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How Carmelo Anthony, Nikola Jokic and other athletes changed their look during the coronavirus shutdown



Some professional athletes have become even more fit while staying home this spring and summer. What nerve.

The NBA returned on Thursday, the MLB last week — and, as sports slowly come back, our eyes are on these players’ new, post-lockdown looks:

Carmelo Anthony

The Portland Trail Blazers player is now dubbed “Skinny Melo” after arriving in Orlando looking noticeably slimmer. He had been starting at power forward for Portland, but with the return of big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, he’s preparing to return to small forward.

“For me, I had that in the back of my mind, once Coach told me the position, that I’d be switching back to the 3,” Anthony said. “I kind of challenged myself to get down to that weight where I feel comfortable with playing the 3, comfortable running around and utilizing things I can do within our system from playing the 3.

Marc Gasol

The veteran Raptors center focused on his fitness during the break in an effort to play to his full potential now that a nagging hamstring injury has finally healed.

“It was a frustrating season for me personally because I could never get a rhythm and help the team the way that I should be helping the team,” Gasol said earlier this month. “As soon as … we got informed the [Toronto training] facility was closing down, I got together with my team on a phone call and got going on a plan to resolve these ongoing issues.”

James Harden

Harden was already a scoring machine ahead of the NBA lockdown, and now the Houston Rockets star looks fitter than ever.

The 2018 NBA MVP told The Athletic in May: “I’ve been doing a lot of cardio. I’ve got treadmills in my houses, weights and all that good stuff. It really hasn’t affected me like it’s affected a lot of other players.”

Nikola Jokic

The first picture of the Denver Nuggets center since the break was shocking. Are we sure that is Nikola Jokic?!

“He sent me a picture. No shirt on. He’s got abs. I’ve never seen him have abs before,” Nuggets president Tim Connelly said recently. Are the Nuggets ready to make a run for the title in the bubble?

Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans rookie clearly put in work in the downtime. And we are ready to see the show.

“Zion has been diligent about taking care of himself,” David Griffin, the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations, told ESPN. “He’s in a good space physically and mentally.”

The MLB opened its season last week, and a handful of players have been showing off their new physiques as well:

Luke Voit

The New York Yankees first baseman said goodbye to 13 pounds thanks to cardio workouts and the healthy cooking of his wife, Tori.

Now that the regular season has begun, Yankees fans could celebrate that on Wednesday, Voit has been on their team for two years.

Aroldis Chapman

Like his teammate, Chapman — a closer for the Yankees — increased his fitness level during the shutdown.

“I definitely wanted to take advantage of that, actually wanted to cut some pounds during quarantine and being at home and training at home,” the 32-year-old said during a Zoom call with reporters in early July. “I was able to do that, I was able to cut some pounds, 10 pounds, and I feel really good right now. I find myself at a great weight for an athlete.”

If you followed his Instagram at all the past few months, it comes as no surprise how shredded he has become.

Bryce Harper

The Philadelphia Phillies star has always been muscular, but his ridiculous squat workout is putting the rest of the NL on notice.

The former MVP is jacked!

And to round out these new looks, we’ve also appreciated the new hairdos in soccer. Most important, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe revived her iconic pink locks:

While others were looking long — or buzzed:

May we never find the need to take the buzzers into our own hands again.

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NBA postpones sixth consecutive game for the Washington Wizards



The NBA said on Wednesday night that Friday’s game between the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks has been postponed because the league’s health and safety protocols.

It’s the sixth consecutive postponement for Washington.

“The game is being postponed due to the number of unavailable players for the Wizards, contact tracing for other players on their roster, and the length of time preceding the game during which the team was unable to practice,” the league’s statement said.

After a nine-day pause because of a coronavirus outbreak on the team, the Wizards were finally cleared to return to practice on Wednesday evening. But the team had only eight players available and basically did light shooting, according to coach Scott Brooks.

Before the NBA’s announcement, guard Bradley Beal said the Wizards were “fighting the league” on playing Friday in Milwaukee because they had only eight players available and six sidelined by the NBA’s health and safety protocol.

“We weren’t able to get into a gym for a week,” said Beal, whose team hasn’t played since Jan. 11 against the Phoenix Suns. “That alters guys’ rhythm, shape — that is just like a recipe for injury honestly. I think we are fighting the league on it.”

With a lack of healthy bodies and little conditioning, Beal said that he and Russell Westbrook planned to talk to Michele Roberts, the National Basketball Players Association executive director, about the Wizards’ options to stay safe.

ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving starts on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers



CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving returned after a two-week hiatus on Wednesday and started for the first time alongside Brooklyn Nets stars Kevin Durant and James Harden against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Before the game, coach Steve Nash declined to say how many minutes he was targeting for Irving to play, but said that he will have a “mindfulness approach” to Irving’s playing time.

“Let’s hope we have a game that can protect him and not overdo it,” Nash said. “But whenever I say that it always works in reverse. We hope he doesn’t have to play 40 minutes tonight and I’ll leave it at that.”

Nash said that he was “curious” to see how the game would unfold with Irving, Durant and Harden on the floor together for the first time.

“I’m not in a rush,” Nash said. “Like, if tonight it doesn’t feel good or feel right I’m not like, ‘Oh no.’ I’m just like, ‘OK good, we got one down and we’ll take a look at it and we’ll keep working at it.'”

Irving practiced with the team on Tuesday. He had missed the Nets’ past seven games — five for personal reasons and two while conditioning.

During the time away for personal reasons, the league fined Irving for violating health and safety protocols and attending what appeared to be a family birthday party. He also lost over $800,000 in salary for the two games he missed while in quarantine.

Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists in seven games this season.

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Killian Hayes out at least 8 more weeks for Detroit Pistons



The Detroit Pistons say rookie guard Killian Hayes will be out at least another eight weeks because of a right hip injury.

According to the team, Hayes had further evaluation of the injury, which indicated the origin was a subluxation — a partial dislocation — that will require rest and rehab.

The 6-foot-5 rookie suffered the injury during a loss earlier this month to the Milwaukee Bucks. An MRI at the time showed a torn labrum in his right hip, and the Pistons did not provide a timetable for his return upon the initial diagnosis.

Hayes, 19, was drafted seventh overall by the Pistons last year and had started all seven games this season before the injury, despite averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 assists on 27.7% shooting.

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