Knicks alumni chief John Starks donated scrubs to hospitals Saturday and got a shout-out from Mayor de Blasio at his Saturday press conference. “Thank you to John Starks — he has dished out an assist,’’ de Blasio said. “This time not with a basketball, but with 3,000 scrubs for our health care workers.”
The charity auction organized by the ACB has already raised 143,000 euros for the fight against the coronavirus, the Spanish League announced on Saturday evening. Other items including shoes signed by Stephen Curry will increase the amount in the coming days. The #LaMejorAsistencia (The Biggest Help) is aiding the fundraising initiative launched by Pau Gasol and Rafael Nadal.
Tough times call for resolute measures and the current pandemic has Senegal center Gorgui Dieng committed to being part of the solution to stop COVID-19 in its tracks and give a hand to the vulnerable in his home country. The Gorgui Dieng Foundation founded in 2015 is providing protective equipment intended for health personnel like protective gowns, masks FFP2, facial masks, prevention products, antiseptic products, hydro-alcoholic solutions and meal kit - groceries.
Dieng, who features for NBA side Memphis Grizzlies, is an established philanthropist who has been at the forefront of using his influence to provide medical equipment, fighting malnutrition, encouraging and educating farmers about innovative agriculture and holding basketball camps with his foundation. "My foundation is here to help people in need. People's needs have increased tremendously over the last few months due to this global pandemic. Now more than ever people are looking to us and others for aid. It is our duty to be there for our people. It is very important to me that we are doing what we can for the less fortunate," he elaborated.
In an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera (via Sportando), San Antonio Spurs' Marco Belinelli expressed his thoughts on Gobert's behavior [related to coronavirus] saying what he did was "terrible." "Terrible. I prefer not to express myself because I don't want to say things that then seem offensive or too serious, but what he did was yes, terrible," Belinelli said.
The coronavirus hit Belinelli's home country of Italy hard. Many died, were hospitalized and the situation impacted Belinelli. He's been urging everyone to remain indoors, and keeping 6-feet apart. He also gave financial assistance to an Italian hospital at the peak of the virus' impact in Italy. "From a distance I see how all our doctors, our nurses, all those who are on the front line against the virus are giving 150% to heal people," Belinelli said.
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the Landry’s restaurant group and Golden Nugget casino chain, said late Friday in a new interview with Fox News that at least some components of the U.S. economy need to reopen in May. [...] During the interview, Fertitta said he initially believed the mid-March shutdown of the City of Houston to nonessential businesses was “premature,” but he now believes it was the correct call.
When they shut down the city of Houston, I thought it was premature. But they were 100% right, and we’ve got to do this to the end of this month, and we’ve got to start opening up in May, not only on the financial side, but the mental health side is huge. I talked with so many people that say, ‘Hey, I just want to come back to work. I’ll do anything, but I’ve got to get out of my house.’ We are all struggling. We are all struggling.
In response, Fertitta said he “did some finances this week” that would take him to the end of 2020. His full commentary: This is what people don’t understand, is we all pay today, yesterday’s bills with today’s money. And when we just got shut down in a 48 hour period, you still have a payroll and severance, $100 million for me because my payroll is $1.5 billion a year. Which is done now, but my cash burn today is still $2 million a day, which is unfathomable, but that’s why we’ve got to stay liquid. I went out and did some finances this week that will take me to the end of the year.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks, a former front-office executive with the Nets, suggested in a tweet that the “best-case” scenario for an NBA return is early July. That is still two-and-a-half months away so it sounds reasonable. But the league would need ample lead time to secure a plan to finish the season and/or start the playoffs, and, according to the Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, players would need two or three weeks to get their conditioning up. For early July to work, the NBA would have to get the all-clear to restart around the end of May.
It’s hard to see that happening. Also hard to imagine: Any credible playoff schedule that starts after August 1. As one general manager told Heavy.com, “They’re not coming out and saying anything but I would say that would have to be the end date. So they’d have to know they can restart in mid-June or so for it to work.”
There obviously will be an NBA Draft and it can be a socially distanced event. Problem is, teams like to spend time with a player before investing a draft pick in him, watch him in the workout they designed, interview him, check his body language—all the normal tests and checks. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that teams are imploring the league to push the draft back to August 1, at least.
Agents are doing the same. “We usually have time, a couple of months, to get players in shape, change their diets, work out at our facilities, with our trainers, tailor what they do to what the teams want to see,” one prominent agent told Heavy.com. “We’re not getting that here and I think everyone understands that. But we’d like some time to help these guys put their best foot forward in the process.”
On a 45-minute call with Silver and the heads of 11 other prominent sports organizations, President Trump shared his frustration with the absence of sports and urged the commissioners to resume play as soon as possible, according to multiple sources. People close to multiple commissioners involved said they would continue to follow the advice of the health professionals, as opposed to Trump’s urges.
In public and private moments, commissioner Adam Silver has made it clear that the NBA will not return until health officials and the CDC give full clearance. If and when the NBA is able to resume its season in a “bubble” city, one preliminary plan would be a two-week quarantine where teams can utilize facilities again and players can work out in solo settings, then a two-week training camp followed by an abbreviated regular season and playoffs, sources said. It would all take place without fans, according to those sources. Many team executives are preparing for a delayed NBA draft — as late as September.
One potential scenario also discussed has the NBA entering a play-in tournament prior to the playoffs for the seventh seed and a few teams below, according to sources. But this is all fluid and these are all simply contingency plans, as Silver is well aware that the timetable will be determined by the virus.
"It’s already been four weeks, or a little over four weeks, and guys really haven’t been able to get on a court and hoop or anything. “(we’ll need) at least two to three weeks of training and being able to run full court and jump and be able to play basketball before you could see anybody without putting yourself at risk or getting injured.”
In addition to avoiding a quick return, Hayward says attention needs to be paid to how many games they play if they do return. “This is new to everybody, and that’s something that has to be taken into consideration,” he said. “The health of the players and not putting people at risk, and not to rush the season back or play too many games in a short period of time. That’s something that needs to be taken into consideration.”
Red Cross Blood Services: Thank you, @ATLHawks Coach @LloydPierceLP and wife, Melissa Pierce, for helping to maintain the blood supply and for sponsoring blood drives. During the #COVID19 outbreak, we encourage people to make blood donation appointments for the weeks ahead. http://rcblood.org/appt
Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic for the past 10 years, is about to become home to medical equipment and supplies that AdventHealth will use in treating those who have contracted the coronavirus. According to Florida Health, there were 17,058 confirmed cases among Florida residents of COVID-19 and another 513 non-Florida resident cases as of Friday morning. Of those, there have been 895 confirmed cases and 13 deaths in Orange County, 232 cases and two deaths in Seminole County, 300 cases and five deaths in Osceola County, 115 cases and two deaths in Brevard County, 187 cases and five deaths in Volusia County, 147 cases and two deaths in Lake County and 237 cases and eight deaths in Polk County.
Chris Milholen: The medical supplies purchased by Dzanan Musa have been delivered to Cantonal Hospital in his hometown of Bihac, Bosnia. “We have patients that desperatly need these machines and Dzanan is so happy he can help save lives in this tough moments,” Dzennis Musa said.
NBA players – generally young and healthy – mostly face reduced risk (not no risk) of developing serious symptoms due to coronavirus. But family and friends are still susceptible. Pacers center Myles Turner on C.J. McCollum‘s podcast: “My dad actually got it. He made a full recovery. But just seeing him kind of go through it was huge, because you see all the memes, and it’s funny and stuff on Twitter until something actually happens to you. And seeing my dad get it, he was super weak. He could barely talk.”
Myles Turner: “My dad has underlying conditions as well. He’s 55, 56 years old. So, he has underlying conditions. And he was in the hospital for damn near a week, maybe six or seven days. I think that’s when I kind of started taking it more serious. Like, man, this can really happen to anybody. We don’t know much about it. And that’s when I started doing more research on it, keeping up on it every day to see what I can do to keep myself safe, my sister safe, keep my family safe. Blessed as it may be, he made a full recovery.”
Said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, “We’ve partnered with AdventHealth and the Orlando Magic to transform the Amway Center into a hub for healthcare equipment and supplies that the hospital system will use to distribute needed supplies to its 50 hospitals across our region and in seven others states across the country. We are proud to have partners, like Advent Health and the Orlando Magic, who are helping now and preparing for future needs as we continue to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. As a city, we are happy to help in this effort.”
Sydney Wiese: Got retested for COVID-19 and my results came back negative. Thank you to everyone who has prayed and checked in! May we continue to do our part, think of others, and stay at home Red heart #CallYourGrandparents
Chris Haynes: NBA agent Eric Goodwin and Chef John Howie partner with SightLife to provide meals to hundreds of Seattle doctors, nurses, and staff at Evergreen Hospital, Overlake Hospital, Harborview Hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital. To help: sightlife.org/frontline #thankshealthheros
The global health crisis has shut down nearly every league on the basketball map, but not Taiwan’s Super Basketball League. So on Thursday night, Metcalf coached the team Taoyuan Pauian Archiland in an 85-77 loss to Bank of Taiwan, which was led by the former Duke guard Matt Jones with 29 points. Pauian played Friday and will again Saturday in its final two regular-season games before starting the playoffs — all of which is scheduled to take place in a small gym with no fans in a modest version of the “bubble” environment that the N.B.A. is likely to try to replicate if conditions in the United States allow the resumption of its suspended season.
“You turn on CNN or go on ESPN’s website and you realize: ‘Wow. We’re really the only people fortunate to still be able to do what we love,’” Metcalf said in a telephone interview. “I guess it says a lot about how Taiwan has taken care of the situation as a whole that we’re still able to play basketball.”
The S.B.L. indeed has some significant advantages over the N.B.A., as well as various leagues in the region that have either stalled in their efforts to relaunch (China) or decided to outright cancel the rest of the season after unsuccessful restarts (Japan and South Korea). Taiwan’s league comprises only five teams — in a country that has coped with the coronavirus pandemic as well as any. Despite its proximity and considerable business ties to China, where the coronavirus originally spread, Taiwan’s successful containment — less than 400 reported Covid-19 cases and only six deaths as of April 10, according to the island’s health minister — has been attributed by many experts to lessons learned and measures adopted after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. “Life here is pseudo normal,” Metcalf said.
An order from the Taiwanese government nonetheless shut down all arenas under government control on March 19, suspending indoor events with more than 100 people and all outdoor events with more than 500. The S.B.L. initially planned to shut down for two weeks but managed to relocate days later to the HaoYu Basketball Training Center to stage all games there and ensure gatherings in the building never stray beyond 100 occupants. The only people allowed inside, beyond the teams playing and the referees, are camera operators for the television broadcasts, officials found at the scorer’s table, and journalists at a press-row table behind one of the baskets. Many working in those capacities, as well as various team staffers and inactive players on the bench, wear masks — with some forced to watch in socks if they forget that only rubber-soled shoes are permitted inside. Grey curtains hang over the windows behind the opposite basket, covering the glass from an adjacent weight room so it stays hidden from TV viewers.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s remarks earlier this week could be left open to interpretation on whether a decision to cancel the season is growing closer because of the coronavirus pandemic. Silver said nothing will be announced in April, which seemed to leave open the possibility of the NBA nixing the season on May 1.
However, a Players Association memo to players and their agents sent out Thursday night indicated more time may be given to evaluate whether the season will resume. The Post has reported that even if the regular season goes on, it would likely just be a minuscule five-to-seven-game schedule with a shortened one-site, 16-team playoff tournament. Silver also revealed in his remarks to TNT’s Ernie Johnson that last weekend’s commissioners conference call with President Trump felt like something of “a pep talk’’ — with the commander in chief underlining how important the major sports leagues are to society.
According to the union memo obtained by The Post: “There is no timetable for future decisions and no ‘drop-dead date’ for any final determination. When the time is right and it is safe to do so, rest assured, the NBPA will participate fully in any plan as to how the 2019-20 season could be completed and we will keep you apprised of any such plans. The health and safety of players and participants will, of course, be paramount in any decisions.’’
Adrian Wojnarowski: Reporting with @Jonathan Givony: As information gathering on draft-eligible prospects remains limited in a pandemic, many NBA teams are united in hopes of encouraging the league office to push the date of the June 25 draft until no sooner than August 1. Story soon on ESPN.
The Swoosh is considering holding either one or multiple events for all 36 17U EYBL teams in June that would determine seeding for the Peach Jam in July, sources said. The June event(s) could potentially take place at one central location or at multiple regional sites in the East, South, Midwest and West. The June event would not be a qualifier, and would only determine seeding for Peach Jam. “The June event would be about making sure the Peach Jam pools are balanced,” one source said.
Shams Charania: The NBA and NBPA have agreed to extend the moratorium on transactions (agreements, trades, player/team options) indefinitely, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. Business remains paused.
Considering all the efforts the Jazz had taken to educate their players on the matter and to ensure their safety, it’s not hard to see why there would be frustration with anyone who was still downplaying the disease. Now, though, they must find a way to move forward. The Jazz have already begun working on the Mitchell-Gobert relationship, but sources say Mitchell remains reluctant to fix what might have been broken. “It doesn’t appear salvageable,” one source with knowledge of the situation said.
In the two travel days leading into Utah’s game at Oklahoma City, Gobert and Mitchell shared space on a regular basis, sitting near each other on buses and the team plane, according to sources. Still, there’s no way to know if Gobert gave it to Mitchell or if it was the other way around or some other factor. That’s something the team tried to make clear to Mitchell, according to sources. Mitchell also declined an interview request for this story.
The Jazz convened in the lobby of the Residence Inn on Thursday morning, still stunned by the events of the night before. Players milled around, making small talk, laughing and conversing with each other, checking their phones. Soon after, they took a chartered flight back to Salt Lake City, relieved to be going home, even if it was to quarantine for two weeks. Gobert traveled back to Utah on a private flight. Sources said Mitchell went elsewhere: New York, where he could be closer to his family. He wanted to be near his mother, Nicole Mitchell, as the two share a close relationship. He spent the following days quarantined in a basement. The process itself, of getting Gobert and Mitchell on their flights, wasn’t easy, according to sources. Because of the duo’s positive tests, the Jazz had to go through a special protocol for Gobert and Mitchell to be cleared to get onboard flights.
There is hope that the relationship will improve over time, and the fact that there could potentially be a lot of time to sort things out could work in Utah’s favor. “I’m confident our team is going to be totally fine,” Ingles said. “I heard Donovan’s response (on GMA), or whatever it was, to that question, and a part of that is on Donovan and Rudy to sort out if he’s frustrated with him or whatever. But I have no doubt when we go back to training, or when our season starts again, our team is going to be what we have been and what we are. … I’m confident our team will be completely fine. The chemistry will be fine.”
After Silver hung up with the Thunder and OSDH officials, the league arranged an emergency call of the NBA team presidents, with many of the owners who had just gotten off the earlier conference call with Silver on the line again. It was not a very long call. According to a source with knowledge of the meeting, only two teams said during the call that they still wanted to keep playing. Most everyone knew what had to happen next. Reports naming Gobert as the player who’d tested positive for coronavirus were coming out, first via The Athletic and then other media organizations.
As an organization, the Jazz were as vigilant as anyone in regards to coronavirus awareness than most to that point, and perhaps more than most. Head coach Quin Snyder and the front office had top healthcare officials in Utah meet with players and coaches over multiple meetings in an effort to educate, sources tell The Athletic. The team itself had been taking what they thought were preventative measures, even if the players themselves had been a bit slow to. And the league had already restricted locker room access to essential personnel on game nights.
He is one of professional sports most-outgoing and charismatic owners, and Mark Cuban doesn't shy away from offering his thoughts on a wide-variety of topics. The Mt. Lebanon native and owner of the Dallas Mavericks told the PM Team he believes professional sports could have games being played in two months. "If things really go our way, it's not inconceivable to me--and this is me being hopeful and not being scientific--that we could potentially play games in early June," Cuban said.
But Cuban's optimism is rooted in science and medicine. "I think we're coming back," Cuban said. "I can't tell you exactly when, but this is purely a science and doctors thing. My attitude always is it's not about if the glass is half empty or half full, it's who's pouring the water. In this particular case, it's the scientists pouring the water. All I know from all the science and everything that I'm reading, I think we're making enough advances that several of them will come through so we can start planning what a comeback would look like. I'm a big believer in American exceptionalism, and everything I'm starting to hear in terms of the science is coming along and the medical advances that we're making to fight this thing makes me very positive. If I had to bet, and this is more a guess than a bet, I'd say early June is when you see teams start to take the field and maybe play games just for television."
The NBA has considered a similar setup in Las Vegas. Lakers star LeBron James initially voiced his displeasure about playing games without fans but has since softened his stance. "LeBron is right. It’s hard to play without fans," said Johnson, who stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations in 2019. "You play one game, you’ll adjust to not having fans there. We’ve all played our whole life on the playgrounds and in pickup games without fans being there. Basketball players will know how to adjust."
Even if Johnson admitted he is "looking forward to see if the Lakers are going to win the championship," he seemed more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic than worried if sports will resume. "I hope that happens. But first the players have to be safe," Johnson said. "The numbers have to be stabilized. America and all of us who live in this great country we live in need sports, especially in a time like this. But only if everybody is safe."
Pelicans director of mental health and wellness Jenna Rosen has been working with players twice a day with a Zoom of mental exercises and stress-relieving exercises according to Griffin. "We're trying to be as creative as we can to have constant contact with people and make them understand that we're still part of the same family, and family matters vitally to this group," Griffin said. "I think our players are very close individually. I think organizationally, I think if you talk to most of the people in it, they would tell you that 'family' is a big focus of what we've brought to this, so we're trying as best we can to connect with as many people on as many different levels as possible."
Nonetheless, Johnson still drew parallels between HIV and COVID-19 because of the similarities regarding the misconceptions about the respective viruses, the inadequate testing, the lack of available drugs and how the pandemic has hurt the black community. "African Americans are leading in terms of dying from the coronavirus and most of them in the hospital are African American,” Johnson said. "We have to do a better job as African Americans to follow social distancing, stay at home and make sure we educate our loved ones and our family members and do what we’re supposed to do to keep safe and healthy. Then when you add that up, we don’t have access to health care, quality health care. So many of us are uninsured. That also creates a problem, too. Just like it did with HIV and AIDS."
Consider the common perception about HIV when Johnson learned he first had it. "When I announced, it was considered a white, gay man’s disease," Johnson said. "People were wrong. Black people didn’t think they could get HIV and AIDS." That partly explains why Johnson went public with his diagnosis. It also partly explains why Johnson eventually raised more than $10 million for HIV/AIDs research and charities through his foundation. Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2018 black people accounted for 42% of new HIV diagnoses. USA TODAY recently reported that black people are dying of coronavirus at much higher rates compared to other Americans in major cities. Johnson offered varying reasons that explain such a troubling trend.
As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic. As announced on March 25, our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting with food storage for hunger relief, first responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.
Moving forward, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, will be utilizing the United Center as a satellite storage facility in response to the increased need for food. By alleviating space in the food bank’s warehouse, the Food Depository can bring additional volunteers into their facility to build more family food boxes in an environment that adheres to social distancing protocols. These boxes will continue to be distributed to those in need by the Food Depository’s partner network throughout Chicago and Cook County.
Waiters, who'd been signed by Los Angeles less than a week beforehand and hadn't even played a game with the Lakers yet, was watching the battle between Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic when the decision came down. “People start sending stuff, it got crazy,” Waiters told Sports Illustrated. “At that time, [the Lakers] were still trying to get all the information. Everybody found out at the same time.”
Waiters remained in Los Angeles to work out after the suspension, though those activities were soon banned. Then Waiters, like the rest of his teammates, was tested for the coronavirus in mid-March, a process he described as “terrible.” “They stick a Q-tip into your nose, it touches the front of your brain,” Waiters describes. “You start coughing and everything, it was the worst.”
A whopping 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University's Stillman School of Business. When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.
Only 12% of all respondents said they would go to games if social distancing could be maintained, which would likely lead to a highly reduced number of fans, staff and media at games. For example, fan capacity for a Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers game at Staples Center is around 19,000.
Noordin Said, a beloved security official to NBA players and numerous musical artists, died Tuesday in New York after contracting COVID-19, his daughter confirmed to Yahoo Sports. Said’s mother, Anezia Clemons, who lived with him in New York, also died from COVID-19 approximately seven hours before her 56-year-old son, who died at 1:32 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
NBA star DeMarcus Cousins first hired Noordin Said to be his personal security guard in 2015 during All-Star weekend in New York. From there, the two hit it off, and Said worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 All-Star weekend in New Orleans at Cousins’ side. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green hired Said to be his personal security guard during the 2018 playoffs, and Said worked this season with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo at most home games.
On Monday, Curry surprised an intensive care nurse and her fellow staffers with a FaceTime appearance in which the two-time NBA MVP shared how inspired he was by her dedication as a front-line healthcare worker.
Shelby Delaney of the Summit Medical Center in Oakland was one of the first nurses to volunteer to help coronavirus patients at the hospital. Curry made sure the 27-year-old knew how important that was. "I can't thank God enough for what you’re doing and just the sacrifice, the selflessness and the way everybody’s coming together," Curry told her on the call. "Thank you so much for just what you do, your heart and the inspiration you provide for everybody."
Eric Gordon works out at home without knowing when to ramp up for a return that is in question. But he is unwilling to allow himself to fret over what a season lost to the coronavirus crisis would mean for him and the veteran, win-now Rockets considering the far greater concerns. “It’s hard to explain how I feel because of the situation we’re all dealing with,” Gordon said. “That’s the real concern. Just try to stay away from everybody, keep healthy.”
As the NBA considers options for a potential return, Matisse Thybulle put the suspension of his rookie season amid the coronavirus pandemic into perspective. “As much as I want to say basketball is the most important thing in the world, it’s not when you are talking about people’s lives and people’s health,” the 76ers reserve guard said Wednesday. “The small amount of control that we see that we have is scary. So I think trying to focus on controlling what we can control as most people are doing, self-quarantining, I think that has been like my number one focus and I hope it is for most people because, NBA season or not, it doesn’t matter unless you are healthy."
Gasol, a 18-year NBA veteran, two-time NBA champion and six-time All-Star, searches for hope and meaning during these times. He said he is inspired by people who emerged from horrible situations. Books written by Holocaust survivors have lifted him. He said just finished reading Edith Evan Eger’s "The Choice" and Viktor Frankl’s "Man’s Search for Meaning," which was recommended by Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
"Even though it may come at a high price, how do you respond to those adverse times that define you?” Gasol said. “You can respond with anger, bitterness, frustration, resentful or you can respond positively with a sense of being grateful and with a perspective of how can I be better prepared next time and how can I grow and be a stronger human being, family, community, country and world? How can this unite us and bring us closer instead of dividing us more? I hope this is an opportunity for us to figure things out together instead of pointing fingers and the tension building and leading to bigger problems.”
Gasol understands these are uncommon, extraordinary times. “Our generation has been really fortunate,” he said. “We really haven’t had to deal with a lot of adversity compared to other times in humanity. This one is probably is the biggest one or one of the biggest ones we’ve had to face and go through. Life, our journey as human beings, is a continuous test.”
Porzingis’ current team, the Dallas Mavericks, were in the No. 7 playoff position in the Western Conference — 10 games clear of the playoff cutoff — when play was suspended March 11 after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert first tested positive for COVID-19. “At the end, this is much bigger than an NBA season or sports in general,” Porzingis told SiriusXM NBA Radio. “So, of course I would’ve loved — and hopefully we still do it — to get that first playoff experience. Whatever happens, I still have a lot of time in my career to still achieve that.”
Oleh Kosel: The Smoothie King Center will illuminate in blue tonight at 8 pm as part of the global #LightItBlue initiative to salute millions of essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do your part by wearing blue & sharing #LightItBlue images/messages on social media!
They had about four minutes. The phone call, from an official with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to a member of the Utah Jazz, was unambiguous: Rudy Gobert, the Jazz’s All-Star center, had tested positive for the coronavirus, the rapidly-spreading precursor to the condition known as COVID-19. An extremely contagious virus for which there is no vaccine, COVID-19 had already killed thousands of people in China, and was quickly working its way through Italy, where it would kill thousands more. Yet on March 11, the United States was, relatively speaking, still open for business.
As player introductions for the home team concluded, an official of the Jazz called an official of the Thunder. The two had been in regular contact for the last 24 hours, since Gobert had started showing signs of fever that weren’t dissipating. Now, there was no doubt. Even though Gobert had been kept out of Chesapeake as a precaution that night, and was still at the team’s hotel in town, he’d obviously been in close contact with several of his Jazz teammates – who were now taking the floor, along with the Thunder. There was no more time.
Fortunately, an OKC official was close enough to Donnie Strack, the Thunder’s Vice President of Human and Player Performance, to get his attention. Get the refs, Strack was told. Tell them to stop the tipoff. As Strack ran onto the court, Rob Hennigan, OKC’s VP of Insight and Foresight, started corralling the Thunder’s players and coaches. He then joined the huddle near midcourt with Strack and the referees – crew chief Pat Fraher, Mark Lindsay and Ben Taylor. The officials soon called over the respective head coaches, Quin Snyder and Billy Donovan. Seconds later, they contacted the NBA, through its Digital Operations Center, where the league monitors every game played. Usually, the biggest issue on a given night at the DOC is to help referees determine whether or not to instant replay. This was different.
“We weren’t the chief health office that night; the state and OSDH was,” Holt said. “We were trying to figure out what to do with the 21c hotel, which is where Rudy Gobert was sitting, in his room … people were coming to the lobby asking, ‘Is Rudy Gobert at this hotel?’ “I’ve got calls rolling in from the NBA, from Sam Presti. They were trying to figure out a variety of issues, including where would the Jazz sleep tonight if they couldn’t get out? Because they needed about 50 rooms, and they had checked out already … And also finding a hotel who could take in people that might have COVID-19.”
Serge Ibaka: Proud to say until April 30th the @IbakaFoundation will match every donation to @FredVictorTO 's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund up to $100,000. Double your impact and help people who are homeless. Donate today helphomelessincrisis.ca
Noordin Said, a beloved security official to NBA players and numerous musical artists, died Tuesday in New York after contracting COVID-19, his daughter confirmed to Yahoo Sports. Noordin Said’s mother, Anezia Clemons, who lived with him in New York, also died from COVID-19 approximately seven hours before her 56-year-old son, who died at 1:32 a.m. ET Tuesday.
“I still can’t believe it,” Said’s daughter Samantha told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t believe it. It’s so unreal. You don’t realize how bad this virus is until it hits home. We thought my grandmother passing was kind of taking one for the team. It was almost like she was saying, ‘Take me instead of my son.’ But no … the virus attacked my dad’s lungs really bad, and that was the issue.”
NBA star DeMarcus Cousins first hired Noordin Said to be his personal security guard in 2015 during All-Star weekend in New York. From there, the two hit it off, and Said worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 All-Star weekend in New Orleans at Cousins’ side. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green hired Said to be his personal security guard during the 2018 playoffs, and Said worked this season with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo at most home games. Said was not employed by the teams, but worked for the players individually.
Shams Charania: There's definitely a lot of optimism. A lot of the owners, GMs, players, they all want to have a season. And in conversations behind the scenes, whether it's with the league or the NBPA with their players, etc, everyone understands how much money is at stake and again, this isn't done for the money. At the end of the day, they can't throw these guys out there if there are health risks at stake, and they won't. But the understanding of how much money still is on the line for the season, for to crown a champion in an abbreviated season, I think that will always keep the hope alive for trying to have a season.
He also walked back comments he made on the "Road Trippin' Podcast" on March 26 when hosts Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton suggested the league could restart if all essential personnel -- players, coaches, training staff, medical staff, referees, broadcasters, etc. -- were quarantined together in the same location for the duration of the games left on the schedule and he dismissed that scenario, saying, "I ain't going for that s---." "I believe once [the pandemic is] under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going," James said Wednesday. "I feel like we're in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor. And if it's in one single, isolated destination ... if it's Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe -- not only on the floor, but also off the floor, as well -- then those conversations will be had. Just figuring out a way."
This isn’t the time to write the Lakers’ season in review just yet. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on Monday that the league will not make any decisions this month, and it remains unclear if next month will bring any clarity. “I'm always pretty optimistic about everything,” James said. “I feel like it's always greener on the other side of the fence. I believe that this is a roadblock for all of us, not only as Americans, but for the world … It’s a test of our mental side, our spiritual side, it’s a test for everything. We had grown so comfortable with how we live our life and everyday life that it’s now time to take a pause. I’m very optimistic about not only just basketball, but sport. It’s not just about the Lakers. It’s not just about the NBA, but it’s everything.”
If the NBA season can’t resume, it will be left incomplete for James and his teammates, but not without special moments. “I will have some satisfaction of being with my brothers, being with my guys, thinking about some of the road trips that we had, thinking about some of the games we lost, some of the games we won, some of the games we overcame, and then everything we’ve been going through this season,” James said. “Just the ups and downs not only on the floor but off the floor, everything that we’ve had to endure as Laker faithful, us as players and coaching staff and an organization. “Closure? No, but to be proud of what we were able to accomplish to this point, I’ll be able to look back and say we did something special in that small period of time.”
Although Lakers players were placed into a 14-day, self-isolation period after two unnamed players tested positive for COVID-19 and the team continues to practice social distancing through the government-mandated April 30 time frame, it's no surprise they're trying to come together while being physically apart. "For the guys, we work hard with our strength and conditioning staff to make sure they have fitness bundles delivered to them where we can do Zoom workouts," Rob Pelinka, the team's vice president of basketball operations and general manager, said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. "This is a team that just loved being together, whether it was on the bench, on the bus, in the locker room. These guys just have a great chemistry of being together. So they've tried to stay as connected as possible in the ways they can, working out together virtually."
If returning to the court to salvage the 2019-20 season proves to be impossible, Pelinka said he will still feel some sense of accomplishment regarding the Lakers' campaign. "It's almost like I look at our season like a series of tests, and we got a lot of As. And we got some A-pluses and some A-minuses. And I think there has been a lot of success in that," he said. "We haven't had the chance to take a final exam yet. But that doesn't mean we're not going to celebrate the As that we've gotten so far."
The fight to defeat COVID-19 is one that will only be won together. The Miami HEAT store and Refried Apparel are partnering together to turn $100k in unsold jerseys into over 7,000 masks to be donated to local medical facilities in need. "I remembered we were sitting on some former players' jerseys and T-shirts and I thought to myself, 'Let's recycle these into something useful and donate them to those brave folks on the front lines of this pandemic,'" said Andy Montero, Vice President of Retail Business & Development for the Miami HEAT. "We're stuck in our houses, but I'm so happy we are finding ways to help!"
Knicks superfan Fred Klein, a longtime Garden courtside fixture, died Saturday from coronavirus, his wife Terry told the Daily News. He was 85. Klein, who also once co-owned the iconic Carnegie Deli, was a season ticket holder for longer than Spike Lee, having purchased his first seat in 1959. He boasted of missing only 43 home games over about 55 years before Alzheimer’s left him unable to attend. Klein died inside a Manhattan nursing home, according to Terry, after treatments for pneumonia were unsuccessful. “He was a legend,” she said. “He really was.”
September 20, 2021 | 8:16 am EDT Update
UNICS Kazan announced the signing of former Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo. The 33-year-old veteran will make his european debut in VTB League and the EuroLeague this season, signing a one-year deal with the club. Mayo has 573 NBA games under his belt, with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.0 steal per contest.
“Shabazz Napier underwent a comprehensive examination. He has a rather serious injury to the ligaments of the right ankle joint. On the positive side, I can say that there is no fracture and, therefore, there is no need for surgery, of the minuses, the recovery time is still unknown. We have all the necessary conditions to get him back on the floor quickly. All is needed is the support of the fans,” general manager Alexander Tserkovny said. Napier moved to Europe after six years in the NBA and showed promise in front of the season. In the first VTB SuperCup game, against UNICS, he banked in 33 points on 8-11 shooting including 6-8 from deep. He also dished out four assists during the 30 minutes on the floor.
Organizers of a planned museum about basketball great Larry Bird in Terre Haute are starting to assemble thousands of items ahead of its expected opening next year. The museum will be part of the new Terre Haute Convention Center, which remains under construction with an anticipated completion date of March 2022. It will include items donated by Bird and others from his career with the Boston Celtics, Indiana State University and the U.S. Olympic team. The site for work on cataloging the memorabilia is being modified for security and should be ready within weeks, the Tribune-Star reported.
September 20, 2021 | 4:09 am EDT Update
According to a league source, projections indicate that a $171 million salary cap is possible, assuming no cap smoothing, by 2025. Should the NBPA instead agree to cap smoothing, it’s likely the league will still see annual increases to the extent of $15 million, according to source.
The NBA also has a $1.5 billion streaming deal with Chinese-based company Tencent Holdings. “I think everyone expects that so long as the public is demonstrating through ratings that they are watching the NBA, you can probably expect increases there as well,” said former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson. “I would think the NBA is going to look for significant increases.”
Brother Pau Gasol recently spoke with Spanish newspaper Marca, and the topic of Marc’s future came up. “Marc has earned the freedom and flexibility to make his own decision and he will do so when he decides. I know he has a lot of enthusiasm for Basquet Girona, a club in which I am also involved as vice president. He is in a different situation, because he is five years younger than me. We will see what he decides to do this season and later, I am also waiting.“