply and demand, exacerbating the global chip shortage.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.