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Monday, May 25, 2020

Basketball

Adam Sandler to star in LeBron James-produced Netflix movie ‘Hustle’

Adam Sandler basketball

Adam Sandler drew rave reviews for his performance in “Uncut Gems,” which used NBA playoff games as a backdrop and also starred soon-to-be Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Now, Sandler is set to play a lead role in another basketball-themed movie, and he’ll once again be working with an NBA legend.

Jeff Sneider of Collider reported on Monday that Sandler has signed on to star in “Hustle,” which is an upcoming Netflix movie that is produced by LeBron James and longtime business partner Maverick Carter. Sandler will play a basketball scout who is fired after discovering a talented player overseas. The scout brings the player to America to prove they can both make it in the NBA.

Collider has more details on the plot of the film.

Sandler is a huge basketball fan who has his own basketball court called Happy Madison Square Gardens. He also has some serious skills on the court, which should make him great for another basketball-related role.

ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ becomes network’s most watched documentary

ESPN The Last Dance

Unsurprisingly, ESPN’s ten-part “The Last Dance” documentary has broken ratings records for the network.

Sunday night’s airing of the final two parts in the series averaged 5.6 million viewers across all ESPN platforms, the network said in a news release. The average rating for all ten episodes was also 5.6 million viewers. That makes it the most watched ESPN documentary of all time, besting 2012’s “You Don’t Know Bo,” which averaged 3.6 million viewers.

The premiere episode was the highest-rated of all ten parts, averaging over 6.3 million viewers. Part nine, the penultimate episode, became the third-highest rated of the series when it aired Sunday.

These ratings also don’t include viewers who watched the documentary after its initial airing via recording or streaming. ESPN says when time-shifted viewing is taken into account, over 15 million people watched the first episode.

With no live sports going on in the United States and ongoing interest in Michael Jordan’s Bulls, this was always destined to be a huge ratings winner. It has delivered in a big way, and the network will be thrilled.

Plus, it’s not the only record Jordan has helped break lately.

Texas, California governors say pro sports can resume in June without fans

Two major states are ready to host pro sports without fans within the next month.

On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and California Governor Gavin Newsom both separately announced that their states will allow sporting events to be hosted without fans and with other proper precautions starting at the beginning of June.

These announcements come on the heels of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo making a similar announcement earlier in the day.

Things will still be very different. There will not be fans for a while, and major precautions will be taken to ensure social distancing and proper hygiene. However, this is a very big deal, especially since some of Newsom’s previous comments made it sound like this was unlikely to happen anytime soon. It paves the way for pro sports leagues to put together plans to reopen responsibly and stage meaningful games, even though there won’t be any fans.

Michael Jordan loves vanity license plates

Michael Jordan

Sports fans were given the opportunity to learn a ton about Michael Jordan during the 10-part documentary series “The Last Dance,” but one thing that has not been talked about all that much is MJ’s love for vanity license plates.

It’s not uncommon for athletes and celebrities to have vanity plates, but Jordan had several. We caught glimpses of some of them during “The Last Dance.”

Those weren’t all of them, either. Here are some other custom plates Jordan has had over the years:

We know Jordan has swagger, but most people probably weren’t aware his vanity plate game was that strong. There are few vanity plates in history that can compete with “M-AIR-J.” There were a lot of things that made Jordan intimidating during his prime — the plates just added to it.

Bojan Bogdanovic to undergo season-ending wrist surgery

When the NBA season resumes, the Utah Jazz will be without a key player the rest of the way.

Forward Bojan Bogdanovic will undergo season-ending surgery on his right wrist, an injury that has bothered him since January.

Bogdanovic’s 20.2 points per game was second on the Jazz behind only Donovan Mitchell, so this is a significant loss. The 31-year-old was also shooting 41.4 percent from three point range, the third consecutive year he was over the 40 percent mark.

The Jazz probably didn’t expect to lose a key player during the NBA lockdown, but the situation has produced some very strange issues for them. Perhaps this is just par for the course.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo says sports teams can resume play without fans

Major North American sports took a huge step toward returning on Monday, as the governor of New York has announced that pro sports teams are clear to resume activity. However, fans will not be permitted to attend games in the immediate future.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his daily briefing on Monday that the state will assist sports teams in returning to play, but the teams will be reopening without fans. Cuomo said he is a Buffalo Bills fan and is looking forward to watching the team play.

No state has been hit harder by the virus than New York, so it is a good sign that Cuomo is giving sports the green light. Many other states will likely follow.

If you remember, Cuomo had a somewhat controversial take on the resumption of sports not that long ago. He has clearly changed his stance a bit in recent weeks.

Billy Donovan had some harsh words for a 17-year-old Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown is having a breakout year with the Boston Celtics this year, and Billy Donovan may find it ironic that Brown is putting up such big numbers in his fourth NBA year. Based on what Donovan said to Brown years ago, it sounds like the Oklahoma City Thunder coach thought Brown would have been out of the league by now.

While speaking with students at UMass on a Zoom chat Friday, Brown told a story about how Donovan motivated him with some harsh criticism when he was 17. Brown was playing for Donovan on USA Basketball’s u-18 squad at the time, and he said he was “killing everybody in practice.” Despite that, Donovan wasn’t giving Brown much playing time. Brown wanted to know why.

“He told me he wasn’t playing me because he said I didn’t play hard,” Brown recalled, as transcribed by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. “I said, ‘What do you mean, I’ve been cooking everybody.’ And he told me you’re only going to be in the league for three years because you don’t play hard. … And instantly I was emotional. I was 17 years old. I was like, ‘What do you mean? I’m the best player here. I’m cooking everybody.’”

Brown said he was so angry that he cried, but he realized what Donovan meant as he got older. Brown was relying strictly on talent when he should have also been trying to out-work people. While he admits he is still bothered to this day that Donovan would say that to a 17-year-old, Brown acknowledges that it has helped fuel his NBA career.

“For someone to say that was a lot for a 17-year-old,” Brown said. “I appreciate the message he delivered, and to this day I kind of think about it, because that message was added to my work ethic.

“I’m never going to let someone tell me what I’m going to be or I’m not going to be. He told me to my face when I was 17, you’re going to make it to the NBA, but you’re only going to be there for three years because you don’t play hard.”

Brown signed a four-year, $115 million deal with the Celtics last offseason. He is averaging 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season and has already had some incredible highlight moments during his career. Apparently fans in Boston can thank Donovan for that.