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Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns says mom in coma with coronavirus

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Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said Saturday night that his mother has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

In an emotional Instagram video, Towns spoke about his mother’s condition, revealing she is in a coma and connected to a ventilator.

He urged the public to practice social-distancing and treat the pandemic seriously. Towns said he wanted to make the video to let people know that “the severity of this disease is real.”

“We can beat this, but this is serious and we need to take every precaution,” Towns wrote in the caption to the video. “Sharing my story in the hopes that everyone stays at home! We need more equipment and we need to help those medical personnel on the front lines. Thank you to the medical staff who are helping my mom. You are all the true heroes! Praying for all of us at this difficult time.”



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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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How NBA players are parenting through the coronavirus shutdown

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Al Horford never expected to become a live-in physical education teacher for his three children — especially for the oldest, Ean, his 5-year-old son. But when the COVID-19 hiatus and accompanying self-quarantining hit the United States, the Horfords found themselves together in an apartment in the Philadelphia area without a yard.

There are parks nearby, but on rainy and cold days, the Horfords invent ways to keep Ean and his 3-year-old sister, Alía, active and engaged. Horford has become a master designer of indoor obstacle courses, and he times both Ean and Alía. “They get really into it,” Horford said. “Ean loves trying to break his own records.”

The family couch breaks apart, and Horford sometimes uses the pieces as obstacles to run around. Some courses include stations for 20- or 30-piece puzzles. Others are almost household versions of the NBA’s Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend. Ean will have to score a soccer goal before advancing, pick up toys stationed around the apartment and drop them into buckets elsewhere, or even execute a few pushups.

“We are getting pretty creative,” Horford said, laughing.

Kids in Ean’s age range — between 4 and 6 or 7 — represent a unique parenting challenge during self-quarantine. They are old enough to understand something is wrong — that their lives have been disrupted — but not the level of seriousness, or how long the disruption might last. At the same time, many of them are not old enough to have intensive school assignments to routinize long portions of their days — or to play immersive video games that knock hours off the schedule.

In normal times, NBA players and coaches travel more than almost anyone. They keep strange hours. They are not used to full-time, heavy-lifting parenting outside the offseason — let alone parenting kids in this age range during a period of strict isolation.

“You gain a whole new respect for stay-at-home moms, nannies and teachers,” said Gordon Hayward. Hayward and his wife, Robyn, have three daughters, including Bernie, who is 4.

“It’s like every five minutes, I’m trying to think of something for them to do,” said Rudy Gay, who has two sons — Clinton, 5, and 4-year-old Dean. Gay got excited when they found a box turtle — they quickly named it Squirtle — in the backyard on Wednesday, thinking it might hold their interest for hours. “It was cool for three minutes,” Gay said. “Then they wanted something else.”

Players and coaches say they have tried to be honest with kids around that age about the virus, without frightening them. “We tell them there are a lot of people who are sick, and that we can help them by staying home,” said Kyle Korver, who has three kids — including his son Knox, who is 5. Gay uses the word “germs” instead of “virus,” he said.

As the Horfords gathered to watch a movie during the first week of self-quarantine, Ean suddenly blurted out, “‘The reason we can’t go anywhere is because of the coronavirus,”’ Horford said. “I was surprised. When you think they aren’t listening, they are. So we talked about it. I didn’t want to freak him out or make him anxious.”

Thaddeus Young‘s 6-year-old son, Taylor, is a question machine, Young said: “It’s all day, every day: ‘How long do we have to stay at home? Why this? Why that? What is the coronavirus?'”

Kids ask often about school, or when they can see friends. “That’s the hard part,” said Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who has three kids, including his 6-year-old son, Blade, the youngest. “That’s what [Blade] doesn’t really understand: ‘My friends are healthy. I’m healthy. Why can’t we play? Why can’t they come over?'”

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