Saturday’s Sports In Brief
Kobe Bryant is officially a Hall of Famer.
And he has plenty of elite company in the 2020 class.
Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as the class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
They got in in their first year as finalists, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Others had to wait. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.
They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the 24 voters wound up choosing them all. Former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann is going in through the international committee.
Bryant died about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said he was a finalist. The former Los Angeles Lakers guard and daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in the crash.
The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the coronavirus pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for October.
Largely because of the star power of the class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran’s, Women’s Veteran’s, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.
President Donald Trump talked to many U.S. pro sports leaders to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he was looking forward to the resumption of competitions “as soon as we can.”
The NFL’s Roger Goddell took part along with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA, Rob Manfred of Major League Baseball, Jay Monahan of the PGA Tour, Gary Bettman of the NHL and others.
A person with direct knowledge of what was discussed on the call said Trump believes the NFL season — scheduled to begin Sept. 10 — will start on time with fans in seats.
A second person with knowledge of the call said that some commissioners, Silver among them, stressed to Trump that they are working on multiple plans to resume their seasons but cautioned that none of those plans can be enacted without clearance from public health officials. The people spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because no discussion points from the call were to be revealed publicly.
Others on the call included Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan, UFC President Dana White, World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vince McMahon, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert.
Trump also addressed Little League players, tweeting: “Hang in there! We will get you back out on the fields.”
English Premier League players rejected a move to cut wages by 30% during the coronavirus pandemic, escalating a bitter public row as the union claimed the government would lose out on more than 200 million pounds (around $245 million) in tax revenue.
The Professional Footballers’ Association’s strident stance came after further talks Saturday involving clubs and the league as runaway leader Liverpool became the latest side defying political anger by using a government bailout scheme.
Led by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, Liverpool followed Tottenham in announcing some non-playing staff would be furloughed.
Under a job retention scheme implemented to help businesses survive the national lockdown, staff can be put on furlough and receive 80% of their salaries from the government, up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds ($3,000) a month. Liverpool said it would top up salaries to ensure staff received the full amount.
The Spanish league and players were still far apart on the size of the salary cuts, with the players saying the organization wants them to carry nearly half the total losses. They are trying to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach nearly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) if the season cannot be restarted.
In Ireland, Stephen Kenny took over from Mick McCarthy as national team manager in a planned move accelerated because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Serbia, striker Aleksandar Prijovic was arrested for flouting the country’s 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. virus curfew. Police said Prijovic and 19 others gathered at a hotel in Belgrade. He plays for Al Ittihad in Saudi Arabia.
On the field, Tajikistan started its season, joining a small group of countries where play has continued despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Istiklol Dushanbe retained the Central Asian nation’s season-opening Super Cup with a 2-victory over Khujand. The game was played without fans. Belarus, Nicaragua and Burundi among the country’s still playing.
Scott McLaughlin’s real IndyCar debut is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Australian V8 SuperCars champion isn’t letting that stop him from learning how to virtually drive the cars.
McLaughlin won IndyCar’s virtual race on virtual Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, waking up at 2 a.m. in Brisbane, Australia, to compete on his simulator. The event was the second in the series’ attempt to create content during the worldwide shutdown of sports.
Robert Wickens participated for the first time after a delay in the delivery of his steering wheel kept him out of last week’s race. Wickens sustained a spinal cord injury in a 2018 crash and needs a wheel with hand controls.
He secured two this week — one made by McLaren, the other by Max Papis’ steering wheel production company — but got in just two days of practice. He used the McLaren wheel and the view he gave fans on his social media channel allowed them to see him use the hand controls. Wickens finished eighth.
Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander says he will donate his weekly paycheck during the coronavirus shutdown to organizations that are helping with relief efforts.
Verlander and wife Kate Upton made the announcement in an Instagram post. The couple said it would pick an organization each week and highlight its work.
The AL Cy Young Award winner is among a group of major leaguers getting $4,775 a day for 60 days, a total of $286,500. Verlander’s salary this year is $33 million, which is $177,419 a day for the 186-day season.
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