Joe Ingles’ team was at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the NBA.
Utah Jazz veteran Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month — marking the first sight of the virus in the NBA, which quickly prompted the league to suspend operations — and guard Donovan Mitchell followed suit.
Though Ingles tested negative for the coronavirus, and he’s self-isolating with his wife and three-year-old twins Jacob and Mila at their Salt Lake City home, his fears about it haven’t shrunk.
But if he had to protect his family — most importantly Jacob, who has autism and a weakened immune system, which puts him at a higher risk for the coronavirus — Ingles would walk away from the game for good tomorrow.
“If you had to tell me that you could never play again to protect Jacob from this, I would walk away, fly to Australia and never play another game in my life and be very content with it,” Ingles said on Tuesday, via The Athletic. “I could walk out of this gym now, in the clothes I’m in and go to the airport. I would have zero issues because I wouldn’t want to put my family through that. I don’t want to put Jacob through that. I don’t want to put his sister through that, and I definitely don’t want to put his mother through that.”
Ingles, who is in his sixth season with Utah, and the Jazz were one of at least eight NBA teams that had undergone coronavirus testing. Multiple players have tested positive, too, including Kevin Durant, Christian Wood, Marcus Smart and more.
However that test, Ingles said, is anything but fun.
“It’s horrible. It’s 10 seconds … with a swab up your nose that literally goes so far up your nose that it feels like it’s about to pop out the top of your head,” Ingles said, via The Athletic. “It’s one of the most uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever felt in my life … Every guy when they finished was like teary-eyed, because it’s that feeling. And then they back it up with a swab down your throat as well.”
At this point, it’s still anyone’s guess when the NBA will be able to start back up again. Some, like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, think it can be as soon as mid-May. According to ESPN, the league is looking at a best-case scenario to return around mid-June.
If that day comes, Ingles said he would be thrilled to be a part of the return — but only if it’s safe for both the 32-year-old and his family to do so.
“I would love to go back and play. There’s a million reasons why I want to play,” Ingles said, via The Athletic. “But the one reason — I love Jacob — to not play is the one reason I would stick by.”
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