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

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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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Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook returning from quad injury

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Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook will play in Sunday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, according to coach Scott Brooks, marking his first game action in more than two weeks due to a left quadriceps injury.

Westbrook hasn’t played since Jan. 8 due to the injury, which was caused by repeated contact to his quadriceps area, according to the team. But he has missed only two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Wizards that led to six games being postponed.

Sunday’s game is the first for the Wizards since a win over the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 11. They still have six players listed as out Sunday due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Westbrook, who is listed as a starter Sunday, is averaging 19.3 points, 11.3 assists and 9.7 rebounds in seven games this season.

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Damian Lillard drops new kicks to celebrate his iconic series winner over OKC

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As if Damian Lillard didn’t already do enough emotional damage to the Oklahoma City Thunder with his epic walk-off 3 to end their season in 2019, the new colorway for his Adidas shoe throws a little more salt into the wound.

Commemorating his 50-point closeout Game 5, Lillard’s signature shoe features his line from the game on the tongue, but the true troll is in the color scheme. With an orange sole, dark blue body and orange and light blue detailing, it’s pretty obvious it’s in Thunder colors.

Lillard’s infamous shot was right in the face of Paul George, who said after the game the clutch bomb was a “bad shot.” Lillard took exception, and has seemed to hold a grudge with George ever since as the two beefed in the bubble last season.

The shot also came in a series full of trash talk and heated exchanges with the Thunder, with guard Dennis Schroder tapping his wrist at the end of OKC’s Game 4 win. After Lillard hit the series-ender, he waved goodbye to the Thunder bench and said the shot was the last word in the trash talking between the teams.

Apparently not, because Lillard had at least one more thing he wanted to say with his feet.

The current Thunder roster probably won’t be bothered all that much, though. Only one player — Hamidou Diallo — remains on the team that was involved in the series.



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Heat to use coronavirus-sniffing dogs to screen fans at games

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MIAMI — The Miami Heat are bringing back some fans, with help from some dogs.

The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. They’ve been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season where the team has allowed a handful of guests — mostly friends and family of players and staff.

Starting this week, a limited number of ticket holders will be in the seats as well, provided they get past the dogs first.

“If you think about it, detection dogs are not new,” said Matthew Jafarian, the Heat’s executive vice president for business strategy. “You’ve seen them in airports, they’ve been used in mission-critical situations by the police and the military. We’ve used them at the arena for years to detect explosives.”

The first Heat game with ticket holders is set for Thursday against the LA Clippers. Monday is the first day that season-ticket holders will be able to start securing their seats.

The Heat have sold out 451 consecutive games, the sixth-longest streak in NBA history. Sellouts, obviously, aren’t happening this year. The Heat will keep attendance under 2,000 for now, or less than 10% of the building’s typical capacity.

“Please note that seating will be very limited, as we will be observing proper physical distancing,” the team said in its letter to season-ticket holders.

The coronavirus-sniffing dog idea has been put into place at airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Helsinki in recent months. At Heat games, fans arriving for the game will be brought to a screening area and the detection dogs will walk past. If the dog keeps going, the fan is cleared; if the dog sits, that’s a sign it detects the virus and the fan will be denied entry.

Other protocols the Heat will use: A health screening questionnaire will be mandatory for all guests, masks must be worn continually and only soda and water will be sold. All transactions will be cashless and if a fan feels ill during a game, isolation rooms will be available.

And if a fan is allergic to or afraid of dogs, the Heat are offering an option to skip the dog screening and submit to a rapid antigen test instead. The Heat say those tests can be processed in less than 45 minutes.

Dogs have a superior sense of smell, which is why they’re often used by law enforcement to find everything from drugs to bombs to missing people. Medical researchers have long reaped the benefit of canine sniffing, training some dogs to detect when a human is dealing with things such as too much stress, too little blood sugar and even certain cancers.

A German study last year found that dogs there were right 94% of the time when it came to coronavirus detection.

“Researchers are finding that specially trained dogs can detect COVID on humans quickly and accurately,” Jafarian said.

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