365 days of uncertainty, change and hope in the NBA and America

NBA commissioner Adam Silver -- like most everyone -- won't ever forget March 11, 2020. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

THE DECISION THAT would change the NBA -- and sports as we knew them -- was made in 20-30 minutes.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was in a car outside his apartment in uptown Manhattan. Michele Roberts, the executive director of the NBPA, was in a car outside her apartment in Harlem. And they were both talking -- in a dizzying flurry of phone calls -- to a group huddled together in a conference room on the event level of Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

Around 6:50 p.m, on March 11, 2020, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt received a call from the state's commissioner of health, informing him that Rudy Gobert, a member of the Utah Jazz -- who were in town for a game that night -- had tested positive for COVID-19.

Stitt looked at his cellphone for a moment before answering. Like Silver and Roberts, he'd been having meetings with public health officials about how best to prepare for the pandemic that had devastated parts of China and northern Italy in January and February.

"But on March 11," Stitt recalled, "I was still unsure. Is this really going to hit Oklahoma?"

Within seconds of that phone call, everything changed.