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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
Will the NBA season end in sizzling Sin City?
Many concepts are being considered for whenever the league restarts and one of them is holding a unique tournament in Las Vegas, ahead of a condensed version of the NBA Finals.
NBA executives told CNBC’s Jabari Young, a former NBA beat reporter, that “they favoured Las Vegas as a possible location to conclude the season.”
While the report said nothing is close to being implemented, it broke down why the Las Vegas idea would be intriguing. The season’s remaining games could be scrapped, with a play-in tournament for lower-seeded teams being used to determine the final playoff squads. Variations of play-in tournaments had been discussed even before coronavirus had even been discovered, though thoughts then were on a mid-season variation.
Things have obviously changed. Following the play-in, under this scenario, the NBA would then have best-of-five series for the first round, just like the old days, before going to an NCAA-style win-and-advance tournament to get down to the two teams that would meet in the Finals. For this year, the Finals would be a best-of-five, according to the CNBC report.
The NBA held its all-star weekend in Las Vegas in 2007. It also has held its summer league at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Thomas & Mack Center and at Cox Pavilion and would hold games at those facilities, according to the report. Thomas & Mack’s basketball capacity is 18,000 (the same as T-Mobile Arena, the new facility used by the NHL’s Golden Knights, which was not mentioned as a possibility). Of course it’s also more likely than not that the tournament would be played without any spectators, making capacity numbers irrelevant.
In a question-and-answer session with Golden State superstar guard Stephen Curry on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave his opinion on what needs to happen before games can be held in front of spectators again.
“What you need is you need to see the trajectory of the curve start to come down,” Fauci said.
“The United States is a big country, we have so many different regions … So a direct answer to your question, we can start thinking about getting back to some degree of normality when the country as a whole has turned that corner and start coming down. Then you can pinpoint cases much more easily than getting overwhelmed by cases, which is what’s going on in New York City.”
Our take on the tourney idea: Not the worst solution, especially since the chances of actually playing a regular post-season schedule grow more remote with each passing day for logistical reasons.
Star Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum was interested in learning more about the plan.
“It depends on how the tournament is structured,” McCollum told CNBC.
“I can’t say I would be happy with it or that I think it’s the right thing. I’d have to see how it’s structured. I think logistically, the NBA is in a position to experiment with many potential solutions.”
PAY CUTS COMING
It appears the NBA league office’s top dogs will be getting a temporary pay cut.
ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that commissioner Adam Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum are amongst those at the NBA that will be reducing base salaries by 20% during this shutdown.
The report had around 100 executives taking the pay cut, effective immediately.
Senior NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN, without confirming the report: “These are unprecedented times and, like other companies across all industries, we need to take short-term steps to deal with the harsh economic impact on our business and organization.”
Another recent ESPN report had the NBA extending its credit limit to $1.2 billion U.S. to help keep things stable while games aren’t being played.
Some owners have been particularly impacted by worldwide shutdowns, most notably Miami Heat owner Micky Arison and Tilman Fertitta, who owns the Houston Rockets. Arison is the chairman of Carnival Corporation (the cruise industry has been battered), while Fertitta has considerable investments in the restaurant, gaming (casinos) and development businesses.
GLOBETROTTERS LEGEND DIES
Iconic dribbling dynamo Fred (Curly) Neal died Thursday in Houston at the age of 77.
Neal was perhaps the best-known member of the Harlem Globetrotters, showcasing his ball-handling wizardry for 22 years and more than 6,000 games with the Globetrotters.
“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. “Curly’s basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions.”
Neal made many appearances in Canada during his playing stint between 1963 and 1985.
He is one of seven Globetrotters to have his jersey retired during the 94-year history of the organization, and only Wilt Chamberlain and Marques Haynes got the honour before him. He succeeded Haynes as the team’s featured ball-handler, and NBA legend Isiah Thomas tweeted Thursday that he learned how to dribble from watching the two of them.
L EBRON WANTS FANS
LeBron James has some thoughts. The four-time NBA MVP was a guest on the Road Trippin’ podcast, which is hosted by his former Cleveland teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and broadcaster Allie Clifton.
James didn’t sound keen on the idea of games being played in empty arenas.
“What is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan?’ ” James said. “There’s no excitement .. That’s what also brings out the competitive side of the players, to know that you’re going on the road in a hostile environment and yes, you’re playing against that opponent in front of you, but you really want to kick the fans’ ass too,” James said on the podcast.
While James said he would love to get back on the court and would be OK televising scrimmages, actual games might be different.
“I just don’t know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It’s just, it’s a weird dynamic,” he said.
Before the coronavirus pandemic grew significantly, James had said he would never want to play without fans being present. He later said he did not have enough information about the seriousness of the pandemic when he made those statements.
James also wondered what would happen “when a guy who is tested positive for corona and you’re out there on the floor with him and it’s a loose ball?”
James cracked he won’t be high-fiving anybody “for the rest of my life after this s—” and said he was against going straight to the playoffs when the season resumes. He would prefer 5-10 games to conclude the regular season.
“One thing you can’t just do is go straight to the playoffs,” James said. “Because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020