The NBA officially revealed its schedule for the resumption of the 2019-20 season following the coronavirus-enforced break and opening night features a star rookie and a marquee matchup. 

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans will face the Utah Jazz at the Disney World complex near Orlando, Florida on July 30 in the first game of the resumed season, which will consist of a 22-team format.

The second game of the nationally televised doubleheader has LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers facing Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.  

The opening game will come more than four months after the season was paused on March 11 after Utah's Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to test positive for COVID-19.

On Friday, the league officially completed talks with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on the terms for restarting the season, paving the way for the 88-game schedule of what are being called seeding games between 22 teams to be released. 

"We're coming back because sports matter in our society," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. "They bring people together when they need it most."

Each team will play eight "seeding" games that will take place in a 16-day span before ending on August 14.

The league will then begin a typical playoff format with the NBA Finals set to begin September 30 and ending no later than October 13. 

Excluding the opening night of the restart, there will be between four to seven games each day spread across three different courts. 

Games will start as early as 13:00 (local time) on weekdays, 12:30 on weekends and ending with 21:00 starts.  

Several players have opted out of the restart plan with reasons related to the coronavirus, while others – including the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic, Sacramento Kings team-mates Jabari Parker and Alex Len and the Indiana Pacers' Malcolm Brogdon have tested positive.  

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.

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.

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.

It is 52 years since Manchester United beat Benfica to win their first European Cup, while Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game for Philadelphia Phillies on this day in 2010.

English giants United lifted the famous trophy thanks to a couple of goals from Bobby Charlton in a 4-1 win at Wembley – their first of three continental triumphs.

As for Halladay, he retired all 27 of Florida Marlins' batters – striking out 11 – en route to hurling a no-hitter at Sun Life Stadium.

Today is also a meaningful date in the history of the Utah Jazz and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who achieved memorable sporting feats on May 29.

Join us in looking back on some memorable moments from this day in years gone by.


1968 - Man Utd prevail at Wembley

Having progressed through four rounds of two-legged ties to reach the final on English soil, United faced the daunting task of taking on Benfica.

The Portuguese heavyweights had won the competition twice before and boasted all-time great striker Eusebio in their ranks.

But it was Matt Busby's side who took the lead after a goalless first half through Charlton, only for Jaime Graca to equalise for Benfica.

Alex Stepney then produced a big save to deny Eusebio and that proved to be a pivotal moment in the final as George Best, Brian Kidd and Charlton were all on target in extra time.

 

1997 - Stockton sends Jazz to first NBA Finals

More than two decades on, it is still regarded as arguably the biggest moment in Utah's history.

Trailing the Houston Rockets by 10 points with 2:59 left in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the Jazz went on a 17-4 run that culminated in John Stockton's buzzer-beating three-pointer.

He let fly from 26 feet and found the target to earn the Jazz a dramatic 103-100 victory, setting up a showdown with Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.

It was the first time Utah had reached the Finals, though it ultimately ended in heartbreak as the Bulls battled to a 90-86 win on home soil.

 

2010 - Halladay's perfect game

Halladay is one of only 23 people to have pitched the perfect game in Major League Baseball history, doing so in style on a steamy night in south Florida.

What makes the achievement all the more incredible, though, is that it came in just his 11th start for the Phillies after being traded by the Toronto Blue Jays.

He needed no more than 12 pitches in any inning except the seventh, throwing 115 in total, 72 for strikes. Of his 11 strikeouts, four came by way of sinkers.

Halladay's perfect pitch came 20 days after the Oakland Athletics' Dallas Braden had done likewise – the shortest span between two perfect games since 1880.

 

2016 - Hyderabad emerge victorious in high-scoring final

With David Warner leading from the front, Hyderabad won their maiden Indian Premier League title with an eight-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Warner top-scored with 69 off 38 balls and Ben Cutting registered an unbeaten 39 off 15 in Hyderabad's 208-7 at Bangalore's M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The skipper then stepped up by marshalling his bowlers as they held off an onslaught, the hosts finishing just short with their reply of 200-7.

It was the third final Bangalore had lost, having also done so in 2009 and 2011, while Hyderabad reached the final again in 2018 but lost to Chennai Super Kings.

Jerry Sloan, an All-Star player who went on to become the most successful coach in Utah Jazz history, died on Friday following a long battle with Parkinson's disease at the age of 78. 
 
The Jazz announced Sloan's death from complications from Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, which the Basketball Hall of Fame member revealed he was dealing with in 2016. 
 
Sloan coached the Jazz for 23 seasons before resigning during the 2010-11 season and ranks fourth in NBA history with 1,221 victories.

His 1,127 wins with Utah are the second-most of any coach with one franchise, trailing only San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.  
 
"Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss," the team said in a statement. 

"We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise." 
 
Led by future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and John Stockton, Sloan's Utah teams were a model of consistency.

He guided the Jazz to playoff appearances for his first 15 seasons after being promoted to head coach following Frank Layden's resignation in December 1988. 

The Jazz won 50 or more games 13 times in his tenure, highlighted by back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998. 
 
Utah lost to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, the team Sloan spent the majority of his playing career with, in both of those Finals trips, with each series ending 4-2.

He also coached the Bulls for three seasons from before joining the Jazz organization as a scout in 1983. 
 
Sloan compiled a 1,127-682 regular-season record with Utah and amassed 96 more wins while leading the Jazz to the playoffs 19 times in total, with seven division titles. 

He was honored by the franchise in 2014 with a No. 1,223 banner, representing his combined win total with the Jazz, that currently hangs in the rafters at the team's home venue, Vivint Smart Home Arena. 
 
"Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization," the Jazz said. "He will be greatly missed.

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him." 
 
Sloan also had his No. 4 jersey retired by the Bulls in 1978, the first player in franchise history to receive the honor.

Dubbed "The Original Bull" after being acquired from the Baltimore Bullets prior to Chicago's expansion-year 1966-67 season, the McLeansboro, Illinois native made two All-Star teams during a 10-year run with the Bulls that concluded with his retirement in 1976. 
 
Known for his tenacity and defensive skills, Sloan averaged 14 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game over 11 NBA seasons, and is the only player in league history to average more than seven rebounds and two steals a game. 
 
"Jerry Sloan was 'The Original Bull' whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago," Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. 

"Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team. 
 
"A great player and a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person. Our sympathies go out to the Sloan family and all his many fans." 
 
Sloan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, two years before abruptly resigning 54 games into Utah's 2011-12 season. He rejoined the Jazz as a senior adviser in 2013. 

Legendary Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has died at the age of 78, the team announced on Friday.

The Jazz said in a statement Sloan passed away as a result of complications from Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, diagnoses he received in April 2016.

Sloan spent 26 years as a coach in the NBA, 23 of which were spent leading the Jazz between 1988 and 2011.

Utilising their famous pick-and-roll offense, and inspired by Hall of Famers Karl Malone and John Stockton, Sloan led the Jazz to the Western Conference title in 1997 and 1998 but they were beaten in the NBA Finals on both occasions by the Michael Jordan-inspired Chicago Bulls – a team he both played for and coached.

"Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organisation and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss," the Jazz statement read. 

"We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise. 

"Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomised the organisation. He will be greatly missed. 

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him."

Sloan led the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances and 19 in total and finished his career with the third-most wins in NBA history.

As a player, Sloan was a two-time NBA All-Star and had his number 4 jersey retired by the Bulls, and twice lost in the Conference Finals.

Utah Jazz wing Bojan Bogdanovic will undergo season-ending surgery on his right wrist, the team announced on Monday.

No time frame for his recovery was supplied, but ESPN reported he is expected to be fully recovered for the beginning of the 2020-21 season, whenever that may come.  

Bogdanovic, who is eighth in the NBA with 189 made three-pointers this season, suffered the injury last year and played in pain until the league shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

A Jazz statement read: "Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic will undergo season-ending wrist surgery.

"Bogdanovic hurt his right wrist sometime in 2019 and the injury continued to bother him throughout the season.

"With the campaign suspended, the forward consulted with multiple medical professionals and the decision was made to surgically repair the ruptured scapholunate ligament.

"Bogdanovic is scheduled to have surgery on Tuesday in New York. A timeline for his return to play has not yet been set."

Bodganovic, who averaged a career-high 20.2 points per game this season, was held to single-digit scoring totals in three of his past seven appearances.  

The sixth-year forward is Utah's second-highest scorer after signing a four-year, $73million contract with the Jazz last offseason.  

Bogdanovic has been very durable in his career, missing only 12 of a possible 474 games during his time with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and Jazz.  

The 31-year-old has been a valuable offensive weapon for Utah this season, shooting 41.4 per cent from behind the three-point arc.  

The 2019-20 season has been characterized by dramatic swings for the Jazz, who put together a 20-3 stretch across December and January but also suffered four- and five-game losing streaks in the six weeks before the league's suspension.  

If the NBA season continues, Utah will also have to mend a reportedly fractured relationship between team cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.  

Gobert was the first athlete in major American sports to test positive for COVID-19, leading to the late postponement of the Jazz's March 11 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the NBA suspending its season the next day. Mitchell tested positive shortly thereafter.  

With the league still on indefinite hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Jazz sit fourth in the Western Conference with a 41-23 record.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan says food poisoning and not the flu was responsible for him being sick for Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz.

Episode nine of 'The Last Dance' - ESPN's 10-part docuseries on the Bulls team that won the 1997-98 NBA championship to complete a second three-peat in eight years - featured a section on what came to be known as the 'flu game'.

It has been widely believed Jordan had been suffering from flu-like symptoms ahead of the clash in Salt Lake City, but the five-time MVP has provided a different version of events.

"The day before Game 5 in Utah, I'm at the Marriott. It was George [Kohler, personal assistant], myself, Tim [Grover, personal trainer], and I think a couple of security guards. But it's like 10, 10:30 at night, I'm hungry," Jordan explained.

Grover and Koehler managed to find a pizza place that was open and placed an order but were surprised to see five people deliver it.

Jordan continued: "I eat the pizza all by myself, nobody else eats it. I wake up about 2:30, throwing up left and right.

"So really it wasn't the flu game, it was food poisoning."

He added: "I stayed in bed all day, couldn't eat anything, couldn't hold nothing down.

"Phil [Jackson, Bulls coach] comes in and says, 'What do you think?' And I say, 'Look, I'm gonna try, it's Game 5, if anything I can be a decoy.' So I'm going out and I'm gonna play."

Despite suffering from sickness, news of which emerged in the media before tip-off, Jordan scored 38 points to lead the Bulls to a 90-88 victory and a 3-2 series lead.

Jordan also had seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block in a display that remains one of the most iconic in the history of the league.

A month ago it was reported the relationship between Utah Jazz team-mates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert was "unsalvageable", but the pair are moving on.

Jazz executive vice-president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said the two All-Stars have since made up and are ready to move forward.

"They're ready to put this behind them, move forward, act professionally," Lindsey said on a conference call on Tuesday.

"Look, the night of March [11] was really unprecedented, it brought a microscope to our team, and we get it. With that said, we're very pleased with the collective makeup of our group – Donovan and Rudy in particular – and we look forward to moving forward.

"They've said their piece to each other. They've both visited at the ownership level, at management level, at the coaches' level, the players' level with each other, they're fully participating in our Zoom workouts."

Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for coronavirus on March 11, which promptly triggered the league to suspend its season. A day later Mitchell tested positive, and he said Gobert did not take the illness seriously and was careless with the way he conducted himself. The following week on ABC, Mitchell said it "took a while for me to kind of cool off" at Gobert.

Their relationship is no longer shattered, according to Lindsey, and they are ready to work together when the season resumes to help Utah continue their playoff push. When the season went on pause, the Jazz were in fourth place in the Western Conference and 1.5 games behind the first-placed Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division.

"They're ready to put this behind them, move forward, act professionally," Lindsey said.

"We're very pleased with the collective makeup of our group, Donovan and Rudy in particular. We look forward to moving forward."

"We fully expect the team to come together in a great way and continue to move forward as a group," he added. "And I think at the end of the day, Donovan and Rudy – I don't want to speak for them on every matter, they'll speak to themselves, moving forward – but I think at the most basic level, they know they need each other to accomplish the goals that we want to accomplish of being the last team standing in the NBA."

It is one of the most awkward NFL Draft images of all time.

Eli Manning, stood next to then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, holding up a San Diego Chargers jersey he never had any intention of wearing.

Manning, the top pick of the 2004 draft, made clear his desire not to play for San Diego, and his refusal to do so led to him being swiftly traded to the New York Giants for fellow quarterback Philip Rivers.

Friday marks 16 years to the day of that tumultuous first round, which will forever live in NFL infamy.

But Manning is far from the only sports star to refuse to play for his team.

Here we look at five others to have taken that stance.

Geoffrey Boycott 1974-77

One of English cricket's greatest batsmen, Boycott went into self-enforced exile from the international game for reasons that remain unclear.

Boycott has since stated a loss of appetite for Test cricket was behind that decision, but others point to Mike Denness and Tony Greig's appointments to the England captaincy.

The observation has been made that Boycott left the England set-up during the peak of the careers of several legendary fast bowlers including Dennis Lillee and Michael Holding.

Boycott has taken a dim view of such comments and he made his return in 1977 against Australia and in a display of the obduracy that defined his career, batted on each of the five days at Trent Bridge, a feat only three other England players have subsequently emulated.

Dominique Wilkins 1982

Having starred at the University of Georgia, Wilkins was unhappy at being selected third overall in the NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.

Unwilling to play for the Jazz, who at the time were blighted by cash-flow problems, Wilkins was subsequently traded to the Atlanta Hawks months later.

In exchange for Wilkins, the Jazz received John Drew, Freeman Williams, and $1million, but the deal was one they would live to regret.

Wilkins went on to become a nine-time All-Star, while Drew and Williams played only a combined four seasons for Utah.

John Elway 1983

A sought-after prospect in both American football and baseball, Elway leveraged his appeal to the latter to get out of playing for the NFL's then Baltimore Colts.

Elway was said to be reluctant to play for the Colts and his father cautioned him against working under head coach Frank Kush.

He took the advice of his dad and, when the Colts selected him first overall, reacted by saying: "As I stand here right now, I'm playing baseball."

That was a legitimate option for Elway, who had been drafted in the second round of the 1981 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees.

A Major League Baseball career never came to pass, though, as the Colts agreed to trade Elway to the Denver Broncos for offensive lineman Chris Hinton, backup quarterback Mark Herrmann and a first-round pick in 1984.

Elway would go on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and won two Super Bowls with the Broncos. His concerns about the Colts proved justified, as they moved to Indianapolis in 1984 and continued to struggle until the 1990s.

Bo Jackson 1986

One man who did play in both MLB and the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed out on one of the most dynamic athletes in American sports history despite selecting Jackson first overall.

Jackson refused to play for the Buccaneers as a visit to their facilities proved to be against NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) rules when Tampa Bay had insisted it was permitted.

As a result, Jackson missed the rest of his final college baseball season and elected to re-enter the draft the following year while spending 1986 playing for MLB's Kansas City Royals.

He was selected in the seventh round of the 1987 draft by the Oakland Raiders, whose owner Al Davis permitted him to play both sports.

The 1989 All-Star Game MVP, Jackson's achievements in baseball surpassed what he did on the football field, with a hip injury meaning he played only four seasons in the NFL.

Still, for the Bucs it was a case of what might have been.

Pierre van Hooijdonk 1998

Having returned from the World Cup to find promises of squad strengthening had not been met, Nottingham Forest striker Pierre van Hooijdonk asked for a transfer.

That request was rejected, leading Van Hooijdonk, furious at the sale of strike partner Kevin Campbell and adamant he had previously been told he could leave if he wished, went on strike, keeping fit by training with former club NAC Breda.

Forest refused to entertain offers for Van Hooijdonk, leading to an impasse that lasted until November, when he finally returned.

He scored six goals but was unable to keep Forest in the Premier League, as they finished bottom and made an immediate return to the second tier.

Their relegation led to Van Hooijdonk getting his wish in the form of a move to Vitesse, and spells with Benfica, Feyenoord and Fenerbahce followed.

After a gruelling 82-game regular season, April is usually an exciting time for NBA players and fans.

This time of year is typically headlined by playoff basketball, but the coronavirus pandemic has brought the NBA and sport to a standstill globally.

The NBA has been suspended since March 11 – halting the regular season and putting the playoffs on ice amid COVID-19 as the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers vie for supremacy.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

Having simulated the rest of the regular season to produce projected final standings, the goal was to see how the postseason would pan out too.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-court advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The winners receive a victory in the race for the Larry O'Brien Trophy – this was done for every game in the playoffs. So, here are the results…

 

BUCKS, LAKERS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND

Like last season, the Bucks earned the best regular-season record heading into the postseason. Milwaukee swept the Detroit Pistons in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2019 and the Bucks match that feat this year, albeit against the Orlando Magic. After one-point wins in the first two games, Milwaukee cruise into the Conference semi-finals – winning 112-106 and 113-93.

Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13, Western Conference pacesetters the Lakers blitz the Memphis Grizzlies 4-0 – highlighted by a 118-89 blowout in Game 2. The Los Angeles Clippers faded at the end of the regular season as they dropped down into the fourth seed, but the Lakers' neighbours prove too good for the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook had one foot in the second round but the Houston Rockets – who ended the regular season on a 15-3 run to claim the third seed – lose four straight games to the Utah Jazz in the west. Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks – back in the playoffs following a three-season absence – win three games in a row to take down the second-seeded Denver Nuggets 4-2.

For the second time in three years, the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat meet in the east's first round and the latter prevail 4-2 as Jimmy Butler has the last laugh against his former team. The Boston Celtics also see off the Indiana Pacers by the same scoreline.

No Kawhi Leonard, no worries for defending champions the Toronto Raptors, who only drop one game in a comprehensive 4-1 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

LEBRON MATCHES EARLIEST PLAYOFF EXIT

Hopes were high for LeBron James but the Lakers are upstaged by cross-town rivals the Clippers in six games. The Lakers level the series at 2-2 but the Clippers reel off back-to-back victories in a matchup where the margin does not drop below 10 points. It equals the earliest exit of James' playoff career, having reached the Finals in each of his past eight trips to the postseason.

Staying in the Western Conference and the Mavericks advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 – when they won the title – by rallying past the Utah Jazz. After dropping the first two games, Dallas win four on the bounce. The Mavericks' run, however, ends at the hands of the Clippers just shy of the NBA Finals, edged 4-3.

The Bucks fell short of a trip to the big dance last season, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee get the job done this time around by topping the Heat and Raptors in the east. A 130-96 Game 1 rout sets the tone for the Bucks, who beat Miami inside six games.

The Raptors are no match for the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing 4-1. Toronto's exit snaps a streak of four straight seasons in which the defending champions returned to the Finals the following year. The last team to win the title and then not reach the showpiece series the following season were the San Antonio Spurs, who claimed the championship in 2014.

 

CLIPPERS MAKE HISTORY BUT FALL TO BUCKS

It is a landmark moment for the Clippers, who feature in the NBA Finals for the first time in their history. In the four major US sports – NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL – the Clippers are the oldest franchise that have never progressed to the championship round, having played their first NBA game in 1970.

However, the Bucks spoil the party as they end the longest title drought in the NBA courtesy of a 4-2 triumph on the biggest stage. The Golden State Warriors held the record for the longest gap between championships – 40 years – but Milwaukee reign supreme for the first time since 1971, ending their 49-year wait.

Milwaukee and Los Angeles split the opening two games before the Bucks win two on the bounce to eventually claim a second NBA crown. Milwaukee's success also continues a common theme in the league, with five of the past eight champions having boasted the best regular-season record and won the title in the same year.

Utah Jazz star Mike Conley Jr. was crowned NBA Horse Challenge champion on Thursday.

The point guard beat the Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine H-O-R-S-E to H-O in the final, putting on a show with several incredible trick shots.

Conley had defeated Chauncey Billups in the semi-finals, while LaVine overcame WNBA star Allie Quigley.

The competition was held with the NBA season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Conley was averaging 13.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds for the Jazz when the season was stopped.

Rudy Gobert downplayed a reported rift with Utah Jazz team-mate Donovan Mitchell following the pair's coronavirus experience.

All-Star Jazz duo Gobert and Mitchell contracted COVID-19 last month, prompting the NBA to suspend the season on March 11, and both have since recovered.

Gobert's careless behaviour prior to testing positive for coronavirus reportedly angered guard Mitchell – the Jazz center apologising after mocking the measures in place to prevent the virus from spreading by jokingly touching reporters' microphones when leaving a news conference before the postponement in March.

Addressing rumours of friction with Mitchell, Gobert said via Instagram Live: "It's true that we didn't speak for a while after this, but we spoke a few days ago.

"We're both ready to go out there and try to win a championship for this team."

Gobert added: "It's not about being unprofessional. You know, everyone has got different relationships -- it's never perfect.

"People that are married, it's never perfect. So you know, me and my team-mates, it's far from perfect. But at the end of the day, we both want the same thing -- and it's winning.

"We're both grown men, and we both are going to do what it takes to win."

"There's no fight," Gobert continued. "It's all about thousands of people are dying every day, and it's all about what we can do to help, what we can do to bring some positive. That's what my focus is on now."

Now is typically the time when the grind of the NBA's regular season is winding down and 16 teams start to gear up for the playoffs.

However, the coronavirus pandemic brought the league to a halt in March, delaying the best period of the campaign considerably.

With every team having at least 15 games left to play, the postseason picture is far from being completed.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team in the Western Conference to have secured their place in the playoffs, where the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are also guaranteed to feature due to their performances in the East.

With only the Golden State Warriors out of contention, 25 teams still have a mathematical chance of keeping their seasons alive.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

The goal was to simulate how the regular season would pan out if all outstanding games were played now, producing the final standings in both conferences.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-field advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The victors get another win to their season total – this was done for every remaining game in the regular season. So, without further ado, let's find out the results...

 

NO BUCKING THE TREND

Unsurprisingly the Bucks hang on to the one seed in the Eastern Conference, with our model predicting they will go 13-4 in their remaining fixtures to finish with a 66-16 record.

Despite Milwaukee matching their best regular-season performance in history to book a first-round clash in the playoffs with the Orlando Magic, there was one hiccup for reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team-mates – a shock 111-110 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the only change to the top eight from the current standings, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Indiana Pacers to the five seed, meaning they draw the Miami Heat in the first round of the postseason for the second time in three years. The Pacers must take on the Celtics as a consequence.

The Brooklyn Nets (39-43) and Magic (38-44) advance despite having losing records – it is the first time since 1988 that more than one team under .500 made the playoffs. The Raptors await the Nets in the first round.

At the foot of the East is the Detroit Pistons, who closed out the season on a 4-12 run to finish with a 24-58 record.

In our simulation the Raptors claimed a 152-96 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Only 12 matches in NBA history have seen a bigger margin of victory.

CLIPPERS FADE, WARRIORS THE WORST

The Lakers hold off the competition to top the Western Conference and at 64-18 claim their best record since the Kobe Bryant era. Their reward is a first-round meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies.

For the Los Angeles Clippers it is a different story. They fall victim to strong finishes from the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets and slip to fourth, pitting Paul George - and Chris Paul - against his former team the Oklahoma City Thunder in round one.

The Nuggets take second and get the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs after losing just one of their final 17 games, while the Rockets go 15-3 to get the three seed. Awaiting Mike D'Antoni's team in the postseason is the Utah Jazz, who slipped to sixth after going 8-10 down the stretch.

The Grizzlies ensure New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson's first playoff appearance will have to wait until 2021 at the earliest, while the Portland Trail Blazers miss the postseason for the first time since 2013.

A 22-60 record means the Warriors finish the regular season with the worst record in the NBA.

 

GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR SUNS, WIZARDS

While the final standings were taken from the first simulation, the outcome of the regular season was simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in the playoffs.

The resulting data suggests the Grizzlies defied the odds by reaching the postseason, having only done so in 41.1 per cent of the simulations.

The Magic and Nets both had a success rate above 99 per cent, while the Washington Wizards (0.05 per cent) and the Phoenix Suns (0.04 per cent) are the biggest outsiders.

In addition to the Warriors, the model did not project the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, Hawks or Cavaliers making the postseason once.

A NEW DYNASTY?

The Stats Perform AI team also used the predicted final standings to simulate the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to find out which team received the first overall pick.

There was finally some good news for Warriors fans, with Golden State drawn first.

With Stephen Curry back from injury and Klay Thompson set to return next season, the No.1 pick would put Steve Kerr's team in a good position to challenge in the playoffs again.

The Hawks jump up to third in our simulation, while the Bulls have to settle for the seventh pick for the fourth consecutive year.

After taking Williamson first overall in 2019, the Pelicans get the final lottery selection here.

Full lottery results:

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Detroit Pistons
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
6. New York Knicks
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Charlotte Hornets
9. Phoenix Suns
10. San Antonio Spurs
11. Sacramento Kings
12. Washington Wizards
13. Portland Trail Blazers
14. New Orleans Pelicans

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