Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, NESN.com will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways, and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.
Almost every day since the NBA suspended its season, setting off a chain reaction with essentially every other sport, I’ve been asked the same question regarding work.
“What are you writing about without sports going on?”
For a while, the answer was that I felt busy as ever, with constant stories about leagues getting canceled or postponed, NBA players getting diagnosed with the coronavirus and plans for returns that inevitably would get scrapped, because I don’t think any of us really realized how serious this would all become.
Of course, Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots and the NFL Draft kept the content wheels turning, but we’ve definitely had to get creative, too. After all, this column’s inception was a means of us here at NESN trying to fill a void left by postgame notebooks and other stories that arose from the luxury of having live sports on television most every night.
But one fellow writer especially, probably as sick of cranking out updates (and non-updates) about the return of sports, thought outside of the box.
So if you asked NBA reporter Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports what he was writing with no basketball going on, he could say he was writing about how to bring it back.
About a month ago I wrote about Smith’s brilliant plan. Rumors of finishing out the NBA season in a centralized location began flying around, and thanks to having worked there years back, he proposed that Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. would be a perfect place to host the league’s return.
Now, Smith gets to report on how the NBA is considering his idea as the frontrunner for venues to bring the league back. And beyond that, the MLS might hop on board and join the Disney quarantine too. Disney reportedly has started renovations to accomodate the two leagues and everything. Talk about typing something into existence, right?
Here are some other notes from Wednesday:
— So with the ball apparently moving on a safe, centralized venue, and facilities slowly opening up for workouts, the NBA has its sights set on resuming the season in mid-July. It also plans to roll out new guidelines, expanding workouts, on June 1.
— Also anticipated on June 1 is the slow return of college athletes on campus. The NCAA reportedly voted that football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball can begin voluntary athletic activities beginning on that day, with updates on other sports to come next week.
— Meanwhile, Major League Baseball’s proposed health protocols aren’t sitting well with players at the moment, and major leaguers are looking for a little clarity in addition to the league easing up on some health and safety mandates. Right now, the league’s mandates include restrictions on spitting sunflower seeds or tobacco on the field, contact with other players and the use of in-park facilities like batting cages and locker room showers. Also, what exactly does the MLB mean when it says players must wear face masks unless they’re doing something strenuous on the field? What does the league classify as strenuous?
— Boston Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom discussed the MLB’s potential return with NESN’s Tom Caron.
— Boston sports celebrated two birthdays Wednesday.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy turned 55, and we celebrated with some of our favorite Cassidy quotes while he gave an interview about how he feels about the NHL’s proposed 24-team playoff idea.
Celtics center Enes Kanter also officially made another trip around the sun, turning 28. His teammates sent him well wishes with some playful jokes at his expense.
— The Patriots on Wednesday signed veteran safety Patrick Chung to a contract extension, despite the fact that he considered retiring prior to inking the deal. That freed up some cap space allowing the team to come to an agreement with safety Kyle Dugger. With that, New England is the first team to sign its entire 2020 draft class.
— NASCAR made its return this past weekend, continuing into Wednesday with the Toyota 500 at Darlington. And it was eventful, with Kyle Busch wrecking Chase Elliot with 27 laps to go. Check out the video here.
— It looks like the Celtics tried hard to acquire two different NBA stars over the years. There’s debate over if this actually happened, but former general manager M.L. Carr said he was so serious about trying to bring Michael Jordan to Boston after his (first) retirement from the NBA that he offered the Chicago Bulls a first-round pick just to talk to him.
Carr also said he reached out to San Antonio Spurs coach and general manager Gregg Popovich about landing Tim Duncan after the 1997 NBA Draft Lottery.
Either of those scenarios would have been really cool, but at least the C’s currently have Jayson Tatum, but Stephen A. Smith believes could become the NBA’s best player.
— Speaking of best players, Tom Brady caught some serious heat after his TB12 brand launched immunity boosting vitamins. Medical professionals even went as far as to call him selling the supplement as “unethical.”
— On the other end of the spectrum, Brady’s former Patriots teammates, twins Devin and Jason McCourty were nominated for the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award given out at the ESPY’s. The McCourty twins’ philanthropic endeavors include efforts for criminal justice and education reform in Massachusetts. Well done.
Tweet of the Day
The Celtics honored an emergency room nurse who pulled over to help revive the victim of a car accident after her 12-hour shift as their “Hero Among Us.”
Full disclosure, I went to Ludlow High School with Alexa Sequeira, and as noted by The Boston Globe, this isn’t her first time stopping her car to offer assistance to someone after witnessing an accident. This was a well-deserved shoutout to one of Massachusetts’ own on the front line.
On her way home from a 12-hour shift as a nurse in the ER, Alexa Sequeira witnessed two officers reviving a victim of a car accident.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 20, 2020
Stat of the Day
Who is the most clutch playoff player in the last 30 years of the NBA? That would be Michael Jordan, followed by Michael Jordan.
Catch "Game 6: The Movie" tonight at 9 ET on @espn.
MJ finished the 1998 NBA Finals with 30 clutch time points (clutch time = the final 5 minutes of the 4th Qtr & OT, score within 5 pts)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 20, 2020
Video of the Day
What is one of the first things that Enes Kanter did as a Celtic? Instruct a group of kids to boo at another who had the audacity we wear Los Angeles Lakers shorts into the Red Auerbach Center.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 20, 2020
Thumbnail photo via Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports Images