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A few bumps in the road for the NBA

How’s that season restarting going?

A month ago, superstar players got on a Zoom call and reportedly created a united front to support a safe return to play. A lot has changed since. Last week, the 28 NBPA player representatives all voted in favor of the league’s proposal (which was approved by the board of governors the day before). But a closer look at the NBPA statement shows that the vote was strictly an approval of “further negotiations” with a caveat that “various details” were still to be negotiated.

Now that we’ve arrived at those various details, different parties have started to speak up with dissenting opinions. Last week, commissioner Adam Silver was fielding concerns about whether older coaches would be allowed to sit on the bench. On Wednesday, ESPN reported that a faction of players is hesitant to restart the season because of a policy that wouldn’t allow visitors until the first round of the playoffs, as well as a lack of motivation for teams unlikely to compete for the championship. Yahoo Sports reported Friday that a “significant” number of players were upset about not having a vote in approving the proposal and that some were reluctant to express their opinion to star players who want to play. Kyrie Irving, who is a vice president of the players union, was reported to be pushing for players to reconsider the planned restart.

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One of the main concerns is that some players believe a return to play would detract from the current protest movement prompted by the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Some players have already participated in the nationwide protests, and many have spoken out against police brutality on social media, including LeBron James, who yesterday announced plans to form a voting rights group with other athletes and celebrities. Malcolm Brogdon said on The JJ Redick Podcast that there are players who are interested in sitting out the rest of the season as part of a protest. Garrett Temple, meanwhile, told The Ringer that he believed going to Orlando was the right move and that being there a month before tipoff would give players the opportunity to come up with a plan to send a message.

“When you take a stance on things, you do that to bring attention,” said Temple, who is also an NBPA VP and represented the Nets in the player vote. “Then, after that, you have to actually do something to cause change … so whatever we do, it needs to be something that can cause tangible change in our community, in our game, in our country.”

That initial agreement was reached almost two weeks ago. Players were also surprised to find that the Disney/ESPN quarantine “bubble” doesn’t include Disney/ESPN employees, who will come and go from the site as before. Sure looks like a bit of a risk factor there. Even Commissioner Adam Silver is saying there are still issues to work out, and maybe this won’t be for every player. It still seems likely that the NBA will restart, but (no pun intended) it’s not a slam dunk. Things change fast, and time is limited. Until the teams actually start practicing and games get put on the schedule, it’s not a done deal.

Since I mentioned MLB in that earlier update, which at the time looked to be providing a “don’t be like this” contrast to the NBA, here’s one more Fangraphs article to read about how much the players were willing to negotiate versus how much the owners were willing to negotiate. That forthcoming grievance is gonna be something else.

MLS agrees on its restart, WNBA still considering options

More sports coming.

The MLS Players Association voted Wednesday to approve a revised collective bargaining agreement with the league. The new deal will run through 2025 and clears the way for Major League Soccer to resume its 2020 season via a single-site format in Orlando, Fla.

“I can’t give any further specifics on that Orlando concept,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a video conference with media. “That was a very, very big part of our discussions with our players. …We were fortunate to be able to finalize an agreement, as the union announced early this morning.”

Garber said details regarding the competition in Orlando, including format and dates, will be released later, but it is expected to be a tournament lasting no longer than 35 days. It will be conducted at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, which is where the NBA is planning to finish its season.

The commissioner also reiterated his commitment to finishing the season, even if that means pushing the MLS playoffs into 2021.

See here for the background. As noted, the NWSL is already set to return, on June 27. The NBA will be using the same ESPN facility, and I have yet to see how the logistics of that will be handled. I’m sure someone has a plan for it.

Meanwhile, the WNBA is still figuring things out.

The WNBA is considering playing its season at an MGM Resorts International property if it has a season this year, according to a report from The Associated Press.

The other location under consideration is IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

The league announced the suspension of its season in April amid the coronavirus pandemic and has not decided on a start date. Operational details of a possible start are not clear, but the league would use a single site — much like the NBA.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the AP on Tuesday that the league has discussed a variety of options but did not confirm whether Las Vegas or IMG Academy were possible locations.

“We’re looking at the pros and cons of a number of different locations,” Engelbert told the AP.

The WNBA hadn’t actually started its season yet – like MLB, it was still in its preseason when it suspended activities. If the WNBA chooses to play its games in Las Vegas, they may have some company in the form of the National Hockey League, which is considering Vegas among a list of other cities to play its games; like the NBA, the NHL season was suspended just before playoffs were to begin. Again, I’m sure someone will figure out how to handle multiple leagues and all their people sharing the same facility. I’m just trying to stay on top of the news here.

NBA sets a plan, MLB still working it out

Happening today.

The NBA is finalizing details of a plan which is expected to be approved by the league’s Board of Governors on Thursday, paving the way for a return from the coronavirus shutdown.

The board is poised to give the green light to commissioner Adam Silver’s return of basketball which would begin July 31 with a 22-team format, and end in mid-October with a champion being crowned, ESPN reported.

The plan requires support from three quarters of the league’s 30 teams in order to be approved.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Nets and Orlando Magic currently hold the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies occupy the postseason positions in the Western Conference.

Under the plan, each of the 22 teams will play eight regular-season games for seeding purposes for the postseason.

The 16 teams currently in the playoff picture will be joined by the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference.

In the East, the Washington Wizards are also included.

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All games are expected to be within the confines of Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando Florida, with all teams remaining on site to minimise risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

See here for the background. ESPN adds a bit more:

Life in the NBA bubble will be governed by a set of safety protocols. While players and coaches will be allowed to golf or eat at outdoor restaurants, they will also need to maintain social distancing, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

The NBA is planning to have uniform, daily testing for the coronavirus within the Disney campus environment, sources told ESPN. ESPN is owned by The Walt Disney Company.

If a player tests positive for the virus, the league’s intent would be to remove that player from the team to quarantine and treat individually — and continue to test other team members as they play on, sources said.

Employees at the Disney resort will have to maintain similar protocols. For example, no staff will be allowed into players’ rooms, and hallways will be carefully managed to avoid crowding, sources told Shelburne.

Weird, but the NBA had played the bulk of its season anyway, and the playoffs are always a different thing entirely. I just hope those employees at the Disney resort had someone thinking about their welfare as this deal was being hammered out. The Chron has more.

And then there’s MLB:

Major League Baseball has rejected the players’ offer for a 114-game regular season with no additional salary cuts and told the union it did not plan to make a counterproposal, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Players made their proposal Sunday, up from an 82-game regular season in management’s offer last week. Opening Day would be June 30, and the regular season would end Oct. 31, nearly five weeks after the Sept. 27 conclusion that MLB’s proposal stuck to from the season’s original schedule.

MLB told the union it had no interest in extending the season into November, when it fears a second wave of the coronavirus could disrupt the postseason and jeopardize $787 million in broadcast revenue.

While management has suggested it could play a short regular season of about 50 games with no more salary reductions, it has not formally proposed that concept. Earlier this week, multiple players told ESPN that they would not abide a shorter schedule, with one saying, “We want to play more games, and they want to play less. We want more baseball.”

See here for the previous update. If this sounds dire to you, let me refer you again to Eugene Freedman, who’s been around this block a few times.

Basically, it looks like the sides have agreed to the March deal, and now need to work out the safety and testing details, plus what to do if a player wants to opt out. Maybe the NBA getting set to start at the end of July will inspire them to agree on some version of their July 4 Opening Day season. Fingers crossed. The Chron has more.

The NBA inches closer to a return

We’ll know more soon.

NBA teams are expecting the league office will issue guidelines around June 1 that will allow franchises to start recalling players who’ve left their markets as a first step toward a formal ramp-up for the season’s resumption, sources told ESPN.

Teams expect a similar timeline from the league on when they’ll be allowed to expand individual workouts already underway with in-market players to include more team personnel, sources said.

The NBA suspended the 2019-20 season on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league is discussing a step-by-step plan for a resumption of the season that includes an initial two-week recall of players into team marketplaces for a period of quarantine, one to two weeks of individual workouts at team facilities, and a two- to three-week formal training camp, sources told ESPN.

Barring an unforeseen turn of events, many NBA owners, executives and National Basketball Players Association elders believe commissioner Adam Silver will green-light the return to play in June — with games expected to resume sometime before the end of July, sources said.

The NBA is still considering a two-site format for the return of the season, including Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Las Vegas, sources said.

See here for some background. That story was from Thursday. As of Saturday, things had progressed a bit further.

The NBA is going to Disneyworld. Or at least, it hopes to save its season and declare a champion in a single-site scenario outside of Orlando.

In the most public sign yet that the NBA is hopeful that it can resume its 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league has begun exploratory talks with the Walt Disney Company about using its venue in central Florida to hold practices and games without fans present.

“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” Bass said in a statement.

“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.”

The MLS is also looking at Orlando, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports facility. I don’t know how much that might complicate the logistics, but one presumes they will figure it out. The Chron had reported earlier in the week that the Toyota Center in Houston had been in the discussion as a potential venue, but that is apparently no longer in play. It’s possible the NBA will go straight into a playoff system, or it may play some more regular season games but eliminate the teams with the worst records to limit the number of people required to be there. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

As you know, Major League Baseball has also been working on a season-starting proposal, though in typical fashion the owners are making up claims about financial losses in an attempt to back out of the previous agreement with the players and squeeze them on salaries. I suspect this will get resolved at some point, in which case we may suddenly have a lot of sports coming back to us. Assuming, of course, that there isn’t a big post-reopening spike in infections or other insurmountable obstacle. But if things go as the optimists hope, we could go from no sports to a fairly full slate in a hurry. We’ll see.

Saturday video break: Meant To Be

Remember the Squirrel Nut Zippers?

I remember them well, and I wish they had made more CDs. I’ve been a fan of various forms of swing/jazz/ragtime music since my earliest exposure to jazz band in school. Of the bands that rode the swing revival wave of the 90s, the SNZs were my favorites. Turns out some form of the Zippers played a free outdoors concert in Houston last night, but I was unable to make it.

That song is of course called “Meant To Be”. A song by that same name provided a critical plot point in Disney’s Teen Beach Movie, a more-fun-than-it-had-any-right-to-be mashup of West Side Story, Back To The Future, Grease, and, well, teen beach movies.

Long story short, the girl with pigtails and the blond boy need the girl in the red polka dot dress and the boy with the guitar to be the “meant to be” in question. Watch the movie for yourself if you want to know more – it ain’t Shakespeare, but I’ve watched way worse. There was of course a Teen Beach Movie 2, which believe it or not generated some controversy in how it ended. It also generated this reprise of that song:

No word yet if Teen Beach Movie 3 will be a thing that happens or not.

Friday random ten: Ladies’ night, part 12

Feels appropriate to have a Donna Summer song in this first post-Labor Day post. Summer may be psychologically over, but Donna Summer is forever.

1. Mad About The Boy – Dinah Washington
2. I Touch Myself – Divinyls (Chrissy Amphlett)
3. Travelin’ Soldier – Dixie Chicks
4. Take You Home – Dominique Star
5. Hot Stuff – Donna Summer
6. Fall Behind Me – The Donnas
7. Better In Stereo – Dove Cameron
8. Kringles – Dressy Bessy (Tammy Ealom)
9. Just A Little Lovin’ – Dusty Springfield
10. Continents Of Time – Eddie From Ohio (Julie Murphy Wells)

“Better in Stereo” is the theme song to the Disney Channel show (Liv and Maddie)that stars Dove Cameron in a dual role as a set of twins. The actor who plays her boyfriend in the show, Ryan McCartan, plays the boyfriend of one of the twins on the show and is also cast as Brad in the forthcoming live-TV rendition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank N. Furter. I actually think Dove Cameron would make for a fine Little Nell in that production, but no one asked me. Or maybe it could be that she’s already playing Amber Von Tussle in Hairspray Live! and couldn’t be in two places at once. You decide.

Saturday video break: I Wanna Be Like You

A Disney classic, sung by “King Louie” Prima in The Jungle Book, here’s Los Lobos:

That’s from a live morning-show TV appearance; skip ahead to about 1:30 to get past the talk. This is a different rendition than what they did on the seminal Stay Awake album of diverse Disney covers – you can hear that version here if you want. I consider that to be the canonical cover, and you can hear their influence in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s version:

Still a great rendition, with smoking horn work, but I favor Los Lobos. What’s your preference?

Saturday video break: Heigh Ho

Two very different takes on a Disney classic. First up, Tom Waits:

That’s from the great album Stay Awake. Sure puts another spin on the Dwarfs’ day, doesn’t it? I didn’t really like this version when I first heard it – I think that’s because Stay Awake is full of more alternative artists, and if you bought that album expecting to hear what you were used to, you were going to be surprised, if not disappointed. It grew on me over time. This video is better quality – it’s not a recording of what’s on a TV screen – with better sound, but it wasn’t embeddable, so there you have it.

And then there’s Los Lobos:

I’ve featured this video before, and it continues to be one of my absolute favorite takes on any Disney song. Which is what I’d expect from Los Lobos, because they’re awesome. If you know of any other worthy covers of this, leave a comment and let us know.

Friday random ten: Parenthetically speaking, part 11

More great parentheticals coming right at you.

1. Remember (Walking In The Sand) – Aerosmith
2. Right Next Door (Because Of Me) – Robert Cray
3. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) – Bruce Springsteen
4. S.I.M.P. (Squirrels In My Pants) – 2 Guys N The Parque
5. Set Me Free (Rosa Lee) – Los Lobos
6. (She’s) Sexy & 17 – Stray Cats
7. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) – Stevie Wonder
8. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyonce
9. So Long Mom (A Song For World War III) – Tom Lehrer
10. Star (Of The County Down) – Enter The Haggis!

Song #4 is of course a Phineas and Ferb song. You’re not familiar with Phineas and Ferb? Maybe this will help you get acquainted:

There’s an extended version here, because of course there is. We’re big P&F fans around here. Spend an hour or so searching the Disney Channel on YouTube for Phineas and Ferb videos, it’ll be well worth your time. The rest of the songs above are pretty good, too.

Saturday video break: How do you say “Heigh Ho” in Spanish?

Los Lobos makes everything better:

Kind of fitting for Labor Day weekend, don’t you think? Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

Saturday video break: Vacation

This is approximately how I feel about being in nature:

But for better or for worse, it’s where I’m gonna be for the next few days. Barring anything unexpected, I will have little to no Internet connectivity during this time. (Yes, I’m quivering at the thought, but I’m trying to be brave.) I’ve got posts scheduled to publish for the duration, which will end Wednesday night, so there will be some updates even without me being there. Isn’t technology grand? See you Thursday.