Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has not decided whether to play if the NBA resumes amid the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, according to his agent Charles Briscoe.

The NBA is planning to restart the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 season via a 22-team format at Walt Disney World Resort in July after the campaign was suspended in March.

However, eight-time All-Star Howard believes the return of the NBA would be an unwelcome distraction from the importance of the anti-racism and social injustice protests in the United States as Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving leads calls for basketball not to resume.

There have been nationwide protests after George Floyd – an African-American man – was killed in police custody in Minneapolis last month when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Responding to Howard's statement on Sunday, Briscoe told ESPN: "The statement was about social injustice and racism. Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played.

"He isn't saying that basketball shouldn't be. He's just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what's going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day.

"But what's going on with people dying in the streets, that's something real. That statement, it had nothing to do with sports. It had everything to do with racism and social injustice."

Howard issued a statement via his agent to CNN, which read: "I agree with Kyrie. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction.

"Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don't have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now.

"I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that's just to [sic] beautiful to pass up.

"What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of.

"When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonisation stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves.

"Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It's time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved."

Los Angeles Lakers star Dwight Howard believes the return of the NBA would be an unwelcome distraction from the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The league is still negotiating the details of a 2020 restart over three months after the coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be suspended.

There are said to be plans to resume the regular season from July 30 on a modified schedule, although a handful of players reportedly expressed concerns about injury risks during a conference call this week.

On the same call involving 80 players on Friday, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is said to have led calls for basketball not to return while protests against racial injustice and police brutality continue across the United States.

Anti-racism demonstrations have been held across the world following the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis last month when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Renewed protests have occurred in Atlanta after African-American man Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police at a drive-through on Friday, an incident that led to the resignation of the city's police chief.

On Sunday, eight-time All-Star Howard issued a statement via his agent to CNN in which he made it clear he would give up the chance to win a first NBA Championship for "the unity of my people".

"I agree with Kyrie. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction," the statement said.

"Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don't have.

"And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now.

"I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that's just to [sic] beautiful to pass up.

"What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of.

"When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!!

"European Colonisation stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves.

"Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It's time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved."

Michael Jordan raced back on defense after a drive to the basket saw him bring the Chicago Bulls back to within a point of the Utah Jazz with 37 seconds remaining.

It was June 14, 1998, Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals and victory would see the Bulls clinch a historic second three-peat and Jordan get his sixth championship ring in what would be their 'Last Dance'.

Jordan's next pivotal play saw him steal the ball from Karl Malone in the post with 18 seconds left. He then carried the ball forward, crossed up Bryon Russell and made an iconic mid-range jumper to put Phil Jackson's team in front.

When John Stockton failed to make a three-pointer at the buzzer, history was made.

But how do Jordan's performances, and those of his team-mates, in the 1997-98 season compare to players in the modern era?

That is what Stats Perform's AI analysts attempted to find out.

By looking at player statistics compared to the league averages rather than raw values, they developed a similarity score metric.

It uses a host of era-adjusted per-30-minute stats and more advanced rate metrics, and calculates the Euclidean distances between the seasons of each of the 1997-98 Bulls and every other player since the start of 2010-11.

From those results, a relative similarity percentage can be calculated i.e. the player since 2010-11 with the greatest similarity to one of the 1997-98 Bulls would score closest to 100 per cent.

By looking at player seasons since the start of 2017-18, we can see who in the NBA's modern era is the nearest equivalent to Jordan and the rest of the Bulls in that historic season.

Michael Jordan

Jordan's closest contemporary is Kawhi Leonard, with the Los Angeles Clippers star's 2019-20 season registering a relative similarity percentage of 28.7.

Leonard's NBA championship-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19 is a close second (26.7 per cent), while Bradley Beal this season ranks third at 24 per cent.

DeMar DeRozan rounds out the top five, though his 2018-19 output had just 16.5 per cent relative similarity. His efforts the year prior produced a score of 23.7 per cent, close to Beal.

When looking at all players since 2010, though, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in 2010-11 is the top comparison at 46.8 per cent.

Bryant played all 82 games that year but was unable to emulate Jordan and lead the Lakers to a second three-peat under Jackson, with the Dallas Mavericks sweeping them in the Western Conference semi-finals.

 

Dennis Rodman

It is tough to find a modern comparison for what Rodman did with the Bulls in 1997-98.

Marcin Gortat's 2018-19 season with the Clippers is the nearest but has a relative similarity percentage of just 9.7, with Noah Vonleh in 2017-18 a close second at 9.3. Vonleh's past two seasons rank fifth and fourth, behind Ed Davis this term at 7.4 per cent.

When looking beyond the past three seasons, a player who made his name in Chicago comes in as Rodman's closest contemporary: Joakim Noah.

Noah was a two-time All-Star and the 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year during his time with the Bulls, but it is his production in the 2016-17 season – his first with the New York Knicks – that compares best, though his relative similarity percentage is still just 16.3.

 

Scottie Pippen

After electing to delay having surgery on his foot so he could enjoy the offseason as his contract dispute with the Bulls continued, Pippen missed almost half of the 1997-98 regular season.

Tyreke Evans in 2018-19, a season that ended with him being kicked out of the league for two years for violating the NBA's anti-drug programme, provides the nearest resemblance of Pippen's performances during the Last Dance with a relative similarity score of 64.7 per cent.

Evans (52.4 per cent) also ranks second thanks to his 2017-18 season, ahead of Caris LeVert of the Brooklyn Nets. LeVert has a score of 50.3 per cent for this season and 48 per cent for 2018-19.

When looking at all players since 2010, J.R. Smith features highly. His 2012-13 campaign has a relative similarity score of 53.7 per cent, which is one of three entries for him in the top six.

 

Luc Longley

Domantas Sabonis helped the Indiana Pacers reach the playoffs in 2017-18, and with a relative similarity mark of 45.4 per cent he has the nearest modern comparison to Longley.

There is little to separate Jordan Mickey (2017-18) and Zach Collins (2018-19) in second and third, with the former's 43.8 just beating the latter's 43.

When widening the scope to include all player seasons since 2010-11, however, two players dominate the top 10: Spencer Hawes and Jason Smith.

Hawes' second year with the Philadelphia 76ers (2011-12) takes first place with a relative similarity percentage of 63.6, while his last season with the Charlotte Hornets (2016-17) is second at 59.1.

Smith takes up the next four places (2015-16, 2012-13, 2014-15 and 2011-12 respectively) and also eighth, which is sandwiched by Hawes in 2010-11 and 2012-13.

The top eight seasons all have a relative similarity score in excess of 50 per cent.

 

Ron Harper

Over the past three seasons, Garrett Temple is the closest you can get to Harper.

Temple's output with the Nets this year most closely corresponds to Harper at 60.1 per cent relative similarity.

His two prior seasons also scored within 0.5 per cent of that mark, with Trevor Ariza rounding out the top five on 56.1 per cent for both this season and 2018-19.

Since the start of the last decade, though, Damien Wilkins in 2010-11 is the nearest comparison at 68.3 per cent.

 

Toni Kukoc

Gordon Hayward with the Boston Celtics this season comes in as the top modern comparison for Kukoc at 65.2 per cent.

MarShon Brooks in 2018-19 has a relative similarity of 62 per cent, while Bogdan Bogdanovic this year is at 59.8 per cent.

Chandler Parsons in 2017-18 is fourth on the list, and he certainly has a lot in common with the Croatian when you look back further.

Parsons provides the top four comparisons to Kukoc since 2010-11 and his efforts in the 2014-15 season have a relative similarity percentage of 99.9, which is the nearest equivalent of all data analysed.

 

Steve Kerr

Kerr may have moulded Stephen Curry into a two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion, but the Golden State Warriors star's brother Seth Curry is his closest comparison.

Seth Curry's performances for the Mavericks this season registered a 50.1 per cent relative similarity score, while his 2018-19 campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers was second at 44.4.

Reggie Bullock (2017-18), Langston Galloway (2019-20) and Courtney Lee (2017-18) also feature in the top five from the past three years.

 

What about the others?

Bill Wennington

Since 2017: Jon Leuer in 2018-19 (37.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Jon Leuer in 2018-19 (37.9 per cent)

David Vaughan

Since 2017: Domantas Sabonis in 2017-18 (70.8 per cent)
Since 2010: Thomas Robinson in 2013-14 (88.4 per cent)

Dickey Simpkins

Since 2017: Caleb Swanigan in 2019-20 (31.8 per cent)
Since 2010: Samardo Samuels in 2011-12 (45.4 per cent)

Jason Caffey

Since 2017: Domantas Sabonis in 2017-18 (62.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Samardo Samuels in 2011-12 (78.6 per cent)

Joe Kleine

Since 2017: Wilson Chandler in 2019-20 (40.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Juwan Howard in 2010-11 (40.9 per cent)

Jud Buechler

Since 2017: Danny Green in 2019-20 (59.1 per cent)
Since 2010: Wesley Johnson in 2013-14 (56.9 per cent)

Randy Brown

Since 2017: Shaquille Harrison in 2018-19 (51.1 per cent)
Since 2010: Ronnie Price in 2010-11 (52.8 per cent)

Scott Burrell

Since 2017: Sterling Brown in 2017-18 (68 per cent)
Since 2010: Wesley Johnson in 2015-16 (82.8 per cent)

Asafa Powell broke the 100 metres world record on this day 15 years ago, and the New York Rangers ended a 54-year NHL title drought in 1994.

No man has ever run faster than Usain Bolt over 100m, but Powell was Jamaica's sprint king in 2005.

The Rangers were celebrating at Madison Square Garden 26 years ago, while Canada's cricketers will not want to be reminded of this date in 1979.

We go back in time to look at some memorable sporting moments that have taken place on June 14.

 

1979 - Canada crumble at Old Trafford

A Cricket World Cup contest between England and Canada always looked like it was going to be a mismatch.

That was very much the case in Manchester, where the minnows were skittled out for only 45 - the lowest ODI score in history at the time.

Bob Willis (4-11) and Chris Old (4-8) wreaked havoc, Franklyn Dennis making almost half of Canada's runs before England took just 13.5 overs to seal an eight-wicket win.

 

1994 - Rangers rule in New York

The Rangers had not been crowned NHL champions since way back in 1940 and it looked like they may have blown their chance in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

Mike Keenan's side led the series 3-1 after losing the opening match, but the Canucks rallied to force a decider.

The tension was almost unbearable for Rangers fans, but Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Mark Messier were on target to secure a 3-2 victory and spark a huge party.

There has been no NHL glory for the Rangers since that triumph.

2005 - Powell keeps true to his word in Athens

A 22-year-old Powell said he was ready to break Tim Montgomery's 100m world record in Athens.

His confidence was certainly not unfounded, as he set a new mark of 9.77 seconds at the Olympic Stadium.

"It shows no-one knows how fast a man can run." Powell said after making history. He went faster another three times after Justin Gatlin had gone quicker in 2005.

Bolt holds the current record of 9.58, set in Berlin 11 years ago.

 

2007 - Imperious Spurs sweep Cavs

The NBA Finals 13 years ago proved to be one-sided, with the San Antonio Spurs dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In their 40th season as a franchise, the Spurs wrapped up a 4-0 series victory with an 83-82 win in Cleveland.

Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 27 points as LeBron James' 24-point haul was in vain, with Tony Parker named Finals MVP for Gregg Popovich's side.

Kyrie Irving was the first star player to publicly express hesitation about the NBA's plan to finish the season in Orlando, worried about the optics of playing during a time of national unrest, and others now reportedly have other concerns too.

Five young stars from the 2017 draft class are worried about the injury risk of returning to the court nearly five months after the coronavirus pandemic caused the league to shut down, ESPN reported on Saturday.

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat, De'Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma had a call on Friday with National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) executive director Michele Roberts and senior counsel Ron Klempner about special insurance policies for injury.

Those five players, along with the rest of the 2017 draft class, will be eligible for large extensions in October of the coming offseason.

While Tatum, Mitchell, Adebayo, Fox and Kuzma lobbied to protect their own potential contracts, they also proposed additional injury insurance policies for all players going to Orlando.

The NBA is still negotiating the details of its restart, with plans to include 22 teams and resume the regular season – with a modified schedule – on July 30.

Irving, playing his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, told over 80 players on a Zoom call on Friday that he did not support the NBA returning while the United States is still so deeply tangled in debates about social justice and racial equality.

Later in the call he said he would travel to Orlando if the rest of the players deemed a resumption of play appropriate.

"If it's worth the risk, then let's go and do it," Irving said on the call, according to Yahoo Sports. "But if you're not with it, it's OK, too. We've got options for both ways. Let's just come to a middle ground as a family."

The Houston Rockets' Austin Rivers, however, is in favor of returning to the court and took to social media to respond to Irving's stance against playing.

"Us coming back would be putting money in all our pockets," Rivers said on Instagram. "With this money you could help out even more people and continue to give more importantly your time and energy towards the [Black Lives Matter] movement, which I'm 100% on board with.

"Not to mention there are plenty of NBA players I know who need them paychecks. 99% of the NBA hasn't made the money a guy like Kyrie has."

Rivers went on to say that uniting to finish the 2019-20 season could set a good example for the country to heal and that failing to report to Orlando could hurt the players in the next collective bargaining agreement."

The NBA players were never formally polled on whether or not they would like to continue the season, and some players reportedly have felt powerless during the process of discussing a restart.

Mitchell and Irving – along with the Lakers' Dwight Howard and the Portland Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum and Carmelo Anthony – were among those who shared doubts about restarting on the players' Zoom discussion.

The players-only call lasted nearly two hours, according to Yahoo Sports, and included trusted veterans Kevin Durant of the Nets, Russell Westbrook of the Rockets and the Miami Heat's Andre Iguodala.

Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill said the NBA is the "last thought on my mind" amid the fight against racism 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 on May 25.

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.

The NBA season, which was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in March with the Bucks topping the standings, is set to restart via a 22-team format in Orlando, Florida next month.

But Hill talked down the league's planned return in the midst of protests over social injustice and racism in the country.

"I've been working every day since this all started with my body, my game and things like that, but as a whole, I can care less about basketball right now," an emotional Hill said during a video conference on Friday as he shared his own experiences.

"That's like my last worry. That's just the game I'm blessed to play. When the ball goes up in the air, I'm ready to play, I love the competitive side of it, but that's not who I am.

"So, that's my last thought on my mind is basketball. I can care less what's going on. I think there's bigger issues and bigger things to tackle in life right now than a basketball game, but that's just my personal opinion."

"If I didn't have that talent, I possibly would've been that George Floyd. I possibly would've been all my family members that got gunned down in the streets in Indianapolis," Bucks veteran Hill, 34, added.

"So, yes, this for me, it impacts me even more because I've seen the killing going on, and I've seen the police brutality.

"I've seen that my cousin is laying in the street for an hour and a half before another police officer gets there. I've seen that. So, I get emotional because it really hurts. I've got interracial kids, and I'm scared just for my whole life."

June 12 was a day when Michael Jordan finally became an NBA champion, while the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors also enjoyed Finals celebrations.

Jordan became widely regarded as the greatest player of all time but had to endure a couple of heartbreaks before finally tasting glory with the Chicago Bulls in 1991.

Shaquille O'Neal made history with the Lakers on this day 18 years ago, while you only have to go back to 2017 for Kevin Durant's moment to shine.

The St. Louis Blues also had reason to celebrate 12 months ago as their long wait for Stanley Cup glory came to an end.


1991 - MJ and the Bulls earn first of six

Having been beaten twice in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls finally bested their rivals in the 1990-91 playoffs.

That led to a Finals series with the LA Lakers and Jordan was not about to miss his opportunity.

The Bulls wrapped it up in five with Jordan the fulcrum of their success en route to being named Finals MVP.

He scored 30 points and Scottie Pippen put up 32 as the Bulls defeated the Lakers 108-101 to win their first NBA title on this day. They would go on win six in eight years in one of sport's greatest dynasties.


2002 – 'Get ready for the Shaq attack!' Lakers rout Nets

It was a night of history for Shaq and Phil Jackson as the Lakers completed a 4-0 series of sweep of the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.

Finals MVP Shaq put up 34 points in the 113-107 victory in New Jersey as the Lakers became the fifth team to win at least three straight NBA Championships.

With 145 points in the series, Shaq became the highest scorer in a four-game Finals, beating the 131 of Hakeem Olajuwon, which he achieved in 1995 for the Houston Rockets against O'Neal's Orlando Magic.

For legendary coach Jackson, it represented a ninth NBA title as a coach - levelling Red Auerbach's benchmark.


2017: Durant the Golden boy as James' Cavs beats

Just a year earlier, LeBron James had inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship from a 3-1 deficit to avenge their loss to the Golden State Warriors the season before.

But in the third year of their fourth straight battle in the NBA Finals, it was the Warriors who celebrated a 4-1 series triumph.

Kevin Durant, signed as a free agent at the start of the 2016-17 season, was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, including putting up 39 in Game 5.

James had 41 but was unable to prevent the Cavs slipping to a 129-120 loss.


2019: St Louis finally end Stanley Cup Blues

In a back-and-forth Stanley Cup Finals series, it all came down to Game Seven between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins.

But the Boston fans were left disappointed at TD Garden as St. Louis ran out 4-1 victors.

It marked the Blues' first Stanley Cup triumph in their 51st season as a franchise.

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."

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.

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