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Players, Coaches Kneel Before NBA’s Re-Opening Night | Sports News

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By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Black players were next to white players. Coaches from one team were next to their compatriots from the opposing side. Many locked arms with the man next to them, some shut their eyes tightly, a few including LeBron James briefly raising a fist into the air or pointing skyward.

The NBA had a strong, powerful re-opening night message.

When it comes to demanding change, the league stands united — and Thursday, the four teams that played on the first night of the league’s restart showed that by not standing.

They were unprecedented images for the league in unprecedented times: The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans knelt alongside one another during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” their way of joining the chorus of those demanding racial justice and equality in society. In the second game Thursday, James’ Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers did the same thing during the anthem preceding their matchup.

“Tonight we witnessed sober, powerfully moving and heartfelt demonstrations by our players of their commitment to the pursuit of justice,” National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts tweeted moments after the anthem preceding the Lakers-Clippers game ended. “Very proud.”

The NBA has a rule that dates back to the early 1980s decreeing that players must stand for the national anthem, and Commissioner Adam Silver quickly announced that the policy is being adjusted. The anthems were pre-recorded: Jon Batiste performed the one before Pelicans-Jazz, the Compton Kidz Club had the task before Clippers-Lakers.

“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem,” said Silver, who watched from a plexiglass-enclosed suite because he has not been quarantined and therefore cannot be around players and coaches who are living inside the NBA’s so-called bubble at Walt Disney World.

The coaches, first New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry and Utah’s Quin Snyder and then the Lakers’ Frank Vogel and the Clippers’ Doc Rivers, were next to one another, their arms locked together. The scenes, which occurred with the teams lined up along the sideline nearest where “Black Lives Matter” was painted onto the court, were the first of what is expected to be many silent game-day statements by players and coaches who will kneel to call attention to many issues — foremost among them, police brutality following the deaths of, among others, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in recent months.

Even the game referees took a knee during the pregame scene.

“I think it’s critical that all of us, in a unified way, turn attention to social justice,” Snyder said during a televised in-game interview. “And all the players, all the coaches, are united in that fact and committed to do what we can do to effect long-term change.”

Many players warmed up wearing shirts that said “Black Lives Matter.” Thursday also marked the debut of new jerseys bearing messages that many players chose to have added, such as “Equality” and “Peace.”

The NBA season was suspended when Rudy Gobert — who also scored the first basket of the restarted season — of the Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus and became the first player in the league with such a diagnosis.

Gobert was diagnosed on March 11; two days later, Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville, Kentucky apartment using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant was in connection with a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found.

Then on May 25, Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into the Black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes. That happened on a street, with the images — and sounds of the man saying he couldn’t breathe, then crying out for his mother — all captured on a cell phone video.

NBA players have used their platforms — both in the bubble and on social media — to demand equality, to demand justice for Taylor. Coaches have also said it is incumbent on them to demand change and educate themselves and others. And the pregame actions Thursday were just the start of what is expected to be a constant during the remainder of this season.

Other teams who will play their first games of the restart on Friday and Saturday are planning similar gestures.

“We want our lives to be valued as much as everybody else,” Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum said in a video that aired before the games, part of a project organized by both the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. “We don’t think that we’re better. We want to be seen as equals.”

Added Chris Paul, the Oklahoma City Thunder guard and president of the NBPA, speaking in the same video: “Things aren’t going to change until we sort of make them change.”

Gentry said he appreciated the accidental symmetry that came from the first games of the restarted season coming only hours after the funeral for U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who died July 17 at the age of 80.

Lewis spent most of his life championing civil rights and equality and was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington — the one where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Gentry said he believes this movement, like the one Lewis helped spark six decades ago, will endure.

“If you talk to some of the younger generation, I think this is here to stay. I really do,” Gentry said. “I have a 20-year-old son and a 22-year-old son, and I know that they feel like this is the most opportune time for us to try to have change in this country.”

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Celtics Keep Grizzlies From Clinching Spot in Play-In Series | Sports News

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LAKE BUENA VISTA (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 29 points and the Boston Celtics ran past Memphis 122-107 on Tuesday, putting the Grizzlies in further danger of missing the playoffs.

The Grizzlies missed another chance to guarantee themselves a spot in the Western Conference play-in series, and could fall out of eighth place if Portland beats Dallas later Tuesday.

Boston (48-23), which has already locked up the Eastern Conference’s third seed, won its fourth straight.

Gordon Hayward added 19 points and five assists.

Memphis (33-39) lost for the sixth time in seven games since the restart. Ja Morant finished with 26 points and 13 assists.

The Grizzlies arrived in Florida with 3 1/2-game cushion over their nearest competitor for the eighth seed in the West. But their struggles have guaranteed the need for a play-in game for that final spot with Portland, San Antonio and Phoenix all still in contention.

Memphis will head into its final seeding game against Milwaukee on Thursday needing a win to earn a place in the play-in game. The team that finishes ninth would have to beat the eighth-place team twice.

Boston didn’t look like a team coasting into the postseason. Celtics coach Brad Stevens played his regular starters and they were active on both ends of the floor

Tatum paced the offensive attack, scoring 17 points in just 15 minutes of action in the first half.

Tied at 13 in the first quarter, the Celtics went a 33-11 run and led by as many as 22 in the second quarter.

Boston held the Grizzlies to 33% (17 of 51) shooting in the half, including 1 of 13 (7.7%) from the 3-point line.

Celtics: Closed first quarter on 11-4 run. Shot 51% from the field (44 of 86) for the game.

Grizzlies: Finished 24% (7 of 29) from beyond the arc.

Celtics: Play Wizards on Thursday.

Grizzlies: Play Bucks on Thursday

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: Tottenham complete signing of Southampton midfielder | Football News

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Denmark midfielder joins Tottenham for around £15m on five-year deal; Kyle Walker-Peters leaves Spurs to join Saints in separate deal

Last Updated: 11/08/20 7:13pm

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is Tottenham's first signing of the summer transfer window

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is Tottenham’s first signing of the summer transfer window

Tottenham have completed the signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton.

The Denmark midfielder has signed a five-year contract after completing a medical on Monday and becomes Jose Mourinho’s first summer signing, joining for a fee of around £15m plus bonuses.

In a separate deal, 23-year-old full-back Kyle Walker-Peters has gone in the opposite direction – leaving Spurs to join Southampton – signing a five-year deal at St Mary’s after spending the second half of last season on loan with the club.

Kyle Walker-Peters has signed a five-year deal with Southampton

Kyle Walker-Peters has signed a five-year deal with Southampton

Hojbjerg made 134 appearances for Southampton after joining from Bayern Munich in 2016, with the Dane going on to become Saints skipper before being stripped of the captaincy in June when he confirmed his desire to leave the club.

“What was very important for me was that I wanted to play at a club where I could see myself for many years, and Tottenham was just the one,” Hojbjerg told the club’s website.

“I’m very proud, very happy, excited. I think there is a fantastic future ahead for the club, and I wanted so much to be a part of that.

“Spurs has fantastic players, fantastic manager, a fantastic setup.

“I feel lucky and proud to be a part of it, and I want to give my everything, but I also want to learn a lot, to push for the next step, but still keeping that consistency.”

After failing to break into Tottenham’s first team, Walker-Peters impressed on loan at Southampton as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side produced a strong finish to the Premier League season following its June restart.

Walker-Peters played in all nine of Southampton’s games after the restart as they lost just once to climb to an 11th-placed finish.

“I’m delighted to have signed here,” Walker-Peters told Southampton’s website. “The last few months on loan have been great for me and a lot of fun too. I’ve really enjoyed my football, the atmosphere here and also the style of play.

“The club definitely fits the way I like to play, and I hope that people were able to see that during the last month or so of the season.

“I feel like I’ve already developed in the time I’ve been here, and that’s a big part of wanting to stay too. Obviously, it’s a club with a great reputation for improving young players and, personally, I’ve found it really valuable working under the manager, with his ideas on the game and what he expects from you as an individual.

“I think the way we finished the season gives us real optimism about where we’re heading too, and it just feels like a really good place for me to keep developing as a player and make the best out of what I have.”

Analysis: Why Tottenham are signing Hojbjerg

Sky Sports’ Lyall Thomas:

Jose Mourinho has been in the market for a new – what he calls – ‘positional’ midfielder since attempts to adapt Eric Dier to the position proved unsuccessful and he was moved to centre-back.

Mourinho likes to play a single ‘pivot’ in midfield – think back to the likes of Claude Makelele at Chelsea – who will protect the back four dependably and consistently. It’s a key role in his system, and although Moussa Sissoko has done reasonably at it, they need someone more specialist at this position.

As the stats illustrate, Hojbjerg is that specialist; ideal for the role and both young yet still very experienced at big clubs and at international level. For £15m, he could present a shrewd bit of business by Spurs and Mourinho.

Analysis: The progressive box-to-box destroyer

The Denmark international is a box-to-box destroyer

The Denmark international is a box-to-box destroyer

Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:

In total, 37 per cent of Hojbjerg’s passes were directed upfield this season, which is something Spurs have struggled to achieve for some time – particularly since another Dane, Christian Eriksen, left the club.

Hojbjerg attempted 289 passes into the final third – a total surpassed by only 10 other players this season. Those risky passes reduce his accuracy, but Spurs needed an injection of forward momentum in their midfield.

Spurs have typically passed backwards or sideways and struggled to penetrate opposition lines, but Hojbjerg ranked 26th in the league this season with 672 forward passes attempted.

Spurs have typically passed backwards or sideways and struggled to penetrate opposition lines, but Hojbjerg ranked 26th in the league this season with 672 forward passes attempted.

The Denmark international also reclaimed possession a league-topping 326 times for Southampton during the campaign – epitomising the pressing style deployed under Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The graphic below reveals he primarily snuffs out dangerous flank attacks and is the complete box-to-box destroyer, dismantling opposition possession and causing a nuisance all over the pitch.

The 25-year-old has the mettle and mentality to drive Spurs forward and, at just £15m, he could prove to be this summer’s bargain deal.

Transfer Centre LIVE!

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Jose Mourinho says Harry Kane will not be as special at a different club and can be even better next season

Jose Mourinho says Harry Kane will not be as special at a different club and can be even better next season

All the latest news, analysis and rumours from the window in one place.

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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Nicola Sturgeon casts doubt over Celtic and Aberdeen matches after coronavirus rule breaches | Football News

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Sturgeon’s comments come after Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli broke quarantine rules, days after Aberdeen players tested positive for coronavirus following bar visit

Last Updated: 11/08/20 1:40pm










2:44

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said we should not expect Celtic and Aberdeen to play football over the coming week

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said we should not expect Celtic and Aberdeen to play football over the coming week

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned fans they should “not expect to see Aberdeen or Celtic play over the course of the coming week” after a series of coronavirus rule breaches.

Sturgeon accused players of being “incapable of living up to their responsibilities” after Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli broke coronavirus quarantine rules before playing in their 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock on Sunday.

Bolingoli travelled to Spain ahead of the match and did not quarantine on his return – something the club were unaware of until after the game.

  • Aug 1: Scottish Premiership season starts. Aberdeen lose opener 1-0 to Rangers. Eight players visit Aberdeen city centre bar after the defeat.
  • Aug 5: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces lockdown measures to be reimposed in Aberdeen after spike in coronavirus cases.
  • Aug 7: Aberdeen’s match at St Johnstone called off at request of government after two Dons players test positive for coronavirus after bar visit on Aug 1 that breached social distancing rules. Six more players ordered to self-isolate.
  • Aug 8: Eight Aberdeen players – Jonny Hayes, Michael Devlin, Scott McKenna, Matty Kennedy, Sam Cosgrove, Dylan McGeouch, Craig Bryson and Bruce Anderson – issue apology for bar visit.
  • Aug 8: Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths reminded of responsibilities after hosting birthday party for his girlfriend that breached government guidelines.
  • Aug 11: Scottish government threatens to to ‘pause’ Premiership after news that Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli broke quarantine rules. Celtic blast ‘irresponsible’ Bolingoli and apologise to all clubs.
  • Aug 11: Following talks between SPFL and Scottish government, Sturgeon says Celtic, Aberdeen fans should not expect to see their sides play in coming week.

It came just days after Aberdeen’s trip to St Johnstone was called off due to two of their players testing positive for coronavirus.

Eight Dons players later issued public apologies for breaking guidelines by visiting a bar following their opening-day defeat to Rangers on August 1.

2:44
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said we should not expect Celtic and Aberdeen to play football over the coming week

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said we should not expect Celtic and Aberdeen to play football over the coming week

In a press conference on Tuesday, First Minister Sturgeon said: “I don’t want the season to be in jeopardy. I don’t want people who are not responsible for this to pay the price but we have to be very clear that this situation is not acceptable.

“We’ll set out the conclusion of the talks later today but as a minimum, you should not expect to see Aberdeen or Celtic play over the course of the coming week.

“By putting this is as clearly as I can in language that the football world will understand, consider today the yellow card. The next time it will be the red card because you will leave us with absolutely no choice.”

Celtic are due to face St Mirren on Wednesday, with Aberdeen scheduled to host Hamilton

Celtic are due to face St Mirren on Wednesday, with Aberdeen scheduled to host Hamilton

She added: “Every day I stand here and ask members of the public to make huge sacrifices in how they live their lives.

“And the vast majority of members of the public are doing that and it’s not easy. We can’t have privileged football players just deciding they are not going to bother. This can’t go on.”

Celtic are due to play St Mirren on Wednesday, with Aberdeen scheduled to host Hamilton on the same evening. Both matches are now in doubt following Sturgeon’s comments – as is Saturday’s meeting between Celtic and Aberdeen.

‘They’ve put the population’s health at risk’

National Clinical Director of the Scottish government, Jason Leitch, says he was disappointed with the recent rule breaches after holding talks with Premiership clubs.

He said: “I spent 45 minutes with the captains and managers of our clubs. That meeting went very well. I was given a good hearing. I told them of the dangers of the virus.

“They put at risk two things. They put at risk principally the health of the population. Irrespective of if you’re a footballer, a factory worker, a schoolteacher or whoever you are. If you break the guidance you put at risk your own health and the health of your loved ones.

1:29
The Scottish Government’s National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch says the players in the Scottish Premiership who have broken coronavirus rules have risked the health of the public, and also risked the return of other elite sports.

The Scottish Government’s National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch says the players in the Scottish Premiership who have broken coronavirus rules have risked the health of the public, and also risked the return of other elite sports.

“That’s the most important thing for footballers to understand. But they have an added responsibility because they put at risk the return of elite sport. Not just their own sport, but golf, horse racing, rugby, swimming, everything else.

“We’ve designed a bubble system. Because they are privileged they are getting to do extra things that the rest of the population aren’t. And they have put that at risk. So I hope you can hear in my voice how disappointed I was yesterday to hear of another.

“It’s not just this one player, it’s a series of breaches now that we have to get the SPFL and the SFA and the clubs to address. It’s not my job to address them. I think our guidance and our rules are crystal clear.”

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