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NBA Announces Bubble Awards

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The NBA announced Tuesday that it will introduce new honors and awards to recognize players for their games in the bubble.

What We Know:

  • The NBA will name a Player of the Seeding Games – essentially an MVP of the bubble – and it will name 10 players to All-Seeding Games Teams. The awards will be announced on August 15th. Media members and broadcasters in Orlando will vote to decide who wins these awards.
  • The bubble format and the external pressure of the pandemic have made this season unlike any other, and several players have really risen to the challenge and outplayed expectations. There are the usual performers like James Harden, Luka Doncic, and Damian Lillard. All of them made the All-Star team and will likely make an All-NBA team for the 2019-2020 season, and they’ve continued their incredible play in the bubble. There are also guys like T.J. Warren, Devin Booker, and Michael Porter Jr. who have elevated their play significantly and have been breakout stars of the bubble.
  • The NBA previously announced a list of finalists for its 2019-2020 season awards. These awards have already been voted on and the seeding games in Orlando will count towards them. Likewise, the All-NBA and All-Defensive Team honors will not include the seeding games and have already been voted on.
  • Two players that really deserve a lot of credit for these seeding games are Damian Lillard and Devin Booker. Both the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns came into the bubble on the outside of the playoff picture. Lillard and Booker have carried their respective teams back into playoff contention and have done everything they can to avoid elimination. The Suns came into the bubble with the lowest possible odds of making the playoffs, but Devin Booker has led them to a 7-0 record and within one game of the 9th seed, which would trigger a play-in game for the playoffs. Booker has averaged 31 points a game in the bubble and the Suns are the only team to remain undefeated. Meanwhile, Damian Lillard scored 51 points and 61 points in back-to-back crucial wins to lift the Blazers into the 8th seed and save their season.

The NBA playoffs start on August 17th. The western conference race for the 8th and 9th seeds is tighter than ever, with four teams still in play with one game left. Whoever ends up in the 8th and 9th seeds will play at least one play-in game for the final playoff spot.

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Sagar is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance and Economics. Sagar writes for Black News Alerts and the BNA Daily Podcast.

Coronavirus

Fan at Chiefs-Texans Game Tests Positive for COVID-19

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A fan who attended the Kansas City Chiefs-Houston Texans game on September 10th has tested positive for the coronavirus.

What We Know:

  • The Kansas City Health Department has confirmed that a person who was in attendance at the NFL season opener at Arrowhead Stadium has tested positive for COVID-19. The department has quarantined 10 other people for possible exposure to the virus as well.
  • The Chiefs were one of the few teams to allow in-person fans for Week 1. The team said that their protocol required all fans and personnel to wear face coverings while inside. Several other NFL teams have stated that they will not allow fans into stadiums for the rest of 2020.
  • The Chiefs defended themselves in their statement, saying that their contact tracing mechanisms and mask mandate limited potential exposure to a single seating zone of the stadium and allowed officials to identify all exposed people. The Chiefs have not made any announcements about allowing spectators for future games.
  • The Chiefs-Texans game was the first NFL game to be held in front of fans. The Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Indianapolis Colts are the only teams that allowed fans to be in attendance at the start of the season. Arrowhead Stadium’s capacity is approximately 76,000 and it has been reduced in accordance with coronavirus protocols. Almost 16,000 fans were in attendance for this game.
  • The Chiefs-Texans season opener was also in the news for the scene fans made before the game. Players from both sides held a “moment of unity” pregame and displayed messages supporting Black Lives Matter and racial justice. The fans in attendance could be heard on the broadcast booing the players during this moment.

The NFL has not made any official statements about this positive case of a fan. There is no official league-wide rule about having fans in stadiums. The NFL also announced seven new positive cases among players and team personnel in the latest round of testing.

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A’ja Wilson Wins WNBA MVP

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Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson was named the WNBA’s MVP on Thursday.

What We Know:

  • A’ja Wilson has won the 2020 WNBA MVP. Crystal Dangerfield and Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx won Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively. Wilson is only in her third year as a professional and averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game.
  • Wilson earned 43 out of 47 first-place votes for the award. The Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart finished in second place, and the Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker finished in third.
  • Wilson was surprised with the award by WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Thursday. She was given the honor in front of her teammates and called her family immediately afterward to share the good news.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was probably crying before Cathy finished her speech . . . I needed my teammates to know I’m going to produce X amount of things every game, because that’s how you win, when you can count on people. That’s probably the biggest thing for me being MVP.” – A’ja Wilson

  • The 6-foot-4 Wilson was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft and won Rookie of the Year that season.  She led the Aces to an 18-4 record and the best and the No. 1 seed. With Liz Cambage out of the bubble, Wilson stepped up her production across the board and improved upon her previous season in which she was named an All-Star.

Wilson and the Aces will face the Connecticut Sun in the semifinal round of the playoffs. Game 1 is scheduled for Sunday.

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Coronavirus

Big 10 to Begin Football Season in October

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One of the nation’s power 5 college sports conferences has announced that it will begin its football season next month, a reversal of its decision earlier this summer, CBS Sports reports.

What We Know:

  • Teams in the league will play eight regular-season games as well as a Big Ten Championship game set for December 19th. Their schedule will make them eligible for the College Football Playoff as the season’s final rankings announcement is slated for December 20th. Consolation games will also be played at the conclusion of the season.
  • No tickets will be sold and fans will not be permitted to enter any games. Some exceptions may be made for family members of players, coaches, and staff.
  • In regards to coronavirus safety, the conference will institute mandatory, daily COVID-19 testing for athletes and coaches beginning September 30. If a member of any team tests positive for the virus, the earliest they could return to the field is 21 days following their testing.

The decision follows pressure to resume play, including from President Donald Trump who is eager to see a return to normalcy. No decision has been made from PAC-12 officials regarding a reconsideration. The Big 10’s decision makes them the only power 5 conference not playing college football this year.

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