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NBA Media Day Live Blog: Updates As 2021 Training Camps Get Underway – Sports Illustrated

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The 2021–22 NBA season is just around the corner with almost every team holding its Media Day activities on Monday. A lot has happened since the Bucks defeated the Suns in the NBA Finals. Russell Westbrook is now a Laker (as are a number of other veterans, including Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan). Kyle Lowry left the Raptors for the Heat. His former Toronto teammate, DeMar DeRozan, is now a member of the revamped Bulls. And uncertainty is very much still swirling about Ben Simmons’s future with the 76ers. 

The NBA’s first preseason game is Sunday, Oct. 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET as Kevin Durant and the Nets travel to the Staples Center to face LeBron James and the Lakers. The regular season then opens Oct. 19 with those very same Nets traveling to the defending-champion Bucks. 

But before any of that can get underway, players and coaches will face the media. We’re keeping track of the highlights:

Kyrie Irving Declines to Comment on Vaccination Status, Preferring to ‘Keep That Stuff Private’

Nets guard Kyrie Irving declined to comment on his vaccination status on Monday during Nets Media Day saying that he “prefers to keep that stuff private.”

Irving did not attend Nets media day in person Monday due to New York City health and safety protocols, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Chris  Mannix. However, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst, Irving will accompany the team to training camp in San Diego. 

Instead, he addressed reporters virtually on Monday.

“Living in this public sphere, there’s a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world of Kyrie, and I would love to just keep that private and handle that the right way with my team and go forward with a plan,” Irving said, via Zoom.

He added, “I’m not able to be present there today but it doesn’t mean I’m putting any limits on the future.” 

When asked, though, about what not “putting any limits on the future” meant for his upcoming availability, Irving again declined to elaborate, citing his desire to keep his vaccination status private.

Irving’s vaccination status has not been officially confirmed, though Fox Sports’ Yaron Weitzman reported last week that Irving is unvaccinated. A story from Rolling Stone over the weekend noted Irving’s distrust of the coronavirus vaccine, reporting that Irving started to like Instagram posts and follow an account that claims “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.”

Irving’s status for home games has also come into question as New York City, along with San Francisco, is requiring proof of vaccination to enter large indoor events, including basketball games unless a player obtains an exemption of some kind. 

“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out; I would like to think they would make a way,” Irving’s aunt Tyki Irving, who runs his family foundation and is one of his advisers, told Rolling Stone. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”

Kevin Durant declined to comment on Irving’s vaccination status when asked about it Monday.

KD Not Concerned About Kyrie’s Availability This Season:

David Letterman Makes His Presence Felt at Nets Media Day

A certain “Dave from Basketball Digest” peppered Kevin Durant with a series of hard-hitting questions, including asking why people call the Nets star “KD,” and what percentage he plans on giving this season.

Devin Booker to Miss Media Day After After Entering Health and Safety Protocols 

The Suns announced Sunday that two-time All-Star Devin Booker will miss Monday’s Media Day and won’t be available for the start of training camp on Tuesday after entering the league’s health and safety protocols. 

It is not known whether Booker is vaccinated, but he confirmed on his Twitch channel that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He said that he feels well but has no sense of taste or smell.

Ben Simmons’s Status Hovering Over 76ers

The Athletic reported over the weekend that while Philadelphia players wanted to travel to Los Angeles to meet with Simmons, in hopes of getting the All-Star to remain with the team, Simmons told them not to come and that he would not change his mind about wanting to be traded.

That report came after 76ers coach Doc Rivers spoke publicly about the Simmons trade rumors last week and confirmed that the three-time All-Star requested a trade during an August meeting. However, Rivers told ESPN’s First Take that he wants the guard back in Philadelphia.

“We’re going to go through it,” Rivers said last week. “We’re going to always do what’s best for the team, but I can tell you upfront we would love to get Ben back. And if we can, we’re going to try to do that.”

Certainly much will get asked—and perhaps answered—about Simmons on Monday.

Morey ‘Disappointed’ Simmons Not at Media Day

Daryl Morey confirmed Monday at 76ers Media Day that Ben Simmons asked for a trade from the franchise, saying, in part, “We are disappointed he’s not here.” Morey added that he is excited about the players on the roster and said that whatever the team does or doesn’t do about Simmons will be in what he believes is the best interest of the franchise.

He also appeared not to rule out Simmons’s return to the team.

Embiid Says ‘Of Course We Want’ Simmons Back

76ers center Joel Embiid echoed a similar sentiment to coach Doc Rivers and president Daryl Morey on Monday saying that he still hopes Simmons returns to Philadelphia.

“Of course we want him back, he’s a big piece of what we’ve been building the past few years,” Embiid said.

The team’s star center also confirmed that he was among the members of the organization who tried to see Simmons in California but was rebuffed by the All-Star guard. 

A Number of Teams Are at 100% Vaccination

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich addressed his team’s vaccination status, saying that the entire team has been vaccinated. 

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone also said Monday his team is 100% vaccinated as did Jazz general manager Justin Zanik when speaking about his team.

Knicks general manager Scott Perry recently said the entire New York roster is vaccinated. Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill reported on Friday the Pistons are also fully vaccinated.

Kemba Excited to Get Going at ‘Home’

Kemba Walker seems to be enjoying being a member of the Knicks. “I’m from here. Born and raised. And it feels like it. Getting a lot of love from the fans everywhere I go. Really just embracing me.”

Kyle Lowry Rocking His New Heat Uniform, and Already Poking Fun at His Teammates

Zion Not Expected to Miss Time After Offseason Foot Surgery

Pelicans star Zion Williamson had surgery this offseason to repair a fractured right foot, executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffen said at Media Day. 

Per Griffen, the injury occurred before NBA Summer League while Williamson was working out.

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Griffen noted, however, that Williamson should be ready for the start of the regular season and that his recovery has been in “lockstep” with the team.

“I think I was overdoing it when I was training because I felt like I had this whole chip on my shoulder, this huge boulder that I was just getting after it, overly, every day,” Williamson said.

Despite entering just his third season, Williamson has dealt with multiple injuries throughout his career, including having surgery on his meniscus in the fall of 2019 and having a fracture in a finger on his shooting hand last May.

Meanwhile, Williamson also reiterated his passion for the city of New Orleans.

Horford Returns to Boston With ‘Bigger Appreciation’ 

After spending the past two seasons on the 76ers and Thunder, respectively, Celtics big Al Horford is grateful to be back in Boston.

“For me, it’s a bigger appreciation of being here,” Horford said. “I’m so happy to be back in Boston. I appreciate even more what it means to be a Celtics and to represent Boston. And looking at the group we have here, I’m even more excited.”

Horford spent three seasons in Boston before leaving via free agency ahead of 2019-20. 

Celtics Coach Ime Udoka Conducting Media Day Virtually After Positive COVID-19 Test

Celtics first-year coach Ime Udoka is conducting Media Day virtually after testing positive for COVID-19. 

The team said Udoka, who is vaccinated, tested positive for coronavirus 10 days ago and is currently in isolation. He has been asymptomatic for at least four days, per the team, and is expected to return to in-person workouts on Tuesday.

Udoka took over for Brad Stevens— who replaced Danny Ainge in Boston’s front office—as head coach in June. He previously was an assistant coach with the Nets, 76ers and Spurs.

LaMelo Ball Says Wearing ‘No. 2 Don’t Feel Right’

LaMelo Ball has not had any success in getting the NBA to change his number. The Hornets guard and reigning Rookie of the Year missed the deadline last year to submit a number change request to the league that would allow him to switch from the No. 2 that he currently wears to the No. 1 that he prefers. (Malik Monk wore No. 1 last year for the Hornets.)

“Man, I feel No. 1 is just me,” Ball said at the Hornets media day. “And I just want to be me out there. Playing in No. 2 just doesn’t feel right. Last year was cool because [Lonzo], I said I would be No. 2 for him. …But [No. 2] don’t feel right.”

Klay Thompson to Have ‘Patient Ramp Up,’ GM Says

Warriors wing Klay Thompson will have a “patient ramp up” back to action as he recovers from an Achilles injury, general manager Bob Myers said Monday. 

Myers said that Thompson can do a lot in training camp, but not contact and five-on-five. Myers mentioned Thompson being involved in high-intensity G League practices and other scrimmaging and alluded to January as a possible return date for Thompson. 

Thompson tore his Achilles in November and missed his second consecutive season. He had missed all of the 2020 season after suffering a left ACL tear during the 2019 NBA finals against the Toronto Raptors.

Clippers Not Rushing Kawhi Leonard Back to Action

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue didn’t want to put an exact timeline on when the team’s star forward Kawhi Leonard could return to action. 

“We don’t want to force him or put any pressure on him. We want to make sure he’s rehabbing and doing everything he can to get back as soon as possible,” Lue said. “If that’s next season, it’s next season.”

In July, Leonard underwent surgery to repair a partial tear in his right anterior cruciate ligament. While he opted out of his past contract with Los Angeles, Leonard signed a new four-year deal that includes a player-option this offseason.

Wizards Star Bradley Beal Currently Unvaccinated For ‘Personal Reasons’

Wizards guard Bradley Beal told reporters Monday that he is unvaccinated for COVID-19, citing “personal reasons.” Beal did not elaborate further on his status.

Beal was supposed to play in the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA but did not make the trip after being put in USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols. At the time, it had not been publicly confirmed whether he had tested positive for COVID-19. But Beal said Monday he tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Olympics.

Beal averaged 31.3 points per game this season with the Wizards and was set to make his Olympic debut this summer.

Now, back with the Wizards, he is losing to lead the franchise to the postseason for the second consecutive season.

Jason Kidd Compares Luka to a ‘Young Picasso’

New Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd had some high praise for his star guard Luka Dončić on Monday, calling him “a young Picasso.”

“I don’t know if anybody ever told Picasso that he had to use all the paints, but I just want to remind him that he can rely on his teammates, that his teammates will be there to help him,” Kidd said.

Dončić and the Mavericks agreed to a five-year, $207 million supermax rookie extension this offseason. He was the first player to ever be eligible for a supermax rookie extension because he’s already been selected first-team All-NBA twice.

Last season, he averaged 27.7 points, eight rebounds, 7.7 assists and 34.3 minutes per game.

Jalen Green Ready For Rookie of the Year Battle

Jalen Green, the No. 2 pick in last summer’s NBA draft, is ready for the season, and prepared to be in the Rookie of the Year conversation.

Andrew Wiggins Refuses to Clarify Vaccine Status

Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins was asked by reporters to clarify his vaccination status but refused and said “it’s none of your business.” The NBA denied Wiggins’s request to get a religious exemption for the vaccine on Friday. 

“I’m just going to keep fighting for what I believe and for what I believe is right,” Wiggins said. “What’s right to one person, isn’t right to the other and vice versa. 

“I don’t ask you guys your beliefs, I don’t you guys what you believe is right or wrong. We’re different people. Who are you guys where I have to explain what I believe?”

The Warriors play in San Francisco, one of the cities that’s requiring pro athletes to show proof of vaccination to enter large indoor events. Wiggins’s vaccination status could keep him from playing in front of the home crowd this upcoming season if there’s no change. 

“I’ll say something when I’m ready,” he said. “The only thing the media has done is kind of make it bigger than it has to be.”

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Trump, barred from Twitter and Facebook, says he's launching his own social media site – CBC.ca

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Nine months after being expelled from social media for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, former president Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s launching a new media company with its own social media platform.

Trump says his goal in launching the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) and its “Truth Social” app is to create a rival to the big tech companies that have shut him out and denied him the megaphone that was paramount to his national rise.

“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favourite American President has been silenced,” he said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.”

Conservative voices actually do well on traditional social media. On Wednesday, half of Facebook’s 10 top performing link posts were from conservative media, commentators or politicians, according to a daily list compiled by a New York Times technology columnist and an internet studies professor using Facebook’s own data.

TMTG talking big

Trump has spoken about launching his own social media site ever since he was barred from Twitter and Facebook. An earlier effort to launch a blog on his existing website was abandoned after the page drew dismal views.

TMTG has not set its sights low. In addition to the Truth Social app, which is expected to soft-launch next month with a nationwide rollout early next year, the company says it is planning a video-on-demand service dubbed TMTG+ that will feature entertainment programming, news and podcasts.

One slide in a TMTG presentation on its website includes a graphic of TMTG’s potential competitors, which range from Facebook and Twitter to Netflix and Disney+ to CNN. The same slide suggests that over the long term TMTG will also become a power in cloud computing and payments and suggests it will go head-to-head with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Stripe.

TMTG also takes some jabs at Trump’s previous favourite social network. Slides accompanying the Truth Social preorders listing in Apple’s app store depict a social network that strongly resembles Twitter, right down to short messages and user handles preceded by “@” signs.

The same graphics also feature a user named Jack’s Beard, who in one image fumes when an employee pushes back on an order to delete a user and its posts, calling it “kinda an overreach.”

The Jack’s Beard account uses the handle @jack, which is the real Twitter handle of Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO; Dorsey’s long scraggly beard has also drawn attention during his congressional appearances over Zoom.

Terms of service

The terms of service for Truth Social, meanwhile, bar users from annoying any of the site’s employees and from statements that “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.” It was not immediately clear who the “us” in that statement refers to.

The suspended Twitter account of Donald Trump appears on an iPhone screen on Jan. 8 in San Anselmo, Calif. Citing the risk of incitement of violence following an attempted insurrection in January, Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In a release, the new venture announced it had been created through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWA), and said it seeks to become a publicly listed company.

DWA, based in Miami, is a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Such publicly traded companies are designed to list the shares of a private company more quickly than a traditional initial public offering.

In practice, that means the SPAC acquires a private firm and then changes its name and other details to those of the acquired firm.

Deal has initial value of $875M US

SPACs pay for their acquisitions with cash provided by investors who bought into the SPAC’s initial public offering. DWA’s Sept. 8 IPO raised $287.5 million US, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

DWA said it has raised roughly $293 million in cash, which it will use to grow TMTG’s ventures. Among the company’s biggest shareholders are several institutional investors, including Lighthouse Investment Partners, D. E. Shaw & Co., and Radcliffe Capital Management, according to an SEC filing. DWA said more details about the deal will be disclosed in upcoming filings.

The deal has an initial enterprise value, a measure that takes into account a company’s total debts and assets, of $875 million, according to the release. It still requires the approval of shareholders of both DWA and TMTG, as well as regulators.

Shares of Digital World Acquisition soared 94 per cent to $19.32 in morning trading.

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Sask. government says social media posts about ICU patient transfers should be 'disregarded' – CTV News

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REGINA –

The Saskatchewan government released a statement Thursday morning saying social media posts about ICU patient transfers should be “disregarded” following immense confusion among doctors and officials over planned ICU patient transfers to Ontario.

The statement comes following social media posts by doctors in Saskatchewan and Ontario that said upcoming ICU patient transfers from Saskatchewan to Ontario had been cancelled.

Dr. Hassan Masri, an ICU physician from Saskatoon, tweeted the Saskatchewan government has called off all further patient transfers to Ontario ICUs, which the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre denies.

Masri told CTV News Wednesday evening there were plans in place for “a lot more” Saskatchewan patients to be sent out east for care this week.

Dr. Michael Warner from Toronto said he expected to receive a Saskatchewan COVID-19 patient at his hospital on Thursday, but the transfer was cancelled by the Saskatchewan government.

Ontario Health executive vice president Dr. Chris Simpson told CP24 on Tuesday there are plans in place to transfer an additional six patients throughout Thursday and Friday – which would bring the total number of patient transfers from Saskatchewan to 12.

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) president Marlo Pritchard responded to that statement on Wednesday morning saying that is not the case.

CTV News reached out to the premier’s office Wednesday evening to ask for clarity about the claims made by the doctors.

The statement from the government on Thursday morning not did clarify why Ontario officials believed six more patients were coming or why doctors were under the impression those additional transfers had been cancelled.

A spokesperson for the Saskatchewan government said the province will announce all confirmed ICU patient transfers through official channels.

On Thursday afternoon the province said three more patients will be transferred to Ontario in the coming days. 

With files from CTVRegina.ca’s Michaela Solomon

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Motor racing-F1 drivers defend Netflix series after Verstappen snub

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Leading Formula One drivers defended the popular Netflix “Drive to Survive” fly-on-the-wall series on Thursday after Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen said he was snubbing it because he felt some of the rivalries were “faked”.

The docu-series, now filming its fourth season, has been credited as a big factor in fuelling the sport’s growth in the United States.

 Dutch 24-year-old Verstappen earlier told the Associated Press that he recognised the importance of the series but did not like being a part of it and would not be giving any interviews.

Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s title rival, told reporters at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, that he had noticed a surge in interest in the country.

“In this last couple of years it’s been the steepest rise and more and more people are talking about it, more and more people engaging,” he said.

“The amount of emails and messages I get from people I’ve known for years in the States and who never knew what I was doing and now are hooked and can’t wait to come. I think a lot of them are coming this weekend.”

Verstappen’s Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, a two-times race winner who featured heavily last season, said he respected what the documentary was doing.

“What it has done for Formula One is tremendous. It’s really something I appreciate,” he said.

“The way they sell the sport is a bit of a drama. It is a show but at the end of the day it is good for the sport and is good for the fans so I am happy with it.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris, voted the second-most popular driver after Verstappen in a fan survey published on Thursday, also appreciated the show.

“I’m fine with it,” he said. “I think it’s a cool thing. Coming to America there are so many people who are now into Formula One just because of watching ‘Drive to Survive.’ I think I come across on it alright.

“I think they do a good job. I can’t really speak on behalf of Max.”

His Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo agreed: “Most of us experience the effect it’s had on the sport. There’s certainly been a lot of growth and I honestly see that most in America.

“There’s times where you want a little bit of space or privacy but I do think if you let them know no cameras in this room they are pretty good with that.”

 

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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