Australia's Maker boys arrive at a secret basketball fa…

Australia’s Maker boys arrive at a secret basketball facility south of Los Angeles just before midnight five days a week, punch in a security code, flick on the lights and get to work. Their first job of the night is not basketball. They turn into possibly the tallest cleaning crew on the planet. The 213cm tall Thon Maker, his 210cm “little brother” Matur Maker and 211cm teenage cousin Makur Maker grab towels, sanitiser and cleaning products and start wiping down basketballs, seats, benches and anything else they might touch during their midnight to 2am workouts.

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Thon underwent a 14-day quarantine last month after Pistons teammate Christian Wood tested positive for coronavirus. When Thon got the all-clear he rented a house in LA and the Makers' workout sessions began with a portable basketball hoop on grass in the backyard. "We couldn't do anything off the bounce or post work," Susnjara laughed. They went in search of a suitable basketball facility, heard about the private, 24-hour indoor court they eventually settled on and reserved the midnight to 2am slots to ensure privacy. The Makers and Susnjara limit as much contact between themselves as possible.
As the coronavirus crisis forces all sports leagues to re-evaluate how they can once again host thousands of fans at stadiums across the country, at least one prominent data scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says there are steps teams can take that will make arenas "as safe as public parks." Professor Alex Pentland, the head of the Human Dynamic Lab at MIT, released a white paper this week suggesting companies can use digital tools to help create safer environments -- and told ESPN there are applications to sports as well.
Pentland said what would perhaps be the most dramatic change to the gameday experience are his recommendations on regulating pedestrian traffic flow once fans are in the stadium. Pentland suggests teams make aisles one way -- think of a one-way street -- so that fans aren't crossing each other. He also recommends fans who are seated in the same location enter from one gate and then sit together, because it "helps keep outbreaks localized to one physical area." Any gameday staff that cut across areas should be, Pentland said, "safe,"-- i.e. people who will not transmit the virus.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman discussed a potential four-arena plan for a season restart, a draft held before the season is completed and fans returning to games during a wide-ranging interview with Sportsnet on Wednesday.
Nick Friedell: Luke Walton on season possibly resuming: "Honestly, I have no idea. Everyone wants to play but everybody understands top priority is the safety of players ... So as much as everyone wants to get back to playing nobody's really pressing it because we know what's most important."
Josh Lewenberg: VanVleet on staying in touch with his Raptors teammates: "There's a couple group chats. Me and Kyle are talking pretty much everyday... We watch the MJ doc and people want to talk about that. We're a pretty close-knit team."
The Hornets staff is monitoring players and helping them with their conditioning remotely during the lockdown, but Borrego cautioned that the league needs to be "very careful'' not to rush back too soon because "nobody wants to get hurt or injured in this time.''
Thad Young is out of work. So it was time to get back to work. At his side job. The one that probably will eventually make him more than the approximately $100 million in NBA contracts he's earned already. "We're all anxious to get back," says the senior Bull, a veteran of 13 NBA seasons. "Continue to try to get better as a group and try to uplift the guys and try to make sure when we can to lock in and focus on the the things we have to do."
Young keeps active with some workouts the Bulls have passed on and, as always, keeping his mind active with his business ventures. "I've had the chance to focus on everything outside basketball, which is my family first and second the business ventures I'm into. It's given me a chance to take a lot of the meetings I'm not able to during the season," Young explained. "When we get into a city we have team meetings after flying in and then there's practice, preparing for practice; it's about basketball.” "So for now it's given me a chance to dive into the business stuff I have going," said Young. "I can sit on the phone with my team and advisors and be on the calls as opposed to them doing all the due diligence and giving me a report. I can ask my own questions and have meetings with officials of those companies."
Young's company invests in these startups hoping, as many do, for the next Uber, Instagram or AirBnB. Reform Ventures has had investments in DraftKings, Pinterest and SpaceX, among others. "We do it in early stage growth or late stage companies," says Young. "The same stuff people in Silicon Valley are doing. But I also have a real estate portfolio where we're invested in apartment complexes, condo buildings, hospitals, strip malls, single and multi-family housing. A lot of different things across the board."
While talking with Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show,” Cuban mentioned the return of the NBA. “The goal hopefully is, once the science is in place, be able to play where ever we can play because people need sports,” Cuban said. “We want something to cheer for, we want something to get excited about. I think we’ll get out there and play without fans, play to the TV cameras.”
"I’m hopeful," Grousbeck told the guys when asked about the league resuming play. "We’re on literally almost daily different committee calls and league-wide calls and the tone — or the substance — of the meetings is safety first. And that’s not just a buzzword or phrase, it’s exactly how Adam [Silver] and all the owners feel; We gotta make sure it’s safe, so that’s gonna mean testing and everything else. But when it’s safe, we’re going to go ahead. I’m not predicting when, but the idea is to try to do something when safety is assured."
When asked about Las Vegas, which has been one of the more popular suggestions among both players and media, Grousbeck once again said he didn't know about those players because, again, nothing has been decided from Silver and the league's executive committee. "It’s a fair question," said Grousbeck. "The fact is that Adam has said we won’t make any decisions, under any circumstances, until May 1st. But it could be, who knows, June 1st or July 1st before a decision is made either to go or no-go. If I knew more, I would have to say I know more but I can’t comment, but I don’t know more."
Cuban also discussed the NBA and his thoughts on live sporting events coming back. He was asked if he remained optimistic that we will be able to gather in large venues for live sporting events and concerts within the next 12 months. “Yes, absolutely, positively. Look I am a big believer in science, I am a big believer in American exceptionalism. I am 100% confident that the scientists and doctors will figure this out. No doubt in my mind.”
He was then asked if he is a fan of continuing the NBA season without fans in the arena. “Oh ya, I have no problem with that. Look I think we need sports. We need something to root for right now. We need something to yell about and scream about and virtually together watching a game. I mean ya know, if you are a Mavs fan and the Mavs are playing the Lakers and you are a Lakers fan. And all your Lakers fans are screaming with each other and all the Mavs fans are screaming with each other. And the Lakers fans are upset because the Mavs just kicked their butts. Those are the types of things we need to just get excited whether it is basketball or any sport. We need something to gather around.”
Eric Smith: VanVleet on conf. call: "I could play anywhere." "Do I want to play in front of no people? No." Adds people's health & well-being is first and foremost. #Raptors
Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, in appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on Tuesday, spoke of his time at home during the NBA hiatus and promoted charities he is supporting but also offered a message should the NBA return to conclude the 2019-20 season. “I’m always ready, Jimmy,” Westbrook said when Fallon asked if he would be ready for playoffs. “I’m always ready. I’m always ready.” When Fallon asked if he was in basketball shape, Westbrook said, “I would say so.”
Rod Boone: Speaking on a video conference call, #Hornets coach James Borrego said: "I do think we could still see basketball this season." He's obviously unsure when play will resume and if they will play all of their remaining 17 games. But he believes they will at least make an attempt.
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge says he's "holding out hope" that they'll finish the season. "But that's just me being a fan."
How optimistic, pessimistic are you of the possibility of the season resuming? George Hill: I’m a little 50-50. I really don’t know what’s going on. I can’t predict it. But what I say is I think life itself is bigger than the money aspect of the game. Yes, as competitors and athletes we want to play this season, but I feel like if more lives are in jeopardy than I could care less about the season. I’d rather help keep everyone safe and sound, all our families, our kids, our wives, our mother-in-laws, our grandparents and things like that.
How would you feel about playing without fans if and when the season does restart? Marvin Williams: I think it would be different. Honestly, it'd be awkward. And I say that just because you're talking about the playoffs and I feel like the crowd is probably the most exciting thing out there. Like the atmosphere, the environment when you go out there. I think players would really miss that. Hopefully, like if you were to get out there and obviously we tipped it up and started competing, you wouldn't think about it anymore, but I've never done it personally. I've never played in a game with no fans. Well, I think it would be a new experience for a lot of guys.
According to people close to league discussions, the NBA’s planning committee, which features several team general managers, has been pitching the idea to start games around Christmas for quite some time. The idea stems from a variety of factors, including coaches and players complaining about too many games in a week, to lack of practice time, early ratings being impacted, and perhaps one of the most significant issues plaguing the NBA before the coronavirus pandemic: load management and rest.
The NBA has already discussed an in-season tournament if play can resume this summer, which Silver said requires more dialogue, but also added would be implemented at some point. One NBA executive said this is the opportunity to explore the concept for at least for one year, in what could be spectator-free arenas. The executive, who spoke to CNBC on condition of autonomy as the individual is not authorized to talk about the matter, suggested opening a new season via a tournament on Christmas.
According to one top-ranking league official, the NBA has explored concepts of concluding final games in Las Vegas, as the tournament would emulate famous overseas basketball cups like the Copa del Rey in Spain. In Las Vegas, the NBA already has built-in business relationships, and could recover some of the lost revenue via sponsorships and gambling dollars associated with a tournament, the executive said, adding a proposed sponsorship slogan for the one-and-done format. “The NBA Cup, where every game is a Game 7,” the individual said.
The sports industry is set to lose billions in revenue this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. An analysis conducted by sports marketing agency Two Circles estimates the industry will generate $73.7 billion in revenue globally during 2020 - $61.6 billion less than originally projected. The global sports industry generated $129 billion in revenue during 2019 and was anticipated to grow by 4.9% year-over-year before the pandemic.
Former NBA player Tracy McGrady is of the opinion that the current NBA season should not be resumed. According to T-Mac, from a player’s perspective it’s too much effort to stay in tip-top shape for an extended period. He says that it makes more sense to just cancel the 2019-20 season and start a new one in October. “As a former player, I would be in favor of calling the season off. I just think there’s too much to go into having to start the season (back) up. I don’t have the facilities that I need to stay in a tip-top shape that I need to be in because everything is closed. Even when I get back to the facilities being open and being able to train it’s gonna take some time for me to get in basketball shape. And what does that entail? That entails me playing in game.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the NBA doesn’t have a plan in place to return to basketball, echoing the sentiments made by commissioner Adam Silver on Friday. “There’s not really a plan we can put together,” Cuban said in an appearance on CNN Saturday. “The biggest mistake we can make is trying to rush. I mean, that’s the topic going on around the country, when do we start acting as if things are normal? When can we dip our toes into opening up businesses? “There are just a thousand different little elements that have to be taken into consideration,” Cuban added. ” … There are so many components that we have to explore and get right because we can’t put anybody at risk.”
Last week, Knicks rookie RJ Barrett went to pick up a package for his grandmother. He didn’t even get out of the car, but someone recognized him from afar. And it blew his mind. “I really forgot that I play in the NBA,” he tells The Post. “It’s such a different reality that we’re in right now.” The 19-year-old is riding out the coronavirus lockdown with his family in Orlando, Fla., playing video games, chilling with his French bulldogs, Kobe and Kingston, and bonding with his little brother, Nathan.
He gave $25,000 to MSG Relief Fund, which provides employees with financial assistance for a variety of areas including unanticipated healthcare costs, rent, food, medicine and other expenses. After all of the checks cashed and the equipment shipped, Barrett’s assist was worth $250,000. “If we can make their lives a little easier and help people survive, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Even before the Miami Heat revealed last week that he stood as the lone player on his team with access to a fixed basketball stanchion, backboard and rim, Jimmy Butler was dishing assists. It turns out that the All-Star forward was ahead of the curve when it came to one-on-none basketball, ordering rims for his entire team at the same time had ordered the one for himself.
Watching TV at his Northern California home, Green had just seen the news come across his screen that the NBA season would be suspended as result of the coronavirus pandemic. After a few frantic hours with little information, Golden State general manager Bob Myers’ name popped up on Green’s phone. “He gave me a call and he’s like ‘man this is crazy right?’ ” Green said of the conversation on the Paul Rivera Podcast. “He’s like ‘well, the season’s suspended, it’s not canceled. We don’t know anything, I know your next question is your pay, we don’t know anything, all we know is the season is suspended indefinitely.’ ”
Clifford: “I think the most difficult thing for everybody is that there’s just no way right now to have a definitive answer on when we’re going to come back and, beyond that, how long we will have to get ready to play once we do come back. We don’t know if there will be regular-season games or if we’ll go right into the playoffs or some other type of scenario. The one thing I am comfortable with is we have a great commissioner [Adam Silver]. He studies everything and he’ll take everything into consideration.”
Steve Clifford: “The league is meeting constantly and everything is considered. There’s nothing that’s done in our league that’s not studied and discussed. And when a decision is made, it will be made with the health of all of us as the top priority. The unknown makes it difficult, but I feel good that when we come back it will be with the best possible and well-thought-out plan.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the NBA doesn’t have a plan in place to return to basketball, echoing the sentiments made by commissioner Adam Silver on Friday. “There’s not really a plan we can put together,” Cuban said in an appearance on CNN Saturday. “The biggest mistake we can make is trying to rush. I mean, that’s the topic going on around the country, when do we start acting as if things are normal? When can we dip our toes into opening up businesses?”
“Each owner, for any business — whether it’s a sports team or any type of business — has to make their own decision,” Cuban said. “Everyone’s in a different financial position. All I would suggest or ask is if you can afford to do it, continue to do it because it’s really important to the bigger picture. It’s really important to the economy. And those people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck need it more than anybody.
The Detroit Pistons confirmed Saturday that rookie Sekou Doumbouya is back in France while NBA play is on hold because of the coronavirus crisis. The league recommended players avoid non-essential travel, but players -- in concert with their team -- could choose to go to another city and stay there.
While the NBA season is on hold for the time being, Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin is still getting in his workouts. The 31-year-old athlete went for an outdoor sweat session on Saturday while still maintaining a proper social distance between his fellow workout companions. In the Los Angeles heat, Griffin took his shirt off and just wore drawstring athletic shorts and a cross-chest heart rate monitor.
Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA remains committed to resuming the season but that there is still no timetable for a possible return or even a deadline for canceling the 2019-20 suspended season. Following the NBA's board of governors meeting held via video conference Friday, Silver said the league is still not in position to make any decisions.
Silver said the NBA is watching to see whether the number of new infections decreases, and is monitoring the availability of testing on a large scale and the path toward a potential vaccine and antiviral drugs. The NBA also is paying close attention to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is directing on a federal level and what the various state rules are. On top of that, Silver said health care workers on the front lines have to be "taken care of before we begin talking about NBA players or sports."
"There is a lot of data that all has to be melded together to help make these decisions," Silver said. "That is part of the uncertainty. We are not even at the point where we can say if only A, B and C were met, then there is a clear path. "I think there is still too much uncertainty at this point to say precisely how we move forward. I'll add that the underlying principle remains the health and well-being of NBA players and everyone involved. We begin with that as paramount."
Fred Katz: Adam Silver says continuing the regular season is "absolutely still an option. Everything is on the table. All rules are off. … If there is an opportunity to resume play, even if it looks different than what we’ve done historically, we should be modeling it."
KC Johnson: Adam Silver said the league is "not ready" to set a cutoff date for this season and that "everything is on the table, including delaying the start of next season."
Mark Medina: Adam Silver on the financial ramifications the NBA has experienced so far: "Our revenue in essence has dropped to zero. That has been a huge financial impact on the team business and arena business."
Kyle Goon: Adam Silver said owners have a fair bit of angst stemming from the challenges facing society, but they see the opportunity for the NBA to be a leader and the potential to win a symbolic battle. "If we do find a path back, it will be very meaningful for Americans."
Tim Reynolds: That would be what they would lose if no more games are played this season. Stephen Curry would lose roughly $8 million; guys on minimums would lose around $180,000 ... again, in gross dollars.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Friday said doubleheaders with NBA teams and different fan engagements are among the things being discussed in regard to the league having a 2020 season. The WNBA season was scheduled to begin May 15, but it has been postponed during the coronavirus pandemic. Engelbert said she believes that the coronavirus pandemic "will change sports forever."
"We're doing a lot of analysis. This is why it's called scenario planning. We're leveraging all of the resources we have with the NBA and the WNBA. We could innovate around different formats. We probably won't end up with one scenario; we'll end up with maybe employing multiple ones.” That might include the possibility of doubleheaders with the NBA, since it's also unclear when that league will resume.
"Where we do share an arena, it's a time of opportunity that we could probably do back-to-backs or doubleheaders," Engelbert said. "Or maybe bring some games -- if we get to the point where we're in arenas with fans -- we [go] to arenas where there's not a WNBA team to foster [growth]. Especially some of these big college markets where women's basketball is extremely popular. I look at playing at the same time as the NBA as an opportunity to kind of do live look-ins, things like that."
Tim Reynolds: Why not the May 1 checks? Two reasons: One, they're already being sort of processed; payrolls take time. But bigger reason seems to be this: NBA doesn't plan on formally canceling any regular season games until after May 1. Adam Silver speaks shortly.
Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that “optimism abounds in the ownership, player, agent and league office ranks” regarding the return of the NBA season, and there are some interesting ideas being pitched for the league’s return. The NBA’s Board of Governors are meeting Friday for further discussion. “I know the NBA is going to do what’s best for players, for fans, for everyone,” Tatum said. “They’re going to put the safety and the health of the players, fans and everyone that’s involved with the NBA first, and that’s what’s important.”
“If or when they do announce that we’re all able to come back, I know it’s probably going to be a month of practice, working out and getting back to our facilities,” Tatum said. “And then after a month or more, maybe we’ll be able to play. I know they’re going to have to figure out scheduling. There’s just a lot of stuff to consider during this time and no one really knows what’s going to happen.”
What is Coach Quin Snyder telling the team? Mike Conley: We’re feeling more and more confident that something could happen where we’re able to play again. There are just so many things logistically to work out and so many things with COVID-19 itself that are unknown. But we’re optimistic. Q: Where is that optimism coming from? A: We’ve had calls with the NBPA and NBA. It seems like there are things that are coming together. It makes it feel as if a plan is slowly coming in place and we’re headed in the right direction.
When you think back a month ago to the night in OKC when the league suspended play, what sticks out to you? Mike Conley: Looking back now, it just shocks me how much we didn’t know about COVID or what was going on. We knew what we knew from the news, but being on the frontline was surreal and scary. That’s why we take it more seriously than a lot of people. Once it’s right in front of you, it’s real. This is definitely a threat to all of us. To see the league completely shut down in a matter of minutes … looking back on it was just like something you would see in a movie.
Ira Winderman: For those wondering: No, the Heat have not mandated their notorious weight and body-fat measurements during the shutdown, strength coach Eric Foran says on media Zoom chat.
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November 27, 2022 | 1:48 pm EST Update