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Chinese Basketball Association delays restart from coronavirus

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The Chinese Basketball Association, seen by many sports leagues as a trial balloon for recovery from the coronavirus crisis, has delayed it’s restart, according to multiple reports and confirmed by ESPN.

The league had hoped to begin April 15, after about 11 weeks of being shutdown, but now won’t attempt resuming until May after failing to get government approval according to reports from China.

The delay of the Olympics contributed to the decision but Chinese officials were also affected by seeing re-starts abandoned basketball leagues in Japan and South Korea over continued concern about the virus in recent days, sources told ESPN.

There hadn’t been any formal announcement by the league but foreign players had been called back and games had been scheduled to be played without fans in attendance.

More than 20 Americans including Jeremy Lin and Lance Stephenson had traveled to China and entered a two-week quarantine to prepare to play. Some had gotten stuck at airports for hours upon arrival in the country as they went through a long process to be admitted. Now those players are stuck in limbo.

Several of them are angry and concerned about having to stay in China until July or August to finish the season, which typically ends in March, and being paid for the extra time sources told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

The NBA is hoping to re-start at some point this spring. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Dallas television station WFAA Tuesday that he hoped the league could re-start by mid-May after roughly a two-month hiatus.

The CBA is how looking at a four-month delay.

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Lakers’ Frank Vogel says no one on coaching staff tested for coronavirus

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Although the Los Angeles Lakers revealed this week that all of their players, including the two who previously tested positive for COVID-19, were symptom free following a two-week self-isolating period, head coach Frank Vogel admitted he has no way to be sure whether he or any of his coaching staff ever had the coronavirus as well.

“To my knowledge, the rest of the staff was not tested,” Vogel said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “The only people that were tested upon the news of the Brooklyn Nets’ positive test results were our players. That was from hair following the lead of our team doctor and the local health officials.”

Four Brooklyn Nets players, including Kevin Durant, tested positive for the virus, prompting the Lakers to quickly arrange for their players to receive testing. L.A.’s last game before the NBA’s hiatus was against Brooklyn at Staples Center on March 10.

Vogel, who is spending the layoff at home with his wife and two daughters, said he has been asked by loved ones about seeking out a test for himself, considering the close proximity a coach finds himself in with his players in huddles and the locker room, but he said he chose to follow the instructions he was given.

“It’s just, we were not told to be tested,” Vogel said. “And obviously everybody recognized the shortage of tests and we were only going to do what the local health department told us to do. So, we weren’t asked to be tested at that point.

“I reassured my family that I was in good health and obviously, while I had been around those guys, there had been some social distancing guidelines in place, so I felt fine and I also felt confident that a test wasn’t needed for me personally. But I think everybody is in a case-by-case basis with that.”

Beyond opting not to find a test for himself, Vogel told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that he isn’t even trying to find out who on his team tested positive.

“I don’t even know who are they,” he told MacMullan, “and I’m totally fine with that.”

Vogel is also taking the approach of controlling what he can off the court. He wakes up every morning to work out with his wife; he checks in on his daughters’ school work and respective lacrosse and soccer drills; the family whipped up homemade pizza and binge watched “Stranger Things” and “All American” on Netflix and took in movies such as “Just Mercy” and “Good Will Hunting.”

“Just trying time have as much fun as we can and enjoy the silver lining in this, which is the family time,” Vogel said.

Still, for the coach who saw his first season with the Lakers abruptly come to a halt after guiding them to the No. 1 record in the Western Conference at 49-14, the idea of losing the rest of the season because of a global pandemic is jarring.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “That certainly is a possibility and it would be a huge disappointment if we aren’t able to play. However, we get it, and this is bigger than basketball. And us getting back on the court is not the most important thing for the world right now.

“Hopefully we have that chance, and if we’re not able to, it would be a big disappointment, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

In the meantime, he says he is treating this time period like the offseason, knowing that if the league is able to resume the 2019-20 season at some point, his team will need energy to regenerate the success it had prior to the suspension.

“We’re going to have to recreate it,” Vogel said. “And I think it’s going to be difficult to just say, ‘Hey, maintain, maintain, maintain (during the break) and we just got to pick up right where we left off.’ We have to re-establish our chemistry, re-establish our work ethic, re-establish our conditioning and rhythm and timing.

“But every team in the league is going to have to do that.”

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Australia’s NBL might be the gateway to NBA ownership

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Dec. 26, 2019. On April 2, NBA prospect LaMelo Ball and his manager purchased the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian NBL.

IN SEPTEMBER, THE team owners of the National Basketball League gathered on a three-story, 37-meter yacht named “Vegas” for their annual excursion off the coast of Australia. Vegas belongs to Larry Kestelman, the Melbourne entrepreneur widely regarded as the individual most responsible for resuscitating professional basketball in Australia and New Zealand.

Three years after purchasing the Melbourne Tigers in 2012, Kestelman bought a majority stake in the NBL and began pouring tens of millions of dollars into rebuilding a league that had fallen into disrepair. He is the NBL’s uber-authority, which means that when a team owner wants to air a grievance, it gets fired in his direction.

As the owners downed their pre-dinner drinks while gliding atop the turquoise waters between Hamilton Island and Queensland, the conversation grew more spirited.

One owner wanted to know when the NBL would start seeing more substantial broadcast revenue. Another pushed back on Kestelman’s insistence that the teams were in a phase where financial investment was vital.

A couple of drinks in, Kestelman had heard enough. A virile, imposing man of 53 with a shaved head, Kestelman put the attendees on notice:

“If you’re selling, I’m buying,” Kestelman told them.

Kestelman challenged any owner on the yacht who had buyer’s remorse or an irreconcilable issue with his vision: I’ll cash you out. And when the team appreciates, I’ll gladly profit.

No one took Kestelman’s offer that day — it was largely rhetorical anyway. Instead, this new wave of owners made deep investments in infrastructure and marketing, steadily building the NBL’s global audience. They’re attracting some of the best basketball prospects in the world onto their courts, while also enticing NBA stars past and present to buy in.

In past years, retired NBA players who generated wealth might have joined an ownership bid for a domestic franchise. These days, that money doesn’t go as far.

“You have to be a billionaire to own an NBA team,” said Kevin Martin, who retired in 2016 after playing 12 seasons and earning $83 million in salary with five NBA teams. “And none of us are billionaires.”


THE NBL IS enjoying a moment.

The league set an average attendance record last season of 6,348 and is up another 9% this season. Franchises that couldn’t find buyers less than a decade ago now trade at a valuation of $9 million. More Aussies than ever play NCAA basketball, with many returning to compete in their home league.

“It’s a must-see league with talent that isn’t going away,” said Tony Ronzone, a veteran international scout now with the Dallas Mavericks.

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Players who made the most successful jumps from high school to the NBA

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Between 1995 and 2005, these nine future NBA All-Stars (including two future Hall of Famers) decided to skip college and head directly to the league.

Kevin Garnett

Kobe Bryant

Jermaine O’Neal

Tracy McGrady

Amar’e Stoudemire

Andrew Bynum

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