Thursday Sports in Brief

July 31

NBA

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Players and coaches from the New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers knelt alongside one another before the first games of the NBA restart.

They were unprecedented images in unprecedented times.

Some players raised a fist as the final notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” were played, the first of what is expected to be many silent statements calling for racial justice and equality following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in recent months.

In the first games of the restart, Utah beat New Orleans 106-104, and the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Los Angeles Clippers 103-101.

NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Thibodeau is back in New York as the Knicks’ new coach.

The former NBA Coach of the Year was hired Thursday, returning to the team he helped lead to the NBA Finals as an assistant coach.

The 62-year-old Thibodeau is 352-246 in eight seasons coaching Chicago and Minnesota.

He was the Coach of the Year in 2011 in his first season with the Bulls. He led Chicago to 50 wins in three of his five seasons.

Thibodeau was an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy when the Knicks reached the 1999 NBA Finals.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball postponed this weekend’s scheduled series between Toronto and Philadelphia because of concerns about the coronavirus after two Phillies staffers tested positive.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo revealed news of the postponed series Thursday, saying his club was “not going to Philadelphia,” where the series was scheduled to take place.

It’s the latest in a series of scheduling changes as MLB attempts to play a 60-game season amid a pandemic that is surging in parts of the United States.

Earlier Thursday, word emerged that another player with the Miami Marlins — who recently played at Philadelphia — tested positive for COVID-19, bringing their total outbreak to 17 players, according to a person familiar with the situation.

NFL

The NFL Players Association has reached an agreement with 2K Sports that will allow the video game developer to use the names, images and likenesses of over 2,000 players.

The agreement announced Thursday by both parties also includes OneTeam Partners, a marketing and licensing firm that represents the unions for NFL and Major League Baseball players.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Facing a scathing report that detailed racial bias against Black players in his program and bullying behavior by some of his assistants, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Thursday he would not be making any staffing changes as he apologized and promised to overhaul some of his policies.

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld said the critical report by an outside law firm showed the “climate and culture must and will change within our football program.” Ferentz apologized to former Black players at a news conference and promised to build on changes made in recent weeks to improve their experience.

The report said four unidentified current and former coaches — including at least two still on staff — were accused of bullying, demeaning and verbally abusing players and would be considered for potential disciplinary action.

NEW YORK (AP) — The powerhouse Southeastern Conference reconfigured its schedule Thursday to include only league games in 2020, a pandemic-forced decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths.

The SEC’s university presidents agreed on a 10-game schedule that eliminates all nonconference opponents and begins Sept. 26. The SEC championship game, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, will be pushed back to Dec. 19, 13 days before the College Football Playoff semifinals are scheduled to be played on New Year’s Day.

NEW YORK (AP) — The NCAA announced Thursday college athletes in all sports will be permitted to wear patches on their uniforms to support social justice issues.

The NCAA’s playing rules oversight panel adjusted rules in some sports that do not allow patches to be worn. In some sports, patches on uniforms are not addressed in playing rules.

The NCAA says patches can be worn on either the front or back of the uniform to “express support and voice their opinions.”

HOCKEY

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Kraken added to their hockey operations staff by hiring Dave Baseggio as director of pro scouting Thursday.

Baseggio spent the past 12 seasons with Anaheim as a pro scout, director of pro scouting and assistant to the general manager for the Ducks. Baseggio also played and coached in the AHL.

Kraken general manager Ron Francis also announced the hiring of three additional pro scouts to join the original five the team hired last year.

COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL

Athletes and others have told The Associated Press that Oregon State University’s volleyball coach runs an abusive program that has lost 11 players who have quit or transferred since 2016 and that two team members contemplated suicide, with one attempting an overdose.

In interviews with the AP and complaints made to the university, they said that Mark Barnard pits players against each other in team meetings, threatens to revoke scholarships for struggling players and pushes team members past health warnings in practice as punishment.

They said they were perplexed by the administration not taking decisive action against Barnard after repeated complaints about the program.

In response, the university said it disputed the characterization.

PROFESSIONAL VOLLEYBALL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The top women’s indoor volleyball players in the U.S. will be calling Nashville home for their new professional league.

Athletes Unlimited, in partnership with USA Volleyball, had been looking for a city where the new league can play. Jon Patricof, co-founder and CEO, told The Associated Press that they evaluated several cities around the country.

The league will play games at Municipal Auditorium, which seats 9,700, from Feb. 26 to April 4. Alliance Volleyball Club at TOA Sports Performance Center in nearby Franklin will be the league’s training partner.

TENNIS

NEW YORK (AP) — Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is planning to play at the U.S. Open and the hard-court tuneup at the same site earlier in August.

Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, said Thursday that the former No. 1-ranked player will enter both tournaments the U.S. Tennis Association is holding in Flushing Meadows.

He would not comment on additional scheduling plans for Osaka. She won the 2018 U.S. Open and followed that with a title at the 2019 Australian Open.

The current No. 1 woman, Ash Barty, withdrew from the U.S. Open because she’s not comfortable with traveling during the coronavirus pandemic. The Grand Slam tournament is scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.

AUTO RACING

Formula One driver Sergio Perez is out of Sunday’s British Grand Prix after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Racing Point driver, who is Mexican, will now go into isolation.

The race on Sunday will be the fourth in the pandemic-affected season that should have begun in March.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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