By Tim Stannard
LeBron James renews pursuit of fourth NBA Championship as Lakers v Clippers headlines NBA's new normal bubble bonanza
It is not exactly a case of life returning to normal, but sports fans will take it.
On March 11, the NBA dramatically closing down was the first indication to the country that the COVID-19 outbreak would eventually see America grind to a halt and furiously begin bickering about hygiene practices.
Just over four months later, the NBA is back in business but in a previously unimaginable environment to match the current state of affairs in the US.
Quarantines, testing, face masks, Walt Disney World, and the inability to purchase chicken wings from strip clubs without suffering severe repercussions - restrictions to the kinds of day to day activities most Americans engage in.
Thursday sees two games tipping off at the Big Bubble in Walt Disney World in the state of Florida, which is now a global hotspot for COVID-19, having previously been relatively mildly affected when plans were initially put in place for the season's restart.
The Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans get things underway followed by the main event of the LA Clippers taking on the LA Lakers, as LeBron James renews a campaign to win a fourth NBA Championship.
"I won't cheat my teammates, I won't cheat our fans and I won't cheat myself. I'll be ready to go," was the declaration from James ahead of an extraordinary tournament in extraordinary times.
World number one withdraws from US Open
While it is currently positive news for basketball on Thursday, it is not so good for tennis in the US with a major withdrawal from the US Open, scheduled in New York at the end of August.
World number one, Ashleigh Barty, has announced that she will not be playing at the tournament with the Australian declaring that "I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position."
However, Serena Williams looks likely to attend with her name being on the list for a warm-up tournament being held at Flushing Meadows, one week before the scheduled start of the US Open.
Concerns over Barcelona's ability to host Champions League clash
Unfortunately, the Sports Burst of the end of July is turning into those written back in March - reports of COVID-19's impacts on sport. Indeed, it is the same situation over in Spain with the front covers of many sports papers warning of the dangers of the coronavirus resurgence.
UEFA is reportedly seeking affirmation from local authorities in Barcelona that next week's Champions League clash with Napoli can be played safely. The Catalonia region is currently suffering a spike in cases with residents of Barcelona being urged to stay at home when possible.
Thursday sees Sevilla return to training having had one player test positive for COVID-19. That footballer was Serbian midfielder, Nemanja Gudelj, who has now been isolated but reports that he doesn't feel any symptoms. Sevilla are taking on Roma in a Europa League clash in Duisburg, Germany in a week's time.
Ferran Torres seals move to Manchester City
However, if there is one thing that is guaranteed to still take place at End of Days, it's football transfers.
Manchester City's move for Valencia midfielder, Ferran Torres, has reached a breakthrough with a $27 million fee being agreed for the 20-year-old who is being seen as a replacement for Leroy Sane at City. Torres is expected to sign up for a five-year deal under Pep Guardiola.
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