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Wizards' Rui Hachimura looked forward to representing Japan but understands decision to postpone Olympics

Wizards' Rui Hachimura looked forward to representing Japan but understands decision to postpone Olympics

This coming July, Wizards forward Rui Hachimura was set to make his Olympic Games debut, playing for Team Japan during the summer's Tokyo Games.

But on Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee announced that due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Games would be postponed to a date no later than the summer of 2021.

Hachimura, who played for Japan's senior national team for the first time during the 2019 FIBA World Cup, took to Instagram in the wake of the IOC's decision to postpone the Tokyo Games.

The Wizards rookie explained he was looking forward to representing his home country, but supports and understands the decision to temporarily push back the Olympic Games in order to prioritize everyone's safety.

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僕はアスリートとしてコンペティターであり、今年の夏のオリンピックで日本を代表する事をとても楽しみにしておりましたが、今回東京五輪が2021年に延期になった事を理解しサポートしています。世間は現在非常に厳しいチャレンジに直面し、今は皆さんの健康と安全が第一優先だと思います。オリンピックの全アスリートは来年に向けて世界中のファンの為に素晴らしいパフォーマンスをするモチベーションを持ち、世界がこのパンデミックを乗り越えた後、僕は自分の母国での素晴らしい祭典になると信じています。皆さん、それを実現するように一丸となりこれからも頑張りましょう! I am a competitor and was looking forward to representing Japan in the Olympics this summer, but I also understand and support the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics to 2021. The world is facing a very difficult challenge and everyone’s focus needs to be on health and safety.  Every Olympic athlete will be motivated to perform for the world next year and I believe it will be an even greater celebration of both sport and life in my home country after the world overcomes this pandemic.  Let’s all work together to make that happen! #StayStrong #Tokyo2021

A post shared by Rui “Louis” Hachimura 八村 塁 (@rui_8mura) on

"I am a competitor and was looking forward to representing Japan in the Olympics this summer, but I also understand and support the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics to 2021," Hachimura wrote. "The world is facing a very difficult challenge and everyone’s focus needs to be on health and safety. Every Olympic athlete will be motivated to perform for the world next year and I believe it will be an even greater celebration of both sport and life in my home country after the world overcomes this pandemic. Let’s all work together to make that happen!"

While many expect the Olympic Games to be next summer, there is no set date for them just yet. 

The Olympics typically take place during the NBA's offseason, allowing plenty of the league's stars to compete in the Games. But with the current NBA season on pause and the hope that the 2019-20 campaign can continue in a couple of months, next year's NBA schedule could look a little different as well. This would mean that Hachimura and other NBA players wishing to compete in next year's Olympics may not have the chance to do so. 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has stated there's a chance this year's NBA Finals could be played in July, and perhaps even August, depending on when it's deemed safe to play again. That means the 2020-21 NBA season would also be pushed back, likely with a start around Christmas time. Thus, if the NBA wanted to play another 82-game season next year, the playoffs would likely take place throughout the summertime, potentially overlapping with the Olympics.

This year's Olympic Games were expected to begin on July 24. If such is the case next year, it could be difficult for NBA players, who just finished their seasons a matter of days or weeks prior, to make the trip to Japan to compete.

Only time will tell for this scenario, as everyone's safety remains the main priority right now.

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Former Wizard Paul Pierce among NBA, WNBA stars to play in HORSE challenge

Former Wizard Paul Pierce among NBA, WNBA stars to play in HORSE challenge

As sports fans grip with the suspension of the NBA due to the coronavirus outbreak, the league has done its best to fill the basketball-sized void. On Thursday, it announced the latest part of that initiative: a HORSE competition.

The league will host its first-ever HORSE Challenge with eight players from the NBA and WNBA participating in a single-elimination tournament. On behalf of the participants, sponsor State Farm is donating $200,000 to charities assisting those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Wizards forward Paul Pierce is among the NBA’s representatives, which also include Trae Young, Chris Paul, Mike Conley Jr., Zach LaVine and Chauncey Billups. Three-time WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Tamika Catchings round out the field.

There are a few rules. Dunking won’t be allowed, and players must call the type of shot they’re taking before shooting—such as bank or swish. A coin flip will determine which player shoots first, with the elder player calling heads or tails.

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On April 12, four quarterfinal matchups will be played on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Young and Billups will open up the competition, followed by Catchings vs. Conley Jr., LaVine vs. Pierce and Paul vs. Quigley. The semifinal and championship matchups will then be played April 16.

It’s no NBA playoff game, but basketball fans will take what they can get amid the state of the world. As the league continues to monitor the situation and examine ways to salvage the 2019-20 season, fans have this HORSE competition to help get them through this global pandemic.

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NBA reportedly close to televising a HORSE competition while players are in isolation

NBA reportedly close to televising a HORSE competition while players are in isolation

While we wait for the 2019-20 NBA season to return from suspension, the league may have found another way to entertain us. 

Last week, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the NBA was working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition featuring several high-profile players. 

In this case, players would shoot by themselves, presumably at their homes, and go shot-for-shot with other players remotely. The great thing about H-O-R-S-E is all you need to be able to do is shoot, leaving the door open for former players like Paul Pierce to get in on the fun. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the NBA and ESPN's deal to televise H-O-R-S-E is nearing completion with a number of NBA stars on board to compete, per Wojnarowski. Chris Paul, Trae Young and Zach LaVine are expected to participate while the competition will also include WNBA players and a few recent NBA alumni. 

This wouldn't be the first time we've seen NBA players playing H-O-R-S-E on television. Back in 2010, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo and Omri Casspi played each other in H-O-R-S-E as a part of All-Star weekend. As you'd expect, Durant won. 

This follows the NBA kickstarting the first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament Friday, where 16 NBA stars play each other in an NBA 2K20 tournament for charity. Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura headline the event that is expected to run until April 11. 

According to Woj, the details on the H-O-R-S-E competition are still being finalized with the league and ESPN, who'd ultimately air the event. 

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