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China’s CCTV to air Game 5 of NBA Finals after one-year ban

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Oct. 9 (UPI) — China’s CCTV announced that it will broadcast Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat on Friday, the first NBA broadcast in the country in more than a year.

The state-run network — which started televising NBA games in the early 1990s — pulled all NBA games from its programming in the wake of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey‘s tweet supporting protests in Hong Kong last October.

In a statement released Friday, CCTV cited the league’s assistance with combating the coronavirus in China as one of the reasons for bringing NBA games back. Earlier this year, the league donated more than $1 million and medical equipment to the country.

“During the recent Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, the NBA sent their well wishes to fans in China,” CCTV said in its statement. “We also took note of the league [and how it] has been continuously delivering goodwill [to China], particularly making positive contributions to Chinese people’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The decision to restore NBA broadcasts in China marks a significant step in improving relations between the league and the country, which had been damaged by Morey’s post on social media and NBA commissioner Adam Silver‘s comments in support of Morey.

Silver has made improving relations with China a priority over the past few months. In February, he said the league was facing more than $300 million in losses as many Chinese companies pulled their support of NBA franchises.

Games have still been available for online streaming in China, but fewer than in previous years. Last year, the NBA announced a $1.5 billion rights deal with streaming partner Tencent — also a partner with ESPN — to show games in China over the next five seasons.



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Washington Football Team name could remain in 2021 season

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Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Ex-Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving signs with Las Vegas Raiders

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Oct. 20 (UPI) — Former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, the team announced Tuesday.

In a statement, the Raiders said Irving was added to the practice squad. The team also activated quarterback Marcus Mariota off injured reserve.

The 27-year-old Irving, who must still complete the NFL’s new six-day player intake process, last played in the NFL in 2018. He announced in March 2019 that he was quitting football.

Irving’s announcement came shortly after the NFL suspended him indefinitely for violating its substance-abuse policy for a third time in as many years. He revealed his decision in an Instagram video where he appeared to be smoking marijuana, saying he was walking away due to the NFL’s restrictive policies on the substance.

But with players no longer being tested for marijuana use under the new collective bargaining agreement, Irving wanted to return to the league. The NFL reinstated Irving on Friday from his indefinite ban.

Irving, an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, made his NFL debut with the Cowboys in 2015. He recorded 56 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 37 career games with Dallas from 2015-18.

Meanwhile, the Raiders are coming off their bye week and could use the extra help on their defensive front. Las Vegas is tied for 29th in the league with seven team sacks. Defensive end Maxx Crosby leads the Raiders with four sacks.

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Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Cowboys’ Randy Gregory removed from commissioner’s exempt list

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Oct. 20 (UPI) — Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has been removed from the commissioner’s exempt list and will be available to play Sunday against the Washington Football Team.

The Cowboys announced Tuesday that Gregory was moved to the active roster ahead of Sunday’s matchup. As part of his conditional reinstatement to the league, he has been able to take part in meetings and workouts over the past two weeks.

Gregory, who had been on the commissioner’s exempt list since being reinstated by the NFL last month, hasn’t played in a game since the Cowboys’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 divisional round because of an indefinite suspension.

A number of violations of the league’s substance abuse policy led to multiple suspensions for Gregory, who has appeared in only 28 of a possible 86 career games. After his reinstatement, the Cowboys signed him to a one-year extension through 2021.

In 28 career games with Dallas, Gregory — a second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Nebraska — has recorded 41 total tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. His best season came in 2018, when he notched 25 tackles and six sacks over 14 regular-season contests.

Also Tuesday, the Cowboys waived defensive back Saivion Smith. Wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who had been battling a knee injury, was waived off injured reserve.

This week in the National Football League

Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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