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Michael Jordan’s race team unveils Bubba Wallace’s new ride



On Friday morning, the 23XI Racing team unveiled the long-anticipated news of its manufacturer and technical partner, Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing.

But what stole the show was when driver Bubba Wallace and team co-owner Denny Hamlin unveiled their race car, bearing the number and colors made famous by Hamlin’s ownership partner, Michael Jordan.

The Chicago Bulls-esque red, white and black Toyota Camry featured Jordan’s No. 23 on the doors and the 23XI Racing team logo on the hood and quarter panels, hopefully to be replaced by sponsorship before the team makes its NASCAR Cup Series debut in less than four months at 2021 Daytona Speedweeks.

Lost in the excitement of seeing Michael Jordan’s car with Michael Jordan’s number was the real story, a technical alliance that gives MJ’s team — and its driver — a chance to compete.

Joe Gibbs Racing is the flagship organization of Toyota Racing Development and the team Hamlin has driven for throughout his 16-plus-year Cup Series career. The TRD relationship includes an agreement with JGR that allows 23XI Racing to purchase equipment and share technical information.

“My main goal for 23XI Racing is to be competitive for a championship as soon as possible,” Jordan said in a statement. “Our partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing gives us the equipment, resources and expertise to do it.”

“There’s no doubt that Bubba has outperformed the equipment he’s had, week in and week out,” Hamlin said on “CBS This Morning,” sitting alongside his driver — with both sporting Air Jordan sneakers — as he spoke of Wallace’s four seasons in the Chevys of Richard Petty Motorsports.

Then, referring to Wallace’s 2013-14 seasons in the Truck series driving for Kyle Busch, Hamlin added, “This is a great opportunity for him to return to the Toyota family, a family he was with early in his career, and it’s an exciting partnership for everyone.”

Added Wallace: “I’m still processing it every day. … I’ve just got to make sure I do my part and deliver each and every time out next year.”

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NBA says Kobe Bryant’s delayed Hall of Fame induction coming in May 2021



SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will finally enter the Basketball Hall of Fame in May 2021.

The NBA said Saturday that the delayed Hall of Fame weekend — it was to have taken place in Springfield, Massachusetts, in August before being pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic — will be held May 13-15.

Bryant, Duncan and Garnett — with a combined 48 All-Star Game selections and 11 NBA championships between them — were the headliners of the class that was announced in April. They all got into the Hall in their first year as finalists, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings.

Others had to wait a bit longer for the Hall’s call: Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich got in this year, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.

Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, along with daughter Gianna and seven others. Sutton died May 23.

Also going in as part of this class is former FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann, who was chosen by the international committee. Baumann died in October 2018.

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NBA outlines COVID-19 safety protocols in 134-page guide



Ahead of training camps opening up across the NBA next week, the league has compiled a comprehensive health and safety protocol for the 2020-21 NBA season and sent it to its teams.

The document, which was obtained by ESPN, is 134 pages long, and is similar to the one the league created to govern everything that happened inside the bubble it created at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, this summer.

This time, however, the league will be attempting to combat the coronavirus without the benefit of being inside a bubble where it was able to be successfully sealed away from the outside world.

And, like in that document, the league has constructed a rules system for what will happen when someone tests positive for COVID-19. Under such a scenario, there are two potential paths to return: a “time-based” resolution, and a “test-based” resolution.

Under the time-based resolution, the infected person would have to either have gone at least 10 days since the date of their first positive test or the onset of any symptoms, if they’ve had any; gone at least 24 hours since their fever went away without using any medications; and other symptoms have improved, while specifically noting that losses of taste or smell alone are not expected to prevent someone from leaving isolation.

Under the test-based resolution, the person must return at least two consecutive negative PCR tests from samples taken at least 24 hours apart.

Either way, any player who is determined to have a new positive case from testing — whether they have symptoms or not — will not be allowed to participate in any exercise training for at least 10 days from either the positive test or the resolution of symptoms, if they have any.

Once a player has waited that minimum of 10 days, they then must spend two days working out by themselves, not interacting with anyone or participating in any team activities, wearing a mask at all times when at the facility — whether they are working out or not — and must participate in a cardiac screening. So any player who tests positive will have to miss a minimum of 12 days before they can return to play.

Any player who has had a severe case of COVID-19, or who was hospitalized at any point, will have to be observed for at least three full days before they can be cleared to return to play.

When someone tests positive for the coronavirus, teams must go through a variety of steps, including: reporting the positive test to local authorities; contact trace all close contacts; clean and disinfect any space controlled by the team or its arena where the person who tested positive had been since their last negative test; and set up isolation housing for the person with the positive test.

Typically, teams are unable to pay for housing for their players, as it is seen as a way to circumvent the league’s salary cap. However, in this unique situation, the league has waived that to allow for teams to be able to pay for isolation housing for any players who test positive.

As for the possibility of suspending the season — like the NBA did back in March — the league doesn’t state what would trigger such a decision to need to happen again. Instead, all it says is that, “The occurrence of independent cases or a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the 2020-21 season.”

The document says it is designed to “promote prevention and mitigation strategies to reduce exposure to, and transmission of, the coronavirus,” but that it is likely some players and staff will contract the virus.

As the league confronts the reality of teams having to crisscross the country in order to try to attempt to complete the 72-game regular season, and the playoffs after that, it has imposed a limit of 45 people for any team’s travel party — including up to 17 players. The protocol states that, “as when in their team’s market, members of the traveling party shall remain obligated to minimize risks to manage their health and enhance that of all individuals involved in the 2020-21 season.”

It also says further information regarding what travel parties will be permitted to do on the road will be provided at a later date.

The NBA’s preseason opens Friday, Dec. 11.

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Five things every NBA rookie should know heading into the 2020-21 season



This class of NBA rookies is facing an unprecedented transition to the league. Most of them haven’t played an organized game since March, and now they are set to begin their first NBA training camp on Dec. 1, less than two weeks after being drafted.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic deprived them of the opportunity to walk across the stage and shake the commissioner’s hand on draft night, and prevented them from having any kind of summer league or extended offseason to get ready for their first NBA season.

So a group of NBA veterans and legends shared their experiences entering the NBA and what advice they’d give to this year’s rookies as they embark on their own NBA journey.

A grades, bold predictions and surprise picks for the 2020 NBA draft

1. Put in the work

Gary Payton (No. 2 pick, 1990): “Coming into the NBA is a privilege and honor. You have to work hard and don’t take it for granted. Go in with the mindset to be the best player you can be, and for whatever organization drafts you, just try to help them win a championship any possible way you can.”

Marcus Camby (No. 2 pick, 1996): “Make sure that you guys are continually working on your game. There’s gonna be a lot of idle time, a lot of downtime between practices and games and travel. You have to continue to constantly be in the gym working on your game.”

Mitch Richmond (No. 5 pick, 1988): “There’s no excuses for not working on your game — no more classes, it’s all what you put into yourself to be the best you possibly can.”

Rudy Gobert (No. 27 pick, 2013): “Don’t sweat about the position you get drafted at, what matters is what comes next. Trust your journey.”

2. Take care of your body

Darius Miles (No. 3 pick, 2000): “In high school, I was used to eating things like McDonald’s before or after games. Now, when you get to the NBA, they have food prepared for you at games, practices, everything. There was no more McDonald’s in my routine.”

Mikal Bridges (No. 10 pick, 2018): “Always stay ready and take care of your body. You never know when it’ll be your turn to get in the game and make an impact on your team. You want to make sure you’re ready when your number is called.”

Robert Horry (No. 11 pick, 1992): “Be early, stay late and always put in the extra work, but listen to your body at the same time.”

3. Practice, practice, practice

Isiah Thomas (No. 2 pick, 1981): “Practice hard every single day and always outwork your opponent. When hard work becomes your daily habit, you will have success.”

Sam Perkins (No. 4 pick, 1984): “Be accountable. Use practice as a platform for your play. I looked forward to practice daily. Yes, practice was hard, but games became easier to play within the team system.”

4. Get ready for a lot more time on the road

Camby: “In college basketball, you’re playing like 30, 30-plus games. In the NBA, some teams are playing 90, 90-plus [games] with 82 in the regular season, eight preseason and then the playoffs. So, I would think that was probably my hardest adjustment, just getting myself ready on a nightly basis to compete and also to deal with the travel and wear and tear of the NBA schedule.”

Perkins: “Hardest adjustment entering the league was the travel, the practices, the number of games in my rookie year. Back-to-back games are a real adjustment.”

5. Expect a serious step up in competition

Payton: “My first two years, I struggled. I had to understand I wasn’t the best player on the floor anymore. There were a lot of people out there, night in and night out, who were better than me. I had to realize what I did in college wasn’t going to work in the pros. I was the No. 2 pick, so I had a target on my back and had to prove myself. I had to be more humble and work on my game. I thought I’d made it already when I was drafted, but that wasn’t true.”

Kendall Gill (No. 5 pick, 1990): “When I went from the University of Illinois to the Charlotte Hornets where I was drafted, I could not believe my first practice how fast Muggsy Bogues was, how fast Johnny Newman was, how fast Dell Curry and all of the other guys that were there my rookie year were. How fast they were and how strong they were. So that’s the biggest difference they’re going to have to deal with.”

Thomas: “Every single person you compete against will annihilate you, if you’re not ready to compete and win.”

Oh, and one more thing…

Gill: “Nothing’s going to be normal about this upcoming season because we are in a pandemic so [this year’s rookies] have to realize that the things they are about to go through are not normal NBA protocols. So you have to expect things that are quite frankly are not of the NBA culture right away, but hopefully the following season everything will get back to normal.”

Biggest first-round winners and losers for the 2020 NBA draft

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