Courtney Kirkland, one of three NBA referees that were scheduled to work the Kings’ game against the New Orleans this past Wednesday night, has tested negative for the coronavirus, ESPN’s Eric Woodyard reported Saturday, citing sources.
NBA referee Courtney Kirkland’s #coronavirus results came back negative and doctors cleared him to leave Sacramento, a source confirms. Kirkland had been there since the N.O. game was postponed. He is also cleared to resume all activities with no restrictions.
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) March 14, 2020
According to Woodyard, Kirkland has remained in Sacramento during the week, but now is free to leave and resume all activities.
The Kings and Pelicans were supposed to be the last game before the NBA-imposed suspension of the league, but both teams realized before tip-off that Kirkland had worked Monday’s Utah Jazz-Toronto Raptors game, which involved Rudy Gobert, who was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus.
Gobert’s positive coronavirus test led to the NBA being the first professional American league to suspend its season. A day later, Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for the virus.
Kings players were on the court shortly before tip-off, but Pelicans players were not. A league source told NBC Sports California’s James Ham on Wednesday that the Kings intended to play, but the Pelicans were uncomfortable playing with Kirkland on the court. Ultimately, the NBA called off the game out of an abundance of caution.
Kirkland is in his 20th season as an NBA referee and has worked 22 playoff games.
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It’s unclear when Kirkland, the Kings and the rest of the NBA will return to the court. Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that the league’s hiatus could last at least 30 days.