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ESPN’s Doris Burke symptom free after positive COVID-19 test

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ESPN NBA analyst Doris Burke has received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 but says she is symptom-free more than two weeks after her initial concerns of an illness.

Burke addressed her diagnosis with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday’s episode of The Woj Pod. She told Wojnarowski she was tested March 17 but did not find out until eight days later, on Wednesday, that she had a positive diagnosis.

The delay gave Burke time to process that she could be positive for the virus, she said.

“I started to believe, even though my symptoms did not seem to line up with the typical symptoms, I believed, given the nature of my profession, the number of people I encounter, that I did in fact have exposure to the virus,” Burke said.

Burke said she felt her first symptom March 11 — the same day the NBA shut down play after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Burke was working the Denver NuggetsDallas Mavericks game for ESPN, and she said she noticed feeling tired during lunch with her broadcast crew.

“Man, I am so tired right now and my head is pounding,” Burke recalled thinking. “And looking back, those were my symptoms. And we’ve heard so much about shortness of breath, fever, tightness in your chest, chills, body aches, etc. … That really was my primary symptom throughout this was this extraordinary fatigue.”

She told Wojnarowski the fatigue was so bad that she could not be out of bed for more than five minutes from March 14 to 17.

Burke acknowledged feeling a moral dilemma about being tested amid a shortage of tests in the United States, but she wanted to know if she could be exposing others in her family, particularly her daughter and her daughter’s fiance. She also said she tried to reach out to people she had been in contact with to let them know she wasn’t feeling well.

She said she is now symptom-free, telling Wojnarowski, “I’m so incredibly thankful to be feeling well.” She said she continues to keep a safe distance from others but is glad to no longer be spending all her time limited to her bedroom.

Burke has covered basketball for ESPN since 1991. She was named a full-time NBA game analyst before the 2017-18 season, becoming the first woman to hold that role, and received the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

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Sources — NBA Board of Governors expected to approve Adam Silver’s restart plan Thursday

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The NBA is planning a Thursday vote of the league’s Board of Governors — with owners expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver’s recommendation on a format to restart the season in Orlando, Florida, sources tell ESPN.

The NBA has been examining several plans on a return-to-play, but numerous members of the Board of Governors tell ESPN that there’s growing support for a plan to bring 22 teams to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in July.

This format would likely include regular-season and play-in games to compete for playoff berths in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, sources said.

The NBA needs a three-fourths majority of owners to approve a return-to-play plan and an overwhelming majority of owners expressed a desire to do precisely that on both a Board of Governors call on Friday and later in interviews with ESPN.

“We are lining up behind him on this,” one owner told ESPN on Friday. “The posturing will end. Nothing is going to be perfect for everyone.”

The NBA has yet to endorse a plan, and only one of the four ideas presented on Friday’s Board of Governors call is no longer believed to be a legitimate consideration — bringing back all 30 teams, sources said.

The 22-team plan would include teams that are currently within six games of the final playoff spots in each conference, sources said.

New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio would land in Orlando under those guidelines, with Washington joining as the only team within six games of the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference.

A proposal for 20 teams remains alive, and that would include only New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento in that format, sources said.

Discussions have centered on these formats including several regular-season games and a play-in tournament to decide the playoff participants.

Regardless of how many teams are ultimately included in the playoffs, the NBPA has consistently stressed that it wants several regular-season games played prior to the start of the playoffs, sources said. That has been a prevailing sentiment among several contending teams who prefer a tune-up before entering into the postseason, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA are also mindful of generating revenue on the resumption of a season, and regular season and play-in games at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports will generate increased money — as opposed to only restarting the season with the playoffs. ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe contributed to this story.

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Massachusetts pro teams can reopen practice facilities, governor says

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says the state’s five professional sports teams — the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, New England Patriots and New England Revolution — can resume practicing at their respective facilities on June 6.

But Baker made clear the reopening of those facilities must be done in accordance with the health and safety rules that each of the leagues are developing.

The Celtics announced they will begin voluntary individual workouts at their facility on Monday. Workouts will be conducted in accordance with city, state, CDC and NBA requirements, with only four players allowed to workout at a time.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday following an owners conference call the virtual offseason is being extended for two more weeks. In a memo sent to the 32 teams and obtained by The Associated Press, he outlined the next phase of reopening of club facilities, which can begin Monday.

NBA teams have allowed players back at their training facilities for voluntary sessions since May 8, with more than half of the league’s franchises having already taken advantage of that opportunity.

The NHL, which is ironing out details to resume its season by jumping straight to a 24-team playoff format, released a memo this week saying it is targeting early next month as the start date for Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol. It includes the opening of practice rinks and allowing small, voluntary group workouts on and off the ice.

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Majority of NBA GMs vote to restart season by going straight to playoffs

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As the NBA’s board of governors met Friday afternoon to assess options for how to restart the season, the league’s general managers have expressed their preference to go straight to the playoffs.

In a survey of all 30 general managers, which was viewed by ESPN, 16 said they would prefer the league come back with just the typical 16 playoff teams, with the teams and seedings based on the standings when the season was suspended March 12.

That was one of four potential return-to-play options presented, and it earned more votes than the other three options combined:

• Resume the regular season with all 30 teams followed by a play-in tournament (8 votes);

• Go straight to the playoffs with either a play-in tournament or a World Cup-style group stage (5 votes);

• Resume the regular season with all 30 teams and then go straight to the playoffs (1 vote).

This was one of more than 10 questions on the survey, which covered a variety of topics, ranging from roster sizes to how long the season should last. But, not surprisingly, most of the questions centered on what the league’s return to play should look like and how it should be formatted.

In addition to preferring a return with just playoff teams, there also was a slight preference to keep the traditional playoff format, which received 16 votes. An option to reseed the 16 playoff teams regardless of conferences received 14 votes.

There were also several questions about what a potential “playoff-plus” model might look like, in terms of how many teams would be involved and how it would be formatted. A play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth spots in each conference — with the top six advancing directly to the playoffs — received the most votes with 13. A play-in tournament for the eighth spot in each conference received nine votes, while a group stage format got eight votes.

When asked how many teams should participate in one of these expanded playoff formats, there were 15 votes for 20 teams, while seven voted for 24, five for 18 and three for 22.

One thing that achieved widespread consensus was the need for teams to have more flexibility with their rosters no matter how the league chooses to resume play. When asked if the playoffs should have expanded rosters or teams should have more of an ability to replace players sidelined by injury or illness, only two teams voted for neither option. Twelve voted for expanded rosters, and 16 voted for an increased ability to replace players who are injured or sick.

Meanwhile, when asked on a 1-5 scale for what extent they would support increasing the number of inactive roster spots available to teams, 13 voted for “5” (strongly support), while eight others voted for either 3 or 4.

There also was a strong preference to add two-way players to playoff rosters — something that previously wasn’t the case. Only three teams said they would vote against adding two-way players to playoff rosters, while 19 said they would support it if rosters remain the same size. The eight other teams said they would support adding two-way players even if rosters expanded beyond 15.

In addition, 16 teams said they preferred that the league add two roster spots for the playoffs, while nine voted for one extra spot and five voted for three.

Among questions regarding a return of all 30 teams and a resumption of the regular season, 18 of the 30 teams voted for getting all teams to 72 games — meaning all 30 teams would play 5-9 more games. Twelve teams voted for getting all teams to 76, which would require teams to play 9-13 games.

Those votes fell in line with a question asking what the minimum number of regular-season games needed for a return to play was, with 12 teams voting for five and nine voting for 10 or more.

The question that saw the most divided responses was one about when the season should end. Presented with five options — Labor Day, Sept. 15, Oct. 1, Oct. 15, and Nov. 1 — none received 10 votes. Oct. 1 led the way with nine votes, followed by Sept. 15 (seven), Nov. 1 (six), Oct. 15 (five) and Labor Day (three).

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