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NBA must confront major COVID-19 issues after string of games postponed

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NBA must confront major COVID-19 issues after string of games postponed

On Monday afternoon, the NBA announced the game between the Pelicans and Mavericks scheduled for that evening as well as Tuesday night’s game between the Celtics and Bulls have been postponed because of COVID-19-related issues. 

Dallas star Luka Doncic said it all with his one-emoji response to the news.

MORE: Depleted Sixers forced to rely on rookies in loss to Nuggets

With two more contests off the upcoming schedule, the NBA will have postponed at least one game for three consecutive days (four total this season) after the Heat-Celtics matchup was removed from Sunday’s slate. As of Sunday, more than two dozen players remained in quarantine or isolation in accordance with the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The league has seen multiple teams complete games with rosters that casual fans would barely recognize. The testing, contact tracing and quarantine processes have been messy, to say the least.

So yeah, to echo Doncic’s sentiment, the 2020-21 NBA season isn’t going all that great. The league managed to finish out the previous campaign by creating a thorough health and safety policy and locking down the Florida “bubble” to the best of its ability. Now that teams have returned to the real world, the NBA is struggling to handle the problems presented by the pandemic.

That’s why the NBA and National Basketball Players Association will meet Monday regarding how to modify the current protocols. General managers are also set to have a call with the league Monday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. They will reportedly discuss the following topics:

  • Shootaround and practice lengths
  • Socializing on the court before and after games
  • Restrictions on restaurant dining
  • Tighter rules on mask-wearing

In addition tweaking its extensive health and safety document, the NBA should consider expanding rosters in order to avoid the nightly question of “Will they have enough to play this game?”

Eventually, though, the NBA and NBPA may have to talk about the possibility of temporarily shutting down, especially if teams won’t be receiving the coronavirus vaccine anytime soon. Some team executives have raised concerns in recent days, per Wojnarowski, but the league has been resistant to hitting the pause button.

“We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN. “There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols.”

But what happens when best-laid plans are derailed? What happens when the protocols aren’t working?

We’re about to find out.

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Bernie Sanders’ inauguration meme gets social media attention from sports world

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Bernie Sanders' inauguration meme gets social media attention from sports world

Bernie Sanders has a knack for online stardom.

The senator from Vermont is already the subject of one well-known meme — we’ll get to that in a second — and on Wednesday, thanks to his inauguration outfit, socially-distanced spot and demeanor at the Capitol, he earned another one. 

First off, props to Sanders who was sporting the same jacket from the original “I am once again asking” meme. If the jacket still fits and is in good shape from 2019, why not keep wearing it? 

So aside from the coat, he’s got a new meme thanks to a photo that popped up of the 79-year-old senator sitting in a folding chair socially distanced from everyone. He sat in said coat, with his arms crossed and warm mittens on his hands and his legs crossed — and, of course, he had on a mask. 

Following COVID-19 protocols, Sanders became a social media sensation once again and the sports world was quick to follow suit as well. 

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Collin Sexton beats Nets’ Kyrie Irving, James Harden & Kevin Durant on his own in double-OT

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Collin Sexton beats Nets' Kyrie Irving, James Harden & Kevin Durant on his own in double-OT

Collin Sexton did not dribble with the artistic flow of Kyrie Irving as he destroyed the Nets in double-overtime, but his pull-up jumpers and drives against Irving and Kevin Durant carried a lethal dose.

In the span of 1:31, Sexton scored 11 points on his own, including three 3-pointers in the face of Brooklyn defenders. He finished the game with a career-high 42 points, five rebounds, five assists and just one turnover in 38 minutes as his Cavaliers beat the Nets 147-135.

The performance came as the Nets played their first game with Irving, Durant and newly acquired James Harden on the floor together, spoiling a night in which Irving scored 37 points of his own.

MORE: Trae Young responds to Steve Nash’s criticism

Sexton, now in his third NBA season, isn’t far removed from being a rookie subjected to vitriol from his own teammates. Back then, Cavaliers veterans anonymously ripped him to the media and said he didn’t “know how to play.” He’s proving those critics wrong.

Sexton is averaging 27 points per game following his performance Wednesday night. He caught the attention of people around the NBA with the scoring outburst.

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Conor McGregor delivers wake-up call to quarantined Australian Open tennis players

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Conor McGregor delivers wake-up call to quarantined Australian Open tennis players

In a bizarre case of sporting worlds colliding, UFC superstar Conor McGregor has delivered a broadside to frustrated tennis players going through quarantine in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open. 

Over the past week, hundreds of the world’s best tennis players began arriving in Melbourne and Adelaide ahead of next month’s Australian Open.

More than 70 players and staff are in hard quarantine after 10 people returned positive COVID tests after arriving in Australia.

Some players, including Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva have hit out at the situation, likening the quarantine conditions to prison. 

MORE: Everything you need to know about UFC 257 | Conor McGregor’s five best UFC performances so far

In a storyline made possible only under the extreme circumstances of the pandemic over the past 12 months, McGregor – who is preparing to fight Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Fight Island this weekend – called on tennis players to “get their act together and be happy you get to compete.” 

McGregor has been an active voice in the fight against COVID, urging his millions of fans to wear masks and practice social distancing. 

In March last year, the 32-year-old donated €1 million worth of medical supplies and protective equipment to hospitals in the worst-hit regions of Ireland. 

In an interview on The Project on Wednesday night, the former featherweight and lightweight UFC champion delivered a broadside to those tennis players complaining about quarantine. 

“I’m actually surprised to hear that the tennis players are kicking up. We’ve gotta correct ourselves, there’s a lot going on and a lot at risk,” McGregor said. 

“It’s everyone’s duty on this earth to do what they can. To get to compete in a such a prestigious tennis tournament – or any tournament – a two-week lockdown prior, you should welcome it with open arms. I know I would.

“I’m eager to compete and perform for my fans. I want to give entertainment to people around the world who are going through so much. 

“I would urge the tennis players to get their act together, relish and embrace that you get to compete. 

“People can’t even go to work. Children can’t even go to school. And professional athletes are complaining about a little bit of isolation. Come on, guys.” 

With more than 50 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, McGregor has the biggest platforms in combat sport and hasn’t been afraid to use it. 

“I know I have a voice and a reach and some people would listen to me, and I wanted to get my point across that we’ve all got to do our part here,” he said. 

“I helped with the PPE, medical equipment and machinery also. I’ve done everything I could, but right now, we’re still back in the mix of it. 

“It’s coming back again. We’ve gotta recalibrate, readjust. I will continue doing what I’ve been urging all this time and that’s just to do your part and keep your distance.

“Stay the course and we’ll get through this.” 

 

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