Brooklyn Nets superstar and top seed Kevin Durant was upset in the opening round of the NBA 2K20 tournament on Friday.

With the NBA postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a charity tournament has been put together to raise money in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament will receive $100,000 to give to charity, but Durant was a high-profile casualty on the opening day.

In the first matchup, two-time NBA champion Durant used the Los Angeles Clippers but lost to 16th seed and Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones' Milwaukee Bucks topped Durant's Clippers 78-62 to advance to the quarter-finals.

The tournament, aired on ESPN, will run through to April 11.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant will lead a field of 16 in an NBA 2K20 charity tournament to raise money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With the NBA postponed due to COVID-19, players have time on their hands, so a select group will go head-to-head in the virtual world, starting Friday on ESPN.

The winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament, which runs through to April 11, will receive $100,000 to give to a charity in support of the coronavirus relief efforts.

Durant is the top seed, ahead of Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Hassan Whiteside (Portland Trail Blazers), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards), Patrick Beverley (Los Angeles Clippers), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings) and Derrick Jones Jr. (Miami Heat).

"We're thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times," said Jason Argent, 2K senior vice-president, sports strategy and licensing.

"Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together – including athletes, fans and families – and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament."

"We are excited to tip off the first 'NBA 2K Players Tournament' in partnership with the NBPA and 2K, continuing an ongoing effort to stay connected with NBA fans around the world, while also giving back in this time of need," said Matt Holt, NBA SVP of global partnerships.

Players' seeding is based on their NBA 2K rating, with two-time champion Durant 96 overall in the video game.

Durant, who contracted COVID-19 and has been recovering from an Achilles injury, will open the tournament against Jones on Friday.

The Brooklyn Nets defended testing players for coronavirus following backlash, while United States president Donald Trump addressed concerns that professional athletes and well-connected people are receiving priority amid the pandemic.

NBA franchise the Nets were heavily criticised on Tuesday after announcing four players – including injured superstar Kevin Durant – contracted COVID-19.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio took aim at the Nets, insisting "tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick" as the world struggles to contain the virus, which has claimed more than 8,900 lives globally.

The Nets responded to the criticism on Wednesday, with their statement reading: "As we learned NBA players on other teams had tested positive for COVID-19, we noticed that several of our players and staff had symptoms.

"Based on this information, and the judgment that all of our players are subject to high exposure due to the close physical nature of basketball, the communal nature of teams and the possibility of an accelerated spread from team to team, our medical experts advised that our players get tested.

"We sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to CDC's public resources. Using the test results, we were able to take immediate precautions and strictly isolate the players who tested positive.

"If we had waited for players to exhibit symptoms, they might have continued to pose a risk to their family, friends and the public. Our hope is that by drawing attention to the critical need for testing asymptomatic positive carriers, we can begin to contain the spread and save lives. We believe it is not only the right thing to do for our players and their families, it is the responsible thing to do from a medical and epidemiological standpoint."

US leader Trump was also asked about the issue during his news conference midweek.

Quizzed on whether "the well-connected go to the front of the line" for coronavirus testing, Trump replied: "No, I wouldn't say so. But perhaps that's the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I've noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly."

The NBA has been on hiatus since Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19.

The Jazz were scheduled to face the Oklahoma City Thunder before it was postponed on March 11, prompting the suspension of the league.

Oklahoma City, on Wednesday, announced that all players and staffers returned negative results for COVID-19.

"Recognising the stress on the state of Oklahoma's medical system, the Thunder did not use state resources and chose an alternative path for testing of its personnel," the Thunder said in a statement.

Bill de Blasio said "tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick" as the New York City mayor criticised the Brooklyn Nets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

De Blasio took to social media after the Nets announced four players tested positive for COVID-19, including injured superstar Kevin Durant.

Durant's positive test comes after Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell contracted the virus, which continues to disrupt sport around the globe, with the NBA on hiatus.

De Blasio questioned the Nets as the world struggles to contain coronavirus, with at least 7,900 deaths.

"We wish them [Nets] a speedy recovery," De Blasio wrote in a tweet.

"But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.

"Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."

In response to testing criticism, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN: "Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players' direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus.

"Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive.

"Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly."

Kevin Durant has confirmed he is one of the Brooklyn Nets players to have tested positive for coronavirus.

On Tuesday the Nets said four unnamed players had COVID-19 and one was displaying symptoms.

Ten-time NBA All-Star Durant confirmed he had the virus, telling The Athletic's Shams Charania: "Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We're going to get through this."

The 31-year-old is yet to play for the Nets since joining ahead of this season because of an Achilles injury he sustained in last year's NBA Finals when he was with the Golden State Warriors.

Durant won two NBA titles with the Warriors, has been named Finals MVP twice and was the league's MVP in 2014.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he only wants a fit and healthy Kevin Durant for the United States at the Olympic Games.

Durant swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, but the 31-year-old superstar is yet to play this season as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury.

He tore his Achilles tendon against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals in June, but his business partner Rich Kleiman said playing at Tokyo 2020 was "definitely a possibility".

However, USA coach Popovich insisted he does not want two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Durant to rush his comeback just for the Olympics.

"My feeling on that is that I would want Kevin to be absolutely ready to go, working out, playing five-on-five, that his organisation and he both feel like it's time to play," Popovich said.

"I wouldn't want to be any part of him being 60 per cent or 70 per cent and just starting to get in shape because of the Olympics. The Olympics are important, it's huge, but he's got a career to take care of here with the Nets.

"I would rather have him do that if he's not totally ready to play this summer."

The men's basketball at the Olympics gets underway on July 25 in Tokyo.

USA head to Japan as defending champions, having won gold at the past three Olympics.

LeBron James says there are multiple factors that will determine whether he ends up playing at the Olympic Games this year.

The Los Angeles Lakers star is one of 44 finalists for a place in the United States men's basketball team and he acknowledged his "name is in the hat".

By early June, that group will be cut down to a final 12 to play at the Olympics in Tokyo and, should he feature, James will join Carmelo Anthony as the second player to represent Team USA at four separate Games.

The 12-team basketball event will run from July 25 until August 9 and James is unsure over his participation at this stage of the NBA season.

But he was thrilled to see five Lakers players make the initial group, with Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee also included.

"Spectacular, it's amazing," said the 35-year-old. 

"We're very well represented with the Lake Show representing the red, white and blue. So it's a pretty cool thing."

On his participation, James added: "It's always predicated on: one, my body, how my body is feeling at the end of the season – I hope to make a long playoff run.

"And then where my mind is and then where my family's head is. So it's a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat."

James was speaking after the Lakers cruised to a 125-100 home win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday, a fourth win from five games moving them to 40-12 for the season.

Davis had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo impressed from the bench with 23 points as Howard added 14 points and 15 rebounds.

James, meanwhile, narrowly missed a triple-double with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Lakers reached 40 wins before the All-Star break for the first time in nine years.

"It was a great game for our bench," said James.

"Rajon had great pace all night and he was taking all the looks he was getting. Dwight controlled the glass."

Suns coach Monty Williams added: "We dared Rondo to shoot from the perimeter and he made us pay."

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were among the 44 finalists for a place in the United States men's basketball team for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Three-time Olympic medallist James and nine of the players from the successful 2016 campaign in Rio were included on the list announced by USA Basketball on Monday.

Should the Los Angeles Lakers star make the final 12-man roster, he will join Carmelo Anthony as the second player to represent Team USA at four separate Games.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson won gold in Brazil four years ago and have made the cut despite being yet to play a minute in the NBA this season due to respective Achilles and knee injuries.

Curry was named despite being sidelined since October with a broken left hand.

All 12 members of the USA's 2019 FIBA World Cup team remain in the running, with 21 NBA franchises represented in the 44-man list.

Head coach Gregg Popovich said: "I'm looking forward to coaching the U.S. Olympic Team, and I'm excited about the potential and possibilities this team has.

"Anyone who follows international basketball knows there are many really good players from all around the world, and therefore there are many excellent national teams.

"International basketball has improved so much from the days of the 'Dream Team'. The Olympics in 2020 will be a true competition, and there are many teams that will have a legitimate shot at capturing gold."

 

Finalists for the USA's Tokyo 2020 team:

Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Mike Conley (Utah Jazz), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs), Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets), Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers), Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics), Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers), Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).

Kevin Durant feels nothing will ever be big enough to honour Kobe Bryant and his impact on basketball and the wider world.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant was killed, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. 

Tributes have poured in for the five-time NBA champion, who won the league MVP in 2008 and was named Finals MVP on two occasions in a glittering career that featured 18 All-Star berths.

NBA teams across the league have taken eight and 24-second violations – Bryant wore each of those numbers during his career – as a mark of respect. 

In Minnesota's game with the Sacramento Kings on Monday, Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins placed the ball at the spot in the Target Center where Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list.

However, Brooklyn Nets forward Durant, MVP in 2014 with the Oklahoma City Thunder and a two-time Finals MVP with the Golden State Warriors, is unsure any gesture can do justice to Bryant.

He told reporters: "It's so hard to say right now [how to honour Bryant]. Just every basketball player go out and play as hard as they can to honour Kobe, I think that'd do.

"I tried to think about what I would say, what I would write, nothing was big enough and that's what I feel about everything when it comes to Kobe Bryant, his mark he left on the Earth.

"It feels like nothing will ever be big enough to truly honour Kobe Bryant but how we approach every day life, me as a disciple of Kobe who study him, learn from him, I think it's my justice to go out there and try to be the best I can be every single day, not just in basketball, in everything.

"I feel like everyone who loved Kobe is going to take that approach in their lives."

Durant's team-mate Spencer Dinwiddie and the Orlando Magic's Terrence Ross elected to stop wearing the number eight as a mark of respect for Bryant.

The Dallas Mavericks announced on Sunday that they will retire the number 24 jersey in Bryant's honour.

Kevin Durant has admitted his heated exchange with Draymond Green last season was part of the reason he left the Golden State Warriors in free agency.

A verbal altercation broke out between the pair during a game last November when Green grabbed a rebound against the Los Angeles Clippers and did not pass to Durant, who was open.

The incident carried over into the locker room, with Green subsequently suspended by the Warriors for one game without pay for conduct "detrimental to the team".

After losing the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors, Durant left at the end of his contract and signed for the Brooklyn Nets, although he is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season through injury.

Pressed on the exchange with Green and whether it played into his thinking when deciding his future, Durant told ESPN: "A little bit. Yeah, for sure.

"I mean, if your team-mate talks to you that way, you think about it a bit. We talked about it, but definitely. For sure. I'm not going to lie about it.

"I just felt like I needed a switch. I felt like a lot of stuff in Golden State had reared its head and I felt like it was going to be the end, no matter what - especially for that group.

"Shaun Livingston was retiring, Andre Iguodalo was getting older, our contracts were going to stifle the team and put us in a hole to get other players. It was time for all of us to separate."

Green took blame for the incident last week, acknowledging he was "wrong" and revealing he had to work to rebuild Durant's trust.

"Once I was able to get over my stubbornness and accept the fact that I was wrong, I was able to move on," Green told ESPN. "I lost [Durant's] trust. How do I get that back?

"[It was] not so we can win a championship or we can win some games but [because] I actually loved this guy - like that's really my brother. And so not knowing what's next in our relationship bothered me more."

NBA superstar Kevin Durant confessed he would be interested in finishing his career with Barcelona.

Ten-time All-Star Durant won two NBA championships as part of a dominant Golden State Warriors side, while he was named MVP in 2014 after averaging 32 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 31-year-old, who also has two Olympic gold medals to his name, will hope to add further honours when he returns from an Achilles rupture and to team up with Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, who he joined in free agency on a reported four-year, $164million deal.

When Durant is finally ready to start winding down, though, he likes the idea of challenging himself in Europe.

"I really want to play overseas my last year. At Barcelona. I would [like to], one of these days," Durant told Serge Ibaka on 'How Hungry Are You?'.

"That's the second-best league in the world and EuroLeague games look fun. But that's just me in the house, on the couch, watching TV, dreaming.

"I don't know for a fact if I'll do it, but it would be cool to experience it."

Footage of Durant making the comments published on Twitter unsurprisingly drew interactions from Barcelona's official account and those belonging to Alex Abrines and Nikola Mirotic.

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