The NBA may be on hold and the start of the WNBA delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but basketball fans will have a new game to watch in April.

An announcement by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on Thursday confirmed a game of HORSE involving eight players and legends from the two leagues will begin on April 12 and be televised.

The challenge, which will be headlined by 10-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Tamika Catchings.

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley, Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley and NBA Finals MVPs Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce complete the line-up.

Each of the contestants will take part in isolation from their home courts.

Young and Billups will battle for the right to face the victor of a meeting between Catchings and Conley for a place in the semi-finals. LaVine must take on Pierce, with Paul up against Quigley on the other side of the draw.

The semi-finals and the championship game will take place on April 16.

State Farm is sponsoring the competition and will donate over $200,000 on behalf of the competitors.

LeBron James is optimistic the coronavirus-hit NBA season can resume, though the Los Angeles Lakers superstar would struggle to find closure if the campaign did not conclude.

The NBA has been on hiatus since March 11 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 88,500 deaths worldwide and more than 1,518,700 confirmed cases.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will not be able to make any decisions regarding the season until at least May.

Asked how he would feel if the season could not be finished, James – whose Lakers were top of the Western Conference at the time of the postponement – told reporters on Wednesday: "I don't know if I will be able to have any closure."

Initially against the idea of playing games without fans if and when the season restarts, three-time NBA champion James added: "If it comes to a point if we're playing without our fans, we still know that we have Laker faithful with us in spirit.

"We know they'll be home cheering us on, online, on their phones, on their tablets watching us playing so hopefully we can bottle that energy that we know we're getting from them.

"Bottle that loyalty that they've had for not only this year but since the Lakers have been in Los Angeles. So hopefully we're able to channel that. Channel that energy, channel that focus and bring them with us if we're either at Staples without fans or we're somewhere in an isolated location playing the game of basketball."

The NBA is reportedly exploring the possibility of holding the entire postseason in one location – Las Vegas. The Lakers had played 63 of the 82-game regular season when the campaign was halted.

"I believe once [the pandemic is] under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going," James, 35, continued. "I feel like we're in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor.

"And if it's in one single isolated destination ... if it's Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe, not only on the floor but also off the floor as well, then those conversations will be had. Just figuring out a way."

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 Western Conference-leading Lakers.

"I can have some satisfaction on what our team has been able to do this year, having a first-year coach, first-year system, a whole new coaching staff, bringing on so many new pieces to our team this year," James said.

"Doing the things that I honestly -- like I told you guys all year -- I honestly didn't think that we would be able to come together as fast as we did. I thought it would take us a lot longer than it did. But I was wrong. I was very wrong about that."

Kawhi Leonard would be in "phenomenal shape" if the NBA season resumes, according to Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

The NBA was suspended on March 11 amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed at least 88,200 lives globally.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 season will restart amid the coronavirus crisis, with commissioner Adam Silver saying the league will not be able to make any decisions regarding the campaign until at least May.

Clippers superstar Leonard – who moved to Los Angeles in the offseason after leading the Toronto Raptors to the title last season – has been the subject of load management this term to deal with a knee problem.

But Rivers told reporters on Wednesday: "I know Kawhi's overworking, I can guarantee you that. And the difference is, during the summer, Kawhi couldn't work, you know, so now he's got this break and he's able to train.

"So the Kawhi we'll see will be in phenomenal shape. PG [Paul George] is another guy that's gonna be in phenomenal shape."

"If this gets started, you can tell our players are invested in the season," Rivers said. "And they don't want this season to go away. And they're working like it is not going to go away."

The Clippers (44-20) had won seven of their last eight games to be second in the Western Conference, behind city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers (49-14), before the NBA was shut down.

Various options are being discussed, including playing behind closed doors and the season heading straight into the playoffs if the campaign resumes.

"If it means we get to play and continue our pursuit for the goal that we want, I feel like Dr. Seuss: 'I will play anywhere. I will play in a house, I will play in a mouse,'" Rivers said. "I think that's how our team feels. We don't care where, when, why, what. We just want to go after our goal. I'm speaking by myself on that."

On the Clippers' season up until the postponement, Rivers added: "We're really good. What I know for real was the last 10 games, we were turning into the Clippers. You could literally feel it... We started understanding each other... we were playing seamlessly through Kawhi and PG -- it wasn't forced anymore. Guys weren't trying to stay out of each other's way.

"You could feel the rhythm. Even the Lakers loss [on March 8] where we, in my opinion, played horrendous in that game, and that was one of our step-back games... we still had a chance and it was our D game, you know?"

"I really thought we were about to make a crazy run down the stretch. And unfortunately, bam, it stopped. ... I love where we were at. And seeing the way we play and how we were coming together, this team's good, I think we could beat anybody."

Los Angeles Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said the team are staying connected and fit via virtual workouts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA, like many sports around the world, has been postponed due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 88,200 people globally, with over 1,508,500 confirmed cases.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 NBA season – which was suspended last month – will resume amid the coronavirus crisis.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will not be able to make any decisions regarding the season until at least May.

In the meantime, LeBron James and the Lakers – who were top of the Western Conference prior to the postponement – remain close while social distancing.

"For the guys, we work hard with our strength and conditioning staff to make sure they have fitness bundles delivered to them where we can do Zoom workouts," Pelinka told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday.

"This is a team that just loved being together whether it was on the bench, on the bus, in the locker room. These guys just have a great chemistry of being together.

"So they've tried to stay as connected as possible in the ways they can, working out together virtually."

Pelinka added: "I think all of us right now have to live with hope, and we have to live with faith and trust and courage and those attributes because it's a really, really hard and dark time for the world.

"And so I'm going to choose to fix most of my thoughts on that we will have a chance to finish the season. I think that would be a great thing for us.

"But we also know that this situation is so much bigger than basketball. The reason I have that hope is not for personal accomplishment. Just, it's more that I think it could be the best thing for the world, going back to that Nelson Mandela quote: I think sports can really be powerful."

Only the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) had a better record than the Lakers (49-14) at the time of the league shutting down on March 11 and Pelinka said: "It's almost like I look at our season like a series of tests and we got a lot of As. And we got some A-pluses and some A-minuses. And I think there has been a lot of success in that.

"We haven't had the chance to take a final exam yet. But that doesn't mean we're not going to celebrate the As that we've gotten so far."

The signs that Jack Nicklaus was destined for golfing immortality came early in his decorated career.

Fifty-seven years ago on April 7, the 18-time major winner recorded one of his most incredible achievements on the verdant greens of Augusta.

Sharp shooting of a different kind was taking place in Texas on this day last year.

Here we look back at some of the major events to have happened in the world of sport on April 7.

 

1963 - Jack Nicklaus becomes youngest Masters winner

Having won his first major in a playoff with Arnold Palmer less than a year into his professional career, Jack Nicklaus made history with the first of six victories at Augusta.

A six-under second round of 66 was crucial for Nicklaus, who trailed Mike Souchak by a stroke at the 36-hole mark.

Souchak endured a third-round collapse, though, Nicklaus benefitting from the halfway leader tumbling down the board by shooting a seven-over 79.

Nicklaus subsequently held on to his one-shot lead, a three-foot putt on the last earning him a green jacket at the age of 23.

2018 - United comeback denies City title-clinching win

The prospect of clinching the Premier League title against their bitter rivals lay before Manchester City on this day two years ago.

Despite taking a 2-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium, Pep Guardiola's men missed the chance to do so as they were undone by a remarkable Manchester United comeback.

Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan had seemingly put City in command but Paul Pogba levelled matters with two goals in the space of three second-half minutes.

Chris Smalling was the unlikely hero for United, completing a stunning turnaround by volleying home Alexis Sanchez's free-kick.

City still cruised to the title, finishing the season with 100 points, with Jose Mourinho's United 19 points back.

2019 - Rockets break their own record

The Houston Rockets have long been known for their reliance on the three-pointer, and they displayed incredible accuracy from beyond the arc in a dominant win over the Phoenix Suns.

Houston already owned the record for the most three-pointers in a game, and the Rockets broke it by nailing 27 in a 149-113 victory.

James Harden scored 30 points in just three quarters, converting on five three-point attempts.

Eric Gordon drilled home eight, with Austin Rivers hitting the record-breaking effort with one minute and nine seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said he is staying mentally and physically prepared for a possible NBA return.

The NBA, like many sports around the world, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 74,600 people globally.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 NBA season – which was suspended last month – will resume amid the COVID-19 crisis.

But, three-time NBA champion and 35-year-old James is making sure he is ready to go.

"I'm still getting in my daily workouts — I never go a day without," James told PEOPLE.

"Staying in touch with my team-mates and the coaching staff, just doing everything we can to stay mentally and physically prepared for whatever may come next."

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

At the time of the NBA suspending the league on March 11, James had been averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game.

In the meantime, James has been spending precious time with his family amid strict social-distancing and travel measures in the United States, where there have been more than 367,000 confirmed cases and over 10,800 deaths.

James added: "This much family time for us is rare, so really just taking in this opportunity to be together every single day."

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar said he was deeply affected by the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in January, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

Neymar paid tribute to Bryant at the time, wearing a jersey in honour of the five-time NBA champion, while he dedicated a goal to the 2008 MVP by holding up two fingers on one hand and four on the other – referencing the famous number 24 – in a Ligue 1 victory over Lille in February.

Recalling Bryant's death, Neymar told Vogue Men Arabia: "His death affected me a lot because our lives had much in common.

"I met Kobe personally and the times he came to Paris. When you meet the person behind the athlete, it creates a different relationship and with Kobe, it was very special. Sports and society lost a great guy."

Neymar, who continues to be linked with a return to former club Barcelona, has been hampered by injuries since joining PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017.

"There is nothing worse for a professional athlete than an injury," the Brazilian forward added.

"I really suffered with injuries these last two seasons and I had many moments of questioning myself.

"Half of the success of an athlete is the mind. If the mind is good, the game flows more naturally."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will not be able to make any decisions about possibly completing the 2019-20 season until May amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA has been suspended since March 11 due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed at least 74,600 people worldwide.

Speaking on the NBA's Twitter account on Monday, Silver said there are too many different factors to consider with coronavirus to formulate a potential plan of resuming the campaign.

"Essentially, what I've told my folks over the last week is that we just should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won't be in a position to make any decisions," Silver said. "And I don't think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be."

Silver said the league is looking at many different scenarios at restarting the season amid the possibility of heading straight into the playoffs when and if the campaign resumes.

But with so many questions regarding coronavirus, it is impossible to make any plans.

"Sitting here today, I know less than I did then [when the league was postponed last month]," he said.

Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey will forego his final three years of eligibility and enter the 2020 NBA Draft.

Maxey is expected to be a lottery pick after tying for second on the Wildcats this season in scoring (14.0 points per game).

The 19-year-old also finished second in assists (3.2) and ranked third in rebounding (4.3). 

Southeastern Conference coaches selected the 6-foot-3 Maxey to the SEC All-Freshman Team and he was also named to the All-SEC Second Team.

"I know I'm a better player and man for embracing the challenge of playing for Kentucky," Maxey said in a release on Monday.

"It's time for my next challenge though. My dream has always been to play in the NBA and I know I'm prepared for this because I'm Wildcat made.”

Maxey joins sophomore guard Ashton Hagans as Kentucky players to leave early for the draft. 

Hagans is projected to be selected in the second round. 

There will be no Olympic Games in 2020, but 124 years ago saw the rebirth of the great sporting spectacle.

Arsenal were swept aside by the brilliance of Lionel Messi in a thrilling Champions League game at Camp Nou, while Bayern Munich brought an end to Borussia Dortmund's hopes of dethroning them in the Bundesliga.

Robert Parish set a record for the most NBA games appeared in, and Sri Lanka got their hands on the World Twenty20 trophy at the expense of India.

We look back at some of the standout sporting moments that have happened on this day.

 

1896 – The start of a new Olympic era

The ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Games got back under way 1,500 years after they were outlawed by Roman Emperor Theodosius I in a bid to suppress paganism.

Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin was pivotal to their revival, spearheading the formation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894 and subsequently the first Games of the modern era, which were held in Athens.

A crowd of 60,000 people turned up for the start of a spectacle that saw 280 participants from 13 nations take part in 43 events.

 

1996 – 'The Chief' makes NBA history

In a meeting between the Charlotte Hornets and the Cleveland Cavaliers, towering center Parish played his 1,561st NBA game to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and set a new record.

He had 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the 93-89 win over the Cavaliers.

Parish made his name with the Boston Celtics, with whom he won three NBA championships, and had made 1,611 appearances across 21 seasons when he called it quits after claiming his third ring with the Chicago Bulls in 1997.

 

2010 – Messi fires against Gunners

Arsenal came back from 2-0 down to draw the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona 2-2, and Nicklas Bendtner put the Gunners ahead in the return match at Camp Nou.

However, Messi flashed a stunning effort past Manuel Almunia two minutes later and, after slotting home a pass from Pedro, he had a hat-trick before the break thanks to a brilliant chip over the Arsenal goalkeeper.

An excellent solo effort sealed a 4-1 triumph in the 88th minute that sent Barca through to a semi-final with Jose Mourinho's Inter, who stunned them at Camp Nou and went on to claim the treble.

 

2014 – A T20 first for Sri Lanka

Some excellent death bowling from Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara limited India to a below-par 130-4 in a thrilling World T20 final in Dhaka.

Despite slipping to 65-3 in their chase, Sri Lanka surged to their first title by securing a resounding six-wicket victory with 13 balls remaining.

Kumar Sangakkara made an unbeaten 52 in his final T20I and Thisara Perera blasted 23 off 14 deliveries, which included three sixes.

 

2019 – Dortmund obliterated in Der Klassiker

Bayern's chances of clinching a seventh straight Bundesliga title were in danger of being blown apart when Dortmund arrived at the Allianz Arena for the 28th round of matches with a two-point lead at the top, though their advantage had stood at nine points in December.

The Bavarian giants made light work of Lucien Favre's side in a brutal display of supremacy, storming into a four-goal lead by half-time thanks to efforts from former Dortmund duo Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, as well as Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry.

Lewandowski tapped in a cross from Thomas Muller with a minute remaining to complete BVB's 5-0 humiliation, a result that ended their hopes of dethroning Bayern.

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Andrew Drummond reached the quarter-finals of the NBA 2K20 charity tournament on Sunday.

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, and Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant – the top seed – was a high-profile casualty on Friday.

Fifth seed Booker defeated Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets 85-75 in the opening round, while sixth seed Drummond crushed former Golden State Warriors center DaMarcus Cousins 101-49.

Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards topped Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell 74-71 and Los Angeles Clippers center Montrezl Harrell eased past Indiana Pacers star Domantas Sabonis 73-51.

The quarters are now set, with Harrell to meet Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr., who stunned Durant on Friday.

Booker will play Hachimura, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young takes on Suns center Deandre Ayton and Drummond goes head-to-head against Clippers guard Patrick Beverley.

The tournament – being aired on ESPN – will continue on Tuesday and conclude on Saturday.

It was April 5, 1984, and it could barely have happened in a more fitting way.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted up 7ft 4in Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton and received a pass from Magic Johnson on the right wing.

Rickey Green sped across for the double team and blocked Abdul-Jabbar's path into the lane, though he was unable to steal the ball at the same time.

The Los Angeles Lakers star then pivoted towards the baseline and sent a trademark sky hook over Eaton to send the Las Vegas crowd crazy.

With that bucket, Abdul-Jabbar surpassed the great Wilt Chamberlain's career haul of 31,419 points and became the NBA's all-time leading scorer.

Speaking on court after the game, NBA commissioner David Stern said: "Kareem, you are one of the greatest athletes ever to play our game."

A difficult relationship

When he was just 14 years old, Abdul-Jabbar was a protege of Chamberlain during the latter's time with the Philadelphia Warriors.

When Abdul-Jabbar entered the league with the Milwaukee Bucks as the first overall pick from the 1969 draft, his former mentor was in his twilight years with the Lakers.

It was an era when the league was dominated by big men, and the pair rapidly became on-court rivals. Competitiveness brought an end to their intertwined history.

Asked to explain why they were no longer close in a 1987 interview, Chamberlain said: "Well, I would say that athletes are really tough people, they have a lot of pride, they're very, very competitive and him and I are natural rivals. Even though we grew up together in one way, we still are rivals.

"I would love to be more friendly with Kareem, but maybe he's in a different world than I am right now."

Wilt at a loss

Chamberlain had hoped to be in attendance when Abdul-Jabbar surpassed his points haul against the Jazz but claimed he had been detained in Los Angeles.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times the following day, he was baffled by the furore Abdul-Jabbar's landmark moment had caused.

''It's curious. It's really quite strange. If I had received half the fanfare that Kareem's getting at this time, I wouldn't know what to do with myself," said Chamberlain.

"It doesn't make sense. And there are a few things that are bothering me about it. If this is so great, well, it's only one of about 90 [records] I held. I must be in a world by myself.''

One of the all-time greats

Those records Chamberlain spoke of? Well, to name but a few, they include:

- Averaging the most points per game in a season with 50.4 in 1961-62. He also holds the next three spots on the all-time list.

- Being the only player to score 100 points in a single game.

- Having the most career rebounds in the NBA (23,934) and the most in a single game (55).

Criticism of Kareem

It is therefore understandable that Abdul-Jabbar had his detractors when he set a new scoring record.

They pointed to it taking him 15 seasons to reach a points total that Chamberlain managed in 14.

Then there was the fact he had played 121 more games, although Chamberlain racked up over 2,000 more minutes.

Incredible longevity

However, there can be no doubting that after scoring that sky hook against the Jazz, Abdul-Jabbar cemented his place in NBA history.

He went on to play 20 seasons in the league, which at the time was a record, take MVP honours on six occasions and win as many rings before retiring at the age of 42.

By the time he called it quits, Abdul-Jabbar had scored 38,387 points in the NBA – averaging 24.6 per game across an illustrious career.

Karl Malone sits second on the list with 36,928 points, with the closest active player LeBron James sitting 4,300 away from Abdul-Jabbar's historic mark.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remains the record points scorer in the NBA, with LeBron James the man best-placed to snatch that accolade.

Abdul-Jabbar achieved his status on this day way back in 1984 and his total has proved out of reach of basketball's greatest stars since then.

Another NBA landmark moment occurred 19 years ago when China's Wang Zhizhi made his entrance into the league.

And going back over a century, rugby league saw a historic moment unfold in Wigan when the sport's first international fixture was held.

We take a look back at April 5 in sporting history.

1904 - England lose historic rugby league match

The first official international rugby league match took place on this day, featuring England playing an 'Other Nationalities' team at Wigan's Central Park.

The fixture had been due to take place in Oldham in January but was called off due to a frozen playing surface.

Historic reports point to a match in which the rugby was less noteworthy than the sense of occasion, with England beaten 9-3 by a team largely made up of Welsh players and attached to clubs from the northern England heartland of the sport.

1984 - Abdul-Jabbar makes NBA history

Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer, with a spectacular total of 38,387 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers great went to the top of the pile on this day 36 years ago.

He passed Wilt Chamberlain to reach the summit and went there in style in a match against the Utah Jazz that was played in Las Vegas, feeding off a pass from Magic Johnson and landing a sky-hook shot. It took him to 31,421 points, as he became the first of six players to date to better Chamberlain's old record.

2001 - Asian breakthrough in USA

Wang will not go down as a great, but he made history on April 5, 2001, becoming the first Asian player to appear in the NBA.

The Dallas Mavericks center made his bow off the bench in a 108-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks, scoring six points in 8:07 on court. He later turned out for the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat before returning to his native China and starring for the Bayi Rockets.

The NBA is contributing one million surgical masks to New York to help fight coronavirus, working with the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and China's consul general Huang Ping.

New York has been hit hard by coronavirus, with more than 3,500 deaths and the number of recorded cases exceeding 113,000.

In collaboration with the Knicks, Nets and Huang, the NBA is moving to help New York's workers.

"The @NBA is contributing 1 million desperately needed surgical masks for New York's essential workers in collaboration with @nyknicks, @BrooklynNets and China's Consul General Huang Ping," governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

"New York thanks you. We are beyond grateful for this gift of critically needed PPE."

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

Speaking on Saturday, United States president Donald Trump was unsure about when sport would resume in the country, but said he thinks it will be "sooner rather than later".

United States president Donald Trump is unsure when sport can resume in the country, but hopes it is "sooner rather than later".

With the coronavirus pandemic having brought sport to a standstill around the world, Trump spoke with leaders of the USA's leagues and organisations via a call on Saturday.

The NBA, NHL, MLS, PGA Tour and NASCAR seasons were among those suspended, while the start of the MLB campaign was pushed back and there are concerns over the NFL.

Trump hopes to see sport resume shortly, telling a media conference: "I want fans back in the arenas.

"Whenever we're ready, as soon as we can obviously and the fans want to be back too, they want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey, they want to see their sports.

"They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air."

Asked about a possible resumption, Trump said: "I can't tell you a date.

"But I think it's going to be sooner rather than later. We're not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet.

"We need it for this period of time, but eventually people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas next to each other, like we have for all of my life and all of your life."

More than 64,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll in the USA exceeding 8,400.

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