Another fantastic and exciting NBA season is in the books, and now it’s time for what really matters: the playoffs. Sure, players can make a great career out of regular season success. Maybe they’ll even be considered a “star” for some of those seasons. But heroes? Heroes are born in the playoffs. If you want to go down as one of the greats, you sure as heck better hit some game winning shots and give absolutely everything you’ve got to try and get your team a championship. And I for one have got a feeling we’re about to see quite a few heroics in the coming weeks.
This excitement of this season went right down to the wire this year. Specifically, The Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets met in their final games of the regular season, with the 8th seed in the West and a trip to the playoffs on the line. It was an incredible game that went into overtime, but by the end, the Timberwolves had prevailed. They’re in for quite a shock now, though, as they’ll face the all mighty Houston Rockets in the first round.
In Portland, the Utah Jazz came to town with the 3rd seed in the west on the line. It was a very interesting game because if Portland would have lost, everything would have basically stayed the same. Utah would have stayed the 3 seed and Portland the 4, giving them both home-court advantage in the first round. But because Portland won, they jumped into the number 3 spot and Utah dropped all the way to the 5 spot. They will now face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, with OKC benefiting from home court advantage. Portland, meanwhile, will face off with Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, while the 2nd-seeded Golden State Warriors will face the 7th-seeded San Antonio Spurs.
In the East, the Washington Wizards snuck in as the 8th seed and will face the top-seeded Toronto Raptors in the first round. It could be a tough series for the Raptors though, as it’s likely the Wizards are only the 8th seed because they were without their star point guard, John Wall, for much of the season. But many believe, especially those in Toronto, that the Raptors are finally due for playoff success and a trip to the NBA Finals.
The rest of the Eastern Conference match-ups look like this: (2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks, (3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Miami Heat, and (4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers. And make no mistake, despite all the attention I gave the Western Conference at the beginning of this article, there are definitely some intriguing match-ups in the East.
You can never count out the Brad Stevens-led Boston Celtics, but due to the recent announcement that Kyrie Irving is out for the rest of the season, the 7th-seeded Milwaukee Bucks might be in the perfect position to reach the second round for the first time since the ’00/’01 season. While the 3rd-seeded 76ers are riding a 16 game winning streak into the playoffs, which could spell disaster for the Miami Heat. But, then again, can you ever truly count out Dwyane Wade?
And last but not least, you have the 4th-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers against the 5th-seeded Indiana Pacers. In any other season, this would seem like a relatively easy first-round match-up for a Lebron James-led team. But this has been, in his words, one of the most difficult seasons of his career. So there’s no telling what kind of mindset the Cavaliers are in. While the young, underdog Pacers have played loud and fast all season, thanks to a stellar season by their star, Victor Oladipo. For me, this is one of the trickiest match-ups in the first round. Because, on one hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cavs yet again make it to the NBA Finals. But, on the other hand, I can’t say I’d be surprised if the Pacers steal this one from Cleveland and knock them out in the first round.
Either way, I am very excited for whatever is about to happen.
King James Reigns as the AP Male Athlete of the Year
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.
Sports World Today Still Heavily Affected by Covid-19
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.
Sports Personality of the Year to Show on December
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.
The 2020 Sports Year Amid the Onslaught of COVID-19
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