June 8 is likely to be a date forever remembered fondly by Rafael Nadal, who secured two of his historic 12 French Open titles on this day.

Serena Williams also twice had reason to celebrate on the clay of Roland Garros on this date, although one final was tinged with the regret of having beaten her sister.

The Golden State Warriors tasted glory once again in 2018, while there was truly a shock for the ages when Argentina faced Cameroon at the World Cup in 1990.

Going back nearly 60 years, there was also a moment of baseball history for the Milwaukee Braves.

 

1961 - Milwaukee Braves hit home-run record

There were six teams scrambling for top spot in the National League when the Braves met the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field.

In front of a sparse crowd of just over 5,000 fans - many seem to have been exhausted by three previous night games in the series - the Reds claimed a 10-8 victory.

The Braves did at least make history with four consecutive home runs through Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas in the seventh inning.

 

1990 - Argentina shocked by Cameroon

Perhaps the biggest World Cup upset in history, the reigning champions were beaten 1-0 by Cameroon at Italia 90.

A solitary goal from Francois Omam-Biyik was enough for the Indomitable Lions to defeat Diego Maradona's Argentina at San Siro.

Cameroon progressed as group winners and reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to England. Argentina made it to the final again but were beaten by West Germany.

 

2002 - Serena wins all-Williams final in Paris

The first of Serena's three French Open singles titles came 18 years ago when she defeated sister Venus 7-5 6-3.

It was the first step in the American's path to winning all four majors in a row, which would become known as the 'Serena Slam'; she claimed Wimbledon and the US Open later that year before winning the 2003 Australian Open, defeating her sister in each of those finals.

Twelve years later, Serena would achieve the feat a second time.

This date also marks seven years since Serena beat Maria Sharapova in the final at Roland Garros.

 

2008 - Nadal equals Borg record with Federer thrashing

Nadal became the first man since Bjorn Borg to win four French Open singles titles in a row when he defeated Roger Federer in the 2008 final.

The Spaniard, a 12-time champion at Roland Garros, triumphed 6-1 6-3 6-0 in a decidedly one-sided contest against his long-time rival.

Six years later, Nadal won French Open number nine on the same date, defeating Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 to draw level with Pete Sampras on 14 major singles titles. He has won a further five since.

 

2018 - Warriors claim third title in four years

Inspired by NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, the Warriors claimed their third NBA championship in four seasons on this day two years ago.

Golden State completed a 4-0 sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 108-85 win at what was then known as Quicken Loans Arena.

It was the second time in his career that LeBron James suffered the ignominy of a Finals sweep, having also endured it against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.

Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson marched in Oakland's unity protest on Wednesday.

George Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest last week.

Violent protests have broken out across the United States since Floyd's death, during which he was filmed crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Three-time NBA champions Curry and Thompson were among Warriors players to march in the Walking in Unity protest event, along with team-mates Damion Lee and Kevon Looney.

Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson organised the rally and said: "No matter the colour of your skin, how much money you got, your education, it don't matter, we're all human beings.

"We're all here for the same purpose. Not just for black people. Right now it's about black people, but for humanity. There's people all over the world being oppressed.

"And we're just trying to take a step in the right direction and start something – me and my boys, my brothers. Thank you guys for being here."

On Thompson's Instagram story, the five-time All-Star shared footage of the event and wrote: "@juanonjuan10 natural born leader!"

Pierino Prati scored a hat-trick as AC Milan won the European Cup in 1969 and Francesco Totti played the final match of his career on this day three years ago.

May 28 will always be a special date in Milan's history, with Prati the hero in a 4-1 defeat of Johan Cruyff's Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu.

A tearful Totti said his goodbyes after 25 years with Roma, fittingly bowing out with a Serie A victory over Genoa and it is 23 years since Borussia Dortmund won the Champions League.

There was also a day to remember for Klay Thompson in 2016, when he set an NBA playoff record for three-pointers in a match to keep the Golden State Warriors' season alive.

 

1969 - Prati punishes Ajax

Real Madrid greats Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano were the only players to score a European Cup final hat-trick until Prati's Madrid masterclass.

The clinical forward was on target with a header, a venomous strike from outside the penalty and an opportunistic finish as the great Cruyff was upstaged.

Angelo Sormani also found the back of the net for the Rossoneri as they lifted the famous trophy for a second time.

Prati, Puskas and Di Stefano remain the only three men to have scored hat-tricks in the biggest match in European football.

 

1997 - Riedle double puts Dortmund in dreamland

Dortmund delivered in their first Champions League final, beating the mighty Juventus 3-1 in Munich.

Germany striker Karl-Heinz Riedle put the Bundesliga side in charge with a quickfire first-half brace, turning in from close range before heading beyond Angelo Peruzzi.

Juve had a goal disallowed before Alessandro Del Piero pulled one back with a sublime backheel.

Dortmund-born substitute Lars Ricken magnificently restored the two-goal cushion with his first touch and there was no way back for Juve as Ottmar Hitzfeld's side celebrated their finest hour at the home of rivals Bayern Munich.

 

2016 - Three and easy on Klay's day

The Golden State Warriors needed their stars to step up when they faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

They had pegged the Thunder's series lead back to 3-2 with a victory two days earlier and had to win again in Oklahoma City in order to force a decider.

It was Thompson who starred to silence the Thunder fans, on target with a playoff record 11 attempts from behind the line and finishing with a 41-point haul.

The defending champions went on to win the final match of the series but went down 4-3 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.

 

2017 – Eternal great Totti finishes on a high note

After a quarter of a century in the famous colours of Roma, the time finally came for Totti to bow out three years ago.

The one-club man was given a magnificent send-off from the fans who watched him captain his boyhood club for as many as 18 years.

Forward Totti, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, scored 307 goals in 786 games for the Eternal City giants.

Totti came off the bench to a standing ovation in his swansong versus Genoa and Diego Perotti's last-gasp strike snatched a 3-2 victory to secure second spot and a place in the group stage of the Champions League.

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale does not understand why he is so heavily criticised for playing golf and insists his love of the sport makes him a better footballer.

Bale has faced scrutiny in Spain for thinking too much about golf and not playing for Madrid, where he has been plagued by numerous injury issues in recent years.

The Wales international has been nicknamed 'the Golfer' by his Madrid team-mates and riled his own fans in November when posing with a flag that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order".

However, Bale has defended his decision to regularly tee it up and pointed to the example set by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who also shares a passion for golf and has previously played on the Korn Ferry Tour.

"A lot of people have problems with me playing golf, I don't know what the reason is," he told the Erik Anders Lang Show podcast. "I've spoken to doctors and everybody's fine with it.

"The media have this perception that it's not good for me: 'You should be resting, it can cause problems, injuries.' In America, I know Steph Curry plays maybe on the morning of a game. 

"Here, if I play two days before a game it's like, 'What's he doing?'

"I just like going out to play, thinking I've got 18 holes ahead of me. You can get away from the football, away from anything negative that's going on, and reset your mind.

"The next day you feel a bit more fresh and ready to go and concentrate and feel better about football again."

Bale is back in training with Madrid ahead of LaLiga's planned return on June 11, three months on from the season being brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic.

And despite an underwhelming return of two goals and two assists in 14 league appearances in 2019-20, the 30-year-old is content with his performances this term.

"The thing with football now is everything is based around results. That's the problem," he said. 

"You might play amazingly, not score for five games and everyone says, 'He's having a terrible time.'

"People just like goals, assists, 'wow' things. And sometimes that doesn't always happen. I've played terribly, then I've scored two goals, and everyone says, 'Great game.'

"People can have their own opinions, as long as I know I've tried my best and I've played as well as I can then I'm happy with that."

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!"

The NBA is very different place to what it was when Stephen Curry came on the scene.

The Golden State Warriors star has been at the forefront in a dramatic shift to the way the game is played.

Gone are the days when physicality was the predominant attribute required to succeed. Now the three-point shot reigns supreme.

Five years on from Curry claiming the first of his two successive MVP awards, we use Stats Perform data to analyse the increasing importance of success from beyond the arc.

 

Deadly from distance

Curry entered the league as the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, with Ray Allen proving the benchmark when it came to three-point shooting.

No one has hit more shots from downtown than the two-time NBA champion and 10-time All-Star's 2,973.

Prior to 2012-13, he also held the record for the most three-pointers made per game in a season when he averaged 3.4 in 2005-06. Curry has beaten that mark six times in his eight campaigns since.

The Warriors guard set a new record of 5.1 three-pointers made per game in 2015-16 and, after dipping to the still-impressive averages of 4.1 and 4.2 in the two subsequent seasons, he matched it in 2018-19.

On course for history

Curry has played 699 games in the NBA and has made 2,495 three-pointers. It is close to 700 more than the next best record for successful three-pointers in a player's first 700 games, which is team-mate Klay Thompson's total of 1,798 in 615 appearances.

The most previously was 1,632 by Allen.

A league-wide trend

It's not just Curry, though.

The average number of three-pointers made per game has been a new league record in each of the past eight seasons.

Furthermore, the rate of 24.3 combined three-pointers made per game in the NBA this season is more than twice that from 2005-06 (11.5).

Consistently accurate

In Allen's 2005-06 season he made a record 269 three-pointers – that is now the 11th best total in the all-time list.

Five of the top-10 tallies belong to Curry, including the top two. He set a new benchmark when he made 402 shots from downtown in his MVP season.

James Harden (378 in 2018-19 and 271 in 2019-20), Paul George (292 in 2018-19), Buddy Hield (278 in 2018-19) and Klay Thompson (276 in 2015-16) are the other top-10 entries.

There have been 38 player seasons in NBA history with at least 600 three-point attempts.

Six of those were by Curry and in those 38 the Warriors star's percentages rank first, second, third, fourth, eighth and 11th.

Often prolific

When Curry entered the league the record for the most games with at least eight three-pointers made was held by Allen, who at that point had nine.

Since then Curry has racked up 48 such games, more than twice as many as Houston Rockets guard Harden, who is second on the all-time list with 21.

Only four players had managed to score 11 three-pointers in a game before Curry's emergence, and each of them had only done it once. In his NBA career he has managed to achieve the feat eight times.

Not just the guards

The big men are also getting involved.

Players who are 6ft 8in or taller are attempting more of their shots from three-point range.

From 1979-80 to 1984-85 just 0.2 per cent of their field-goal attempts were from beyond the arc, and that increased to 3.0 in the seasons from 1995-96 until 1999-2000.

The figure since 2015-16 stands at 8.5 per cent.

A new NBA

The upward trend across the league can also be seen when looking at the top scorers in a season.

Before 2013-14, no more than four of the leading 10 players in points-per-game in a given season had attempted more than two three-pointers per game.

Since then, at least five have done so in six of the seven seasons. As things stand in 2019-20, the number is up to an unprecedented seven.

Indeed, there are 18 players in the top 25 for points-per-game this season who have attempted more than two three-pointers.

'The Last Dance' may have emphasised Dennis Rodman's eccentric ways when it showed him partying with Carmen Electra in Las Vegas, yet one of his Chicago Bulls team-mates insists he was actually "very quiet".

The documentary profiling the Bulls' 1997-98 campaign last week detailed the restless Rodman's mid-season trip to Las Vegas, which was sanctioned by head coach Phil Jackson.

Rodman stayed in Sin City with his model girlfriend Carmen Electra longer than the agreed time and it took a visit to their hotel room from Michael Jordan for the trip to end.

Subsequent recollections indicated that Rodman did not miss a beat when he returned to practice, and Rusty LaRue, a role player on that 1997-98 Bulls team, revealed the power forward was completely different once it came time to work.

"He's probably the exact opposite of his persona in the public," LaRue told Stats Perform.

"He's not a flamboyant guy. He was very quiet, a really hard worker, never took plays off in practice.

"When he was there, he practised his tail off and then would actually stay and lift weights after.

"He really didn't say a whole lot, kept to himself, kind of did his thing but was really a hard worker and had a very high basketball IQ.

"He was certainly an asset to that team in a lot of different ways."

LaRue, who was an NBA rookie on that 'Last Dance' team, was promoted to the roster during the season when fellow point guard Steve Kerr got an injury.

While Rodman, Jordan and Scottie Pippen were seen as the key figures in a team that secured a second three-peat, Kerr's basketball acumen has been evident since he went into coaching.

The Golden State Warriors coach has led Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to three NBA championships in four years recently, which has impressed his old colleague LaRue.

"Steve always was a really cerebral player, obviously, and was a tough competitor," LaRue added.

"You can see how that translates into being a really excellent coach.

"Probably the biggest thing I see on those Warriors teams is he came into a situation where he had a lot of elite players.

"He was able to manage those players and get them to all play together and sacrifice themselves a little bit for the team."

May 4, 2015 was when Stephen Curry's status as a true NBA superstar was confirmed.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez was already established as a boxing royalty when, exactly four years later, he added another belt to his collection.

Here we take a look at major sporting events that have occurred on May 4 in previous years.

 

2015: Curry wins first MVP award

The Golden State Warriors' decision to hire Steve Kerr as their head coach prior to the 2014-15 season paid dividends as it transformed point guard Curry into one of the NBA's best.

Curry had only been selected for one All-Star Game before his 2014-15 MVP campaign, when he broke his own record for single-season three-pointers by nailing 286 shots from beyond the arc. 

The first of three NBA championships in four years soon followed as Curry spearheaded a new NBA dynasty.

He would win the MVP award again in 2016 - the season when the Warriors did not lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy - and that time he became the first in NBA history to win the unanimous vote.

2016: Fernando own goal sets up all-Madrid final

It was not pretty but on May 4, 2016, 10-time European Cup winners Real Madrid made another final.

Only one goal separated Los Blancos from Manchester City across 180 minutes, and it came via a degree of fortune - Fernando deflecting Gareth Bale's cross into his own net.

That was enough to see them advance to another final against cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid, with Zinedine Zidane's men going on to win their first of three successive finals in the competition via a penalty shoot-out at San Siro.

 

2019: Canelo seals points win over Jacobs

On Cinco de Mayo weekend, Mexican Alvarez out-pointed Daniel Jacobs to add the IBF middleweight belt to his WBC and WBA titles.

All three judges scored the fight in the Alvarez's favour on his return to the 160lb division, the 28-year-old having briefly stepped up to obliterate Rocky Fielding and take the Liverpudlian's WBA super-middleweight belt.

Alvarez moved to light heavyweight six months later, knocking out Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round to become a four-weight world champion.

While the NBA is hoping it will be able to resume the 2019-20 season that was put on pause because of the coronavirus pandemic, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is in no rush to return and is already looking ahead to the 2020-21 season.

The NBA season was suspended last month due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 217,800 people worldwide.

"It feels like the offseason," Kerr said during a Zoom conference call on Tuesday.

"And in fact we had a Zoom call, [Warriors general manager] Bob Myers and I got on a Zoom with our players, our whole roster last week. And it was just a chance to check in, but it was also a chance for Bob to update the players on his contact with the league and the latest news, but it also kind of felt like our annual team exit meeting.

"Our coaching staff and I have been undergoing staff evaluations, offseason plans, so we are absolutely in offseason mode right now."

Speaking along with Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts and University of San Francisco women's basketball coach Jennifer Azzi as part of a virtual town hall, Kerr said that with Golden State sitting at 15-50 and at the bottom of the Western Conference it is tough for his team to be motivated to want to come back and play when they are out of the playoff picture.

"The suspension came at an interesting time and it really made a difference, depending on where your team stood in the standings," he said.

"So I've talked to some of my fellow coaches who are coaching teams that are right in the thick of the playoff hunt. They're trying desperately to stay in touch with their team, some of them are even doing group workouts on Zoom with their training staff, and they're trying to find hoops for their players to shoot at where they're able to do so.

"It's different for us because we were down to 17 games, but we were out of the playoffs. It feels like the end of the season for our team. It just does."

The NBA has considered resuming the regular season with teams playing games in isolation without fans, which would ultimately lead to a unique situation for a Warriors team with nothing to play for if their players are forced to play essentially scrimmages in empty gyms. 

"We don't know anything officially," Kerr said. "There's still a chance the league could ask us to come back and play some games, but given what we went through this season with all the injuries and the tough record, it's been more of the case of we're staying in touch with guys but everybody is just sort of assuming that this is kind of it. We're not going to be involved much anymore."

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry jokingly said he could drop 60 points on "everybody" in the NBA.

During an Instagram Live chat with former team-mate JaVale McGee on Friday, Curry made the prediction.

McGee, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, asked the two-time NBA MVP: "What team or player on that team that you know is guarding you do you look at and be like, 'Oh yeah, I'm getting 60 tonight'?"

Curry took a moment before responding: "Everybody."

It sent McGee running wildly before the center said: "What is going on? Steph Curry just took shots at every player in the NBA."

Curry has never managed a 60-point haul, with his career-high a 54 against the New York Knicks in February 2013.

The current NBA season was suspended last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now is typically the time when the grind of the NBA's regular season is winding down and 16 teams start to gear up for the playoffs.

However, the coronavirus pandemic brought the league to a halt in March, delaying the best period of the campaign considerably.

With every team having at least 15 games left to play, the postseason picture is far from being completed.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team in the Western Conference to have secured their place in the playoffs, where the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are also guaranteed to feature due to their performances in the East.

With only the Golden State Warriors out of contention, 25 teams still have a mathematical chance of keeping their seasons alive.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

The goal was to simulate how the regular season would pan out if all outstanding games were played now, producing the final standings in both conferences.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-field advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The victors get another win to their season total – this was done for every remaining game in the regular season. So, without further ado, let's find out the results...

 

NO BUCKING THE TREND

Unsurprisingly the Bucks hang on to the one seed in the Eastern Conference, with our model predicting they will go 13-4 in their remaining fixtures to finish with a 66-16 record.

Despite Milwaukee matching their best regular-season performance in history to book a first-round clash in the playoffs with the Orlando Magic, there was one hiccup for reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team-mates – a shock 111-110 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the only change to the top eight from the current standings, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Indiana Pacers to the five seed, meaning they draw the Miami Heat in the first round of the postseason for the second time in three years. The Pacers must take on the Celtics as a consequence.

The Brooklyn Nets (39-43) and Magic (38-44) advance despite having losing records – it is the first time since 1988 that more than one team under .500 made the playoffs. The Raptors await the Nets in the first round.

At the foot of the East is the Detroit Pistons, who closed out the season on a 4-12 run to finish with a 24-58 record.

In our simulation the Raptors claimed a 152-96 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Only 12 matches in NBA history have seen a bigger margin of victory.

CLIPPERS FADE, WARRIORS THE WORST

The Lakers hold off the competition to top the Western Conference and at 64-18 claim their best record since the Kobe Bryant era. Their reward is a first-round meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies.

For the Los Angeles Clippers it is a different story. They fall victim to strong finishes from the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets and slip to fourth, pitting Paul George - and Chris Paul - against his former team the Oklahoma City Thunder in round one.

The Nuggets take second and get the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs after losing just one of their final 17 games, while the Rockets go 15-3 to get the three seed. Awaiting Mike D'Antoni's team in the postseason is the Utah Jazz, who slipped to sixth after going 8-10 down the stretch.

The Grizzlies ensure New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson's first playoff appearance will have to wait until 2021 at the earliest, while the Portland Trail Blazers miss the postseason for the first time since 2013.

A 22-60 record means the Warriors finish the regular season with the worst record in the NBA.

 

GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR SUNS, WIZARDS

While the final standings were taken from the first simulation, the outcome of the regular season was simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in the playoffs.

The resulting data suggests the Grizzlies defied the odds by reaching the postseason, having only done so in 41.1 per cent of the simulations.

The Magic and Nets both had a success rate above 99 per cent, while the Washington Wizards (0.05 per cent) and the Phoenix Suns (0.04 per cent) are the biggest outsiders.

In addition to the Warriors, the model did not project the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, Hawks or Cavaliers making the postseason once.

A NEW DYNASTY?

The Stats Perform AI team also used the predicted final standings to simulate the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to find out which team received the first overall pick.

There was finally some good news for Warriors fans, with Golden State drawn first.

With Stephen Curry back from injury and Klay Thompson set to return next season, the No.1 pick would put Steve Kerr's team in a good position to challenge in the playoffs again.

The Hawks jump up to third in our simulation, while the Bulls have to settle for the seventh pick for the fourth consecutive year.

After taking Williamson first overall in 2019, the Pelicans get the final lottery selection here.

Full lottery results:

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Detroit Pistons
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
6. New York Knicks
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Charlotte Hornets
9. Phoenix Suns
10. San Antonio Spurs
11. Sacramento Kings
12. Washington Wizards
13. Portland Trail Blazers
14. New Orleans Pelicans

Reports in the UK this week suggested there is growing support to void the current Premier League season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted the 2019-20 campaign might have to be scrubbed from the records, after Euro 2020 was moved back 12 months.

Although the likes of runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool would understandably despair at such a prospect, there are other clubs enjoying seasons to forget who might enjoy the escape clause.

With that in mind, we took a look back at the teams and individuals who might like to expunge an ignominious season or period of time from history.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED 2013-14

The seven years since Alex Ferguson's retirement have not exactly gone swimmingly for United, but that ill-fated first season remains the real low point. 

David Moyes lasted just 10 months as Ferguson's replacement as the reigning Premier League champions finished seventh in 2013-14, suffering truly humiliating defeats to top two Manchester City and Liverpool along the way. A wretched 2-0 loss at Moyes' former club Everton proved the final straw.

At least they won the Community Shield in August 2013. 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC 2017

When Novak Djokovic defeated familiar foe Andy Murray to win the 2016 French Open, the modern-day legend was in possession of all of tennis' grand slams. The question was, who can stop this man? Well, the answer was actually himself.

A round-three exit at Wimbledon followed a month later and, although he reached the US Open final that year, a barren 2017 followed. Djokovic did not go beyond the quarters at any slam that year and reached just one final at the Italian Open, which he lost. Djokovic rediscovered the winning habit in slams at Wimbledon in 2018, beginning a run of five triumphs in the past seven at tennis' big events.

DETROIT LIONS – 2008

The Lions secured an unwanted place in history when they became the first NFL team in the 16-game season era to go 0-16. They went 7-9 in 2007 and were then undefeated in preaseason, meaning few would have thought a historically bad campaign was on the cards.

Detroit started three QBs over the course of the campaign - Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky and Daunte Culpepper - all of whom struggled with form and injuries despite the presence of star receiver Calvin Johnson, but worst of all was their woeful defense, which gave up 517 points.

Team president and CEO Matt Millen was fired after four weeks, while head coach Rod Marinelli was shown the door at the end of the season and has not led a team since.

TIGER WOODS - 2014-2017

Tiger Woods' standing as one the greatest, if not the greatest, golfer of all time is in no doubt. By the end of 2013, Woods was standing again atop the world rankings after winning five times during the year, earning the prestigious PGA Tour Player of the Year award. 

It would take five years for Woods to win again as the American great endured a horrendous time with debilitating back injuries and loss of form. At one stage it looked as though he may have to retire and his world ranking had plummeted to a scarcely credible 1,199th in December 2017. But just a year ago Woods was back in major-winning form as, at the age of 43, he became Masters champion for a fifth time.

BARCELONA 2002-03

Years of drift since the 1999 LaLiga title came to a head in 2002-03, as Barcelona endured a miserable season that saw Louis van Gaal sacked as coach and led to the departure of president Joan Gaspart. 

Barca ended up sixth in the league – their worst finish in 15 years – as the Real Madrid Galacticos ruled. They also exited the Copa del Rey in the first round and lost in the Champions League quarter-finals. 

After that season, in came Joan Laporta as president, Frank Rijkaard as head coach, and a certain Brazilian called Ronaldinho. And things got a bit better. 

ENGLAND – 2013-14 ASHES

England made it three Ashes victories in a row with a 3-0 home triumph in 2013 – the first time they had enjoyed such a run of success against old enemies Australia since 1977-1981. However, a rejig of the international cricketing schedule meant a swift return Down Under. The Mitchell Johnson-inspired hosts exacted brutal vengeance on their way to a 5-0 whitewash as a great England team fell to pieces.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann retired mid-series and Kevin Pietersen's tempestuous exit from the international stage was set in motion, while Andy Flower – the head coach he despised – stepped down. Of the XI that started the concluding 281-run loss in Sydney, Pietersen, Michael Carberry and debutants Scott Borthwick and Boyd Rankin would never play red ball cricket for England again.

REAL MADRID 2008-09

In Spanish football's great rivalry, Real Madrid or Barcelona doing well is only half the deal. Success is truly sweet if the other half of El Clasico's enduring grudge are having a tough time. Madrid won LaLiga in 2007-08, with Barca a distant fourth as the Rijkaard-Ronaldinho era disintegrated under the weight of its own excess.

However, the tables flipped spectacularly next time around – Barca stormed to an unprecedented treble under rookie coach Pep Guardiola, Lionel Messi leaped from exceptional talent to generational superstar as Madrid were walloped 6-2 by their sworn foes at the Santiago Bernabeu and a dynasty was born.

Madrid finished a distant second, were thrashed 5-0 on aggregate by Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 and coach Juande Ramos followed predecessor Bernd Schuster out of the exit door.

PAULA RADCLIFFE – 2004 OLYMPICS

After setting a new world record in London in 2003 and having won the 2004 race in New York, Radcliffe was favourite for marathon gold at the 2004 Olympics. 

However, after struggling badly to continue, Radcliffe withdrew 23 miles in and was taken for a medical check-up. She later competed in the 10,000 metres but again retired.  In a tearful appearance on British TV, Radcliffe refused to blame the heat and humidity in Athens and admitted she was "desperately trying to find a reason for what happened". 

A year later, she was back winning and breaking the world record at the London marathon - despite a brief toilet break by the side of the road - before taking gold at the World Championships in Helsinki.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2019-2020

After a fifth straight NBA Finals appearance in 2019, things went rapidly downhill for the Golden State Warriors. All-Star duo Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins left in free agency, while 'Splash Brothers' Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have been out injured – the latter is yet to play this season. 

The Warriors sit bottom of the Western Conference and have the worst overall record in the NBA at 15-50. An improved chance of getting the first pick in the 2020 draft is their only solace.

MANNY PACQUIAO 2012

After losing to Erik Morales in 2005, Manny Pacquiao went on sensational 15-fight winning streak that established him as an unprecedented seven-division world champion. The Morales loss was twice avenged via stoppage, with the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto similarly dispatched. A mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr awaited, only for the wheels to fall off in 2012.

Timothy Bradley halted Pacquiao's streak when he was – somewhat farcically – awarded a split-decision verdict over the Filipino great. Juan Manuel Marquez knew all about scorecard controversy from his previous three meetings with Pacquiao and duly took them out of the equation, chillingly leaving his rival face down and motionless on the Las Vegas canvas that December. The Mayweather bout had to wait until 2015, but that is one of only two losses suffered since by Pacquiao, who reigns as WBA welterweight champion at 41.

CHELSEA 2015-16

Chelsea won the Premier League title in 2014-15 and 2016-17. What came in between was nothing short of a complete shambles. Jose Mourinho had returned for a second spell in charge and collected a third winners' medal in England's top flight but the Portuguese's famously abrasive tendencies then appeared to wear his players down at an alarming rate.

Beginning with the 2-2 draw against Swansea City that ignited Mourinho's sapping spat with club doctor Eva Carneiro, Chelsea won only one of their opening five Premier League fixtures. That form was far from a blip and they were 16th when Mourinho was sacked in the wake of a 2-1 December loss to would-be champions Leicester City. Caretaker boss Guus Hiddink restored a modicum of respectability with a 10th-place finish before Antonio Conte arrived and the Stamford Bridge faithful were soon wondering if it had all just been a bad dream.

SERENA WILLIAMS 2006

Williams started the year by losing her Australian Open crown with a third-round exit to Daniele Hantuchova, before injuries forced her to miss tournaments in Tokyo and Dubai. Come April, she had dropped out of the WTA top 100 for the first time since November 1997, and it came as little surprise that she competed at neither the French Open nor Wimbledon. 

After a fourth-round exit at the US Open, Williams ended a title-less year 95th in the world. It meant she returned to the Australian Open in January 2007 as an unseeded player. She won it. 

It is 48 years to the day since the Los Angeles Lakers set a new NBA benchmark with 69 regular-season wins.

Bill Sharman's Lakers routed the Seattle Supersonics to end the year with a 69-13 record and the best win percentage (.841) posted by a team.

The stunning Los Angeles season bettered the Philadelphia 76ers' mark from five years earlier, although the Chicago Bulls and then the Golden State Warriors have since set the standard.

The Warriors' record will stand for at least another year, too, with the 53-12 Milwaukee Bucks faltering following Giannis Antetokounmpo's injury.

With the campaign now paused amid the coronavirus pandemic, we take a look at the teams and seasons that led the way.
 

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: 1966-67 - 68-13 (.840)

Since the Washington Capitols ended the first 60-game NBA season with a 49-11 record in 1946-47, no team had been able to post a regular-season win percentage of .800 or above - until the Sixers.

Philadelphia dominated from start to finish in 1966-67, led by MVP Wilt Chamberlain. The campaign was the first and only to include 81 games, adding another to make the existing 82-game schedule the following year, and the Sixers finished eight games clear of a strong Boston Celtics outfit in the East.

Chamberlain was the only Philly player to make the All-NBA First Team, but the Sixers' depth made them one of the greats, and they ended the year as champions with an NBA Finals success against the San Francisco Warriors.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS: 1971-72 - 69-13 (.841)

With an extra game to play with, it did not take the Lakers too long to edge past the Sixers. And Chamberlain was again the star.

After leaving the Sixers in 1968, Chamberlain was outstanding once again in his penultimate season in the league, while Jerry West - whose silhouette graced a new NBA logo that remains to this day - also impressed.

Chamberlain refused to compare LA to his Philadelphia team after breaking the record, but they ultimately matched the Sixers by claiming the championship, with the veteran the Finals MVP against the New York Knicks.

CHICAGO BULLS: 1995-96 - 72-10 (.878)

It took 24 years and arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport to break the Lakers' record. Michael Jordan lifted the Bulls to the first ever 70-win season in 1995-96.

Playing his first full season back following his initial retirement, there was still no stopping Jordan as he kickstarted the Bulls' second run of three straight championships.

The guard was the MVP, the league's leading scorer and then the Finals MVP, while Chicago finished 12 games clear of the Orlando Magic.

They only lost three more games in the playoffs, too, sweeping the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals before beating the Seattle Supersonics to take the title.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: 2015-16 - 73-9 (.890)

Only two teams have ever broken the 70-win barrier, but the second, the Warriors, remarkably could not follow up their regular-season success with the title.

Golden State won three championships over a four-year stretch but could not get the job done against LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals in 2016.

The Warriors' stunning regular-season efforts overshadowed an impressive 67-win San Antonio Spurs campaign, with Stephen Curry the MVP and top scorer, but the NBA's outstanding team went down to the Cavs in Game Seven.

United States assistant Steve Kerr said he and head coach Gregg Popovich are still planning for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 continues to disrupt sport across the globe as countries impose strict travel conditions amid the emergency, however, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) remains adamant Tokyo 2020 will go ahead as planned in July.

The NBA has suspended the season indefinitely after a number of players tested positive for coronavirus.

Golden State Warriors head coach Kerr said Team USA staff are planning as if the Olympic Games will go ahead amid the uncertainty.

"Pop and I have spoken a couple of times over the last week or so," Kerr told reporters on Tuesday. "Everything's just up in the air.

"There's no sense of whether things are going to be delayed or anything. We're all kind of sitting here wondering what's going to happen and so is the rest of the world.

"We're just going to plan as if this is going to happen and we're going to try and put together a roster and that's all we can do."

Utah Jazz pair Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were the first NBA players to contract COVID-19, while Kevin Durant joined the list on Tuesday.

Durant confirmed he is one of four Brooklyn Nets players to test positive for coronavirus, with the NBA on hiatus.

The Milwaukee Bucks were leading the league before it was postponed, with LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers topping the Western Conference.

"To be honest I feel really sorry for the teams [that] are really in the thick of the race and the hunt," Kerr said. "The teams that have a chance to make a run.

"We're not in that position this year and so being in limbo, even though it's no fun, for us we're just sort of waiting to hear what the league has to say and we'll follow instructions, but it must be incredibly frustrating for all those teams that have a shot this year and they're wondering if things are even got to start back up again."

Stephen Curry has joined the growing list of prominent sports stars encouraging people to practice social distancing in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The NBA suspended the league on Wednesday as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the global sporting calendar.

Latest figures show 3,802 confirmed cases in the United States, with 69 having died from the virus.

Golden State Warriors star Curry posted a video message on Twitter imploring everyone to do their bit to avoid mass gatherings where possible.

"What's up everybody? I know this time is pretty hectic and crazy and there's a lot of uncertainty out there," he said. 

"I just wanna take the time to encourage everyone to practice social distancing to the best of their abilities. I know people are in a lot of different situations and there are different demands from person to person. 

"But as best we can [let's] practice social distancing so we can get rid of the spread of this virus as soon as possible, flatten the curve.

"Make sure you stay six feet away from people, wash your hands when you go inside, outside as much as you can with water and soap and we can all come together collectively to stop the spread of this virus. 

"Everybody [can] do their part. I'm doing mine, I'm at home, me and my family are enjoying family time. 

"But as best you can social distance yourself and we can flatten the curve and get rid of this virus as soon as possible."

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