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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

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.