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The NBA Is Reportedly Planning A 2K Tournament On ESPN Featuring Players From Each Team

With new federal guidelines extending the CDC recommendation that no gatherings of over 10 people take place through April 30, the NBA’s hopeful return likewise now has to look to June at the earliest, given that the ban on gatherings would include team facilities.

As such, the league and its broadcast partners are looking at other ways to fill the time, and with the success NASCAR is seeing with its iRacing events being broadcast on FS1, it appears the NBA is looking into similar opportunities with NBA 2K20. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reports that the league is hoping to launch a 2K Tournament featuring NBA players this coming weekend, with the games being broadcast on ESPN.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The league hopes to launch the event Friday, with the tournament including some big-name players, sources said.

Haynes’ report doesn’t feature much in the way of details, but given the popularity of 2K among NBA players it shouldn’t be too hard to get guys on board, including some star caliber names. He later noted that each team is expected to have a representative in the tournament.

The question will be whether NBA players playing 2K games will draw in eyeballs similar to the NASCAR races, given that the simulations are not apples to apples — NASCAR’s virtual events allow drivers to be in a car setup, actually driving, rather than just using a video game controller. Still, it’s a creative way to fill some broadcast gaps, while also allowing guys an outlet for their competitive juices. We’ll keep you updated on who is in the tournament and all the details on when games will take place whenever an official announcement comes down.

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A Judge Dismissed The ‘NBA 2K’ Lawsuit Over LeBron James’ Tattoos

Sports video games will remain as photorealistic as ever after a judge ruled in favor of NBA 2K publisher Take Two Interactive in lawsuit over tattoo replication in the sports video game franchise. The New York Post reported Monday that a tattoo artist suing the game maker cannot bring a case against the company for replicating his tattoo designs in the digital realm.

Judge Laura Swain dismissed the four-year-old lawsuit in an opinion filed Thursday, calling the use of the tattoos “de minimis” — meaning too trivial to merit consideration.

Solid Oak Sketches first sued the games’ maker, Take-Two Interactive, in 2016, claiming its copyright was infringed because players were shown with their distinctive tattoos for which the company holds licenses.

The idea here is that though the tattoos are on James’ body — including “Child Portrait,” “330 and Flames” and “Script with a Scroll, Clouds and Doves” — are the designs of Solid Oak and thus they should be compensated for appearing in the 2K franchise, which puts out a game each year. Interestingly, the “de minimis” ruling comes from an actual analysis of how essential they are to the makup of the game itself, meaning literally how much code they represent and whether they’re essential to the product: a basketball video game.

Swain noted expert analysis found “only 0.000286% to 0.000431% of the NBA 2K game data is devoted to the Tattoos” which were mostly blurred and blocked by other players.

Her ruling sided with Take-Two, which always argued that the tattoos were fair use because they were no longer the artists’ designs but part of the hoops stars’ likenesses.

The tattoo artists always knew that the stars’ ink would “appear in public, on television, in commercials, or in other forms of media, like video games,” her ruling noted.

That’s actually kind of an interesting point — it’s not like a tattoo artist can sue Nike or another company that pays James for endorsements just because he might appear in ads with his tattoos visible. Still, gaming companies have been wary of this lawsuit for years. Madden actually started not using athlete’s tattoos in games altogether to avoid similar lawsuits, something that could possibly change now that there’s some caselaw on the books giving game developers some cover here. It’s all a very interesting interpretation of copyright law that still could change, but tattoo artists didn’t get the ruling they were hoping for here.

[via New York Post]

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The NCAA Will Not Grant Winter Athletes Like Basketball Players An Extra Year Of Eligibility

After the NCAA moved to cancel the postseason tournaments for winter and spring tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread discussions began surrounding the potential that student-athletes could be granted an additional year of eligibility. Athletes participating in spring sports like baseball saw most, if not all, of their 2020 season evaporate and, for seniors, the potential that eligibility would simply evaporate didn’t sit well with many people. For individuals that participated in winter sports, the chance to compete at the highest levels, with championships on the line, never arrived and, as such, they were also in the mix.

On Monday evening, however, the NCAA announced that, while spring student-athletes were granted “an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility,” winter student-athletes were not. As part of the official announcement, the NCAA indicated that “council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.”

While it would have been completely understandable and, honestly, quite fun to see the ramifications of winter athletes, particularly in the basketball world, return for another run, this was also the widely expected outcome from insiders who discussed the process with those inside the college sports industry. Because of the percentage of the 2019-20 completed, it would’ve been quite an undertaking to simply restart the clock and, financially, there would have been widespread ramifications when attempting to integrate more scholarships into the mix.

As part of the spring-sport measures, the NCAA’s Division I Council voted to “allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility who decide to stay.” For baseball specifically, the measure includes an expansion of the previously installed roster limit.

It should be noted that schools have to “self-apply” for eligibility for student-athletes, simply because there is a five-year clock (to complete four years of eligibility) that must be extended. Still, the dream is now rekindled for spring athletes, while winter athletes are left with the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of them into early “retirement” from their sporting endeavors.

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Roger Federer Is Spending His Coronavirus Hiatus Doing Trick Shots On Twitter

While the rest of us normal humans may be social distancing by sitting at home binge watching Tiger King on Netflix and devouring our entire snack supply in one day, Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer showed everyone that he hasn’t lost his touch with a new video on Twitter. The 38-year-old casually hit shots against a wall between his legs and behind his back with blistering pace — and in the snow no less.

“Making sure I still remember how to hit trick shots #TennisAtHome,” he captioned the post.

Before showing off his tweeners on the internet, the 20-time Grand Slam champion announced that he and his wife Mirka had donated one million Swiss francs to an emergency assistance fund for families in need in Switzerland.

Last week, Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal announced that he was partnering with two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol to raise 11 million euros to help Spain fight the coronavirus. The pair are working with the Red Cross, and have donated their own money in addition to getting the support of other Spanish athletes like former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Marc Salles, a field hockey player for Atlètic Terrassa.

Meanwhile, in efforts to social distance, tennis stars around the world are staying home and seem to be just as bored as the rest of us.

23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams is now home with her daughter, Olympia, and has been entertaining the two-year-old on Instagram Stories, modeling the outfit she would have worn at the now-canceled BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open tournaments and exercising with her sister, Venus, and comedian Amy Schumer on Instagram Live.

Coco Gauff, the 16-year-old U.S. sensation, is bored and making a lot of trips to her refrigerator, which means I finally have something in common with the youngest player ranked in the WTA top 100.

And Naomi Osaka, the two-time Grand Slam champion and first player from Japan to win a major, put out a statement on Saturday following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

Until then, Osaka is working on a new trade: cooking, according to the Instagram Story of her boyfriend, rapper YBN Cordae.

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The ‘Joe Exotic’ Podcast Host Has Revealed His Dream Cast For The Future ‘Tiger King’ Limited Series

The Netflix docuseries Tiger King has proven to be excellent counter-programming to, well, you know, what’s going on in the real world. Turns out obsessing over zoo owner-turned-convict Joe Exotic is a stellar way to distract one’s self from the ever-increasing tragedy that is the COVID-19 outbreak, with artists already covering Joe’s bizarre songs, which it turns out he didn’t write or record himself. Everyone’s so Tiger King crazy that there’s already talk of a limited series adaptation for NBCUniversal’s UCP.

As per Page Six, Robert Moor — host of the podcast version of this tale, which aired on the second season of his Over My Dead Body, entitled “Joe Exotic: Tiger King” — went on Andy Cohen Live to talk about the show, which is being developed by Kate McKinnon. The SNL star was an early Joe Exotic adopter, having pursued the project before the Netflix doc-series after listening to Moor’s podcast, and Moor dished on what would be his dream cast (which, just to stress this, doesn’t actually mean that’s the cast we’ll get).

“Sam Rockwell was one of the names that came up a lot to play Joe Exotic,” Moor told Cohen, although his own pick for Joe was much more outside the box. “My preferred casting — and this is off the wall — would be Margot Robbie. I think Margot Robbie should play Joe in a like a gender switch [thing] …” Why Robbie? “Just look at her eyes, that’s the thing, if you look at her eyes, she has these eyes that are just like Joe’s … I think she would do a great job with it.”

Moor also name-checked John C. Reilly for Doc Antle. Of course, how even these three greats could live up to the originals is a question worth asking. After all, truth is stranger than fiction.

You can listen to Moor and Cohen discuss the optioned “Joe Exotic” show in the video above.

(Via Page Six)

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seized the moment with his rousing speech to the National Guard

At a time when the President of the United States is bragging about his television ratings instead of providing the steady leadership the country desperately needs, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking up the slack.

New York is the state hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus with over 1,000 deaths.

On Friday, Cuomo seized the historical moment by giving a powerful speech to the National Guard at a press conference at the Javits Center in Manhattan.

He first praised the National Guard for their work in creating the first of five temporary hospitals in New York City.

“Now, you did such a good job, that I’m asking you for four more [hospitals] from the president,” Cuomo said. “That’s the downside of being as good as you are at what you did.”

He then outlined the importance of the moment from a historical perspective.

“In ten years from now, you will be talking about today with your children or your grandchildren. And you will shed a tear because you will remember the lives lost and you’ll remember the faces,” Cuomo said.

“But you’ll also be proud,” he added. “You’ll be proud of what you did. You’ll be proud that you showed up when other people played it safe, you had the courage to show up.”

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16 Movies, Shows, And Music Videos That Doc Antle From “Tiger King” Was Involved In

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Whole Foods Workers Are Planning A ‘Sick Out’ To Fight For Better Coronavirus Protections

Whole Foods employees nationwide are planning a social-distancing-friendly strike set for Tuesday, March 31st by asking their fellow employees to stay home and call in sick in an effort to get better coronavirus protections during the course of the global pandemic. “On March 31st, DO NOT GO TO WORK,” reads a statement by Whole Worker, the national worker’s group of Whole Foods employees that organized the sick-out.

The plan calls for all employees to call in sick and demand guaranteed paid leave for all workers who isolate or self-quarantine, a reinstatement of health care coverage for all part-time and seasonal workers, free coronavirus testing and treatment for all team members, guaranteed hazard pay in the form of double-time pay, new in-store policies that facilitate social distancing between workers and customers, a commitment to ensuring all locations have adequate sanitation equipment, and the immediate shutdown of any location where a worker test positive for COVID-19 — in which all employees would continue to receive full pay until the store can safely reopen.

According to Whole Worker, “Whole Foods has temporarily relaxed its strict attendance policy, which means that team members can participate in this act of protest without fear of reprisal. We encourage all retail workers at other companies to join us in this act of solidarity.” Currently, the company has boosted wages for all U.S. and Canadian workers by $2 per hour and promised paid leave for all workers diagnosed with COVID-19, but The Hill reports that recent cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Whole Foods locations in Chicago, New York City and Huntington Beach California yet those locations are all still open.

This protest follows a similar move by Amazon workers who walked out of a Staten Island workshop on Monday, March 30th, after the warehouse was kept open despite a positive coronavirus case being found in a worker at the warehouse. Considering Jeff Bezos, who owns both Amazon and Whole Foods, has a net worth of 119.9 billion USD, dude could easily drop $1 billion on supporting his works in a second. Instead, Vice reports that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has suggested healthy employees donate their unused sick-pay to help fellow workers who might become infected by the virus.

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Some Papa John’s Shareholders Want Shaq Kicked Off The Board Because He Missed Too Many Meetings

Shaq is a man capable of many things, but some feel the NBA legend is not corporate pizza chain leadership material. According to a report in Bloomberg, his brief tenure on the board of pizza conglomerate may be coming to an end because he simply hasn’t shown up to enough meetings.

Shaq joined the company’s board of directors last June in an attempt to rehab the company’s image following John Schnatter’s using a racial slur on a diversity-themed conference call. The company’s founder and namesake resigned and saw his presence removed from Louisville University while the pizza chain brought in O’Neal and focused on its individual franchisees as it tried to move forward in a post-Papa world. Schnatter, meanwhile, rehabbed his body by eating 40 pizzas in 30 days and issuing new eating challenges for himself while essentially unemployed.

The Shaq experience hasn’t been a very positive one for some in the corporate pizza world, however, as a report indicates Shaq just hasn’t been around enough to justify his position on the board.

O’Neal, the four-time National Basketball Association champion, attended less than 75% of the pizza company’s board and committee meetings over the last year, investment adviser Institutional Shareholder Services said in a Thursday report. Because of that record, ISS is asking investors vote against his re-election at the scheduled April 23 annual meeting — the only such recommendation among members of that board.

O’Neal has a number of other ventures in motion, first and foremost with his Inside The NBA gig on TNT. He’s also a touring musician and has various other endorsement deals, but a spot on a company’s board has its own unique responsibilities. Some clearly think he’s skirting those and his presence, positive PR as it is, may not justify the hassle. According to the report, however, these conflicts would be clear in the future because he now, well, knows he’s got board meetings to attend.

O’Neal was unable to attend several board meetings due to business and broadcasting commitments made prior to his appointment to the board, which couldn’t be rescheduled, the company said in a proxy filing ahead of the annual meeting. The scheduling conflicts are not expected to recur in 2020, Papa John’s said in the filing.

The June 2019 announcement was a pretty big deal, as a company dealing with a racism-based PR crisis hired one of the most popular athletes in America for a major forward-facing role. A Papa John’s in Atlanta even rebranded itself to essentially be Shaq-themed last year when he signed on with the company. In other words, it won’t be easy to untangle Papa John’s from Shaq, and unless the company feels it’s moved past its public relations problems there will be some reaction to his official dismissal. Here’s hoping that if they do cut Shaq loose, he retaliates with a pizza-themed diss track. There’s plenty of material to work with here.

[via Bloomberg]

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WWE Raw Open Discussion Thread: Final Raw Before ‘WrestleMania’

Tonight, in the final With Spandex WWE Raw open discussion thread before Gym WrestleMania:

Brock Lesnar and Drew McIntyre have not been in the same building in the weeks since Lesnar absorbed a trio of Claymores from his WrestleMania challenger. That may or may not change on Monday, but The Beast Incarnate will be on Raw, making what’s become his customary appearance on the last show before a high-profile title match. Tune in to Monday Night Raw, tonight at 8/7 C on USA Network, to see the WWE Champion and more.


The Undertaker and AJ Styles are set to battle in what Styles described as The Phenom’s signature bout — a Boneyard Match — at WrestleMania. But The Deadman has been notably silent throughout the pair’s rivalry, choosing to answer Styles’ insults against him and his family with actions rather than words. An appearance on the final Raw before WrestleMania will give The Last Outlaw an opportunity to break his silence — or perhaps put another hurting on who’s become his most personal rival in years. (via

It’s Brock Lesnar, boneyards, and more as we head into legitimately the weirdest and most unprecedented WrestleMania ever.

As always, +1 your favorite comments from tonight’s open thread and give them a thumbs up and we’ll include 10 of the best in tomorrow’s Best and Worst of Raw column. Make sure to flip your comments to “newest” in the drop down menu under “discussion,” and enjoy the show!