Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey insisted they would not have allowed the NBA to prevent elderly coaches like Mike D'Antoni from being on the sidelines.

The NBA, halted since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to resume at the end of next month as a 22-team tournament that will take place near Orlando, Florida. 

Various measures are being implemented to protect players and reduce the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak, with teams to remain on the site where practices and games will take place.

Last week NBA commissioner Adam Silver had suggested those protocols could extend to keeping older personnel - like 69-year-old Rockets coach D'Antoni - off the bench during games because of their greater vulnerability to contracting the virus and developing complications.

However, Silver has since backtracked on those comments, with Morey noting there would have been pushback from Houston.

"Mike will be coaching our team," he said in quotes published on ESPN.

"It would be such a huge disadvantage to lose him. We would never stand for that.

"In fairness to the league, they set up a process whereby everyone will have to submit a medical record. I'm sure the doctors told them that some people over a certain age shouldn't go.

"But Mike is in great health. He's in better shape than some 40-year-old coaches we have. Besides, I think his dad lived to be 108 or something."

D'Antoni, whose Houston team have a 40-24 record in the Western Conference and have already secured a playoff berth, does not believe he will be kept away from the sidelines because of his age.

"I guess they were thinking it could affect us a little bit more because of our age, but we would catch it at the same rate as any player would," he said.

"If it's not safe for us, then it's not safe for them.

"I know the NBA is going to make it as safe as possible for everyone involved. But there's no such thing as zero risk. I'm not worried about it because I don't think [preventing older coaches from interacting with their players on the bench] will happen.

"I know Adam talked about that on TNT, but since then he's walked it back pretty quick. I think he got a little ahead of himself."

Two weeks ago a young footballer was shot and killed in Jamaica. Not long before that, the United States of America had a rejuvenation of its #BlackLivesMatter campaign following the death of George Floyd, who died after a policeman, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, camera rolling and all.

It has been heartening for me to see black people from all over the world standing, marching, kneeling, lying face down, repeating Floyd’s last words ‘I can’t breathe’ together to say enough is enough.

The reach of the Black Lives Matter movement has been incredible since Floyd’s death, reaching all over Europe, Canada, the Caribbean.

But I am now hoping that there is another type of spill-over effect.

Already, there is very little talk about the young man, Shemar Nairne, who was one of eight people murdered on a random Wednesday in Jamaica.

Nairne played football for a living and he isn’t the first sportsman to be impacted by violence. Sports can no longer stand on the sidelines (the irony is obvious here), while the ills of society go without highlight.

For a long time, sports has sought to stay out of the fray for fear that it will be used for political gain and lose its purity, its independence.

But in Jamaica, just as has been the case in other countries, sport isn’t immune to the problems of the society it grows from.

I asked the question, what will be sport’s response to the murder of Nairne and by extension the wanton violence that pervades an increasing number of spaces on the island of Jamaica?

The responses were the very generic indignation that something like this could happen and the condolences to the family. It was not a George Floyd moment.

Sports, like music, are great at bringing people together in Jamaica.

I can remember watching Shell Cup football and being able to run through the spaces between the seats as Jamaica beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 to lift the crown.

The peanut vendor never had to chance his arm when selling his product to me and hope that I was decent enough to pass the money person-to-person across rows of fans to get him his due. He came to my feet to sell me the salted delights and was in no danger of blocking anyone’s view.

But then I can also remember that less than a decade later, I could not move more than a few inches either side of me when the Reggae Boyz were making their historic trek towards a first World Cup berth and the peanut vendor could not hear my screams for his attention. But Bunny didn’t mind. He was very much in the black with the number of orders he was getting. And violent crimes were down.

I say all that to say, Sports and music,  have a major part to play in getting the perpetrators of violence in Jamaica to stop.

Just as the Black Lives Matter campaign has gained worldwide traction and I witnessed as people like dancehall icon Bounty Killer waved placards in front of the US Embassy calling for an end to injustice for all black people, I want a concerted response from sports stars in Jamaica.

Football clubs, cricket clubs, track clubs must lead the way in bringing about an understanding of the importance of life.

I am fully aware of the fact that #GhettoLivesMatter is about putting an end to police excesses, but I believe the slogan can mean something bigger.

For some reason, and by ‘some’ I mean I know all the reasons but will not get into it, it is largely the poor who suffer at the hands of violence and this is a bigger statement than saying the police always brutalize the poor.

That being the case, #GhettoLivesMatter is apt.

Let’s hear the voices of the Jamaica Olympic Association, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, the Jamaica Football Association, Netball Jamaica, the Inter-Schools Sports Association, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the sports stars who fall under all these umbrellas.

Justice for Shemar Nairne. #GhettoLivesMatter      

Harry Glickman, the founder and former president of the Portland Trail Blazers, died on Wednesday. He was 96.

Glickman has long been considered the father of professional sports in Oregon. His crowning achievement came when he assembled the Trail Blazers' original ownership group of Herman Sarkowsky, Larry Weinberg and Robert Schmertz when the NBA awarded Portland an expansion franchise in 1970.

Glickman served as the team's general manager from their inception until his retirement in 1994, when he became president. During his tenure, the Trail Blazers won their only NBA championship in 1977 and Western Conference titles in 1990 and 1992.

The team also set an American professional sports record by selling out 814 consecutive home games.

"The Trail Blazers have long been the beneficiary of Harry's vision, generosity and inspiration," said Jody Allen, chair of the Trail Blazers.

"As the team's founder and first general manager, his leadership was instrumental in igniting our city's pride and passion for sports. I am grateful for Harry's many contributions to the franchise over the years. He will be missed by many."

Glickman and other then-shareholders sold the Trail Blazers to Paul Allen in 1998.

Glickman is survived by his wife, Joanne, son Marshall, daughters Jennifer and Lynn, grandsons Joel and Laz and granddaughter Sydney.

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young was "mad" and "frustrated" after his franchise's NBA season came to an end, though he understands the 22-team restart.

The COVID-19 crisis forced the 2019-20 NBA campaign to be postponed in March, but the league is set to resume at Walt Disney Resort near Orlando, Florida in July.

The NBA has confirmed plans for 22 teams to relaunch the season, with a tentative resumption date of July 31.

Atlanta (20-47) will not travel to Walt Disney Resort as Young and the Hawks were second from bottom in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoff picture at the time of the postponement.

"I was mad," Young told reporters on a video call on Wednesday. "I was frustrated. Obviously I wanted to play. I understand what the NBA did and respect their decision. But I am kind of upset because I want to play."

All-Star Young added: "I was just itching to play. I have been wanting to play. That was actually one of the first times I touched a ball in a long time.

"I wanted to make sure it was safe for me to even go and play. It has been a long time for me – like, I don't know when the last time I've spent three months without playing a game."

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is in favour of minicamps for the teams who will not participate when the NBA season resumes after the COVID-19 crisis.

The NBA has been on hiatus since March due to the coronavirus pandemic but the league is set to restart at Walt Disney Resort near Orlando, Florida in July.

The NBA has confirmed plans for 22 teams to relaunch the 2019-20 campaign, with a tentative resumption date of July 31.

Golden State are among the eight franchises that will not feature at Disney World – the Warriors finishing their season with a league-worst 15-50 record in the Western Conference.

Kerr, whose Warriors were ravaged by injuries this season, hopes the NBA will allow the eight teams to conduct a minicamp ahead of the 2020-21 season.

"The league has been great about working with us on potential minicamps," Kerr told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday. "We definitely need to get our team together for a period of time.

"I don't know for how long, but we definitely need to be together and have some practice sessions. Given that 22 of the teams are going to be allowed to do so for minimum of a couple weeks' practice and a couple weeks' games, while the rest of us are not part of that, the league is sensitive to giving us the space that we're going to need. So we're still in touch with the league about what that means.

"I think what I would like as a coach is a couple weeks of practice at least, maybe two different blocks of a couple of weeks where we can bring guys in, health permitting and regulations permitting, of course, given the virus, but if we could have a couple different blocks where our players could come in, work with our training staff, we get them on the court, almost like an OTA [organised team activities] for an NFL team where we can install some things for next year, think about what we want to accomplish and get some practice sessions in. I think it would bridge the gap towards a more normal offseason and then lead us into next season in a healthier frame of mind."

"That's one reason why I think it's important to mix in a couple of minicamps so that we can knock off some of that rust or staleness whatever you want to call it," Kerr continued. "But who are we to complain? We complained enough about not having any time off over the last five years, so we can't now turn around and say we've got too much time off, so we're just going to take advantage of what we can and use the rest and use the time wisely.

"I know that our players, whenever we come in to prepare for next season, our players are going to be rarin' to go. I think in the end, it will be a positive step no matter how this plays out."

On the participation of Golden State's star Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Kerr added: "Oh, yeah. 100 per cent. I would not consider this voluntary workouts.

"Obviously, these are really unique circumstances, but given that we would be staring at a nine-month break, to be perfectly honest I would be shocked if any one of those three guys said to me, 'No, I don't want the work.' They all know they need the work. And we all need the work, so they'll be there."

Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said the 2020-21 NBA season could be condensed following the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis forced the 2019-20 NBA campaign to be postponed in March, but the league is set to restart at Walt Disney Resort near Orlando, Florida in July.

The NBA has confirmed plans for 22 teams to relaunch the season, with a tentative resumption date of July 31.

Atlanta (20-47) will not travel to Walt Disney Resort as Trae Young and the Hawks were second from bottom in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoff picture at the time of the postponement.

Looking ahead to next season, Schlenk said the campaign could be condensed in order to allow the league to remain as close to the current schedule as possible.

"Because of this circumstance, I think the league wants to stay as close to its original schedule as possible," Schlenk told reporters on Tuesday.

"There's a lot of different reasons for that – the college season, the draft and how all of that plays out. So that's why they've laid out a timeline where it would be a very quick turnaround from the NBA Finals to the start of the season.

"If you're going from the middle of October to starting the season [on] the 1st of December, if you are one of the teams in the Finals, that's quick.

"But they want to try to stay as close to the historical timing as possible. So I don't think this is something you'll see stick. They've talked to us on one of our GM calls that it might be a condensed schedule next year. More so than in the past.

"As you know, there's been a big drive to avoid back-to-backs and certainly four in five nights, but we might find ourselves in a situation next year where it would be much more condensed."

Pau Gasol would like to his finish his illustrious career with former NBA team the Los Angeles Lakers or boyhood club Barcelona, describing the prospect as "attractive".

A foot injury has hampered two-time NBA champion Gasol, who has not played since March 2019 during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Gasol suffered a season-ending foot injury during the 2018-19 campaign, waived by the Portland Trail Blazers in November without playing for the franchise.

The 39-year-old is hoping to represent Spain at the Olympic Games in 2021 and talked up the possibility of returning to either the Lakers or Barcelona.

"My intention is to play another season if the foot is OK, either in the NBA or in Europe," Gasol, who won two NBA titles with the Lakers, said.

"A final season with the Lakers is attractive, finishing at Barca is attractive, but you have to see the real possibilities and see what situation would be best for the circumstances of the moment."

Gasol – a six-time NBA All-Star and champion with Spain at the 2006 FIBA World Cup – added: "I'm feeling good. I've had more time to recover.

"When I can start running and jumping I will have a lot more information to know for sure if the foot and the bone are consolidated for me to be playing professional basketball again."

Gasol was the third pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, selected by the Atlanta Hawks but traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Spaniard spent seven years in Memphis before teaming up with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers for six years, up until 2014.

Stints with the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Bucks followed.

Gasol has averaged 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists during his time in the NBA.

June 9 is a momentous sporting date that Maria Sharapova and her fans will not forget in a hurry.

Eight years ago on this day, the Russian achieved a career landmark that few tennis players can even dream of with her triumph at the French Open.

This date also represents the 35-year anniversary of a famous day in NBA history, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set a mark that still has not been beaten.

We look back at some of the top moments to occur on June 9 in the world of sport.

 

2012 - Sharapova achieves career Grand Slam

After winning her first grand slam in 2004, Sharapova had triumphed at two of the four majors by 2006 and won three by 2008.

The Russian had to wait until 2012 before finally getting her hands on the French Open and sealing an emotional career Grand Slam.

Having made a long recovery from shoulder surgery and lost major finals at Wimbledon and in Melbourne over the previous 12 months, Sharapova was not to be denied in Paris.

She became the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam with an easy 6-3 6-2 win in the final against Italian Sara Errani and only dropped one set in the whole tournament.

Sharapova lifted the trophy once more in 2014, which proved to be her last major title in a conclusion to her career that was clouded by injury woes and a positive test for meldonium in 2016.

 

1990 - Seles becomes youngest French Open champion

Teen sensation Monica Seles became the youngest French Open singles champion in 1990 when she won the title at the age of 16 years and six months.

The title was sealed in style with success over world number one Steffi Graf in the final, Seles saving four set points to win a dramatic first set 7-6 (8-6), before claiming the second 6-4. 

Seemingly undaunted by the pressure, she had also won her semi in straight sets against Jennifer Capriati.

Seles went on to triumph at Roland Garros again in 1991 and 1992, with her three consecutive crowns representing a tournament record in the Open Era that was later equalled by Justine Henin.

She did not win the French Open again after recovering from being stabbed on court in Hamburg in 1993, going closest in 1998 before losing a deciding set in the final against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Her final tally of grand slam titles was nine.

 

1985 - Kareem is NBA Finals' oldest MVP

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated fierce rivals the Boston Celtics 111-100 on the road in Game 6 to seal a 4-2 series victory in the NBA Finals.

Abdul-Jabbar was named the Finals MVP at the age of 38, making him the oldest winner of the honour in a record that still stands.

The veteran was the Lakers' leading scorer in four of the six contests, including Game 6 when he went for 29 points and Magic Johnson contributed 14 assists.

Abdul-Jabbar's award came 14 years after his other NBA Finals MVP accolade, which he collected after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their first and only championship in 1971.

The Lakers made eight of the 10 NBA Finals that took place in the 1980s, winning five, and the remarkable Abdul-Jabbar was still playing when they tasted success in 1987 and 1988.

The San Antonio Spurs announced on Monday that LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the rest of the 2019-20 season after undergoing right shoulder surgery.

Aldridge had missed six straight games with a sore shoulder from February 26 through to March 8 before returning to action on March 10. 

The seven-time NBA All-Star finished with 24 points and four blocked shots in 37 minutes in a win over the Dallas Mavericks in what would be San Antonio's final game before the season went on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Disappointed I won't get to finish the season with my team-mates, but excited that I’ll be fully ready to go next season and beyond," the 34-year-old said in a message tweeted out by the Spurs.

The 2019-20 season marked Aldridge's 14th in the NBA; he ends it with averages of 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.

The Spurs had the Western Conference’s 12th-best record at 27-36 when the season was halted, good enough to garner an invite to the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida as part of the 22-team field for the NBA’s restart plan.

June 8 is likely to be a date forever remembered fondly by Rafael Nadal, who secured two of his historic 12 French Open titles on this day.

Serena Williams also twice had reason to celebrate on the clay of Roland Garros on this date, although one final was tinged with the regret of having beaten her sister.

The Golden State Warriors tasted glory once again in 2018, while there was truly a shock for the ages when Argentina faced Cameroon at the World Cup in 1990.

Going back nearly 60 years, there was also a moment of baseball history for the Milwaukee Braves.

 

1961 - Milwaukee Braves hit home-run record

There were six teams scrambling for top spot in the National League when the Braves met the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field.

In front of a sparse crowd of just over 5,000 fans - many seem to have been exhausted by three previous night games in the series - the Reds claimed a 10-8 victory.

The Braves did at least make history with four consecutive home runs through Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas in the seventh inning.

 

1990 - Argentina shocked by Cameroon

Perhaps the biggest World Cup upset in history, the reigning champions were beaten 1-0 by Cameroon at Italia 90.

A solitary goal from Francois Omam-Biyik was enough for the Indomitable Lions to defeat Diego Maradona's Argentina at San Siro.

Cameroon progressed as group winners and reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to England. Argentina made it to the final again but were beaten by West Germany.

 

2002 - Serena wins all-Williams final in Paris

The first of Serena's three French Open singles titles came 18 years ago when she defeated sister Venus 7-5 6-3.

It was the first step in the American's path to winning all four majors in a row, which would become known as the 'Serena Slam'; she claimed Wimbledon and the US Open later that year before winning the 2003 Australian Open, defeating her sister in each of those finals.

Twelve years later, Serena would achieve the feat a second time.

This date also marks seven years since Serena beat Maria Sharapova in the final at Roland Garros.

 

2008 - Nadal equals Borg record with Federer thrashing

Nadal became the first man since Bjorn Borg to win four French Open singles titles in a row when he defeated Roger Federer in the 2008 final.

The Spaniard, a 12-time champion at Roland Garros, triumphed 6-1 6-3 6-0 in a decidedly one-sided contest against his long-time rival.

Six years later, Nadal won French Open number nine on the same date, defeating Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 to draw level with Pete Sampras on 14 major singles titles. He has won a further five since.

 

2018 - Warriors claim third title in four years

Inspired by NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, the Warriors claimed their third NBA championship in four seasons on this day two years ago.

Golden State completed a 4-0 sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 108-85 win at what was then known as Quicken Loans Arena.

It was the second time in his career that LeBron James suffered the ignominy of a Finals sweep, having also endured it against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.

June 7, 2009 was the date Roger Federer finally reigned at Roland Garros.

The Swiss completed his grand slam collection when beating Robin Soderling in the French Open final and, in doing so, equalled a record held by Pete Sampras.

This was also the date when 'The Last Dance' Chicago Bulls shut down the Utah Jazz in emphatic fashion in 1998.

Take a look at events that previously happened on this date through the years.

 

1996 - Chavez's century ends in defeat

Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya were both multi-weight world champions during their careers and a fight between the two was highly anticipated in 1996.

De La Hoya, who owned a 21-0 record heading into the bout, was 10 years younger and facing an opponent who was fighting for the 100th time, Chavez having won 97 of the previous 99.

However, the light-welterweight contest was short-lived, falling way short of the hype as Chavez suffered a serious cut in the opening round and eventually succumbed to a barrage in the fourth, unable to continue after De La Hoya's left hook broke his nose.

Chavez would fight for another seven years, however, finishing with a 107-6-2 record, while De La Hoya retired in 2008 following losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao.

 

1998 - Jazz fail to hit the right notes as Bulls gain Finals advantage

The series was finely poised at 1-1 when the Bulls and Jazz tipped off in Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

What followed was the most dominant victory in Finals history as the Bulls won by 42 points, 96-54, as Utah scored what was at the time the lowest total in an NBA game since the inception of the shot clock.

Despite Karl Malone's 22 points, the Jazz went 13-of-59 from the floor as Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and the rest of Chicago's defense delivered a performance that swung the series in their favour.

Chicago would go on to win the Finals 4-2, delivering a second three-peat to end a glorious run in the Windy City for Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson.

2009 - Finally for Federer

Having already triumphed at the other three slams, a French Open title had evaded Federer, thanks mainly due to the presence of Rafael Nadal.

However, in 2009 the Spaniard was suddenly out of the picture after a shock fourth-round loss to Soderling, who would go on to set up a final against Federer.

The showdown proved a mismatch; Federer eased to a 6-1 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 triumph in under two hours to win his 14th grand slam title.

In doing so he equalled Sampras' all-time record, with Federer eclipsing the American's haul with victory at Wimbledon later that year when he overcame Andy Roddick in an epic encounter.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said "we can't stand for the systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality against the black community anymore" following George Floyd's death.

There have been nationwide protests in the United States after Floyd – an African-American man – died in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

A police officer was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest after he was crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Spoelstra spoke out on Saturday, telling members of the South Florida media: "I mean we just simply can't stand for the systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality against the black community anymore. And it's really about standing up for what's right versus what's wrong."

"When [wife] Nikki and I first saw the visuals, we were horrified and disgusted. Then we got really deflated and deeply saddened that this was still happening in our country in the year 2020. In the last 10 days or so, I've really spent the time listening, educating myself, trying to gain more perspective and really reflecting on everything that's been happening.

"It's really about standing up for what's right versus what's wrong. And the other thing is that it really is a call to action. We have an opportunity to be part of a movement to finally impact change. My family and I are all in on this fight. The Miami Heat are all in on this fight. This is not a time to be silent or stand on the sidelines."

Spoelstra, whose Heat team are preparing for the NBA to restart in July following the coronavirus pandemic, added: "I think it's gonna take a sincere empathy and compassion for people of all races, to really reflect and process on the true history of the black community in this country.

"The history has been filled with incredible oppression and we really have to acknowledge that, to start to change the lens of how we see true equality. My wife and I have been really taking this opportunity to really have these conversations, talk to our friends, and really reflect deeply on all of this."

"I think more people are understanding that silence is not acceptable," Spoelstra said. "And the platform our players have is truly an opportunity to move people into action. Everything that's happened is just not right and it's going to take people getting uncomfortable."

"Every time something has happened, your heart breaks," Spoelstra continued, addressing the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012.  "Our community and our players have been so incredible in using their voices and platforms previously. With Trayvon Martin, we all thought when our players took that iconic photo and the players had the idea of doing that on their own to really bring it to light to everybody that this is wrong. We all thought that was going to move the needle, and it didn't, and it broke your heart.

"Then when it happens over and over and over, what this is going to require is not even trying to evaluate. It's just put your head down and get into this fight and make it happen this time. There is momentum. I'm inspired by -- what are we going on? -- 12 straight days of protest and the protests are becoming with the younger generation. They are uniting and inspiring and they're becoming less violent. The voices and the conversations and the subject, it can't go away. We have to keep on pushing it forward."

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said his team are "extremely motivated" in their pursuit of glory ahead of the NBA's return.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the 2019-20 NBA season to be postponed in March, but the league is set to restart in July.

The NBA has confirmed plans for 22 teams to relaunch the 2019-20 season, with a tentative resumption date of July 31.

Teams are set to stay at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida and have all their games and practices on the campus after the NBA's Board of Governors approved proposals for a restart after the COVID-19 crisis.

The Heat are among the 22 teams due to head to Florida as one of the 16 franchises that occupied playoff spots when the season was halted, with the six teams that are within six games of the eighth and final seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences also set for Walt Disney World Resort.

"I think our team is extremely motivated to get back at this," Spoelstra told reporters on a teleconference call on Saturday.

"These have been extreme circumstances these last two months-plus. And our guys have done a really commendable job of staying physically fit. But it is a challenge when you don't know whether we're going to start back up or not, or you don't necessarily know what date that it could be.

"Well, now, this gives us a little bit of specificity, and I think everybody is starting to get excited. And you're able to wrap your mind around a concept of replaying."

The Heat (41-24) were fourth in the Eastern Conference, behind the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12), defending champions the Toronto Raptors (46-18) and the Boston Celtics (43-21), and ahead of the Indiana Pacers (39-26) and Philadelphia 76ers (39-26).

"Will it be different? Yes. It's also exciting, I think," Spoelstra said. "A lot of people could use sports right now, NBA basketball and competition on TV.

"You know, I've heard it probably like anybody else, 'Well, does this mean the World Championship this year, there will be an asterisk next to it?' Yeah, I think, if you can make it through all of this and be worthy of winning that championship and really earning it, this will be one that'll probably be remembered more than any other. It has been that kind of year, this year."

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he is "embarrassed as a white person" that George Floyd could die in police custody in such a "nonchalant…casual" manner. 

The Spurs, one of the last NBA teams to issue an official reaction to Floyd's death and ensuing protests against racial injustice, released a series of videos on Twitter, including one from Popovich. 

Floyd, an African American, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 when an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

"It has got to be us, in my opinion, that speak truth to power and that call it out no matter what the consequences," Popovich said. 

"We have to speak. We have to not let anything go."

While the series of videos is the first official response from the franchise, Popovich had previously provided scathing comments about Donald Trump to The Nation, calling the president "deranged" and "a destroyer".

 Popovich added in the video before an emotional pause. "I think I'm just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen – to actually watch a lynching."

The 24th-year coach concluded that white people need to do a better job, saying, "We have to do it because black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years. 

"The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence, patience and effort of black people. 

"It's easy for people to let things go because it doesn't involve them. Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race."

The Chicago Bulls will not make a decision anytime soon about head coach Jim Boylen's future with the franchise. 

Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls' new executive vice president of basketball operations, began Saturday's conference call with reporters by issuing a statement on the divisive coach. 

"I know that you are anxious for me to comment definitively on our future of the Chicago Bulls. I understand that anticipation," Karnisovas said. 

"That said, I take pride in being deliberate and thoughtful in my decision-making and take the weight of my decisions seriously. 

"I'm not inclined to make evaluations prematurely to satisfy our excitement to move this team forward."

Karnisovas was hired in April – more than a month after the NBA season was paused due to the coronavirus outbreak – and he has yet to see his team play since joining Chicago. 

One reason for the patient approach, he said, was the NBA's 22-team plan for concluding the season, which excludes the Bulls. 

"We want to spend time internally to assure that we are thorough in our appraisals," Karnisovas said. 

"Our intention was to return to play at some point and have the opportunity to make informed decisions. There are several unprecedented circumstances beyond our control. 

"We have been limited in certain obvious ways, so our objective is to use this time in innovative ways to create opportunities for our players and coaches to encourage development."

Boylen took over as head coach 24 games into the 2018-19 season after the dismissal of Fred Hoiberg, but the Bulls are just 39-84 under Boylen. 

Chicago finished this season 22-43 – 11th in the Eastern Conference – and ranked 26th in the NBA in scoring at 106.8 points per game. 

"Coaching in the league is very difficult. To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It's probably the hardest thing for executives," Karnisovas said. 

"So I look at a lot of aspects – I've had numerous conversations. 

"That said, I'd like to be in a building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff in meetings. We're looking forward to getting in the video room together, analyse the games, to watch games together."

Karnisovas, previously the general manager of the Denver Nuggets, has already replaced Chicago's former top executives Gar Forman and John Paxson. 

Marc Eversley will take over as the team's new general manager, while assistant general manager J.J. Polk and vice president of player personnel Pat Connelly were also added this offseason. 

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