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Leonard Delivers In First Game With Raptors

Kawhi Leonard turned in a quality performance in his first game with the Toronto Raptors Monday night.

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Regardless of how long it may last, the Kawhi Leonard era of the Toronto Raptors is officially underway. Leonard scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Toronto’s 116-104 victory over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night. Those numbers aren’t amazing, but they’re definitely strong and a win’s a win. So everyone in Toronto is happy today. Including Leonard.

“I felt good,” he said after the game. “I’m happy we came out and got a win. I came out of the game healthy, so it’s a win-win for me.” And he got a great reaction from the crowd when he was introduced before the game, too. Which he definitely appreciated. “It was great,” he said of the ovation. “They gave me some more energy.”

It was Leonard’s first real NBA action since January with the Spurs. He only played a grand total of 9 games last season, and it showed a bit at first as he missed his first three shots. But then he “got his groove back,” so to speak and went 3 of his next 4. New Teammate Kyle Lowry also turned in a fantastic game with a game-high 27 points and 8 assists.

So, all in all, it was a great start to the season for Toronto. Where exactly it goes from here, no one knows. Many expect them to compete for the Eastern Conference Championship and make the Finals. But obviously, they’ll have to go through the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, or any combination of the three. So it will certainly be a challenge.

And we haven’t even touched on next season! Leonard is still set to become a free agent at the end of the season. And many people still believe he wants to end up in Los Angeles. But at this point, it’s really anyone’s guess. It’s not hard to imagine him not wanting to be a Laker anymore, considering the pressure and attention that would come with it. And would he really leave a championship contender like the Raptors to join the likely-to-be-hapless Los Angeles Clippers? Again… it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

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Basketball

King James Reigns as the AP Male Athlete of the Year

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King James has been making waves this year for his active participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. He also used his influence to encourage citizens of America to vote in the 2020 Presidential elections. Throughout the pandemic lockdowns, he provided relief efforts to people affected by the economic downfall. 

On top of all of these, James just added another NBA championship ring to his collection. His spectacular performance on the court brought the Los Angeles Lakers back on top of the basketball league. With this victory came his fourth championship title and his fourth Finals MVP trophy.

Making things go full circle is The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year recognition, which was awarded to him for the fourth time last Saturday.

Inspiring and Empowering People

LeBron James knows his way around the court, establishing his name as one of the league’s greatest players. However, this year, he realized that he could make an even more significant impact outside the game. He sought out to continue inspiring people through his passion for basketball and off the floor to help build a more empowered, cultivated, and united society. 

Through his non-profit organization called More Than A Vote, James drew over 42,000 people to volunteer at polling stations during the recently concluded elections. Likewise, he was able to advocate for turnout among Black and young, first-time voters.

According to AP VoteCast, Black voters comprised 11% of the national electorate and that 9 out of every 10 elected Joe Biden. It is also evident that the president-elect performed well in major states populated mainly by Black Americans. Among which are NBA cities such as Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Detroit. 

A Great Leader in Sports

James’ NBA scoring and assist record remains unmatched this year. He surpassed Kobe Bryant’s, who held the number 3 spot on the all-time scoring list last January. His impressive achievements did not stop there as he is now officially the only player in the league who was awarded NBA Finals MVP for three different franchises.

In true King James fashion, he already has his eyes on 2021 and the new NBA season. The Lakers are expected to come back strong and conditioned to work for a back-to-back championship. 

The Prestige of the AP Award

James will now be joining Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong’s likes in holding the record for winning the Male Athlete of the Year award four times—2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020. Recognized by his teammates as one of the most outstanding leaders in sports, he was also awarded as AP’s male athlete of the decade. 

Michael Jordan was the only other basketball player who won the AP award more than once. 

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Baseball

Sports World Today Still Heavily Affected by Covid-19

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The unprecedented outbreak of the novel coronavirus badly impacted the normal sports routine worldwide. Massive suspension and cancellation of various sports events were initiated in a move to curb the rapid transmission of the deadly virus earlier this year. Let’s take a look, however, at the condition of the sports world today.

In the world of basketball, Mississippi coach Kermit Davis unfortunately tests positive for COVID-19. His condition might result to him being placed at the sidelines when the season finally begins. The news was announced earlier on Tuesday, adding that Davis will undergo a second test. If he, however, tests positive again, he will be forced to opt out of the Rebels’ first couple of games as he will be required to go through self-quarantine at home.

To offset his absence, though, Ronnie Hamilton is expected to play as head coach during the upcoming home events on November 25 and 26. The Rebels are scheduled to go against Central Arkansas and Jackson State on the said dates. To soften the blow, Davis will be allowed to watch through the practice sessions and even contact the team via virtual means.

During the scheduled basketball season opening, the Indiana Hoosiers won’t have the usual live audience to cheer them on. According to school authorities, the stands will indefinitely remain empty. Nevertheless, officials plan to work closely with local health authorities and the campus and Big Ten leaders to find out when fans can be permitted to enter the Assembly Hall.

The sports world today is anticipating the time when new normal protocols will provide them easier gameplay. As for the Hoosiers, they are used to having the biggest basketball student fanbase.

To stem the lack of live audience, the university plans to put cutouts for sale. These cutouts will be placed on the empty seats. They will be priced at US$25 a piece with the option of having either women’s coach Teri Moren or men’s coach Archie Miller autograph these cutouts which will, then, be sent to the fans who purchase the tickets. Also, ticket buyers are guaranteed to avail of refunds or simply avail of the different options via the varsity club’s online site.

As for Tennessee Tech, the school is presently undergoing a difficult time with regard to their attempt to begin their women’s basketball season. Vanderbilt cancelled their game and then Chattanooga followed suit.

On Tuesday morning, Vanderbilt announced the necessity of cancelling their game against Tennessee Tech that was scheduled for November 25 due to the sudden occurrence of positive tests among their athletes. Following that announcement, Chattanooga made a similar call, stating the need to halt activities for a two-week quarantine. The said move resulted to the cancellation of their schedule games against Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

Indeed, the sports world today is still reeling from the hideous impacts of the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. At present, it is not only basketball events that are being cancelled and suspended. Several other sports are being halted, as well, as sports authorities struggle to find a way to conduct their events while observing the new normal protocols.

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Baseball

Sports Personality of the Year to Show on December

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Even when 2020 witnessed various cancellations, suspensions, and modifications of the different sports events due to the unprecedented onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, there were a few programs that were able to push through including snooker, cricket, football, F1, rugby, golf, tennis, cycling and athletics.

The awaited Sports Personality of the Year event will showcase the different teams that pushed through with their games despite the looming threat of the pandemic, sports celebrities who pushed through with playing despite their sudden, chaotic schedules, and stalwart coaches who made it all happen. The said show will also pay tribute to the different heroes who helped contribute to the said success.

“As we know, it has been a strange and unprecedented year, but we have still been fortunate enough to see plenty of sporting highlights which we look forward to honoring on the night. The 67th BBC Sports Personality of the Year award promises to be another exciting and tough choice for audiences,” shares Barbara Slater, BBC’s Director of Sports.

December’s ceremony will serve as a commemoration of the various heroes, not only in sports, but all over the UK—ordinary citizens who used the gift of sports to help make the situation safe and bearable for all. In a way, the show will be a celebration of health and well-being—the powerful contributions that sports can provide as it keeps people inspired as highlights of this year’s games will be shown during the event, as well.

The present COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in the world of sports. Most scheduled tournaments including the Olympics, the Wimbledon, and the Euro 2020 were severely disrupted as necessary lockdowns and social distancing protocols were put in place to control the abrupt spread of the nefarious disease. At present, many sports programs are attempting to revive the usual flow of things as they grapple with the current social distancing limitations imposed.

The need to wear masks, for instance, makes it difficult for players to move comfortably especially for group games like football, cricket, rugby, and snooker. Experts recommend the need to limit the audience allowed to attend the games, as COVID-19 transmission is highly linked to massive crowd gatherings.

COVID-19 has changed the entire landscape of everyday life. Yet, the slow, but steady, revival of the different games provide athletes and avid sports fans with something to look forward to even when the whole world is still trying to find the best way of handling this ‘new normal’ of living.

The question, however, is: “Will BBC allow a live audience to attend the Sports Personality of the Year event that’s scheduled in December? Or will fans resort to watching the show unfold via live digital streaming, instead? The answer remains to be seen. With the world attempting to slowly find ways to begin life once more, a viable vaccine might be available by then. Nonetheless, everyone is looking forward to the show which will serve as a year’s end consolidation of sorts, as well.

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