COVID-19

The NBA might need to take a page out of UFC’s playbook

The NBA might need to take a page out of UFC’s playbook

Stricter guidelines, procedures, and safety precautions: 

These will all most likely determine what could become the “new normal” for the general public and the NBA world.

As the NBA works to stay safe and yet still lay the groundwork of potentially resuming play, it seems unavoidable that the league and its players will need to be okay with a player testing positive for the virus.

In Tuesday’s Board of Governors call with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver there was the feeling of momentum heading toward a return to play the remainder of the 2019-20 season. There was also a conversation about how the NBA community will “need to get comfortable with some positive tests for the virus” and then not immediately shut down the season if there are positive cases, that’s according to ESPN’s  Adrian Wojnarowski

It also sounds like the league is continuing to discuss at length the possibility of a single-site return to play.

But really, the NBA is going to need to take a page out of the UFC’s playbook.

This past weekend, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was scheduled to fight Uriah Hall at UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida.

But, prior to the event, he tested positive for the coronavirus, as did two of his coaches.

UFC immediately pulled Souza from the card. 

Even with Souza off the card, the UFC still carried on with the event. 

UFC 249 went on as scheduled, with no fans in the stands, and by all accounts was a huge success. 

No other UFC athletes tested positive prior to UFC 249.

The UFC proved that events without fans can work just fine and it's more about the television broadcast these days.

No fans in attendance seems like the most certain of the NBA's ‘new normal’ at least for the foreseeable future.

A decision on the 2019-20 NBA season could be coming in the next "two to four weeks," according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.  

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fry and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon along with special guest former Portland Trail Blazer Steve Blake.

Report: Mariners to cut staff salaries to avoid layoffs

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USATI

Report: Mariners to cut staff salaries to avoid layoffs

COVID-19 has been tough on a lot of businesses around the world, and the business of sports has not been exempt.

Many leagues have canceled or suspended play in an attempt to keep those involved with the sports safe from the virus.

As MLB continues to weigh its options for the 2020 season, teams around the league have to deal with the loss of income that becomes greater with every missed game. 

According to a report from Corey Brock of The Athletic, the Seattle Mariners will cut staff salaries in an attempt to avoid layoffs and furloughs. 

Starting June 1st, the organization will implement a 20 percent cut for baseball operations and field staff who make $60,000 or more. The cuts will last through October.

General manager Jerry Dipoto told The Athletic that the Mariners "wanted to make sure we did the right thing and kept people afloat during a difficult time." Added Dipoto, "Our people understand the need to make adjustments and the responses have been genuinely positive.”

According to Brock's report, "The Mariners’ baseball operations staff met online and were assured no cuts or layoffs would be made before the end of May, if at all. This week, Dipoto and other members of his staff had calls with members of their staff to explain the cuts. He said the news was largely met with a sense of relief, especially with the possibility of layoffs and furloughs off the table for now."

While pay cuts are not ideal, they are the best-case scenario until the game itself returns. It may be less money, but it ensures that those on staff will continue to see paychecks during these trying times. 

According to multiple reports around the league, MLB could be eyeing a July start. 

Report: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver updates players, decision on season won't be made anytime soon

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USA Today Images

Report: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver updates players, decision on season won't be made anytime soon

Now that the Trail Blazers’ practice facility and other team’s facilities are open or set to open in the next couple of weeks for players to use for individual workouts, the league had a call with the players Friday.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania was the first to report the latest updates regarding the potential return of the 2019-20 season. 

Will play resume and what could that look like in the following months?

One thing seems almost certain: The league isn’t expecting to have fans in attendance.

As for the idea of playing at a single-site if plays resumes, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the players it would be safer to play the games all in one city and not have teams traveling around the country.

But, what happens if a player does test positive for the virus if the season does resume?

According to Charania, Silver is hoping for daily tests and in that case, if someone tests postive the league would have the player or players isolated.

The NBA isn’t reportedly going to make a decision on the season until, most likely, well into June.

On Friday’s call, some players expressed their concern of how they were feeling pressured to return to the teams’ practice facilities.

Silver said he would address those worries with the teams individually, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul was one of those players to voice his concern.

Commissioner Silver reassured players that if the season restarts, he hopes to still have a seven-game playoff series and he believes that all 30 teams’ owners do not want the 2019-20 season to be cancelled.  

Wojnarowski also pointed out that Silver mentioned there would be a minimum of three weeks for a training camp for teams before games would start.

From the sound of it, players were able to have their concerns heard as Silver reassured safety during Friday's call. 

Trail Blazers to participate in The Mayo Clinic Coronavirus Antibody Study

Trail Blazers to participate in The Mayo Clinic Coronavirus Antibody Study

The Trail Blazers’ practice facility is now open for individual workouts.  

Friday, May 8 marks the first time the Blazers have been allowed in the facility since the NBA directed all teams' practice areas be closed to players in mid-March.

There are several restrictions and guidelines put in place by the league for re-opening the facilities:

  • Individual workouts only. No actual practices.
  • No more than four players at the facility at one time. And no more than one player per basket.
  • Players must wear face masks at all times, except when engaged in physical activity.
  • Staffers working with players must wear gloves.
  • Physical distancing of at least 12 feet.
  • Each team must assign one senior executive to the position of “Facility Hygiene Officer.”

[RELATED]: CJ McCollum questions if re-opening team facilities is really worth it 

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers are not among the teams that are expected to test their players for COVID-19 upon entering the practice facility.

In areas where coronavirus testing has become readily available to at-risk health care workers, NBA teams will be allowed to administer tests to players and staff members, according to the report.

The Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic are expected to be among the teams allowed to distribute coronavirus tests.

Even though the Trail Blazers won’t be tested for the virus before entering the team's practice facility, the team and its staff will be participating in The Mayo Clinic Coronavirus Antibody Study.

Cleveland and Portland are, reportedly, two teams who are planning to participate in the study.  

The Mayo Clinic has teamed up with the NBA to participate in The Coronavirus Antibody Study, a partnership with the NBA and the Players Association.

Players and staff members will receive materials from The Mayo Clinic in order to collect sample specimens for scientists to review and study. Roughly two days after the samples are shipped back, the test results will be recorded.

The Trail Blazers are among many out there who are trying to navigate through these unchartered waters, while also doing their part to help support research of COVID-19. 

Jamal Crawford auctions off one of a kind jersey for COVID-19 relief

Jamal Crawford auctions off one of a kind jersey for COVID-19 relief

Seattle native and NBA free agent Jamal Crawford is giving away a one of a kind jersey to help with COVID-19 relief.

It seems like a lot of local athletes in the Seattle area, such as Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson, are doing therir part and stepping in during this COVID-19 pandemic to make sure the local community has what they need. 

Jamal Crawford decided it was his turn to help out.

The NBA veteran has recently teamed up with the Pledge It organization, which from the description of the website, is a free sports fundraising platform empowering teams and athletes to raise money based on their performance.

For the Pledge It cause, Crawford is auctioning off a signed one of a kind 12th man Seahawks Jersey that he wore during the raising of the 12th man flag.

Crawford only wore it once, so for any diehard fans, this is a one of a kind piece of material.

The donations are starting at $11 to enter for a chance to win the jersey, and greater donations are obviously most appreciated.

All the proceeds for the jersey are to help benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital. All for a good cause that Crawford believes this could obviously help a family in need.

Please give now. Because there’s another child at Seattle Children’s who is starting treatment. Because so many families, already worried for their sick child’s health, are counting on us to protect and care for their precious little ones while we manage the challenges that come with COVID-19. They need help. From someone like you. Please give as generously as you can. For our kids.

THANK YOU!

- Jamal Crawford

If you would like to place your donation and help with the proceeds for the Seattle Children’s Hospital, you can head to the website here.

NBA players will need weeks just to get back in game shape

NBA players will need weeks just to get back in game shape

It's been more than a month since the NBA ground to a halt and a return to the hardwood feels no closer than it was weeks ago. 

The NBA has yet to officially cancel the season and still holds on to hope of restarting and finishing the 2019-2020 season, but it's not as simple as just saying, "Alright, let's play ball."

A lot goes into being ready to restart the season. Where will they play? Will fans be in attendance? Will teams still be quarantined? etc. etc. etc.

But most importantly, will the players be ready? Sure, they are always mentally ready to play, but is the body physically ready?

Channing Frye, former NBA player and host fo Talkin' Blazers, says players could need at least a month of training just to get ready to play again.

"How long is it gonna take to get guys in shape?" Frye said. "Let's say tomorrow we're gonna start the season. That's a month for them to get in shape. What does that look like? A month of getting into shape, that's really just a month of guys shooting. They haven't been shooting for almost two months. Who's been practicing? What do guys look like? There's gonna be some chubby-nubbies coming back here." 

Players need to get their bodies ready before they go perform. Warriors Insider and guest on Talkin' Blazers, Monte Poole put it simply, "You don't want to have guys running out there and popping hamstrings, and that would happen if they came back to quick." 

It's obvious players need to be in shape and ready to play, but that means more than just hitting the weights and getting shots up. As the old bodybuilding saying goes, "abs are built in the kitchen."

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the kitchen may not be much help to a lot of athletes. Just take it from Frye:

Not everybody got chefs and can cook. People eat "struggle meals" inside their apartments, inside the cities. What are they supposed to do? They're used to eating at the (practice) facility. I knew so many guys that would basically eat three meals at the facility because we had a chef. Now guys are eating Hamburger Helper at three in the afternoon for dinner. - Channing Frye

No court to get shots up. No weight room to get workouts in. No chef, or cooking skills, to get solid healthy meals. Put all these things together and it's no wonder Frye thinks players need weeks of notice to get ready to play games again. 

At this point, I don't think fans or players care how many weeks they need to get ready. We all just want to see basketball again. 

Major League Baseball heading into 'massive' nationwide COVID-19 testing

Major League Baseball heading into 'massive' nationwide COVID-19 testing

Major League Baseball has signed on to become a major part of a massive research project designed to give scientists a better picture of how widespread COVID-19 is throughout the country.

As many as 10,000 people, according to ESPN, are expected to take part in testing, in which 27 of baseball’s 30 MLB teams are expected to participate. It will include a variety of people, including players, front office staff, concession workers and others.

The testing is being done by Stanford, USC and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory. A 10-minute testing kit will detect the presence of antibodies that would indicate whether people had contracted the virus, even if they were asymptomatic. The goal of the study is to get a better picture of the virus’ true infection rate.

"This is the first study of national scope where we're going to get a read on a large number of communities throughout the United States to understand how extensive the spread of the virus has been," said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who will assess the data gathered this week and write a peer-reviewed paper he hopes to publish as early as next week. "This will be the very first of those. Why MLB versus other employers? I've reached out to others, but MLB moved by far the fastest. They've been enormously cooperative and flexible. We're trying to set up a scientific study that would normally take years to set up, and it's going to be a matter of weeks."

And this is not a case where tests are being diverted from those who need them more urgently.

"These tests are absolutely not getting redirected from any kind of frontline testing programs," said Dr. Daniel Eichner, the president of SMRTL, who has worked extensively with MLB and other sports leagues on antidoping testing.

"MLB did not partner with us for any selfish reason to get their sport back sooner. They jumped in for public health policy. That was their intention and their only intention."

CJ McCollum on gathering teams in Vegas to play: 'You'd have to shut down the strip'

CJ McCollum on gathering teams in Vegas to play: 'You'd have to shut down the strip'

Major League Baseball is working on a plan to bring all its teams to the Phoenix area to begin a season in late May or June and the NBA is rumored to be thinking about doing something similar, perhaps in Las Vegas.

But would that work? Would it be safe?

CJ McCollum was asked about it Wednesday during an online news conference coordinated by the Trail Blazers. And he seemed to have some doubts about just how such a plan could be executed.

“I’m sure if there is a way to do it, they’ll figure it out,” he said. “I’m not sure if there is a way. But what I’m hearing is MLB is looking at certain cities, certain locations. Probably target cities that don’t have a stay-at-home ordinance. There’s probably seven to ten places left in the United States that don’t have a stay-at-home ordinance.”

But it would probably be a very large-scale operation for the city playing host to such an event.

“I think if you did it in Las Vegas you’d have to shut down the strip,” McCollum said. “I don’t know where you could find an area that’s completely isolated from outsiders. And that’s the problem that I think MLB and most sports are facing.”

And putting all those players in one spot for an extended period of time and expecting them to be alone?

“If you quarantine the players individually, you have to make sure they have interactions with no one, right?” he said.  “In a sense, family -- you don’t know where they would be traveling from.

“You’re basically isolating them because they could be asymptomatic carriers. Which could kind of disturb things and kind of throw off the balance of what you’re trying to accomplish.”

At this point, such a plan seems to require so much planning, followed by impeccable execution, it’s hard to imagine that it's workable.

“I don’t know how you do it, personally,” McCollum said. “I think we have people smart enough to figure things out if there is a way.

“I think one of these major sports organizations is going to figure it out.”

But what a puzzle it’s going to be.

Baseball's plan to play is encouraging, but won't work without essential tools

Baseball's plan to play is encouraging, but won't work without essential tools

Let me start by saying I love the fact that baseball is being creative with a plan to open its season sooner than expected. And I like the idea that players might be willing to be sequestered in the Phoenix area to play all games in that vicinity.

Playing and living in a bubble for weeks is not something anyone would relish, but on the other hand, if you're making a million bucks to do it...

I don’t think it’s a viable solution for an entire season, but it could work until life gets safer outside that bubble.

But I also hope the people pushing this plan forward with so much zeal understand the risks involved. And the tools that would be necessary to make it all work.

Obviously, reliable and rapid tests must be available for players, staff and everyone expected to be there. Those gathering in groups must be tested -- frequently. Anything short of that is an extreme gamble.

And those tests must also be readily available to all of us. For any sport to hoard thousands of testing kits while the general public is going without them is going to create an outcry that no sport wants.

So, plentiful testing for the whole country is a must. And possible, I think, because those tests are in the works and reportedly on the way.

But another thing that would be critical to this plan is the frantic search for a treatment plan for COVID-19. It’s extremely doubtful that a vaccine can be found for the virus, but certainly it’s possible to find a medication or a treatment regimen that can keep people from dying after being infected.

Unprecedented measures are being taken to repurpose existing drugs that might be useful in fighting off what is a very strong opponent.

And an effective treatment is the key, of course, for all of us being safe enough to return to a more normal existence. Just finding a way to reduce this virus to something akin to flu would be the answer.

But before that treatment is found, baseball would be taking the gamble of having to shut its plan down in failure if the virus spreads among the participants in what would be a very large group of quarantined people.

I’m not sure this is an idea that can be executed and I would hope it doesn’t set off a race to see which sport can come back first.

I don’t think being the first to come back is as important is being the sport that is the first to come back and stay back.

CJ McCollum an advocate of health over pay amid threat of cuts

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USATI

CJ McCollum an advocate of health over pay amid threat of cuts

NBA players could be taking a hit in the pocketbook as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA has proposed that players take a 50 percent pay reduction beginning with their next paycheck. However, the National Basketball Players Association has countered with a proposal of 25%, starting in mid-May.

On the Hoop, Adjacent Podcast with David Aldridge and Curt Gowdy, Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum was asked about the prospect of losing money. 

McCollum knows it's a possibility, but is more concerned with making sure people are safe during these trying times. 

Everything is on the table, you have to figure out a solution to a problem we've never had before. Financially, obviously, there are implications to not playing basketball. Not playing basketball for the rest of the year means we lose 23.5% of games played regular season and a complete playoff run. Not to mention the issues we've had with a certain owner and China... This is a year where Adam (Silver) has been put to the test and Adam has responded admirably. He's done a tremendous job of being in front of, essentially, everything. This is the point where we have to discuss, bunker down, and come to an agreement on a solution going forward. A lot of money is at stake. A lot of people's lives are at stake right now. I think it's more important that we worry about health as opposed to basketball. I think going forward that should be the approach. Health over everything. Figuring out how to keep the most amount of people safe going forward and then we can figure out the logistics of what everything else looks like later. - CJ McCollum

You can listen to the entire podcast HERE.

At this time the league and it's players would still prefer to restart the season at some point, but the reality is setting in that it just may not be feasible.