The NBA may be coming back next month, but Vince Carter will likely not be returning to the court again.

Only the 22 teams with the best records will recommence the 2019-20 season in Florida, with the campaign now officially over for eight clubs, including Carter's Atlanta Hawks.

The 43-year-old became the first man to play an NBA game in four different decades earlier this year, but he had also confirmed this would be his final season before retirement.

Though 'Vinsanity' will not be afforded the farewell many of his peers received, we take a look at the eight-time All-Star's brilliant career using Stats Perform News numbers.

 

LONGEVITY

Carter entered the league in 1998 having been drafted fifth overall and he played in 50 games for the Toronto Raptors during a lockout-shortened campaign, during which he won Rookie of the Year.

Incredibly, the guard has barely missed any significant time over the past 22 years - only sitting out the final 22 games of the 2001-02 season and the start of the following term due to injury - and he started all 82 games for the New Jersey Nets in 2006-07.

In all, Carter has played 1,541 games - third-most of all time - a total only Robert Parish and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can better, and he was only 20 appearances away from moving up to second on the list.

The honour of playing in the most NBA seasons does belong to Carter, though, as this campaign was his 22nd, one more than Parish, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Willis.

 

JOURNEYMAN

Unlike Dallas Mavericks icon Nowitzki - the NBA's ultimate one-team man - and Garnett, who represented only three clubs, Carter has called almost a third of the NBA home at one point or another.

After lengthy spells with the Raptors and Nets, Carter played for the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings before arriving in Atlanta in 2018.

Of those to have played for eight NBA teams, Carter's 25,728 points are 6,314 more than anyone else, with Jamal Crawford next on that list ahead of Otis Thorpe and Willis.

Carter has played at least 50 games per season at each of those eight stops, another record he holds along with others such as Crawford and Matt Barnes.

 

POINTS

Naturally given such longevity, it is no surprise to see Carter flying high on all-time points lists too.

His 25,728 points are the 19th-most of all time, more than notable names such as Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley.

Moreover, Carter is a top-five scorer for two different franchises - the Nets (where he has the third-most points ever) and the Raptors (where he has the fourth-most). Others to own that distinction include Chris Bosh (the Raptors and Miami Heat) and LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers and Heat).

Carter's accuracy from beyond the arc certainly helped his numbers, as he drained 2,290 three-pointers - sixth-most of all time - from 6,168 attempts - fifth-most of all time.

He may not get the rapturous send-off his career deserves, but Carter's impact on the NBA over the past two-and-a-bit decades has certainly been felt.

It is 15 years since Rafael Nadal lay sprawled on his beloved red clay with a look of disbelief on his face after winning his first French Open title.

The fresh-faced teenager had realised his dream just two days after turning 19, beating an unseeded Mariano Puerta 6–7 (6–8) 6–3 6–1 7–5 under grey Paris skies.

King Juan Carlos of Spain was among those fortune enough to see the Mallorca native win his first grand slam final on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Little did the beaming monarch know he had witnessed the start of a dynasty as he embraced his compatriot, wearing a green vest and long white shorts.

With long hair flowing like a rock star and the bulging biceps of a boxer, Nadal may not have resembled a future royal back in 2005, but his incredible exploits since have ensured he will forever be known as the 'King of Clay'.

Puerta told the media after that showdown a decade and a half ago: "When I went off the court, I knew I had lost against the best player in the world on clay. What could I do?"

That is a question so many have tried and failed to find an answer to.

With phenomenal athleticism, a powerful serve, blistering groundstrokes, deft lobs and drop shots, the domineering left-hander was too good for Argentine Puerta.

Nadal was not at his brilliant best, though, and there were some ominous words from his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, after his maiden grand slam triumph.

"In every facet of the game he can be better," he said. "And, boy, if he works, and masters more of his game. Then and only then we can win several of these.

"He doesn't work just to win matches, but to be the best, to be number one."

Fifteen years on, Nadal this week celebrated his 34th birthday with a record 12 French Open titles to his name and 19 majors in total, one shy of Roger Federer's haul.

Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic are the only players to have beaten the legendary Spaniard in his 95 matches at Roland Garros.

You have to go back to 2015 since his last loss in his favourite major, at the hands of Djokovic, and the world number two has lifted the La Coupe des Mousquetaires in each of the last three years.

The coronavirus pandemic prevented Nadal from adding to his tally this month, but he may get the opportunity to continue one of the most astonishing sporting runs of dominance in September.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and provided he stays fit, the irrepressible Nadal's love affair with Paris is far from over.

Chelsea are reportedly closing in on a major transfer coup by securing RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

The Germany forward has long been touted as a target for Liverpool, but the Blues appear to have stolen a march on their Premier League counterparts.

But what sort of a player will Chelsea be getting?

Here, we take a look at the numbers that make Werner one of the most highly regarded players in European football.

MEASURING UP TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE ELITE

At 24, Werner is poised to enter his prime years and appears to be improving at a rate of knots.

Last season, he scored 16 goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances, under-performing his Expected Goals (xG) figure of 17.6, according to Opta data.

This term, he has raced to 25 in 29 outings – a prolific return that is 5.5 in excess of his 19.5 xG.

The early return of the Bundesliga has given Werner chance to burnish his tally, with four goals in as many outings since the restart, including a hat-trick in the 5-0 demolition of Mainz.

But even in terms of goals-per-game, none of the leading Premier League marksmen are able to match the RB Leipzig star's average of 0.9 this season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero are all on 0.7.

Vardy and Aubameyang do boast better shot conversion rates – 32 and 26 per cent respectively, compared to Werner's 23 per cent, while Leicester City's former England striker also shades him 66 per cent to 65 in terms of accuracy.

Nevertheless, Werner compares incredibly well to his soon-to-be counterparts in England and his upgrade on Tammy Abraham's 0.5 goals per game for Chelsea could be a particularly significant one for Frank Lampard.

PUSHING LEWANDOWSKI IN THE BUNDESLIGA

Bayern Munich have also been noted as admirers of Werner and there would appear to be no more suitable heir to their prolific number nine Robert Lewandowski.

Since Werner's Bundesliga debut for Leipzig in August 2016, only Lewandowski (110) has scored more goals in Germany's top flight than his 75. Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric comes in third on 52

Indeed, across Europe's top five leagues this term, Werner's 31 goals in all competitions is better than everyone's return aside from the Poland superstar's 43.

No player's goals in the 2019-20 Bundesliga have been worth more points to their side than the 15 Werner's have bagged for Leipzig, while the trademark style of some of those strikes has certainly caught the eye.

GIVING RB LEIPZIG WINGS

Werner's pace in all attacking situations and speed on the break has become something of a calling card.

No player in Europe's top five leagues has scored more than his five from fast breaks in 2019-20. Vardy, PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Parma's Gervinho are on four.

In terms of goals following a carry – defined by Opta as a player travelling five metres or more with the ball – Werner also edges Mbappe out at the top of the standings 8-7. Lewandowski and Inter's Romelu Lukaku have six apiece.

Along with Leipzig team-mate Christopher Nkunku, Borussia Dortmund's Thorgan Hazard, Lazio's Luis Alberto and Riyad Mahrez at Manchester City, Werner has six assists following a carry, with that quintet only bettered by Dortmund winger – and another widely rumoured Premier League target – Jadon Sancho (eight).

Werner's overall goal involvements following a carry come to 14, putting Sancho into second place on the continent with 12. Mahrez and Mbappe are in esteemed company on nine with Lionel Messi and Sadio Mane – a man who can perhaps now breathe a little easier over his starting place at Anfield.

Additionally, Werner has got into the best shooting positions from take-ons in the top five leagues, amassing an xG of 3.1 in those situations. Vardy is the next best on 2.6.

Amanda Nunes and Cody Garbrandt will rock up at UFC 250 this weekend aiming to make statements for vastly contrasting reasons.

For Nunes, her bout with Felicia Spencer at UFC's APEX facility in Las Vegas marks the first defence of the featherweight belt she took from Cris Cyborg in sensational fashion a year and a half ago.

Garbrandt, meanwhile, returns to the Octagon after a 15-month hiatus with the former bantamweight champion on a three-fight losing streak.

Here, we take a look at three talking points ahead of Saturday's fight action.


NUNES FACES 'FEENOM' THREAT

The fearsome Nunes needed just 51 seconds to wrest the featherweight strap from Cyborg in December 2018 to become UFC's third simultaneous two-weight champion. It was a devastating performance but not out of sync with her dominance in UFC, which now sees her on a 10-fight winning streak including a 48-second win over Ronda Rousey and triumphs over Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko and Holly Holm. Since defeating Cyborg, Nunes has defended her bantamweight strap against Holm and Germaine de Randamie while she waited for Germaine de Randamie the 145-pound scene to take shape.

For former Invicta FC featherweight champion Spencer – who put on a game showing in a losing effort in Cyborg's final UFC fight – Nunes represents the greatest challenge of her career. The submission specialist is likely to try and take this one to the ground to avoid the striking ability of Nunes – this one could get feisty.


GARBRANDT AT CAREER CROSSROADS

In December 2016, the bantamweight world was at Garbrandt's feet as he shocked the legendary Dominick Cruz to become champion at 135lbs. But a couple of devastating knockout defeats to fierce rival T.J. Dillashaw were followed by a first-round loss to Pedro Munhoz in March last year. With champion Henry Cejudo announcing his UFC retirement after defeating Cruz at UFC 249 last the month, the bantamweight division is wide open and Garbrandt has a huge opportunity to get his career back on track.

However, 'No Love' comes up against the fifth-ranked Raphael Assuncao – a man also out to recover from damaging defeats to Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen. Victory could propel either towards a future title fight. Defeat… well best for both men not to contemplate what that could mean for their UFC futures.


STERLING-SANDHAGEN TO STAKE BANTAMWEIGHT CLAIMS

In a night that will go a long way to shaping the future of the bantamweight division, the highly rated Aljamain Sterling goes up against Sandhagen to lay their respective claims for a title fight. Sterling, ranked second in the division, is an upcoming star who has won four straight bouts. His 'Funk Master' moniker is a fair reflection of his flair-fight style but in Sandhagen he goes up against a fighter who is also riding the crest of a wave.

The American has won each of his five fights in UFC and only has one defeat overall on his MMA resume. This one has serious 'Fight of the Night' potential and is sure to have ramifications for the outcome of the title.

Week by week, game by game fans across the world are getting used to the spectacle of top-level sport taking place behind closed doors.

Germany's Bundesliga lead the way last month, with the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A all due to follow suit as European football emerges from its coronavirus hiatus.

Goals will fly in to no applause, much like the tries being run in before empty stands in the NRL. Formula One engines will soon make a howling echo as they pass deserted grandstands.

But what of boxing and it's close-quarters intense combat in the COVID-19 age? Dramatic twists with no fan on the edge or any other part of a seat, knockout blows followed only by the thud of body on canvas and without roars and screams.

So what does a former world heavyweight title challenger think about the prospect of trading leather in an uber-sanitised environment?

"Sweet, sweet, sweet! Because the fans can make your blood pressure go up for no reason," US heavyweight veteran Kevin Johnson told Stats Perform from his base in Gelsenkirchen, the German city where he is undergoing final preparations for taking on Mariusz Wach in his native Poland next Friday.

Top Rank will bring boxing back to Las Vegas earlier in the week, with WBO super-featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson and his fellow 126lbs star Jessie Magdaleno featuring in respective main events.

In the UK, intrigue remains over Eddie Hearn's plans to stage events in the sprawling gardens of his Matchroom HQ, but Wach v Johnson has been slated for some time – confirmed in April as a pay-per-view event. It will set fans back 20 Polish zloty, or a shade under $5.

Palac w Konarach, a hotel in a plush setting that suggests its three-star rating might be selling it a little short, will host the card. It lies remotely in the rural Swietokrzyskie Voivodeship, 100 kilometres north east of Krakow and 230 south of the capital Warsaw.

"We were in negotiations late last year and then there was the corona thing, so we were postponing," Johnson explained.

"Now it's come about. It's going to be under a strategic, surgical eye as far as the methods and precautions that we're going to take in this pandemic.

"It's going to be very different to any show that's been done because of the extremes we have to go to and into for our safety."

Those precautions will include quarantined areas for both fighters at the hotel and on fight night, with tests for everyone allowed into the event – from the referee and judges, to both fighters' teams and camera operators.

Johnson knows that in the current climate, any fans at all being involved was a complete non-starter, especially given a boxing ring walk does not grant the distance from supporters afforded by grandstands in other sports.

"I always worry [about my health] when it comes to a fight," said the former Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua foe. "I'm not worried about the fighter because we test all year round. We are some of the healthiest and cleanest athletes to come into contact with each other.

"I'm more worried about fans who would want to take pictures and grab on you. You're sweaty, your pores are open, you're more susceptible for anything to happen at that moment.

"Now I don’t have to come into contact with anyone but Mariusz and his team over in Poland are taking wonderful, cautious and precise methods to make sure we can perform and come into contact with each other without any of us having anything.

"There will be extra testing to make sure we are 100 per cent and [between then and the fight] we will be isolated to our areas."

Johnson suffered his first career defeat in his 24th outing, challenging the great Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title in 2009. That unanimous points loss in Berne, Switzerland was the first time he had boxed outside of the United States.

The 40-year-old will step between the ropes for the 52nd time against Wach and has only fought on home soil in two of his previous 24 bouts – the last of those coming when he took Andy Ruiz 10 rounds, 11 months before the Mexican underdog stunned Joshua in New York.

This status as a well-travelled road warrior means Johnson knows the challenges of boxing with the crowd against you all too well – a factor he is relishing being taken out of the equation on June 12.

"A guy can throw punches at you and you block them, but the fans didn't see it and they think it landed," he said. "The fans either put some weight on you or they help you with their energy.

"So [Wach] has got to operate clearly off what he knows has landed. It's just me and him and the judges."

Wach's shot at the top honours came in 2012 when he took Wladimir Klitschko the distance.

Although he and Johnson's days among the elite are long gone, the bout between these seasoned campaigners carries a weight it would not have done in normal circumstances. For weeks now, they have been united in a common purpose of solitary togetherness.

"We want the world to know that fights can still happen," Johnson added.

"People don't understand the s*** you have to go through in these times just to train. It's so far-fetched, so far gone.

"This is a time right now where we're both putting our life on the line and it shows the tremendous heart and warrior spirit of two great fighters."

Rafael Nadal has celebrated plenty of times on Court Philippe Chatrier, but the jubilation he felt on June 5, 2005 is likely to live with him forever.

It was on this day 15 years ago when 'The King of Clay' won the first of his, to date, record 12 French Open titles.

Novak Djokovic and Francesca Schiavone were also crowned champions on June 5 in years gone by, while Michael Jordan produced one of the shots of his career in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Here we take a look at the most memorable sports events to have occurred on June 5.

 

1991 - Mid-Air Jordan switches hands for stunning lay-up

At this point 29 years ago Jordan was still the nearly man; a two-time MVP who had yet to win a championship ring.

The Chicago Bulls had lost Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers too, but they would level the series at home with a convincing 107-86 victory in Game 2 as Jordan scored 33 points.

But his display that night is best remembered for a single shot in the third quarter. Jordan drove towards the basket ready for a right-handed dunk, only to switch the ball into his left hand in mid-air upon seeing Sam Perkins and somehow flip a shot up off the glass and through the net to astound those in Chicago Stadium.

The Bulls would go on to win the series 4-1, beginning a dynasty that would see them dominate the NBA for most of the next decade.

 

2005 - Nadal begins French Open dominance

At this point 15 years ago Nadal was still a promising teenager hoping to win his first grand slam.

However, he was considered the favourite in the final against Mariano Puerta, having won three clay-court tournaments in the build up to the French Open and, despite dropping the first set, he would emerge victorious 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5.

Nadal has won all but three French Opens since, though on June 5, 2016, it was Djokovic lifting the trophy as he beat Andy Murray in four sets to complete a career grand slam.

 

2009 - England stunned in World Twenty20 opener

Eleven years ago England suffered one of their most humiliating losses in any format.

In the opening game of the second World Twenty20 tournament, the hosts were expected to encounter few difficulties against the Netherlands at Lord's.

With England, who failed to hit a single six, having made 162-5 first up after being restricted to 73 in the second half of their innings, it came down to the chasing side needing two off the final ball to clinch a famous victory.

And they got them in farcical fashion as Stuart Broad's overthrow allowed Edgar Schiferli to scamper through for a second, sealing an incredible four-wicket win for the Netherlands.

 

2010 - Schiavone makes grand slam history

Tennis fans had become accustomed to the sight of Nadal winning grand slams by 2010 when Schiavone became the first Italian woman to reach a major singles final.

The 17th seed was up against Australia's Sam Stosur – who had beaten Justine Henin and Serena Williams along the way – and it was Schiavone who came out on top 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

Schiavone not only became the first Italian woman to win a grand slam singles title, but she was also the second-lowest ranked woman to win at Roland Garros in the Open era.

A trip to Orlando, Florida is overwhelmingly a more popular travel destination than Milwaukee, Wisconsin for most American families.

NBA teams share that sentiment.

The NBA has approved its return-to-play plan, which will send 22 teams to the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando. All the games and practices will take place at the Disney complex after the NBA's Board of Governors approved proposals for a restart from the coronavirus-enforced break.

The teams invited to Florida are the 16 that held playoff spots when the season was halted on March 11, plus the six teams within six games of eighth place in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

While having all the games at one location terminates travel and should cut down on some fatigue, it will provide a new challenge – likely playing games in empty gyms without the noise of the crowd.

A lack of crowd noise may be the biggest obstacle for the players, challenging their mettle. They will have to take part in crucial games and within these games, face critical possessions without getting any adrenaline rush from either the roar of the fans they would experience at their home arena or the chorus of boos from a hostile crowd when they are on the road.

For the teams, they are now pretty much all on equal footing. Those that had been dominating for the right to earn home-court advantage for the playoffs no longer have such an advantage.

When the season went on pause nearly three months ago, the Milwaukee Bucks owned the NBA's best record at 53-12. The Bucks are obviously an excellent team, boasting the league's highest-scoring offense behind reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but some of their success stems from their ability to easily dispatch of foes when they visited Milwaukee.

The Bucks have only lost two of their 30 games at Fiserv Forum since the calendar flipped to November. And both of those defeats came at the hands of West clubs – the Dallas Mavericks on December 16 and Denver Nuggets on January 31. They have gone 18-1 in Milwaukee against the East this season with the lone blemish coming in overtime to the Miami Heat in their home opener on October 26.

By continuing to defend home court against East teams, the Bucks appeared to have a relatively clear path to reach the NBA Finals, but now their opponents will no longer be making that dreaded trip to Milwaukee. 

Miami, meanwhile, is a hotter destination than Milwaukee – both literally and figuratively – and the Heat climbed to the top of the Southeast Division behind the strength of a 27-5 record in Miami – the third-best home record in the NBA.

The Heat, however, no longer will have the luxury of welcoming visitors to South Beach and its nightlife, instead playing the rest of their games in the more family-friendly environment provided by Mickey Mouse.

Only one team has compiled a better home record than the Bucks and Heat this season, and that has been perhaps one of the most perplexing teams of all time.

The Philadelphia 76ers have gone 29-2 at home, but if the playoffs started today they would not be hosting a first-round series. Thanks to an inability to win on the road where they have gone 10-24, the Sixers are in sixth place in the East. 

Philly has a .935 winning percentage at home and a .294 winning percentage on the road. That decrease of .641 in winning percentage from home to road is the largest difference since the NBA expanded to 14 teams in 1968-69. 

Seeing as there has been no rational explanation as to how a team can play so well at home and so poorly on the road, it is anyone's guess how the Sixers will fare in Orlando.

While teams will be missing out on having games at their own arenas and players will no longer have the creature comforts that come with home games, a handful of teams that are heading to Orlando had slightly better records on the road than at home before the season paused.

Playing these games on neutral courts, likely without fans, in Orlando does not exactly correlate to playing road games in intense visiting arenas in front of raucous playoff crowds, but the Dallas Mavericks (plus-.077 winning percentage from road to home games), Los Angeles Lakers (plus-.071), New Orleans Pelicans (plus-.063), Phoenix Suns (plus-.062) and Oklahoma City Thunder (plus-.039) all have higher winning percentages on the road than at home.

Of those five teams, only the Mavericks, Lakers and Thunder posted winning records both on the road and at home. 

When the season went on pause, the only teams with road winning percentages over .700 were perhaps the three favourites to win the title – the Lakers (.813 road winning percentage), the Bucks (.735) and defending champions the Toronto Raptors (.719). 

No big surprise, but the ability to win on the road and perform under pressure in adverse conditions bodes well for a team's championship aspirations. 

While these will not be road games, they will certainly be adverse conditions. Likely the most obscure these players have ever experienced.

As first impressions go, Shane Warne's in Ashes cricket was about as eye-catching as you could possibly get.  

It was June 4, 1993 and the second day of the series opener between England and Australia at Old Trafford. Having taken five wickets for 45 runs in the morning session to dismiss their rivals for 289, the home side's reply was progressing steadily enough at 80-1. 

However, Warne's introduction into the attack produced one of cricket's most memorable moments and changed the dynamic of the rivalry for over the next decade.

Mike Gatting will certainly never forget it, as the leg-spinner unfurled a delivery that flummoxed the England batsman.

'The Ball of the Century', as it became known, was poetry in slow (bowling) motion. The initial drift appeared to make it look innocuous enough as it veered to pitch outside the line of the right-handed Gatting's leg stump, only to dip, rip and zip beyond his defensive prod, beating the outside edge of the bat before going on to hit off stump. 

It was a stunning opening statement. As if he had cast a spell that day, Warne would go on to dominate against England for the rest of his career. 

Gatting will famously be remembered as the first but plenty more would be mesmerised by Warne, who ended his international career with 708 Test wickets at 25.41. Only Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Sri Lanka's own spin king, has ever managed more. 

The variations - the wrong'uns, flippers, sliders and shooters, or whatever other name Warne came up with for the latest addition to his bowling repertoire - all helped add to his aura. So many batsmen were often done in the mind before he had even released the ball from his right hand.

England suffered more than any other nation. Warne claimed 195 wickets against Australia's greatest rivals – the most by any opposing bowler - at an average of 23.3. 

More than half of that tally came on English soil too (129 at 21.9 in 22 matches), with his numbers against them in Australia impacted by missing the majority of the 1998-99 series due to a right shoulder injury, as well as a further two Tests in 2002-03. In terms of wickets abroad, South Africa sit second on his hit list, Warne picking up 61 there in 12 Tests. 

The young, bright-blond bowler in 1993 went on to finish with 34 scalps during the six-match Ashes, though a strike-rate of a wicket every 77.6 balls was comfortably the highest for any of his four series on English soil.

He picked up four in each innings in Manchester – albeit none with such dramatic effect as the delivery that did for Gatting – then repeated the trick at Lord's in the next Test. While the returns dipped for the remainder of the trip, including just one wicket at Headingley, Australia eased to a 4-1 triumph to retain the urn. 

From that away success towards the end of Allan Border's reign through the captaincy eras of Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, the Australians would maintain their grip on the most famous prize in cricket until 2005, when Michael Vaughan's side worked out that attack was the best form of defence. 

The competitive nature of that series – after a lop-sided opener at Lord’s that the tourists won, every other fixture provided sporting drama of the highest quality – seemingly inspired Warne to reach a personal Ashes peak.  

No cause was lost when he had the ball that summer, as demonstrated when so nearly rescuing situations in eventual defeats at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, when his side's batting failures left them playing catch-up. In the end, though, his 40 wickets at 19.9 were not enough to spare Australia from slipping to a 2-1 defeat.  

Still, he became just the eighth bowler to take 40 wickets in a series – and the first since 1989 – while striking on average every 37.9 balls. England had managed to win the war despite coming out second best in their battles with Warne. 

His hugely successful English summer helped towards an overall haul of 96 wickets in 2005, comfortably the best return during a Test career that saw him take 70 or more in a calendar year on four occasions.

The last act was to help regain the urn at home in 2006-07, Andrew Flintoff becoming Warne's 195th Ashes scalp when stumped by Adam Gilchrist in Sydney.  The bowler who made the fading art of leg spin fashionable once again had bamboozled England for the final time.

Shane Warne made an indelible mark on the Ashes on this day in 1993.

The future Australia great was introduced to cricket's greatest series in stunning fashion as England were set on their way to a painful defeat.

Two years later, it was New Zealand's go to turn on the style on the same day in the calendar at the Rugby World Cup.

There has also been June 4 delight for a British boxing favourite and despair for one of the greatest names in tennis.

We take a look at the major sporting events to have happened on this day through the years.


1993 - Warne delivers 'ball of the century'

Warne is now renowned as a cricketing great, but he was making his Ashes debut on this day 27 years ago.

While the series had started a day earlier with England taking the ball, the most memorable moment of the opening match at Old Trafford came when the hosts sought to build a reply to Australia's first-innings 289.

The tourists could hardly have enjoyed a better start as Warne's first ever ball in an Ashes series deceived Mike Gatting and went down in folklore.

The delivery pitched outside leg stump but turned sharply and clipped the top of off stump, setting Australia on their way to first a 179-run victory and then a 4-1 series win.

Warne collected 34 Test wickets in all during the tour, the most of any player as he launched an outstanding Ashes career.


1995 - Ellis scores six as All Blacks run riot

Japan have impressed at recent Rugby World Cups, but their experience of the 1995 tournament on this day is one they would surely rather forget.

Eventual finalists New Zealand romped to a 145-17 win in Bloemfontein, which was then a record margin of victory and is the most points scored by a team in a World Cup match

Eric Rush opened the scoring in just the second minute and the 21-try All Blacks scarcely stopped.

Rush ended with three tries, as did Jeff Wilson, but Marc Ellis stole the show with six - including a hat-trick in the opening 30 minutes.

Simon Culhane, who also crossed, successfully dispatched 20 of his conversion attempts on a humbling day for Japan.
 

2005 - Hatton stuns Tszyu to take title

If everything went to script 10 years earlier in South Africa, the same was not true when Ricky Hatton took on Kostya Tszyu in Manchester.

Hatton boasted a 38-0 record but was fighting for a major title - the IBF light-welterweight belt - for the first time against one of boxing's leading pound-for-pound fighters.

The local lad held his own against the defending champion, however, even as each man landed illegal low blows.

And with Hatton just ahead on the scorecards, Tszyu failed to return for the 12th round as his corner threw the towel in, securing a stunning upset.


2016 - Muguruza off the mark as Serena stalls

Garbine Muguruza reached her second major final at Roland Garros in 2016 and, as the previous year at Wimbledon, she was faced with the daunting task of taking down Serena Williams.

However, Muguruza - beaten at the All England Club - claimed her first grand slam triumph in a display she would describe as "the perfect final".

The Spaniard became French Open champion with a 7-5 6-4 success, showing character late in the first set and dictating the second to see off Serena.

Williams had been bidding to tie Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 major titles and would only have to wait until a month later at Wimbledon to do so as she maintained a stunning run of form up until the birth of her daughter in 2017.

Sporting great and global icon Muhammad Ali died four years ago on June 3.

Here we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the boxing legend's career.


CLAY-LISTON I

Ali – then known as Cassius Clay – went into his first clash with Sonny Liston as the huge underdog, with the defending WBA and WBC heavyweight champion having picked up two emphatic first-round victories over Floyd Patterson. However, Liston failed to emerge from his corner for the beginning of the seventh round, handing Ali victory. The bout, as well as the re-match won by Ali, was dogged by allegations of fixing, although the claims were never substantiated.

THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY

Ali had won 31 fights on the bounce by the time he came to face Joe Frazier for the first time in 1971. Ali, having been stripped of his titles and served a three-and-a-half-year ban for rejecting military service, was looking to win back the titles he had been forced to vacate prior to his suspension. However, it was Frazier who eventually emerged as victor by unanimous decision, dropping Ali with a crunching left hook in the 15th and final.


RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE

Victory over Frazier in a non-title rematch was the ideal morale-booster for Ali ahead of a showdown with feared champion George Foreman in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). Foreman had beaten Frazier in 1973 and successfully defended his belts in subsequent fights against Jose Roman and the Ali-conquering Ken Norton, heading to Africa as favourite. However, Ali employed what became known as his rope-a-dope tactic of leaning on the ropes, allowing Foreman to punch himself out and directing straight punches at his opponent's face. The approach worked, as Ali stopped an exhausted Foreman in the eighth.


THRILLER IN MANILA

The third and final bout between Ali and Frazier lived up to and beyond the promise of the earlier two, delivering a brutal and at times horrifying classic for the ages. Frazier's team spent the build-up warning against the underhand tactics they felt Ali used to emerge victorious in their second meeting. However, it was the champion who eventually came out on top, battered but victorious after 14 savage rounds.

THREE-TIME CHAMPION

There remains a strong argument that Ali should have disappeared off into the sunset after that final Frazier epic, but on he went. By the time he lost his crown to Leon Spinks – the 1976 light-heavyweight Olympic champion but a seven-fight novice as a professional – he was a shadow of his former self. Nevertheless, Ali retained enough wily ring smarts to win their 1978 rematch in New Orleans, becoming the first fighter in history to reign as heavyweight champion three times.

Rafael Nadal is usually on course for yet another French Open title on his birthday but the legendary Spaniard has an opportunity to let his hair down this year.

Nadal has become accustomed to celebrating becoming a year older in Paris, yet he was unable to continue his love affair with Roland Garros on his 34th birthday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While French Open organisers are hoping the tournament can start in September, 19-time grand slam champion Nadal is among the players who have doubted whether there will be any more tennis at the highest level this year.

Nadal revealed last year that he partied harder on the rare occasions he was not en route to winning his favourite major on his special day.

As the 'King of Clay' celebrates in his native Mallorca rather than the French capital, we look at some of the numbers from what has been an astonishing career to date.

 

0 - Nadal has never been taken to five sets in a French Open final.

2 - The number of defeats the left-handed great has suffered at Roland Garros compared to an astonishing 93 victories.

5 - The tally of major successes he has achieved since turning 30.

11 - He was the first player to win 11 titles at three different tournaments as a result of his domination in Paris, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

12 - The record number of French Open titles Nadal has to his name. Also a record for any Tour-level event. 

17 - Nadal has won a set with a double bagel on as many as 17 occasions at Roland Garros. 

19 - He was only 19 when winning his maiden grand slam title on his French Open debut.

24 - It is a decade since Nadal became the youngest man in the Open Era to complete a career Grand Slam.

33 - Nadal went on to end last year at the top of the rankings aged 33, the oldest player to achieve that feat.

50 - The Spanish superstar broke John McEnroe's record by winning 50 consecutive sets on clay before Dominic Thiem ended that run at the Madrid Open two years ago.

Real Madrid have made a habit of European success down the years, winning the ultimate prize more times than any other club, and in 2017 they did what no one else could.

But June 3, 2016 will be remembered by many for contrasting reasons, as Muhammad Ali – one of the greatest athletes ever – died, leaving the sporting world in despair.

This day is also notable for South African cricket, and specifically an historic captaincy announcement.

We take a look at the major sporting events to have happened on this day through the years.

2017 – Los Blancos continue their European reign

When Real Madrid and Juventus went head-to-head in Cardiff for the 2017 Champions League final, the omens appeared to be in favour of the Old Lady – no team had ever defended their title in the competition.

But Madrid are no ordinary club and history was theirs in Wales, as they became the first club to retain the Champions League.

Although Mario Mandzukic cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo's well-taken 20th-minute opener with an outrageous over-the-shoulder volley, Madrid romped to a 4-1 victory in the second half.

Casemiro's deflected long-range effort put them back in front, Ronaldo turned in from close range to increase the deficit and Marco Asensio finished Juve off after brilliant work from Marcelo – they would go on to win the competition for a third successive season the following year.

2016 – Sport loses an icon

Arguably the most iconic boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, died exactly four years ago.

His achievements in the ring were plentiful, Ali's most famous victories came in the Thrilla in Manila (1975) against Joe Frazier, and the Rumble in the Jungle (1974), in which he stunningly defeated George Foreman. The latter attracted an estimated one billion TV viewers.

Ali was renowned for his charisma, showmanship and quick wit, while he also wrote poetry and enjoyed success as a musician.

However, his impact as an activist is what he is best remembered for by many. Ali was stripped of his heavyweight titles after refusing to be drafted to the Vietnam War in 1966 and spent over three years away from the ring as he fought his conviction for draft evasion, which was overturned in 1971. His stance saw him grow into an inspirational figure in the civil rights movement.

He succumbed to Parkinson's syndrome in 2016, 32 years after making his diagnosis public. He continues to be regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated athletes in history.

2014 – An historic appointment for South African cricket

With Graeme Smith recently retiring from international cricket, in June 2014 South Africa made an historic appointment for his replacement as Test captain.

Batsman Hashim Amla got the nod despite many suspecting AB de Villiers – Smith's deputy – to have been the leading candidate for the role.

Durban-born Amla, who is of Indian descent, became South Africa's first non-white permanent Test captain in the process.

Amla retired from all forms of international cricket in August last year following the Cricket World Cup.

1999 – Malone named NBA MVP again

After a stellar 1998-99 season, Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz claimed the Maurice Podoloff trophy as he was named NBA MVP.

It was the second time he claimed the prize, making him – at that point – only the ninth player in NBA history to win it more than once, having also been a standout star two years earlier.

In 1998-99, which had a shortened calendar due to a lockout, Malone averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists as the Jazz went 37-13, but the San Antonio Spurs ended the season victorious.

Sergio Aguero might struggle for somewhere to put his birthday cards, given his living room cabinets are liberally decorated with hat-trick balls and man-of-the-match trophies.

But if the social media window into the home life of Manchester City's all-time leading scorer has shown he is unlikely to be celebrated for his approach to interior design any time soon, fans can relish one of the modern game's elite goal-getters soon returning to action.

Aguero brought up a double landmark at the end of January – completing a record 12th Premier League hat-trick with his 250th City goal in a 6-1 demolition of Aston Villa.

Eric Brook's previous best mark of 177 was overhauled in a Champions League win at Napoli in 2017 and, as he turns 32, Aguero has considerable daylight between himself and the rest in the club record books.

Alan Shearer, whose hat-trick mark he surpassed, is still the division's leading scorer by some distance with 260, although Wayne Rooney (208) in second and third-placed Andy Cole (187) are vulnerable to Aguero, who is fourth on 180.

Going back to when he first moved to Atletico Madrid from Independiente as a teenager, Aguero has 254 league goals in 376 starts across LaLiga and the Premier League.

Since joining City in 2011-12, his top-flight haul places him seventh among all players in Europe's top five leagues.

Naturally, Lionel Messi (319) and Cristiano Ronaldo (287) are way ahead over that period, but how does Aguero compare to the best of the rest?

Using Opta data, we compared Messi's Argentina colleague with a group of his contemporaries who might also lay claim to being the finest out-and-out number nines of their era.

Record in Europe's top five leagues since 2011-12

GOALS

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) - 180
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Saint-Etienne, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal) - 182
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) -139
Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain) - 190
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan, PSG, Manchester United) - 161
Harry Kane (Tottenham) - 136
Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund, Bayern Munich) - 223
Luis Suarez (Liverpool Barcelona) – 207

Like Aguero, a striker to have thrived despite the particular demands Pep Guardiola places upon his centre forward is Bayern star Robert Lewandowski. He is out in front within this elite group and showing no signs of slowing down. Luis Suarez is the only other man through the 200 barrier during the period in question, which Messi and Ronaldo handily obliterated.

MINUTES PER GOAL

Aguero – 106.9
Aubameyang – 130.8
Benzema – 146.5
Cavani – 110.4
Ibrahimovic – 101.3
Kane – 120.6
Lewandowski – 106.4
Suarez - 114.4

While he is outscored by an esteemed handful of his counterparts, few can match Aguero when it comes to efficiency. His 106.9 goals per minute is another all-time Premier League best (for players with a minimum of 20 goals) and is almost identical to Lewandowski's figure. Zlatan Ibrahimovic sits atop this metric – as the man himself would no doubt expect – thanks largely to a brutally prolific four-year spell at PSG.

SHOT CONVERSION PERCENTAGE

Aguero – 18.2
Aubameyang – 20.1
Benzema – 18.2
Cavani – 21.1
Ibrahimovic – 18.7
Kane – 18
Lewandowski – 19.8
Suarez – 18.6

There is little to choose between them here, although Aguero ranking second-bottom is a little surprising given his superb goals-per-minute record. Within the group, only Harry Kane scores with a lower percentage of his shots. Edinson Cavani, who has dutifully performed in the shadow of other star turns in Paris, is the most lethal.

ASSISTS

Aguero – 46
Aubameyang – 46
Benzema – 71
Cavani – 31
Ibrahimovic – 50
Kane – 20
Lewandowski – 43
Suarez – 88

Aguero's involvement in City's all-round game has unquestionably improved under Guardiola and he is closing in on a half-century of assists – matching Aubameyang's number in 31 fewer appearances.

Playing alongside Messi and Ronaldo looks a good way to feather your stats in this regard, with only CR7's old Madrid foil Karim Benzema coming close to Suarez, the S in the MSN forward line that delighted under Luis Enrique. Ibrahimovic might not be noted for his selflessness as Suarez and Benzema are, but he again ranks impressively, while Lewandowski's all-round game is to the fore once more.

Jose Mourinho knows how to make a grand entrance and he proved that at his unveiling as Chelsea manager.

Though June 2 is the date 'The Special One' first arrived on the scene in the Premier League, it was also a day that saw a significant change at FIFA.

Meanwhile, in motorsport, Formula One icon Michael Schumacher got off the mark for Ferrari.

We take a look at the major sporting events to have happened on this day through the years.

 

2004 – The Special One lands in London

Having won the Champions League with Porto, Jose Mourinho arrived at Chelsea with the reputation as one of the world's best up-and-coming coaches.

And - as a sign of what was to come - the Portuguese wasted little time in creating the headlines, declaring himself 'The Special One' during his unveiling as the Blues' new boss.

"We have top players and, sorry if I'm arrogant, we have a top manager. Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one."

He was proved right, his Chelsea side going on to win the Premier League with a then-record 95 points in his first season, also winning a record number of matches (29) during the campaign.

2015 – Blatter's reign comes to an end

A matter of days after he had been re-elected, Sepp Blatter stepped down as the president of FIFA on June 2, 2015.

Blatter's resignation came amid a huge corruption scandal, with the U.S Attorney General Loretta Lynch having announced an investigation into FIFA the previous week.

The Swiss was ultimately cleared of corruption charges, though he was banned from FIFA for eight years for a "disloyal payment" of two million Swiss francs to the then-UEFA president Michel Platini.

He appealed in 2016, managing to get the ban reduced to six years from the initial eight.

1996 – Schumacher clicks into gear for Ferrari

On June 2, 1996, Michael Schumacher put in what is widely considered to be one of the finest performances of his career.

Having to recover from a poor start in adverse weather, Schumacher took the lead in lap 13, going on to dominate the race and win for the first time in a Ferrari.

The German ultimately finished over three seconds a lap faster than the remainder of the field. However, it would be another four years until he claimed his first F1 Championship crown in a Ferrari seat.

1935 – Baseball legend Babe Ruth calls it a day

An iconic figure of American sports, one of baseball's all-time greats - Babe Ruth - retired on this day 85 years ago.

However, his incredible career ended on something of a sour note.

Having signed for the Boston Braves from the New York Yankees, in a role that would also see him serve as the vice-president and assistant manager, Ruth announced his retirement midway through the season.

His reason was a disagreement with Braves owner Judge Emil Fuchs, with Ruth saying: "Judge Fuchs is a double-crosser. His word is no good. He doesn't keep his promises. I don't want another damn thing from him—the dirty double-crosser."

After four NBA championships, an MVP award, two scoring titles, 15 selections to the All-Star Game and All-NBA First Team honours on eight occasions, Shaquille O'Neal called time on his illustrious career on June 1, 2011.

Nine years on and the Hall of Famer remains one of the most dominant centers the league has ever seen.

After being drafted first overall in 1992 by the Orlando Magic, O'Neal was named Rookie of the Year and went on to provide the focal point of a team that reached the NBA Finals in 1995.

The Magic failed to go one better the following year and lost him to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he teamed up with Kobe Bryant and three-peated under Phil Jackson.

He was traded to the Miami Heat and won one more NBA championship there, before stints at the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and, finally, the Boston Celtics.

O'Neal had his jersey numbers retired by the Heat and the Lakers, while the latter also erected a statue of him outside of Staples Center.

Using Stats Perform data, we look at some of the most notable aspects of O'Neal's career.

 

Controlling the paint

From his first year in the league until 2004-05, O'Neal averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in each of those seasons. That is 13 straight and is more than anyone else in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon each accumulated 12 in succession.

During that run, there were 10 consecutive seasons (from 1993-94 until 2002-03) in which O'Neal averaged at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game. Abdul Jabbar's run of nine from 1969-70 until 1977-78 is the next best.

He is one of just four players in NBA history to score more than 25,000 points and block over 2,500 shots.

A man for the big occasions

While he shared the spotlight with Bryant at the Lakers, O'Neal showed how important he was to the team when needed.

He was named the NBA Finals MVP in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The only other player to win the award in three straight years is Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

O'Neal also holds the record for the most offensive rebounds in postseason history, with his 866 comfortably outstripping second-placed Tim Duncan's 778.

 

Struggles from the stripe

While he may have had the beating of most opponents in the paint, O'Neal found life much harder from the free-throw line.

He was often subjected to intentional fouls, with opposing coaches looking to manage the game clock and limit his team's scoring by sending him to the stripe. The strategy was dubbed the Hack-a-Shaq.

O'Neal missed 5,317 free throws across his entire career, the second-most all time in the NBA; only Chamberlain (5,805) missed more.

Of players to have made at least 1,200 free throws in the NBA, O'Neal has the fourth-worst percentage (52.7). Chamberlain is third with a 51.1 per cent success rate, with DeAndre Jordan (47.4) second only to Andre Drummond (46.1 per cent).

O'Neal also holds the single-game record for the most free-throw attempts without making one, failing to hit any of his 11 against the Seattle SuperSonics in December 2000. He still finished the game with 26 points.

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