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Atlanta Hawks

    Kobe Bryant’s resume has yet another entry to prove his greatness: He’s now, officially, a Hall of Famer. And he’s got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class, one that may be as glitzy as any. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “An amazing class,' Duncan said. They all got into the Hall in their first year as finalists, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, 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. They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee. Bryant died about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said — as if there was going to be any doubt — that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection. Bryant's death has been part of a jarring start of the year for basketball: Commissioner Emeritus David Stern died on Jan. 1, Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine who died in the crash in late January, and the NBA shut down March 11 as the coronavirus pandemic began to grip the U.S. “Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate,' Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, said on the ESPN broadcast of the class announcement. “But it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here. So we’re incredibly proud of him.' Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs. “This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Colangelo said. Garnett is the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals. He also was part of Boston's 2008 NBA title. “This is the culmination,' Garnett said. “All those hours ... this is what you do it for, right here. To be able to be called ‘Hall of Famer' is everything.' Duncan spent the entirety of his career with the Spurs, and is now back with the team as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich. “It’s kind of the end of the journey here,' Duncan, on the broadcast, said of his enshrinement. “It was an incredible career that I enjoyed so much. To call it a dream come true isn’t even doing any justice to it. I never dreamt I’d be at this point.' Duncan, Garnett and Bryant were similar in many ways as players: The longevity of their careers, the eye-popping numbers, almost perennial inclusion on award lists. They also shared a dislike for touting personal accomplishments. But even the Hall would have touched Bryant, those closest to him said. “No one deserves it more,' Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss said. Added Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Bryant's former agent: “All of us can trust that this Basketball Hall of Fame honor is one Kobe would, and will, deeply appreciate.' Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn’t understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal. Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018. The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well. For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is spending much of his time during the coronavirus-imposed hiatus working out, helping care for his newborn son and playing occasional video games. What the reigning MVP isn’t doing very often is shooting baskets since the NBA has closed team practice facilities. “I don’t have access to a hoop,” the Milwaukee Bucks forward said Friday during a conference call. “A lot of NBA players might have a court in their house or something, I don’t know, but now I just get my home workouts, (go) on the bike, treadmill, lift weights, stay sharp that way.” The hiatus is forcing thousands of athletes, pro and otherwise, to work out from home as they try to keep in shape. Equipment varies from player to player, too. “It all comes down to what they have and what they’re capable of doing,” Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We can do a lot of body weight stuff. That’s how they stay ready. That’s the most I can offer as a coach for them to stay ready. I can’t say ‘Hey, can you find access to a gym?’ That would be bad management on my part.’’ For instance, Pierce said Hawks guard Kevin Huerter has access to a gym in New York and guard Jeff Teague owns a gym in Indiana. Other players face different situations. “I’ve seen LeBron’s Instagram,” Pierce said of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. “LeBron has a house with a full weight room and he has an outdoor court. He’s got a different reality right now that gives him a little more access to continue the normal. (Hawks rookie) Cam Reddish lives in an apartment and it’s probably a two-bedroom apartment. He can’t go in the apartment weight room because it’s a public facility. So he’s limited in all things.’’ Bucks coach Mike Budenhlolzer said he wanted his players to focus on keeping their bodies in shape and conceded that logistics surrounding the pandemic would make it tougher for them to do any basketball-specific activities. The Bucks are still finding ways to stay sharp. Bucks players said team officials have made sure they all have the necessary exercise equipment. Antetokounmpo noted the Bucks also had a catering company bring food to make sure they maintain a proper diet. Center Brook Lopez said workout plans have been sent to them via a phone app. “They’ve done a really good job of getting everything taken care of and still having tailored workouts for each individual player despite the situation,” Lopez said. But it’s difficult for them to work on their shooting without access to a court. “Since the practice facility is closed down, I don’t have any access to a basketball goal unless I go to one of my neighbors’ houses and shoot outside,’’ Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “There’s really no basketball for me. It’s basically like Giannis said. Treadmill, jump rope, some weights and that’s it. I have a couple of basketballs I can dribble in my house or outside, but no actual goal to shoot on.” Pierce noted that Huerter recently asked him when players would be able to get back into the Hawks’ practice facility. “I told him, ‘I’ll tell you when we won’t,’ ‘’ Pierce said. “We won’t in April.” ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world: The NCAA says hearings and oral arguments in infractions cases have been suspended through May 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA announced the move in a statement on its website Friday. It applies to cases before the infractions committee, appeals and the new Independent Accountability Resolution Process created to handle complex cases in the wake of the federal corruption investigation into college basketball. Deadlines for schools in pending cases to file briefs and other documentation remain in effect, including the release of rulings. ___ The U.S. Tennis Association says its best not to play the sport right now because of the coronavirus pandemic. In a posting on its website on Friday, the USTA called it “in the best interest of society to take a collective pause” from tennis. The statement from the organization that runs the U.S. Open Grand Slam tournament said there have not been specific studies about tennis and the COVID-19 illness. But there is “the possibility” that germs could be transferred among people via sharing and touching of tennis balls, net posts, court surfaces, benches or gate handles. So the USTA wants players “to be patient in our return to the courts.” In the meantime, the group encouraged people to create what it termed “tennis-at-home” variations. The U.S. Open is still scheduled to start Aug. 31 in New York. The All England Club announced this week that it had canceled this year’s edition of Wimbledon. The French Open was postponed from May to September. ___ Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is contributing $1 million to Penn Medicine to establish the COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund. Funds will support research program to test frontline health care workers for potential immunity to COVID-19 and for Penn Medicine’s researchers to develop real-time research protocols to battle the disease. “We have reached a critical point in our fight against COVID-19 in which testing for antibodies is absolutely essential both to protect our front-line workers in the short term and to develop treatments and vaccines that will save lives and help defeat the virus,” Lurie said in a release. ___ Calgary, Alberta's ban on public events until June 30 includes National Hockey League and Canadian Football League games should those leagues resume before then. Mayor Naheed Nenshi made the announcement Friday. Leagues, games and tournaments around the world have been suspended, canceled or postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. The NHL suspended operations March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining. The Calgary Flames were in playoff position sitting third in the Pacific Division. All CFL training camps have been postponed. ___ Wyoming says football coach Craig Bohl and wife Leia have made a $100,000 gift to fund the scholarships of spring-sport senior athletes who plan to return to school next year after having their seasons canceled by the coronavirus outbreak. The school said the estimated cost of the scholarships will be $70,000. The NCAA announced earlier this week that spring-sport athletes would be granted an extra year of eligibility and seniors could return next year without being counted against scholarship limits. But those athletes would not be guaranteed scholarship funds. How much athletes received would be up to each individual school. Wyoming announced the remainder of the Bohls’ donation would go to supporting the athletic training table and nutritional needs. Earlier this week, Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman announced he was taking a 10% salary cut through Dec. 31. ___ The CONCACAF Nations League semifinals and final in June have been called off. The U.S. had been scheduled to play Honduras on June 4 in Houston, with Mexico meeting Costa Rica in the other semifinal. The winners were to play three days later at Arlington, Texas. The Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football said Friday it made the decision due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is not yet known when the matches will be rescheduled. ___ The Ottawa Senators have offered use of the Canadian Tire Centre, the building’s nine adjacent parking lots and three other community arenas affiliated with the team to the Ontario government for temporary use during the coronavirus pandemic. The NHL team said Friday that owner Eugene Melnyk approached the province this week and is awaiting a reply. The offer comes with the potential use of 17 unleased private suites inside Ottawa’s NHL rink — including Melnyk’s — and amounts to roughly 200,000 square feet of adaptable space. The NHL paused its season March 12. Six members of the Senators’ organization, including at least two players, tested positive for COVID-19, as did the radio color commentator. England’s contracted men’s players are donating 500,000 pounds ($610,000) to the England and Wales Cricket Board and selected good causes, and the England’s women’s squad is taking a pay cut for April, May and June because of the coronavirus pandemic. ___ The players are all making 20% pay cuts for the next three months to fund the voluntary gesture. They plan to detail the charitable donations next week. The announcement by the Professional Cricketers' Association followed talks over how England’s leading players would respond to the crisis after a request from the ECB for 20% pay cuts. ___ The SailGP global league has suspended its season through the end of June due to the coronavirus pandemic, wiping out a regatta scheduled for New York on June 12-13. Ticket purchasers will be automatically refunded by the end of June. SailGP already canceled its San Francisco regatta that had been set for May 2-3. Two more regattas are on the schedule for 2020, at Cowes, England, Aug. 14-15 and at Copenhagen Sept. 11-12. The opening regatta of SailGP’s second season, held in Sydney in late February, was won by British sailing star Sir Ben Ainslie, who also is leading an America’s Cup campaign. SailGP was co-founded by former America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts of New Zealand and tech billionaire Larry Ellison. ___ FIFA has extended the age limit for the men’s soccer tournament at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic. FIFA says it also postponed two women’s age-group World Cups due this year, and no international games will be played in the early June dates protected for national team call-ups. The amended Olympic rule retains the “players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997” standard for the Tokyo Games. It means players eligible for the intended under-23 tournament in 2020 can still play in Japan at age 24 next year. Men’s soccer kicks off ahead of the July 23, 2021 opening ceremony in Tokyo. The 16 teams at the Tokyo Olympics next year can also select three over-age players in their rosters. A stellar lineup includes Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain. The decision was made on Friday by a FIFA panel of soccer officials worldwide created to address the soccer shutdown. Two women’s World Cup tournaments — the Under-20s hosted by Panama and Costa Rica in August and September, and the Under-17s in India in November — are postponed. ___ Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is donating $500,000 to help coronavirus relief efforts in his hometown of Las Vegas and in Philadelphia. Harper and his wife, Kayla, are giving money to Direct Relief and Three Square in Las Vegas and Philabundance in Philadelphia. “Now is the time to come together and adhere to the guidelines of medical professionals! We are wishing the best to all with our prayers during this time,” the couple said in a statement. ___ The Sacramento Kings' former arena and practice facility is being converted into a surge field hospital for COVID-19 and trauma care patients. The arena, in suburban Natomas, was the Kings' home from 1988 until 2016, when they moved into a downtown facility. The Kings and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services say the hospital will have approximately 360 beds along with additional hospital services. The Kings are also donating 100,000 medical masks and $250,000 to community service organizations. ___ The PGA Tour executive who oversees player activity is the first PGA Tour employee to have tested positive for COVID-19. Ross Berlin, the tour’s senior vice president of player affairs, says he was self-isolating after The Players Championship was canceled when he complained of losing his sense of taste and smell. His doctor put him through a coronavirus hotline interview and told him he wasn’t a high-risk candidate without a fever or breathing difficulties. Berlin says a few days later, on March 27, he had a fever. He at first was told he had pneumonia, but a test came back positive for the virus. He says he called everyone with whom he has been in contact -- including his barber -- and is feeling better. He says doctors told him players he might have seen on March 13 shouldn’t be concerned because he’s beyond the 14-day incubation period. Berlin has been in various positions with the tour since 1998, with a brief spell as Michelle Wie’s first agent. He says his wife is awaiting her test results, though she has not shown any symptoms. ___ The Carolina Hurricanes are putting more than half of full-time staff on furlough through June 7 while taking steps they said would ensure affected employees don’t lose income amid the coronavirus pandemic that has led to the suspension of the NHL season. The team announced the plan Friday with the team and PNC Arena having shut down operations last month to ensure social-distancing practices. The team says the furlough applies to about 55% of full-time employees, who would be directed to access unemployment benefits through the government’s $2.2 trillion economic rescue package. Furloughed employees ineligible to collect full base salaries through unemployment would receive a bonus from the organization when the furlough ends “to be made whole.” Additionally, furloughed employees will keep healthcare benefits, with the team covering premium payments during that time. In a statement, team president and general manager Don Waddell says the organization “remains committed to taking care of our staff as well as possible given these unprecedented circumstances.” Waddell said the plan “protects our employees from financial hardship while also mitigating the losses suffered by the company during this shutdown.” ___ Philadelphia 76ers owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, as well as All-Star center Joel Embiid made a combined contribution of $1.3 million to Penn Medicine. The money established a funding campaign for COVID-19 antibody testing of front line health care workers. The pledge from Embiid, Harris and Blitzer was expected to help boost efforts to quickly identify health care workers who may have immunity to the virus. Embiid says “we need to do everything possible to help those heroes who are putting their lives at risk to help us.” The gifts will support new experimental serology tests that detect antibodies to determine if a person has ever been infected with the virus-identifying staff and providers that might have immunity. ___ One of the major summer baseball leagues for college players has canceled its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner Bruce Alger of the Valley Baseball League in Virginia said the executive committee unanimously agreed the risk to players’ health would be too great. The 11-team Valley League has been sanctioned by the NCAA since 1961 and began using wooden bats in 1993. It’s among dozens of leagues where college players spend their summers. The Cape Cod League, generally considered the top summer league, said it had not decided whether to cancel its season. Play is scheduled to begin June 13. ___ Major League Lacrosse has postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus outbreak. The six-team league was scheduled to begin its 20th season on May 30. In a statement, the league says “this decision was made to safeguard the health of our players, fans and staff, as well as those within our MLL communities as a result of the global pandemic.” MLL has teams in Boston, Denver, Philadelphia, Long Island, New York, Annapolis, Maryland, and Fairfield, Connescticut. No date has been set for the season to begin. The league says it will be guided by CDC recommendations. ___ Company-wide layoffs by NASCAR on Friday were part of previously planned restructuring. NASCAR did not reveal the number of employees affected. NASCAR “centralized” Iowa Speedway by dismissing most of its staff to instead use the employees from Kansas Speedway. That track is roughly four hours away from Iowa Speedway. The personnel changes were planned as part of restructuring from last years’ merger of NASCAR and track operator sister company International Speedway Corp. NASCAR already has issued pay-cuts to its entire organization. It last week cut executives’ salary 25%, and 20% for other employees as stock car’s sanctioning body adapts to the new coronavirus pandemic. The 38-race NASCAR schedule is the longest in sports spanning nearly 11 months and the season was suspended four races into the year. The next publicly scheduled race is May 9 at Martinsville Speedway, but Virginia is under a state-at-home order into June. NASCAR has privately floated to teams revised 2020 schedules but not announced anything about rescheduling its races. ___ The Southeastern Conference is extending its ban on practices and organized gatherings through the end of May. The ban includes team and individual practices, meetings and other gatherings -- whether voluntary or required -- as well as camps and coaches clinics. The powerhouse league had previously announced that in-person athletics activities were suspended through April 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Also Friday, the conference said virtual film review that does not include physical activity is permissible. Effective April 6, activity of this nature will be expanded to four hours a week consistent with an NCAA rule waiver and NCAA legislation, an increase from the previously permissible maximum of two hours a week. ___ A gaming site is donating $20,000 for pandemic relief in New Jersey and giving out another $20,000 to fans who can predict the results of the NBA 2K tournament among NBA players. The 16-player tournament begins Friday night and will air on ESPN. Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant is the overall No. 1 seed and opens play against No. 16 Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat in the first round. The winner of the week-long tournament will receive a $100,00 donation to a coronavirus-related relief effort of their choice. BetMGM has a free bracket game available on its website to all verified New Jersey players. All competitors with a perfect bracket will split $20,000 in prizes. If there are no perfect brackets, the prize will be split among the highest scorers. BetMGM is also donating the same amount to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. ___ The Serie A says it will consider resuming only “when health conditions permit it.” The Italian league has been suspended since March 9, when the government ordered a nationwide lockdown. A new government decree issued this week prevents clubs from training -- even in small groups -- for at least another 10 days. Twelve rounds of Serie A remain, plus four games that were postponed from the weekend of Feb. 22. Also, the Italian Cup semifinals were interrupted after the first leg. Following a video conference meeting of all 20 Serie A clubs on Friday, the league said “it will await the decrees from the government and place in primary consideration taking care of the athletes’ health and all people involved.” ___ Officials say they’re working to find a new date for the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. The Maryland Jockey Club and Stronach Group announced Friday that whenever the Preakness is run in 2020, it will go on without infield activities that had been one of the race’s biggest traditions. The Preakness was scheduled for May 16 in Baltimore. The organizations say in a joint statement finding a new date for the Preakness “will take into consideration all of the recommended best practices from local and governmental health authorities to protect our community.” The Kentucky Derby was postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5. No decision has yet been made on the Belmont Stakes, which is scheduled for June 6 at Belmont Park in New York. ___ The Lawn Tennis Association is giving up to 20 million pounds ($24 million) through grants and interest-free loans to help venues, coaches, officials, and players in Britain during the coronavirus pandemic. Singles players world ranked from 101 to 750 and doubles players ranked from 101 to 250 -- who are not already receiving funding -- are eligible for grants, and there will be increased prize money for British tour events if the tours resume. This week, Wimbledon was canceled and the tours suspended the British grass-court season. Most of the focus of the LTA package is on protecting the grassroots, including continued funding for development centers and the two national academies, and supporting full-time coaches. Chief executive Scott Lloyd and the executive team will take temporary pay cuts of 20%, while some staff will be furloughed next week but will be paid 80% of their salary. ___ Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce says team employees have been tested after exhibiting symptoms for the new coronavirus. He says no players or members of the coaching staff have shown any symptoms or been tested. Pierce said Friday he doesn’t know the identity of those who were tested. He said at least 18 or 19 days have passed since any members of the team would have had contact with the employees. “Everyone that has been tested, the symptoms they had or reported, they do feel better,” Pierce said. He said he has “become a master of this Zoom app” while having video conferencing with players, assistants and other NBA coaches. ___ The NFL’s Indianapolis Colts are giving season-ticket holders the option to defer April’s payment until June 15. On Friday, team officials emailed letters to those with payment plans, giving them a Wednesday deadline to accept the offer. The final two installments were initially due April 15 and May 15. The Colts have not announced any changes about the May payment. “In light of the unique circumstances right now, we have decided to modify the payment options for members of our season ticket family on payment plans,” the letter reads in part. The move comes one day after the Indiana High School Athletic Association canceled the entire spring sports season. State officials had previously announced all schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year. ___ Mental health experts who were supposed to be available to help American athletes at the Tokyo Olympics are being asked to start working now. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee says the experts are leading discussions about mental health and wellness for athletes and staff in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Those same experts will also be on hand at the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed a year. The USOPC also disclosed the 13 members of a new external mental health task force created to support American athletes and coaches. It includes Olympians, doctors and the head of The Speedy Foundation, a mental-health organization named after the late Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, an Olympic silver medalist in aerials. That group is working with an internal group at the USOC being led by chief medical officer Jonathan Finnoff. ___ The world heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev on June 20 has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The fight was scheduled to take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London and will be Joshua’s first defense of his IBF, WBA, WBO belts since he regained them from Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua’s promoter, Matchroom Boxing, says a new date for the fight is being worked on. ___ More than a dozen U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes received reassurance this week when Toyota North America announced it would extend their endorsement contracts through the rescheduled Tokyo Games in 2021. The auto company and major Olympic sponsor has 17 U.S. athletes under contract. They include swimmer David Boudia, gymnast Laurie Hernandez, Paralympian Oksana Masters and sprinter Michael Norman. The status of endorsement contracts is a major concern to athletes because most signed deals that were set to expire after this year’s scheduled Olympics. They have been rescheduled for 2021 and that has forced corporations to reset and rethink the structure of their deals. Visa is another major sponsor and has also told its global roster of nearly 100 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls that it will extend sponsorships through 2021. ___ World Triathlon has extended its suspension of all events from the end of April to the end of June because of the coronavirus outbreak. The latest events to be called off include the Yokohama leg of the world series, three African Cups, three American events, four Asian Cups, one event in Oceania and eight in Europe. World Triathlon president Marisol Casado says “the suspension of all activities doesn’t mean at all that we stop working' on finding alternative dates. ___ The WNBA has postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league was set to open training camps on April 26 and the regular season was to begin on May 15. The WNBA will still hold a “virtual” draft on April 17. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees.” The WNBA, which was set to begin its 24th season, is the longest running professional women’s sports league. ___ The Premier League has pushed back its restart date and says play will not resume at the beginning of May. The league had given a return date of April 30 amid the coronavirus outbreak but now says the season “will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.” It says there remained a “combined objective” for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played to maintain the integrity of each competition. The league also says it has consulted players over a pay deduction or deferral of 30%. It also voted to advance funds of 125 million pounds ($150 million) to clubs in the English Football League and fifth-tier National League. ___ German soccer club Borussia Dortmund is converting part of its stadium into a treatment center amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Bundesliga club says a space inside Germany’s largest soccer stadium has been made available for medical staff to examine people with virus symptoms. The move comes after an influx of suspected coronavirus cases put existing facilities in the city of Dortmund under strain. The center will open on Saturday. ___ The Tour de Suisse has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, removing one of the few cycling events left on the calendar before the Tour de France is due to start. The nine-day Swiss race was scheduled to run from June 6-14 and is designed to give riders a chance to prepare for the three-week Tour de France. The French race is still scheduled to start on June 27. Colombian rider Egan Bernal won in Switzerland last year ahead of his first Tour de France title. Organizers in Switzerland say its “the first time since the Second World War that the traditional event will not take place.” They say “the risk of additional strain on the Swiss health system due to possible crashes during racing is high.” ___ The Russian anti-doping agency is preparing to freeze all testing until May to comply with new government measures shutting down work deemed non-essential. RUSADA deputy CEO Margarita Pakhnotskaya tells The Associated Press that her agency is looking for possible exemptions to instructions from President Vladimir Putin for all Russians except those working in essential sectors to stay home through April 30. Pakhnotskaya says in a text message that she “will check on Monday the possibility to receive special permission” from government bodies for staff to collect samples from athletes. There will be no testing this month if that isn’t granted. Testing has been suspended since March 27 under a previous round of measures. Isolation measures around the world have led to a sharp drop in anti-doping tests. That’s led to warnings that some athletes could take advantage of the situation. The World Anti-Doping Agency says it is trying to track gaps in testing. ___ Former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang was among 20 people arrested in Kenya for locking themselves in a bar and drinking alcohol in breach of a curfew imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Police say the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist was among those detained at a police station in Iten, one of Kenya’s famous high-altitude towns where distance runners train. They were in breach of a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The group included a local politician. Kipsang, who is also a police officer, was provisionally suspended this year from track and field and charged with doping offenses that include tampering with doping samples. He has also won the New York, London and Berlin marathons. Twelve athletes were arrested in Iten earlier this week for breaching Kenyan government regulations on social gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis. The runners were arrested for training in a group, which has been banned in Kenya. Training camps have been shut down and athletes must train alone. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Kevin Durant and Trae Young will lead a 16-player field of NBA players in an NBA 2K20 tournament airing on ESPN. The NBA, the players’ association and 2K announced the NBA 2K Players Tournament on Tuesday. Play begins Friday, and the winner of the week-long competition will receive a $100,000 donation to a coronavirus-related relief effort of their choice. Player have been seeded according to their NBA 2K player rating -- from Durant’s 96 down to Derrick Jones Jr.’s 78 -- and tenure. Durant, the Brooklyn Nets star who sat out this NBA season due to injury, will face Jones in the first game Friday night. Other matches will air on ESPN2. The championship is set for April 11. Participants will each select a pool of eight teams prior to the tournament and can only play with each club once throughout the tournament. Rounds one and two will be single elimination, and the semifinals and finals will be best-of-three. The other matchups include Young vs. Harrison Barnes, Hassan Whiteside vs. Pat Beverley, Donovan Mitchel vs. Rui Hachimura, Devin Booker vs. Michael Porter Jr., Andre Drummond vs. DeMarcus Cousins, Zach LaVine vs. Deandre Ayton and Montrezl Harrell vs. Domantas Sabonis. The NBA has been shut down since March 11, the night that Utah center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to have a positive diagnosis for the virus revealed. The league is still discussing scenarios for resuming play once allowed.
  • The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world: ___ USA Curling says additional participants at a tournament this month in Laurel, Maryland, have tested positive for the coronavirus. The United States Curling Association Club National Championships were held March 7-14 at Potomac Curling Club. Fox 5 DC reported that at least 20 people who participated in the event are sick. USA Curling says it worked with the club to make sure all participants, officials and volunteers were notified as soon as a confirmation was received of the first positive test. The organization also urged anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 to work with health officials to “identify individuals with whom they had close contact to enable appropriate notification, isolation, and monitoring by public health officials.” USA Curling also canceled the 2020 Arena National Championships scheduled for April 27 to May 2 in Gillette, Wyoming. The event will be held there in 2022 instead. ___ Ottawa Senators radio color commentator Gord Wilson has tested positive for the coronavirus. Wilson’s wife, CTV Ottawa anchor Patricia Boal, confirmed the news Friday night during a newscast. Boal joined the network via FaceTime to make the announcement from their home. The 59-year-old Wilson is recovering at home and both he and Boal, who has not tested positive for the coronavirus, have been in self-isolation since March 18. Boal said the diagnosis was confirmed Friday, about 11 days after Wilson was first tested. Wilson tweeted his own update on Friday night after the segment aired, saying: 'Hey- just a quick response to all who have reached out with well wishes. All are very much appreciated. Update is- still in symptomatic stage so just continuing to wash my hands, and ride it out. :) Stay home. Stay healthy! Cheers. Gw.' Two Senators players tested positive this month. Wilson suffered what he called a 'minor heart attack' on Feb. 16, spending three days in the hospital before rejoining the broadcast team. He has been part of the Ottawa broadcast team since the franchise's return to the NHL in 1992. ___ The Los Angeles Sparks say guard Sydney Wiese's positive test for COVID-19 came after she returned from Spain, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Wiese wrote on Twitter that she was “feeling well — fortunate to only show mild symptoms, but I am capable of spreading it.” The Sparks say in a statement that Wiese is self-isolating at home in Phoenix. The WNBA team says it's in direct communication with her and wishes her a speedy recovery. The 24-year-old Wiese has spent her career playing for the Sparks after getting drafted by Los Angeles in 2017. She starred at Oregon State, helping the Beavers reach the Final Four in 2016. ___ The St. Louis Blues confirmed Friday that Fox Sports play-by-play announcer John Kelly has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The team said in a post on Twitter that Kelly has been in self-quarantine at home since March 13. The Blues say they're 'thrilled to report” that Kelly is feeling strong again and and is symptom-free. ___ The home of Wales rugby, Principality Stadium in Cardiff, is being turned into a 2,000-bed field hospital to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The Welsh Rugby Union offered the stadium this week to the government, and a revamp has started. “I sincerely hope we don’t need to use all of the capacity but it is far better to have developed plans based upon the scientific evidence and modelling of the experts,” Cardiff and Vale University Health Board CEO Len Richards said in a statement. “The facility will allow us to free up capacity at our other hospital sites so that we can continue to provide services to patients with other health conditions.” Nearby Swansea football club, of the second-tier Championship, has also offered Liberty Stadium to health care providers. ___ The Big Ten has extended the suspension of all organized team activities through May 4. Big Ten officials say this is an additional measure to the previously announced cancellation of all conference and non-league competitions through the end of the 2019-20 academic year, including spring sports that extend beyond the academic year. Big Ten officials said they would continue to work with medical experts and institutional leaders to determine their next steps in regard to the pandemic. ___ The world series triathlon in Montreal in June was postponed on Friday, a day after Canada closed its borders to June 30 to all foreigners except Americans. The Montreal elite races were scheduled for June 28. It's the fourth race in triathlon's premier series to be postponed. The leg in Yokohama, Japan, in May is still scheduled to go ahead. ___ Full-time Minnesota Wild employees will continue to receive full pay and benefits through April. Owner Craig Leipold informed staff of the decision via e-mail on Friday. That includes employees of the Wild, the Xcel Energy Center arena, and their AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Those with salaries above $150,000 are taking a 20% pay cut. The guideline does not pertain to Wild players. Like most teams around the NHL, the Wild also committed to paying game-day arena workers for the six home games that remained on the schedule when the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ___ The Atlanta Hawks and State Farm are funding support for a new project to provide 4,000 meals each week to approximately 1,000 healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients at Atlanta hospitals. The project also will allow two Atlanta restaurants to rehire employees who had been laid off due to the pandemic. The project will deliver meals to six Emory Healthcare hospitals five times each week. The meals are being prepared by restaurants Forza Storico and Miller Union. Each restaurant, like many in Atlanta, had temporarily closed and laid off employees due to the coronavirus. The Hawks say the meal program, which began Friday, will continue four weeks and is expected to be expanded to possibly involve more restaurants. ___ English soccer should be braced for “difficult decisions” to try and ease the financial effects from the season suspended because of the coronavirus crisis. The Premier League released a statement after talks with the English Football League and Professional Footballers' Association, saying they also “agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions.” Last week, restarting the season was pushed back to April 30, and will resume 'only when it is safe and conditions allow.' “Further meetings will take place next week with a view to formulating a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstances facing the leagues, their clubs, players, staff and fans.” Clubs are already feeling the pinch: Second-tier Championship club Birmingham was the first to ask some players to defer 50% of their salaries, while at Championship leader Leeds, the players, coaching staff and senior management volunteered to defer their salaries to try and put off redundancies at their club. ___ ESPN NBA broadcaster Doris Burke, a Curt Gowdy Award recipient by the Basketball Hall of Fame for excellence in her field, has revealed that she tested positive for the coronavirus. Burke made the announcement Friday on an ESPN podcast hosted by NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski. Burke says she started feeling extreme fatigue on March 11, the day the NBA was shut down once it was learned that Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive. Burke was assigned the Denver-Dallas game on that date for ESPN and fought through her symptoms to work that night. She said she had a three-day period of such deep fatigue that she couldn’t remain out of bed for more than five minutes at a time. She was eventually tested and received the results on Wednesday — eight days after being swabbed. By then, she was feeling better and said on the podcast that she was appreciative of the health-care workers who saw her. “I’m so incredibly thankful to be feeling well,” Burke said. ___ Lakers superstar Anthony Davis is getting involved with a pair of community initiatives to help Los Angeles-area hospital employees and Staples Center workers. Davis says he is teaming up with Lineage Logistics to match up to $250,000 in donations to an organization providing free meals to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative is a partnership with the World Food Kitchen, led by famed chef José Andrés. Davis and Lineage also announced an initiative to offer jobs with Lineage to Staples Center employees in the upcoming weeks and months while no sports are being played in the Lakers’ home arena, which they share with the Los Angeles Clippers and the NHL’s Kings. Lineage operates refrigerated warehouses in the Los Angeles area and around the world. Davis is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer after his first season with the Lakers, but the Anthony Davis Family Foundation is already involved in numerous charitable ventures in the Los Angeles area. The seven-time NBA All-Star is widely expected to re-sign with the Lakers. ___ The mountain bike world championships in Albstadt, Germany, from June 25-28 have been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Officials of the city, German federation and cycling governing body UCI will talk next week to try and set new dates. The UCI reiterated world championships have priority in a revised calendar. The worlds follow the postponement or cancellation of nine World Cups in the cross-country, downhill and eliminator disciplines. ___ Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens says guard Marcus Smart is doing well and remains in good spirits following his positive test for coronavirus last week. Smart announced his diagnosis on March 19, seven days after Utah Jazz All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19. Boston played the Utah Jazz on March 6. Celtics players and staff were also tested as a precaution and those tests have all come back negative. Stevens said he and team officials have been checking in with Smart and the rest of the team regularly via conference calls. “I’m proud of how he kind of took the initiative to tell people that he had it and that he felt good and that he got online, just continued to ask people to practice social distancing and self-isolation right now,” Stevens said. “It’s just, you know, it’s a really unique, unsettling time for everyone.” — Kyle Hightower reporting from Boston ___ The LPGA Tour now has two majors that have been rescheduled because of the new coronavirus. With the Olympics postponed until 2021, the Evian Championship in France will be two weeks later on Aug. 6-9. That was supposed to be the week of women's golf in the Olympics. Moving back the Evian will create a little room on the LPGA schedule when golf resumes. It also makes travel more practical for the players. The new date for the Evian Championship is one week before the Ladies Scottish Open east of Edinburgh, and two weeks before the Women's British Open at Royal Troon. The LPGA previously rescheduled the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California, from April 2-5 until Sept. 10-13. At Augusta National, kids who qualified for this year's Drive, Chip and Putt will get to compete on the Sunday before next year's Masters. They will compete in the same age division for which they qualified. That means there won't be any qualifying for new participants until next year. ___ Oilers captain Connor McDavid says he elected to stay put in Edmonton rather than risk traveling home to suburban Toronto. McDavid says he didn't want to take the chance of going through crowded airports and contract the new coronavirus in fear of potentially spreading it to his parents and grandparents. He says the NHL being on hiatus also allows him to break in the new home he built, which also includes a gym. McDavid spoke on a league-hosted video conference call featuring Pacific Division players on Friday. With the season on hold, players have been told to self-isolate until at least April 4. To date, three NHL players have tested positive for the virus: two with Ottawa and the third with Colorado. ___ Good news for all those who have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics: You're in for 2021. Olympic officials have confirmed that the 6,200 or so athletes who had already punched their ticket for Tokyo will keep their spots for the rescheduled games next year. It resolves one of the key questions for marathoners, open-water swimmers and hundreds of other athletes whose qualifying process came early in the 2020 sports calendar, before the coronavirus started shutting down sports across the globe. Still to be determined is how the Isports that make up the Olympics will allocate all the spots at the rescheduled games. Typically, the individual sports determine their qualifying procedures for Olympic events. World Athletics president Seb Coe confirmed that all sports have agreed to the IOC's proposal that all athletes currently qualified for the Olympics will remain qualified for next year. In track, he said that accounts for about half the places. He said the important next step is to develop a fair process for the rest of the athletes, most of whom have seen their qualifying events postponed. ___ The National Professional Soccer League has canceled its 2020 summer season because of the new coronavirus outbreak. Considered a fourth-tier circuit in the U.S., the NPSL is affiliated with the United States Adult Soccer Association. The NPSL started play in 2003 and had planned to expand from 91 to 94 teams this season. The league was to have entered 14 teams in the U.S. Open Cup, which was suspended because of the pandemic. The NPSL summer season had been set to start in May and end in early August. The league said Friday that many of its venues would be unavailable after that because they are on college and school campuses. ___ Global players’ union FIFPro has called on soccer clubs to stop firing players or cutting their salaries before talks. FIFPro says it’s “extremely concerned” that clubs in several countries “have begun to immediately lay off players or unilaterally reduce their salaries” because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Netherlands-based union says many players worldwide earn at or below average domestic income “and would be severely affected by salary decreases.” One club in Switzerland, Sion, terminated the contracts of nine players including former Arsenal pair Johan Djourou and Alexandre Song, who declined to accept reduced wages in a federal unemployment insurance program. FIFPro, which represents 65,000 men’s and women’s players, urges “clubs with short-term financial difficulties to meet with national player unions to negotiate fair and proportionate arrangements.” ___ The International Ski Federation (FIS) has postponed its presidential election at a biennial congress for at least three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hosts for some world championships, including Alpine skiing in 2025, were also due to be voted on at May 17-23 meetings in Thailand. FIS says it hopes to reschedule “in the autumn (fall) of this year,” possibly at a different location. Candidates to succeed 22-year incumbent Gian Franco Kasper as president, and for seats on the FIS ruling council, must be declared 30 days before the rescheduled elections. The three candidates for Alpine worlds in 2025 are: Saalbach, Austria; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Crans-Montana, Switzerland. ___ Atlético Madrid has followed Barcelona’s lead and announced it will reduce its players’ and coaches’ salaries during the stoppage of competition due to the coronavirus crisis. A day after Barcelona had done the same, Atlético said Friday that it will reduce its payroll temporarily “to ensure the future” of the club. Neither Barcelona nor Atlético are saying how much they would slash salaries. The moves will not impact their players’ contracts. ___ Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic, his wife and their foundation are donating 1 million euros (about $1.1 million) to help buy ventilators and other medical equipment for hospitals in Serbia. Djokovic says his foundation's staff 'will be monitoring everything' to get the equipment in place. His wife, Jelena, is the global director of the Novak Djokovic Foundation. She says ventilators needed to help COVID-19 patients range in price from 10,000 to 50,000 euros ($11,000 to $55,000). The 32-year-old Djokovic won the Australian Open in January for his 17th Grand Slam title. Among men, only Roger Federer, with 20, and Rafael Nadal, with 19, have won more. ___ Jae Crowder of the Miami Heat has donated $15,000 to Boston-based custom slide sandal company ISlide. That money will go entirely to the company's affected workers. Crowder is an ISlide investor and says he felt compelled to give because he knows workers there are in need. Crowder says “to see the potential negative business impact from this outbreak compelled me to help in any way I could.” ___ Turkish basketball team Fenerbahce says one of its players and three members of the technical and administrative personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus. Fenerbahce says none of the four have been hospitalized. They were being isolated and monitored at home. The player and three staff members were not named. ___ The Evian Masters women's golf tournament has been moved to August because of the coronavirus outbreak. The event originally scheduled for July 23-26 will now be held on Aug. 6-9 at the Evian Resort Golf Club. Evian is one of the five majors on the women's circuit. The decision was made by the LPGA Tour, the Ladies European Tour and Evian organizers. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan says “this adjustment makes for easier travel for players and assists us as we look to reschedule previously postponed events.” The women's British Open is scheduled to be held two weeks after Evian. ___ The Russian anti-doping agency is suspending all tests for 10 days in response to measures implemented by the government to fight the coronavirus. The move comes after President Vladimir Putin told Russians except those working in essential sectors to stay home next week. RUSADA deputy CEO Margarita Pahnotskaya tells The Associated Press the testing suspension covers a longer period because of the risk of staff being stranded away from home. Tests stopped Friday and will resume on April 6. Pakhnotskaya says the World Anti-Doping Agency has been notified. She says “we studied all the consequences and agreed we should follow the order. And it was agreed with WADA. I wrote them a letter yesterday.” ___ The Diamond League has postponed three more track meets because of the coronavirus outbreak. The events in Stockholm on May 24, Naples and Rome on May 28, and Rabat, Morocco, on May 31 have all been postponed with no new dates set. The first six events of the year have been called off and only the Shanghai meet has been given a new date. The Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on June 7 is now the first scheduled event on the calendar. The Diamond League says “the meeting organizers, the Wanda Diamond League and World Athletics remain committed to delivering a structured extensive season in 2020.” ___ Spanish soccer club Barcelona says it will reduce the salaries of its players amid the coronavirus pandemic. Barcelona says its executive board has decided to temporarily suspend player contracts. That produces a “proportional reduction of the remuneration provided for in the respective contracts.” The players’ contracts will remain intact during the job suspension. Employers in Spain are allowed to reduce labor costs while guaranteeing that workers will return to their jobs once conditions improve. The club says it has not decided by how much the salaries will be lowered. ___ A Russia-based basketball league with teams in five countries has abandoned its season without declaring a champion because of the coronavirus outbreak. VTB United League CEO Ilona Korstin says it's not appropriate to continue the season “in the current situation when borders are closed, teams can’t train at basketball arenas and clubs have to allow foreign players to go home.” Korstin says the league will start preparing for the 2020-21 season. Russian club BC Khimki was leading the league with an 18-1 record when it was suspended. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • USA Basketball is hoping that the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will be held around the same time next year as they would have been this year. Otherwise, an already-complicated situation could get even tougher for coaches and players. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday that he has “hit the pause button” on planning for the next Olympics. Colangelo noted that there’s nothing now to do besides waiting to see exactly when the games in Tokyo will be held in 2021 — and if the new schedule will conflict with the NBA schedule. “It's pretty simple, isn't it? We either have NBA players or we don't,” Colangelo told The Associated Press. “And if we don't, we'll look at the other options.” For now, Colangelo is committed to remain in his role through 2021. So is the coaching staff; U.S. coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs is the head coach, with assistants Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, Lloyd Pierce of the Atlanta Hawks and Jay Wright of Villanova. But again, that's all schedule permitting. This summer’s Olympics were to begin July 24, which typically is part of the NBA offseason. When the International Olympic Committee announced the postponement of this summer’s games on Tuesday, a decision made because of the global coronavirus pandemic, it said the delay would last “no more than one year.” That wording seems to suggest the possibility of an earlier-than-usual Olympics. And if the Tokyo Games are held in April, May or June that could mean the U.S. plans change considerably. “We're hopeful that this is going to take place in the same timeframe next summer as it was scheduled for this summer,” Colangelo said. “There are a lot of things that have to be done totally out of our control. We're a follower in this situation. We're dealing with the NBA, FIBA, the USOC, the International Olympic Committee, etc., etc. Here’s what we have to wait for now: What are the dates? Once they set the dates, then we will go into action.” USA Basketball was planning to pick the 12-man roster for the Tokyo Olympics in June. There were 44 players under consideration, and assuming the schedule means NBA players can take part in 2021 most if not all of those names will likely be on the list next year. “These are unusual times,' Colangelo said. “And when they ring the bell, we'll get ourselves ready.”
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver finds himself almost constantly looking at financial numbers and projections. And like the rest of a world that is dealing with the seismic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, he still isn’t sure how bad things will get. Silver said Saturday the league is considering all options — best-case, worst-case and countless ideas in between — as it tries to come to grips with this new normal. But definitive answers on any front are in short supply. “It’s too soon to tell what the economic impact will be,” Silver said. “We’ve been analyzing multiple scenarios on a daily if not hourly basis and we’ll continue to review the financial implications. Obviously, it’s not a pretty picture but everyone, regardless of what industry they work in, is in the same boat.” Saturday marked the 10th full day of the NBA’s shutdown, a stoppage that has cost the league 75 games and counting so far, a total that will reach triple digits on Wednesday and will eventually get to 259 on April 15 — the day the regular season was supposed to end. Play isn't going to resume by then. The financial losses will be massive and will obviously just keep growing if this season cannot resume or if next season is affected. “Adam is obviously cautious, cautiously optimistic,” Cleveland forward Kevin Love said earlier in the week. “We don’t know what the future holds but the NBA has been through a lot, we’ve seen a lot and I think we'll be incredibly resilient. It just might take time.” Players who are due to get their next paycheck on April 1 will get them. Whether those players will get their April 15 check is in some question; the league can exercise a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows it to take back 1.08% of each player’s salary for each game missed in certain times — like war, or in this case, a pandemic. That clause has not been exercised yet since, officially anyway, no game has been canceled. “We’re exploring all options to resume our season if and when it is safe to do so,' Silver said. “Nothing is off the table.' Besides, there are other bridges to cross first. The NBA — which was the first major U.S. pro league to say it would play games without fans and the first league to suspend its season once All-Star center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive — has been extremely vocal in trying to get its massive fan base to take social distancing and other preventative measures seriously. “Our focus right now is doing all that we can to support, engage and educate the general public in response to this pandemic,” Silver said. “We are also making sure that we are prepared to resume the season if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.” The league has asked teams for building availability dates through the end of August, an indicator that this season — if it resumes — may stretch deep into the summer. So far, there are 14 people within the NBA community, including at least 10 players, known to have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those positive tests, seven became known publicly on Thursday and Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics revealed that he has the virus. “Unfortunately, based on everything we know, significantly more positive cases in our league were inevitable,” Silver said. “So, Thursday’s results did not come as a huge surprise and just like everyone else, we’re just trying to take each day as it comes.” For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Entering Saturday, there were about 19,000 known positive cases in the U.S. and more than 250 deaths blamed on the virus. Globally, there have been nearly 300,000 cases diagnosed so far with nearly 12,000 deaths. The virus first exploded in mainland China, where the NBA has offices and about 200 employees. What workers in China went through helped the league quickly grasp some sort of understanding of the severity. Silver made the decision to shut down the league before any public health experts advised the NBA to take that step. He even sounded the alarm publicly in mid-February at NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago — saying then it was “a major national, if not global, health crisis' that was taking place. “We’ve learned a lot from our China office,” Silver said, noting that meetings have been of the virtual variety there for several weeks now. Silver’s sixth full season as commissioner of the NBA started with the league getting into a major rift with China. His mentor and NBA Commissioner emeritus David Ster n died two months later. Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash less than a month after that. Now he is dealing with the biggest crisis of them all — a pandemic, affecting and threatening virtually every corner of the planet. “It’s been a challenging season,” Silver said. “For all of us.”
  • The USA Basketball coaching staff for the Tokyo Olympics is still preparing as if there will be a gold medal to try and defend this summer, even in highly uncertain times caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. U.S. men’s assistant coach Steve Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, said on a conference call Tuesday that he has had some recent contact with U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs as plans for the Olympics continue. Kerr is slated to be on a staff that also includes Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova coach Jay Wright. Those were the three assistants under Popovich last summer as well at the Basketball World Cup in China. “Everything’s just up in the air,” Kerr said. “There’s no sense of whether things are going to be delayed or anything. We’re all kind of wondering what’s going to happen and so is the rest of the world.” The Olympics are scheduled to start July 24. The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that the uncertainty of things right now is “an unprecedented situation for the whole world.' “The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage,' the IOC said, adding that any other “speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.' USA Basketball revealed last month a list of 44 players — most of the league’s biggest American stars among them and 15 of the 16 U.S.-born NBA All-Stars from this season — who are under consideration for the Olympic team. The original plan was to pick a 12-player roster by early June, and for that team to gather in Las Vegas in early July to begin training camp. Officially, no part of that plan has changed yet. Like the NBA and the rest of the sports world, USA Basketball is very much in wait-and-see mode. “We’re just going to plan as if it’s going to happen and we’re going to try to put together a roster,” Kerr said. “That’s all we can do.” ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Four Brooklyn Nets players, including Kevin Durant, have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total to seven known players in the NBA. The Nets did not name the players Tuesday, but Durant confirmed he was one of them to The Athletic, saying: “Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We're going to get through this.” The team said one player is exhibiting symptoms, while the other three are asymptomatic. All four players have been isolated and are under the care of team physicians. “The health of our players and staff is of the highest priority to the organization and the team is doing everything within its power to ensure that those affected receive the best care possible,” the Nets said in a statement. » MORE: List of players, teams affected by coronavirus The Nets added that all players and members of their travel party are being asked to remain isolated and closely monitor their health, but the team's ability to get testing that has been unavailable to so many others drew criticism from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.” Brooklyn last played on March 10 in Los Angeles, beating LeBron James and the Lakers. The Nets were then to face the Golden State Warriors two nights later in San Francisco before the NBA season was suspended after Utah's Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell and Detroit's Christian Wood are the other players who have tested positive. The Nets said they are currently notifying anyone who has had known contact with the players, including recent opponents, and working closely with state and local health authorities on reporting. The Hawks hosted the Nets on Feb. 28.  For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

News

  • Two Florida law enforcement officers who tested positive for the coronavirus have died. Broward County Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, died Friday, and Palm Beach County Sgt. Jose Diaz Ayala, 38, died Saturday, officials said. Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said Bennett, a 12-year veteran of the agency, reported feeling sick March 23 while at work and tested positive for the virus at a hospital the next day. Bennett was hospitalized March 27 and had been showing signs of recovery, but his condition worsened Friday, Tony said. Tony said Saturday that he considers Bennett’s death to be one in the line of duty. The agency described Bennett as an “out and proud gay law enforcement deputy” who helped lead an outreach initiative to foster relations between the law enforcement and LGBTQ communities. He served as a school resource officer at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, where he also mentored students. Bennett was planning to get married later this year. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Ayala had been battling other underlying health conditions before contracting COVID-19. He had been with the agency for 14 years. Ayala joined the Sheriff’s Office’s Corrections Division in 2006 as a deputy and was promoted to sergeant in 2016. “He had an outstanding career with the agency and was respected by all of his peers,' Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. Ayala leaves behind three daughters.
  • An Atlanta-area family is thankful for an act of kindness during the chaotic coronavirus pandemic. In 2013, Jamie McHenry was killed in a car crash during spring break in West Palm Beach, Florida, WSB-TV reported. Every year since his death, McHenry’s parents make the trip from their home in North Fulton County to St. George Island on the Florida Panhandle to pay their respects to their 13-year-old son at a memorial. This year, they could not go because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that didn’t mean the memory of their teen son was forgotten. A random stranger in the area heard the family’s story and decided to step in and make sure Jamie McHenry’s memorial was still decorated. The kind stranger, who posted a photo of the good deed on Facebook, wrote: “Christine and the McHenry family … we were sad to read that due to this pandemic your annual trip to SGI was canceled and you will miss visiting the memorial brick for your son Jamie. Wanted to know we are watching over it for you today and he is in our thoughts. God bless.”
  • Amoco and its parent company, BP, announced their gasoline stations will offer a 50-cent discount per gallon to first responders, doctors, nurses and hospital workers during the coronavirus pandemic. “Thank you for being on the front lines and keeping our communities healthy and safe,' the company said on its website. 'We are honored to be supporting you and helping you get where you need to go,” the company said on its website.The discount, which eligible customers can sign up for, will allow the health care workers to take the discount the next time they fill up, BP said on its website. People who want to take advantage of the discount must verify their status through ID.me, a website that “simplifies how individuals prove and share their identity online.”
  • Can’t get enough of “Tiger King”? Don’t despair. Netflix is releasing an extra episode next week, Variety reported. “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” is a true-crime docuseries about wild animal owners in the United States. The documentary focuses on the self-proclaimed Tiger King, Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who keeps hundreds of wild animals in cages at his G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, Entertainment Weekly reported. Current zoo owner Jeff Lowe broke the news in a Cameo video posted on Twitter by Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Justin Turner. “Netflix is adding one more episode. It will be on next week. They’re filming here tomorrow,” Lowe said in the video. Lowe joined later episodes of “Tiger King” as Exotic’s business partner, Entertainment Weekly reported. It is not clear if the new episode will be a follow-up to the show’s seven-episode run or a reunion, Variety reported. Maldonado-Passage, 57, is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison for two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. The murder-for-hire charges stem from a plot to have a hitman kill Carole Baskin of Tampa, Florida, and the wildlife crimes are related to Maldonado-Passage’s killing of five tigers and falsifying of paperwork. Netflix did not respond to a request for comment about a new episode, the magazine reported.
  • Georgians are still feeling the weight of the new coronavirus Sunday as the number of confirmed cases increased to 6,647 and the death toll rose to 211.  The Georgia Department of Public Health reports since Saturday 3 more Georgians have died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus. The latest data released at noon shows 264 new cases since Saturday evening.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Of Georgia’s overall cases, 1,283 patients remain hospitalized, a rate of about 19%, according to the noon figures. That number is up from 1,266 confirmed hospitalizations Saturday evening. The rate of Georgia patients who have died of COVID-19 is about 3.1%.  The number of COVID-19 cases in the state has tripled in just over a week. Health officials announced that Georgia surpassed 2,000 cases on March 27. A statewide shelter-in-place mandate went into effect at 6 p.m. Friday in an effort to limit residents’ travel and curb the spread of the virus. The order requires Georgians to remain in their homes for all but essential activities, which include buying food, seeking medical care, working in critical jobs or exercising outdoors. » RELATED: Confusion surrounds Georgia’s coronavirus lockdown The number of cases across the state is expected to spike even more in coming weeks as plans are put in place to increase daily testing capacity. Projections suggest the state could see thousands of new cases and hundreds more deaths before the virus is contained. On Sunday, 27,832 tests had been conducted across the state with about 23.88% returning positive results.  » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia Fulton County has the most cases with 962, followed by Dougherty County with 686, DeKalb County with 543, and Cobb with 456, according to the latest data. Fulton reported 21 new cases since Saturday evening while hard-hit Dougherty County reported 50 more. The southwest Georgia county of about 90,000 has lost 30 residents to COVID-19, more than any other county in Georgia. MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany So far, the oldest patient to die in the state was a 96-year-old Bibb County woman while the youngest was a 29-year-old woman from Peach County, according to the health department.  For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals. 
  • As you drive toward the Marietta Square, you’ll see it to your right – a “Heroes Work Here” sign display below the Wellstar Kennestone hospital sign. Go through two traffic lights and you’ll see homemade signs of support in the front yards of some homeowners along Church Street.   From Marietta to elsewhere in metro Atlanta, residents are now acutely aware of the burden on health care workers as the coronavirus crisis plays out … and with likely many more tough days ahead before it all gets better.  What public shows of support for health care workers are you seeing in your local community? What are you and/or others doing to support those most at risk on the coronavirus frontlines? Tweet at us to tell us with your words and pictures: @wsbradio. You can also share with us on the WSB Open Mic, via the WSB Radio app.