Meet climate activist and researcher, Marsella Munoz, a Florida-native who dives into the ocean to gather scientific information on how to best restore and conserve coral reefs
Meet climate activist and researcher, Marsella Munoz, a Florida-native who dives into the ocean to gather scientific information on how to best restore and conserve coral reefs
Kyle Lowry says his family will play a large part in whether he'll remain with the Toronto Raptors next season.
Will we finally learn Derek Jeter's true feelings about Alex Rodriguez?
Is Tom Brady going to be the next Guy Fieri? We can't rule it out.
Arjan Bhullar of Richmond, B.C., was declared the mixed martial arts heavyweight champion of the world, becoming the first person of South Asian descent to win the title.
Capitals winger Tom Wilson threw the hit of the playoffs so far, obliterating Bruins forward Curtis Lazar into his own bench.
Kevin Pillar walked off the field on his own after a scary moment in Atlanta on Monday night.
The Angels said that Albert Pujols didn't want to be a bench player, something he insisted Monday with the Dodgers simply wasn't true.
“If the games go ahead, then Beijing gets the international seal of approval for what they are doing."
The road to the NHL's final four starts this weekend with Washington and Boston kicking things off.
With the Premier League and Serie A winding down, four games could dictate next year's Champions League races.
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OTTAWA — Canada's deputy chief public health officer doesn't see the country joining the U.S. in allowing fans into arenas during the NHL playoffs, but he isn't ruling out cross-border travel for later in the post-season. Dr. Howard Njoo says allowing fans into games is not under "serious consideration" at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the American games so far in the playoffs have had fans, with a high of 12,000 for a Carolina Hurricanes home contest against the Nashville Predators on Monday night. "The prime minister referenced the one-dose summer and what we might be able to do when we get to hopefully 75 per cent or more in terms of the population having received full vaccination, two doses, in the fall and also what that might mean in terms of gatherings ... I would say if you look at that timing and what's the schedule for the NHL playoffs, which is taking place right now and into the summer months, it's not really something that's under serious consideration in terms of fans in the stands, just based on where we are with our vaccination campaign at this point," Njoo said. The NHL has had Canadian teams play exclusively in the country this year with no fans at any games. The Edmonton Oilers open the North Division playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday, while the Toronto Maple Leafs start their best-of-seven series against the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. The winners square off in the second round before the Canadian survivor faces one of the three remaining American teams in the third round. Njoo says discussions are ongoing to determine if there can be cross-border travel in the third round and/or the Stanley Cup final. "The live issue of course right now is what happens when we do get to the final four," Njoo said. Njoo said the federal government has had discussions with the provinces to figure out what might be possible. The issue for the NHL is the 14-day quarantine for those coming in from outside Canada, which would be impossible during a best-of-seven series when one team hosts Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and the other hosts Games 3, 4 and 6. If the league and the country can't come to an agreement on a modified quarantine, the North Division winner could relocate to the U.S. after the second round. Many Canadian professional teams in other sports with regular cross-border travel have played home games in the U.S. during the pandemic. Jets coach Paul Maurice said Monday the fans were very noticeable during the American playoff games. "I really do believe that the only possible silver lining in all of this is the people and the players have just a great appreciation for just how great fans are and the experience for the players, especially," Maurice said. “I think it makes a big, big difference." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Brooke Henderson hopes that golf courses in her home province will reopen soon. Outdoor activities like golf and tennis are currently banned under Ontario's COVID-19 recovery framework. Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., said on Tuesday she thinks golf can be played safely if social distancing is practised. "I think golf, if you do it safely and follow all the protocols around the clubhouse and with groupings and stuff, it can be done very safely," said Henderson. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott hinted on Monday that limits on outdoor recreation could be lifted before the province's stay-at-home order expires on June 2, depending on pandemic indicators. "We are anticipating that there may be other events, summer camps, golf, tennis, other things may be available as of June 2 or perhaps before, depending on the clinical evidence that we receive," she said. "It's being reviewed on a very regular basis." Elliott said COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care admissions would be factors in the decision. Ontario reported 1,616 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Tuesday and 17 more deaths linked to the virus. The Ministry of Health said 1,484 people were in hospital with the novel coronavirus – 764 in intensive care and 559 people on a ventilator. The province's ban on outdoor recreational facilities has been heavily criticized by health experts and the government's science advisers. Henderson, who is ranked No. 5 in the women's world standings, said that the LPGA is an example of how golf can be played safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. "We've been able to play pretty consistently week in and week out with low cases and low transmission," said Henderson. "I think it is a great way for people to get outdoors and still be able to socialize a little bit, so hopefully courses will open up in the near future." The 23-year-old Henderson is playing in the LPGA's Pure Silk Championship this week in Williamsburg, Va. It's her first tournament since winning the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open on April 24 for her 10th career victory. This week is also the first time an LPGA event has been open to the general public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Henderson said she's excited to have fans on the course again. "You definitely miss the energy and adrenalin that they bring and I think it is limited still but it's really nice to have that little bit extra boost when you tee it up on the first hole and have fans applaud good shots," she said. — With files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
ATLANTA (AP) — One day after celebrating his 36th birthday, Matt Ryan acknowledged his age has many wondering how long he'll continue to lead the Atlanta Falcons offense. He also knows it was an especially hot topic before the NFL draft. Many believed the Falcons should have used the No. 4 overall selection on a quarterback to be trained as Ryan's successor. Instead, the Falcons selected tight end Kyle Pitts to give Ryan another playmaker. As Ryan prepares for a new season with new coach Arthur Smith, he says he doesn't worry about fans or critics who may be eager for a change at quarterback. “I think in one respect you understand that if you play well for long enough, these are the conversations that are going to come up,” Ryan said Tuesday. “I understand I’m not going to play forever, but I also have the mindset that I can still play really well and have a lot of good football in front of me.” Thanks in part to social media, Ryan couldn't avoid the public debate before the draft about the Falcons' quarterback situation. “It’s harder than ever now to avoid the noise,” he said. If Ryan needed a vote of confidence from Smith and new general manager Terry Fontenot, it came when the team did not draft a quarterback. “From the very beginning we always had a lot of confidence in Matt Ryan,” Fontenot said. “Really going through and evaluating this entire quarterback class has nothing to do, never had anything to do with a lack of confidence in Matt Ryan.” Ryan was the only quarterback on the depth chart when the team selected Pitts, the tight end from Florida. The team then signed free agent quarterback A.J. McCarron, who was a backup in Houston the past two seasons. Clearly, Ryan is still the starter and is the most accomplished quarterback in franchise history. His production has been more consistent than the team's success. The Falcons finished 4-12 last season, Ryan's 13th as the starter. The team's third consecutive losing record fueled fans' appetite for change. Ryan knows change is inevitable. “Whether it’s year 1 or year 13, whatever it is, you’re constantly trying to prove that you’re the right person for this spot,” he said. “I was told at a young age from some veteran players that in this locker room you don’t own a locker. You rent it. So I try to pay the rent on time all the time and do the best I can do to stay in that spot.” Ryan has been durable, missing only three games in his career. He started every game last season, when his quarterback rating (93.3) was significantly below his 117.1 rating in his 2016 MVP season. It was in line with his 94.5 career average. He completed 65% of his passes, again nearly matching his career average, while passing for 4,581 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Ryan said Monday's birthday celebration was a low-key day that included an early dinner with his kids. “They got some chicken fingers and chilled out,” he said. “That was kind of it, a nice day spent with my family.” Ryan added that birthdays “were more fun when you were in your 20s.” Another change with age: Ryan says he hates losing more than ever. “You want to win but I really hated losing more than I love winning,” he said. “I think that only intensifies the older you get because you realize your opportunities are limited. I probably appreciate the opportunity more now knowing I’m not in the first quarter or first half of my career. And so it makes every chance you get all the more fun.” ___ More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL Charles Odum, The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Rennie Stennett, the sure-handed second baseman who was part of the first all-Black starting lineup in major league history and later helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win the 1979 World Series, has died. He was 72. The team, citing information provided by the Stennett family, said Stennett passed away early Tuesday morning following a bout with cancer. Stennett hit .274 with 41 home runs and 432 RBIs in 11 big league seasons, nine of them with Pittsburgh. Though he was never named to an All-Star team, he received Most Valuable Player votes in both 1974 and in 1977, when he hit a career-best .336 before missing the final six weeks of the season due to an injury. The Panamanian-born Stennett reached the majors with the Pirates in 1971. On Sept. 1, 1971, he started at second base as part of the first all-Black lineup in MLB history in a 10-7 victory over Philadelphia, a group that included Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. On Sept. 16, 1975, Stennett became the only player in the modern era to go 7 for 7 in a nine inning game when hit four singles, two doubles and a triple in a 22-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Stennett played primarily at second base but also spent time at shortstop and the outfield during his career. He had a pinch hit in his only at-bat of the 1979 World Series, winning a ring as the Pirates rallied to beat Baltimore in seven games. “Rennie symbolized what it meant to be a Pittsburgh Pirate,” Pittsburgh president Travis Williams said in a release. Stennett left the Pirates after the 1979 season, signing a five-year contract with San Francisco. The Giants, however, released him in April 1982. Stennett is survived by his daughter, Renee, sons Rennie Jr. and Roberto, and several grandchildren. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said Tuesday that he isn’t sure who will be attending the June 22 draft lottery when the team finds out where it will pick in July’s draft. But based on the luck he had in his first season as GM, he joked that he’s hoping it’s not him. “It’s definitely not me,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas chimed in. “You see our injuries this year?" After finishing at the bottom of the league’s standings at 17-55 — the third-worst record in team history and worst since the 1982-83 season — Houston has a 14% chance to secure the top pick, same as Detroit and Orlando. If Houston’s pick falls outside of the top four — about a 48% chance — Oklahoma City has the right to swap Miami’s No. 18 pick for it. Stone was noncommittal on his plans for the future, including whether or not Houston may try to package its three first-round picks for an established veteran. He was, however, adamant that the team doesn’t plan to intentionally perform poorly to accumulate top draft picks over a prolonged period. “We’re committed to building something that gives us a championship,” Stone said. “Not trying to package a bunch of picks to barely make the playoffs for a year or two. We’re trying to build something sustainable with something that can be good now and great later.” In reflecting on their first season in their new roles, Stone and Silas chalked up much of Houston’s woes to bad luck. It was a turbulent season. In December, weeks before the season started, Houston dealt Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall and a first-round pick. About six weeks later, amid mounting frustration from disgruntled superstar James Harden, who had been a franchise cornerstone in Houston for nearly a decade, the Rockets traded him to Brooklyn, eventually getting Victor Oladipo and four first-round picks. In March, Oladipo was flipped to Miami for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and a 2022 pick swap. In the immediate aftermath of the Harden trade, Houston rattled off a six-game winning streak that lifted the team’s record to 10-9 on Feb. 1. From there, however, the Rockets managed just seven wins in their last 53 games, a .132 winning percentage. Despite the struggles, Silas and Stone expressed optimism. “To have the season that we had, regardless of the wins and losses, and still be super hopeful for the future doesn’t happen very often in this league,” Silas said. “When you lose as much as we did this season and still feel very good about what we have moving forward, that’s a very good feeling. I’m excited about the group, I’m excited about the organization, and I’m excited about the future.” Silas and Stone spoke highly of Wall’s first season in Houston. When Wall made his Rockets debut, he hadn’t played in an NBA game for more than two years because of recoveries from knee and Achilles injuries. Wall, who turns 31 in September, averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists. Silas said Wall’s nagging injuries over the course of the season were the results of him wanting to play more and be as competitive and aggressive as possible. “Those are the things that make John super impactful for our team,” Silas said. “Just the amount of pride that I have for him, based on what he did, coming back from that injury, is just immeasurable.” Versatile big man Christian Wood was also a bright spot in his first season in Houston. After signing a three-year, $41 million deal in the offseason, Wood averaged 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds and shot 37.4% from 3-point range. “He plays both ends, he plays inside-out, he’s a walking bucket,” Stone said. “Christian can play. One of the really encouraging things about this year is how well Christian can play.” The injury issue also hit shooting guard Eric Gordon, who missed the last two months of the season with a groin strain. One silver lining from the injuries is that Houston saw a lot of its younger core. Kevin Porter Jr. was acquired from Cleveland for a heavily protected second-round pick in January. Porter dazzled at times, including a breakout game in April where he became the youngest in league history to post a 50-point, 10-assist game, days before his 21st birthday. Porter averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 assists in 26 games. Jae’Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr. also provided reasons for optimism about Houston’s future, Stone said. He highlighted the versatility of each Rockets player and how that flexibility gives him plenty of options heading into the offseason. “You find the best basketball players you can and make it fit,” Stone said. ___ More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — France coach Didier Deschamps recalled forward Karim Benzema after nearly six years out for his alleged part in a “sex tape" scandal, including the Real Madrid star in his squad for the European Championship. The 33-year-old Benzema played the last of his 81 games for Les Bleus in October 2015, scoring twice in a friendly against Armenia to take his international tally to 27 goals. He was then banned from the national team because of a “sex tape” scandal in which Benzema was allegedly involved in blackmailing former France teammate Matthieu Valbuena. Benzema faced a deluge of criticism, and then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the forward had no place in the national team. Benzema, who is of Algerian descent, had a good relationship with Deschamps. But in an interview, he had accused Deschamps of giving in to pressure from racists when the coach decided not to include him in the squad for Euro 2016. Deschamps said he had spoken directly with Benzema to clear the air. Benzema has been in arguably the best form of his career, scoring 29 goals in 45 games this season. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press
When asked about his highlight of a crazy NBA season, Kyle Lowry rattled off a laundry list of virtually every player on the Toronto Raptors and their high notes. From all-star Pascal Siakam to newcomer Khem Birch to youngsters Malachi Flynn, Freddie Gillespie and Jalen Harris, Lowry had kind words for them all. He didn't mention himself. If Lowry leaves the Raptors this summer, he'll go as perhaps the team's greatest leader, evolving from a disgruntled player who had zero desire to be a Raptor, into the team's heart and soul, a father of two sons, and figurative father to an entire team. "I think he’s the best leader I've ever had as a teammate," said Yuta Watanabe. "He's always teaching us, he's always talking." Birch said of Lowry's leadership: "I've never seen anything like it." Lowry, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 2, will leave a huge hole in Toronto sports should he leave. The 35-year-old gave no clues on Tuesday regarding his future, except to say he's not leaving the game any time soon. "To be honest with you, my family will be a major factor in this," said Lowry, whose two sons Karter and Kameron have grown up in Toronto. "And also money talks and years talk, let's be real . . . I still have a lot more to give. I have a ton of basketball left in me." The six-time all-star said he's eager to add more NBA championships, but he'd "love" to remain a Raptor. "We'll see what happens," he said. "Of course, Toronto is always going to be home. It's a situation I would love to be in and if it works out, it works out. If not then we make choices on what's best for myself and my family." Lowry met with the media virtually for 45 minutes on Tuesday, two days after the end of a crazy Raptors season that saw the team nosedive down the standings during a COVID-19 outbreak in March. They missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Lowry was in a jovial mood, teasing one reporter about his unkempt hair, poking fun at another about his golf game. He demanded everyone turn on their cameras. The future of team president Masai Ujiri is also a question mark — the 50-year-old has yet to sign a contract extension. Ujiri and Lowry are the two faces of the franchise; inextricably tied, it's tough to imagine one without the other. "I told (Ujiri) this: the only reason I'm still here is because of him. Part of the reason I re-signed here twice is because of him," Lowry said. "So his decision, yes, definitely will factor into (Lowry's decision). "He didn’t trade for me, but he is the one who paid me to stay twice and gave me the opportunity to continue to lead. He has helped me become a better person, a better basketball player. His decision is based on him and I want him to be happy whatever he decides." In his 15 seasons in the NBA, with stints in Memphis, Houston and Toronto, Lowry has earned a reputation as one of the game's hardest workers. He's made taking a charge into an art form, landing on his backside night in and night out. But Lowry said sports stars such as NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who's 43, and WNBA legends Sue Bird (40) and Diana Taurasi (38) are proof that athletes are aging better than ever. He points both to technology and improved diets and more care around body maintenance by athletes. "I'll be honest you guys, like I would tell you if I feel old. I feel great," he said. "I still amaze myself, like I'm still a young spring chicken. Yeah my age may not say that, but I still move and shake like a young spring chicken." Lowry averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds in his 46 games this season. His best game was a 37-point, 11-assist performance in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on May 3. It was an entertaining night that saw Lowry yapping at a mouthy Lakers fan. It also was the last game he played this season. Lowry caused great angst amid Raptors fans back at the trade deadline. Many felt he was definitely out the door. But rather than ask for a trade to a playoff contender, he said he "made a commitment" and stuck by it. "I started the season off and said I wanted to be with these guys . . . I'm a man of my word. And I trust the decision making of (general manager Bobby Webster) and Masai and they decided not to do it. There was open communication. "I'm not that guy. I said something in January and I stuck with it. Those guys had the final decision and they made the call not to (trade me). I roll with what they've done the last eight years. I mean I haven't been happy about all the things they've done but I roll with it." Lowry, who was excellent in the Raptors' historic championship run two years ago, made it clear he's keen to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy again. "I want more championships," Lowry said. "That's always been the goal. Money comes with that but championships are why I play." Free agency isn't the only significant decision he'll made in the next few weeks. The guard, who won gold with Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is in the player pool for this summer's Tokyo Games. "I want to represent my country and get another gold medal, (but) me and my internal team will talk about that and see what's the best decision," he said. "But to be able to go out there and represent the country and possibly win a gold medal is always high on the list." Tuesday's final question went to CBC Kids News contributor Arjun Ram, who asked "Mr. Lowry" what he'd say to young Raptors fans. "Thank you. Thank you," Lowry said, then launched into a long answer. "I know this year hasn't been . . . what (fans) are used to. But we played our butts off every opportunity that we could. "There's not a day that goes by that we (don’t) say, 'Man, I wish we were in Scotiabank (Arena) playing in front of our fans.' There’s not a day that went by that we didn't wish we were riding down University or coming off the DVP or the Gardiner, going into our home building. . . (or) practising at our own practice facility. There wasn’t a day where we didn't wish that we were coming out of a home tunnel, and our fans standing up there, signing autographs. There wasn't one day where we didn't think about Jurassic Park. "We thought about them every single day and thought about the fans every single day." This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 18, 2021. Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
The next big decision that Toronto guard Kyle Lowry makes won’t be the one that decides his NBA future. His Olympic future will be settled first. Lowry — who will be one of the top free agents on the market this summer — said Tuesday that he is considering playing for USA Basketball in the Tokyo Olympics. He was part of the U.S. team that won gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games five years ago. “Of course, I want to represent my country and get another gold medal,” Lowry said. “My team, my internal team, we’ll talk about that and see what’s the best decision. To be able to go out there and represent your country and possibly win a gold medal, it’s always high on the list.” The 35-year-old Lowry averaged 17.2 points in 46 games for the Raptors this past season, his ninth with the team. He officially becomes a free agent in August; the window where teams can talk to players about contracts actually begins during the Tokyo Games. Lowry averaged 5.0 points per game for the Americans in Rio. The U.S. outscored Serbia by 21 points when Lowry was on the floor during the gold-medal game, the third consecutive Olympic title for the Americans. “That was one of the greatest feelings ever,” Lowry said. “You create a bond with a group of men that are at your stature and that bond can never be broken because you win that gold medal. Team USA is one of the best things that we do. That’s one of the things that our league, we take pride in -- being able to send our players over there to try to win a gold medal and to represent our country.” The Americans — who have 57 players in their prospective pool for the Tokyo Games, Lowry among them — plan to select a team in late June, then will gather in early July to begin training camp and a series of exhibition games. The U.S. opens Olympic play against France on July 25, two days after the opening ceremony in Tokyo and three days after the last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Another reason Lowry wants to play in Tokyo: The chance to spend a few weeks with U.S. coach Gregg Popovich. Lowry was with Popovich and the U.S. team during training camp for the Basketball World Cup in 2019, not long after the Raptors won that year’s NBA title, but Lowry wasn’t able to play because of a thumb injury. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to play for one of the greatest coaches in basketball history, right?” Lowry said. “I have a little bit of a good relationship with him by being playing against him for a long time and spending a couple of weeks with those guys a couple of summers ago. He’s a great man, a great coach in general. So, to be able to have an opportunity to sit around him and learn from him and be coached by him, it would be a very good thing.” The Raptors will try to keep Lowry this summer, though it remains anyone’s guess if he will remain in Toronto. Lowry said a multitude of factors — contract length, money, his family’s happiness — will go into his decision on whether to stay in Toronto or play elsewhere. “I want more championships,” Lowry said. “That’s always been the goal. Money comes with that, but championships are a big key in why I play this game.” Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press
TORONTO — After running the table in the NBA 2K League regular season last year, the playoffs ended prematurely for Raptors Uprising GC in a semifinal loss to eventual champion Wizards District Gaming. The Raptors esports team went 16-0 during the 2020 regular season and won two tournaments. In all, it had a 28-1 record in all competitions. But that one loss was costly. The 2021 season goals are clear. "This season is definitely (about) unfinished business," said Shane Talbot, director of esports for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. "However, the game changes a lot season over season so I think one of the things that's really top of mind for us is not taking anything for granted. "We're not just picking up where we left off. It really is a whole new game to learn." Not only will teams be playing a new build of the NBA 2K game, they will doing so on the PlayStation 5 console. Previous years were played on PC. The Raptors Uprising players have been together for more than a month in their well-appointed team house in suburban Toronto. "Things are going swimmingly to be honest," said Talbot. "Chemistry is at an all-time high, I would say, among the team." One drawback was a delay in getting the new custom build of the game. The 16-week season begins Wednesday with the Tipoff tournament and runs through Sept. 4 with US$1.5 million in prize money. The 23 teams will begin the season playing remotely from its local market. The regular-season schedule calls for every team to have 14 matchups, with each featuring back-to-back games. The four-day Tipoff tournament starts with two days of group play to determine the eight teams that advance to the two-day playoffs on Friday and Saturday. Raptors Uprising, who won the event last year, opens play Thursday in a group with Hawks Talon GC and Grizz Gaming. The Tipoff has a prize pool of $160,000 with $70,000 going to the winner and $50,000 to the runner-up. Raptors Uprising retained league MVP and star point guard Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey, Defensive Player of the Year Trent (Timelycook) Donald and Maurice (Reece Mode) Flowers. Hailey was also named a first-team all-star in 2020 while Donald was voted to the second team. Hailey and Donald were also chosen for the league's all-defensive team. Centre Xavier (Type) Vescovi was obtained in a trade while former Raptors Uprising members Trevion (All Hail Trey) Hendrix and Joshua (TsJosh) McKenna were reacquired, via a trade and the draft, respectively. Vescovi was voted to the league's all defensive team in 2019. Talbot said one of the reasons the moves were made was to "get ahead of some budding chemistry issues." "Nothing significant. Obviously we played exceptionally well. But on a team of six, it's important to have a consolidated leadership. And last year we were lucky to have the mature and experienced players that we had. But when push comes to shove, I think sometimes the room was split from a leadership perspective. And so we wanted to make sure we consolidated that around Kenny and (Timely) cook and brought in a younger player (Type) who would, we think, potentially have an ever higher in-game potential but also just fit in with the team chemistry." Vescovi came over in a November deal that sent all-star centre Jerry (Sick One) Knapp to Hornets Venom GT. Later that month, the Raptors reacquired Hendrix from Cavs Legion GC in exchange for a first-round draft pick (21st overall). Toronto had chosen Hendrix in the fourth round (58th overall) of the inaugural 2018 draft. He was traded to Cleveland midway through Season 2 for Knapp. McKenna, who spent the 2018 and '19 seasons with Raptors Uprising, returned in the third round of the NBA 2K League draft in March. Raptors Uprising did not retain Jake (Legit 973) Knapp, Jerry's younger brother. Anthony (Wuan) Rivas was on Toronto's 2020 roster but was not part of the team during the season, having returned to Florida. Both found new homes. Rivas went to Heat Check Gaming while Knapp landed with Nets GC. With six players available, Talbot will have to make some lineup decisions this season unlike last year. For the first time, the league will be aligned into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Raptors Uprising lines up in the East along with 76ers GC, Celtics Crossover Gaming, Gen. G Tigers of Shanghai, Grizz Gaming, Hawks Talon GC, Heat Check Gaming, Hornets Venom GT, Knicks Gaming, Magic Gaming, Nets GC and Wizards District Gaming. Another tweak this season sees the playoffs expanded to 12 teams from eight, with the post-season opening Aug. 26. The top five teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. The 13 remaining teams will compete in The Ticket tournament with the winning teams from each conference earning the 11th and 12th playoff berths. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press