Until the virtual meeting on Friday between the owners of the 30 teams in the league and Commissioner Adam Silver, those in charge of the league are working on a schedule to be presented to the players’ union to complete a new 2019-20 season.
Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, told me on Monday that he felt more realistic that “the big decisions will be made in the next two weeks,” but they are coming soon.
“We will play basketball,” said Charles Barkley in a text message. Barkley told Paul Finebaum of ESPN the same in a radio interview on Tuesday, saying that his Turner Sports bosses had advised him to prepare to work as an analyst again.
The league the publicly stated goal is to play games in the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Florida, but with an indefinite number of teams, from “end of July”. Players around the world are therefore preparing to be called back to their team markets for quarantine measures and a gradual return to 5v5 exercises next week, all in anticipation of possible move to the complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
In other words: momentum behind an N.B.A. The comeback, almost 80 days after the league suddenly shutdown, is as strong as we have seen.
“It’s been two and a half months,” What if? “National Basketball Players Association president Michele Roberts told ESPN Ramona Shelburne.” My players need a degree of security. I think everyone does. “
Indeed. Who doesn’t want a little more security now? However, I have to confess that the closer we get to the game’s return, I feel increasingly uncomfortable. As slow as things go for starved tire fans and even for players, as Roberts suggested, the uncomfortable feeling is that the comeback wheels are still spinning faster than they should.
The N.B.A. is not just a full contact sport, but an indoor sport. The amount of encouragement the league can get from the relatively promising start to the top comeback of German football in two weeks is offset by long-standing warnings from public health experts about the coronavirus easier to transmit indoors than outdoors.
A general manager recently asked me to say that the N.B.A. The world feels noticeably safer than on March 11, when Silver stopped operating. While it’s a subjective question, I couldn’t really take much of G.M. fall back on the fact that money reasons are the only reasons to support the resumption of the season now.
The league is against such claims that the conditions in October, November and December are probably no safer than now – and that it could be financially disastrous for all sides of the sport to delay a return if there are no security guarantees. It doesn’t seem to be coming soon. So there is little to be gained if you wait for further progress in developing a vaccine breakthrough that is probably still a long way off.
This logic has to resonate as Roberts Shelburne said, based on the union’s ongoing discussions with its membership, that “players really want to play.”
Compared to the much more controversial dynamic between the league and the player union in Major League Baseball, N.B.A. Players generally give the impression that they believe in the league’s ability to create appropriately detailed security logs for a return to the game. They know that union president Chris Paul, the Oklahoma City Thunder Guard, is in constant contact with Silver – and they heard directly from Silver earlier this month that the league is confident of getting the number of kits, necessary for extensive testing. The pre-game program would be restarted without demanding more criticism from politicians or the public.
Nevertheless, so many unknowns remain, even if you accept the idea that the league can carry out mass tests with quick results – and without affecting public supply.
Among the unknowns:
How rigid is the N.B.A. Do you control access to and from the Disney campus to combat the spread of the corona virus?
How will the players’ bodies react to what will ultimately be completely untypical for many more than three months before the game?
How unsightly will the standard of the game be after such a layoff, apart from the possible injuries?
And how comfortable do players, coaches and team members feel with the additional risks associated with playing indoors compared to working in the extensive areas of football, soccer and baseball?
The more urgent curiosity, based on how different teams are working this week for the scenarios that are most advantageous for them, is what schedule constructions the league office presents to the players: How many teams are invited to Orlando? whether they will try to get wedged in some regular season games first; and which of the dizzying countless playoff concepts will ultimately be used.
However, these are purely competitive details.
As he confirmed to the players in a conference call on May 8th, for Silver, “the most important question is: Can we play without compromising your safety?” Silver also emphasized that “no decision we make will be risk-free”.
The N.B.A. has praised those who described their decision to suspend the March 11 season, when Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive, so crucial that they transmitted the severity of the coronavirus outbreak to the American people as loudly as any sporting development or entertainment.
Of course, this also means that no league is scrutinized in its comeback steps.
But I can not change it. Shortly before the comeback of the N.B.A. I can’t stop being angry about how the league can manage to stay behind given this unpredictable virus.
Something tells me that at least some of the league’s power brokers feel the same deep down.
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Q: Narrated by Phil Johnson. The same Phil Johnson who was his longtime assistant and left jazz on the same day he left? – @ BrianSmith429 from Twitter
The narrator was indeed Phil Johnson, Sloan’s ubiquitous assistant coach with Jazz for Sloan’s 22½ seasons as chief of Utah’s bank. Countless writers have already shared this memory, but I feel compelled to repeat the statement that Sloan and Johnson were routinely spotted in press rooms across the league and ate their food before the game in the same room as the writers because of this habit was rare. It never happens in the modern game, and I certainly don’t remember a head coach who was so willing to dine alongside the annoying news media like Sloan during my 27 seasons in the league.
However, Sloan’s successes were so great that he didn’t have to do anything extra to win the admiration of the sport’s chroniclers. After 10 seasons of memorably tough, manageable defense, he became the first Chicago Bulls player to retire number (4), and then Sloan became synonymous with jazz – and with consistency – like Utah’s incomparable pick-and-roll Duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton.
These three were a package deal that popped up every night and won season after season, though the opposition pretty much knew what was going to happen (and at the same time was preparing for Utah’s infamous physicality). You’ve probably just seen the trio’s most painful defeats in “The Last Dance” again – six defeats against Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the N.B.A. Finale in 1997 and 1998. But these jazz teams are right there on my list of the biggest teams with the Milwaukee Bucks from the 1980s, the Sacramento Kings from the early 2000s, and the Phoenix Suns from the Steve Nash era never won everything.
Sloan was known to ride his players and referees hard, but he inspired Malone and Stockton to buy-in instantly, which gave identity and moxie to jazz in the small market when Gregg Popovich and San Antonio Spurs openly studied and envied They built their own dynasty.
The longstanding jazz center Mark Eaton, who played five of his seasons as head coach for Sloan, was the first N.B.A. Player I’ve ever interviewed – in (gulp) 1989. So I decided to reach Eaton after Sloan’s death to get a feel for how Sloan did it with such a demanding approach in one place for so long to pass.
“My favorite memory is that he screams at me at half-time because he didn’t hit the boards hard enough and then after the game says,” Come on, let’s get a beer, “said Eaton.” That was Jerry – toughness and Fairness in one package. He was your friend and always had your back while he was pushing you. “
Q: How bad was the Western Conference when Michael Jordan played for the Bulls? None of the N.B.A. Finale Jordan played in more than six games, while two playoff series in the east went seven games in the years he won the championship. – Adam Battocchi, Virginia
Stone: “Bad” is the wrong word.
The East was definitely the stronger conference in the 1990s. You could credibly incorporate Reggie Miller’s Indiana Pacers from the late 1990s and perhaps Pat Riley’s Knicks from the early 1990s into the conversation about the strongest teams of the past four decades that haven’t won a championship.
But the west of the nineties was never as weak as the east at its various lows in the 21st century, which more than occasionally inspired references to the “Leastern conference” by snarky scribes like me. The Suns led by Charles Barkley in 1993, the Seattle SuperSonics with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp in 1996, and the two Utah final teams were all tough outs that had real problems reaching Game 7.
These teams basically had the same problem: Jordan.
Q: I am a Suns fan, but I have the greatest respect for Jerry Sloan. I think the fact that he never won the coach of the year is a farce. – @finecian from Twitter
Stone: It’s hard to believe that neither Sloan nor Rudy Tomjanovich, who won a seat in the 2020 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame, won the C.O.Y. Trophy. According to the Basketball Reference, Sloan has been awarded coach of the month ten times, but never as the biggest single award in his profession. Of the top 10 coaches in career wins, only Sloan and Rick Adelman C.O.Y. not win. honor at least once.
That doesn’t exactly compensate, but my long-time colleague Doug Smith from The Toronto Star tweeted a recent reminder that the Professional Basketball Writers Association has launched the Rudy Tomjanovich Award – which is awarded annually to the coach who best combines excellence on the pitch and collaboration with the media and fans – to help the authors’ association get the first may be given to Sloan in 2011 unanimously.
Only two trainers in N.B.A. History has won over 1,000 games with a franchise: Gregg Popovich from San Antonio and his minor model Jerry Sloan from Utah. who died friday Popovich is number 2 with 1,272 victories in the regular season. Sloan is No. 4 with 1,221 – 1,127 who come with jazz from 1988 to 2011.
In the coach wins with a team, Boston Red Auerbach is 795 or 332 behind Sloan.
A statistical disclosure by my colleague Ross Siler from the Los Angeles Daily: N.B.A. The teams made 244 coaching changes during Sloan’s tenure as head jazz coach from December 9, 1988 to February 10, 2011.
What is the incentive for the N.B.A. to play some regular season games instead of jumping straight into the playoffs? One reason: The minimum number of games that most teams have to deliver to their regional broadcast partners is 70. There are some exceptions, like the Los Angeles Lakers, that are often seen on national television and therefore do not appear on a regional network can often. But 70 is the threshold for most teams, and if they miss out, they either owe a refund to their regional partners or have to accept a deduction from future payments.
The Dallas basketball community I live in was killed last week by the death of two former N.B.A. Writers who left a lasting impression when they worked in this market: Roger B. Brown of Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Marty McNeal of the Dallas Times Herald (and later the Sacramento Bee). Both were in their 60s … and both were beloved colleagues who were taken too early. #REST IN PEACE