Former Trail Blazer Sebastian Telfair loses mom, brother to COVID-19

Former Trail Blazer Sebastian Telfair loses mom, brother to COVID-19

Sebastian Telfair, the 13th overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2004, and his family have been hit hard by the coronavirus. 

It was reported by the New York Post on Monday that Telfair's mother, Erica Telfair, had passed away due to complications from COVID-19. 

She was 64.

Unfortunately for Telfair, that wasn't the only loss he has suffered due to COVID-19.

In an interview with the Undefeated in late March, Telfair's cousin, former NBA guard Stephon Marbury announced that Telfair's older brother, Dan Turner, had also died of the virus

Telfair spent his first two years in the league with the Portland Trail Blazers before bouncing around the league and eventually ending his NBA career in 2015 with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Over his ten-year career he averaged 7.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.

NBA fans and players, both past and present made sure to show love and support for Telfair and his family on social media.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Telfair family. 

WNBA reports zero positive COVID-19 tests since initial quarantine period

WNBA reports zero positive COVID-19 tests since initial quarantine period

Less than 48 hours after the NBA announced zero positive coronavirus tests inside the Orlando bubble, the WNBA is producing similar results. 

Ahead of the WNBA’s tip off on Saturday inside the IMG Academy “Wubble,” Commissioner Cathy Engelbert reports no new players have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“If there was something to report, we would report it out,” Engelbert said in a press conference Wednesday. “Obviously, we’re testing our players and our staff often, so we had tested prior to players coming here and we had released those. If we had a story to tell, we would, thankfully we do not.”

Engelbert says only two players have tested positive for coronavirus since the initial quarantine period upon arriving to IMG Academy on July 6 when 11 out of the league’s 12 teams arrived. The Commissioner notes the last positive test was on or around July 8-9 and says there have been zero coronavirus tests since coming out of quarantine. 

I think the really interesting part is so far the plan and the protocols are working. Wearing masks and washing hands and making sure that daily temperature checks and daily symptom checks, and making sure we’re rooting out any issues, kind of did over the initial quarantine period, then an initial team only period, and now moving into scrimmages and games this weekend. 

You really have to follow the science. We have done an enormous amount of work on understanding data and the science, and obviously consulting with specialists, and that’s why these were so stringent, and you probably heard complaints early on here, because we’re really stringent on having to develop these health and safety protocols… Nobody loves wearing masks but masks are required. -- Cathy Engelbert

Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from Commissioner’s update is that what the WNBA and the NBA are doing appears to be working. 

The leagues share a number of the same protocols. Like the NBA, WNBA players were sent medical questionnaires and tested at least three times for COVID-19 ahead of traveling to Orlando. Other standards including regular testing and temperature checks, as well as players and staff wearing masks and practicing social distancing while inside the Wubble. 

The WNBA, won’t however, have a tip line as the NBA does, but they will follow up on any violations of safety protocol. Engelbert says there will be “serious ramifications,” for players leaving the Wubble. There is also a 7-10 day quarantine period for those who are coming back after authorized exits. 

[RELATED: Here's why NBA (and NFL, MLB) players must still practice social distancing]

The real question is can both leagues continue to maintain zero positive coronavirus tests when playing full contact in game-time situations. 

We will soon have our answers. The NBA began scrimmages on Wednesday and WNBA play will soon start play in Bradenton, Florida when Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty take on Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. PT. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].


The Minnesota Timberwolves could still move to Seattle -- here’s why

The Minnesota Timberwolves could still move to Seattle -- here’s why

Kevin Garnett has made his mission clear. He wants to bring the Seattle SuperSonics back and become team owner. 

If I have a dream, I would say that I would love to be able to go and buy the Seattle Supersonics and reactivate the Pacific Northwest. Seattle was huge to our league. I would love to be able to do that. That’s what’s up. If there’s one thing I could do tomorrow, it would be that.” -- Garnett told the Associated Press back in April

A recent report from Shams Charania, however, suggests the NBA legend may become an owner of another NBA franchise instead: the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Is it feasible to think Garnett and a group of investors could purchase the Timberwolves and relocate the team to another location…one maybe in Seattle?

Here’s what we know: Seattle deserves an NBA team once again. They deserve moments like Ray Allen dropping 54 points on the Jazz or Kevin Durant winning Rookie of the Year in green and gold. 

There’s two ways, as of now, that the SuperSonics could return to Seattle. An NBA team like the Timberwolves could relocate, or the NBA could expand. 

Seattle is a leading candidate to host a potential expansion team, especially now that Climate Pledge Arena will be built to host both an NHL and NBA team. The NBA is a 30-team league and it has been for nearly two decades, but broadly speaking, a city needs to fit several benchmarks to meet the NBA’s criteria and Seattle in our opinion is a slam dunk. 

Even better, imagine this. Kevin Garnett teaming up with his former Celtics Big-3 teammate Ray Allen in his quest to bring the NBA back to the Emerald City. We know they aren't the closest of friends, but let bygones be bygones, am I right? 

In a post on Instagram in 2017, Allen called for the Sonics return.

Seattle has grown so much since I was last here. What a great city! I had some great memories not too far away from the #spaceneedle. I still can’t believe that there is no basketball in Seattle!! This city is too great not to have a hoops squad. Come on everybody we need to rally and bring the NBA back to Seattle. let’s make this happen people!!! The NBA misses traveling to Seattle, I know I certainly do!!!!! #bringbackoursonics #keyarena #seattlecenter” – Ray Allen

The Sonics resided in Seattle from 1967 until 2008—but they moved to Oklahoma City after Howard Schultz sold the team to a group led by Clay Bennett. 

There have been several attempts over the years with Seattle-area athletes like Sue Bird and Russell Wilson trying to revive the NBA in Seattle. 

[RELATED: Sue Bird wants the Sonics (and a couple NW legends) back in Seattle]

Not to be a total buzzkill Sonics fans, but Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor later commented on the sale report, saying people who are seeking to relocate the team won't have their bids considered. Garnett has also said he will keep the team in Minnesota. 

Besides, why would Garnett, who played in a Timberwolves uniform from 1995-2007 and 2015-16, want to do that to his beloved Minnesota anyways? He'd be doing exactly what Oklahoma City did to Seattle, and ouch, don't remind us. 

We can't help thinking that, though, Clay Bennett did lie to the entire city of Seattle when his nine e-mails were made public, revealing Bennett and his co-owners had been planning for more than a year to move the team to Oklahoma City. Could a potential Timberwolves ownership group do the same? 

Well, if things don’t work out for Garnett to become a team owner in Minnesota, there’s always Seattle. The dream is still alive.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].


Kevin Love accepts Arthur Ashe award as an ‘honor and challenge’

Kevin Love accepts Arthur Ashe award as an ‘honor and challenge’

Kevin Love has inspired people across the country to open up about their struggles with mental health and depression. It’s a battle he knows all too well. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers star has shared his experiences on mental health, including a panic attack in a game against the Atlanta Hawks that he detailed in a column in The Players’ Tribune.

Since coming to the conclusion that he was dealing with anxiety and depression, Love’s life hasn’t been the same. He’s since made it his goal to be the face of mental health and wants to eradicate the stigma around masculinity and mental health. 

It’s that honesty, vulnerability and desire to bring conversation to that topic that earned Love the prestigious Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs for his work. The Lake Oswego High School alum called receiving the award a “humbling” experience. 

When I think about those I am joining as an Ashe recipient, humbled does not even begin to describe the feeling. Billie Jean King. Muhammad Ali. Bill Russell. I’m not going to try to do justice to all that these trailblazing icons have achieved. But I want to recognize and remind you that when they spoke up, they were not greeted with the warm reception that I was. They knew that change isn’t always pretty, but that history would be on their side. In light of all that’s going on in our country today, I accept this award as both an honor and a challenge. A challenge to not only continue on my path, but to push beyond it and stay vocal even when silence feels safer.” – Kevin Love 

The 31-year-old has been one of the key figures in the NBA and NBAPA’s mental health program for players. COVID-19 reminded him of the importance of physical well-being and what can happen when people internalize their problems and stress. 

His Kevin Love Fund has helped generate conversations, spearhead research and ignite partnerships in erasing the stigma around mental health. On Monday, the former UCLA Bruin committed $500k through his foundation to establish the Kevin Love Fund Centennial Chair in UCLA’s psychology department. 

Love’s message is one that resonates with so many in the country, and can hopefully inspire others in the league to follow in his footsteps. 

D'Antoni, Popovich or Gentry not coaching in Orlando? That's a huge asterisk

D'Antoni, Popovich or Gentry not coaching in Orlando? That's a huge asterisk

Can you imagine the San Antonio Spurs showing up in Orlando for the NBA’s return-to-play and Gregg Popovich not coaching them? Or what about Mike D’Antoni not heading up the Houston Rockets?

Well, those two coaches, along with New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry, are at risk of being barred from the NBA’s “bubble” because of their age, which lands them in a high-risk category for contracting COVID-19.

The National Basketball Coaches Association has spoken out about the possibility of the coaches being barred and so has an agent who represents two of those coaches.

"The health and safety of all NBA coaches is our main concern," the NBCA told ESPN in a statement. "However, we are also concerned with a coach's opportunity to work and to not have their ability to secure future jobs be severely jeopardized. The league assured us that a coach will not be excluded solely because of age.

"We feel the medical review process is designed to flag only those individuals who pose significant threats of substantial harm to themselves that cannot be reduced or eliminated by the NBA's considerable steps to create a healthy and safe atmosphere in Orlando.

"Adam (Silver) and the NBA have created a situation in Orlando that is likely far safer than in our coaches' home markets. Absent a significant threat, we believe a coach should be able to understand and assume their individual risks, waive liability, and coach in Orlando."

Popovich is 71, D’Antoni 69 and Gentry 65.

Warren LeGarie is the agent for D’Antoni and Gentry and his statement about the situation probably qualifies as a threat to file legal action against the league:

"I hope there is a basketball solution to this issue rather than a legal one."

I would assume that the deciding factor in allowing the coaches to be able to work in Orlando will be the opinions of medical professionals. If a doctor clears a coach and he signs a waiver, it would be assumed the coach could participate.

It's hard for me to imagine any of these coaches being kept from their duties, unless a severe health condition is found during an examination.

If that coach couldn’t? Having someone else run their teams during a playoff series would certainly put a unique, very large, asterisk on whatever happens in Orlando.

Kevin Love to be awarded Arthur Ashe Courage Award for mental health advocacy 

Kevin Love to be awarded Arthur Ashe Courage Award for mental health advocacy 

It took a lot of courage for Kevin Love to go public with his mental health struggles in 2018.

In an essay on The Players’ Tribune, the Cleveland Cavaliers star opened up about his personal battles with anxiety and depression, and shared what led him to become an advocate for mental health in the NBA and beyond. 

Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need. So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.

– Kevin Love 

Since then, Love has used his platform as an NBA player to help eliminate the stigma around mental health and challenged the norms around mental wellness and masculinity. For his efforts, the former Lake Oswego Laker will be awarded the prestigious Arthur Ashe Award during this year’s ESPY Awards broadcast on Sunday.

“If I can help just one child that is suffering to make sense of what they are experiencing, I know my efforts have been worth it,” Love said in a statement via the ESPYS Twitter.   

Love launched the Kevin Love Fund in 2018 to continue the conversation around mental health and has appeared at conferences to show others they are not alone in their struggles. When the COVID-19 crisis began, Love pledged to donate $100,000 through the Kevin Love fund to help ease the financial burden for Cavaliers arena and support staff.

It's important to know that those with a mental illness may be vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat. Be kind to one another. Be understanding of their fears, regardless if you don't feel the same. Be safe and make informed decisions during this time. And I encourage everyone to take care of themselves and to reach out to others in need -- whether that means supporting your local charities that are canceling events or checking in on your colleagues and family. -- Kevin Love

Love will join sports legends and global icons like Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and Pat Summitt as an Arthur Ashe Courage Award recipient. 

Listen and subscribe to “Sports Uncovered” for free wherever you listen to podcasts.

Carmelo Anthony, other players are disappointed about not having a vote in NBA’s return

Carmelo Anthony, other players are disappointed about not having a vote in NBA’s return

A number of NBA players are disappointed that everyone wasn’t given the opportunity to vote on whether to restart the 2019-20 season.

The National Basketball Players Association executive committee and its board of representatives approved the league’s 22-team, return-to-play format last week.

The event will be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, in late July. 

The NBA moving to a quarantined campus during this pandemic was already viewed as hazardous to a lot of players, as well as other players believing that the league is merely trying to ease the league’s economic burden.

Carmelo Anthony, as well as other players, have expressed their views on not receiving enough feedback and information on how the league will actually make facilities safe.

Due to this lack of information, Anthony is hesitant to say if he will play or not.

Ernie Johnson invited Carmelo Anthony to his Twitter show #NBATogether to discuss how he felt about the return of the NBA, and why he is still up in the air.

As far as actually playing ... I'm still up in the air a little bit because we don't have all the details. We don't know a lot of information, so until we have that, it's kind of hard to just commit to it 100 percent

It seems to be a much larger communication problem with the NBA as a whole.

The NBPA Board of Representatives’ obligation is to communicate with each individual on their respective teams to provide updates and make sure every player’s voice is heard.

It would be especially important now since the NBA is making its way back very soon.

With over 450 players in the NBA, it can’t be difficult to hear each and everyone one of them or even get a vote as quickly as possible.

This is something the NBPA could look into improving in the future.

If Anthony and other players decide to not play, some may not see payment when the NBA returns.

Are some players happy the NBA is coming back? Yes. But that does not mean it was planned out the best way.

This could be a lesson for all parties if anything like this happens again.

Channing Frye concerned with how NBA could be impacted by spike in COVID-19 cases

Channing Frye concerned with how NBA could be impacted by spike in COVID-19 cases

July 31st. That is when the NBA intends to return to play after suspending the season on March 11. 

22 of the 30 NBA teams will head to Orlando with a chance to finish a modified regular season and playoffs. 

While it's nice to see that we are in a place where leagues can return to play, we must be reminded that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. 

With states beginning to reopen, and thousands of people taking to the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement, there could be a second wave of COVID-19. This is something Talkin' Blazers host Channing Frye says we need to keep an eye on.

"The biggest tell will be how much does it spike over the next two weeks?" said Frye. "With all of these protests, even though people are wearing gloves and masks, how much does that protect you?"

States only recently reopened, and the protests have been going on for nearly two weeks, meaning it could still take some time to see if the two have a major impact on coronavirus numbers. 

If there is indeed a second wave, Frye hopes the NBA will be ready to stay safe.

I think the NBA, obviously, will have rules of being safe, but I do feel like in the next week to 10 days it's gonna be a real tell what happens with the spike of COVID. - Channing Frye 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

George Floyd's death: Seattle athletes organize rally demanding change


George Floyd's death: Seattle athletes organize rally demanding change

Hours after thousands gathered for a somber and defiant memorial to honor George Floyd in Minneapolis, prominent Seattle athletes gathered at Liberty Park in Renton, WA for a rally on social justice.

University of Washington men’s basketball assistant Will Conroy organized the event which drew hundreds cladded in facemasks and a panel of speakers including Jamal Crawford, Zach LaVine, Isaiah Thomas, Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and more.  

We all know what happened to George Floyd. We’re also disappointed and hurt, but how do we move forward? How do we educate ourselves? If we’re put in a situation with a police officer, how do we conduct ourselves? How do we speak a successful language that people understand, and we don’t have to speak with busting out windows? How do we do that? I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you that I’m here for these kids. -- Will Conroy

Conroy felt compelled to organize the event after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died on May 25 after white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Charges were elevated for Chauvin, from third-to-second degree murder on Wednesday. Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting murder. 

People all across the country have marched through the streets mourning Floyd and calling for an end to police brutality.

Conroy explained to the crowd that it was especially difficult to explain Floyd’s death to his two children, including 9-year-old son Will Jr. 

I try to teach him to treat everybody the same, as equals. Respect people. I try to teach him all those qualities, but when something like this happens, there’s a hard, harsh truth that I have to explain to him. And we’ve had that conversation and now he understands that some people just have hatred. But he has to know that not everyone is like that. That’s the first time we had the talk that unfortunately many Black people have to have with their kids. -- Will Conroy

Amongst those athletes who chose to speak out included Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart. Stewart called for justice and made her stance clear: She stands with the black community.

Obviously, I’m white (and) I cannot relate to the Black community. I know that what I’m feeling, you guys are feeling a thousand times more. And you know I think I’m going to just continue to do my best to create change. Create change from within because that’s where it first starts. …I’m going to educate my family and my friends. I’m going to have the uncomfortable conversations. Do the things we’ve put off, to be honest. It’s really time to create a change that really lasts. Black lives are important. And Black lives matter, obviously. -- Breanna Stewart

NBA stars Jamal Crawford and Isaiah Thomas, former Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril and Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd also urged those in attendance to continue the dialogue about race and social justice until change is made. Chicago Bulls guard Zach Lavine encouraged the crowd to vote in the 2020 elections.


LeBron James is putting the NBA in danger during hiatus

LeBron James is putting the NBA in danger during hiatus

OK, so LeBron James is working out with teammates at a “safe, secure” private location these days.

That doesn’t sound as if it fits under the NBA’s guidelines for what can be done during the league’s hiatus. Apparently “safe" and "secure” are relative terms.

Most teams were operating under the assumption that players could work out only at team facilities:

In the past, players hold (sic) their workouts in practically any practice facility. However, the NBA announced that it won’t be allowed this time around. Players can only workout in their team’s facility.

Yes, three or four players could be on the court at the same time, but they had to be separate. They were NOT supposed to actually be “practicing” together. There were all sorts of other rules associated with it, but I’m sure “The King” abided by them all.

I mean, he would never think he’s so special that he’s not governed by the same rules as his minions, right?

You’ve heard, by now, about Jordan Rules. Now get used to LeBron Rules.

If you haven’t already.