Nets can still get the last laugh after bizarre 12 months

A year ago, they were not only the toast of the NBA but a model for the way things get built in professional sports now, the way foundations and cornerstones are laid, the way blueprints become blessings.

Starting with an Instagram message posted by Kevin Durant late in the afternoon of June 30 and stretching for most of a celebratory July, life had never been better for the Nets, not in their NBA incarnation, anyway, not since Julius Erving and his friends had tried to wrest the basketball city away while loitering in the burbs and brandishing a red, white and blue ball. Durant and Kyrie Irving were in the house, in the fold, and suddenly the Nets were in the unfamiliar position of feeding the new NBA zeitgeist.

“We knew,” Sean Marks said in Las Vegas a few weeks later, “what we were getting into.”

Maybe they did. Still: Nobody could truly forecast just how bizarre the next 12 months would be for the Nets. One prominent fly in the ointment was apparent right away: Durant wouldn’t be available at all in 2019-20 thanks to his blown Achilles. While Irving came with a clean bill of health, when he was limited to 20 games (during which the Nets went 8-12) thanks to a bum shoulder that wasn’t exactly a stunning development, either, given his history.

What would have been impossible to envision last July, though, were all the things, epic and subtle and everything in between, that’s littered the Nets’ landscape at the dawn of another July, in no particular order:

  • A global pandemic which has turned everyone’s world upside down.

  • The firing of coach Kenny Atkinson on March 7 after leading the Nets from the dregs to the playoffs last year and the brink of another berth this time, the details of which are a bit fuzzy but was clearly precipitated by the fact that Atkinson on one end and Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan on the other had stopped believing they could work together.
  • Injuries that cost Caris LeVert (having another fine season) 25 games and rookie Nic Claxton all but 15 games.
  • Forward Rodions Kurucs was arrested on domestic violence charges.
  • Wilson Chandler, a key offseason addition, missed the first 25 games thanks to a PED suspension, shot barely 40 percent in the 35 games in which he did play, then opted out of the Nets’ trip to the Orlando restart bubble — a stay that looks, by the day, to probably be the shortest of the 22 teams who will report there next week.
  • And, not least, the Nets have been bludgeoned worse than anyone by the coronavirus. Four players — Durant the only one whose name we know — tested positive early in the lockdown. This week, both Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie — easily the Nets’ most reliable player this year at 20.6 points and 6.8 assists — revealed they, too, have COVID-19. Jordan is definitely out of Orlando; Dinwiddie wants to play but said he has actually shown symptoms (fever, chest tightness) and will almost certainly be forced out.

Other than that …

The Nets are one of what will almost certainly be a wealth of cautionary tales as sports tries to reintegrate into the world. There are others. The Phillies have so far been the hardest hit of the baseball teams by the virus, and the Nationals have already lost two players they expected to be part of the season — Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross — who decided to opt out instead.

The NHL had 15 of the first 250 players tested come back positive and we are still trying to determine at what percentage these things become problematic. Clemson has had 37 football players test positive and there is a cynical (if apocryphal, for now) take that has gotten a foothold in the sport that football factories like that wouldn’t mind seeing their players spike now, possibly develop herd immunity and be fully loaded for the season (if there’s a season).

The Nets were going to be a longshot to do anything in the bubble anyway since it was announced that both Irving and Durant would stay idle. The other dominoes that have fallen have merely ensured their stay inside will be as quick as possible. Most of their eggs were already carefully laid in baskets belonging to 2021, 2022 and 2023, anyway.

By then, depending on how this all shakes out, it may almost be funny how much quicksand they encountered these first 12 months, how many banana peels entangled their feet. If you are a Nets fan, you look forward to that laughter.

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Mini Explorer! See Arie and Lauren's Daughter Alessi’s Cutest Pics

Bachelor baby! Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Lauren Burnham became the proud parents of their daughter, Alessi, in May 2019 and have been posting pictures of the little one ever since.

“We have a healthy, BEAUTIFUL baby girl 6lbs, 13oz 20cm long,” the race car driver revealed on his Instagram Story at the time after documenting their hospital experience. “Mommy and baby are doing great, we are so incredibly happy.”

Burnham added a post of her own: “She is sweet, calm and @ariejr and I could not be more in love with her.”

Us Weekly broke the news in November 2018 that the couple, who met and fell in love on season 22 of The Bachelor, had their first child on the way.

“We weren’t trying, but we are so excited,” the real estate agent told Us. “It’s going to be a whole new chapter in our lives.”

The Virgina native explained that they thought their future parenting styles would mimic the way they treat their dogs, calling her husband “such a softie,” while she’s “a little bit more of the disciplinarian.”

Two months later, the TV personalities exclusively revealed the sex of their baby to Us. “We were both hoping that we were having a girl,” Burnham told Us in January — and their dream came true.

“I won’t have to worry about putting that little boy into a race car anytime soon,” the Bachelorette alum joked.

That same month, the reality star couple tied the knot in Hawaii. Now that they’ve welcomed a third member to their family, keep scrolling through the gallery below for a close look at Alessi.

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World News

LA City Council moves to send unarmed responders on some 911 calls

The Los Angeles City Council took a first step this week toward launching a new “crisis response” plan that would have unarmed service providers responding to some 911 calls instead of the city’s police department, according to new reports.

The council’s police reform committee on Wednesday approved a motion in which the LAPD would work with other city and county agencies that handle health and homelessness issues to “develop an unarmed model of crisis response that would divert non-violent calls for service away from LAPD to the appropriate non-law enforcement agencies and related matters,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Some council members raised concerns about funding and questioned whether the city might be moving too quickly or drastically to slice resources from law enforcement.

But Councilman Herb Wesson, who helped introduce the measure, tried to shut down the critics, LAist reported.

“I understand … that this makes you feel a little uncomfortable,” Wesson said. “Well, welcome to being black. Welcome to being uncomfortable.”

While shifting responsibilities for responding to calls away from police and to other agencies is a large part of the “Defund Police” movement, activists took issue with any LAPD involvement at all.

“This is not good enough,” said one member of the public who called in to the meeting, according to the Times. “We need to defund the police.”

“Defund the police, or you will get voted out,” said another.

Other motions approved by the committee called for reviews of the LAPD’s response to recent protests — including one that directs the department to report back to the council on how it will investigate misconduct allegations, and what discipline officers will face for using excessive force against protesters, according to the report.

A separate motion would require more officers to wear body cameras, and another would make it illegal to call 911 for frivolous or false emergency claims based on racial bias.

Earlier this week, the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee agreed to cut more than $133 million from the LAPD budget, according to the Times.

The full council will vote on the cuts next week.

Activists — including those from Black Lives Matter-LA and other community groups — said that’s not enough and called for a separate “People’s Budget,” which would slash the LAPD’s roughly $3 billion annual budget by about 90 percent.

But Councilman Paul Koretz, who sits on the police reform committee and said he supports the reform measures, told the Times efforts to defund or abolish the police would be “a step too far.”

“If we did what is being asked to do and we defunded the police, and in a week they were gone, I think that would be the worst decision the city council has ever made,” Koretz said. “I think the city would look a little bit like the movie ‘Purge.’”

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Oscar De La Hoya considering comeback at 47 but will wait to see how Mike Tyson’s boxing return goes first – The Sun

OSCAR DE LA HOYA is the latest boxing legend considering a ring return – but only after Mike Tyson paves the way.

Comebacks are all the rage amid talk of a new fight for the heavyweight icon and De La Hoya is considering getting in on the action.

The former six-weight world champion won his first 31 professional fights and retired in 2008 with a 39-6 record.

However the 47-year-old, who has battled alcoholism issues in the past, admits that he will have to put in a lot of work if he is to take a comeback seriously.

De La Hoya told RingTV: "I actually want to see what Tyson does first. I have been working out, I have been training and I have been staying in shape.

"Obviously, I’m not in fighting shape, yet, to go 12 rounds, but I’m sure I can get there. We’ll see.

"I want to see Tyson perform, how his reflexes are, see if he can go past three, four rounds. Then I’ll make my decision."

De La Hoya's final bout against Manny Pacquiao came at 145 pounds but he would only return at 160 pounds, in the middleweight category that he fought in later in his career.

That could open up a potential contest with Canelo Alvarez, particularly with the American wanting to face "the best".

Yet such a fight is not on De La Hoya's mind, with the prospect given a frank "no".

He added: "I would really come back. I’m really considering it.

"It doesn't matter [who]. Anybody who is the best out there. I still have that mentality."

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