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Ill feeling: NBA star who tested positive for coronavirus 'may not forgive' prankster teammate who was basketball's 'patient zero'

Ill feeling: NBA star who tested positive for coronavirus 'may not forgive' prankster teammate who was basketball's 'patient zero'
Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz center whose prank of deliberately touching microphones and surfaces backfired when he was diagnosed with coronavirus, reportedly may not be able to build bridges with fellow sufferer Donovan Mitchell.

In a fateful clip watched by millions, Gobert caused uproar by theatrically touching the table and recording equipment following a press conference on March 10, two days before he tested positive for coronavirus in a diagnosis that drew derision from audiences shocked at his juvenile approach to safety guidelines.

When karma strikes back? NBA suspends season after Utah Jazz player who MOCKED coronavirus fears tests positive (VIDEO) 

The NBA season was suspended as a result of Gobert becoming the first player to test positive, only for it to be confirmed that Mitchell, who is widely regarded to be Utah Jazz’s key player alongside Gobert, had also contracted the virus, issuing a statement that seems all the more pointed in light of his lingering fury.

"Hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them," Mitchell warned at the time, later admitting in an ABC interview that it took him "a while to cool off" with Gobert.

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But an inside source has now claimed that Mitchell remains unwilling to forgive Gobert, confiding to The Athletic that their once-close relationship “doesn’t appear salvageable.”

While the apologetic Frenchman is still yet to regain his sense of smell as a result of the disease, Mitchell has been repeatedly warning the public not to exhibit the lack of understanding that led to his teammate joking about the spread of infection.

“I read what he said and I heard what he said,” Mitchell guardedly responded when asked by ABC for his feelings about Gobert, adding with relief: “I’m glad he’s doing OK. I’m glad I’m doing well.”

Gobert had reportedly ignored a pamphlet and presentation giving crucial health guidance around the virus that had been given to the players in the days before his press conference stunt.

The national anthem had been sung before Utah Jazz’s subsequent game at Oklahoma City Thunder when both sets of players were ordered back to their locker rooms for the tests that would reveal Mitchell was also infected and lead to an enforced mass quarantine.

“We were all kind of sitting in a circle getting the swab up our nose, and every guy when they finished was like teary-eyed, because it’s just that feeling,” said teammate Joe Ingles.

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In the aftermath of the canceled game, the two key players had to be flown home on private planes – and they are not thought to be back on good terms yet.

“I’m just really happy, to be honest, that it’s just — I hate to say just two of us, but it wasn’t the whole [traveling] party,” said Mitchell.

“At the end of the day, neither him nor I have children at home. I know I have teammates that have children, have some staff that have children at home, so I’m glad that we were able to kind of contain it as much as possible.”

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When fans on social media asked Ingles whether the squad were angry with Gobert, the Australian laughed and downplayed any animosity, saying: “P*ssed I can’t go to his house for a free meal right now! He got a great chef!”

The Athletic suggested that time could be a healer while NBA is all but indefinitely suspended, reporting that Ingles was “confident” any tensions could be overcome should the season resume.

“I heard Donovan’s response, or whatever it was,” he added. “A part of that is on Donovan and Rudy to sort out if he’s frustrated with him or whatever.”

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Mitchell is clearly still shaken by his own experience of the lack of symptoms that led Gobert to unwittingly spread the virus.

“I think that’s the scariest part...you may seem fine,” he said. “I could walk down the street if it wasn’t public knowledge that I was sick – you wouldn’t know it.

"You may seem fine, be fine and you never know who you may be talking to; who they’re going home to.”

Gobert donated $500,000 towards efforts to help healthcare workers and the unemployed following his initial video message offering contrition for his actions.

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