Emiliano Carchia: OFFICIAL: VTB United League has cance…

Emiliano Carchia: OFFICIAL: VTB United League has cancelled the remainder of 2019/20 season. There will be no champion of 2019/20 season due to absence of sports criteria

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As COVID-19, the coronavirus, spreads across the U.S., the NBA is preparing for the possibility of playing a summer schedule for the first time in league history. There is resounding ownership support for finding a way to finish the season, NBA officials told SI.com, even if that means re-starting the season in late June, even if that pushes the Finals into September. Some estimates have the NBA losing as much as $1 billion in a lost season, an eye popping number team owners desperately want to bring down.
Mark Berman: Mike & Laurel D’Antoni donated $100K to the local COVID-19 Recovery Fund. Mike: “The city of Houston,everybody right now is in the same boat.We’re trying to help out where we can.When you go to war,u go to war.The whole community has to band together & do what we can do” #Rockets
Rafael Nadal and Pau Gasol have launched a campaign to encourage donations in the hope of raising 11 million euros ($12.1 million) to help Spain fight the coronavirus. The tennis and basketball stars said in videos posted on social media that they are supporting a Red Cross fundraising effort to help with the public health crisis.

https://twitter.com/paugasol/status/1243120623309787136
When U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman asked both sides if they can complete the sharing of documents sought in discovery by June, Nike balked, citing the athletic footwear company’s closure of its campuses due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Right now, Nike is essentially shut down and they are not allowed to go into their offices,’’ Nike’s New York-based lawyer Tamar Duvdevani of the DLA Piper law firm told the court.
Stephen Curry went on Instagram Live on Thursday to talk about the coronavirus with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Nearly 50,000 viewers tuned in — including former President Barack Obama, pop star Justin Bieber, rapper Common and former teammates Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa. More will likely watch the archived version. Either way, they will have witnessed something that does not usually match what they see on social media.
For nearly 28 minutes, Curry asked Fauci informed questions about COVID-19, testing and social distancing. Fauci gave precise answers to all of them. Fauci explained the difference between the flu and the coronavirus, which he considered "much more serious." Although young people are not as vulnerable to COVID-19, Fauci argued they should still follow social distancing rules because of the rare chance they could become ill and the likely chance they could pass the virus to someone older. Fauci predicted that large events, including the NBA season, will not take place until "the country as a whole is turning that corner."
"The Kevin McLemore foundation and I have been working to find ways to best support COVID-19 relief efforts and to direct our resources where we can make a difference. We have identified a critical shortage of N95 respirator masks," McLemore wrote on Tuesday. "My management and I have partnered with manufacturer C3 International who has stepped up to fill the critical void of N95 respirator masks."
Ainge, who was out scouting college tournaments in Las Vegas when the NCAA and NBA games were stopped, hasn’t been tested for the coronavirus. Actually, around the Celtics, just the players and a few support people have. But only Marcus Smart has tested positive, and all others are doing well and are practicing proper social distancing. “I feel great,” said Ainge, whose medical history includes two mild heart attacks — one in 2009 and another during last year’s playoffs. “I feel fine. There’s been no symptoms at all, so that’s good. And I haven’t had contact with anybody from our team since, like, March 1st or 2nd.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who coaches a group of NBA Draft picks every single year, says he expects that the date of the NBA Draft will move due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that players, therefore, should have more time to make decisions about entering the draft. As of now, the NBA Early Entry Eligibility Deadline is at 11:59 p.m. on April 26 and the Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline is at 5 p.m. on June 15. The Draft is slated for June 25 at Barclays Center.
There is no timetable on when teams will be able to have players in for individual workouts. And even when those workouts begin, what kind of shape will the players be in? “My worry is for guys,” Calipari said. “If they spend two months and don’t do anything and then try to go work out for an NBA team, it isn’t going to work out for them. There are no gyms, no health clubs, unless they have a gym in their house, none of them do. Unless they have a workout area in their home, none of them do, how are we doing this? So my worry about is more about that.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Wednesday he expects the NBA will resume play before fans are allowed back in arenas due to COVID-19 concerns. “We have to be very cautious, particularly as we try to come back,” Cuban said on CNBC’s “Markets in Turmoil” special. “I think at first though we’ll play a lot of games without fans and then figure it out as some of the available medicines ... become available, we’ll go from there.”
Cuban also said he believed it would be “feasible” to take the temperature of every fan who tried to enter a venue. A fever, along with a cough and shortness of breath, are among the most common symptoms of COVID-19.
“People need something to rally around right now. People need sports,” the billionaire entrepreneur said. “We need something to cheer for, something to get excited about and there’s nothing better than our sports teams to do it.” Cuban said he was just “guessing,” but believed “the NBA is going to try to come back as early as we can without spectators, just on TV and streaming, and just give people something to celebrate.”
In an interview Thursday afternoon with NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark, Sixers limited partner Michael Rubin said Fanatics hopes to produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers over the next two months. Rubin is the founder and CEO of Fanatics, which is making the masks and gowns out of the same material used for MLB player jerseys and starting with available fabrics from Phillies and Yankees jerseys.
Rubin also commented on the Sixers having planned to institute salary reductions of up to 20 percent for full-time, salaried employees making at least $50,000. In a statement Tuesday, managing partner Josh Harris reversed course, saying all employees would be paid their full salaries and apologizing to staff and fans. “To me, if you don’t get something right, the biggest thing you need to do is recognize it and fix it," Rubin said. "Whether I’m involved or indirectly involved, I screw things up all the time. The most important thing is if you don’t get it right, you’ve gotta fix it immediately and I’m proud of the way the organization said, ‘You know what? We didn’t have it right and we’re going to get it right.'”
If the NBA does return, team executives told CNBC they favored Las Vegas as a possible location to conclude the season. And media experts agreed, adding the decision could help the NBA retain some of its revenue domestically and perhaps in China. An NBA spokesperson told CNBC the league has considered many “scenarios” but is not close to rolling out a plan. When asked if the NBA would pick up where it left off or jump into the postseason, Silver said he didn’t have “a good enough sense of how long a period this is going to be” to give a definite answer.
The only player or member of the travelling party who tested positive for COVID-19 was Christian Wood, who has "fully recovered," according to his agent. "He's fine, he's feeling good," Casey said. "I spoke to him numerous times during this whole ordeal. He was in good spirits. We talked about basketball and how he was doing." One thing that upset Wood was that his name surfaced publicly as having contracted the virus. Some players who tested positive revealed their prognosis on social media but it's otherwise confidential information. "He was concerned how his info was leaked out," Casey said.
James Edwards III: Casey: "The NBA was ahead of the curve. I think they set the tone for all of the sports." Mentioned suspending the season, distance with media, talking about games with no fans.
Speaking extensively for the first time publicly since the NBA announced it was suspending its season during the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James outlined some of the challenges facing the league as it hopes to get back to the court. "So what happens when a guy who is tested positive for corona and you're out there on the floor with him and it's a loose ball?" James said as a guest on the Road Trippin' Podcast hosted by former Cleveland Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and current Lakers studio host Allie Clifton.
James and the hosts also addressed the logistical concerns regarding what it would actually take to turn the lights back on for the league. When Jefferson, who also works as an ESPN NBA analyst, suggested that teams could be quarantined to a league-selected hotel for the duration of the postseason as a safety measure, James objected. "I ain't going for that s---," he said. "I'm not going for that."
Wes Goldberg: Steph Curry: “What’s the biggest piece of misinformation that has been out there?” Dr. Fauci: “I want people to realize how serious this is." Adds that sheltered-in-place is needed. “It’s not convenient to be locked inside, it's not convenient for you to not play basketball."
Logan Murdock: Dr Fauci: “There are literally hundreds of thousands of tests out there because of the private sector.” Fauci says “don’t flood the emergency rooms” if you have symptoms, but to call your physician.
Shams Charania: Pistons’ Christian Wood has been cleared from coronavirus, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. Wood registered negative test results late Wednesday night.
Marc J. Spears: Due to COVID-19, the 2020 WNBA Draft will take place April 17 virtually without players, guests, and media. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce the picks. The WNBA also plans to honor the late Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, and Payton Chester.
Longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale said the initial shock of the 2020 NCAA tournament being canceled left him despondent. Then Vitale said he quickly became grounded in the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic that's prompted all NCAA spring sports to be canceled and pro sports leagues to be put on hold. "I love March and college basketball as much as anyone. But what's going on is bigger than sports," Vitale told USA TODAY Sports by phone. "When peoples' lives are at risk, basketball goes on the backburner. Initially, I thought postponing the NCAA tournament made more sense. Those three weeks, there's no greater time in sports for mom, dad, grandma and grandpa. But at the end of the day, we're dealing with an infectious disease. I said to myself, 'My friend, you love basketball. But you love people more.'"
"There are politicians worried about the economy, and I understand that because no one wants to be out of a job," Vitale said. "But the economy should never come at the expense of people's lives. Seniors should not have to sacrifice for the economy. I want to live, man. My wife wants to live, man. "To the political leaders, forget liberal, conservative, this is not about political agendas. We need to keep the (guidelines) in place." Vitale hosts an annual Gala to raise funds for the V Foundation and pediatric cancer research. He'll invite celebrity sports figures, with Dabo Swinney attending last year. Vitale moved the Gala, usually held in May, to September.
Right now, in the face of a crippling global pandemic, its members also represent an increasingly vulnerable and shaken segment of society that needs all the security, support, and accurate information they can find. The average member is 55 years old and over 200 of them are at least 70. All are impacted by the coronavirus, stressed over their own future, from a physical, emotional, and financial perspective. In addition to Bailey — who previously served before he was termed out of the role due to appointment related rules — other recently elected directors include Shawn Marion, Sheryl Swoopes, and Dave Cowens. (Cowens helped found the association in 1992 with Oscar Robertson, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, and Dave DeBusschere.) Johnny Davis was named chairman of the board after spending 34 seasons as an NBA player and coach, while Jerome Williams and Grant Hill were elevated into different roles on the executive committee.
Spencer Haywood, who just termed out after two straight three-year stints as the NBRPA’s chairman of the board, can’t stop thinking about his fellow members, former teammates, and friends who were suffering even before the globe was blanketed by coronavirus. “I love them,” Haywood says. “Everybody just calls, ‘Hey can you help me with $300. I need $400, $500. I need this to make my rent. I need this to get food ... We don’t have a revenue stream. All of our guys have to work. They’re doing basketball camps. They’re traveling. They do groups. That’s how they make money ... We’re at the very beginning [of this pandemic], so I know our family, the NBA retired family, we’re gonna have some drama. I’m hoping that it’s not me. But who knows?”
He reminisces about his childhood in Newport, Kentucky. Cowens’ grandparents and aunt lived upstairs, in the same house as his parents and brother. His aunt would entertain with stories about getting to see Jim Thorpe (the only sports hero Cowens ever had) race with her own two eyes. Cowens thinks about that time; how his grandfather lived to see his 60s despite serving in World War I and then enduring the Spanish Flu, which killed as many as 50 million people across the world. “People are going to survive,” Cowens says. That’s true. But the coronavirus will still crash into so many different lives, and so far the mortality rate for those it infects is substantially higher in seniors with underlying health issues.
Mavericks All-Star Luka Doncic had been receiving daily treatment for a right ankle that he has sprained twice this season, a sprained left thumb and a sprained right wrist. Two other Dallas starters -- guard Seth Curry (ankle) and forward Dorian Finney-Smith (hip) -- missed games due to injury going into the hiatus. "Luka's thumb and wrist will get better with rest," Smith said. "That's from getting hit. He's not getting hit now. With Dorian's hip, a few days off is what he needed. Unfortunately, he's got it now."
With players stuck at home, their respective teams are having to get creative to minimize the drop-off in conditioning that a potential monthslong layoff presents. The Chicago Bulls acted fast, sending out a workout plan to their players on the second day after the league suspended the season. "Our strength and conditioning coach sent us a little program that has different types of lunges, different types of pushups and you do it at a high volume to get a little sweat going," Bulls second-year center Wendell Carter Jr. said. "Nothing that anybody else can't do."
Josh Robbins: Magic officials said D.J. Augustin has donated to Krewe of Red Beans, a group in his hometown of New Orleans. The group is delivering meals from NOLA restaurants to frontline healthcare workers who are working against COVID-19. Others can donate at redbeansparade.com.
Steve Forbes: Our prayers are needed tonight for my good friend Maury Hanks, who has enjoyed a life-long association with the game of basketball in college and the NBA. He is fighting the #coronavirus and needs our help.🙏🙏 #Bigs 🙏🙏 He has so many friends & he needs all of our🙏🙏#SonnyBoy
Adrian Wojnarowski: Maury Hanks is a well-respected scout with the Detroit Pistons. He’s also worked in the NBA with the Nets and Raptors and coached for decades in college ball. He’s in a battle right now with the coronavirus. A lot of people on all levels of ball are pulling for him.
A camera operator who shot footage inside the Utah Jazz locker room after a March 7 game in Detroit is in a medically induced coma after being diagnosed with COVID-19, his friends said. The game was played just four days before the NBA suspended operations because of the coronavirus pandemic. The man, who is in his 50s, has worked for years as part of broadcast crews for NBA games at Little Caesars Arena, according to friends. That included the Jazz-Pistons contest where part of his assignment, according to coworkers, was filming postgame locker-room interviews for the broadcast feed that went back to Utah.
Nick Young: If we dnt stop trying to be woke ....and stop coming up with all these conspiracy theories ...and blaming the government ......and just stay y’all ass in the house and let them feel like they doing something... they would have been gave us the cure...
Kerith Burke: Steph Curry talking to Dr. Fauci on instagram live tomorrow is brilliant because it reaches a different audience and connects them with factual, scientific information from an actual expert. I feel overjoyed and amused and grateful this is happening!
While the Golden State Warriors’ season is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Stephen Curry has been active. The two-time Most Valuable Player has advocated for social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Curry and his wife Ayesha have started a breakfast and lunch donation pledge for out-of-school children in Oakland.
Trae Young’s dad was sitting courtside at State Farm Arena on March 11 when he found out the NBA season was being suspended due to COVID-19. His son and the Atlanta Hawks, who were being blown out by the New York Knicks, had not yet been alerted. “I remember looking at a tweet from ESPN that Rudy Gobert tested positive and the NBA suspended the season,” Rayford Young said. “Trae came out for the fourth quarter and he kind of looked at me. I said, ‘I think the season might be over. You better hurry up.’ “It was crazy because after that he went off, and one shot he took with both feet inside the logo near half court because they were down 18 to the Knicks.”
Young would score 27 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter to help send the game into overtime. The Knicks would ultimately prevail 136-131 in what would be the last day of the NBA season until further notice. “This is probably the craziest thing, if not the craziest thing I’ve been a part of,” Young said. “This is worldwide. … When the NBA is being shut down, you know it’s a big deal.”
Young, 21, stayed in Atlanta for a couple of days as mandated by the Hawks and the NBA, then was cleared to go to his house in Norman, Oklahoma, where he’s been reunited with his family who live nearby. “There is a sense of relief because everybody is close,” Rayford Young said. “You’re able to see and touch everybody. If you see anything happen, you’re right there. You don’t have to jump in a car or get on a plane somewhere. That is always a level of comfort.”

http://twitter.com/sergeibaka/status/1242900858943176705
Stephen Curry: Hyped to talk all things COVID-19 with Dr. Fauci of the @NIAIDNews tomorrow. This is a conversation for YOU so submit questions with #SCASKSFAUCI and join at 10am PT tomorrow (Mar 26). Let’s get it!
Brown, who was named the head coach of the Nigerian men’s basketball team in early February, will now have more time to put together a team, hire a staff, build a schedule and get prepared for the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19. “It helps from the standpoint of there are a lot of teams that have been together … the players, especially. A lot of countries have players who have grown up playing together on national teams or All-Star teams,” Brown told The Undefeated. “There are a lot of coaches out there that are in charge of programs that they have been a part of for many years. “To have another year to grasp, not only the talent level of the team, but the direction the team needs to go and making sure we are able to put the best Nigerian team out there, it’s a welcomed advantage to have a little bit more time for a new guy like myself.”
Aminu, who played for the 2019 World Cup team, had surgery on Jan. 7 to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. How will the delay of the Olympics impact him? Mike Brown: He is obviously a guy who has been instrumental to this program for many years. He is one of the guys who has anchored the program. He has a lot going on right now to get himself healthy so he can compete with his current team, the Orlando Magic. Knowing him, how much pride he has and things he has helped his country accomplish in basketball, I think he’d want to play in the Olympics, especially the way they qualified. It gives him a lot more time to get healthy and get himself in playing shape. I’m sure he’s looking forward to it.
How have you stayed connected to the Warriors during the lockdown over the coronavirus? Mike Brown: I have been speaking to [head coach] Steve Kerr. I’ve been speaking to him a long time and he’s the best. We have a huge group chat via text where we communicate basically on a daily basis. Steve’s biggest thing is he wants everybody to make sure they take care of themselves, stay safe, stay healthy, take care of the family and try the best you can to enjoy this downtime knowing as coaches, especially, this can break at any time. Be ready.
NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tweeted a sensitive message to everyone: "I’m not on the court anymore, but I’m still in the game, today I play for Team LA. Together we got to beat the Coronavirus, so show me what you’re gonna do, to become part of that team.”
For Young, seeing his NBA brethren test positive for the coronavirus has been an eye-opener. “As athletes, celebrities and things like that, sometimes it takes something like this to actually humble people,” Young said. “For us, sometimes you think you are untouchable or things might not happen to you because you are at this stature or whatever. It can. You see guys, big-time guys, superstars like Donovan [Mitchell] or KD get it. It is definitely an eye-opener. “It sucks that this has to happen to us for us to really realize that and for other people to realize we’re actually just human, too. … But we are going to all get through this together as people, not just athletes. We’re people and human together.”
Akron Family Restaurant co-owner Nick Corpas said he got a call last week and was excited to help. He started making his orders almost immediately and began prepping for the meals on Monday. He and restaurant employees arrived at the restaurant at 6 a.m. ET Tuesday to cook and assemble the meals. He said they finished around 4 p.m., and LJFF volunteers parked cars outside the restaurant. Adhering to social distancing recommendations, the volunteers remained in their cars while workers and volunteers placed the food in trunks. Each serving tray provided food for four to five people -- enough for more than 1,300 people to have dinner.
Billionaire Tilman Fertitta said he’s had to temporarily lay off roughly 40,000 workers at his casino, hotel and restaurant empire to limit the economic damage caused by government-imposed shut-downs. The Texas native, who owns the Golden Nugget casinos as well as hundreds of restaurants including Del Frisco’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp under the Landry’s Inc. umbrella, is calling on the authorities to allow businesses to reopen at limited capacity in a couple of weeks to avoid economic disaster. “I think what we are doing with the shut-down is good but in a few weeks people will need to be around people,” Fertitta said in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday. “Otherwise you are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”
NBA star-turned-marijuana mogul Al Harrington says his Viola company's sales are through the roof since the coronavirus scare took over the U.S. ... and now he's scrambling to meet the demand. Of course, Harrington has turned into a highly successful weed advocate and entrepreneur in his post-playing days ... sharing the medical benefits for athletes, as well as, the average folk.
We spoke with Harrington about the insane demand for cannabis products right now -- after all, EVERYBODY is stressing out over COVID-19 -- and he says his sales have DOUBLED. "The challenge is gonna be making sure that we can keep up with the demand at this point," Harrington tells TMZ Sports. "Everybody is stocking up on their favorite brands. I feel like the 'canna-curious' is really steppin' up right now, especially when you're stuck in the house with your kids 24 hours a day."
The Chinese Basketball Association, seen by many sports leagues as a trial balloon for recovery from the coronavirus crisis, has delayed it's restart, according to multiple reports and confirmed by ESPN. The league had hoped to begin April 15, after about 11 weeks of being shutdown, but now won't attempt resuming until May after failing to get government approval according to reports from China.
Chris Forsberg: "Let me tell you something, that virus has never faced anyone like Marcus Smart." @Enes Kanter sends support to a teammate, says the Celtics are maintaining chemistry through video chats, and champions social distancing. 🎧 bit.ly/KanterPod 📺 youtube.com/watch?v=vH7g4S… pic.twitter.com/dJZwxHQZuT
Storyline: Coronavirus
More HoopsHype Rumors
July 7, 2020 | 9:37 pm EDT Update

July 7, 2020 | 8:13 pm EDT Update
The Los Angeles Lakers plan to reward guard Avery Bradley, who opted out of the NBA’s restart, with a championship ring this season if the franchise is able to capture its 17th NBA title. “Yes, [Lakers general manager] Rob Pelinka made me aware of the Lakers offering me a ring if they win the championship,” Bradley told Yahoo Sports via phone Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a very kind gesture on their part.”
Alex English is certainly not one to tip-toe around tough topics. Since retiring from the NBA as an 8-time All Star in 1991, he has stood up for his legacy with the Denver Nuggets and for players as a crucial member of the NBA Players Association. He has now turned his attention to fighting for WNBA equality as a member of the WNBA PA Board of Advocates. “I want to see them get the respect they deserve,” explained English, the NBA’s leading scorer for the 1980s. “I know that there’s always gonna be those naysayers that say ‘well you know, they don’t make the kind of money in advertising and TV rights as the NBA Guys do.’ Yeah, but that took decades of the NBA to get to that level and the WNBA has done a great job with the PA of building that same type of support.”
English has gravitated towards the women’s game more in recent years because of how pure the basketball is. “The purity of the game and the quality of the game is what drew me to [the WNBA]. In some instances, their game is even more pure to me than what you see from the men,” said the 8-time NBA All-Star. “[WNBA players] have picked up on the technical part of the game that the NBA used to have. And, now as the game has progressed, you see a lot of guys that aren’t as true to form or true to techniques as the women are.”
The WNBA’s plan is largely unknown, but we do know that it will be very different from the NBA’s. Players will earn their full salaries and some will be able to bring family or caretakers with them. But, they will also have to share rooms, travel off-site for games, and have only some meals provided. English believes the inequality in player experience is simply illogical. “You’re asking the same thing from [WNBA players as you are from NBA players]: to risk their lives to give you a product that’s going to be that you sell on TV and radio and merchandise,” said English. “You are asking the same thing from the two then why not treat them the same?”
July 7, 2020 | 7:28 pm EDT Update
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we’re planning on life without Jonathan,’’ Jeff Weltman said. “Jonathan is with the team because it benefits him to be with the team and he wants to be with the team. The same could be said with (Aminu), but Jonathan is at a different stage of his rehab and most of the work that he needs to get done it would benefit him to be around our performance staff. Obviously, he’s at the stage where he can do a little light court stuff. Beyond that, we want to keep him attached to the team and he wants to support his teammates, but I wouldn’t read anything into that.’’
Weltman believes that the strong collective character of the Magic’s roster will help the squad battle through any potential adversity that could come in the days, weeks and months ahead. “We’re always talking about it a lot and I always say it – we’re not just betting on the player; we’re betting on the person and I believe in our guys,’’ Weltman said via a Zoom call from the Disney campus on Tuesday afternoon. “I believe that we have high-character group of players and that spreads down to all of our coaches, our performance staff and all of our support staff. (The players) have worked hard, they’ve stayed together, they’ve communicated, and they’ve remained optimistic at points where there was more uncertainty. As the plans have come into clearer focus, they’ve united, and there’s a feeling of togetherness and comradery.’’
Weltman said he has no concerns about the status of Fultz, who has evolved into one of the true feel-good stories of the season with his triumphant return from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome this season. In 64 games with the Magic (59 starts), Fultz has averaged 12.1 points, 5.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor. Said Weltman: “I don’t have a timeline (on Fultz’s return), but as I said Markelle just has some personal matters that he is handling. He’s on top of everything and hopefully he’ll be out here (at Disney) shortly. He’s looking very much forward to joining up with his team once he handles his business.’’
Prince’s ability to recover and reach optimum playing shape became a more difficult proposition given the time he would be losing with protocols needed to return to the floor in Orlando. The ramp-up in practice time needed once he had satisfied testing protocols on negative tests, traveled separately to Florida, quarantined for several days and only then resumed workouts made his participation even prohibitive for a July 30 tip-off on a roster already decimated with injuries.
July 7, 2020 | 6:52 pm EDT Update
Nurse knows family time is precious. “It’s really another part of the puzzle, and it’s a big one,” the Raptors coach said on a Zoom call Tuesday from Naples, Fla. “It starts with conversation, when you’re bumping into Fred [VanVleet] or Kyle [Lowry], and you’re asking them how are the wife and kids, and what are they doing, and when was the last time you talked to them. There’s a lot more of that going on than I would say normally would happen… a lot more now because we’re all showing pictures and whatever. It’s another one of those things you’d be more lenient on. We’re getting ready to start a meeting and somebody says ‘Oh, man, my kid’s FaceTiming me,’ and you say ‘Take it, go out in the hall and take it, and we’ll wait for you.”‘
When Nurse left his Toronto house for Florida, his three-year-old son Leo said he’d wait for him by the door. “He didn’t quite understand how long I’m going to be gone,” said Nurse, who has another son Rocky born during last year’s thrilling post-season run. “I told him I’m going to coach some games, and he said ‘Well, I’m going to wait right here for ya.’ I hope he’s moved from that spot because it’s going to be a while.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Nurse said he feels safe with the NBA’s coronavirus protocols. “We are going a long ways out of our way to make it extra safe as we should. We really are in the hotel. We are confined. We are away from everything. There is cleaning all over the place. Everyone is wearing masks. We go to the gym and there’s cleaning and we come back. It feels really safe,” Nurse said. “I think the early stages or days of the Disney thing are critical. Getting a whole bunch of testing done and getting kind of to a point there. I think it will all be done at a really high level and remain fairly safe. I hope I’m right.”
With the NBA season set to resume at the end of July, the Mavericks have a plan. Rather than let their return to play be a distraction from the movement encompassing the nation, they’re working on a unified message. Rather than stay silent on the injustice in the country, they’re using their platform when play resumes at the Walt Disney World Resort to amplify their voices. “I think, first and foremost, as a team, we just have to make sure we’re on the same page to see what we’re going to do when we get to Orlando,” Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said in a Zoom call with reporters Monday. “I’m happy that the season is starting and I’m happy that it’s happening at this time so we can use our platform to express ourselves.”
“That’s what being an athlete and being on one of the biggest stages is all about: expressing yourself,” Hardaway said. “I’m happy that we’re going to be able to so that as a team. I’m pretty sure we’ll talk about that as the days go on, but for now, I’m happy that we’re going to start the season around this time. We want to make sure we use that platform to get our voices heard.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
July 7, 2020 | 6:29 pm EDT Update
The Thunder, with CAA Sports, has created the Thunder Fellows Program, a nonprofit organization designed to unlock opportunities in sports, technology and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area, the team announced Tuesday. The program, guided by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, will be comprised of two groups of students: Fellows, Black students from regional colleges and universities, and Young Leaders, Black students in the Tulsa area from grades 8 to 12.
The Thunder Fellows Program will be located in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 when white mobs killed hundreds of Black people and destroyed homes and businesses in what was known as Black Wall Street. “Our organization is deeply committed to social justice and the actions that are necessary to create better opportunities for the Black community, now and in the future,” Thunder chairman Clay Bennett said in release. “We will work tirelessly to make this a program that will create change for generations to come.”
Shaquille O’Neal isn’t just one of the best centers to ever play basketball, he’s also a successful businessman, actor and platinum selling DJ. In fact, music was his life before it got hijacked by basketball. “I have been DJing since the eighties,” Shaq tells Maxim. “Music has always been in my blood. I was that guy spinning at frat parties after my basketball games, in the locker room, and making mixtapes.”
Draymond Green said his championship Warriors would beat your Lakers. Any thoughts on that? Shaquille O’Neal: I have a hard time believing that the greatest coach of all time, plus me and Kobe, wouldn’t match up quite nicely against Steve Kerr and his gang. Kobe takes Steph and dominates him. Fisher takes Klay and manhandles him. Fox takes Draymond and makes him foul out in the first half. Horace would do his thing with K.D. But let’s be real, K.D., is a beast, and you can only do so much with him. And then I’d remind Pachulia why I am in the Hall of Fame and he is not.
What is your fondest memory of Kobe Bryant? Shaquille O’Neal: I really cherish the time I had with Kobe. We helped each other win the championship for the first time. That says it all. Without Kobe I would have never maximized my true potential. I like to think the same for him. But if I had to choose one moment it would be Kobe’s final game at the Staples Center. He looked so at peace while on the court. He was a free man with no pressure at all to score or deliver. He dropped 60 that game and I was there courtside to cheer him on.
Storyline: Bryant-Shaq Dynamic
July 7, 2020 | 6:16 pm EDT Update
Peyton Siva is currently back in Florida as well, taking some time off with his family as he celebrates the Basketball Bundesliga League title he and his Alba Berlin teammates won in late June. And while cases have risen lately in the Sunshine State and around the U.S., the top German basketball league reopened the right way last month, Siva said — over the course of three weeks in Munich, none of the players, coaches or hotel staff involved with the 10-team tournament tested positive at any time.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
The stakes were high, Siva said, just like they’ll be high when NBA players return to the court later this month. But a successful restart, he added, can send a message to the world. “This is a chance to show that basketball can survive through this time — whether that’s with spectators or not,” he told The Courier Journal last Thursday, the day after his plane landed back in the U.S.
It was a winning strategy — he came back to the U.S. as a BBL champion, starting at point guard for title-winning Alba Berlin — but he advised NBA players preparing for Orlando to enjoy their time outside the bubble now. Life is different once you’re inside. “I feel like it’s going to be a lot tougher for them, since it’s a lot longer season that they’re going to be playing than we had,” Siva said. “… Try to get out and do stuff as much as you can because you can get cabin fever staying in a place so long. But I feel like they’ll have a lot more things to do with going outside, going golfing, more entertainment — and plus they can have family come later on. I think that’ll help a lot of the guys.”
NBA champion, Hall of Famer and cannabis entrepreneur Isiah Thomas was recently appointed CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the publicly traded, Colombian hemp and cannabis producer One World Pharma, replacing the company’s founder, Craig Ellins. The basketball legend isn’t new to business or investing. In fact, his holding company, Isiah International Inc., has a diverse portfolio that includes cannabis oil and CBD companies, as well as the legendary Cheurlin Champagne, which he acquired in 2015.
As Thomas explains, a series of tragedies in his own family would enhance his interest in medical cannabis. “I had one of my brothers pass away from cancer, then my mother died, and finally my father died from cancer. And I remember, at the end, all of them were struggling with their appetite,” said Thomas. “And not eating was hurting them terribly.” When his mom got sick, her appetite just wasn’t there and the doctors who were trying to get her to eat wanted to prescribe cannabis. However, as many others in her generation, Mrs. Thomas still thought of the plant as a dangerous drug — and her response was to succinctly decline the prescription. “Well, I’m not smoking no reefer!,” Thomas recalls his mother’s stern response to the doctor’s offer.
In 1994, the NBA entrusted him to essentially start the globalization of the basketball business in Canada with the Toronto Raptors franchise. That, Thomas says, was his first international business experience, and it was game changing. “For someone who had just left the playing floor, for the NBA to really give you that major responsibility of going to Canada and introducing their first franchise outside of the United States… it was a huge responsibility, but it was also a huge compliment.” Today, Thomas is especially proud of being Co-Founder of the Raptors. Twenty-five years later, the Toronto Raptors became the first international franchise to be crowned NBA Champions. “It warms my heart to know that the proper foundation was laid by the work that we did there early on,” said Thomas.
July 7, 2020 | 6:02 pm EDT Update
It was mildly surprising to hear second-year guard Shake Milton take the strongest stance when it came to the NBA’s decision to resume the season. “I don’t really think we should be playing,” Milton said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday, “but I think the NBA is doing all that they can to make the environment as safe as possible. My teammates want to play so we’re going to go down there and try to win.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
When asked why specifically he thought the league shouldn’t resume play, he provided a poignant response. “I think [the spread of the virus], and then also I feel like there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” Milton said. “There are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than a sport, way bigger than the game of basketball. I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”
The sports “bubbles” are also home to experimental new tech and trials of new ways of testing for COVID-19. They might also tell us more about how the virus spreads. “There’s a lot of interest in sports coming back, and they could also be a plan for how we bring back universities, colleges and school safely. It’s the same concept, with a lot of people in close proximity to each other,” says Priya Sampathkumar, an epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic who’s working on an NBA antibody study. “It’s trying it out — if we can’t keep them safe, maybe it’s not safe to open up.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
The closed-off NBA bubble is dedicated to basketball, but it’s also a makeshift COVID-19 research laboratory. The league is helping trial a saliva-based COVID-19 test, and any players who opt in will help the Yale School of Public Health validate their testing method. Players in Orlando will be tested almost every day using the typical method: having a swab shoved deep inside their nose. Players who enroll in the Yale study, though, will also give a saliva sample along with each test. The team will compare the two types of tests and check if the saliva test is as accurate as the nose and throat swab.
The league is putting together a group of experts to think through research approaches to the bubble, Sampathkumar says. “They’re willing to share the data that they come up with, and are asking for input on the type of data they should collect,” she says. The information is important for the league itself because it helps it manage the health and safety of its employees. But learning more about the virus and how it spreads is useful for everyone, not just professional athletes holed up at Disney World. “That could be really valuable information,” Rasmussen says. “And that could be extrapolated to the larger population.”