Morning Coffee – Wed, May 13

18 mins read

New plan: have pitchers and catchers report.

Toronto Raptor surprises Ontario doctor working in NY state with phone call | CBC News

Dr. Leslie Bottrell is a resident physician who works at St. Joseph’s Medical Centre in New York state. A graduate of the University of Windsor, she’s also a former resident of St. Thomas, Ont., as well as a Toronto Raptors superfan.

On Tuesday, she spoke with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre about an unexpected phone she received from Toronto Raptor and reigning NBA champion Kyle Lowry, while in the middle of shooting a short segment for ESPN.

So how did ESPN end up doing the segment on you?

We had a bit of media attention at our hospital. I work at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in southwest Yonkers. And we had sort of become a bit of an epicentre for coronavirus initially.

It came out in New Rochelle and then we ended up getting the highest cases in that area. So I think through that, ESPN had been alerted and then they reached out to our marketing people and just asked for a female health-care worker who was a mother and also working, and was also a sports fan — someone who had played the sport as well.

They reached out to me and I was the lucky recipient of that.

And they added this extra surprise call with Kyle Lowry. Tell us a bit about how that happened.

They basically asked what was my sport that I was involved in, and I played basketball at the University of Windsor. I played in medical school as well. So my sport was basketball and I had eventually become a Raptors fan. I started out as a Detroit Pistons fan … before this past season, of course.

And they surprised me with [Kyle Lowry] and I was blown away.

Why Money, Not Safety, Could Derail Baseball in 2020 – WSJ

The players believe that a revenue split is tantamount to a salary cap, something the union has long rejected—and went on strike to fight against in 1994. They argue that consenting to one now, even in an unprecedented situation, sets a dangerous precedent before what was already expected to be a ferocious negotiation to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement in 2021. As a result, union officials consider a revenue split, which is similar to the financial models of the NFL, NBA and NHL, to be a nonstarter.

The league sees this structure as a necessary arrangement at a time of unprecedented financial strain for the sport. MLB officials say that baseball earns about 40% of its overall revenues from the in-game experience, including tickets, parking and concessions. All of that is gone in a season without spectators, and the league remains concerned that playing with no or few fans could continue into 2021. The league says it would make better financial sense to not play at all than play in empty ballparks and pay players their full prorated salaries. The union disagrees with that position, saying MLB would still turn a profit from its media rights deals.

As a result, the players say the league should honor their March 26 agreement, which set out the financial landscape during the pandemic. They note that the league doesn’t offer to directly share additional profits in years when they exceed expectations and players are assuming additional risk by playing during a pandemic.

The owners counter that playing without fans in attendance, at least at first, alters the calculation. They point to language in the March document that calls for discussing the “economic feasibility” of playing in empty ballparks, a clause that gives them the grounds to say that they will not have a season if the players refuse to acquiesce to the revised economics.

Ranking the top 74 NBA players of all time – Nos. 40-11

25. Kawhi Leonard

2011-18 San Antonio Spurs; 2018-19 Toronto Raptors; 2019-20 LA Clippers

18.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.4 3s PG

Leonard has already played nine seasons, but it feels like he’s just getting going. Leonard won his first championship and Finals MVP with the Spurs in 2014, but that was alongside Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. He showed last season he can carry an entire franchise, leading the Raptors to their first championship. And when the stakes are at their highest, Leonard rises to the challenge, whether it’s his elite defense, Game 7-clinching buzzer-beater against Philadelphia, or winning a second Finals MVP at the expense of the Warriors’ dynasty.
— Youngmisuk

NBA owners, execs hopeful for return after call with Adam Silver, sources say

Participants on a board of governors call Tuesday with NBA commissioner Adam Silver left the virtual meeting increasingly positive about the league’s momentum toward a resumption of play this season, sources told ESPN.

Owners and executives on the call were encouraged about the league’s progress toward minimizing health risk upon a return and the league office’s positive conversations with the National Basketball Players Association about the players’ desire to eventually restart the season, sources said.

Discussions centered on health and safety concerns, including the goal of getting team officials and players comfortable with the idea that a positive test for the coronavirus upon a return would not shutter play.

Silver told those on the call that if a positive test would “shut us down, we probably shouldn’t go down this path.”

How many positive tests would be too many remains a question, and is one of many that the NBA, the NBPA and medical experts must come to terms with before the league and union can greenlight a resumption of play.

As for the format in a return to play, there still is no decision on the kind of form that would take with the 30 NBA teams, sources said. The league hasn’t worked through the details on whether all 30 teams would return, or whether regular-season games would be played, or if perhaps there would be a play-in tournament to give more teams a chance to make the 16-team playoff field, sources said.

1-on-1 with Mark Cuban: Testing, NBA return, his role in the community and more – The Athletic

Are you optimistic we will have enough testing in a month? In two months?

Yes, absolutely.

Why is that?

I just trust American exceptionalism, entrepreneurialism spirit and capitalism. You know, we’ll figure out a way because we have to.

Do you feel like the testing is the biggest failure we’ve had thus far in our national response?

I mean, failing, who knows. I don’t know any more than you do about why something happened or didn’t happen. But that’s the past. What matters now is what we’re going to do going forwards.

I think you mentioned this on our podcast, but does every Maverick player have access to shoot on a hoop at this point?

As far as I’m aware of, yeah. Guys have outdoor courts that they have available to them. It’s not hard to go out there and shoot.

Do you know if that’s recent? I talked to Maxi on our podcast a couple weeks ago, and he said he had, I think the day before, shot for the first time. That would have been late April. Was there an understanding that some players did not have a place to shoot, and the team worked with them to make sure they did?

Not really. I mean, I think guys, if they wanted to shoot … well, I take that back. If they wanted to shoot, and someone had an outdoor court, we connected them. Or there’s just outdoor courts that are obviously around at parks. And I have a hoop out back, but nobody needed to come use mine.

Toronto Raptors: One big question for every team – Sports Illustrated

One of the more under-the-radar clubs affected by the season suspension is the Raptors. Toronto was second in the East when play was stopped, and their .719 winning percentage was actually ahead of the mark of last summer’s championship squad. The Raptors entered this season as candidates for a soft teardown of sorts. Masai Ujiri, with a trophy in hand, had the runway to hand the team off to younger players while leveraging higher-priced veterans for players who could contribute in the future. To Toronto’s credit, the front office kept the remaining band together, and the team kept on winning. So now what?

The Raptors are in a tough spot. The 2020 season was shaping up perfectly. The team could make one more—however unlikely—push toward the Finals while maintaining flexibility in the summer. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol are on expiring contracts, while Kyle Lowry has one year left on his deal. In an ideal world, the Raptors could have played deep into the playoffs, and then launched into a new phase in the summer. The pandemic may force the Raptors into that new phase without the benefit of another postseason run.

What If Week: What if Raptors coach Butch Carter had stayed on and stayed together in Toronto? – Raptors HQ

But Butch’s other so-called issues make him seem prescient now, rather than just troubled. For one, Carter charged the NBA braintrust with operating a conspiracy to get Vince Carter out of Toronto. It was unbecoming for a head coach to say such things, but was Butch wrong in assuming that was the case? Not to go full truther here, but there’s little doubt the league and its media partners would have loved to see Carter in any number of uniforms instead of Toronto’s. (This is before Vince actually did wear many different uniforms and slide out of the spotlight all by himself.) Then there was the charge in Butch’s book, Born to Believe, that his college coach, the famous and deified Bobby Knight, had engaged in “racist behaviour”. In truth, this doesn’t sound like a stretch to me, given Knight’s actions throughout his career. But to the basketball world, it made Butch out to be a figure with an axe to grind — or just straight-up delusional.

In any case, taken altogether, it was always going to undo Butch’s career. Despite leading a terrible NBA team out of the wilderness, despite getting two budding superstars in Carter and Tracy McGrady to play together, despite instilling in Toronto a sense that the Raptors could actually be a team worth watching, Butch had to go. The damage was such, a complete 180 was required. In fact, the Raptors would go on to hire Lenny Wilkens for the 2000-01 season in direct response to Carter’s flameout. Here was a calming legend, a man who had seen it all and was ready to enact a new brand of leadership, a professional touch of stability the Raptors had lacked until then. Wilkens was the right man for the job until, lo and behold, the team started imploding again.

In that, we arrive at our what if. What if Butch had been there to challenge Vince when the going got tough? What if — stay with me here — Butch hadn’t alienated McGrady and T-Mac stayed with Toronto? What if the brand of leadership Butch did possess was used to bond the Raptors together, buttress their nascent underdog spirit, and get them over not just the Knicks, but the Sixers, and any other league challengers along the way? It’s a stretch, perhaps, but the following years — after Vince stepped out for his graduation and missed that shot in Game 7, after the team started faltering, after all of Vince’s “injuries” — suggest Butch may not have been the root of Toronto’s problems after all.

NBA 2K League This Week: Raptors Uprising, ‘Kenny Got Work’ start strong –

Toronto Raptors 2K League affiliate Raptors Uprising GC had a strong week to kick off the season, beating 76ers GC and Wizards District Gaming to go 2-0. Uprising only dropped one game in their two best-of-three sets.

Star point guard Kenneth “Kenny Got Work” Hailey was named the 2K League’s Week 1 Player of the Week after averaging 34 points in the five games he played in last week, including a 51-spot in Game 2 against 76ers GC and a combined 90 points in the three games the Uprising played against Wizards District Gaming.

“It’s a team thing,” Hailey said over the phone when asked where the success he found last week came from. “Of course, having a few more guys who believe in me, that made the transition to point guard that much easier. … I focus on scoring and our defence kind of set the tone. So it’s a team thing.”

Hailey was originally drafted in the first-ever 2K League draft by the Uprising in the first round as a point guard, but played mostly as a point forward at the three through his first two seasons. This season, however, he’s made the transition to point guard, dedicating a lot of his time from when NBA 2K20 first came out right up until the start of the 2K League season to perfecting and mastering point-guard play in the new game.

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