NBA talking with Disney about resuming season
UNDATED (AP) — The NBA could become a Mickey Mouse operation, although the idea isn’t Goofy.
The league is in talks with The Walt Disney Company on a single-site scenario for a resumption of play in Central Florida in late July. It's the clearest sign yet that the NBA believes the season can continue amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Basketball Players Association is also part of the talks with Disney.
Games would be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a massive campus on the Disney property near Orlando. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the conversations were still “exploratory,” and that the site would be used for practices and housing as well.
ESPN is primarily owned by Disney, one of the NBA’s broadcast partners.
Space won’t be an issue, even if Major League Soccer — which is also in talks to resume its season at Disney — is there at the same time as the NBA. The entire Disney complex is roughly 40 square miles, with nearly 24,000 hotel rooms owned or operated by Disney.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— Canada’s NHL teams have offered season ticket-holders rebate or refund options in acknowledgment that no more 2019-20 regular-season games will be played in front of fans in their respective buildings. The Canadian Press says all seven teams contacted their season ticket bases last week with options and/or deadlines to make a decision.
— The Washington Nationals have changed their plans for a virtual World Series ring ceremony after players decided they would rather wait until they could reunite in person to receive their new jewelry. The Nationals previously announced they were going to give out the rings during a show broadcast on television and online. They still plan to unveil the design of the ring Sunday, the anniversary of the date they began their turnaround from a 19-31 record to World Series champs.
— The Alaska Baseball League has canceled its summer season, which was scheduled to begin on June 29. The five-team league is made up of college players from mostly the Lower 48 states but also from places as far away as Taiwan. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, travel and housing would have been a logistical challenge during the seven weeks of play.
— President Donald Trump played golf Saturday for the first time since declaring the pandemic a national emergency more than two months ago. His return to the course is one more sign that he wants the country back to pre-outbreak times, even as the U.S. death toll from the virus nears 100,000. That's twice what he once predicted it would be. The outing was Trump's first to any of the money-making properties he owns since March 8, when he visited his private golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida.
— Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are getting ready for another made-for-TV match, this time with friends from the NFL. Woods and Peyton Manning take on Mickelson and Tom Brady in what's being billed as “The Match: Champions for Charity.” It will be the second straight Sunday live golf is on TV. The purpose is to raise $10 million for COVID-19 relief efforts and to provide entertainment.
— Eleven of China’s professional soccer teams have been disqualified for failing to pay wages and for five teams closing shop on their own terms. The 11 include Chinese Super League side, Tianjin Tianhai. Low attendance and gaudy contracts for overseas signings were already weighing heavily on the industry, even before the outbreak forced it into total shutdown.
— Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced that the soccer league in Spain will be allowed to resume June 8. It’s not clear when the first games will be held. The top tier, La Liga, has said it wants to resume play on June 12. There has been no play in the top tier due to the coronavirus crisis since March 12.
— A Bournemouth soccer club player in England is one of two positive tests for COVID-19 to emerge from the Premier League’s second round of testing. The club says “medical confidentiality means the player’s name will not be disclosed.” The team says the player will self-isolate for seven days before being tested again at a later date. The league tested 996 players and club staff on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
— Around 13,000 cardboard cutouts helped fill the stands at a key soccer match in Germany Saturday. Fans took pictures at home and paid for a cardboard cutout to be placed in the stands at the Bundesliga (BOON’-dehsh-lee-guh) game in Dusseldorf, which could help decide Champions League qualification.
— The Czech soccer league has restarted under strict conditions. Teplice beat visiting Liberec 2-0 without spectators in the first match in the First League in 73 days. Six rounds of games in the regular season and the playoffs remain in the league, which is scheduled to be completed by July 15.
— Jockeys and stall handlers in Britain will be required to wear masks when horse racing hopes to resume next month. The British Horseracing Authority is hoping to get government approval to return on June 1 for the first time since March.
— Fired NASCAR star Kyle Larson won the World of Outlaws race Saturday night in Pevley, Missouri, a day after finishing second behind brother-in-law Brad Sweet in the first Sprint Cup event with live fans in the dirt series’ return from a coronavirus pandemic suspension. With attendance limited and other safety measures in place at Federated Auto Parts I-55 Raceway, Larson edged Brent Marks by 0.794 seconds — with Sweet third in the 40-lap feature on the one-third mile oval. Larson has returned to dirt racing after losing his NASCAR Cup ride with Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racial slur during an online race.
— The coach of one of Florida’s top high school football programs has been suspended, and an investigation has been launched into whether the team that has won state championships in each of the past three seasons broke policies by practicing during the pandemic. Miami Northwestern High coach Max Edwards has been suspended, pending the result of the investigation, according to a school district official who spoke to The Miami Herald. The district says football practice at this time would be an “unauthorized athletic activity” and parents of players who may have taken part were being interviewed by school officials as part of the investigation. Northwestern won the Class 6A state title in 2017 and 2018 before winning the Class 5A championship last season. The Bulls are a seven-time state champion overall.
Saints adding ex-Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo
UNDATED (AP) — Linebacker Anthony Chickillo has agreed to a contract with the New Orleans Saints after playing his first five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The former sixth-round pick played in 11 games for the Steelers last season, finishing with 11 tackles and half a sack. Chickillo has played in 65 regular-season games with nine starts while also contributing as a regular on special teams.
Ryan Leaf arrested for domestic batter
PALM DESERT, Calif. (AP) — Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was arrested in Southern California on Friday.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said the second player taken in the 1998 draft was taken into custody on a domestic battery charge in Palm Desert, about 110 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Leaf was being held on $5,000 bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility.
Leaf finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1997 and led Washington State to the Rose Bowl. Drafted by the Chargers, he won just four of 18 games as a starter in three seasons with the team. He was 0-3 with the Dallas Cowboys in 2001 and finished his four-year career with 14 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions.
Olympic ski champion Anna Veith retires
VIENNA (AP) — Olympic ski champion Anna Veith has retired as a racer.
Veith twice returned to the top from serious knee injuries but called it a career a year after blowing out her knee for the third time. Veith announced her retirement live on Austrian TV. She says it was not a difficult decision.
Veith's main triumphs were super-G gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and back-to-back overall World Cup titles in 2014 and 2015. She called winning the super-G silver at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics “the most emotional day of my career.”
Eddie Sutton, Hall of Fame basketball coach, dies at 84
UNDATED (AP) — Eddie Sutton, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who led three teams to the Final Four and was the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament, died Saturday. He was 84.
Sutton’s family says in a statement that he died of natural causes at home in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area, surrounded by his three sons and their families. Wife Patsy died in 2013.
Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on April 3, Sutton was 806-328 in 37 seasons as a Division I head coach — not counting vacated victories or forfeited games -- and made it to 25 NCAA Tournaments.