Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert found himself at the center of controversy in March when his antics surrounding the coronavirus began making headlines outside the sports world. It wasn't just the NBA that was put on hold, but all American team sports, and Gobert became the most known athlete to not take the coronavirus seriously.

Four and a half months later, Major League Baseball and the NBA are back. The NBA officially restarts Thursday night in Orlando, Florida when Gobert’s Jazz play the New Orleans Pelicans after a 141-day hiatus.

Gobert, who was born in France, was the among the first U.S.-based professional athletes known to test positive for the coronavirus, and he didn’t appreciate the media coverage that followed.

“The media portrayed it like I caused the NBA to shut down,” Gobert told Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. “Instead of saying that it’s a pandemic and Rudy Gobert tested positive. For a lot of people who don’t think further than what’s put in their faces, they really thought I brought the coronavirus to the United States.”

Gobert drew attention for how he dismissed social distancing and the spread of germs. Just two days before his diagnosis, he mocked the NBA’s new rule that stated reporters had to stay at least six feet away from players. After finishing up a media season, Gobert touched all of the microphones on the table in front of him.

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19 hours after the season was suspended and the relationship between Gobert and Mitchell reportedly became strained. Jazz players said Gobert was careless in the locker room and touched teammates’ belongings, according to ESPN, before he tested positive. 

Gobert didn’t know he had contracted the virus at the time.

“People around me, they really know me, they know who I am and that's what matters to me,” Gobert told reporters earlier this month. “At the end of the day, I won't be able to control everyone's perception of me, but I can control my actions, I can control the things I do for the people around me, the community. The things I do for my teammates on the court, off the court, all that stuff I can control it and that's what really matters to me."

Twenty-two NBA teams are scheduled to play eight games each at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Sixteen teams will make the playoffs, which are scheduled to start on Aug. 17.

The NBA shut down on March 11, 2020 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel coronavirus The NBA shut down on March 11, 2020 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel coronavirus Photo: AFP / GEORGE FREY