ABC - Sports News

cmannphoto/iStockBy ANGELINE JANE BERNABE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The NBA may complete their season at Walt Disney World.

In an interview with ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis, Bob Chapek, the chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company, revealed that Disney and the NBA are currently in conversations to finish their season at Walt Disney World.

"We would be thrilled to see the NBA finish up their season at Walt Disney World," said Chapek. "Our wide World Sports Facility is not only enormous, but it's state of the art. And we're in daily conversations with the NBA to see if this is something that they want to happen."

"We would like to get sports back," Chapek added. "People want Disney theme parks, but they also want live sports. And if we can play a part in making both of those happen for all of our fans, we'd love to do that."

The NBA was among the first sports leagues in the U.S. to suspend their season due to the coronavirus pandemic. After a game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder in March, the NBA announced it would indefinitely halt games after a player tested positive for coronavirus.

Most NBA teams had about 15 to 20 games left, and the season was set to end on April 15, with playoffs to begin three days later.

During that time, the league had discussed playing games in empty arenas without fans, but players like LeBron James and Steph Curry had spoken out against the idea.

"Everything about our routines is reliant upon that kind of game day energy," Curry said when reports surfaced that games at the Chase Center in San Francisco would be played without fans after the mayor banned gatherings of over 1,000 people.

While it's still not confirmed whether the NBA will pick up and finish their season at Walt Disney World, and it's unclear how they'll incorporate NBA fans into the experience, Chapek said Disney is willing to work with the NBA on how to manage those details.

"We'll leave that up to the NBA if this comes to pass in terms of how they manage the fan piece of this," said Chapek. "But as you know, we stand here ready, willing and able to facilitate whatever we can do in a responsible way."

Chapek's news comes as Walt Disney World announced a phased reopening plan on Wednesday for its parks, with July 11 as a targeted opening date for the Magic Kingdom and July 15 as the planned reopening date for Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Plans to reopen the parks also include new safety measures for guests.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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francisblack/iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The National Hockey League, on hiatus since March 12, announced on Tuesday its intention to restart team training camps by mid-July in preparation for an amended Stanley Cup playoffs to be held in two "hub" cities.

Twenty-four of the league's 31 teams will return to the ice to vie for the Stanley Cup, up from the 16 teams that usually make the playoffs.

Each of the two conferences will conduct its games in a "hub" city to be selected from among Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver, league officials said.

The top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin series to determine seeding, while the conference's remaining eight teams will play a best-of-five qualifying round, with the winners joining the top seeds for the playoffs' first round.

Game dates and series formats are yet to be announced and will depend on medical conditions and government regulations.

"We are hopeful the Return To Play Plan will allow us to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup in a manner in which the health and safety of our players, on-ice officials, team staff and associated individuals involved are paramount," Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, officials with the National Basketball Association, whose season runs roughly parallel to the NHL's, are holding exploratory talks with The Walt Disney Company, ABC News' parent company, about resuming the NBA season at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, in late July, league officials say.

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fstop123/iStockBy ELLA TORRES, ABC NEWS

(NEWARK, N.J.) -- An NFL player has sued United Airlines after he was allegedly sexually assaulted on a flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey.

The player, who was not named, was flying home to New Jersey on Feb. 10 when the alleged incident occurred, according to the lawsuit. During the trip, a woman sitting next to him "continued to sexually assault and abuse [him]," the lawsuit states, including by grabbing his penis and groping his thigh.

The woman also stroked her hand across his lap near his genitals, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Aside from the alleged sexual assault, the lawsuit states that the NFL player was wearing a face mask to protect himself from COVID-19, but the woman accused of him of being sick, told him he was "frightening" and ripped off the mask.

United Airlines issued a statement to ABC News, saying, "The safety and well-being of our customers is always our top priority. In this instance, the customer involved was moved to a different seat. Because litigation is now pending, we're unable to provide further comment."

The player, who is black, was "fearful of the perception of being a male victim and the racial stigma of being a young African American male," according to the lawsuit. At one point, he "patiently pleaded" with the woman, who is white, to stop and remove her hand, but she did not, according to the lawsuit.

Another man, who was also not named in the lawsuit and identified only as John Doe 2, was traveling with the player at the time. That man saw the woman groping the player's knees and thighs and alerted a flight attendant, however, no action was taken, according to the lawsuit.

When the woman then allegedly grabbed the player's genitals, the player stood up and said the woman was "touching" him before making his way to the rear of the plane to find a flight attendant.

During that time, the woman moved seats to be closer to John Doe 2 and grabbed his leg and groin area, according to the lawsuit. A flight attendant then came over and asked, "Is this the same lady?" before the woman was moved to another row, the lawsuit states.

The woman, whose identity remains unknown, admitted that she was drinking and had taken pills, according to the lawsuit.

Both men were presented with $150 vouchers, however, lawyers for them say they were not properly protected even after complaining.

The men were "put at unnecessary risk of harm and in many cases suffered and continue to suffer great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress including depression, anxiety, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and fear of flying and travel," according to the lawsuit.

"We bring this lawsuit with the hope that it will be one of the last of its kind," the lawyers for the men said in a statement to ABC News. "Our wish would be that in the future no passengers' multiple warnings and complaints to flight attendants, the onboard authority figures, will go unheeded until it's too late and the damage has been done."

They are seeking punitive damages for multiple claims, including sexual assault, sexual battery, battery and negligence.

The defendants in the lawsuit are United Airlines and multiple unnamed flight attendants.

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jetcityimage/iStockBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The NCAA has good news for college football and basketball players who have been sidelined like so many due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Division I student-athletes for both sports have been given the green light to participate in on-campus voluntary athletics activities starting June 1 as long as local, state and federal regulations are followed, the organization decided in a virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The Division I Council also extended its blanket waiver that allows teams to require eight hours per week of virtual nonphysical activities through the end of June for students who aren't able to return to campus just yet.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” Council chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a press release. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

Coaches are not allowed to be present unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and activity cannot be directed by a coach or reported back to a coach.

A decision for other sports and activities is expected to be made soon.

The Council also recognized that each student-athletes' circumstance varies and "remains committed to providing appropriate flexibility to support students, schools and conferences during these challenging times."

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cmannphoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- New York's Belmont Stakes is usually the third leg of horse racing's Triple Crown.  This year it will be the first. The New York Racing Association announced the 152nd Belmont Stakes will take place Saturday, June 20 as the opening leg of the Triple Crown.

Another difference horse racing fans will notice -- no spectators at the event in accordance with social distancing recommendations. Fans will be able to place bets online, however.

The race is also usually a mile and a half, but this year it will be shorter at a mile and an eighth.

The Belmont Stakes will air at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.

The Kentucky Derby was rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5. The Preakness Stakes was rescheduled from May 16 to Oct. 3.

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ABC NewsBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- NBA legend Magic Johnson has come in with a big assist to help out small businesses that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson joined ABC News' Good Morning America on Tuesday to share his latest efforts that will provide capital to minority and women-run firms to ensure their stability and growth in the wake of the pandemic.

After a call with Rev. Al Sharpton and the owner of M.B. Capital, Johnson said the collective goal was "to come together and do something fantastic for minority firms across the country and women-owned businesses."

"My company (Equitrust Life Insurance Co.) put up $100 million for these fantastic companies that were not part of the loan system (Paycheck Protection Program), the stimulus package that went out, and they couldn't get loans. So we have to make sure that they stay in business and also keep their employees," Johnson said. "M.B. is going to make sure they vet these minority firms and women-owned businesses along with the SBA (Small Business Administration) to make sure these companies get money because they've been a pillar and also been outstanding for our community."

Johnson also wanted to recognize these types of businesses because he said they recognized that black communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Health-wise it's been really affecting our community in a big way. We're dying at really record numbers from the virus, in terms of African Americans. So we want to make sure that first we get the word out to stay safe, take care of your family and then on the financial side, we've got to make sure these businesses can stay open. We don't want any minority firm in America to close because of this virus and because they couldn't get a loan," he said.

He added that "after we have come out of this situation," and business starts to get somewhat back to normal, "we want these businesses to grow too ... these firms can grow and scale at the same time."

His advice for small businesses is to "try to make sure you can keep your employees" and "stay in touch with your clients and customers" so that when people get back to work they can sit down and do more business.

Despite all the chaos that has come at the hands of the pandemic, Johnson said the highly watched ESPN docuseries, The Last Dance, that chronicled his former NBA competitor and 1992 Olympic teammate Michael Jordan, was perfectly timed "because the country needed something to look forward to."

Johnson appeared in the series when Jordan and the Bulls matched up against his Los Angeles Lakers and showed intimate, up-close moments between the two players.

"Michael made the point that he had won a lot of scoring titles, but he was never in the category of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird of winning championships," Johnson said. "Once he won the first one against my showtime Lakers -- we were both in the locker room and there's a door in between the visitors locker room and the Lakers locker room and so I told their PR person, 'grab Michael because I want to congratulate him.'"

"When he came through the door we just hugged and -- he was just crying. He was so happy to win his first championship, his father was there with him as well and we just had a special moment," Johnson recalled.

"Michael and I always have been great friends. We respect each other. I think on the court we were great rivals, but at the same time we really loved each other," the Hall of Famer said. "Especially when we had that special moment with the Dream Team and we both were able to play with each other and represent our country and win the gold medal."

The pair have had a similar past with their careers off the court as well, Johnson explained.

"We followed each other in terms of as businessmen now too. So we've got a lot in common. We're both close to our mothers and our family and I just love him. And I love the fact that we needed this Last Dance documentary," he said. "It gave us all these thrills and took us back, as well as took us forward too. And I'm glad a lot of kids got a chance to see what made Michael Jordan the G.O.A.T. and what made him special."

Johnson will be a guest on After the Dance With Stephen A. Smith: A SportsCenter Special Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC to share insights about competing against Jordan during the Bulls dynasty and more.

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ESPNBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- As fans relived Michael Jordan's show-stopping run with the Chicago Bulls to win the 1998 NBA title on The Last Dance, a docuseries that finished its 10-episode run on Sunday, the superstar's his own kids say they now have a new perspective on their father's storied career.

"At the end of the day, you know, the generation is getting younger and younger and they're going to be in the same boat where they haven't seen my father play," Jasmine Jordan told ABC News' Good Morning America on Monday. "They're going to ask those questions as to 'who is it he? Or what did he do?' And that's a responsibility that my brothers and myself take on. And it's one that we love because it essentially evolves Jordan and the brand and the legacy that my father has created."

Her older brother, Jeffrey Jordan, explained that like younger basketball fans, the series has been a way to rewatch their dad's career highlights with a fresh eye.

"It's been amazing to see him in a different light," Jeffrey Jordan said. "We got to see him when he came home and he was done with work -- but being able to see him in his element, in his atmosphere with the team and see all the ups and downs of that season has been a treat to watch."

Jasmine Jordan -- who admitted she once had to Google her own dad to grasp the concept of his fame -- said the ESPN series that chronicled the pinnacle of MJ's prime has "been eye-opening."

"I had kids and teachers and stuff at school telling me 'it's incredible your father is who he is.' And I'm thinking you all haven't met my father to my knowledge, how do you know this? So I did, I googled him. And I found a lot clearly," she said with a laugh. "I had that conversation with my father afterwards and he just laughed and was like, 'Hey, there's no way to really tell you anything like that.' But between him and my mom, they made sure that we felt like he was normal as can be and we grew up very normal and for that I'm grateful."

"I was so young at the time -- so now I'm understanding the chaos and everything that was happening," Jasmine Jordan, 27, continued. "It's been a joy, really, to watch and I think like everybody else we're sad that it's over."

Her brother also explained that the series gave them insights as to things that were happening with their dad's teammates that they didn't fully understand at the time.

"You would hear those things here and there off the court, but for the most part all those little details about the team -- his teammates stories as well -- were all eye opening and new for me. It was great to see those guys doing what they do," he said of his dad's Bulls teammates Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr.

The 10-part production that became must-watch TV on Sunday nights with six million viewers each week included never-before-seen footage throughout the Bulls' 1997-98 season. Michael Jordan's passion and tenacity were on full display and viewers got to see one of the greatest dynasties in sports history up close.

"He was tough and it was competitive," Jeffrey Jordan, 31, said about what his dad was like off the court at home. "We always felt like the competitive atmosphere shaped us in a way that was for the better and got us prepared for what we were gonna face in the real world. We embraced it, but the switch was on."

Jeffrey Jordan, who played basketball at University of Central Florida, said "it was definitely difficult" to carry the Jordan name onto the court.

"As you get older and you mature it kind of gets a little easier to deal with. But every night you knew you were getting everybody's best game and you had a target on your back," he said. "You just did your best to go out there and face it head on and enjoy it as much as possible."

Their father's name will long be hailed as the greatest of all time and his two kids said "it's very important" that they continue to protect that legacy through his brand.

"It educates the younger generation as we continue to produce products, footwear, apparel, whatever it is for the younger generation," Jasmine Jordan said. "It's definitely an exciting aspect that we get to do and carry on, but as individuals we're able to put our own spin on and keep it authentic so the next generation can ride the wave that we've been able to be a part of."

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Rutryin/iStockBy ABC News

(DARLINGTON, S.C.) -- NASCAR returned on Sunday after a 10-week pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line first, beating Alex Bowman to take the win at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

Given the ongoing pandemic, several precautions were taken during the race. Fans were not allowed in the stands and team rosters were limited to 16 people, including the driver.

The starting order for the 400-mile race, which was dedicated to health care workers fighting COVID-19, was drawn at random based on owner points.

NASCAR's next race will take place Wednesday, also at Darlington Raceway.

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Aurelien Meunier/Getty ImagesBy CANDICE WILLIAMS, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With the final two episodes of Michael Jordan's intimate sport documentary The Last Dance airing Sunday, his daughter Jasmine admits that her father is now finally breathing a sigh of relief.

The wildly popular series, which chronicles her father's final Chicago Bulls season in 1997–98, shares rare footage of Michael's tumultuous journey, which Jasmine reveals he hoped would not see the light of day.

"[It was] understanding, his fear of wanting it to even come out," Jasmine tells ABC Audio. "And why he was hesitant. Because now seeing so many episodes up to this point, I'm like that, 'Dad, why wouldn't you want this to come out? This is incredible. This is what the people want.'"

"He was concerned about the perception," she continues. "He was concerned that people weren't going to understand these were sacrifices. And he had to be that brute teammate or ask that much from everybody else to become great."

Jasmine says Michael thought viewers may not understand the tough love he gave his teammates.

"He's not just beating up Steve Kerr, beating up Ron Harper and constantly coming at Charles Oakley because it's fun," she explains. "He's doing it because he knows their potential and he's trying to pull it out."

"So, with having that conversation, I said, 'OK, I get it,'" she recalls. "'I get why you would be concerned [about the] audience or the younger generation that didn't watch you live during this time."

Watching the doc in real time, Jasmine says she has a better grasp of her father's feelings, adding that his fear was rooted in people not understanding his "mentality."

Now, thankfully, Jasmine says Michael's "fear has been pretty much been wavered."

"He allowed the documentary to come to fruition ... because I think everybody should be benefiting from it," she said.

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iStock/nycshooter(DARLINGTON, S.C.) -- BY: KELLY MCCARTHY

As NASCAR prepares to get drivers to their starting positions so it can once again wave the green flag, race car driver Kurt Busch shared the silver linings of getting back to the racetrack in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The racing season was temporarily suspended on March 13 but it will resume at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on Sunday — without fans and with a limited number of onsite personnel and media.

Busch, who drives the number 1 car for Chip Ganassi Racing, joined ABC News' "Pandemic: What You Need to Know" on Thursday, where he said that "the biggest disappointment is that our fans won’t be there with us" when they begin racing again.

"The sport is driven on fan interaction before, during, and after the race. We love our meet and greets and we love celebrating with our fans. So it’s going to be tough," he said. "But I know I feel the love of my fans in my heart when I am driving. There’s also a new element that new people will be tuning in through the live stream of the race and we have new eyeballs watching, which is always good for the sport."

NASCAR is one of the first professional sports to resume competition, along with Major League Soccer, UFC and Premiere League Lacrosse. Busch hailed the company for the steps it's taking, like requiring health questionnaires, temperature checks and social distancing.

“I’m really proud of the collaborative effort from NASCAR to make this happen — all the task forces being able to work with states and counties. This responsibility is with us to stay safe. We take it very seriously because we want to keep this going," Busch said. "It’s exciting. Everyone is up for the challenge. All the drivers, NASCAR. We want to work together. This has always been our mantra."

As if helmets, fire suits and gloves weren't enough gear, the teams will also wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and safety reasons.

Busch said there will be “PPE protocol for everyone at the track: safety crews, pit crews, everyone. All drivers will be given a fresh mask as soon as they step out of the car. Inside my car, I have a filtered air system so I feel pretty good about that.”

While NASCAR drivers were relegated to their homes due to the pandemic, many turned to iRacing, a racing simulation online video game with various tracks, weather conditions and car adjustments.

“We have a racing simulator that I have been spending hours on, working on track set ups and just staying in race shape," Busch explained. "We have been connecting with the team via Skype, FaceTime. I have been going bonkers inside as an athlete, so just trying to use technology as best I can to stay in touch with my team.”

Busch, who each year has given away 100 race tickets to veterans and active duty service members, said he'll begin including front-line workers.

“Our first step is to now help out first responders and those on the frontlines battling this virus," he said. "We also have wheels in motion to work with NASCAR as certain sections of grandstands open throughout this season. We are going to really try to get these guys in there.”

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