Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Friday, May 22, 2020

Updated at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 UTC)

This budget is now available at http://www.TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.


^A backboard, motorcycles and $560,000 shoes? 'The Last Dance' is over, but the consumer craze for Michael Jordan and the 1990s Bulls continues.<

BKN-LASTDANCE-MERCHANDISE-SPORTSPLUS:TB — "The Last Dance" docuseries aired its final episode on Sunday, but apparently that hasn't slowed the gold rush on Michael Jordan and 1990s Chicago Bulls items.

In fact, in the last few weeks, the appetite for all things Jordan has been building to a crescendo, with auctions setting records and apparel flying off shelves — well, "virtual" shelves in some cases with many areas of the country still under quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Last Dance" effect has rippled across consumer sectors like Jordan's series-winning last shot in the 1998 Finals rocked the NBA world.

1800 by Phil Thompson in Chicago. MOVED


^Jerry Sloan, the fiery Bulls guard and Hall of Fame coach of the Jazz, dies at 78<

BKN-SLOAN-OBIT:TB — Jerry Sloan, the fiery guard and Hall of Fame coach whose No. 4 Chicago Bulls jersey hangs from the United Center rafters, died Friday morning from Parkinson's disease and dementia. He was 78.

The McLeansboro, Ill., native was a two-time All-Star for the Bulls, whom he later coached, and long will be associated with backcourt mate Norm Van Lier as the defensive backbone for the Dick Motta-led Bulls.

Sloan went on to coach the Utah Jazz for nearly 23 seasons and led them to the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals against the dynasty-era Bulls, losing both matchups. Sloan entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2009 in the same class as his longtime Jazz guard, John Stockton.

650 by K.C. Johnson in Chicago. MOVED


^Ex-Knick, Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing tests positive for coronavirus<

^BKC-GEORGETOWN-EWING-CORONAVIRUS:NY—<Patrick Ewing has coronavirus.

The former Knicks great, who has been the head coach of the Georgetown men's basketball team since 2017, announced his diagnosis on Friday.

Ewing is one of many in the sports world to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, but is the only person on the Georgetown team to contract the virus, according to the university.

200 by Sarah Valenzuela. MOVED


^Jets signing quarterback Joe Flacco on one-year contract<

^FBN-JETS-FLACCO:HK—<The New York Jets are adding a big name to their roster, signing quarterback Joe Flacco to a one-year contract.

The agency that represents Flacco, who spent last season with the Denver Broncos after 11 years with the Baltimore Ravens, announced the signing on its Twitter account.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the deal is worth $1.5 million, but can grow to $4.5 million with incentives.

With the Jets, the former Super Bowl MVP will reunite with general manager Joe Douglas, who was a scout for the Ravens when they drafted him 18th overall in 2008.

300 by Chris Iseman. MOVED


^Michael Cunningham: 'Weird' empty stadiums alter the idea of home advantage<

CUNNINGHAM-COLUMN:AT — Word that the NBA still is considering Walt Disney World as a site for games made me think back to my days covering the NBA summer league in Orlando. The public wasn't invited, so spectators mostly included coaches, NBA front-office types and media. The lack of cheers or jeers made for an emotionally detached experience, more like a high-level pickup game than professional competition.

I get the same feeling watching live sports on TV now. There are no spectators because of the novel coronavirus. I welcome the entertainment, but the circumstances make me feel a strange kind of existential sports angst.

1000 by Michael Cunningham in Atlanta. MOVED


^Chris McCosky: Tigers' Daniel Norris has love-hate relationship with retaliatory pitching<

^BBA-MCCOSKY-COLUMN:DTN—< Thanks to a pandemic-induced furlough last week, I finally got around to reading my friend Danny Knobler's excellent book "Unwritten — Bat Flips, the Fun Police and Baseball's New Future," published by Triumph Books.

Good stuff throughout, but it was the chapters devoted to the unwritten codes about payback and pitcher retaliation that sent me back to a crazy day in Cleveland, Sept. 18, 2016, when Indians starter Trevor Bauer drilled three Tigers — including Ian Kinsler in the head — in the first three innings.

1250 by Chris McCosky in Detroit. MOVED


^Vahe Gregorian: In postseason of epic Royal comebacks, none were more poignant than Edinson Volquez's<

BBA-GREGORIAN-COLUMN:KC — Amid the ongoing pandemonium at Citi Field in the wee hours of Nov. 2, 2015, the embodiment of the most resilient team in Major League Baseball playoff history stood radiant near the pitcher's mound.

That mound had become hallowed ground for Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez, who had used his spikes to subtly etch his father's initials into it.

As he had worked from there hours before, he felt a mystical sense of being looked over himself by a "lot of energy coming from the dirt, from the grass, all the way to your head."

1600 by Vahe Gregorian in Kansas City, Mo. MOVED


^Scott Lauber: Daily testing might be only way for MLB, players to agree on protocol for a 2020 season<

BBO-LAUBER-COLUMN:PH — Larry Bowa, 55-year baseball man, had the same reaction as some casual fans when he read reports last weekend that detailed Major League Baseball's 67-page health and safety protocols for a potential 2020 season.


No saunas or hydrotherapy tubs in the training room? No high-fives or fist bumps? Limited or no use of indoor batting cages? No fraternizing with players on opposing teams? No showering at the ballpark?

"I read all those rules and everything and I want to be optimistic, but ," Bowa, the former Phillies shortstop, coach and manager, said by phone this week.

950 by Scott Lauber in Philadelphia. MOVED


^Mets' Noah Syndergaard failed to pay $27k rent for New York penthouse: lawsuit<

BBN-METS-SYNDERGAARD-LAWSUIT:NY — Mets flamethrower Noah Syndergaard is pitching a rent strike — balking on a $27,000 payment for a posh Tribeca penthouse, the landlord charges in a new lawsuit.

The owner of 116 Hudson St. writes that the hurler nicknamed "Thor" signed a lease covering March through November for a total of $225,000, plus a $17,000 broker's commission. Syndergaard signed the lease in February, before the coronavirus pandemic shut New York City down in mid-March. The 2,700-square-foot duplex boasts three bedrooms, floor to ceiling windows and three large terraces.

300 by Stephen Rex Brown in New York. MOVED

^Yankees pitcher James Paxton says he's 'back to full strength' after back surgery and will be ready when season starts<

BBA-YANKEES-PAXTON:NY — James Paxton will be ready to go if there is a 2020 MLB season. The Yankees lefty told YES Network's Meredith Marakovits that he has recovered from February back surgery and progressed in his rehab to the point where he would be able to pitch if the league and union are able to lay the foundation for a coronavirus-shortened season to begin in July.

"So, I'll be ready to go as soon as the season comes about," Paxton said. "I think I've thrown probably 12-14 bullpens."

700 by Kristie Ackert in Tampa, Fla. MOVED

^As health talks continue, MLB to toss economic proposal to union Tuesday, source says<

^BBO-SEASON-ECONOMICPROPOSAL:ND—<With progress being made this week on the health front, MLB will submit its economic proposal to the Players Association on Tuesday, a source confirmed.

With the clock ticking on a projected June start for spring training, figuring out how to play during this pandemic remains a work in progress as the two sides continue their discussions of MLB's 67-page operations manual delivered to the union last Friday. But coming up with a new salary structure for this anticipated 82-game season has turned into a contentious process, likely to require every minute up to the point when players actually show up for spring training.

300 by David Lennon. MOVED

^Limiting MLB draft to five rounds should benefit colleges<

BBO-DRAFT-COLLEGES:SD — San Diego County is annually among the nation's biggest hotbeds for amateur baseball talent, with dozens of players selected each year in the MLB draft.

Expect the number of local players to be counted on one hand with MLB's plan to scale back next month's draft from 40 to five rounds.

One result of this development is that both four-year universities and junior colleges expect to benefit, with more incoming freshmen heading to campus and more draft-eligible players staying on campus.

800 by Kirk Kenney in San Diego. MOVED



^Marcus Hayes: Former Eagles exec, NFL trailblazer John Wooten loves new Rooney Rule and divulges a new twist<

FBN-HAYES-COLUMN:PH — One of the men who spearheaded diversity in the NFL is delighted that the league strengthened its mandate to diversify in the face of regression by requiring teams to interview more outside candidates for top jobs on the sidelines and in the front office. He's also pleased that a scheme collapsed that would reward teams with better draft positions when they hired and retained minority head coaches.

But John Wooten is not satisfied; and, as usual, he's got a better idea, and it's rooted in the basic problem: There are not enough qualified coordinators. So: Incentivize the process.

1450 by Marcus Hayes in Philadelphia. MOVED


^COVID-19 relief fundraiser lets Browns fans bid on scripting plays<

^FBN-BROWNS-AUCTION:AK—<Coach Kevin Stefanski, legendary quarterback Bernie Kosar and the Browns are offering fans once-in-a-lifetime experiences as part of the organization's efforts to raise funds for COVID-19 relief.

The Browns announced Friday morning Stefanski and Kosar are participating in the "All In Challenge."

Through the challenge, which is powered by Fanatics, more than 400 celebrities and athletes have helped raise more than $45 million to aid people who are struggling to put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.

350 by Nate Ulrich. MOVED

^With Aldon Smith reinstated, what's the latest on Randy Gregory's return to Cowboys?<

^FBN-COWBOYS-GREGORY:FT—<Now that Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith's has been reinstated by the NFL from an indefinite suspension, the big question is when Randy Gregory will be given the green light to return to the team as well?

To date, Gregory has been suspended for 46 games as he has not played since 2018, but he has filed for reinstatement. An NFL source was less than optimistic when asked about Gregory's potential return.

No final decision has been made but Gregory's agent Peter Schaffer is encouraged by Smith's reinstatement.

250 by Clarence E. Hill Jr. MOVED


^Seahawks to sign RB Carlos Hyde to one-year contract<

FBN-SEAHAWKS-HYDE:SE — The Seahawks' pursuit of a veteran running back to add depth at a position that last year was decimated by injuries ended Friday as the team agreed to a one-year deal with free agent Carlos Hyde, who gained 1,070 yards during a resurgent 2019 season with the Houston Texans.

The news of Hyde's signing was first reported by The NFL Network, and it came after a source told The Seattle Times that the team was zeroing in on Hyde after contract talks stalled with longtime Atlanta Falcons standout Devonta Freeman.

1150 by Bob Condotta in Seattle. MOVED

^Rob Gronkowski re-creates 'crying' Tom Brady phone call to get him to join Bucs<

FBN-BUCS-GRONKOWSKI-BRADY:PT — Admit it, you've been dying to know the details of THE phone call. You know the one, between then-newly signed Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, his star tight end for nine seasons with the Patriots who retired after the 2018 season.

The result: Gronk comes out of retirement last month and joins Brady in Tampa Bay after engineering a trade with New England.

So what did Brady actually say to his buddy on that phone call? What kind of recruiting pitch did he give?

350 by Anthony Perez in Tampa, Fla. MOVED


^Larry Stone: Seahawks' Russell Wilson has shown he can be like Mike regarding perceived slights<

FBN-STONE-COLUMN:SE — Russell Wilson is a fount of positivity, and always has been. The next time he utters a discouraging word publicly about a teammate or the Seahawks will be the first. His style is to try to lift everyone up through encouragement and praise rather than to motivate through criticism and fear.

You might have guessed who I'm comparing him to on this front: Michael Jordan, as exemplified in ESPN's "The Last Dance." On the surface, their entire modus operandi couldn't be more divergent. Wilson would never even think of riding his teammates like Jordan did with Scott Burrell, Steve Kerr, et al. Just listen to Wilson's news conferences when he talks about fellow Seahawks — he kills them with kindness.

1200 by Larry Stone in Seattle. MOVED


^Paul Sullivan: Jerry Sloan's hustle and work ethic perfectly meshed with Chicago — and gave the Bulls their 1st face of the franchise<

BKN-SULLIVAN-COLUMN:TB — Jerry Sloan's accomplishments as an NBA player and coach are well known.

Hall of Famer. Original Bull. Master tactician.

But when anyone mentions the name of the former Utah Jazz coach and Bulls great, who died Friday at 78, the picture that immediately springs to mind is one of Sloan hustling for a loose ball and diving out of bounds to save it.

That work ethic is why Sloan was so beloved in Chicago.

1100 by Paul Sullivan in Chicago. MOVED


^Kristian Winfield: Is a Nets trade for Bradley Beal overkill?<

BKN-WINFIELD-COLUMN:NY — Ever since Kyrie Irving famously spoke of the need for a third star on the Nets, there's been no shortage of speculation over who could play alongside him and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. But after sources told the Daily News that Brooklyn internally discussed trading for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal, there's now some sense of what the team's thinking is, even if it's currently just a thought.

Any team would benefit from prying Beal from the Wizards' clutches, and all indications point to Washington being uninterested in a Beal deal at the moment. But is a trade for a third star necessary, or is it overkill?

950 by Kristian Winfield in New York. MOVED

^Timberwolves, NBA join Mayo Clinic on coronavirus study<

BKN-TWOLVES-MAYOCLINIC:MS — Soon, Mayo Clinic hopes to have a reliable antibody test that would detect if the body has developed defenses to the coronavirus with just the prick of a patient's finger.

To further enhance the accuracy of that test, Mayo has enlisted the help of the NBA, including the Timberwolves, who have all become part of the clinic's comprehensive antibody test study. Researchers hope to glean more information about the body's response to a coronavirus infection and determine how widespread it has been statewide and nationwide.

800 by Chris Hine in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Magic forward Jonathan Isaac says he feels calling to help others during pandemic<

BKN-MAGIC-ISAAC:OS — Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac continues to juggle his work to get back on the basketball court at full strength with his commitment to helping in the Central Florida community.

Isaac took a break from rehabilitation work on his injured left knee to hand out Pepsi and Papa John's pizzas in Pine Hills Friday.

Local Papa John's franchises, who are Magic partners, donated 200 pizzas and Pepsi to feed about 100 families at the Royal Place Apartment Complex. Isaac, who leads Project Life Inc. and J.U.M.P. Ministries, was joined by Magic community ambassador Bo Outlaw handing out the food while wearing masks.

350 by Iliana Limon Romero in Orlando, Fla. MOVED



^Joe Starkey: Penguins-Canadiens? Sounds great, as does imperfect NHL postseason.<

HKN-STARKEY-COLUMN:PG — First, let's dispense with the notion that 24 teams is unwieldy, unfair, untenable or all of the above.

The NHL is strongly considering a 24-team playoff, which means 80% of the member clubs would be involved. Sounds like a lot — until you realize that when the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup in 1991, a full 76% of the teams (16 of 21) made the playoffs.

When they won it in '92, it was 73% (16 of 22).

It was pretty hard to miss the playoffs for teams in the Original Six, too. Four of six made it every year. After that, it was eight of 12. And so on.

So this isn't new.

700 by Joe Starkey in Pittsburgh. MOVED

^NHLPA expected to accept league's return-to-play proposal, report says<

HKN-SEASON-NHLPA:ND — All signs point to the NHL Players Association accepting the league's 24-team return-to-play proposal.

No formal announcements were made on Friday as the NHLPA executive board concluded two days of voting. But Canada's TSN reported that approval by the NHLPA is expected.

A formal announcement is not likely to be made until after the holiday weekend.

Under this scenario, the NHL will resume play with 24 of its 31 teams — 12 from each conference — split into two hub cities.

400 by Andrew Gross in New York. MOVED


^UCF athletic budget projects fans at football games during upcoming season<

FBC-UFC-BUDGET-FANS:OS — The UCF Athletics Association submitted a budget to the university based on the expectation it would be able to play football at some point during the 2020-21 academic year with fans in attendance.

The chief financial officer who outlined the budget during a UCF board of trustees meeting Thursday noted it was an "optimistic viewpoint."

With the fan-related revenue factored in, UCF Athletics Association projected having $6,448,114 in year-end cash at the end of the 2021 fiscal year.

500 by Iliana Limon Romero in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


^Signs are pointing toward a college football season that will start on time<

FBC-SEASON:FT — College football being played as scheduled this fall continues to become more realistic. Friday served as a promising day on multiple fronts as colleges prepare to operate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Austin-based KXAN that he expects the college football season to start on time with fans in the stands, even if it's limited capacity. "My prediction is yes, we are going to have college football beginning as scheduled," he said.

The SEC announced that it would reopen campuses for voluntary workouts for football and basketball players starting June 8. The NCAA announced earlier this week that voluntary workouts could resume as early as June 1.

500 by Drew Davison in Fort Worth, Texas. MOVED


^Nick Saban urges Alabamians to wear masks to curb coronavirus tide<

^FBC-ALABAMA-SABAN:NY—<The coach of the Crimson Tide has advice to curb the coronavirus tide.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban, clad in a white-and-red "Roll Tide" mask, urged people to socially distance and cover their faces in a public service video tweeted by the team Thursday.

"All of us want to make sure we play football this fall," Saban said. "And to make that happen, we must be sure we stay at home if we have symptoms. Wash your hands often, follow all social-distancing guidelines and please wear a mask anytime you're around other people."

150 by Tim Balk. MOVED


^Top basketball recruit Jonathan Kuminga cuts list to five. Kentucky and G League still in mix.<

^BKC-KENTUCKY-KUMINGA:LX—<The top high school basketball prospect in the class of 2021 has his eye on moving to 2020 and playing in college — or, perhaps, the pros — next season, and Kentucky is on his new list of finalists.

Jonathan Kuminga — a highly versatile 6-foot-8 forward from Congo, now playing for a high school in New Jersey — announced Friday that he has narrowed his recruitment to UK, Auburn, Duke, Texas Tech and the G League.

Rivals.com, 247Sports and ESPN all rank Kuminga as the No. 1 overall player in the 2021 class, but he has long been considered a candidate to reclassify to 2020, a move that would put him on the path of playing college basketball next season.

600 by Ben Roberts. MOVED


^Luke DeCock: Few have seen NCAA's new enforcement process. NC State now has a front-row seat.<

BKC-DECOCK-COLUMN:RA — When N.C. State's infractions case was officially accepted by the NCAA's new independent resolution process on Monday, it moved its simmering dispute with the NCAA — one that broke into open hostility and allegations of acting in bad faith in April — into a netherworld of uncertainty and secrecy.

The Wolfpack's fate in the Dennis Smith Jr. case now rests in the hands of a process so new even the people most closely associated with it aren't quite sure what exactly to expect.

950 by Luke DeCock in Raleigh, N.C. MOVED



^College transfer rule to stay the same in football, basketball during 2020-21 season<

^BKC-FBC-TRANSFERRULE:KC—<A proposed rule that some say would lead to an unheard-of number of transfers in college basketball and football will not be implemented for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

Instead, it's possible — maybe even likely — players will be allowed to transfer without sitting out a season's worth of games as early as the 2021-22 academic year.

The NCAA this week in a news release announced that its Division I Council has "approved a resolution that outlined its intention to adopt by January a comprehensive legislative package creating uniform, modernized rules governing eligibility after transfer for student-athletes in all sports."

750 by Gary Bedore. MOVED


^Pac-12's Larry Scott says student-athletes would be safer on campus than at home<

CMP-PAC12-SCOTT:LA — As the NCAA opened the door for athletes to return in June for voluntary workouts, the Pac-12's commissioner made clear ahead of the conference's own vote next week that he believes student-athletes would be "in a safer and healthier position" if they were back on their respective campuses this summer, rather than at home.

In a CNN interview Friday, Larry Scott joined other power brokers across college football in framing a June return to campus as a measure meant to keep athletes safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

650 by Ryan Kartje in Los Angeles. MOVED



^UConn's Kelly (Schumacher) Raimon took a winding path to a WNBA coaching job with the Liberty<

BKL-LIBERTY-RAIMON:HC — Kelly Raimon doesn't consider herself a tech-savvy person, but when her first job in the WNBA required her to master scouting software, there she was, teaching herself through YouTube videos, editing and splicing together scouting reports, even filling in once for the team's video coordinator.

Learning on the fly as she did in that position — development coach and advanced scout with the Chicago Sky — became crucial for Raimon (nee Schumacher), a national champion at UConn who played eight seasons in the WNBA, as she made her way back into basketball following a stint as a professional beach volleyball player.

1150 by Alexa Philippou in Hartford, Conn. MOVED



^Chase Elliott on flipping off Kyle Busch: Hard to fight when forced to stay 6 feet apart<

CAR-NASCAR-ELLIOTT:CH — Chase Elliott finally had his say after Wednesday night's Cup race that ended in dramatic fashion.

While running in the top-three of what turned out to be the final laps of NASCAR's second race at Darlington Raceway, Elliott's No. 9 car was tapped by No. 18 driver Kyle Busch, causing Elliott to spin out and ruin his chances for a top-three finish.

Elliott then hopped out of his wrecked car and raised a socially-distant middle finger to Busch, who was driving by on his next lap. The race was called shortly thereafter due to rain. Denny Hamlin finished in first place and Busch finished second.

400 by Alex Andrejev in Charlotte, N.C. MOVED



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