And-Ones: Ayres, NBA Together, Olympics, Season

The Japanese B League has announced it will once again postpone its season after recently attempting to resume play, Jonathon Givony of ESPN writes.

The league will be postponed until after April 1 following a “chaotic weekend” of games which revealed that multiple safety issues still remain for its players, coaches and teams, Givony notes. The league was originally postponed on Feb. 26.

“I decided not to practice or play due to concern regarding how the league, and my team specifically, was doing to keep players safe,” said former NBA player Jeff Ayres, a member of the Ryukyu Golden Kings. “I felt we were putting ourselves at risk. It was a reckless environment.”

Ayres joins a number of international players who chose to return home amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. State Department recently issued an advisory that suggests all U.S. citizens traveling overseas return home unless they plan to live outside the country indefinitely.

“Being able to come home was a big deal for me,” Ayres said. “What if they declared a state of emergency and closed the borders? I wasn’t going to miss the birth of my child. The league wasn’t doing anything to prevent us from getting sick and had no procedures in place for what would happen if someone contracted the virus. My team in particular was not taking any of the measures that were recommended, such as taking players’ temperatures daily, until it was already too late. The league was pressuring players to play in games due to pressure from sponsors, and my team was being dismissive of our concerns.”

Ayres also mentioned that the team threatened to terminate his contract over his decision to leave, claiming that it has the situation under control.

Here are some other odds and ends from the basketball world:

  • The NBA has launched a global ‘NBA Together’ campaign in response to the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to support, engage, educate and inspire youth, families and fans during the league’s unprecedented hiatus. As part of the campaign, the NBA has committed to help raise more than $50MM to support people impacted by COVID-19 around the world. The league will have a member of the NBA family participate in a live interview every weekday at 3:00pm ET, stream classic games on NBA TV and other social platforms, and offer a free preview of League Pass to fans until April 22.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated examines why he believes the Olympics will be postponed, with COVID-19 likely to force organizers to push the dates of each event back. The Olympics are currently set to take place from July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan.
  • The NBA’s worst off-court season in recent memory took another hit with the coronavirus pandemic, Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY writes. The season started with off-court troubles between the league and China that stemmed from a controversial tweet by Daryl Morey, progressed to the tragic deaths of former NBA commissioner David Stern and legendary Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, and culminated in a suspended season due to COVID-19.

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