Antoine Griezmann has finally got the Barcelona number seven shirt he wanted from the first day of his Camp Nou career, describing it as "an honour".

The former Atletico Madrid forward was denied his regular number when he arrived at Barcelona in July 2019, as it was held by Philippe Coutinho, and he agreed to wear the 17 shirt instead.

But with Coutinho having since gone on loan to Bayern Munich for last season, and with question marks over whether the winger will stay at Barcelona for the new campaign, the Brazilian has ceded the number to Griezmann.

On Instagram, Griezmann wrote: "It is an honour to wear the 7 at Barca!"

He added: "I want to say thank you to @phil.coutinho, who as well as being a great player is a big friend."

The number switch was announced by Barcelona on their social media accounts, with a video featuring Brooklyn Nets NBA star Kevin Durant opening a box containing Barcelona number seven shirts bearing his name and that of Griezmann.

 

Griezmann scored 15 goals in 41 games for Barcelona last season but often faced criticism for his performances as he struggled to make the greater contribution that many expected of him.

He has previously worn the number seven with Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid and France, donning the number during their run to World Cup glory two years ago in Russia.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said he is excited to work with first-time head coach and Hall of Famer Steve Nash.

Nash has taken his first steps into senior coaching, appointed by the Nets to permanently replace Kenny Atkinson, despite the two-time NBA MVP's lack of experience.

Durant previously worked with former Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers guard Nash for three seasons at the Golden State Warriors, where the latter was a player consultant.

Two-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP Durant also went head-to-head with Nash when he entered the league as a rookie in 2007, and he is relishing the opportunity to be coached by the 46-year-old.

"His insight for the game, his communication, how he communicates the game of basketball is definitely going to help me as a player develop and it's going to help the rest of the team," Durant told JJ Redick's 'The Old Man and the Three' podcast.

Durant added: "Every time I'm in the gym with him, I was always like a sponge.

"I'm looking forward to this man. I always feel like I'm a student of the game. Somebody who has experienced so much and played in different eras, I'm looking forward to him teaching me some more things about it as well."

Durant is yet to play for the Nets due to an Achilles injury after his high-profile arrival from the Warriors in 2019 as he prepares for his long-awaited debut in Brooklyn.

Crowned MVP in 2014, Durant opted not to return to the court inside the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, where the Nets were eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"I've been playing since I was eight, like, really locked in. Every day was centred around the game," Durant said. "To finally get a year off, it was pretty cool. I started to focus a little bit more, understand what I like to do outside of the game a little bit more, as weird as that sounds at 30 years old. I really enjoyed that time to myself.

"I learned so much about the game of basketball, the business of basketball. I see it from a different lens. I was watching the game from a coaches' and a fans' perspective all at once. I felt a new level of appreciation for what I'm doing for being away from it.

"Going into [the season], I didn't think I would have that feeling. It definitely helps when the team signs you to a max deal even though you tore your Achilles. That definitely eased my mind a bit. I also just enjoyed having that free time to do my thing. I never got that time. I never got to enjoy that time. But at this point, I'm looking forward to going out there and playing again."

Steve Nash described Kevin Durant as one of the NBA's greatest ever players and labelled Kyrie Irving one of his all-time favourites as the Brooklyn Nets head coach expressed his excitement at being able to work with the All-Star duo.

Nash has taken his first steps into senior coaching, appointed by the Nets, despite the Basketball Hall of Famer's lack of experience.

After filling the void left by Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn, first-time coach and two-time NBA MVP Nash will have the opportunity to lead Durant and Irving.

Nash previously worked with two-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP Durant for three seasons at the Golden State Warriors, where he was a player development consultant.

Durant is yet to play for the Nets due to an Achilles injury after his high-profile arrival from the Warriors in 2019.

"It's a privilege to work with one of the greatest players to ever play the game," Nash said on Wednesday. "Someone who is incredibly coachable, inquisitive, and that lends itself to the question of searching.

"I think what I meant was that Kevin's always searching, he's always curious, inquisitive, developing as a human being. So he's a deep person who has a lot of goals and a lot about him, not just in basketball terms. I think my comment is more about Kevin as a human being, the type of person he is, about how he's always trying to grow, always trying to learn and always asking how he can get better.

"A big part of that is that Kevin is somebody that is never afraid to say, 'help me with this', 'what do you think about that', so that's the type of confidence and security it takes to be able to ask for help or know what they don't know. And he has that along with an incredible drive, work ethic, toughness and historic talent."

Nash is also relishing the chance to coach 2016 NBA champion and six-time All-Star Irving, who also joined the Nets in 2019 after opting to leave the Boston Celtics.

Irving was limited to just 20 games because of a shoulder injury as the Nets went on to lose in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2019-20.

"First of all, Kyrie's one of my favourite players of all time," said Nash. "He's brilliant; skill level historically off the charts. Creative. Guts. Competitiveness.

"For me to get to coach him is really a pleasure. We have a relationship going back to when he was a rookie, playing against him. Got a chance to train with him for a couple days in New York City after I retired. Must have been five, six years ago. And I got a chance to speak to him since taking the job.

"I'm excited to develop that relationship, watching him continue to show greatness on the floor and to continue to get to know him in a really meaningful way, because he's an incredible person.

"The gestures and the things he's done around the WNBA or social justice, these are the things I really admire. For him to put himself in that position with his platform, to help people, shows there's a really deep person there that I've gotten to know but look forward to getting to really know and understand and learn from."

Steve Nash claimed to have the confidence of Kevin Durant after taking his first coaching job and is excited to work with the former Golden State Warrior and Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets.

Nash, a two-time NBA MVP and Hall of Fame point guard as a player, was named as the new Nets head coach on Thursday, reportedly signing a four-year contract.

The move sees Nash again link up with Durant, who was at Golden State when the 46-year-old was a consultant to Steve Kerr on a team that won two titles.

Durant is yet to feature for Brooklyn due to the Achilles tear he suffered playing for the Warriors in the 2019 Finals ahead of his free agency move.

The 31-year-old was joined in making the move to the Nets by Irving, who plays in Nash's old position and is also familiar with the new appointment.

Nash told ESPN's The Undefeated: "[Durant] is one of the greatest players I've ever seen and to have his confidence is really important. There is a respect and admiration there for me.

"For me and Ky, our relationship is important. He is the [point guard] and I'm the coach.

"I'm thrilled I get the opportunity to know him better and to understand him, how he plays and what he sees and to be here to help him refine his gifts."

Having said in the team's statement he had wanted to take the step into coaching "when the time was right", Nash added: "The coaching itch was always there.

"In a way, I kind of kept it to myself to give me the freedom of not being on the radar of coaching expectancy.

"I've always known in the back of my mind that I'd love to do it."

The Brooklyn Nets have named two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash as their new head coach.

Reports emerged early on Thursday that the former Phoenix Suns point guard was to be handed the Nets job despite his lack of coaching experience.

Confirmation followed that Nash had signed with the team – reportedly on a four-year contract – and will keep Jacque Vaughn, the interim coach, on as his assistant.

Nash, 46, was an eight-time All-Star as a player and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, three years after his retirement.

The South African-born Canadian, who played for the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Suns, has until now resisted turning to coaching.

Nash was a consultant at the Golden State Warriors for Finals victories in 2017 and 2018, however.

"Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right," Nash said. "I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn."

He takes over a Nets team who lost 4-0 to defending champions the Toronto Raptors in the first round of this year's playoffs.

Brooklyn – led by Vaughn following Kenny Atkinson's departure in March – could only name a makeshift line-up following the season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Kevin Durant, who was at Golden State with Nash, missed the entire season following his 2019 Finals Achilles tear with the Warriors.

Kyrie Irving, signed alongside Durant in free agency last year, underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in February, while Spencer Dinwiddie then tested positive for coronavirus.

With Durant and Irving fit again for the 2020-21 campaign, Nash will be expected to put together a competitive Nets team.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant is the latest sports star to invest in a Major League Soccer team.

The 10-time NBA All-Star has acquired a five per cent ownership stake in Philadelphia Union, with an option to purchase an additional five per cent in the near future.

''I've always been a soccer fan and have wanted to get into it in a meaningful way. My team and I felt an instant connection with the Philadelphia Union ownership and staff and their vision for a partnership,'' Durant said in a statement on Monday.

''While you won't get to see me at games for now, my team and I will be taking an active role in the community, where I can help give back to Chester [Pennsylvania] and Philadelphia.''

Durant is the second former NBA MVP to invest in an MLS team, with the Houston Rockets' James Harden owning a stake in Houston Dynamo. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also owns a stake in Seattle Sounders.

The MLS season, which has been on pause since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to restart on July 8 with a 26-team tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida.

The NBA season is also slated to resume at Disney World at the end of July.

Durant, however, has said he will not play when the season resumes as he continues his recovery from the Achilles tendon tear he sustained with the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

 

June 12 was a day when Michael Jordan finally became an NBA champion, while the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors also enjoyed Finals celebrations.

Jordan became widely regarded as the greatest player of all time but had to endure a couple of heartbreaks before finally tasting glory with the Chicago Bulls in 1991.

Shaquille O'Neal made history with the Lakers on this day 18 years ago, while you only have to go back to 2017 for Kevin Durant's moment to shine.

The St. Louis Blues also had reason to celebrate 12 months ago as their long wait for Stanley Cup glory came to an end.


1991 - MJ and the Bulls earn first of six

Having been beaten twice in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls finally bested their rivals in the 1990-91 playoffs.

That led to a Finals series with the LA Lakers and Jordan was not about to miss his opportunity.

The Bulls wrapped it up in five with Jordan the fulcrum of their success en route to being named Finals MVP.

He scored 30 points and Scottie Pippen put up 32 as the Bulls defeated the Lakers 108-101 to win their first NBA title on this day. They would go on win six in eight years in one of sport's greatest dynasties.


2002 – 'Get ready for the Shaq attack!' Lakers rout Nets

It was a night of history for Shaq and Phil Jackson as the Lakers completed a 4-0 series of sweep of the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.

Finals MVP Shaq put up 34 points in the 113-107 victory in New Jersey as the Lakers became the fifth team to win at least three straight NBA Championships.

With 145 points in the series, Shaq became the highest scorer in a four-game Finals, beating the 131 of Hakeem Olajuwon, which he achieved in 1995 for the Houston Rockets against O'Neal's Orlando Magic.

For legendary coach Jackson, it represented a ninth NBA title as a coach - levelling Red Auerbach's benchmark.


2017: Durant the Golden boy as James' Cavs beats

Just a year earlier, LeBron James had inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship from a 3-1 deficit to avenge their loss to the Golden State Warriors the season before.

But in the third year of their fourth straight battle in the NBA Finals, it was the Warriors who celebrated a 4-1 series triumph.

Kevin Durant, signed as a free agent at the start of the 2016-17 season, was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, including putting up 39 in Game 5.

James had 41 but was unable to prevent the Cavs slipping to a 129-120 loss.


2019: St Louis finally end Stanley Cup Blues

In a back-and-forth Stanley Cup Finals series, it all came down to Game Seven between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins.

But the Boston fans were left disappointed at TD Garden as St. Louis ran out 4-1 victors.

It marked the Blues' first Stanley Cup triumph in their 51st season as a franchise.

Kevin Durant made it clear on Friday that he will not make his Brooklyn Nets debut if the NBA season restarts.

Durant ruptured an Achilles tendon a year ago for the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

There was speculation that he could return with the league forced to suspend operations for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Durant ruled out returning this season, meaning his Nets debut will have to wait until 2020-21.

Speaking to The Undefeated, Durant said: "I don't plan on playing at all.

"We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season."

The 10-time All-Star announced his decision to sign a four-year, $164million deal with the Nets in June last year.

Durant also had COVID-19 earlier this year.

Brooklyn Nets superstar and top seed Kevin Durant was upset in the opening round of the NBA 2K20 tournament on Friday.

With the NBA postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a charity tournament has been put together to raise money in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament will receive $100,000 to give to charity, but Durant was a high-profile casualty on the opening day.

In the first matchup, two-time NBA champion Durant used the Los Angeles Clippers but lost to 16th seed and Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones' Milwaukee Bucks topped Durant's Clippers 78-62 to advance to the quarter-finals.

The tournament, aired on ESPN, will run through to April 11.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant will lead a field of 16 in an NBA 2K20 charity tournament to raise money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With the NBA postponed due to COVID-19, players have time on their hands, so a select group will go head-to-head in the virtual world, starting Friday on ESPN.

The winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament, which runs through to April 11, will receive $100,000 to give to a charity in support of the coronavirus relief efforts.

Durant is the top seed, ahead of Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Hassan Whiteside (Portland Trail Blazers), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards), Patrick Beverley (Los Angeles Clippers), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings) and Derrick Jones Jr. (Miami Heat).

"We're thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times," said Jason Argent, 2K senior vice-president, sports strategy and licensing.

"Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together – including athletes, fans and families – and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament."

"We are excited to tip off the first 'NBA 2K Players Tournament' in partnership with the NBPA and 2K, continuing an ongoing effort to stay connected with NBA fans around the world, while also giving back in this time of need," said Matt Holt, NBA SVP of global partnerships.

Players' seeding is based on their NBA 2K rating, with two-time champion Durant 96 overall in the video game.

Durant, who contracted COVID-19 and has been recovering from an Achilles injury, will open the tournament against Jones on Friday.

The Brooklyn Nets defended testing players for coronavirus following backlash, while United States president Donald Trump addressed concerns that professional athletes and well-connected people are receiving priority amid the pandemic.

NBA franchise the Nets were heavily criticised on Tuesday after announcing four players – including injured superstar Kevin Durant – contracted COVID-19.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio took aim at the Nets, insisting "tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick" as the world struggles to contain the virus, which has claimed more than 8,900 lives globally.

The Nets responded to the criticism on Wednesday, with their statement reading: "As we learned NBA players on other teams had tested positive for COVID-19, we noticed that several of our players and staff had symptoms.

"Based on this information, and the judgment that all of our players are subject to high exposure due to the close physical nature of basketball, the communal nature of teams and the possibility of an accelerated spread from team to team, our medical experts advised that our players get tested.

"We sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to CDC's public resources. Using the test results, we were able to take immediate precautions and strictly isolate the players who tested positive.

"If we had waited for players to exhibit symptoms, they might have continued to pose a risk to their family, friends and the public. Our hope is that by drawing attention to the critical need for testing asymptomatic positive carriers, we can begin to contain the spread and save lives. We believe it is not only the right thing to do for our players and their families, it is the responsible thing to do from a medical and epidemiological standpoint."

US leader Trump was also asked about the issue during his news conference midweek.

Quizzed on whether "the well-connected go to the front of the line" for coronavirus testing, Trump replied: "No, I wouldn't say so. But perhaps that's the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I've noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly."

The NBA has been on hiatus since Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19.

The Jazz were scheduled to face the Oklahoma City Thunder before it was postponed on March 11, prompting the suspension of the league.

Oklahoma City, on Wednesday, announced that all players and staffers returned negative results for COVID-19.

"Recognising the stress on the state of Oklahoma's medical system, the Thunder did not use state resources and chose an alternative path for testing of its personnel," the Thunder said in a statement.

Bill de Blasio said "tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick" as the New York City mayor criticised the Brooklyn Nets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

De Blasio took to social media after the Nets announced four players tested positive for COVID-19, including injured superstar Kevin Durant.

Durant's positive test comes after Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell contracted the virus, which continues to disrupt sport around the globe, with the NBA on hiatus.

De Blasio questioned the Nets as the world struggles to contain coronavirus, with at least 7,900 deaths.

"We wish them [Nets] a speedy recovery," De Blasio wrote in a tweet.

"But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.

"Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."

In response to testing criticism, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN: "Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players' direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus.

"Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive.

"Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly."

Kevin Durant has confirmed he is one of the Brooklyn Nets players to have tested positive for coronavirus.

On Tuesday the Nets said four unnamed players had COVID-19 and one was displaying symptoms.

Ten-time NBA All-Star Durant confirmed he had the virus, telling The Athletic's Shams Charania: "Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We're going to get through this."

The 31-year-old is yet to play for the Nets since joining ahead of this season because of an Achilles injury he sustained in last year's NBA Finals when he was with the Golden State Warriors.

Durant won two NBA titles with the Warriors, has been named Finals MVP twice and was the league's MVP in 2014.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he only wants a fit and healthy Kevin Durant for the United States at the Olympic Games.

Durant swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, but the 31-year-old superstar is yet to play this season as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury.

He tore his Achilles tendon against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals in June, but his business partner Rich Kleiman said playing at Tokyo 2020 was "definitely a possibility".

However, USA coach Popovich insisted he does not want two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Durant to rush his comeback just for the Olympics.

"My feeling on that is that I would want Kevin to be absolutely ready to go, working out, playing five-on-five, that his organisation and he both feel like it's time to play," Popovich said.

"I wouldn't want to be any part of him being 60 per cent or 70 per cent and just starting to get in shape because of the Olympics. The Olympics are important, it's huge, but he's got a career to take care of here with the Nets.

"I would rather have him do that if he's not totally ready to play this summer."

The men's basketball at the Olympics gets underway on July 25 in Tokyo.

USA head to Japan as defending champions, having won gold at the past three Olympics.

LeBron James says there are multiple factors that will determine whether he ends up playing at the Olympic Games this year.

The Los Angeles Lakers star is one of 44 finalists for a place in the United States men's basketball team and he acknowledged his "name is in the hat".

By early June, that group will be cut down to a final 12 to play at the Olympics in Tokyo and, should he feature, James will join Carmelo Anthony as the second player to represent Team USA at four separate Games.

The 12-team basketball event will run from July 25 until August 9 and James is unsure over his participation at this stage of the NBA season.

But he was thrilled to see five Lakers players make the initial group, with Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee also included.

"Spectacular, it's amazing," said the 35-year-old. 

"We're very well represented with the Lake Show representing the red, white and blue. So it's a pretty cool thing."

On his participation, James added: "It's always predicated on: one, my body, how my body is feeling at the end of the season – I hope to make a long playoff run.

"And then where my mind is and then where my family's head is. So it's a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat."

James was speaking after the Lakers cruised to a 125-100 home win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday, a fourth win from five games moving them to 40-12 for the season.

Davis had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo impressed from the bench with 23 points as Howard added 14 points and 15 rebounds.

James, meanwhile, narrowly missed a triple-double with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Lakers reached 40 wins before the All-Star break for the first time in nine years.

"It was a great game for our bench," said James.

"Rajon had great pace all night and he was taking all the looks he was getting. Dwight controlled the glass."

Suns coach Monty Williams added: "We dared Rondo to shoot from the perimeter and he made us pay."

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