Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. said it is important for the NBA to crown a champion this season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2019-20 NBA campaign has been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has wreaked havoc globally – pushing the Olympic Games and Euro 2020 back a year.

At the time of postponement, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) owned the best record in the league, ahead of LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers (49-14), the Toronto Raptors (46-18) and Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers (44-20).

It remains to be seen when, and if, the season will resume but Nance believes those players vying for a championship ring should have the chance to try to etch their names in the history books.

"We're not in position to win a championship this year, but if I was – if I was Giannis, if I was LeBron, if I was Kawhi – if I was on one of those championship-calibre teams, I'd be pretty upset about it," Nance said via a conference call on Tuesday.

"Because it's very rare in this league that a chance like this comes along, and that's taken a valuable year off someone's career."

Nance and the Cavaliers are not in the playoff picture due to their 19-46 record in the Eastern Conference.

The 27-year-old Nance was traded to the Cavs by the Lakers in 2018 to team up with James in Cleveland as the franchise reached the NBA Finals, losing to the Golden State Warriors that season.

Mark Cuban will only reopen the Dallas Mavericks' facility when his players can be tested as frequently as White House officials are.

The NBA was suspended in dramatic fashion back in March when it emerged Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus.

At the time, the Mavericks were playing the Denver Nuggets, and Cuban learned of the suspension while sat courtside during the game, with his stunned reaction going viral.

However, the NBA is now considering plans to restart the 2019-20 regular season, which was close to a conclusion, with a report on Tuesday suggesting players will be polled for their views.

The NBA has permitted practice facilities to reopen, provided they operate in states that have relaxed stay-at-home rulings, yet Cuban has insisted the Mavs' complex will remain closed regardless of directives from Texas officials.

To reopen it, Dallas' owner wants his players to have access to the level of testing US president Donald Trump and his senior advisors are afforded.

"I'll use the White House protocol," Cuban told The Athletic.

"The way the White House protects the president and vice-president is the way that I want to protect our players and employees, you know?

"We'll just try to just copy what they do as a means of knowing when the time is right. As of now, for all we know, for all we've been informed, anyways, they're testing everybody. And they test their top people on a daily basis.

"And so they have access to the best science, the best information, and so it just makes sense to me that we just copy them."

Asked whether he was optimistic if such testing would be available "in a month, two months", Cuban added: "Yes, absolutely.

"I just trust American exceptionalism, entrepreneurialism spirit and capitalism. You know, we'll figure out a way because we have to."

Count Zlatan Ibrahimovic among those who approve of Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan's confrontational leadership style.

ESPN's docuseries 'The Last Dance', which looks at the 1997-98 Bulls team that three-peated, shone a spotlight on Jordan's treatment of team-mates in one of the recent episodes.

He revealed how he came to blows with current Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr during practice and used tough love to try and coax the best out of Scott Burrell.

"Winning has a price and leadership has a price," a choked-up Jordan said at the end of episode seven.

"I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged.

"I earned that right because my team-mates came after me. They didn't endure all the things that I endured.

"Once you join the team you live at a certain standard that I play the game, and I wasn't going to take anything less."

That struck a chord with brash striker Ibrahimovic.

"Nice to see The Last Dance," he wrote on Twitter.

"Now you see how it is to play with a winner. Either you like it or not. If not then don't play the game."

Ibrahimovic is currently at Milan and has received praise from head coach Stefano Pioli, who likened his work ethic to that of 20-time grand slam winner Roger Federer.

However, the Swede has also been known to clash with former coaches and team-mates.

During his time in MLS with LA Galaxy, Joao Pedro said Ibrahimovic threatened to "kill" players following a loss to Houston Dynamo.

Sebastian Lletget also said it was "super frustrating" playing with Ibrahimovic at the Galaxy.

In the history of the FA Cup, basketball and rugby union, May 12 is a momentous sporting date.

Nineteen years ago today, Liverpool produced an unlikely revival in a memorable FA Cup final against Arsenal.

It is also the 35-year anniversary of a franchise-changing moment for the New York Knicks.

Here we look back at May 12 in the world of sport.

 

1975 - All Blacks legend Lomu born

One of New Zealand rugby's greatest sons was born 45 years ago today in Auckland.

Jonah Tali Lomu went on to become one of the most dominant players to pull on the famous All Blacks jersey.

He scored 37 Test tries for New Zealand and shares the record for most World Cup tries all-time, scoring 15 across just two tournaments.

A serious kidney disorder affected his playing career and he retired in 2007. Lomu passed away at the age of 40 from a heart attack related to his kidney condition.

1979 - Evert's clay-court streak stopped

Chris Evert won seven of her 18 grand slam titles at the French Open, with her dominance on the clay courts reflected by an incredible winning streak on the dirt.

Between 1973 and 1979, Evert won 125 successive matches on the clay, though she did not compete at Roland Garros in 1976, 1977 or 1978.

That remarkable run finally came to an end in the semi-finals of the Italian Open, as she lost a third-set tie-break to American compatriot Tracy Austin.

Any disappointment she felt from her streak finally being stopped was soon put to bed, however, as Evert reclaimed the French Open crown in the next month by crushing Wendy Turnbull in straight sets.

1985 - Knicks hit the jackpot with Ewing

The NBA used a lottery to determine the number one overall pick in the draft for the first time in 1985, and it was the New York Knicks who struck it lucky.

And the pay-off could hardly have been greater.

New York used the top selection on Georgetown center Patrick Ewing, who went on to become a superstar for the Knicks.

An 11-time All-Star, Ewing turned the Knicks into perennial championship contenders, but had the misfortune of his rise coinciding with that of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Ewing twice made it to the NBA Finals with the Knicks, but they lost to the Houston Rockets in 1994 and the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

He later enjoyed spells with the Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic. Ewing's number 33 is retired by the Knicks and he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

1989 - Guscott takes off with treble

England centre Jeremy Guscott's debut provided an indication of the great international career that was to come as they trounced Romania.

Guscott crossed for a hat-trick in a 58-3 victory in Bucharest, his efforts only outdone by Chris Oti going over four times.

However, it was Guscott who would go on to England stardom, scoring 30 tries in 65 caps.

Two years on from his bow, Guscott was playing in a World Cup final but came out on the losing side as England were beaten 12-6 by Australia at Twickenham.

2001 - Owen's dramatic late double downs Gunners

Liverpool's sixth FA Cup triumph proved a thrilling one as Michael Owen delivered glory with a late brace against Arsenal.

Freddie Ljungberg's opener looked to have won it for Arsenal, but Owen levelled matters seven minutes from the end of normal time.

He then completed a remarkable turnaround by racing onto a wonderful ball over the top from Patrik Berger and beating David Seaman with a fine left-footed finish.

Michael Jordan only tolerated competitive players and his team-mates needed "thick skin" to survive in Chicago, according to former Bulls guard Rusty LaRue.

The seventh episode of ESPN's docuseries 'The Last Dance' – a look at the 1997-98 Bulls team that three-peated – detailed Jordan's attitude towards other players and the notion he could not be a nice guy in practice because he was demanding.

"Winning has a price and leadership has a price," a choked-up Jordan said.

"I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged.

"I earned that right because my team-mates came after me. They didn't endure all the things that I endured.

"Once you join the team you live at a certain standard that I play the game, and I wasn't going to take anything less."

LaRue was an NBA rookie that season with the Bulls, joining a Chicago team where the status quo had already been established with five championships in the previous seven seasons.

The former point guard revealed it was Jordan, arguably the greatest player of all time, who set the tone and he had no issues with his leadership style.

"By the time I had gotten with the team it was 'The Last Dance'," LaRue told Stats Perform.

"Everyone there had kind of been through the trials and understood the deal and knew what to expect.

"Obviously Mike's a competitive guy. I think everyone knew where they stood with him.

"You didn't make it with the Bulls organisation or that team with him if you weren't a competitive guy.

"All the guys that were there had kind of passed the test – for lack of a better term – and were in it for the right reasons and a piece of that team for different reasons.

"Michael, if he didn't think you were on board or weren't competitive, he certainly would ride you and you had to have thick skin.

"It didn't really bother me, I had high expectations for myself and I think any time you play with a competitor, they want you to compete.

"You're competing against them every day and you compete on a daily basis and you won't have any problems."

LaRue, who played college basketball alongside Tim Duncan at Wake Forest, was a role player with Phil Jackson's team that season and believes not being overawed by Jordan helped him make the Bulls roster.

"You know he's one of the greatest players – if not the greatest player – to ever play," LaRue added of Jordan.

"I think for me that was part of what helped me make the team, that I wasn't intimidated. I'm pretty confident in my abilities and I just kind of come and be who I am.

"I've always been a believer in you go in and compete to the best of your ability and let the chips fall where they may, that's what I did in that situation."

The transformation of Barcelona under Johan Cruyff took an important step forward on May 10, 31 years ago.

The Catalans won their first trophy since the great Cruyff's return to his old club, beating Sampdoria to claim the Cup Winners' Cup.

Liverpool became European champions for the second time on this day in 1978 as they defended the trophy by defeating Club Brugge.

More recently, May 10 has brought about historic achievements from Stephen Curry and Rafael Nadal.

 

1978 - Liverpool defend European Cup

Liverpool became the first English team to retain the European Cup in 1978 – and they did so at the national stadium, too.

A solitary goal from Kenny Dalglish in the second half secured a 1-0 victory over Club Brugge at Wembley in a game that was a far cry from the thrilling 4-3 aggregate win for Liverpool against the same opponents in the UEFA Cup final two years earlier.

The Reds will not have cared too much, though. It was their second European Cup triumph, following on from 1977's 3-1 defeat of Borussia Monchengladbach, and they would go on to lift the trophy twice more in the next six years.

 

1989 - Barcelona win Cup Winners' Cup to kick-start Cruyff legacy

Johan Cruyff was a legend as a Barcelona player, but he returned as coach during a time of real strife at his old club.

Within a year, he had secured his first trophy in charge, as the Catalans claimed a 2-0 victory over Sampdoria to lift the 1988-89 Cup Winners' Cup.

Goals in each half from Julio Salinas and Luis Lopez Rekarte were enough to seal the win and kick-start the sustained success of Cruyff's fabled 'Dream Team'.

By the end of the 1993-94 season, Barca had won four LaLiga titles in a row, a Copa del Rey, three Supercopas de Espana, the UEFA Super Cup of 1992 and the European Cup of the same year, where they beat Sampdoria again.

 

2016 - Curry becomes first unanimous NBA MVP in history

Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors to a historic 73-9 in a regular season in which they seemed to break records at will, only to lose the Finals 4-3 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Still, there was little argument against Curry being named MVP for the second year in a row. In fact, it seems there was no argument at all.

He swept all 131 first-place votes to become the first unanimous winner of the award in history, with Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs a distant second.

2018 - Nadal breaks McEnroe record for consecutive set wins on single surface

Rafael Nadal is quite good at tennis on clay courts, if you were not aware.

Two years ago, he reminded everyone just how imperious he can be on the red dirt (if 12 French Open singles triumphs since 2005 was not proof enough).

By beating Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 at the Madrid Open, Nadal broke the record for winning consecutive sets on a single surface. He reached 50 set wins in a row on clay, surpassing the 49 on carpet set by John McEnroe in 1984.

Remarkably, the run ended in rather meek fashion in his next match, as Dominic Thiem won their quarter-final 7-5 6-3.

The NBA is prepared to have its 2019-20 postseason go into October if necessary, according to Jared Dudley.

The 13-year NBA veteran and current Los Angeles Laker responded on Twitter to a comment that ESPN's Ramona Shelburne made on a radio show on Friday, where she said: "I don't think there is a drop dead-date. I think the folks I've talked to have said, 'We can go as long as we need'. I mean, they can be playing until Labor Day."

Dudley, one of the Lakers' players association representatives, responded to the tweet by saying that the NBA commissioner would be fine if the season finished even later. 

"I heard even [October] from Adam Silver today," Dudley tweeted on Saturday. 

The news comes a day after some teams were allowed to open their facilities to players for individual workouts, as long as the team's region had enough testing materials to screen asymptomatic players. 

While there is no definitive plan in place to return to the court just yet, the developments of recent days point to the NBA placing a large emphasis on finishing the 2019-20 season, even if it delays the start of next season until December or even January. 

The league has been under an indefinite hiatus since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the first major American athlete to test positive for COVID-19. 

Dudley's Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference at 49-14. 

Tom Brady joined LeBron James and a host of other sports stars from the United States in calling for a federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.

In February, Arbery was killed while out jogging through a residential area of Brunswick, Georgia in broad daylight.

Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested and charged with murder on Thursday after mobile phone footage of the 25-year-old's death emerged. Gregory McMichael used to work for the local police department.

Brady was one of the players to sign a letter by the NFL Players Coalition, which was sent to US Attorney General William Barr.

The letter called for action in order to restore a measure of faith in America's justice system – citing the local investigation and a failure until this week to arrest or charge the McMichaels as problematic.

"We must strive to achieve the lofty but basic promise of equal justice, a promise on which our democracy depends," the letter read.

"Having the DOJ [Department of Justice] intervene in this case and lead the investigation immediately will help us move toward that goal.

"If it does not, but instead choses to turn its back on this obvious injustice, the DOJ will relinquish its role as the champion for the defenceless and send the unmistakable message that the federal government will not protect us from violence, prejudice and injustice in our communities."

Brady's former New England Patriots team-mate Julian Edelman and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr were also among the 64 signatories.

On Twitter, James expressed his indignation over Arbery's death.

He wrote: "We're literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can't even go for a damn jog man!

"Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? No man fr [for real] ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!

"I'm sorry Ahmaud (Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the heavens above to your family!! #StayWoke #ProfiledCauseWeAreSimplyBlack"

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also called for justice, saying the video showed Arbery was "killed in cold blood".

With 18 years having passed since Allen Iverson's famous "practice" rant, the former Philadelphia 76ers guard updated his comments to fit the modern day.

On May 7, 2002, Iverson, who was named NBA MVP in 2001 and would make 11 All-Star appearances in a Hall of Fame career, launched into a tirade when he was asked about skipping practice.

It remains one of the most iconic interactions between an NBA player and the media, and to mark the anniversary the former Sixers superstar recalled it with a slight tweak.

With the United States in the midst of combating the coronavirus pandemic, Iverson used it to attempt to remind his followers on Twitter of a key way they can help.

"We talkin about practicing social distancing!!!" he posted alongside a picture of him during his outburst.

For those unfamiliar with Iverson's initial comments, here they are:

"If a coach say I missed practice, and y'all hear it, then that's that. I might've missed one practice this year. But if somebody says, 'He doesn't come to practice' - it can be one practice, out of all the practices this year - that's enough. If I can't practice, I can't practice, man. If I'm hurt, I'm hurt. It ain't about that. It's not about that, at all.

"But it's easy to talk about, it's easy to sum it up when you just talk about practice. We sittin' in here, I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talkin' about practice. I mean listen, we talkin' about practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We talkin' about practice. Not a game, not the game that I go out there and die for, and play every game like it's my last. Not the game. We talkin' about practice, man. I mean how silly is that? We talkin' 'bout practice. I know I'm supposed to be there, I know I'm supposed to lead by example. I know that, and I'm not shovin' it aside, you know, like it don't mean anything. I know it's important, I do. I honestly do.

"But we talkin' about practice, man. What are we talkin' about? Practice? We talkin' about practice, man. We talk - we talkin' about practice. We talkin' about practice! We ain't talkin' about the game, we talkin' about practice, man. When you come into the arena, and you see me play, you see me play, don't you? You see me give everything I got, right? But we talkin' about practice right now. We talkin' about practice.

"Man look, I hear you, it's funny to me too. I mean, it's strange, it's strange to me too. But we talkin' about practice, man. We not even talkin' about the game, the actual game, when it matters. We talkin' about practice."

Giannis Antetokounmpo said a hacker was behind a string of racist and insulting posts on his Twitter account, leaving him "disappointed and disgusted".

A series of controversial tweets from the NBA MVP's official account targeted the Milwaukee Bucks and his team-mate Khris Middleton, as well as LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Insensitive comments were also published about Kobe Bryant, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in California in January.

All of the incendiary posts have since been deleted.

In a statement published on Twitter, Antetokounmpo said: "Hey everybody! I'm back and would like to address the social media incident from earlier today! I was hacked and the situation is currently being investigated.

"The tweets and posts were extremely inappropriate and I am so disappointed and disgusted that somebody would say the terrible things that were said!

"I feel terrible that the Bucks, Khris, LeBron and the Curry family were included in the malicious and untrue tweets.

"I feel especially terrible for the Bryant family, during their time of grief they should not be subjected to this type of negativity and foul behaviour.

"Thank you all for always supporting my family and I, and please stay safe!"

A statement from the Bucks read: "Giannis Antetokounmpo's social media accounts were hacked this afternoon and have been taken down. An investigation is underway."

Antetokounmpo's brother Kostas, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, attempted to make followers aware the Bucks star was not behind the comments as they were published.

He later added: "Giannis' twitter, phone, email and bank accounts were hacked!

"He genuinely apologises for everything that was tweeted and he will be back as soon as possible!

"The things that were said by this hacker were extremely inappropriate and disgusting!"

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is in no rush for his team to return to practice, saying games were still "a long way away".

The NBA season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but teams can reportedly begin reopening practice facilities in certain states from Friday.

The Lakers were 49-14 and top of the Western Conference when the season was paused, but Vogel is prepared to take his time with his team's return.

"There's a competitive balance element to this that I personally am not really all that concerned about," Vogel told reporters on Wednesday, via ESPN.

"I think we're still a long way away from returning to play."

Vogel believes most teams will decide against returning on Friday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen more than 265,000 people die worldwide.

While there have been suggestions the NBA could head straight into its playoffs when it restarts, Vogel said teams needed to play games before the postseason.

"I think we need some games. I don't know if they'd have to be regular-season games, in terms of finishing the season. Maybe they're exhibition games, you know what I mean, that you treat as sort of your dress rehearsal or whatever," he said.

"I think for the health of the league and for the health of everyone involved, the more we can get in for our league and our fans, the better.

"So I think if there's a way to get regular-season games in, that would be great, but safety's going to be the top priority. But the biggest thing for me is that there's got to be at least some exhibition games, which I think there would be."

Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff confirmed the team will open their practice facility on Friday after receiving permission from the NBA.

The league has granted teams in cities that have loosened their social distancing and stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic to open, and any training at those venues would be strictly voluntary. 

"No one is being pressured to do anything," Bickerstaff said on a conference call on Wednesday. "It's not mandatory for [the players] to show up." 

For the players that do report to the complex, they will have several rules set by the NBA to adhere to.

No more than four players will be allowed at the facility at one time, there can be only one player per basket and players and coaches must remain 12 feet apart. Players will not have to wear masks and gloves, but everyone else present must. 

"The league is in information gathering mode right now," Bickerstaff said. "Their goal is to not put themselves in a bind and not start too early." 

When the NBA postponed the season on March 11, Cleveland were in last place in the Eastern Conference at 19-46.

The Cavs, however, were showing signs of turning things around, going 5-6 after Bickerstaff took over following the resignation of John Beilein in mid-February. 

Bickerstaff said the players are eager to get back on the court and return to some sort of normality.

"They're hopeful," he said of the players. "That's what these guys do. When you get used to being part of a pack, that's where you're comfortable and want to be." 

Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff confirmed the team will open their practice facility on Friday after receiving permission from the NBA.

The league has granted teams in cities that have loosened their social distancing and stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic to open, and any training at those venues would be strictly voluntary. 

"No one is being pressured to do anything," Bickerstaff said on a conference call on Wednesday. "It's not mandatory for [the players] to show up." 

For the players that do report to the complex, they will have several rules set by the NBA to adhere to.

No more than four players will be allowed at the facility at one time, there can be only one player per basket and players and coaches must remain 12 feet apart. Players will not have to wear masks and gloves, but everyone else present must. 

"The league is in information gathering mode right now," Bickerstaff said. "Their goal is to not put themselves in a bind and not start too early." 

When the NBA postponed the season on March 11, Cleveland were in last place in the Eastern Conference at 19-46.

The Cavs, however, were showing signs of turning things around, going 5-6 after Bickerstaff took over following the resignation of John Beilein in mid-February. 

Bickerstaff said the players are eager to get back on the court and return to some sort of normality.

"They're hopeful," he said of the players. "That's what these guys do. When you get used to being part of a pack, that's where you're comfortable and want to be." 

Shaquille O'Neal was instantly a dominant force when he entered the NBA in 1992.

After being taken by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the draft, 7ft 1in center O'Neal averaged 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in his first season in the league.

On May 6, 1993, the Magic sensation, who joined a select group of players to be selected for the All-Star Game in their debut campaign, was unsurprisingly named Rookie of the Year.

The NBA is a very different place now, though, with three-point shooting an increasing requirement from every player on the floor. It is the age of the so-called 'unicorn'.

We use Stats Perform data to look at how the role of the big man has changed since O'Neal's incredible rookie season. For the below, a 'tall player' is anyone in the league that is 6ft 10in or above.

 

A rarer sight

To start with, tall players are less common in the NBA.

The percentage of them with at least one appearance in a season was around 30 per cent from 2000-01 until 2004-05 - the high in that period was 32 per cent in 2002-03.

This season the percentage of tall players is just 19.1, which is the first time the number has dropped below 20 since 1979-80 (17.1 per cent)

Lower usage

It is perhaps therefore unsurprising there has been a clear decrease in the percentage of league-wide minutes from tall players.

At the turn of the millennium, they claimed just over a quarter of the minutes (25.8 per cent) across the NBA. Their share over the following five seasons ranged from a high of 27.9 per cent in 2004-05 to 27.2 per cent in 2001-02.

It dipped below 22 per cent in 2017-18 and this season their overall share stands at just 18.8 per cent.

It would be the first campaign in which taller players played less than 20 per cent of the league's minute since 1979-80 (17.1 per cent).

Sharing the boards

Tall players accounted for upwards of 36 per cent of the total rebounds in the league between 2000 and 2010. The peak during that period was 39.6 in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

The ratio has fluctuated since, going down to 33.5 per cent in 2012-13, up to 36.3 per cent in 2014-15, and back to 34.3 in 2018-19.

This season, however, they have claimed just 30.2 per cent of the boards.

Less prolific

There has been a decrease in the percentage of points scored and field goals attempted by tall players.

Between 2000 and 2010 their share of points scored only dropped below a quarter in 2006-07 (24 per cent). It went as low as 22 per cent in 2012-13 and this season stands at 19.8.

It would be the first time since 1980-81 (19.5 per cent) that tall players accounted for less than 20 per cent of the league's points.

From averaging over a quarter of all field-goal attempts between 2001 and 2006, they are now contributing less and less.

This season tall players have attempted just 18.1 per cent of all field goals – a decrease of 3.1 per cent from the previous season and 8.1 since 2004-05.

Finding range

It's not just the number of tall players scoring that has changed, but the way they are doing it too.

Between 1979-80 and 1984-85, three-point attempts accounted for just 0.5 per cent of field-goal attempts by tall players.

That share jumped to 3.5 for the period from 1990-91 until 1994-95 – when O'Neal entered the league – and up again to 6.1 over the next five-season stretch.

We have now reached a point whereby, since 2015-16, big men have attempted 18.3 per cent of their field goals from beyond the arc.

Sticking with the times

That coincides with a league-wide trend of increased success with the three-point shot.

Before 2013-14, no more than four of the 10 players in points per game in a given season averaged at least two three-pointers made from range per game. Since then, at least five of the top 10 have done so in six of the seven seasons, with 2019-20 boasting seven players fitting the criteria.

When expanded to the 25 scorers in a given season, the number for 2019-20 increases to 18. Between 2007-08 and 2014-15 the number of players only went above five once (nine in 2013-14).

Roger Bannister produced a feat most thought impossible on May 6 many years ago, while more recently Shaquille O'Neal was rewarded for a memorable debut season in the NBA

Bannister laid to rest the demons of Olympics heartbreak to produce a moment that would stand the test of history in 1954.

Almost 40 years later, NBA legend O'Neal was receiving one of countless prizes he earned during a sensational career.

Here are the best sporting moments from this day down the years…


1954 – Bannister breaks through the barrier

It was described as "sport's greatest goal" and there were warnings from physiologists that running a sub four-minute mile was impossible and dangerous to attempt.

Yet Bannister, a medical student who had suffered disappointment when finishing fourth in the 1500 metres at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, achieved what was deemed unthinkable.

Helped by two pacers, Bannister managed to do a mile in three minutes and 59.4 seconds at Oxford University's Iffley Road track.

The record stood for just 46 days before John Landy of Australia shaved almost a second off that time, but it was Bannister who broke the barrier.


1970 – Feyenoord's Dutch courage downs Celtic

Just three years previously, Celtic's 'Lisbon Lions' had become the first British team to win the European Cup in a famous triumph over Inter.

On this occasion, the Bhoys were favourites at Milan's San Siro stadium for European football's showpiece.

But it was Feyenoord's turn to make history in a 2-1 triumph over Celtic, who had overcome the heavily fancied Leeds United in the semis.

Tommy Gemmell's 30th-minute opener proved a false dawn as Rinus Israel equalised. Swede Ove Kindvall then scored an extra-time winner three minutes from the end as Feyenoord became the first Dutch team to win Europe's top prize.

 

1993 – Shaq's rookie reward

Big things were expected of the gigantic O'Neal when he was selected first in the 1992 draft by the Orlando Magic - and he did not disappoint.

The center averaged 23.4 points (eighth in the NBA), 13.9 rebounds (second) and 3.53 blocks per game (second) as the Magic finished 41-41 to improve by 20 wins, though they still missed out on the playoffs.

O'Neal was named Rookie of the Year and went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career.

He won three NBA Championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and another with the Miami Heat, while he was named Finals MVP three years running between 2000 and 2002.

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