From Zion Williamson to Kawhi Leonard and from LeBron James to Paul George, the NBA is officially back – in full swing. Now I know why I missed the NBA and sports these last 141 days.
While the NBA Bubble in Orlando and the NHL hubs in Toronto and Edmonton continue to provide a refuge for professionals and their teams to continue the 2020 regular and post season, MLB is faced with tremendous challenges after just one week of games. It was alarming news that 18 members of the Miami Marlins had tested positive for COVID-19 following the first weekend of games in the City of Brotherly Love.
Furthermore, yesterday, a coach and clubhouse attendant of the Philadelphia Phillies contracted the virus. Miami’s games are on pause for now. The question remains: Can a season occur without a bubble setup? What will Roger Goodell and the NFL do? Who will be the next player or staff member to fall victim to the pandemic? Lots to ponder, and the talkies tweeted about it all:
Buster Olney (ESPN Columnist) – @Buster_ESPN
- Buster Olney had a great deal to say relating to the beginning of the shortened 2020 MLB campaign. Olney finds it amazing “how often [we] are seeing players forget the number of outs (when they’re on the field). This says a lot about the adrenaline, anxiety, focus, accountability that fans in the stands add.” Are players struggling to keep tabs of such basics without fans cheering them on from just a few feet away? On a sad note, Olney posted a video on his feed which displayed the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees taking a moment of silence to remember Mo Gaba, a young 14-year old boy who lost his battle to cancer earlier this week. Gaba was a Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens superfan. The tribute was a fantastic way to recognize and honor Mo. Buster also shared a tweet related to the draft. He says Vanderbilt baseball players, Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, could go one and two in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Mike Golic & Trey Wingo on ESPN – @GolicAndWingo
- This week, Mike Golic and Trey Wingo continued with their NBA updates. The men invited several guests onto their show who gave their scoops on an array of the Western and Eastern Conference powerhouses, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, and Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks. Since The Golic and Wingo show goes off air after today, so the men received several thank you notes on their Twitter feed.
Skip Bayless (FOX Sports) – @RealSkipBayless
- On 7/29, Skip Bayless tweeted out a humorous comment. With the NBA back, Skip exclaimed “Tonight [7/29] feels like Christmas Eve. Thank you, Adam Silver.” Just how friends and family are excited to open their gifts the night before Christmas Day, sports enthusiasts were on the edge of their seats before the NBA season tipped off once again on 7/30. Bayless also gave his brief rundown on the NFL’s Top 100 Players, which was voted on by the players themselves.
“ I would’ve given Russell Wilson a slight edge at No. 1 over Lamar Jackson because of his playoff legacy. Lamar ran away with MVP but has obviously played poorly in his two playoff games.”
“(The Niners’ George) Kittle passes Gronk as the highest rated TE ever on NFL’s Top 100. But let’s be very clear: Kittle will never, ever be better than Gronk has been.”
Colin Cowherd (Fox Sports) – @ColinCowherd
- Colin Cowherd responded to a Buccaneers video segment of Tom Brady and his new Tampa Bay team training for the upcoming 2020 NFL season. Seeing it, Cowherd underscored how electric the Buccaneers offense will be: “Scoreboard operator better be ready.” With Tom Brady behind center and having two superstar WRs in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the other 31 NFL teams better take notice. Cowherd also expressed his praise for Aaron Donald. He feels as if Donald is “the best at everything” and that “no defensive lineman does anything better than him.” Colin also believes that Patrick Mahomes has a right to have “an extra chip on his shoulder” after he was ranked 4th on the aforementioned NFL Top 100 Players List.
Sarah Spain (ESPN) – @SarahSpain
- Like many, Sarah Spain was ready for the NBA season to resume. Wes Durham (ACC Sportscaster and Voice, Atlanta Falcons) joined her show to discuss the recent ACC Conference news. Football games will be held between ACC teams only (plus perhaps one non-league game). Reporter and athlete Arielle Chambers was also a guest. While the University of Notre Dame is usually “Independent” for football, the institution will be a member of the ACC Conference for the 2020-21 CFB season. Spain emphasized her love and appreciation for Golic and Wingo whose morning show ends its run today.
Dianna Russini (NFL Reporter and ESPN Host) – @diannaESPN
- Diana Russini spoke up this week about the NFL. She questioned how Tennessee Titans head coach, Mike Vrabel, is worn out already. After one day of questions relating to Seattle Seahawks DE, Jadeveon Clowney, Vrabel claimed that he was burnt out from all of the potential trade fervor. Relating to another DE, on 7/28, Los Angeles Chargers Joey Bosa inked a 5-year, $135 million contract extension with the franchise. Russini was also shocked that the whole city of Toronto has fewer new COVID-19 cases (1) than the Miami Marlins (18). Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin, had a powerful quote regarding the pandemic: “If one fails, we all fail in this environment.” If one person makes an ignorant decision and contracts the coronavirus, others are unfortunately put at risk.
Rich Eisen (Rich Eisen Show on NBC Sports Network) – @richeisen
- Rich Eisen remains in awe of New York Yankees ace, Gerrit Cole. Eisen agrees with some NFL head coaches on how they are each handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams are talking about quarantining at least one player per position so in theory, they’re guaranteed to have a COVID-negative player at their disposal if need be. Rich believes that this fail-safe strategy would be beneficial for teams, especially at the QB position. Eisen questions whether Knicks’ new head coach, Tom Thibodeau, will be a good fit for the New York franchise.
Jeff Passan (ESPN MLB Insider) – @JeffPassan
- Jeff Passan opined that the word “perfect” is overused in baseball. While most baseball fans are quick to claim their team’s pitcher made a “perfect pitch,” the reality is that an accurately placed strike is not always perfect. After 18 members of the Miami Marlins came down with COVID-19 this past week, Passan pondered what the next step should be for the team. Will it be safe for the other 29 teams to proceed with the season? Jeff also pointed out the fact that testing is not completely reliable. “Testing is helpful. Testing is good. But it’s not full-proof.” He stated this after it was deemed that Washington Nationals superstar, Juan Soto, had a false positive COVID-19 test.
“It illustrates the inherent errors in testing. One of the best players in the world will have missed at least five games due a false positive.”
After a coach and clubhouse attendant of the Philadelphia Phillies tested positive for COVID-19 on 7/30, the club canceled all of their workouts indefinitely.
Dick Vitale (ESPN Analyst) – @DickieV
- As always, Dick Vitale was visible this week on his Twitter platform. While many sport aficionados may not realize the prowess and potential of professional sports teams based in Tampa Bay, FL, Dick Vitale played up his hometown teams. Vitale emphasized how he believes that the Tampa Bay Lighting (NHL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) all have a realistic opportunity to compete for championships within their respective leagues. It’s all about “chasing championships.” Dickie V also shared his condolences for former Illinois head basketball coach, Lou Henson, who passed away on 7/29 at age 88. Lastly, Vitale was proud to update his followers on the money he helped raise for his current charitable campaign to help individuals achieve a victory over cancer. He’s at $1.1 million, and the end goal is to reach at least $2 million for The V Foundation undertaking. Dick Vitale clearly appreciates the genuine support and generous contributions from individuals in response to his fundraiser. dickvitale.com
- Hannah Storm is excited for the ACC Conference football plan and schedule. She hopes that the season will work out well. Storm was also glad to hear that there were zero confirmed COVID-19 tests from the NBA Orlando Bubble; “Let’s play hoops!!!” Lastly, Hannah openly applauded Kyrie Irving for his generous $1.5 million donation to supplement the income of WNBA players. As noted by SportsCenter, these athletes chose not to play this season because of coronavirus fears or concerns for social justice. Hannah Storm was also impressed by how the NBA broadcasters sounded last night (Ian Eagle and Stan Van Gundy, Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller).