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LaMelo Ball doesn’t think father LaVar Ball’s game of 1-on-1 against Michael Jordan will happen

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Now that LaMelo Ball is a member of the Charlotte Hornets, some basketball fans are hoping that the 1-on-1 game between his outspoken father LaVar and six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan might actually come to fruition.

But Ball, who was drafted No. 3 overall by Jordan’s Hornets, said during his introductory news conference Friday at the Spectrum Center that he “doesn’t think it’s going to happen.”

“And I think we know how it would turn out, to be honest,” Ball said with a smile. When asked to elaborate, Ball replied, “Well, I mean it is my pops and my boss, so I’m on both sides now.”

LaVar Ball turned heads when he told USA TODAY Sports in 2017 that he “would kill” Jordan in a one-on-one game in his prime. Ball averaged 2.2 points while playing at Washington State while Jordan was a 14-time NBA All-Star and 10-time scoring champion.

Jordan addressed the remarks six months later at his Flight School basketball camp, saying “You’ve got to understand the source.”

“He played, I think, college, maybe?” Jordan said. “He averaged 2.2 points per game. Really? It doesn’t dignify an answer, but I’m going to give it to you because you asked the question. I don’t think he could beat me if I was one-legged.” After he was drafted by the Hornets on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball said the prospect of playing for Jordan was a “straight blessing.”

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

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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

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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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NBA releases preseason schedule for Dec. 11-19

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As the NBA continues to move toward starting its 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, a slate of 49 preseason games will be played from Dec. 11 through Dec. 19 to allow teams to prepare for the upcoming campaign.

Each NBA team will play at least two preseason games — one at home and one on the road — and none will play more than four. The preseason schedule will begin with a five-game slate on Dec. 11 — highlighted by a meeting between the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and their co-tenants at Staples Center, the LA Clippers.

Other games of interest:

As part of Friday’s announcement, the NBA said it plans to release the first half of the league’s 72-game regular-season schedule “in the coming days.” The league had previously announced plans to present its schedule in blocks, with the first half coming out before the season and the second half being released at a later date.

The NBA came up with that plan to account for the possibility that games will inevitably need to be rescheduled due to complications from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and to allow for more flexibility in doing so.

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