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NBA releases complete restart schedule for 2019-20 season



June 26 (UPI) — Hours after officially finalizing a plan to resume the 2019-20 season, the NBA released a complete revised schedule for its 22-team restart in Orlando, Fla.

The season will resume — without fans — on July 30 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. On the opening night of competition, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans will face Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz, while LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will square off against Kawhi Leonard‘s L.A. Clippers.

Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus, leading to the league suspending play in mid-March.

“We can’t outrun the virus,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a conference call Friday. “This is what we’re going to be living with for the foreseeable future. This is a closed network. While it’s not impermeable, it is protected.”

There will be six games taking place on July 31, which will occur seven times in the seeding portion of the restart schedule. The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies will play in a key game for the eighth spot in the Western Conference that night.

Also on the second night of play, the Boston Celtics will challenge the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks, while James Harden and the Houston Rockets will take on the Dallas Mavericks.

The seeding games will run through Aug. 14. If a team is within four games of the eighth seed in either conference at the conclusion of the seeding games, there will be a play-in series to determine the final playoff seed.

Once the 16-team playoff field has been set, the league will continue with the normal postseason format. The NBA Finals will start Aug. 17 and end no later than Oct. 13.

Earlier Friday, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced that 16 players tested positive for the coronavirus in the first wave of mandatory testing in preparation for the restart.

Those 16 players were part of a pool of 302 players who were tested Tuesday. Silver said the numbers were close to what the league expected and that none of the 16 individuals were seriously ill.

Mandatory workouts begin July 1, and teams participating in the NBA’s 22-team restart can begin arriving in Orlando for camp July 7. Training camps will run from July 9 to 29.

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College football: Mountain West, Mid-American conferences vote to start seasons



Sept. 25 (UPI) — The Mountain West Conference intends to play an eight-game college football schedule that starts Oct. 24 after altering initial plans to postpone the season until spring 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mountain West board members met Thursday and approved the plan to resume football competitions. The conference issued an indefinite suspension for fall sports Aug. 10. The Mountain West’s plan before the pandemic struck was to start the season Aug. 29.

The conference announced in early August that it would postpone games until the weekend of Sept. 26, before its latest agreement for an October kickoff.

Nevada, Hawaii, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV and Fresno State comprise the Mountain West’s West Division. Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah State are in the Mountain Division.

The conference championship is planned for Dec. 19. All competitions are subject to state, county and local approvals, as well as COVID-19 testing and safety protocols.

“This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release.

The conference said each member institution will determine stadium capacities based on state, county and local health ordinances. Individual football schedules will be announced later.

On Friday, the Mid-American Conference followed suit and announced it will begin its football season on Nov. 4 and play a six-game, conference-only schedule.

The MAC on Aug. 8 became the first FBS conference to postpone the fall football season due to the coronavirus. The league said its championship game will take place on Dec. 18 or 19.

The university presidents unanimously approved the decision based on the recommendation of the conference’s medical advisory panel.

“I am pleased to inform our student-athletes, coaches and fans that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement Friday. “Our decisions, in August and again today, have been guided by an overriding concern for the well-being of the student-athletes, institutions and the community at large.

“Our medical advisory group, presidents, directors of athletics and others have worked hard to develop a plan that provides the opportunity for student-athletes to compete. We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the conference footprint and the country.”

The announcements from the MAC and MWC came after the Pac-12 announced Thursday it will play a seven-game, conference-only football schedule beginning in early November. No fans will be allowed to attend on-campus Pac-12 football games.

The Big Ten announced Sept. 16 it would resume football activities and start its 2020 football season Oct. 24, meaning all 10 FBS conferences will have fall football seasons this year.

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Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, wife Robyn welcome fourth child



Sept. 23 (UPI) — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and his wife, Robyn, welcomed their fourth child Wednesday.

Robyn Hayward announced the birth of their first son — Gordon Theodore Hayward — with a post on social media Wednesday. The announcement came only a few hours before the Celtics played the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“Our little man is finally here! This is Theo, Gordon Theodore Hayward,” she wrote on Instagram. “If you ask @gordonhayward his name is GT, but if you ask me and the girls his name is Theo. I miss you bunches @gordonhayward and can’t wait for you to meet him. We’re ready to watch you tonight!”

Gordon Hayward, 30, initially planned to leave the NBA bubble for the birth of their first son, but he decided to remain with the Celtics after discussions with his wife. If he had left the bubble, he would have been subject to another quarantine period — forcing him to miss at least two games.

The All-Star forward had some time off earlier in the Celtics’ playoff run because of a sprained ankle, and he spent some of that time with his family before returning to the league’s bubble near Orlando, Fla.

“I think his ankle’s fine right now,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday after the birth was announced. “I don’t think he’s thought about it all afternoon. … Very, very happy to hear the news.”

The Heat hold a 2-1 series lead over the Celtics. In his return from an ankle injury that sidelined him for about five weeks, Gordon Hayward had six points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series.

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Bianca Andreescu skipping French Open, rest of season



Sept. 23 (UPI) — 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu said she will not play in the upcoming French Open and will sit out the remainder of the 2020 season.

The 20-year-old Andreescu — currently ranked No. 7 in the world — announced her decision on social media, saying she wants to “focus on my health and training.”

“I have come to the difficult decision to skip the clay court swing this year and will be taking the remainder of the season off to focus on my health and training,” she wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “As hard as it was to come to this conclusion, I have so much to look forward to in 2021, including the Olympics.

“I want to use this time to focus on my game so I can come back stronger and better than ever. As always, your encouraging words and support meant the world to me and I look forward to getting back on the court and competing for Canada next year!”

Andreescu hasn’t competed on tour since withdrawing from a match during the WTA Finals in October 2019 because of a left knee injury. The same knee ailment prevented her from playing at the Australian Open in January.

Andreescu — the first Canadian to win a major singles trophy with her triumph in New York last year — also skipped this month’s U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and a lack of preparation time.

The 2020 French Open is set to begin Sunday in Paris. Andreescu is the third top-10 player on the women’s side to opt out of the tournament, joining No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 3 Naomi Osaka.

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