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From the department of bad sporting news, we bring you Tuesday’s update from China:
The Chinese Basketball Association will not be re-starting soon, as had been hoped, after all, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The CBA has been shuttered since January because of the coronavirus outbreak, but had been moving toward splitting its 20 teams between two cities where games would be played in empty arenas within a month, per ESPN. If that had occurred, it would have given other leagues — such as the NBA — an idea of how their own re-starts theoretically could work.
Instead, the waiting game is back on, though the report had teams telling their players — many of whom are from North America — that they still intend to resume the season this year. Some players had returned to China and were in the midst of 14-day quarantines, thinking the season was about to pick back up. Practices were happening, though that might be halted again.
“It’s looking toward the end of April, for sure in May, based upon what I’ve heard,” Stephon Marbury, an NBA star turned Chinese hoops legend, told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Monday. “Because of the severity of it, they don’t want a resurgence of the virus to come back. So they’re taking all precautions, making sure everyone gets tested. I’ve already been tested twice.”
JORDAN DOC COMING EARLY
The wait for one of the most anticipated documentaries in basketball history is nearly over. ESPN, after many requests from the public, announced Tuesday that it is moving up the release date of its Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” from June to April. That will give basketball-starved fans something to watch and it will finally bring to light footage that was shot over 20 years ago as Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won their sixth title in eight years, before his second (of three) retirements.
The 10-piece saga will debut on April 19 in the U.S. and a day later on Netflix in Canada, with two episodes at a time being released every subsequent Monday in Canada, until the final two episodes on May 18.
“As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience,” ESPN said in a statement.
“We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that. This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans.”
While behind-the-scenes footage is commonplace now (“Hard Knocks” for the NFL and the excellent “Open Gym” series that has chronicled the Raptors for years), it was far rarer in the late-1990s, when Bulls ownership, Jordan and head coach Phil Jackson, allowed a camera crew unlimited access.
The documentary was directed by Jason Hehir, who directed “Andre the Giant” and “The Fab Five,” amongst other things.
Shamelessly swiping this idea from The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, who is doing podcasts on this concept, though it’s something I’ve done with friends for years. Thinking of making it a regular addition for a while. Re-drafting certain drafts, how they should have gone. The Raptors tie-in will be that it only can be drafts they were a part of. Let’s start with 1995, the first one with Canadian teams taking part.
Actual Top 10:
1. Joe Smith, Golden State; 2. Antonio McDyess, L.A. Clippers; 3. Jerry Stackhouse, Philadelphia; 4. Rasheed Wallace, Washington; 5. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota; 6. Bryant Reeves, Vancouver; 7. Damon Stoudamire, Toronto; 8. Shawn Respert, Portland; 9. Ed O’Bannon, New Jersey; 10. Kurt Thomas, Miami.
How it should have gone:
Garnett; Wallace; Stoudamire; Michael Finley; McDyess; Stackhouse; Smith; Brent Barry; Theo Ratliff; Corliss Williamson.
DEMAR STILL HAS LOVE FOR RAPTORS
Unlike some other leagues (the NHL and MLS come immediately to mind), the NBA is not making players available to the media at the moment, but they’re still being quite active on social media. That includes the Raptors, who particularly seem to enjoy Instagram. Earlier this week, former franchise icon DeMar DeRozan had a long chat with its new star, Pascal Siakam, covering quite a bit of ground.
Siakam thanked DeRozan for helping set the stage for everything that followed, while DeRozan told the power forward “You got the full blueprint to even pass (Kyle Lowry as the greatest Raptor ever).”
He also said he loved being around to see Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell grow as players and wished he had been given a chance to do the same in that role, alongside veteran all-star Chris Bosh, who left for Miami after DeRozan’s rookie season.
DeRozan also said again how happy he was to see the Raptors win the championship, even though he wasn’t on the team anymore.
“To go from that to being by myself as the young guy having to learn everything on my own from there, to seeing y’all come in and do what y’all did last year. That was the best s— ever,” he said.
Siakam asked DeRozan if the waiting game during the 2001 NBA lockout felt similar to this hiatus. “See, at least the lockout, you knew … besides not playing, we were able to go to the gym, kind of stay active and know, if it starts tomorrow, everyone is ready … It was understood, we are going to play this year. But now, it’s like, you just don’t know.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020