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He’s an NBPA vice president, but he’s also one of the players who has to figure out personal logistics of getting ready to play and stay in Orlando, for what the Blazers hope will be a long time. “You’re trying to get your life in order while still working out, while still training, and figuring out like what do I pack? Despite all the logistics, McCollum feels confident the NBA is trying to do everything they can to protect players as they return to play. “I think the NBA is trying to make it as safe as possible, trying to cross their t’s and dot their i’s and this is as smooth as it can be.”
McCollum believes the impact the NBA and it’s players, about 70% of whom are black or people of color, can return to play and create the change they want to see in the world. “I think there’s a way in which we go about it that we can impact society, more specifically black people and people of color in a positive light,” McCollum said. “Being able to use our platform, understanding there’s going to be millions and millions of people watching and that’s going to give us a great opportunity to put light on things, like voter suppression, like the inequality a lot of blacks are facing right now.”
Jared Weiss: The NBA is going to have an onsite clinic in partnership with Advent health to treat anyone getting sick and they will work with local hospitals to coordinate care if someone needs to be hospitalized.
Jared Weiss: Chris Paul says that while the health conversation has been on COVID and injuries, “mental health is the thing a lot of players think of first.” Goes on to praise Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan for breaking the ice on enabling players to speak on this.
Jared Weiss: Chris Paul says the NBPA has agreed on a number of initiatives on social justice issues when asked if he expects any further division on the matter within the players group.
Kyle Goon: Chris Paul said the events of recent weeks have led to a lot of hard conversations between players and team governors about social and political issues: "(Players) want to know how someone feels, especially if we’re putting their jersey on."
Brad Townsend: Andre Iguodala: "We understand the risks involved, but everyone is ready to make a sacrifice. A lot of people in America don't have jobs right now." Says players realize the importance of utilizing platforms to voice views and concerns on social justice.
Jason Anderson: If a star player tests positive: “We would continue. That team would be down a man. We would treat that positive test as we would an injury during the season, so it would not delay the continuation of the playoffs." -- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
Jared Weiss: Andre Iguodala: “We have a great group of players who are well-informed and have been doing their homework on the health situation. The players have been doing a great job of voicing themselves and using their platforms to be well informed."
Ryan Wolstat: NPBA president Michele Roberts says about proposed return "we needed to make sure we could mitigate as much as possible ... a lot of hard work (went into it)." Credits everyone for hard work including Kyle Lowry and Canadian Dwight Powell, amongst others.
David Aldridge: More Roberts, on player desire to advance social justice in Orlando after George Floyd’s killing: "We were all shook. Our players were shook. Not surprising that our players wanted to take action…but this time, we had to do something we actually believed would have an impact."
“Going into a hub, I think the hardest part for me is I know I’ll do the right thing and I’m assuming my teammates will, but we’re all relying on 22 teams, 17 players per team,” Ingles said before the league last week distributed an 113-page guidebook of health precautions needed to make the resumption work. He worries that a player contracting the virus is inevitable. “I want to be there to play the games with my team, but I’m definitely not 100 percent comfortable going.”
Players and team staff members are expected to remain on the premises nearly at all times and cannot enter other people’s hotel rooms, among other regulations while in Florida. Ingles prioritizes his family’s safety at such a precarious time, but acknowledges that he does not want to let his team or fans down by not playing. “I know people aren’t paying money to come watch me play — they’re coming to watch Donovan play,” he said, referring to his teammate Donovan Mitchell. “But if I’m healthy and can get out there, then I should play.”
As announced on Wednesday, the NBA and the NBPA have agreed in principle that the goal of the season restart will be to find tangible and sustainable ways to address racial inequality across the country. Leaders from the NBA and the NBPA have also discussed strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities, and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community. In recognition that long-term change can only come from an informed and sustained commitment, conversations regarding these efforts will continue and additional details will be released at a later date.
“We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections.”
“It is very exciting to officially announce the restart of the 2019-2020 season,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. “It has taken true collaboration between the League and the Union – special kudos to our Executive Committee and several other team reps – along with the continued support and assistance from medical experts, public health officials and many others. Additionally, our platform in Orlando presents a unique opportunity to extend the ongoing fight against systemic racism and police brutality in this country. We will continue to work with our players and the League to develop specific plans in Orlando as well as long-term initiatives to bring about real change on these issues.”
“We’re glad to be able to provide a unique venue where the NBA can resume its season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We look forward to welcoming the players, coaches and staff to Walt Disney World Resort as they prepare for the exciting return of professional basketball.”
“It’s strange,” Nurse said. “It feels good to be back on the floor. Just walking out there and hearing the balls bounce, that’s a good feeling on one hand. And, yeah, it’s some, a little anxiety around. We’re going into such an unknown territory here. Every day you get tests (and) you think, ‘Man, I hope I pass. When do I get my results back?’ is kind of on your mind.
Mike Singer: After the first round in Orlando, teams will be provided the option to reserve up to 17 guest rooms. Now, subject to the team's overall room limit, each player may have up to two rooms for his guests, according to a league source.
Jeff Zillgitt: (League officials) just feel real confident in their ability to isolate themselves in this pseudo bubble or campus environment that they're calling while understanding that they have to take some risk if they want to play and acknowledging that you know, in all likelihood, either players or staffers, essential personnel are going to test positive and, and they're just banking on the idea with the amount of testing and procedures they have in place for health and safety, that they're going to minimize those cases and avoid any kind of serious outbreak that impacts lots of players or lots of players on one team or a handful of starters on one team.
Injured Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said if he were fully healthy, he wouldn't participate in the NBA's season restart in Orlando. "I feel, me right now, I probably wouldn't have played because the unknown going into that situation looks crazy right now, seeing so many new cases," Durant said during a recent interview with "Dawg Talk." "It's just so unpredictable. It's easy for me to say right now because I'm injured, but I probably wouldn't have went down there (to Orlando)."
"If the guys feel safe enough to go play, that's cool, I'm with them. If they don't feel like they should go down there and play or don't feel safe, I'm with them too. I'm all about what the group wants," Durant said, before elaborating on why he'd decide to sit out. "Obviously, I would have talked to my teammates and consulted with my guys and actually really went over it for the last month and a half, but me, my gut would have told me nah, I probably wouldn't want to go down there, especially after three months off."
Shams Charania: Sources: Travel dates for 22 NBA teams to Orlando: - July 7: Nets, Nuggets, Magic, Suns, Jazz, Wizards - July 8: Celtics, Mavericks, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Pelicans, Thunder, Kings - July 9: Rockets, Pacers, Lakers, Bucks, 76ers, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Raptors
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA has modified its dress code for 2019-20 restart: - Players not required to wear sport coat on bench - Can wear short/long-sleeve polos for team/league business - Male and female coaches: short/long-sleeve NBA polo shirts
Brogdon, who spent a lot of time at St. Vincent Center rehabilitating from a thigh/hip muscle injury during the NBA's hiatus, also has been active in leading social protests after the death of George Floyd. Multiple league sources aren't clear on the league's directives, or if there even is one, regarding positive tests before players arrive in Orlando where they'll go into the "bubble" before resuming play.
The NBA, which hopes to restart the season July 30, says it is offering players a ring whose maker claims it can track a user's health data and might even predict if users are about to show symptoms of coronavirus infection. But there's not much information yet on how well the device, which has embedded electronics, works. The $299 Oura ring is designed to monitor sleep, pulse, movement, heart activity and temperature, according to the company's website.
Long says the potential to study large groups of people to see if there is useful data that can be collected is interesting. "But it does not replace any of the other things we should be doing, and the other steps that the NBA should be doing in terms of protecting their players, protecting their staff," Long said. They should still be doing pools of testing and regular testing -- all of those other things. Just don't let it give us a false sense of security. Don't stop wearing your mask because your Oura ring says you're OK. You know, don't skip testing because everybody's Oura ring says they're fine."
The NBA has shared with its players a comprehensive security plan to help enforce the health and safety protocols it announced last week and secure its campus at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season, league sources told ESPN. The league will use local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as experienced venue and contracted security professionals and team security professionals.
NBA locations in Orlando will also feature secured perimeters, technological security deployments and a "fusion center" approach to threat intelligence. In addition, league security will ensure all venues and team hotel campuses are closed to non-credentialed individuals, and there will be secure checkpoints, credential control and roving security inside and outside the perimeter of every location that is visited.
Any off-campus movement would have to be either for a preapproved emergency, or a planned movement NBA security would support. For any off-campus events that are organized for leisure purposes, league security will be supplemented by former special operations forces personnel in order to "provide a scalable safety bubble," while on-campus activities will be handled by individual team security.
Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry said the National Basketball Association would continue with the plan to restart games in Orlando next month, despite the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in Florida. “We’ll see what happens over the course of the next two weeks,” Lasry said on CNBC’s “Halftime Report” on Thursday. He added that for “players that don’t want to go, I fully respect that” but also said of his team that “every single one of our guys is going to be down there.”
All staff members of Finals teams, mind you, will go approximately three months without seeing their families. If nothing else, it’s quite the culture shock to each family’s system after these past three months where they were home so much more than ever before. A source said Boston coach Brad Stevens has consistently pushed the league to reconsider its ruling that the families of staff members will not be allowed.
The state of Florida reported 11,365 new coronavirus cases over three days this past weekend — its three worst days on record. Orange County, home of Walt Disney World, reported 437 on Saturday — more than entire countries once considered epicenters of the pandemic. Test-positive rates topped 15 percent. Seven-day averages surged. And all of that, for an NBA attempting to finish its season at Disney in Orlando, is problematic, experts say. “Extremely concerning,” says Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University. “Absolutely,” says Bill Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.
The state of Florida reported 11,365 new coronavirus cases over three days this past weekend — its three worst days on record. Orange County, home of Walt Disney World, reported 437 on Saturday — more than entire countries once considered epicenters of the pandemic. Test-positive rates topped 15 percent. Seven-day averages surged. And all of that, for an NBA attempting to finish its season at Disney in Orlando, is problematic, experts say. “Extremely concerning,” says Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University. “Absolutely,” says Bill Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.
When the NBA travels to the Orlando bubble to resume their season, the league is providing players and staff with a smart ring that can help as an early predictor of coronavirus. But the Oura health tracker ring was not originally intended to detect coronavirus and it happened almost by surprise, the company’s CEO told CNBC on Tuesday.
As the NBA heads to Walt Disney World in Florida, the league is making available a host of technological bells and whistles to both players and staff including the Oura ring. Rai said the league has ordered more than 1,000 Oura rings. “They felt like giving the players and staff an added rate of protection and frankly peace of mind,” he told CNBC.
On Wednesday, Forbes reported a group of Pelicans executives and city and state officials had put together a “strong bid” to host the remainder of the NBA season. The bid included plans to house teams in the Hyatt downtown and hold games at Smoothie King Center, Forbes said.
The NBA said Wednesday the Pelicans and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation worked together on the city’s restart bid. “New Orleans has a rich history of hosting world-class sports and entertainment events — including NBA All-Star Games in 2008, 2014 and 2017,” NBA executive vice president Kelly Flatow said. “The New Orleans Pelicans and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation collaborated to propose a safe and healthy environment for the NBA’s return to play. We’re appreciative of their leadership and support.”
Some Disney World workers are pleading with theme park executives to reconsider plans to reopen in July, following days of record-number cases of COVID-19 infections that have pushed the statewide total past 100,000. Reopening would mean bringing back tens of thousands of workers who were furloughed April 19 and since then have struggled to navigate Florida’s broken unemployment system. Still, workers who signed the petition said it’s too soon to welcome back guests.
“I think it (the NBA season) is going to get off the ground,” Fertitta said. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay. But we’re going to do whatever. You’re going to follow the protocols. It’s no different from one of our businesses. If somebody’s sick, you send them home. Everybody else watch themselves. Sanitize the establishment, and you have to move on."
“If you’re not willing to say, ‘Oh my gosh, (hypothetically) three people tested today for the Houston Rockets, and three people tested today for the LA Lakers. Those guys go home, and we’re going to play the games” — if we’re not willing to recognize that that’s going to be what happens, then we’re not going to complete the season, not in football, baseball, basketball or whatever.”
According to people with knowledge of the situation and the NBA’s health and safety manual that The Times reviewed, Lakers doctors could “protect” McGee and any other players they deem to be at high risk. A week ago, players had to complete a three-page medical questionnaire and team doctors must evaluate them by Thursday. Among the questions for players and traveling staff was whether or not the person has or had suffered from moderate to severe asthma.
Some are terrified, not only for the people who could spend up to three months in COVID-19 ravaged Florida starting in mid-July but also for the incredible damage the league could incur for years to come if too many players test positive and it all comes crashing down. “If the cases keep spiking in Florida, things are going to happen,” one GM told The Athletic on Monday. “I’m really, really concerned for the league big-picture wise in many, many ways.”
Others are mildly concerned, trusting of Commissioner Adam Silver and his staff that shared their 113-page “Health and Safety Protocols” memo with teams last week but also wary of the physical risks and mental health challenges that this unnatural environment will present for players and staff members alike. And that was before the positive tests of players such as Denver’s Nikola Jokic started rolling in on Tuesday. “It’s the hindsight of ‘Was it worth it?’ that worries me,” another GM said. “If something happens, it’s (the question of) ‘Was it worth it?’ If everything goes great, it’s historic, and it’ll be remembered throughout history. ‘Remember the Bubble?’ or whatever they’re going to call it. It’ll be a special thing as long as we can make it through.”
The NBA and NBPA are both committed to fostering an environment that encourages candid conversations between players and league and team leadership and finding tangible and sustainable ways to address racial inequality across the country. The group that met yesterday agreed in principle that the goal of the season restart in Orlando will be to take collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice. Conversations also covered strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities, and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community.
“The issues of systemic racism and police brutality in our country need to end,” said Paul. “As a union of NBA players and as a league, it is our job to use our collective platform to both put a spotlight on those issues and work to effect change. As players, we have taken a leadership role when it comes to using our voices and implementing practical solutions, but there is much work ahead both in Orlando and long-term to continue the momentum and bring about real, long-lasting change to our society.” “The league and the players are uniquely positioned to have a direct impact on combating systemic racism in our country, and we are committed to collective action to build a more equal and just society,” said Silver. “A shared goal of our season restart will be to use our platform in Orlando to bring attention to these important issues of social justice. We look forward to engaging in ongoing conversations with the players and their Association about our joint leaguewide initiative and thank Michele, Chris and the other players for their leadership toward creating meaningful, long-term change.”
In addition to Silver, Tatum, Stuart, Roberts, Paul and Iguodala, attendees for yesterday’s meeting included NBA President of Social Responsibility & Player Programs Kathy Behrens, NBA Senior Vice President of Player Development Greg Taylor, NBA Senior Vice President of Content Business Operations Kori Davis Porter, NBPA Foundation Executive Director Sherrie Deans, Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers, CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. In addition to Silver, Tatum, Stuart, Roberts, Paul and Iguodala, attendees for yesterday’s meeting included NBA President of Social Responsibility & Player Programs Kathy Behrens, NBA Senior Vice President of Player Development Greg Taylor, NBA Senior Vice President of Content Business Operations Kori Davis Porter, NBPA Foundation Executive Director Sherrie Deans, Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers, CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks.

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Storyline: Orlando Bubble
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July 7, 2020 | 9:37 pm EDT Update

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