With the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS all working on plans to play, Cuomo encouraged sports that can be held without fans in attendance to do so if the economics can be worked out.
“Do it! Do it!” Cuomo said. “We want you up.
“We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy.
“So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”
New York has been the hardest-hit state in the U.S. with roughly 355,000 reported cases and 29,000 deaths due to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Utah Jazz point guard has pledged to donate $200,000 to an array of nonprofits and civic groups throughout the country who are leading COVID-19 relief initiatives. Among the groups that will receive financial support are the Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation, the Memphis-based organization CodeCrew, the New Haven Missionary Baptist Church in Arkansas, the Utah Food Bank, the Community Shelter Board and the Columbus Urban League in Ohio. The organizations are spearheading projects centered on addressing a range of issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including combating hunger and ensuring that underprivileged youth have the resources needed to continue their education.
“As I grew up, my parents just kept reiterating the importance of giving back and the importance of our communities and our future, our young kids and their development,” he told the news outlet. “It’s vital that we who have a platform like we do and a stage like we do utilize it the best we can, because who knows how long my voice can mean something? And while it does, just try to use it as much as I can and use my time and money and resources to help.” Conley hopes his act of generosity will inspire others to give back to those in need.
While the NBA is making progress toward a resumption of the 2019-20 season, there are still many restrictions in place across the country that won’t allow large gatherings. Even if and when games do resume, there is no indication fans will be in attendance, and that may be the case for the foreseeable future as the country, and the world, is trying to establish a new normal due to the coronavirus pandemic.
One such event that will be done far different than before is the 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Originally scheduled to take place on Aug. 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the event could be moved back to a later date once larger gatherings are allowed, per the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. The Hall of Fame is targeting Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 9-11) as a possible date, or even next spring if necessary.
The ceremony is still scheduled to take place the weekend of Aug. 28-30, but will be moved to a smaller venue to allow for more social distancing among attendees. The CEO of the Hall of Fame, John Doleva, also asserted that the 2020 ceremony won’t be combined with the 2021 class because of the current circumstances.
“I do want to make it very clear we will have a separate event for the class of 2020 because of the notoriety of that class and, frankly, every class deserves its own recognition,” Doleva said via the Boston Globe. “There is a potential next calendar year that we could have two enshrinements.”
The 2020 Hall of Fame class has already been considered the best in history, and is headlined by Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Tamika Catchings. The event was going to be an emotional affair given that Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash in January, and the Hall wants to ensure that Bryant and the rest of the class get the recognition they deserve.
A lot of the focus regarding what Toronto lost in the offseason, as it pertains to this matchup, centers around Kawhi Leonard’s defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo. The popular conception is that Nick Nurse’s decision to use Leonard as Antetokounmpo’s primary defender is what flipped the series after Milwaukee won Games 1 and 2. There’s some truth to that, but it’s overstated. I think this year’s Raptors are about as well-equipped to defend the Bucks as they were last year. In terms of man-to-man coverage, the gap between Leonard and OG Anunoby (who missed last year’s postseason after undergoing an emergency appendectomy) is negligible, and the other pillars of the Raptors’ ferocious defense that gave Giannis and Co. so much trouble are still in place.
Antetokounmpo would still have to try and bust through an outer wall consisting of some combination of Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet (don’t let the size of the latter two fool you, they’re among the league’s best guards at digging down and helping on drives), only to meet a wave of backline resistance anchored by Marc Gasol and/or Serge Ibaka. The Bucks as a whole would still have to deal with the funky zones and unpredictable blitzes Nurse’s squad would throw at them to junk up their rhythm and steer them away from their bread-and-butter, drive-kick-swing offense.
The real loss for the Raptors, the thing they weren’t remotely able to replace even with significant internal development for several core pieces, was what Leonard gave them at the offensive end. Against the Bucks, specifically, they’d miss his pull-up shooting and ability to get to the line. Without that, Toronto wouldn’t be able to bust Milwaukee’s drop defense or put any meaningful pressure on the rim. The Raptors averaged 39.2 points per game in the restricted area this season. Against the Bucks, they averaged 22. With one of Giannis or Brook Lopez in the vicinity, they shot 39% at the basket. The Raptors can rain threes with the best of them, but they wouldn’t have a reliable way to generate offense when the Bucks run them off the arc.
Siakam took a massive leap as shooter and self-creator this season, but he still has a mid-range blind spot. Ditto for VanVleet, who was one of the least efficient in-between scorers in the league this season. Lowry isn’t quite the pull-up assassin he used to be. Not for nothing, Leonard was also Toronto’s best rebounder in the playoffs last year, and that’s another area in which Milwaukee has a considerable advantage.
Speaking to Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson about the person who helped him the most in his first year, the seven-time All-Star jogged down memory lane and picked the name of Doug Christie. “A man who helped me out the most is Doug Christie bro. I love Doug. I played Doug one-on-one every day,” McGrady began.
The 40-year-old mentioned their duels, and said they could be extremely competitive. “We were just going at each other, man. And that’s how I was working on my one-on-one game and building my confidence up because he was a great defender. He was a hell of a center. And to go up against him every day, I’ll be ready for whatever.”
T-Mac credits Christie for helping him improve his game, which reached impressive standards in just a few years. Christie and McGrady played together with the Raptors for three years before simultaneously leaving the team in 2000.
Upon leaving the Raptors, McGrady went on to play for six more NBA teams in his career. But he failed to achieve his dream of winning the championship. However, T-Mac’s stellar game and work ethic will always be a point in his favor.