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The Cavs are 19-46. Last in the Eastern Conference, they have the league’s second-worst record overall. Despite their place in the standings, they want to be included in the restart. In an anonymous, informal survey of the organization’s front office members and multiple players, Cleveland’s favored plan is one that centers on all 30 teams going to Florida and being able to play an undetermined amount of games. “We would love the opportunity to join and play games,” a team executive told cleveland.com. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
There is still so much uncertainty, so much risk and, for many, still plenty of skepticism about whether or not a return to play can be executed safety and with everybody’s best interests in mind. Most insist that they trust commissioner Adam Silver, the board of governors and the players association to find a workable solution, but there are more lingering questions than answers available.
"I’m not gonna bulls--t you, I’m pretty skeptical just because I’m a skeptical person," Toronto Raptors guard told TSN in a wide-ranging phone interview last week. "But I think for me, I’ve been trying to be more in support publicly just because I want to play, you know what I mean? I’m not gonna create the rift that’s gonna [keep us from playing]. You could list a million reasons why we wouldn’t be able to play. There are certain scenarios where guys are probably [reluctant] – maybe they don’t feel comfortable or guys are on teams that aren’t gonna make the playoffs. How do we get through all of those hurdles? "There are just a lot of questions that nobody really has the answers to. So, I would just say the uncertainty and the unpredictability in my eyes would be the biggest challenge because we’re trying to plan for the unknown."
Pritzker has said the state of Illinois is on pace to enter Phase 3 of its reopening process on Friday. Lori Lightfoot indicated in plans released Tuesday that the city of Chicago will likely follow suit in early June, which is why the Bulls must still seek permission from city officials. Many Bulls, upon receiving clearance from the league in March, departed the Chicagoland area. In recent weeks, some in the area have visited the Advocate Center for treatment and rehab sessions with league permission, according to Johnson.
Discussions were continuing Wednesday within the league on how the NBA plans to structure a return-to-play scenario. The league has no current expectation that a decision on a finalized plan will emerge off of Friday afternoon's call with the NBA's Board of Governors, sources said.
For the Heat, the ultimate call on who’s in and who’s out will come down to Riley, in consultation with the team’s and league’s medical staffs. The irony is that Riley, who turned 75 in March, is expected to be left to monitor the team from a distance, in South Florida.
George Karl: Continuing to hear about the NBA’s plan to restart ‘19-20 leads me back to this thought - don’t make a bad decision that hurts the game’s future. There is too much uncertainty. Making bold decisions to extend this year with this much risk probably isn’t a recipe for success.
Cuban considers it a must for all 30 teams to participate in the resumption of the NBA season, tentatively planned to take place at Walt Disney World in Orlando, due to the financial impact of fulfilling local television contracts.
In Cuban's proposal, the top 10 teams from both conferences would qualify for the postseason and be re-seeded based on record. There would be two play-in matchups -- either single games or a best-of-three series -- pitting seeds 17 vs. 20 and 18 vs. 19. The winners would advance to play the 15th and 16th seeds for the final spots in the playoff bracket. The playoffs would then proceed with best-of-seven series.
A point Cuban emphasizes is that all but two teams -- the exceptions being the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors -- would have a mathematical possibility of qualifying for the postseason under his proposal. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, the teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, are four games behind the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets. "It's fair. It's entertaining," Cuban told ESPN.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the swift development of vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19 are priorities towards achieving the Tokyo Olympics next year. Abe says recovery from the coronavirus pandemic only in Japan would not be enough to hold the Games because it involves spectators and athletes from around the world. He reiterates that the government hopes to hold the Tokyo Games "in a complete form" with spectators as a proof of human victory against the coronavirus.

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Liz Mullen: The 1st NBA player to make significant efforts to aid with COVID-19 was OKC Thunder F Danilo Gallinari. He's from a small town in Northern Italy, so he knew how bad it can get. He helped OKC health care workers buy masks, face shields & testing kits.
The individual risk tolerance that Silver and the players are mulling has collective consequences. One player’s willingness to take a chance ups the risk for the colleagues he is in contact with, and the NBA’s collective decision-making affects the communities around them. Disney World, nestled between Orlando and Kissimmee, is surrounded on all sides by smaller towns and municipalities, where players could contract and spread the coronavirus for days before tests pick it up. The rate of false negatives, depending on the timing and type of tests, falls somewhere between 5 and 25 percent.
“If someone is infected outside the bubble, they typically will not show symptoms for five or six days, and they will likely test negative in the early stages of their infection,” Dr. Boni said. “On average, the incubation period is about five or six days long. But it can be as long as 14 days — this is not common — which is why a 14-day quarantine is recommended after someone has been exposed.”
The NBA has sent a survey to its 30 general managers regarding competition formats for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, sources told The Athletic. This continues the NBA’s process of gathering information and input from its organizations prior to a restart amid the coronavirus pandemic. GMs received the survey late Friday night, which included polling on whether the NBA should do a play-in tournament, the preferred number of teams to enter the playing site and the preferred number of scrimmages or regular-season games prior to the playoffs.
According to multiple sources, the NBA, led by Silver, also held a conference call with GMs on Thursday in which several notable topics were discussed: A two-step approach to the start of games: Two-week training camp in a team’s market, then a two-week quarantined training camp in the playing location.
Players are resistant to the full nasal swab coronavirus test: As a result, the league is working on acquiring more comfortable testing via saliva or via the tip of the nose. Once in the bubble site, teams could share support services: This includes doctors and security personnel, to lessen the number of people involved.
GMs will be able to vote on a series of scenarios, The Athletic has learned. Season formats for consideration: — Advance directly to playoffs: (16 teams, four rounds, best-of-seven series) with postseason teams based on standings as of March 12 — A “Playoffs Plus” option: Expanding the number of teams with the opportunity to play, either through holding a play-in tournament to determine the final seed(s) in playoffs, to be played by “bubble teams” or replacing the first round of the playoffs with a group stage.
“You’ve just got to be very cautious and very careful about everything, and I don’t think you can take anything for granted,” said Alvin Gentry, 65, the coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. He is one of three N.B.A. head coaches who are 65 or older. When the N.B.A. abruptly suspended play on March 11, Larry Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers feared he was done for the season, no matter what. Nance, 27, learned in high school that he had Crohn’s disease, which is often treated with medication that can put users at higher risk of infections.
Former Kentucky Wildcat and current point guard for the Washington Wizards, John Wall, has launched a new program called “202 Assist” that will provide rent relief for the residents of D.C’s Ward 8. In association with the John Wall Family Foundation (JWFF), the program’s goal is to raise $300,000 in four weeks for area families in need of rent relief. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so by clicking the link here. This is Washington D.C.’s first COVID-19 rent-relief program
“D.C. has been my second home for 10 years now, and I have always had a strong connection to the community,” Wall said, according to the press release. “After learning how COVID-19 has affected the residents of Ward 8, I felt that I needed to act which is why I have partnered with the city. I hope that others will join me to help those in need during these uncertain times.”
Patrick Ewing: I want to share that I have tested positive for COVID-19. This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

https://twitter.com/CoachEwing33/status/1263964626271776769
Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, a consultant in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mayo Clinic, said the NBA has been "very generous" in allowing the league to save the samples it collects to reanalyze for further information, like gauging how much immunity the body may develop after fighting off the virus. "We'll be able to go back and rerun some tests on the samples, and continually get more information," she said. "So what we have now is a snapshot in time, and they're also willing to be retested at serial intervals."
Concerns of testing capacity and perception in the initial weeks have shifted to issues of protocol -- the league's position has been to closely watch other sports return to action, learn from what has gone well and adapt that information to suit its needs. Dr . Vivek Murthy has spoken to league leaders and team owners, and, informally, to others across sports who confidentially contact him. The questions are all of the same ilk: When can fans return to games? How should they respond if someone tests positive? How often should they test athletes or staffers? How should they safely keep distance between staffers and players?
"Look, there is a nonzero risk to players that being infected with COVID-19 could lead to major complications," Murthy says. "It depends obviously on their health and preexisting conditions. The goal here is not to be alarmist and say that this is definitely going to have severe adverse effects on any NBA player who gets infected. That's not the case. You know, most NBA players are young and healthy and the statistics say most of them would, would ultimately be OK."
Would you be okay playing with or against a guy that you knew tested positive for COVID19?" "Curry: Oh that'd be tough. I mean, that's one of the things that you're having to address because that is a real scenario. If you try to play and there is no vaccine, there's no way to really guarantee nobody's going to get it. I think if you are at a place where everybody says yeah we're ready to play and then they know what they're committing to. And if not, it doesn't make sense, then you won't see a ball bounce."
Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton hosted Capture Sports Marketing’s Athletes Doing Good Radiothon yesterday on ESPN Wisconsin and raised a total of $205,859 for COVID-19 relief during the 11-hour event. The $205,859 includes a match of all donations from Herb Kohl Philanthropies. The money will be donated to Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and Connaughton’s With Us Foundation.
The radiothon aired on 94.5 ESPN Milwaukee and 100.5 ESPN Madison from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Connaughton was joined on-air by Bucks teammates Donte DiVincenzo, Kyle Korver, Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, general manager Jon Horst and head coach Mike Budenholzer, along with numerous other guests from across the sports world including Aaron Rodgers, Matt LaFleur, Craig Counsell, Greg Gard, Josh Hader and Yelich.
The Celts have been in contact with Massachusetts officials, who earlier this week posted guidelines for a phased reopening of businesses and other activities in the commonwealth. Professional basketball workouts were not cleared directly in the first phase, but with the NBA allowing controlled individual sessions for its teams in states where such activity can take place, the Celtics are working to satisfy public health concerns and open the doors to their personnel — again, under distancing and other prescribed measures.
Quin Snyder talked about how things unfolded from a coaching perspective after the team came back from Oklahoma City on March 12, the day after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. Rather than go ahead with things like it was business as usual, Snyder felt the gravity of the situation and wanted to take a break from basketball and let the team process what was happening, not only in the NBA, but in the world.
Gallinari likes the idea of restarting the season but insists precautions must be taken to prevent players from being infected by the deadly virus, which can also impose lasting debilitating effects. "At the thought of going back and playing, I'm very excited," Gallinari said. "At the same time, as a player, I want it to be as safe as possible. Everybody knows this virus is no joke. If we do it, we need to do it in a safe environment."
Ingles will take a wait-and-see approach to playing games if the season does start. "It's not worth it," Ingles, discussing practice at the Jazz facility, told Utah radio station 1280 The Zone last week. "I have a gym, I have everything I can do. As for basketball, it's a bit more difficult, but I think that as we go ahead and find out more information about it, it will be easier to make a decision. But I am in no way willing to risk my children, and Renae, and everything else, to go play basketball."
When a masked Rajon Rondo dropped off groceries to those in need back home in Louisville, Kentucky, the socially distanced recipients always said thank you. And those who recognized him often asked the same thing. “The first question was always, ‘When is the NBA season going to come back?’ ” Rondo told The Undefeated. “I got a lot of those. I told them, ‘I will know the same time you find out.’ ”
There has been some optimism over the possible return of the NBA after many teams recently reopened their practice facilities. The Los Angeles Lakers reopened theirs May 16, and while Rondo said he has yet to return, he hopes the league will return to action in a safe and healthy fashion soon. “I want to play. As a competitor, you want to play,” Rondo said. But he also wants to protect his family and the people around him. “Safety first, understanding that life. We can’t take it for granted, even though we are athletes who are some of the best people in shape as far as body and heart condition. But all it takes is one case where a body can’t fight off the virus.”
Rondo and numerous other NBA players have been helping the less fortunate during the pandemic, with Louisville being his main focus. The Rajon Rondo Foundation joined with Lineage Logistics, a provider of temperature-controlled food logistics, and Louisville food bank Dare to Care to deliver more than 250,000 meals. Rondo spent three weeks in Louisville in April packing and delivering meals, as well as distributing gift cards and exercise kits to senior citizens and families with kids involved in his youth foundation.

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Renata Burigatto received a text message from her husband, NBA referee Mark Lindsay, 30 minutes after the scheduled tip-off of the game he was assigned to officiate between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder on March 11. “I texted him, ‘Oh no, you OK? Did you get hurt?” Burigatto told USA TODAY Sports. “He replied, ‘No, they stopped the game and are going to test us for the coronavirus.’ ”
That began a stressful 12 hours for the couple, who were already operating under great stress because Burigatto is a frontline COVID-19 doctor specializing in acute in-patient care at Penn Medicine’s Chester County (Pennsylvania) Hospital. “It was a very powerful night for us both on a personal and professional level,” Burigatto said. “I very busy in the hospital, working seven days in a row, 13 hours a day. Trying [to] balance that with trying to convey safety was challenging. We also have three young children at home. We were trying to keep them safe and consider whether we were going to keep them in school at that time. There was a little of uncertainty and there was a lot of anxiety about what choices we were going to make to keep all of safe.”
In their own way, Lindsay and Burigatto are at the heart of COVID-19 – Lindsay being on the court when the Thunder team doctor ran on the court to inform referees of the unfolding situation of a player testing positive and the idea that other players could be infected and Burigatto caring for patients on the East Coast. “The anxiety of her or one of us becoming infected is very real,” Lindsay said. “That thought is never too far from my mind especially when she’s at the hospital. We experience that anxiety, isolation and uncertainty.”
It sounds like the NBA has made some progress towards a return to play and maybe salvaging the season. What are you hearing from the players association and does it seem like it’s realistic? Fred VanVleet: “The crazy part is that everything we hear is out, you know what I mean? Like, there are no secrets really. There’s not much that you guys don’t know that we know. Obviously, we probably have a little bit more candid conversations in private. But, yeah, as of now what’s out there is about Orlando and Vegas and trying to get back and see what that would look like, try to get teams a couple weeks to get ready to play and then see what happens."
Fred VanVleet: "So, I think the optimism, there’s some credence to it, but obviously we all know the challenges that we’re facing. I just think that the combination of there being so much money involved and 450 guys who live and die basketball, I think there are a lot of reasons to get back to playing. So, I think the motive is there, the want to play is there, the resources are there. It’s just a matter of figuring out how we can put it together in the right way where it’s safe and efficient. There’s gonna be risk regardless. There’s risk if you cancel the season and there’s risk if we get back together. But I think the league is just trying to assess those risks and make sure we’ve got all of our bases covered.”
What would you need to see implemented or changed for you to feel comfortable going back? Fred VanVleet: “If I’m there by myself I think I’m okay with it. Now, if my kids were there, or things like that, I would be a little bit more on guard. That’s just me speaking personally. I’m pretty at ease with it. I’m not letting it freak me out but I also, to my knowledge, don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions or anything like that. So, there are guys in the league that are probably going to have real concerns about the virus itself and I understand that, but I think for me personally I’m not in that boat, so to speak.:
Fred VanVleet: "I think as long as they’re doing their due diligence and it’s not just a money play, where it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s get back to play because we have all this money we need to make up.’ I know that’s probably one of the factors but as long as there are real guidelines in terms of what we’re doing from a health standpoint, which I feel there is, I think that I’ll be okay with it. And if not, I’ve accepted it. I think we’ve been on break long enough to where I’m pretty open-minded to any idea that gets us back playing, you know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they cancelled the season because I understand all of the things that go into it, but I definitely wanna get back out there.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
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August 7, 2020 | 2:01 pm EDT Update
It started out as most of these things do: With an ill-advised tweet. On July 13 when the NBA announced the schedule for its restart games, the eyes of Toronto Raptors fans narrowed on an Aug. 9 date with the Memphis Grizzlies. In recent years following the franchise’s move from Vancouver to Memphis, Canada’s former second team has morphed into, well, Canada’s second team. Armed with former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas and exciting Canadians in Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke – with recent cameos from Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and Bruno Caboclo – the Grizzlies were a natural Western Conference rooting interest for Raptors fans.
When the Raptors and Grizzlies were awarded expansion franchises for the 1995-96 season, a healthy rivalry was anticipated. While some rivalries are built on playoff series and animosity, others are based on proximity. A pair of new Canadian teams expected to struggle out of the gate were natural to pit against each other, and putting something on the line was a clever way to make sure both sides had a chance at bragging rights during some lean years. The decision was made that the Raptors and Grizzlies would square off in each preseason, with the winner being awarded The Naismith Cup, in honour of the Canadian inventor of the sport, James Naismith.
If the choice to award the Cup in exhibition games strikes you as strange, consider that the teams, in conjunction with NBA Canada, used it as an opportunity to host the events around the country. The five Naismith Cup matches held between 1995 and 2000 (the 1998 game was cancelled due to the lockout) were played in Winnipeg, Calgary, Halifax, Edmonton, and Ottawa. That’s a tradition the Raptors do their best to continue to this day, holding recent training camps in Victoria or Quebec City, and exhibition games in Montreal, Vancouver, and London. (They still owe St. John’s a game, as former Raptors general manager and current CEO of Canada Basketball Glen Grunwald is quick to remind us.) The touring Naismith Cup games were well-attended, ranging from 8,190 to 15,104 fans in attendance.
August 7, 2020 | 1:25 pm EDT Update
August 7, 2020 | 12:17 pm EDT Update
On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down the latest scuttlebut: Well, the latest is, you really got only one shared goal between these eight teams and that is to get some kind of formal group activities authorized by the league and the players association. How that plays out and the form that takes, there are different goals. There are some teams that wouldn’t mind doing a bubble. There are other teams that would rather stay in their own practice facilities and not travel. There are other teams that want to do regional scrimmages against another team. And complicating this is that Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players association, is on record as saying: Unless there are the exact same safety protocols going on in Orlando for the second bubble, it’s a non-starter for her.
The league’s attention mostly has been in Orlando, obviously, and that was a signficant financial undertaking. So you’d also have to factor in that, what kind of financial undertaking would they commit to these eight teams. It did look like there was some positive momentum for, not a bubble, but for each team to be able to hold some sort of offseason training sessions, group sessions in their own facilities, like OTAs in the NFL. And I don’t think that’s dead, but there’s certainly not as much optimism as there was maybe a week, ten days ago for that. I mean, it’s fluid, and there’s nothing definitive yet, but you may be staring at that dreaded eight month window between formal group activities for these eight teams.
I’ve heard from players that the lack of a crowd feels awkward. The normal energy isn’t there. That stinks. But the quiet has benefits for TV viewers: We hear every “Hell no!” from bench players mocking opponent shooters. Those shooters hear it, too; the bubble is producing record levels of mean-mugging and bad words directed at bench jokesters. A reminder for refs: Shooters who return taunts at yappy benches should be immune from technical fouls.
August 7, 2020 | 9:23 am EDT Update
Durant believes Crawford can add a lot to a team even in a limited role. “You need people like that on your roster, even if they’re the 15th, 14th man,” he said. “I think Jamal can provide a lot for you in that role, you know what I’m saying? If you can throw somebody like him out there, end of a playoff game or end of a game, he can definitely win you a game, hit some shots. “And you minimize his role? Give him a few minutes with the third unit or the second unit? He’ll get buckets. He can swing a game, be an x-factor still.”
LeBron gave a weird answer about this. He agreed that he and the Lakers were looking for a rhythm on offense. And then he said: “It’s just some things that you can’t control that’s here, that I really don’t want to talk about, that’s off the floor.” What did he mean? The food? The fishing? Tee times not abundant enough? I wrote down on a piece of paper what I thought he meant and showed it to him, and his answer was “Hell, nah.” So, whatever. It was an interesting thing to hear and there is obviously something on LeBron’s mind beyond Davis and his other teammates bending the rim with the bricks they’re throwing up there.
In 20 minutes against the Mavericks, Zubac put up a perfect: 21 points and 15 rebounds on 10/10 FGs. His play earned massive praise from his teammates. “Zu is like a little brother,” Paul George said. “He’s got a ton of upside. He really has tons of potential. He can do a lot of things. I’ve seen it. I’ve been on the other end when he was with the Lakers and he dominated.”
How did how does the knee feel right now? And as you project forward to the playoffs? Do you see it being any kind of, you know, inhibition to your ability? Kemba Walker: Well, it feels good man. That’s me being completely honest. You know, the whole reason I’m only stretching is to see how it reacts after every game. And it’s been it’s been doing well and it’s me feeling better and better after every game, so I’m definitely trending upwards. I think I’m gonna be fine. I think I’ll be fine.
Storyline: Kemba Walker Injury
Obviously the physical aspect of recovering from an Achilles tear and then an ACL tear is intense. When I saw you around the Lakers this year you looked like you were in great shape. How hard is the mental aspect of the recovery? DeMarcus Cousins: It’s tough, no lie. I’d be lying to say it’s been an easy journey or it hasn’t been tough. It’s definitely been a rough journey. But that’s the nature of this business. That’s what separates the guys that last 15 years in the league to the guys that have a short stint. The thing that I preach to a lot of young players and the younger generation in general, when it comes to being successful or being the best you can be in the business, whatever the field may be, it’s going to take a commitment. There’s going to be ups and downs but as long as you’re committed to whatever you’re doing in life, that’s what it’s going to take. I accept this is part of the business. All I can do is work my tail off to get back to where I want to be.
Do you feel like you’re missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience by deciding not to play? DeMarcus Cousins: I miss basketball in general. I’ve been playing this game since I was a kid, and I’ve never been away from it for this long, so I’m missing it more than ever. But due to the circumstances, it’s a different game right now. Nothing but respect to the guys who went out there to the bubble and are doing what they’re doing. For me, it just wasn’t the right situation or the right time to be trying to force myself. It’s already me battling to get healthy and the obstacles in front of me. On top of that to add the different elements that are amongst us, it wasn’t the right time for me. I look forward to next season.
August 7, 2020 | 1:39 am EDT Update

Kemba Walker seriously considered the Knicks

Kemba Walker, the four-time All-Star point guard who joined the Boston Celtics in 2019 after eight years with the Charlotte Hornets, said the Knicks were “very serious” contenders for his services: “To be honest, yes. Yes, very serious. Very,” Walker said on The Ringer’s R2C2 podcast with Ryan Ruocco and CC Sabathia. “… Before Boston actually came along, the Knicks was one of my top priorities, actually, because I was thinking they were gonna get another player, but it didn’t work out.”
Per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the supposed hierarchy system has somewhat been ignored, as concerned parties deemed that their pleas will be addressed quickly if they cut off the middleman. Instead of using the so-called “snitch hotline”, players are reaching out directly to Commissioner Adam Silver. “Much has been said about the anonymous tip hotline intended for players and staff to report violations inside the bubble. But what I found out was that players have been circumventing that process. Multiple players are personally calling Commissioner Adam Silver to issue their complaints about things they’re seeing in the bubble,” Haynes revealed during the third quarter of the Clippers-Mavericks game on Thursday.

Mo Bamba had coronavirus in June

In the last several months, Mo Bamba has employed his platform as a professional athlete to encourage children to stay in school, urge adults to vote in the upcoming election and ask people to donate money to provide food for children, the elderly and frontline workers in need. And now, he’s imploring you to do something else. Something he has learned from painful experience. He wants you to take precautions against the coronavirus. On Thursday, Bamba revealed to The Athletic that he suffered from COVID-19 in June.
The illness temporarily robbed him of his senses of smell and taste, made him unusually fatigued and caused muscle soreness. “I think the lesson is to take it seriously, to take it as seriously as possible,” said Bamba, who added he doesn’t know how he contracted the coronavirus. “I think we all play a part in making sure that we all stay safe. It’s going to take everyone.”
Storyline: Coronavirus Infections
After pausing, and then listing the five teams behind Milwaukee in the standings — Toronto, Boston, Miami, Indiana and Philadelphia — the NBA’s reigning and presumptive Most Valuable Player made his choice for who has the best chance of stopping the Bucks: Themselves. “I think the biggest challenge for us is ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said. “How are we going to play? How hard are we going to play? Are we going to play for one another? Are we going to defend hard? Are we going to be able to rebound the ball? Are we going to be able to make the extra effort? Are we going to dive on the floor? “It’s all about us. It’s all about us.”
“When it comes to the whole ‘all eyes are on me,’ I feel like a lot of eyes have been on me since high school, so that feeling was nothing new. I don’t consider it being thrown in the fire because I’ve been playing basketball my whole life. But it was definitely a dream come true to finally get thrown out there and enjoy the moment,” recalls Williamson. “If I’m being honest with you, it was very frustrating at first. I’m in the game and I feel like I could maybe change the outcome and you hear the horn go off. You know it ain’t for nobody but you because your time is up. It’s one of those sickening feelings, because I’m one of those players that if I could do anything to help my team win, I want to do it. So it was very frustrating at first from that perspective. But outside of that, it was a blast.”
13 hours ago via SLAM
“I have social media but I don’t let social media dictate my life. I will never let that happen,” he says. “But as far as winning Rookie of the Year and competing in that race, I’m a competitor. If there’s a chance that I could win it, I’m going to go after it. I’m not going to doubt that. Ja [Morant] has had an incredible season and he is the current front-runner, but it’s not over until they announce who it is, so, I’m going to keep battling for it. [A few weeks after our shoot, the NBA announced that performance in Orlando would not be taken into consideration for the player awards.—Ed.] But my top priority is getting into the playoffs first.”
13 hours ago via SLAM
Warren didn’t work on his three-point shot during the pandemic. Like many, he couldn’t find a gym. At the parks he went to, the rims weren’t ten feet high. The work, Warren says, came mentally. He watched a lot of film. He “locked in” on his weaknesses. Pacers coach Nate McMillan has encouraged Warren to be aggressive, and Warren has embraced it. “I’ve always been the underdog,” Warren said. “I’m comfortable with that. I just have to keep getting better day by day.”
On a day that felt a lot like the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament, with 12 teams playing in games that spanned almost 12 hours, Booker felt like the biggest star, the leader of the bubble’s Cinderella team running through upset after upset, beating the Indiana Pacers, previously unbeaten in the restart, 114-99. “I mean it’s fun, it’s everything I could ask for. … It’s the winning part that most excited me,” Booker said on a videoconference while wearing a Kobe Bryant shirt. “I’ve been in the NBA five years now and haven’t had that much success. But I’m working hard every day to turn that narrative, to change that narrative. We have a good bunch in here to do it.”

Brown said the Sixers should know within the next 24 hours what the next steps for Simmons will be. The team said in its statement Thursday that treatment options were being considered. Simmons has already been ruled out for Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic. “Yeah, it’s a little frustrating sometimes,” guard Josh Richardson said of losing Simmons. “But that’s the way the game goes. So we’re going to just have to have a next-man-up mentality like we’ve had all year. Guys will pick up the slack, and when we get him back, he’ll fit back in seamlessly.
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