Tue, 29 Sep 2020

NBA notebook: Players, coaches kneel as games return

Field Level Media
31 Jul 2020, 12:19 GMT+10

Every person present at HP Fieldhouse on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus near Orlando knelt during the national anthem before the first game of the NBA's restarted season on Thursday night.

All players, coaches and staff members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz, along with all officials, wore shirts reading "BLACK LIVES MATTER," which was also printed on the court. Many locked arms with those next to them, while some players raised fists in the air.

The players and coaches on the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers also knelt prior to Thursday night's later game at The Arena on the Wide World of Sports campus.

Players displayed a variety of social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, including "Black Lives Matter," "Say Their Names" and "I Can't Breathe."

--Tom Thibodeau was named head coach of the New York Knicks.

The former Knicks assistant coach (1996-2004) signed a five-year deal to guide a rapid rebuild alongside new team president Leon Rose.

Thibodeau, who previously was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls (2010-15) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2016-19), had been considered the frontrunner for the job and had a formal interview in early July. The 62-year-old has a 352-246 career record.

--Rookie sensation Zion Williamson scored 13 points in 15 minutes while playing in the New Orleans Pelicans' season restart 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

Head coach Alvin Gentry called Williamson a game-time decision, saying two hours before tip-off that a final call would be made after Williamson warmed up. The news that he would play was reported less than an hour before tip.

Williamson recently returned to the Pelicans after being away due to a family emergency and was cleared to practice with the team on Tuesday night after serving a four-day quarantine.

--The Milwaukee Bucks will begin the NBA's restarted season in central Florida without guards Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton, head coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Bledsoe and Connaughton will both sit out against the Boston Celtics on Friday, while their status for Sunday's game against Houston is unknown.

Both are working into shape after arriving late at the NBA bubble, following positive tests for COVID-19. Both practiced on Thursday, but neither took part in any of the Bucks' three exhibition games.

--The NBA and National Basketball Players Association reached a deal that will provide $2.5 million in disability insurance for career-ending injuries, ESPN reported.

The insurance would cover off-court injuries as well, including COVID-19. Further, the payout would be in addition to the contract payout and covers active players up to 35 years old, according to the report.

The previous policy paid out approximately $312,000, according to the report.

--Field Level Media

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