When Chris Paul first walked through the doors of the G…

When Chris Paul first walked through the doors of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in early July, the Oklahoma City Thunder guard paused to reflect on the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season: the planning, the health concerns, the social justice issues. As the moment sunk in, Paul, who played a significant role in the restart as president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), got teary-eyed. “Just think about it. A lot of things we were seeing at one point were renderings, and just conversations,” Paul told The Undefeated. “What will they need as far as a weight room? What will I need here? What will they need there? So, to walk in and to see it all in person is humbling. This is just crazy.

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LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid are among at least 15 NBA players who have decided not to put a social justice message on their jersey. Paul, who is close friends with James, is supportive of those players’ decisions. “That’s exactly why we have a league where you get a chance to make a choice,” Paul said. “And I respect any of those guys’ decisions. They may have their reasons why or not. For me … I was excited about the opportunity to speak on ‘Equality’ because I was asked about it. And also, for me, I envisioned my kids watching the game, my homies back home who go to the barbershops and talk about us and whatnot.”
“I don’t think he gets enough credit for us being here,” said New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick, who was Paul’s teammate on the LA Clippers. “His leadership has been amazing. I talked to him a couple weeks ago before we came here. … The thing that really stuck with me was how many hours per day for literally months he was on the phone, on Zoom, talking to people representing himself for the players. He absolutely worked his butt off to make this thing happen. Incredible leadership.”
Fans won't be allowed in the NBA bubble to cheer their favorite teams on. It is a bubble, after all. But knowing what a difference their support can make (home court advantage, anyone?) the NBA is proposing a few solutions: a tap-to-cheer app and video technology that will teleport their faces court-side from the comfort of their homes. "It's obviously very different for the players and it's different for the fans watching at home. I mean, in this sport -- like a lot of others -- there's that home court advantage, that six-man. It's the roar of the crowd, the boos of the crowd," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver Wednesday on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. "We are trying to replicate that to a certain extent without piping in obvious crowd noise."
On both the NBA and the WNBA app, there is now a tap to cheer option, which would allow fans to virtually cheer for their favorite teams. At the end of the game, the total cheers are tallied and shown on a scoreboard. At the end of the season, the fans from teams with top three total taps will be invited to participate in a virtual roundtable with that team's players, the WNBA's Atlanta Dream -- which started their season last week -- said.
Now with the NBA restarting, Morant says he thinks it's unfair that the padding the Grizzlies built between themselves and the closest playoff contenders in the West could prove irrelevant. "But, you know, we can't control that," Morant said in an interview on ESPN's The Jump that aired Thursday. "Only thing we can control is how, you know, we go out and attack each of these games before that decision is made."
In the NBA's bubble format, Memphis would have to be 4½ games ahead when the eight seeding games are complete to avoid a play-in game or games to determine the eighth and last playoff team. "I just feel like it's an extra chip," Morant said, when asked if the format could provide the Grizzlies with a chip on their shoulder. "You know -- more fuel to the fire, more motivation for us."
Adam Silver: It’s been more than four months since we last played NBA basketball. Tonight we restart the season with 22 teams in Orlando and attempt to establish our new normal. And while spectators won’t be there in person, fans remain at the heart of our game. We’re introducing several elements to improve the live game viewing experience, including multiple, new camera angles, enhanced audio of players and coaches, a feature on our NBA app that allows for virtual crowd reactions, customized alternative streams on NBA League Pass with statistical overlays and influencers calling the action, and video boards surrounding the court featuring hundreds of fans watching from home.
Duane Rankin: Been informed rookie Jalen Lecque is in the Orlando Bubble and under quarantine. #Suns now have all 15 of their players on their #NBA restart roster in Florida. They'll open their eight regular-season "seedings" schedule Friday against Washington.
But the success of the NBA’s grand design is much wider. There are approximately 1,500 people in the bubble now — from team personnel, to the league’s office staff, to referees, to media, TV crews, and so on — and it is likely that none have tested positive. The league could not comment on that one, due to privacy laws, but common sense paints the picture. There are numerous times throughout the day and night here at Disney where people, regardless of occupation, are not wearing masks, or are less than six feet apart, or are even sipping drinks by a pool or eating indoors. And there has been no spread.
During Wednesday’s conference call with international media, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum touched on the potential impact the NBA bubble in Orlando can have on the Olympic Games. “I have not been directly in contact with the IOC, but as you may or may not know, I am on the executive committee of FIBA, and obviously FIBA has been in direct contact with the IOC,” he replied to a question on NBA being in direct contact with the International Olympic Committee, “Andreas Zagklis and I speak every week, and we actually have our chief medical officer on FIBA’s medical commission, and so there’s a lot of sharing of information about our NBA campus and the bubble environment that I know is being shared with the IOC, as well.”
Sources say the magnitude of this moment was the focus of a Wednesday conference call between NBA general managers and league officials, with Commissioner Adam Silver confirming that there will be no discipline for anyone who peacefully protests. For approximately an hour, with Silver joined by the NBA’s president of league operations Byron Spruell and senior vice president David Weiss on the call, they discussed the sensitivities surrounding this situation and the question of whether GMs who are already inside the bubble would be permitted to leave the stands and join their teams on the court as a sign of support. Several GMs left the call with the impression that they are free to do as they choose, with anyone who is part of each team’s traveling party inside the bubble permitted to be on the floor.
With millions of people watching on television, the last thing any GM wants to see is the players’ message muddled by a staff member’s blocking mistake. But avoiding any sort of optics mishap — like, say, someone walking in front of a camera at a powerful moment out of sheer confusion — requires clear communication with staff about how this should go. Sources say Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Orlando president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman were vocal on the call, as was Miami senior vice president of basketball operations Andy Elisburg. Weltman and Pelinka, in particular, expressed a desire to be on the court with their teams.
Rachel Nichols: A full-size fridge (with ice-maker), a couch, arcade games, boxing equipment, hundreds of thousands of dollars in Amazon orders...NBA teams & players have had ALLLLL kinds of things shipped into them in the Bubble. Here's how some very dedicated league employees make it work:

The 2019-20 NBA season restart will reach fans in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages on their televisions, computers, mobile phones and tablets, highlighting a whole new game with a more connected and immersive experience for fans. This includes the 88 “seeding games” beginning July 30 as well as behind-the-scenes coverage and interviews from ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
The 22 teams participating in the season restart feature 89 international players from 34 countries and territories, including the record eight international 2020 NBA All-Stars: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece), Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks; Slovenia), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz; France), Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers; Lithuania)*, Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2012) and Ben Simmons (76ers; Australia).
All 88 seeding games will air outside the U.S. and Canada on NBA League Pass. The 88 seeding games include 41 games that will air in primetime in Latin America and 40 games that will air in primetime in Europe, the Middle East and Africa on the NBA’s broadcast partners in those regions and NBA League Pass, the most-ever games to air in primetime internationally in a two-week period.
"It's not an exact science, because nobody's ever done this before," Silver told Good Morning America on ABC. "We have plans in place where we might pause — similar to what baseball's doing now. Probably if we had any significant spread at all, we'd immediately stop and what we'd try to do is to track and determine where they're coming from and whether there had been a spread on campus. I would say, ultimately, we would cease completely if we saw that this was spreading around the campus and something more than an isolated case was happening."
"The word 'anxious' would describe how I feel. We've been working at this for a long time, but there is a high case rate in Florida, down in Orange County where Orlando is," Silver said. "We're seeing what's happening in baseball with the Marlins, so it's something we're continuing to track very closely. Having said that, we have confidence in this protocol that we designed. It's not actually a sealed 'bubble', but everyone that's on that campus is tested on a daily basis. They're taking extraordinary precautions. The only time they're not wearing masks is when they're actually playing basketball. It's to the extent that when somebody tests positive, we'll obviously track them closely. We quarantine people when they first come down. So, we think we have a plan in place that should work."
The NBA will restart its season Thursday at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex without any fans, which marks one of many safety precautions the league has taken to resume operations during the coronavirus pandemic. Lately, Harlan has reflected on the past 15 years recording voiceovers for the popular NBA 2K series. “I’m in my closet at home with a headset on, and I’m calling a play with little or no crowd noise. So I’m kind of used to that,” Harlan said, laughing. “I’m really not thinking it’s going to be all that weird.”
The announcer booths sit halfway up the lower bowl, several rows behind the scorer’s table, leaving them without the intimate view of the on-court play. The announcers will be protected with plexiglass. Though they do not have to wear masks during the broadcast, the announcers will have to wear face coverings and obey social-distancing rules when they are out of the booth before and after the game. “Anyone who has been in this business a long time usually can draw upon previous experiences. In this case, there is nothing to compare it to,” Eagle said. “So that brings a unique set of circumstances for a broadcaster.”
Will the NBA’s health and safety protocols be enough to ensure a coronavirus outbreak does not occur? To what extent will the NBA and the players continue to speak out on social justice issues? “I don’t know if you can really tell the story of the NBA restart without telling the story about how active these players, coaches and the league have been with the various causes and the social justice push,” Harlan said. “Their voices are enormous in this. Not only will we have ‘Black Lives Matter’ in bold print on the floor. We’ll have names, causes, feelings and thoughts on uniforms that these players want to portray and show. It is every bit as much the story as the teams reassembling, trying to stay healthy and getting back on the floor.”
I'm not gonna lie to you. There's a narrative out there that LeBron is living different than the rest of the NBA in the bubble. Can you confirm or deny this? Alex Caruso: I mean, he's right down the hallway. He's like he's on the other side of the elevators. There's like half our team over here. I don't think... if he is, it's not that much different. I walked down the hallway and there's no sign on the door that says presidential suite.
Los Angeles Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell will miss the highly anticipated restart matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday and it is unclear when he will return to the NBA’s Disney bubble, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has been away from the team since last week while tending to a personal matter on an excused absence.
I know everyone wants to be a good professional and all that, but it’s impossible for me to believe that players and teams won’t start to get itchy to leave the bubble environment. Though I’ve heard from non-player staff on the inside that it’s actually quite relaxing and far easier to have a routine on campus than it was over the last several months.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Finally, the Denver Nuggets have their entire roster in Orlando: Guard PJ Dozier arrived in The Bubble today, sources tell ESPN.
As the NBA prepares to officially restart its season in its bubble inside Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday -- and other sports, most notably Major League Baseball, struggle to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic -- National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said returning to a bubble might be the only feasible way for the NBA to complete next season, as well.
"If tomorrow looks like today, I don't know how we say we can do it differently," Roberts told ESPN in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "If tomorrow looks like today, and today we all acknowledge -- and this is not Michele talking, this is the league, together with the PA and our respective experts saying, 'This is the way to do it' -- then that's going to have to be the way to do it."
In a call with the players back in May, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said money generated from live game attendance could account for up to 40 percent of the league's annual revenue. Roberts said the two sides are "beginning some very high-level discussions with respect to what the potential issues are," and said the laborious process that was necessary for the NBA and the union to hash out how to put the bubble together, and then actually go through the process of doing so, "took just about all of the oxygen out of the room."
Baseball’s instant crisis left the unmistakable impression throughout the N.B.A. campus at Walt Disney World that a “bubble” approach is the only kind that can work for team sports in the Covid-19 era — at least for the foreseeable future. Concern about what that means for the N.B.A. next season is mounting, even amid the relative prosperity of the league’s three-week run in its Florida bubble. The N.B.A. hasn’t announced positive tests for anyone on campus who had been released from quarantine.
Adrian Wojnarowski: This gives Williamson two practices with the Pelicans prior to making a decision on his availability for Thursday's game against Utah. He returned to The Bubble on Friday after eight days away attending to a family emergency.
Erik Horne: Thunder coach Billy Donovan says Abdel Nader passed the concussion protocol and is available tonight vs. Blazers. Terrance Ferguson (leg contusion), Chris Paul (rest) and Nerlens Noel (missed COVID test) will not play.
Brandon Rahbar: Donovan: “Nerlens is extremely remorseful” about missing the COVID test. Billy says that even he has almost forgot to take his tests before and that it’s easy to slip your mind.
Mike Trudell: * @LeBron James on his body: “It’s like a re-start … I’m kind of just getting my body back up. The (scrimmage) games helped. These 8 (seeding games) will help too. I’ll be very smart listening to my body … it’s still a marathon with these next 8 games, then playoffs are a sprint."
Marc J. Spears: The NBA sent a reminder to teams today that per agreement of the NBA and NBPA that when the season resumes Thursday the will be a return to random urine drug testing for steroids, PEDs and masking agents and diuretics, a source said.

The 7-3 center was not allowed to play in the scrimmage against Indiana because he missed a mandatory coronavirus test on Saturday, which was a scheduled off day for the team. The league stipulates that when a player misses a test, he must be retested and cannot participate in team activities the next day. “He broke one of the protocols yesterday, he didn’t get tested – just forgot to get tested,” Carlisle said before the Mavericks’ 118-111 loss to the Pacers, their second of three scrimmages leading up to Friday’s restart. “When that happens, for safety reasons, he’s unable to join the team the following day. He’s getting retested today (Sunday). I believe he’ll be able to rejoin us tomorrow (Monday).”
Dwain Price: Porzingis on missing the COVID-19 test on Saturday: "It was just a mistake on my part. It was a day off and everything kind of threw me off a little bit and I just kind of missed it. It is what it is now. I can't turn back the time and do the test. I wish I could."
Dwain Price: Carlisle said Kristaps Porzingis practiced with the #Mavs today after the power forward/center sat out yesterday's scrimmage against the Pacers because he forgot to take a mandatory coronavirus test on Saturday. The NBA put KP into a 24-hour quarantine yesterday. @Dallas Mavericks
Barry Jackson: Spoelstra said what's happening with Marlins is "humbling" in terms of what COVID-19 can do. "We are not in control. We feel very comfortable about the plan and depth of planning and thought" with NBA's approach.
With the COVID-19 outbreak resulting in the 2019-2020 professional basketball season being played without audience members, the NBA has partnered with Microsoft to give fans virtual courtside seats. The start of the 2019-2020 basketball season is just around the corner, but unfortunately, no fans are allowed to set foot in the stadium to watch the game because of the coronavirus risk such a gathering would pose. Instead, the NBA has partnered with Microsoft to create a digital courtside experience for fans using Microsoft Teams.
Players will also be able to enjoy having this digital audience, as the NBA will equip each game court with "17-foot-tall LED screens that wrap three sides of the arena" in place of fan-filled stands. 300 people will be displayed in virtual seats on these screens surrounding the game. Those not pictured will still be able to watch a live feed of the match within the Teams platform.
Gina Mizell: #Suns announce that Elie Okobo practiced today, and confirmed Aron Baynes is on his way to Orlando after clearing COVID-19 protocol.
Kendrick Perkins: It’s disturbing when a Rookie in Zion Williamson can act more Mature than NBA vet Lou Williams!!! Lou Williams: 15 years in this business and the most dirt you have on my name is stopping to get hot wings during a pandemic. Perk. Shut up. And stop laughing and saying it’s just tv when you run into me too.
Lou Williams: But I digress. I went home to see a man off to his final resting place that was a giant in my life. I don’t want that to get lost in all this attention. So again, LONG LIVE THE GREAT PAUL WILLIAMS SR. back to my quarantine so I can join the guys soon. Peace
Andrew Greif: "We all feel very safe here," Doc Rivers says of the NBA's bubble plan. "But our guards are up." He mentions it's easy to restart a league but finishing it is difficult.
Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin says that he expects Zion Williamson to join the team in practice by Wednesday. Williamson returned to Orlando on Friday night, after leaving the NBA bubble for eight days because of a family emergency. NBA protocol says that because the Pelicans' star rookie returned negative COVID-19 tests daily while he was away, he must quarantine for four days while he returns four more negative tests.
"In theory, his quarantine would end Tuesday afternoon-ish," Griffin said on Monday. "The problem is he has to test and get the results before they release him." While Williamson was away from the team, Griffin says the 20-year-old was able to fit in some light workouts. Now that he is in quarantine, the league delivered a yoga mat and a few other pieces of workout equipment to his room but, "it is not like he is able to do anything that is conducive to running and jumping." Griffin was unsure if Williamson was given a stationary bike.
Joe Vardon: Anthony Davis just arrived to Visa Center, wearing dark glasses. His eye is still sore from being poked. LeBron was here early for a workout. Neither is playing today, nor are Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard for the Lakers
Rachel Nichols: Spoke to union prez Chris Paul about COVID outbreak in MLB & whether the NBA would need a bubble scenario for next season too (tentative hope is to start next season in Dec.) He said NBA has to get thru Orlando first but is monitoring other sports to see what works & doesnt
Rachel Nichols: Have also had two other NBA players from countries where COVID is significantly under control tell me they have explored whether the NBA could come play there, but no serious discussions came out of those inquiries.
Williams’s case has chipped away at the sense of security created by that unblemished track record. If Williams’s trip had gone undetected, he would have been cleared to play in the Clippers’ opening night game against the Lakers and to participate in postgame interviews, assuming he passed four days of coronavirus tests upon his return. If he were an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus initially, the NBA could have been staring at its worst-case scenario: Williams unwittingly brings the virus into the bubble, plays in a full-contact game between two of the top championship contenders, and takes questions from reporters in close quarters before he or someone else eventually tests positive and the bubble bursts.
Shams Charania: Suns center Aron Baynes has cleared from coronavirus and is traveling today to Orlando to join the team, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. Our sitdown on his one-month-plus dealings with the virus: pic.twitter.com/v2LDwpsZ89
Players, coaches and team personnel are not allowed to leave the campus without authorization and will live here for a minimum of six weeks. For the two teams that reach the N.B.A. finals, that stay will last until mid-October — provided the virus does not pierce the bubble. “It requires significant sacrifice from our players,” Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, said in a phone interview from his home in the New York metropolitan area.
The N.B.A. has not yet said how it would handle an outbreak on campus as the season resumes, but the bubble appears to be holding. The league announced that of the 346 players tested daily for the coronavirus from July 13 to 19, none tested positive for the virus. A few notable players have left, but the departures have been attributed to urgent personal matters or injuries. “From my standpoint, it’s going very well, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re on the right track,” said Silver, the commissioner, who is scheduled to make his first appearance on campus this week. “But I also recognize what we’re doing has not been done before, and the competition is just beginning. The real test will come when players are commingling, playing basketball without masks and without physical distancing.”
Jeff Passan: Eight more players and two coaches with the Miami Marlins have tested positive for COVID-19, as an outbreak has spread throughout their clubhouse and brought the total of cases in recent days to at least 14, sources familiar with the situation tell me and @JesseRogersESPN. Adrian Wojnarowski: The MLB couldn’t sell a bubble in Arizona to its players association. Without a comprehensive national plan to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the NBA never believed it could play outside of a closed environment. So far, the NBA's Orlando experiment is working.
Playing video games has emerged as the most popular activity to combat isolation. Food variety was initially a big discussion point, but criticisms have dwindled as the league has increased the options. Early consternation about hotel assignments, which were based on team records at the time the season was suspended in March, has also faded, with several players acknowledging the poor optics of complaining about food and accommodations at a time of widespread economic struggle.
Yet the hunger for a shred of normalcy, such as going out to eat, quickly took hold. Players have largely taken over the only restaurant available in the Gran Destino hotel, which houses the top eight teams. Crowds at the restaurant, the Rix Lounge, have gotten so big that it has adopted a players-only policy in recent days. McCollum, who as a member of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive board had participated in numerous discussions around planning the bubble, said he still was not as prepared as he anticipated when he entered his initial quarantine.
Available diversions include fishing, golf, full barber services, high-speed internet to facilitate video game usage, along with a cavernous delivery center that takes in more than 1,000 packages daily from campus inhabitants ordering all manner of home comforts.
Robin Lopez: I didn't want to mention this (because I'm selfish) but there's a mini-fridge full of Mickey ice cream bars and sandwiches in the players lounge. Wasn't going to say anything, but people are starting to use the lounge now. Secret is out dangit.
Spending any time in a teammate’s hotel room is forbidden. No caddies are allowed on golf outings, playing doubles in table tennis is outlawed — singles only — and there can be no sharing of goggles or towels.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters Saturday on a videoconference call that Williams was indeed back in Orlando, Fla., and that the organization wasn’t happy that pictures surfaced of Williams at a strip club. “I can’t share much with his journey because I wasn’t on that journey with him,” Rivers said. “But he’s back here, I call tell you that much. And obviously those got out and that’s something we obviously didn’t enjoy seeing or liked.”
Ramona Shelburne: Lou Williams tweeted a photo Friday of a man named, Paul G. Willams, with the caption "Long Live Pops,." Sources said Williams told NBA investigators that he attended a viewing for Williams which ended around 6 p.m. on Thursday, then went to Magic City to pick up dinner.
Rachel Nichols: Kristaps Porzingis is the latest player who forgot to stop by the nurses station for his daily COVID test here in the bubble. He is now doing the mandatory one-day quarantine until his next negative test result comes back, and will miss today’s Mavericks game.
In a recent appearance on Global Kid Power Hour with Vedant Gupta, JJ Redick spoke about some of the special treatments the superstars are getting inside their hotel rooms. “I’ve seen videos of a couple of superstars rooms at other hotels, and let me tell you that the bubble experience is not the same for everyone,” JJ Redick said on Sunday.” Some guys basically have two and three-bedroom apartments. Unfortunately, I don’t have that, nor do I have a kitchen, but there are some guys with kitchens inside their rooms. “I’ve been in this sh*t for 14 years, and I can’t even get a nice room, but it’s whatever,” Reddick said jokingly.
After testing positive for the coronavirus on July 4, LA Clippers guard Landry Shamet has made his way to the NBA bubble for the first time. The 23-year-old flew to Orlando on Saturday, and on Sunday, he shared a view of his room to his Instagram story.
Dwain Price: Carlisle spoke 2 KP:"He was very contrite and really felt bad about letting the team down. Something like this is something that all of us can take as a cautionary tale and we just got 2 remember that the details of this situation that we're involved in are very, very important."
Sources say Williams and a group of people (including Harlow) visited the club for dinner on Thursday evening after attending the funeral viewing. They didn’t stay long, according to those sources, and were allegedly there for the food above all else. “Ask any of my teammates what’s my favorite restaurant in Atlanta,” Williams said on Twitter on Saturday night. “Ain’t nobody partying. Chill out lol #Maskon #inandout.”
Williams attended the funeral of the loved one on Friday, per sources, and was back in Orlando on Saturday. Williams even tweeted about the funeral on Friday. “Glad I had an opportunity to say goodbye OG,” he wrote above a picture of Paul G. Williams. Real life was never going to stop just because the NBA decided to put everyone under the same sanitized roof, but now they must decide how long Williams needs to quarantine in order to eliminate any and all COVID-19 risks. Clippers coach Doc Rivers addressed the situation before his team’s scrimmage on Saturday. “He’s back here,” Rivers said. “I can tell you that much. Obviously those (pictures shared by Harlow on social media) got out and it’s something we obviously didn’t enjoy seeing or like.”
Milwaukee Bucks reserve guard Pat Connaughton flew to Florida on Saturday after a positive coronavirus test had kept him from joining his teammates at Walt Disney World two weeks earlier. The Bucks tweeted a video of Connaughton sitting in an airplane and saying, "heading to Orlando to meet up with my teammates."
The scale of the Orlando endeavor got us wondering how the NBA aligned all the relevant interests in short order. It speaks volumes to the unique relationship of the NBA players’ union and the owners, particularly when juxtaposed against the messiness of the early MLB talks. The NBA’s current labor moment fascinates for many reasons, but none more so than the perception that we’re currently living through the “Player Empowerment Era.” We caught up with someone uniquely suited to provide perspective on the matter. Dominique Foxworth, a current ESPN analyst who played six seasons at cornerback in the NFL, after which he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. Most importantly — for this conversation — Foxworth served in leadership positions for both the NFLPA (President) and NBPA (Chief Operating Officer) during CBA negotiations. His experience of being in the room during negotiations on behalf of two unions with completely opposite reputations affords him a singular point of view as it pertains to labor dynamics in professional sports.
Once teams select those fans, they will need a webcam and a microphone. They will log onto Microsoft Teams through their computer or phone. And then they will use Microsoft Teams’ new feature, “Together Mode.” That will enable the fans to interact with each other digitally throughout the game while they watch the broadcast feed. With this feature, fans can high five each other, hold out signs or react to anything that happens on the court. The NBA’s video-boards will show those real-time reactions. “They better put some boos in there for us. If we’re not playing hard, we want to hear those boos,” Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons joked. “You can’t put this here and have the fans on the screen and not replicate Sixers fans. We’re one of a kind. They’ll do their best, but it’s nothing like playing at home at Wells Fargo.”
For Saturday’s scrimmages, the NBA featured pre-recorded segments of league officials posing as fans. Those segments aired before the game as well as periodically during the game. Once the season relaunch starts, though, the NBA will showcase about 300 “virtual fans” on 17-foot video boards throughout the game. That will include family members. "It can be a good thing. It reminds me of 'Black Mirror,'" Gobert said. "I like the concept. It will be great for families to watch us and know that we can see them in the stands."
Bobby Marks: A 10-day quarantine would see Lou Williams miss 2 seeding games and forfeit up to $150K in salary. A four-day quarantine would have Williams back on the court by the July 30 first game.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
More HoopsHype Rumors
August 6, 2020 | 12:21 pm EDT Update

Jim Boylen a keeper?

But as the Sun-Times learned this week, even if Karnisovas didn’t like what he would have seen from Boylen he would likely be handcuffed from making a change. According to several sources, there is strong growing momentum that financial concerns the Reinsdorfs have about the 2020-21 NBA season will keep Boylen in his current seat, as well as most of the coaching staff.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 48 more rumors
At 6-foot-5 with a 6-9 wingspan and 225 pounds, he could grow into what the Hawks need defensively at the two-guard position next to Trae Young. The problem is getting him to buy all the way in on that end of the floor. There are several skeptics who worry about Edwards’ effort and willingness to fully commit to giving his best effort defensively. From what I’ve been told, his work ethic is definitely a big question mark for many people in the league, including some in Atlanta’s organization.
This is where things get a little interesting for the Hawks. There are some folks inside the organization who firmly believe Ball is the best prospect in this draft class, and it’s not close, and there are others who are against taking him because of the fit with Young. Particularly, the defensive end of the floor scares them because they aren’t good on that end. From what I’ve heard, he’s not a total cross off for the Hawks, but a lot more evaluation and talks are going to have to happen to get everyone in agreement for him to be the choice.
Storyline: No. 1 pick
August 6, 2020 | 10:55 am EDT Update
Damian Lillard on high school basketball: The other thing that makes it sad is the level of complacency because you’ve been told like you’re gonna make it and you’re gonna be a draft pick and you know, you don’t got to earn nothing. You don’t feel like you gotta work for nothing. And it’s sad when it’s time for them to make the NBA and they don’t make it. Like, either they don’t get drafted. Or they get drafted and they ain’t built to survive where everybody’s good. You know what I’m saying? Like, you’re talented and you, you know, you got all these gifts, but everybody got that. You know, I mean, like, if you if you’re 20 years old, or 19 or whatever, and you think you either come in here and just do whatever you want against Chris Paul, Pat Bev… Like if you think you bout to come in here and have your way, you don’t get embarrassed. You know, I’m saying like… Don’t nobody care about the hype. I don’t care what your agent told you. I don’t care what your manager, whoever is the person had been handling you since 10th grade… I don’t care what they told you. Once you get up here, you got to do it. And if you’re not prepared for it or mentally build for it, you’re not gonna make it. And that’s where you see a lot of these dudes. They get here and they don’t stick because they’re not built to make it here. And a lot of that has to do with the culture of high school basketball.

Former G League player Aaron Craft retiring

Ohio State alum Aaron Craft is officially focusing on medicine, he announced via a post on his personal Twitter account. “The new chapter has begun!” he wrote, “Excited, a little nervous, and extremely grateful to start a journey I’ve thought about for so long. I’ve always liked our home white jerseys!” From the beginning of the 2019-20 season prior to the coronavirus pandemic, he revealed his intentions to retire as a player after being accepted to the medical school at Ohio State University.
Statement from ESPN senior writer Jackie MacMullan: About three weeks ago during a discussion on the podcast The Hoop Collective, I misspoke when I expressed my opinion regarding the business practices of the Indiana Pacers, and inferred that Larry Bird had been frustrated during his time as team president. It was a careless remark, based solely on my opinion, and therefore should have never been said. Larry Bird never expressed those feelings to me, and I apologize to both Larry and team owner Herb Simon for poor choice of my words.
August 6, 2020 | 9:51 am EDT Update

Kevin Durant surprised by Caris LeVert

ON CARIS LEVERT … KD was surprised at how good his new teammate is. “He is definitely better than I thought. He’s different. He can score that thing. He can pass it. He’s quick. His thing is about being efficient, and I think that’s what you’re seeing. The shots he’s taking now, it’s like all of his lane. Not a lot of threes, a lot in the mid-range, getting to the cup. I think his IQ is what surprised me the most.”
KD said he’s been playing some with other NBA players, including Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and Allonzo Trier. “I’m playing a lot of one-on-one lately, so what comes with that is your handle is a little better, You’re more quicker with your moves. You’re less indecisive with what you want to bring out. So I’m just crafting that, that playground style of ball even more, just working out by myself or with two or three guys. “That’s the cool part about it because it’s hard to get that type of play in a regular season because you’re going through the team aspect, you’re training with the team and you want to preserve your body for the season. So if I’m playing 1-on-1 or 2-on-2s, it’s just going to help my creativity. That’s the timing thing that every injured player goes through. Just finding that rhythm again. Hopefully I gain it over time and once I get into real games it translates real fast.”
Kevin Durant and his manager Rich Kleiman have produced some interesting content through their company Thirty Five Ventures, from ESPN+ show The Boardroom to documentaries like Basketball County and Q Ball. And Durant has been a frequent guest on other podcasts, from The Bill Simmons Podcast to Pull Up With CJ McCollum to Knuckleheads (with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles) to Play For Keeps. Now, Durant and Kleiman are starting their own podcast network, and they’re teaming up with established podcasting company Cadence13 (now owned by radio conglomerate Entercom) for that. Here’s more from a Cadence13 release:
Dapper Labs has closed a $12 million funding round led by National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee, Aaron Gordon and Garrett Temple, according to a press release shared with CoinDesk. The funds will be used for further development of blockchain games including the eventual launch of NBA Top Shot out of private beta, Dapper Labs founder and CEO Roham Gharegozlou told CoinDesk in a phone interview. “Sports are our most important vertical now,” Gharegozlou said.
Arenas also took a shot at Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, who said he visited the Magic City strip club in Atlanta for food after leaving the bubble in Orlando for a funeral in July. “I would never eat at a strip club. I don’t go to the strip club to eat wings,” Gilbert told TMZ. “I can go to Wing Stop for some wings. I go to the strip club to see strippers.”
August 6, 2020 | 7:54 am EDT Update

Giannis Antetokounmpo very likely to win MVP, DPOY

If you thought this vote was going to be close based on LeBron James‘ run before the league’s stoppage, think twice. Per our poll, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the near-consensus MVP after improving his scoring, rebounding and three-point percentage numbers from a season ago. By securing back-to-back MVP awards, Antetokounmpo will join Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only NBA players to do so.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 298 more rumors
What attracted you to Brooklyn? Was it Kyrie going there? Or what made you want to be there? Kevin Durant: We went together so I think we talked about it together. I think they had a young core that was hungry for success, that played in the playoffs before. They had some young coaches that was looking forward to a new experience in the NBA. You know, I felt like there was a fresh organization that needed like an extra push, you know. You get two guys that can score the basketball. It just felt right.
Storyline: Durant-Irving Dynamic
August 6, 2020 | 3:26 am EDT Update
“In this situation with the NBPA, he wasn’t the only one that had a problem with what was potentially going to happen in the bubble. Like, everybody had concerns,” Durant said. “But obviously, he’s Kyrie—the biggest one—and that’s going to sell papers. At this time, especially during the pandemic, nobody making money, so you get an opportunity to get some clicks, it’s easy to use Kyrie. But it’s 80, 90 players who had the same questions he had.” Contrary to reports that Irving organized a group of NBA players to express their disapproval for the NBA restart, KD says that things transpired in a more organic way. “Kyrie wasn’t the one, like, ‘Yo, let’s get everybody together,'” he said. “Five or six people called one another, like, ‘Oh shit, I’m feeling that way too.’ Then, another 10 people called…But Kyrie the biggest voice out of ’em all, and because he relates to everyone in the league.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Isaiah Thomas: I’m fine with being a backup, At the end of the day I want to be apart of something and when my name is called I’d be more than ready!!! That goes for any team

Storyline: Isaiah Thomas Free Agency
Chances are, if you are reading this story on Anthony, you’ve heard the noise. And chances are, several of you are part of the noise. “When we got him, everybody had something to say about him,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “What he gonna do defensively? … He’s older … He’s done … Where’s he gonna fit in? … How is he in the locker room? … Why didn’t it work out with these other teams?”
All that “noise” has long ago been dismissed by the 36-year-old Anthony. But it hasn’t been forgotten by his teammates, who have come to adore the player they once worshipped from afar. “I say everybody who was talking, or said something negative about him, they need to apologize, you know?” Gary Trent Jr. said. “It’s Carmelo Anthony. He went through tough times. He battled, stayed resilient and for him to come back and bounce back like it’s nothing? That’s why he’s Carmelo Anthony and why he does what he does.”
With one of the most open NBA postseasons in years, there’s no clear title favorite right now, but the LA Clippers picked up one big endorsement: Kevin Durant. “If I had to choose — and I hate doing that s— because you never know what could happen, you seen that with us last year — but if I had to choose, I’ll go with Clippers and Bucks for the championship,” Durant said on the “Play For Keeps” podcast. “And I’ll go with the Clippers.”

Gregg Popovich compares Nikola Jokic to Larry Bird

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. became only the third rookie since 2000 to post consecutive 30-point double-doubles but it was Nikola Jokic who left Gregg Popovich feeling like he had just faced a Hall of Famer. “Porter is a fine young talent,” the San Antonio Spurs coach said. “And Jokic, he’s like a reincarnation of Larry Bird. He does everything. He’s amazing. They were great.”
Bell was drafted by Chicago in the second round in 2017 and traded to Golden State on draft night. But after two seasons with the Warriors, he signed a free-agent deal with the Timberwolves last summer. Then, Bell was traded in February as part of a four-team, 12-player deal in which he was first traded to Houston and then moved to Memphis the next day. He experienced a flood of emotions as he processed the trade, and it opened his eyes to the “business” side of the NBA. “When it happened, I was down, I was sad, I wanted to cry,” Bell said. “I wanted to be mad, I wanted to cuss somebody out, I wanted to fight somebody. But I still had a chance to play basketball in the NBA. There’s not a lot of people who get to say that.”
So Zion is important and not just for the sake of the New Orleans Pelicans. The big question hanging over the league is whether he’s capable of shouldering it all. Dr. Brian Sutterer, of sports injury YouTube fame, has been watching intently and has his concerns. “He’s in a race against his own body,” Dr. Sutterer said over the phone. “If you go watch his Duke highlights compared to now, the difference is profound. In my opinion, his athleticism and conditioning have regressed substantially. He’s less explosive, less conditioned, slower on defense, has already had a portion of his meniscus removed from his knee after an injury, and he’s still under close monitoring from the medical staff.”
Storyline: Zion Williamson Injury
In a Wednesday morning telephone interview with Fox & Friends, Trump said he turned off N.B.A. games “when I see people kneeling” and “disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our national anthem.” Asked about Trump’s comments after the Lakers’ 105-86 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder later in the day, James fired back. “The game will go on without his eyes on it,” James said at his postgame news conference from the N.B.A.’s so-called bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida. “I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball: We could care less.”