Coronavirus: LeBron not giving up on NBA season after revealing NFL training

By Sports Desk May 18, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said he is "definitely not giving up on the season" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA was suspended indefinitely in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has wreaked havoc across the globe.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is reportedly exploring the possibility of holding the entire postseason in one location – Las Vegas, while there has been talk the competition could head straight into the playoffs.

The Lakers had played 63 of the 82-game regular season when the campaign was halted, Los Angeles boasting a Western Conference-best 49-14 record and James is eager to return.

"Definitely not giving up on the season," James said. "Not only myself and my team-mates, the Lakers organisation, we want to play.

"There's a lot of players that I know personally that want to play. And obviously, we don't ever want to jeopardise the health of any of our players or any of the players' families and so on and so on.

"This is a pandemic that we have no idea [about]. We can't control it."

"I know we all miss it," said the three-time NBA champion. "I'd be sitting here lying if I said we don't."

After a difficult first season in Los Angeles, James had returned to his brilliant best for the Lakers in 2019-20 – the veteran's performances catapulting him into the mix for a fifth MVP award.

At the time of the NBA suspending the league, James had been averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Lakers.

Sports are slowly returning following the coronavirus outbreak, with Germany's Bundesliga resuming behind closed doors over the weekend, while UFC 249 took place without fans in Jacksonville, Florida.

"We're seeing a lot of sporting events, UFC, soccer, we're hearing baseball's about to get going in a little bit," James added. "You know, I want to get back to playing. I love to play the game of basketball. I know how inspiring the game of basketball is.

"I know how inspiring sport is, itself. As soon as possible, when we can get back out there, we'd love to bring the game of basketball back to our fans."

James also revealed he started training to be an NFL player during the NBA's lockout in 2011.

"Myself and my trainer, we really started to actually train to be a football player when it came to like October and November," James said. "We started to clock our times with the 40's. We started to add a little bit more in our bench presses and things of that nature."

"The thoughts came into my mind. Never having the ability to finish my high school career playing my senior year I have dreams all the time about playing football."

Related items

  • Jackson expects 'lights-out game' between Ravens and Steelers Jackson expects 'lights-out game' between Ravens and Steelers
  • Can Ravens hand surging Steelers a first loss? Can Ravens hand surging Steelers a first loss?

    The Baltimore Ravens came into the 2020 season among the favourites to win the Super Bowl, but they now face a fierce fight with the Pittsburgh Steelers in their own division.

    As expected, John Harbaugh's squad – boasting MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson – has made a strong start to the year and sit at 5-1 through six games.

    Pittsburgh, though, are the last undefeated team in the NFL at 6-0, meaning Sunday's game has become a huge AFC North battle in Baltimore.

    Ahead of the game, we have looked at some of the key areas to watch, with the help of Stats Perform data.

     

    Dominant defenses

    Baltimore go into the game as four-point favourites, boosted by a defense which has allowed just 17.3 points per game, best in the NFL.

    Pittsburgh (19.7, sixth in the league) are not far behind in that category and come out on top when it comes to yards allowed per game (286.3), with the Ravens ninth at 339.8 YPG.

    Both units have seen their regular deployment of the blitz pay dividends. Baltimore have blitzed on 46.1 per cent of dropbacks, while Pittsburgh have on 44.3 – the two highest rates in the league.

    T.J. Watt leads the NFL with 24 pressures for the Steelers, with Bud Dupree (17), Stephon Tuitt (15) and Cameron Heyward (13) all generating pass-rush too as part of a formidable front seven.

    For the Ravens, veteran Calais Campbell (4 sacks) is thriving up front while cornerback Marlon Humphrey is yet to allow a touchdown on 49 targets this season, with opposing passers restricted to a 73.1 rating. No other player in the NFL has been targeted as often in coverage without giving up a TD.

    A close game looks likely. Since 2008, 14 of 24 regular-season meetings between the teams have been decided by three points or fewer – the most of any matchup in that span.

    The quarterbacks

    Pittsburgh (30.5 points per game) and Baltimore (29.8) both have top-eight scoring units, but – so far at least – their QBs have not had to do the heavy lifting in the passing game.

    The Ravens lead the NFL with 164.3 rushing yards per game, meaning they have picked up victories despite having a passing yardage (177.8) that is better only than the woeful New York Jets.

    The Steelers have been able to lean on their defense and running game too, with their 129.7 YPG on the ground good for 11th in the NFL, compared to their 229 passing yards ranking 23rd.

    Ravens QB Jackson is yet to hit the heights of 2019 and has been held under 200 passing yards in four consecutive starts, though his team won three of those four.

    He has completed less than 60.0 percent of his attempts in three of his last four contests, dropping his season completion percentage to 63.0 – 26th among 32 qualifiers. But the third-year pro does lead the team with 346 rushing yards.

    As a team, the Ravens have rushed for 140 yards or more in five straight games and 100 yards or better in 29 consecutive matchups.

    The latter streak is one shy of matching the longest by any team in the last 40 seasons; the Panthers had a 30-game run from 2014 through 2016.

    Not since the Steelers won against them in Week 9 of the 2018 season have the Ravens been held under 100 yards rushing.

    Returning from injury this year, Ben Roethlisberger has an impressive supporting cast to throw to including JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Eric Ebron and rookie sensation Chase Claypool.

    He is on track for a career-best year in terms of completion percentage (68.2) but is producing a lower yards per attempt rate (6.8) than ever before (aside from 2019 when he played just two games).

    That highlights what has, so far, largely been an efficient but more conservative approach from Big Ben than we have been used to seeing.

    However, after throwing one interception in the first five games of 2020, he was picked off three times in the dramatic victory over the Tennessee Titans last time out and now faces a formidable Ravens unit.

    Including postseason games, Roethlisberger is 15-10 in his career against the Ravens. Though he is only 4-6 on the road, he did earn victories in his last two visits to Baltimore (2017, 2018), but the Ravens won the two 2019 games while he was out.

    Big picture

    With additional wildcard spots available this year, these two teams already look like locks to make the playoffs.

    But this is a pivotal matchup in the battle for the division between teams who have combined to win 14 of 18 AFC North titles, as well as crucial for playoff seedings down the line.

    The Steelers are 6-0 for the second time in team history and a win on Sunday would match the best start in franchise annals (the 1978 team started 7-0).

    But the Ravens would love nothing more than to end that unbeaten start and are eager for a statement win after suffering their sole loss at the hands of Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs.

  • Denver Broncos cancel practice after positive COVID-19 test Denver Broncos cancel practice after positive COVID-19 test

    The Denver Broncos postponed a planned practice on Friday as a precaution after a player tested positive for COVID-19.

    As they prepare for Sunday's home game against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Broncos will hold virtual meetings while operating under the league's coronavirus protocols amid the health pandemic.

    Denver also confirmed that the individual who tested positive is now in self-isolation, as are two other players deemed to have been close contacts.

    "We were informed early this morning that a Broncos player has tested positive for COVID-19," a statement from the team read.

    "The player is at home in self-isolation along with two other players who were determined to be close contacts. Our organisation, which has been operating under the league's intensive protocols, is in consultation with the NFL and taking guidance from medical experts.

    "As a precaution, we have made the decision to postpone today's practice and conduct virtual meetings in preparation for Sunday's game against the Chargers. The team is scheduled to return to UCHealth Training Center for practice tomorrow.

    "The health and safety of the players, coaches and staff will continue to be of the highest priority."

    According to an ESPN report citing an unnamed source, a player from the Minnesota Vikings roster has also returned a positive test result for the virus. 

    The Vikings travel to face divisional rivals Green Bay in Week 8 of the regular season.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.