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NBA return timeline clouded as Toronto cancels events through June amid COVID-19

NBA return timeline clouded as Toronto cancels events through June amid COVID-19

Tuesday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Torey announced the cancellation of permits for all major events through June 30. That includes festivals, parades and other large-scale, city-led events.

The question for fans combing through news clippings, hoping for the return of live sports: How does this affect the timeline for the potential resumption of the NBA, NHL and MLB seasons?

The knee-jerk reaction is to call it a major blow. That June 30 date comes after 40 previously-scheduled Blue Jays home games and would take us well beyond the previsouly-scheduled conclusion of the NBA and NHL playoffs (in which the Raptors and Maple Leafs were both locks). It's the longest a major North American city has committed to drastic, concrete social distancing guidelines — a barometer of just how murky the response, relief and recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic still is.

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Important context: As of this writing, this ordinance does not directly bar the NBA, NHL or MLB from resuming play through that date. David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported as much shortly after the news broke:

Still, no major sports league should or will return before every conceivable safety clearance is met. Just because this decision doesn't directly prohibit leagues from re-assembling teams, doesn't mean it won't impact their decision-making. It will. 

As will current stay-at-home edicts in the United States. Illinois' — issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker — runs through April 30. On Monday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order in his state that runs through June 10.

For what it's worth, the NBA appears motivated to somehow resolve its season at some point in the future. Recently, the idea of clustering teams and players into central, quarantined environments has been floated by prominent national reporters. Last week, Jabari Young of CNBC cited league sources in reporting that Las Vegas has been discussed as an option for such a concept.

But the logistical and emotional hurdles involved in any hypothetical return are immense. Look at the challenges Asian basketball leagues have encountered as evidence. At this point, it's impossible to say anything with even a modicum of certainty except that there is still a long, winding road ahead. 

Actions like those the city of Toronto has taken underscore that point.

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Michael Jordan issues statement of solidarity in wake of George Floyd's death

Michael Jordan issues statement of solidarity in wake of George Floyd's death

Add Michael Jordan to the growing list of powerful voices to address the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25 in an incident that brought third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin.

The incident, in which Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd’s pleas for help, has led to widespread protests throughout the United States, including in Chicago. Chauvin is white. Floyd was African-American.

In recent years, Jordan, the Charlotte Hornets chairman, has taken a more significant and public role in addressing societal issues after drawing criticism from some during his playing career with the Bulls for not doing and saying more.

“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan’s statement said. “I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.

“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all.

“My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice.”

 

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Bulls issue statement following death of George Floyd, recent protests

Bulls issue statement following death of George Floyd, recent protests

In a statement issued Sunday, the Bulls joined many in the sports world by speaking up in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Floyd died in police custody on May 25 after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine straight minutes (a video of which spread across the internet). Since, mass protests have taken root across the United States, including in Chicago.

In the statement, Nancy and Michael Reinsdorf expressed condolences to the families of those mourning, condemned racism in any form and called for action towards equality and justice for all.

“The events of the past weeks have been disturbing and challenging for us all. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as the incident with Christian Cooper, were gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. The Bulls organization sends our condolences to these families who have been caused unthinkable grief and to all those who suffer because of these terrible incidents.

“All too often, after these tragedies we talk but the conversations don’t result in any meaningful changes. Our communities can’t move forward or hope for peace when we’re constantly hitting the reset button after each incident. Everyone deserves to feel safe, to be respected and to be able to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of world we live in.

“We are angry, sad and confused. Racism in any form is wrong, and what we see happening makes us want to take action. We know that’s the same for a lot of people. But anger isn’t about destruction. Lawless actions won’t bring better understanding, and they don’t honor the lives that have been lost. We should use our energy and efforts to come together to build a better Chicago that stands for equality and justice for all.

“There is a crisis in our country, and we need to redouble our efforts and work harder than ever. We have to rise above our differences and come together to affect real change for the future; otherwise we’re going to see the past repeat itself again. We have to listen to each other, act with love and be intentional and relentless in our pursuit of a better world. It is time. We at the Chicago Bulls organization are committed to working together to stand for real change. We can do this together.”

Saturday, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White also voiced their reactions to Floyd’s killing:

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