Perhaps no event in recent history has so clearly underlined how integral sports are to American culture as the COVID-19 pandemic. A 30 for 30 podcast released late last year, “March 11, 2020” tells the story of a day that started in one reality and ended in a new one. Sports fans won’t soon forget the day the NBA shut down, but that was just one piece of news amid a sea of surreal news. What follows is a photographic breakdown of all that happened on that fateful Wednesday last March.
All times Eastern.
10:59 a.m.: Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress that the coronavirus outbreak in America, which involved a reported 647 confirmed cases at the time, would get worse.
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11:06 a.m.: Media were anticipating the sentencing of convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein would be the biggest news of the day. By the time his 23-year sentence was handed down in a New York courtroom, Fauci’s statements were public, and another huge announcement was soon to come.
12:26 p.m.: World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
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1:54 p.m.: After San Francisco Mayor London Breed banned gatherings over 1,000 people in the city, the Golden State Warriors made the decision to play their scheduled March 12 contest against the Brooklyn Nets without fans in attendance. All other events at Chase Center were canceled through March 21. The NBA was already considering moving games out of San Francisco and other cities where the virus was quickly spreading.
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6:03 p.m.: Tom Hanks announced on Instagram that he and his wife, fellow actor Rita Wilson, had tested positive for COVID-19 and were quarantining in Australia.
6:09 p.m.: Paris Saint-Germain defeated Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals. Over 3,000 fans received special permission to go against France’s gathering ban to celebrate the victory at PSG’s home stadium, Parc des Princes. A banner inside it read, “Our only virus is Paris SG.”
6:12 p.m.: Juventus defender Daniele Rugani became the first prominent European footballer to test positive for COVID-19. Teammates Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala also tested positive in the week following Rugani’s diagnosis.
Daniele Badolato/Juventus FC/Getty Images
6:44 p.m.: The Wednesday practice round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass went on as normal, with golfers stopping to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Spectators were allowed back onto the Florida course for the first round Thursday, but by the end of the day the Players and the next three events on the PGA Tour schedule were nixed.
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7:06 p.m.: After the Big Ten announced it would continue its ongoing men’s basketball tournament without fans, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a news conference his league’s games would be limited to 125 tickets per team. Every other conference followed suit in the coming hours. By the end of the next day, all tournaments were canceled altogether.
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7:44 p.m.: The United States women’s national soccer team wore its prematch jerseys inside out while warming up for a match versus Japan in the SheBelieves Cup. The move was meant to protest that U.S. Soccer Federation’s claim that a men’s national team player “carries more responsibility within U.S. Soccer” than a women’s player.
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8 p.m.: In Oklahoma City, it was just another game day for Nerlens Noel and his Thunder teammates, who were warming up to play the visiting Utah Jazz.
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8:26 p.m.: Just before tipoff, officials brought Thunder coach Billy Donovan and Jazz coach Quin Snyder to half court to inform them the game was being canceled because of a positive COVID-19 test for Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
8:31 p.m.: Teams were sent back to their locker rooms but the crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena weren’t informed of the cancellation immediately. Instead, recording artist Frankie J, the intended halftime entertainment, put on his show, while officials decided how to break the news.
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8:39 p.m.: As Frankie J left the court, the public-address announcer told the crowd to leave the arena because the game wasn’t going to be played. “We are all safe,” he said. “Please drive home safely, and good night, fans.” Twenty minutes later, the NBA suspended the season following the March 11 games.
Kyle Phillips/AP Photo
9:31 p.m.: News broke that the NBA would suspend the season for the foreseeable future just as Thunder players and coaches were allowed to leave the arena. Jazz players and media were required to stay behind for testing. One game on the schedule had yet to tip off: New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings. In the visiting locker room, point guard JJ Redick led the Pelicans’ charge to cancel the game and get home to their families as soon as possible.
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10:32 p.m.: Meanwhile in Atlanta, Vince Carter’s 22-year career came to an end. His final game was a double-overtime victory for his Hawks over the New York Knicks. With 12.6 seconds left in the game, Carter got his final bucket — a 3-pointer from the top of the key.