New plan: 2019, 2020*, 2021
Unforgivable sin: It’s the fourth quarter of a March regular-season game, Jordan is up 20 on the Raptors, and he needs two more to get 50. As he drives toward the basket, a sweaty Lowry slides in to take a charge, and somehow gets the call. Jordan finishes the night with 48 and a win, but the slight isn’t forgotten.
Jordan’s revenge: Lowry’s entire vibe would make Jordan so mad that Jordan would go Kobe-on–Jalen Rose in their next meeting and drop 82 points. Postgame, Doris Burke would ask whether his rivalry with Lowry was personal and Jordan would just reply: “Who?” —Paolo Uggetti
“It wasn’t one recruiting pitch that kind of landed either one of them,” said G-League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “We had more kids that turned it down than accepted it, a lot of kids wanted to go to school.”
Armed with a bigger checkbook than in years past, the G-League has suddenly emerged as a disruptive force for Duke, Kentucky and other big programs that rely on one-and-done talent who are all trying to lure the very best high-schoolers. Since launching the Professional Pathway program in 2018, Abdur-Rahim said G-League executives have been in the stands alongside college coaches hunting for talent.
“We were at all of those events: USA Basketball events, top 100 camps, NBA Players’ Association camps,” he said.
After the first year of the program, he said, the G-League identified some problems to work out. For starters, it wasn’t offering enough money. The program’s maximum salary of $125,000 wasn’t enough to persuade kids to turn down a college scholarship or a mid-six figure salary offer from a foreign league, such as Australia’s National Basketball League.
Additionally, there were broad concerns about the G-League’s allocation process, which gives players little say in where or for what team they’ll play. Parents were wary of sending their teenagers off to markets with minimal exposure or the developmental wing of a struggling franchise with no guarantee of getting drafted.
By the summer of 2019, the G-League had been courting Green for about six months. At the time, however, he intended to go to college even if it were only for one year. He sifted through offers from 19 universities and scheduled official visits at Auburn, Memphis, Oregon and Florida State.
Top-tier sports, including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, are likely to return to action in July or August, according to Chris Ripley, CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“I think it’s a return this summer,” Ripley said during an online appearance in MoffettNathanson’s annual Media & Communications Summit. Based on his own conversations with league officials, as well as the increasing sense that restarting without fans in attendance is the leagues’ priority, “July has some potential for some of these leagues to start, or maybe August.”
The apparent agreement by teams and players to forgo gate receipts “is not an easy economic decision,” Ripley told moderator Michael Nathanson. “There are some tradoffs there and some shared pain.” That strategic direction “is important,” the exec added, “because most people don’t think a [COVID-19] vaccine’s going to be around until next year. Are you really going to put 30,000 people into a building when there’s no vaccine yet?”
O’Neal, in an interview with USA Today, said players should start to prepare for a 2020-21 season and set aside a campaign halted in March by the coronavirus pandemic with five weeks of regular-season games and two months of playoffs remaining.
“I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year. Just scrap the season. Just scrap it,” O’Neal told the newspaper.
“To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins this year, there’s an asterisk. They’re not going to get the respect.
“What if a team that’s not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So, scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year.”
In pushing this deadline back, both the league and the players union are giving themselves time to assess the far-reaching implications of the coronavirus pandemic. NBA commissioner Adam Silver painted an uncertain picture of the league’s finances in the wake of a pandemic that has shut down not just the basketball season, but player access to team facilities and access to one another.
“This CBA was not built for an extended pandemic,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on a call with the National Basketball Players Association on Friday, according to ESPN. “There’s not a mechanism in it that works to properly accept a cap when you’ve got so much uncertainty; when we’d be going (into) next season saying, “Well, our revenue could be $10B or it could be $6B.”
The NBA is also concerned by the impact removing fans from games will have on its future finances. If fans are unable to attend games, the NBA’s bottom line will suffer.
Sources: The NBA has sent teams the ballots to vote on the prospects for the 2020 Draft Combine, which has been postponed indefinitely. League office is evaluating possible dates for Combine and potential virtual version.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 11, 2020
The Warriors laid off 1,720 part-time event staff in mid-March — the largest cuts at a single Bay Area location to date during coronavirus — according to a recent state filing with the California Employment Development Department.
Though the report doesn’t specify the duration of the layoffs, team spokesman Raymond Ridder told The Chronicle that the employees will return to work as soon as Chase Center is allowed to begin hosting events again. Employees were notified shortly after the NBA suspended play March 11 to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
The layoffs were limited to employees whose job requires a game or event. Affected workers can apply for federal and state unemployment benefits, and the Warriors are providing supplemental relief grants and payments to those part-time employees who’ve been laid off.
Raptors Uprising GC star Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey has been named player of the week for Week 1 of the NBA 2K League 2020 season.
The point guard is the first member of the Raptors esports team to earn the weekly honour.
Hailey opened the season with two wins against 76ers GC, opening with 29 points, five assists and four steals before scoring a career-high 51 points in the team’s 36-point victory in Game 2.
Hailey then led all scorers in a three-game series against Wizards District Gaming, finishing with a combined 90 points, 13 assists and six steals while sinking 13 three-pointers.
The Raptors Uprising all-time leading scorer averaged 35 points in Week 1.
Monday, May 11 – Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka
It’s Big Man Monday as the spotlight is on these two machines operating down the middle. Fans can relive Gasol’s outstanding game against the Philadelphia 76ers (Jan. 22, 2020), followed by Ibaka scoring 27 and grabbing 13 rebounds in a big road win against the Utah Jazz (Mar. 9, 2020).
Tuesday, May 12 – OG Anunoby and Terence Davis Jr.
The bench mob takes the spotlight as Anunoby scores 21 and the Raps beat the Oklahoma City Thunder (Jan. 15, 2020) on the road. Then, Terence Davis Jr. gets his first career start and scores 20 as Raptors hold off a late surge from the Brooklyn Nets (Feb. 8, 2020).
Wednesday, May 13 – Norman Powell
An integral piece of the Larry O’Brien-winning crew, Powell reminded us why he’s a world champion by leading the Raps with 28 points as they put up a massive 140 against the Washington Wizards (Mar. 5, 2020), followed by Powell’s career-high scoring performance of 37 points against the Golden State Warriors (Jan. 17, 2020).
Thursday, May 14 – Throwback Thursday
TSN dishes up a Throwback Thursday to highlight two Raptors legends in Kawhi Leonard and Demar DeRozan. In the instant-classic Finals preview, Leonard goes head-to-head with the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant in a battle from early last season (Nov. 29, 2018), followed by DeRozan’s emotional return to Toronto (Feb. 22, 2019), which saw Toronto seal the victory with a steal in the fourth.
Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of Leonard’s buzzer-beating moon shoot over the giant outstretched hand of Cameroonian big man Joel Embiid in Game 7 against Philly. The shot sent Toronto into the Eastern Conference finals, and erased years of heartbreak for Raptors fans.
“It was a moment in time that (reaffirmed) everything that we had thought or suspected about why launching a basketball brand and doing it with Kawhi Leonard as not just the face of basketball but in many, many ways the New Balance brand, why that was the right decision at the right time,” Cassidy said. “Everything paid off.”
New Balance had Plans A, B and C for however the playoffs might unfold. “The Shot” and it’s four-bounce dramatics capped a game Cassidy remembers as a “brutal emotional slug-fest,” and fast-tracked a clever and mischievous campaign that would see the 10-storey tall Leonard “Fun guy” billboard, the largest in the city, go up five days later in Yonge-Dundas Square.
There were “Fun Guy” and “Board Man Gets Paid” T-shirts that sold out within minutes. New Balance shoes were flying off the shelves. There was the cheeky billboard erected in Oakland, Calif., before the finals that warned Warriors fans that “The King of the North is Coming.”
Launching Leonard as their face of their basketball brand three months earlier during NBA all-star weekend, “nobody had really guessed it would be that wild of a ride,” Cassidy said. “But (his buzzer-beater) gave us confidence to do things like the ”Fun Guy“ billboard. . . Because he clearly had an aura of destiny around him, right? I’ve seen the shot so many times, there’s no reason that ball should have gone in.
“He was – and is – an athlete of destiny.”
Golden State Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens has reportedly tried to personally apologize to Kyle Lowry for shoving the Toronto Raptors point guard during the fourth quarter of Game 3 of last year’s NBA Finals, according to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.
Kawakami reports that Stevens — who received a one-year ban and $500,000 fine for his actions, and is set to return to “full, active status as a Warriors stakeholder” soon — has personally tried to apologize to Lowry “many times,” but hasn’t heard back from the NBA veteran. Stevens says he reached out to several members of the Raptors organization to apologize as well, according to The Athletic.
The incident in question occurred when Lowry dove into a row of courtside seats in an effort to save a loose ball during that Finals run. Stevens, wearing an NBA-issued credential, was seated about two spots away from where Lowry landed. Stevens shoved Lowry in the upper body, and Lowry said he repeated a vulgar phrase to him about four times during the brief incident.
Said Lowry of Stevens after the Game 3 incident:
“The ownership that they have that I know, they’re unbelievable guys. But a guy like that, showing his true class, he shouldn’t be a part of our league. There’s just no place for that.
“I don’t know him. I don’t care to know him. He showed his true colours at the time. And you show what you’re really about in that time and at that moment. … You showed what you really are.”
It appears Lowry did not get his wish, as Stevens will return to the Warriors’ executive board once the 2019-20 NBA season is over, per Kawakami.