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Local Sports Update for May 19, 2020

The 90’s Bulls docuseries, The Last Dance, is the most-watched documentary content ever on ESPN. The ten-part series finished strong for its finale Sunday night, with episodes nine and ten averaging five-point-six million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2. The original airings of all ten episodes also averaged five-point-six million viewers, becoming the most watched documentary content on ESPN by surpassing 2012’s You Don’t Know Bo. The Last Dance started strong on April 19th, with episodes one and two averaging six-point-one million viewers, making them the two most-viewed original content broadcasts on ESPN Networks since 2004.
Governors in California, Texas and New York say pro sports will be able to return soon without fans. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says it’s in the best interest of the people and his state. California’s Gavin Newsom targeted the first week of June, while Texas’ Greg Abbott said the end of May.

NFL teams will be permitted to open facilities today. The league notified teams that they will be able to open so long as they follow guidelines within their area. Some teams are not expected to open their facilities today despite being given the go-ahead to do so.

If the NFL is able to play this fall, it could take some important steps to keeping players safe amid the coronavirus outbreak. NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer is recommending that players where modified facemasks that protect themselves. A prototype is currently being designed by Oakley that could feature surgical or N95 materials.

NBA player Tobias Harris is partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Philadelphia to help 12 families pay their mortgages amid the coronavirus pandemic. He will provide the financial assistance for three months. In addition, the 27-year-old will give lunch to 250 health care workers Tuesday and 20-thousand children’s books to home libraries in Philadelphia. He told the city’s NBC Sports affiliate the gesture of helping those in need of help is an “important responsibility” of his. Harris is in the midst of a five-year, 180-million dollar contract with the 76ers.

ESPN will be airing a new version of the Bulls title-clinching Game 6 against the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals. Game 6: The Movie will feature never-before-seen game footage captured by five different NBA Entertainment cameras. It will feature the original commentary for the live game telecast by Bob Costas, Isiah Thomas, Doug Collins, Ahmad Rashad and Jim Gray. The broadcast also marks the first time that the legendary game has been available to watch in high-definition. It airs tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on ESPN and streams on the ESPN app.

It’s not clear when the NBA Lottery is going to take place but the format is expected to be the same. Reports state that when the lottery does take place its likely to feature the same format that was implemented the season prior. The system allows the top four spots to be selected via the lottery system.

The Big 3 basketball league is canceling its 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, it said play will resume next summer due to ongoing issues surrounding the health crisis. Co-founded by entertainer Ice Cube, the three-on-three league consisting of former NBA players and international players launched in 2017. Notable participants include seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson and NBA Champion Rashard Lewis. CBS Sports will continue to broadcast the Big 3’s games for the 2021 season.

The NFL is expanding its controversial Rooney Rule, increasing the number of minority candidates that teams must interview when filling a coaching vacancy. Going forward, teams will be required to interview at least two out-of-house minority candidates for a head coaching opening and at least one for each coordinator position. Reports indicated last week that the league has considered providing a boost to the draft position of teams who hire and retain minority coaches and top personnel executives. That proposal – along with one that would allow assistants to interview at any time for coordinators’ jobs elsewhere – will be discussed in an online meeting with the 32 team owners.

This year’s U.S. Open, already moved to September because of the coronavirus outbreak, has closed its signature qualifying for the first time since 1924. The USGA said that in a typical year, half of the 156-man field consists of players who played their way in. The organization did not state how other players could become exempt.

After resuming its season on Sunday, NASCAR’s cup series will be back on the track again tomorrow night in Darlington. Kevin Harvick is coming off a win at Darlington in NASCAR’s return this past Sunday. The Coca Cola 600 takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Mike Ditka’s Restaurant in Chicago is closed for good due to the economic impact of COVID-19. The restaurant named after the legendary Bears coach made the announcement yesterday on Facebook, also citing the short term left on their lease as a reason for the closure. The location had been open since 1997. The Ditka’s locations in Oakbrook Terrace and Pittsburgh will continue to operate, as will the company’s Grill 89 in Westmont.

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