Morning Coffee – Wed, Jun 3

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What used to be end of pre-season is now end of the season.

Sources — Proposed date for Game 7 of NBA Finals is Oct. 12

As the NBA models a 22-team format for the season’s proposed resumption beginning July 31 in Orlando, Florida, a timeline shared with teams as a last possible date for a Finals Game 7 lands on Oct. 12, sources told ESPN.

Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to have a proposal to take to a vote of the NBA’s Board of Governors on Thursday, sources said.

The expectation is that the NBA draft and the opening of free agency would follow in sequential order in October, sources said.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are still discussing details on a format, and there is still room for the league to maneuver on the structure of a return-to-play ideas. The Board of Governors requires a three-fourths passage of the 30 teams on a plan, but there’s an expectation among owners that they’ll fall into line and overwhelmingly approve the commissioner’s recommendation on a plan, sources said.

The NBA has been advancing on a plan that would include regular-season, play-in and playoff games for the 16 teams currently holding playoff position — and six more teams within six games of the eighth seed in each conference, sources said.

Those teams include New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento and Phoenix in the Western Conference — and Washington in the East, sources said.

Why the N.B.A. Is Planning on Going to Disney World – The New York Times

What is the Wide World of Sports Complex?

Everything about Disney World is colossal — at 25,000 acres, it is nearly twice the size of Manhattan — and the sports facility is no exception. Three arenas can be configured into 20 basketball courts, according to Faron Kelley, vice president for ESPN Wide World of Sports, Water Parks and runDisney. That would allow the N.B.A. to play two games at once (no fans in the stands) and still have a practice space. The compound also offers restaurants, a nine-lane track and field complex, 17 grass playing fields and a 9,500-seat baseball stadium, which the Atlanta Braves used for spring training for more than two decades. (They decamped last year for a new park near Sarasota, Fla. Disney has not secured a new tenant.)

“Disney-style customer care, of course, has been drilled into everyone who works there,” Richard Lapchick, director of the DeVos Sport Business Management program at the University of Central Florida, said by phone on Saturday.

Just how Disney-fied is it?

Relax. There are no referees wearing Mickey Mouse ears.

“You will only see a nod and a wink to Disney characters,” Kelley said. Outside the baseball stadium, for instance, there is a statue of Mickey winding up to pitch. His feline nemesis, Peg-Leg Pete, wields a bat nearby.

The facility, which features Spanish architecture (stucco exteriors, arcades, tile roofs), is draped in ESPN red. ESPN uses the facility’s 2,500-square-foot production center, which has eight edit bays, for annual events like the Orlando Invitational, an early-season college basketball tournament.

How did the N.B.A. zero in on Disney World?

The league considered a number of locations, including IMG Academy, the Endeavor-owned sports complex in Bradenton, Fla., but two spots stood out on the list: Disney World and Las Vegas. In addition to safety — creating that bubble — costs came into account. It was certainly not lost on Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, that Disney is the league’s biggest customer, paying an analyst-estimated $1.4 billion a year to broadcast games on ESPN and ABC. Disney World also has fewer opportunities for players to get into off-court trouble.

Silver and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, who has been leading the talks from the Disney side, have what you might call a bromance. Last summer, they posed for photos together — along with Mickey and Minnie — at the opening of the NBA Experience, a two-story interactive attraction at Disney Springs, an outdoor Disney World shopping mall. “Disney creates memorable experiences better than anyone,” Silver said at the time.

A Broad Array of Sports Stars Rush to Embrace ‘Black Lives Matter’ – WSJ

Even sports with less U.S. exposure than soccer were moved to make statements. In Formula One, a 70-year-old sport that has only ever seen one non-white champion, Lewis Hamilton denounced his fellow drivers for keeping quiet.

“Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white dominated sport,” Hamilton, who identifies as black, posted on Instagram. “I’m one of the few people of color there yet I stand alone. I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can’t stand alongside us.”

Several white drivers, including Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo, posted messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement over the next 48 hours.

Some athletes have challenged what they see as the limits of their peers’ expression, coming late to the game. “Something about people posting a black square that literally haven’t posted a thing about black injustice prior to today just isn’t sitting well with me,” wrote former New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz.

That hasn’t deterred even large organizations, though. World Athletics, the international governing body of the sport, posted a message including the phrase #BlackLivesMatter together with an image of Black Power salutes by Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Running offered an early sign of what was to come. When a video of black runner Ahmaud Arbery being shot and killed by a white man in Georgia surfaced in early May, the largely white American distance-running community spoke out about threats to black people in a way it hadn’t before.

“Jogging. Something I do everyday,” wrote elite runner Kara Goucher on Instagram on May 6. “I have NEVER feared someone shooting me because I, ‘look like a burglar.’ Unacceptable.” On May 31, six days after Floyd’s death, Goucher posted a photo of her and her son at a peaceful protest in Boulder, Colo. She was holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign.

Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia thanks front-line workers at Amica at Stoney Creek |

During his visit to Amica, Bhatia spoke briefly to staff before distributing meals from his Superfan Foundation truck.

“You are keeping our seniors safe, and I thank you for that,” Bhatia told the workers.

Amica at Stoney Creek community relations director Carly Gagnon contacted Bhatia through his foundation and was thrilled when the businessman and philanthropist accepted the invitation.

“We have lots of Raptors superfans here,” said Gagnon.

NBA 2K League This Week: How Raptors Uprising have become league's best –

After a week off, Raptors Uprising GC has just one match this week.

In its Friday affair with Nets GC, the Uprising will surely be happy to get back to action and carry on the momentum that has catapulted them to the top of the standings, with a perfect 6-0 start to the season.

With nearly an entirely new roster, the Uprising was considered to be a wild card by many around the league this season. But thanks to a belief from MLSE esports manager Shane Talbot, who acts as the Uprising’s general manager and coach, the roster they’ve assembled around star point guard Kenneth “Kenny Got Work” Hailey has turned him into an MVP candidate and has made the Uprising the best team in the league.

The signs that the Uprising were poised to do something special came early, during pre-season, when Talbot noticed that Hailey had reached another level and the team constructed around him complemented him perfectly.

“The question marks around our team this year always were we know Kenny is an elite 2K player, he’s 100 per cent a professional 2K League player, but is he a top-of-the-league elite point guard?” Talbot asked. “We saw pretty quickly that yes, with the right team around him, the right strategy and the right aggressiveness from Kenny looking to score as opposed to looking to facilitate — which has been his tendency in the past — we saw that he was able to reach those heights.

“Then similarly, we play a three-game series and you could tell that second game they’d make some adjustments to stop Kenny and now all of a sudden the box score was completely evenly distributed, so we’d get efficient shooting all around. … So at that point I was like, ‘OK, we both have an elite point guard who can take the game into his own hands as well as a very strong team around him that can produce when we need them, too.’”

Front Office Talk: Partnow and Hollinger discuss NBA restart flaws – The Athletic

Hollinger: Compared to the Ops manual, the CBA is a blog post. Remember back in the day when you would get an actual phone book that had everybody’s number in it? The Ops manual is about as thick as the phone book if you lived in a decent-sized city. Like, over a million people decent-sized.

Partnow: Not to get back to my lawyering days, but I’m leading the witness a little and I think you see where I’m going. There is a lot that goes into putting an NBA game, and while in a fanless environment in which we’re going to see a restart, not all of those things remain applicable, it is still much more complicated than two teams showing up to a gym, and we roll a ball out and play.

I don’t recall, but in your time in Memphis did you guys ever have a game abroad in Mexico or the U.K. or something like that? Because I think the experience of games in non-standard arenas is instructive here. While I was with Milwaukee, we played one regular-season game at the old old arena, the one used prior to the since-replaced Bradley Center. That gym now hosts UW-Milwaukee home games, but when the Bucks played there it was known as The Mecca. I bring this up to point out they started planning the logistics of that one game around 10 months prior to The Mecca Game. And that was a single contest occurring literally across the street from the usual arena.

Now, we’re picking up and moving the whole league to one (or more?) new gyms that have never hosted NBA games, not to mention setting up some kind of biodome campus, not to mention ensuring health leading into teams entering the biodome. This is supposed to be a question, not a filibuster, so I’ll ask, given the lift in merely holding games at all, just what are we doing here with all these crazy format ideas?

Given that the two of us wrote literally thousands of words on the league being willing to try and examine stuff during the layoff, this isn’t coming from a position of hostility towards change or innovation, but rather a recognition that putting the games on at all is going to be tremendously difficult. Why are we ladling on additional challenges?

Knicks owner James Dolan 'vehemently' condemns racism in follow-up email to MSG employees

In his email Monday, Dolan said some employees “asked whether our company was going to make a public statement about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.”

Since that email surfaced publicly, the Knicks and Dolan have faced backlash, with further confusion brewing after the team’s official Instagram account posted to its feed Tuesday morning a black square with the hashtags #BlackOutTuesday and #NBATogether. #BlackOutTuesday started in the music industry but became a viral attempt to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“My point yesterday was about actions, and the importance of living your values,” Dolan’s Tuesday email continued. “At Madison Square Garden, we have worked hard to build an environment of inclusion and mutual respect and those are the values we try to live every day.

“Racism is born of ignorance and it’s up to each of us to understand the person working beside you is your equal without regard to color, or any of the other qualities that make us diverse. And any injustice to one person is an injustice to everyone.

“This is how we at MSG fight racism. We start with ourselves, and through our actions, we define who we are. That is how we can be an example to the wider world. That was the point of my message yesterday.

“I am proud of the environment you have created here. I know that this is a difficult time, and that we will always need to communicate with one another on hard issues. I will continue to do as much as I can to do as much as I can to help make our community even better. I know you will also.”

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