King Lebron Reigns Again As New ‘Space Jam’ Tops North America Box Office

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JULY 12: (L-R) Sonequa Martin-Green, Harper Leigh Alexander, Ceyair Wright, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, LeBron James, and Malcolm D. Lee attend the premiere of Warner Bros “Space Jam: A New Legacy” at Regal LA Live on July 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by KEVIN WINTER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

New Warner Bros. release “Space Jam: A New Legacy” rocketed to the top of the North American box office over the weekend, taking in $31.7 million in the best showing of a family film since Covid first hammered the industry.

The live-action/animated movie — a sequel nearly 25 years after the original “Space Jam” with Michael Jordan — has NBA superstar LeBron James teaming up with Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters in a high-stakes basketball game against a rogue artificial-intelligence entity threatening his son.

The film’s strong performance, which came despite middling-to-terrible reviews — the New York Post called it an “abomination” — propelled it past last weekend’s leader, Disney superhero film “Black Widow.”

 

 

That Marvel Studios production, starring Scarlett Johansson, took in $25.8 million in the Friday-through-Sunday period, down sharply from its $80.4 million opening, according to industry watcher Exhibitor Relations.

In third place was Sony’s psychological thriller “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions,” at $8.8 million. Taylor Russell and Logan Miller, reprising their roles in 2019’s “Escape Room,” face a series of deadly traps and puzzles set by the evil Minos.

Fourth place went to Universal’s “F9: The Fast Saga,” at $7.7 million, bringing the four-week domestic total of the Vin Diesel/John Cena action thriller to almost $155 million.

And in fifth was Universal’s animated “Boss Baby: Family Business,” at $4.7 million.

 

Film Name: SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY
Copyright: © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
Caption: (L-R Backs to Camera) SYLVESTER, DAFFY DUCK, LOLA BUNNY, (Center frame) LEBRON JAMES, and TWEETY BIRD in Warner Bros. Pictures’ animated/live-action adventure “SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

 

Further down the top 10, “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” — the Focus Features/CNN Films movie about the world-traveling chef — had the best opening of a documentary this year, at just short of $2 million.

 

 

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“The Forever Purge” ($4.1 million)

“A Quiet Place: Part II” ($2.2 million)

“Roadrunner” ($2 million)

“Cruella” ($1.2 million)

“Pig” ($970,000)

 

 

(FILES) In this file photo basketball player/actor LeBron James arrives at the Warner Bros Pictures world premiere of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” at the Regal LA Live in Los Angeles, California, July 12, 2021.  (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JULY 12: (L-R) LeBron James, Zhuri Nova James, and Savannah Brinson attend the premiere of Warner Bros “Space Jam: A New Legacy” at Regal LA Live on July 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by KEVIN WINTER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

LeBron Blasts NBA As Playoff Injuries Mount Security’

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 27: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game against the Phoenix Suns during Round 1, Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Adam Pantozzi / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James slammed the NBA on Wednesday as Clippers star Kawhi Leonard became the latest player forced out of the playoffs by injury.

James took to Twitter to offer an angry “I Told You So” to the league, blaming the increase in injuries on the shortest off-season ever, which has been followed by a compressed schedule for the 2020-21 campaign.

 

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard holds his knee after stepping awkwardly during the second half in Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Utah Jazz Monday, June 14, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ORG XMIT: LAS145

 

“They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season,” James tweeted. “I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn’t just “PART OF THE GAME”.”

Instead, James said, the injuries were due to the “lack of rest” before play restarted in December — just 72 days after the Lakers locked up the title with a victory over the Miami Heat in the quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Leonard was ruled out of Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz with a sprained right knee, suffered during the Clippers’ series-leveling win in game four on Monday.

US media reports said Leonard could miss the remainder of the series, although the Clippers said there was “no timetable” for the two-time NBA champion’s return.

Leonard joins a phalanx of players who have been affected by injury in the playoffs, including James himself and teammate Anthony Davis — who suffered a groin strain during the Lakers’ first-round series loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving is set to miss a second straight game of the Nets’ second-round series against Milwaukee after teammate James Harden missed three straight contests.

The Philadelphia 76ers have coped with injuries that sidelined Joel Embiid, while Utah has dealt with injuries to Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.

James noted that eight, possibly nine All-Star players have missed playoff games.

“This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players,” he tweeted. “It’s insane.”

LeBron Returns As Lakers Stay In Playoff Hunt

 LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket while guarded by Justin Holiday #8 of the Indiana Pacers during the fourth quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 15, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket while guarded by Justin Holiday #8 of the Indiana Pacers during the fourth quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 15, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP

 

LeBron James made a successful return from injury as the Los Angeles Lakers kept alive their hopes of an automatic NBA playoff spot with a 122-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

James finished with 24 points while Anthony Davis led the scoring with 28 as the Lakers served notice that they have no intention of surrendering their NBA crown without a fight as the postseason approaches.

Saturday’s victory means that the Lakers can still secure the sixth seed and avoid the play-in tournament if they win their final game of the regular season against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday and Portland lose to Denver in their final game.

On Saturday’s evidence, the Lakers appear to be hitting the sort of form that delivered last season’s championship at just the right time, with James linking brilliantly with Davis while other key members of the roster returned from injury.

As well as James’ return, Germany’s Dennis Schroder was back from a seven-game layoff due to Covid-19 protocols, scoring 14 points, while Lakers coach Frank Vogel confirmed Alex Caruso is now fit again despite not featuring on Saturday.

Any lingering doubts about James’ return to fitness were wiped away early on Saturday, with the Lakers star throwing down a monstrous one-handed dunk from a Schroder alley-oop as the Lakers imposed themselves early on.

Six Lakers players finished in double figures, with Schroder adding 14 points on his return.

James meanwhile was happy to see his return from injury pass off without a glitch, saying afterwards that while his ankle was sore it felt much improved.

“A lot more mobility, a lot more movement, it was warm,” James said.

“Tiny bit of soreness now that the game is over which is expected, but I didn’t have a setback today which is a damn good job for myself and the medical team.”

James added that he had been wrong-footed by the early afternoon scheduling of Saturday’s game, initially expecting a night-time fixture.

“It threw me for a loop,” James said. “I knew I had to get my engine revved up early and I wasn’t sure how my ankle was going to respond.

“But it responded very well and I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.”

Jazz kept waiting

In other early NBA games on Saturday, the Phoenix Suns delayed Utah’s coronation as top seeds from the Western Conference after demolishing the San Antonio Spurs 140-103.

A Phoenix defeat would have guaranteed top spot in the West to the Jazz, who must now wait for Sunday’s final round of regular season games to clinch the top seed.

Devin Booker led Phoenix’s blowout victory with 27 points while Mikal Bridges added 18.

Elsewhere, the Brooklyn Nets warmed up for the playoffs with 105-91 defeat of the Chicago Bulls.

The game marked the first time Brooklyn’s big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving had taken to the court together since February.

Irving led the Brooklyn scorers with 22 points while Durant finished with 12 and Harden 5.

“The fact they’re on the court together is positive,” Nets coach Steve Nash said of Durant, Harden and Irving.

“Just the chance to feel it so it’s not so brand new when we start the playoffs next weekend.”

“It wasn’t a great game, we weren’t very sharp,” Nash added. “We weren’t firing on all cylinders but we got out of it with a win.

“We got the job done and we move on tomorrow. Hopefully we can have a good game and that sets us up for a good week of practice.”

AFP

NBA Superstar James Joins Liverpool Ownership Group

 

 

NBA superstar LeBron James has increased his ownership stake in English Premiership club, Liverpool, via a deal confirmed on Wednesday that makes him a partner in Fenway Sports Group.

FSG announced that James and longtime business associates Maverick Carter and Paul Wachter had become partners in the Boston-based global sports, entertainment and real estate platform, along with RedBird Capital.

James, 36, previously held a 2% stake in Liverpool, but now will have a bigger share in the Premier League team as well as a stake in Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, a sports management firm, a regional sports cable network and Roush Fenway Racing of the popular NASCAR stock car racing series.

FSG took control of Liverpool in 2010.

The investment and accompanying transactions value the group at $7.35 billion (6.26 billion euros), and the Boston Globe reported that it is a $750 million (639 million euros)investment.

The new investment is expected to allow Liverpool to recover from the financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic and help Anfield expansion plans go ahead.

The club has proposed a new Anfield Road stand that would increase the ground’s capacity to about 61,000.

In a joint statement, FSG principal owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon said they were “pleased to welcome to our ownership group LeBron, Maverick and Paul, with whom we have enjoyed a successful collaboration for well over a decade.

“Their addition is an important milestone for FSG and expands and deepens a long-time friendship and relationship that began in 2010.

“To our fans and supporters: Winning continues to be the driving force for all of us,” Henry and his colleagues said.

“The growth of FSG as an organisation allows us to further strengthen our resources and commitment to the communities we serve, and we look forward to having these talented new partners join us in the next chapter of FSG’s evolution.”

LeBron Leads Lakers Win, Triple Trio For Giannis In Bucks Win

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MARCH 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Golden State Warriors on March 15, 2021 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Noah Graham / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

LeBron James bagged his fourth triple-double of the season as the Los Angeles Lakers thrashed the Golden State Warriors 128-97 on Monday.

James finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Lakers dominated almost from start to finish for an impressive win on the road at the Chase Center.

Stephen Curry led the Golden State scoring with 27 points but the much hoped-for duel with All-Star game team-mate James never materialised as the Dubs struggled to contain the Lakers’ offense.

Montrezl Harrell had 27 points off the bench to lead the Lakers scoring while Kyle Kuzma finished with 17 points.

The Lakers improved to 26-13 to remain in third place in the Western Conference while the Warriors fell to ninth place with 20-20.

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers gets fouled going up for a reverse layup against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Chase Center on March 15, 2021 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Elsewhere Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo reeled off his third straight triple-double as the Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to four games with a 133-122 victory over the Washington Wizards.

 

WASHINGTON, DC –  MARCH 15: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots the ball during the game against the Washington Wizards on March 15, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Ned Dishman / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 15: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket during the game against the Washington Wizards on March 15, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stephen Gosling / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in another MVP-caliber performance that came two days after his 33-point triple double against the Wizards on Saturday.

“We feel like we’ve said it a lot after games for a good stretch of time now — he’s been in a good place mentally for a while,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo’s performance at Washington’s Capital One Arena.

“The way he’s playing, creating for others, creating for himself. He’s just playing great basketball,” Budenholzer added.

Khris Middleton added 23 points for Milwaukee while center Brook Lopez finished with 22 as seven Bucks players cracked double figures.

Bradley Beal led Washington’s scoring with 37 points after going 13-of-19 from the field  with four three-pointers.

Russell Westbrook finished with 23 points and 17 assists while Japan’s Rui Hachimura added 22 points for Washington.

Milwaukee improved to 25-14 with the win and remain third in the Eastern Conference behind Brooklyn and leaders Philadelphia.

Tempers flare

In other games Monday, James Harden bagged a triple double and Kyrie Irving added 34 points as the Brooklyn Nets rolled to a fifth consecutive victory with a 117-112 win over the New York Knicks.

 

BROOKLYN, NY – MARCH 15: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the game against the New York Knicks on March 15, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Harden finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a superb individual display at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Irving’s 34-point display was backed by Jeff Green (20 points) and Joe Harris with 13 points.

 

BROOKLYN, NY – MARCH 15: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets waves after the game against the New York Knicks on March 15, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.   (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE / Getty Images via AFP)

 

The Knicks meanwhile fell just short of a fourth quarter comeback after coming within three points of Brooklyn with 10 seconds remaining having trailed by 18 points earlier in the half.

Knicks forward Julius Randle needed to be restrained by team-mates at the buzzer after a controversial travelling call effectively handed Brooklyn the win.

 

BROOKLYN, NY – MARCH 15: Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks dribbles during the game against the Brooklyn Nets on March 15, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Randle, who finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, angrily slammed over a chair as he headed to the locker room following the loss.

“I was frustrated. We fought so hard to come back and win the game. I was just frustrated,” Randle said afterwards, declining to dwell on the incident.

“It’s best I don’t comment on the situation. There was a lot of frustration behind it for both sides. I’ll let it be in the past.”

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau also played down Randle’s outburst.

“It’s an emotional game, he calmed down right away,” Thibodeau said. “Sometimes it goes your way with the whistles, sometimes it doesn’t. I thought Julius played a terrific game.”

Elsewhere Monday, the Los Angeles Clippers overpowered the Dallas Mavericks 109-99 on the road with Kawhi Leonard leading an all-round offensive effort.

 

DALLAS, TX – MARCH 15: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers looks to pass against the Dallas Mavericks on March 15, 2021 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Glenn James / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Leonard finished with 22 points on a night when no fewer than seven players reached double figures for the Clippers.

Luka Doncic led the Mavs scoring with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists while Kristaps Porzingis added 22 points.

LeBron Urged To Rethink ‘Private’ Vaccine Stance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 03: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at Staples Center on March 03, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. 
Katelyn Mulcahy / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

LeBron James has been urged to reconsider his refusal to confirm whether or not he will take the COVID-19 vaccine after comments which underscored apprehension amongst NBA players over the new coronavirus drugs.

In comments ahead of the All-Star Game last weekend, Los Angeles Lakers superstar James would not say whether he planned on getting vaccinated.

“That’s a conversation that my family and I will have. Pretty much keep that to a private thing,” James said. “Things like that, when you decide to do something, that’s a conversation between you and your family and not for everybody. I’ll keep it that way.”

James’ comments contrasted with efforts by the NBA to encourage people to get vaccinated. The league has created a number of public service advertisements attesting to the safety of the vaccine, including the likes of NBA icons such as Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“Anyone who has a following in our country can do a great job of getting people to understand that they need to be vaccinated ASAP,” Abdul-Jabbar said in an interview earlier this year. “I don’t think there is any problem with that.”

Yet while the likes of Russell, Abdul-Jabbar and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich have enthusiastically promoted the vaccination rollout, there remains enduring apprehension amongst the NBA’s playing staff.

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts told Yahoo Sports that reactions from players about whether to take the vaccine had ranged from “Hell no, I’m not taking it” to “Why can’t we take it sooner?”

James’ Lakers team-mate Jared Dudley expressed reservations about the vaccine, saying on Twitter on Sunday that healthy athletes were unlikely to rush to take the new drugs “without enough research.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell also said they were undecided about the vaccine in remarks to reporters ahead of the All-Star Game in Atlanta last weekend.

– ‘Personal decisions’ –
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver meanwhile said the league had no plans to mandate vaccination amongst players.

“I think ultimately these are personal decisions that players need to make, just like everyone in our communities need to make,” Silver told reporters in a conference call on Saturday.

“We see our role, together with the Players Association, providing them with the best possible information, and also encouraging them to seek out information on their own.”

The apprehension amongst the NBA’s players, who are 74.2% Black, reflects broader reluctance amongst the African-American community.

Although distrust of the vaccine amongst African-Americans has declined recently according to a Pew Research Center survey published last week, Blacks remain more reluctant than the general population.

Experts say the reluctance is understandable given America’s history of conducting medical experiments on Black people. Among the most notorious were in Tuskegee, Alabama, between 1932 and 1972, when Black men were unwittingly used to study the effects of syphilis.

Nevertheless, commentators and public health officials have called on James to reconsider giving public backing to the vaccine, given Covid-19’s deadly impact on minority communities.

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, said James was an “incredibly, incredibly influential figure.”

“He has taken positions on many, many, many things of incredible importance to our community,” Smith said.

“And if you could speak up about those things, you just might want to think about speaking up about this.

“Because he is who he is, and he’s acknowledged who he is, this is not the time to get private. Not on this.”

Abraar Karan, a global health physician and resident doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said athletes like James could have an “essential” role in public health.

“As a doctor I respect the privacy of what individual patients and people do, but I do think that if athletes like LeBron are going to be getting their vaccine it’s important to think about the public messaging around that,” Karan told TMZ.com in an interview.

“Athletes can take that public leadership role and help people feel safe about being vaccinated.”

Lebron James To Ibrahimovic: ‘I Am The Wrong Guy To Go At’

Four-time NBA champion LeBron James hit back at Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic on February 26, 2021, saying there is no reason why he cannot have just as big an impact off the basketball court as he does on it. Harry How / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Four-time NBA champion LeBron James hit back at Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Friday, saying there is no reason why he cannot have just as big an impact off the basketball court as he does on it.

James has been a force for social change in America, focusing much of his attention on police brutality and racial injustice against African Americans.

He was outspoken about the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last summer, against Donald Trump, and he worked with other NBA stars to try and get Black people out to vote during the recent US election that brought Joe Biden to power.

“I am kind of the wrong guy to go at because I do my homework,” said James after the Los Angeles Lakers 102-93 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

James was responding to Ibrahimovic’s comments earlier this week that athletes should “stay out” of politics, mentioning James by name and calling him out over his political activism.

“(LeBron) is phenomenal at what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time,” Ibrahimovic said.

Speaking in an interview for UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden, the outspoken striker said it is a “mistake” when athletes step out of their lane.

“I don’t do politics… That is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best because it doesn’t look good,” Ibrahimovic said.

James helped found the More Than a Vote organization which boosted voter turnout in Black areas. The group organized more than 40,000 volunteers to work at the polls during the November federal election.

James says winning championships is one thing but inspiring and empowering people and bringing Americans together is just as rewarding.

“At the end of the day I would never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, voter suppression. Things that go on in our community,” James said.

“There is no way I would ever just stick to sports. I know how powerful my voice is.”

James said he likes to think he is the start of something much bigger in sports.

“You see young guys speaking about things they feel is unjust,” he said. “For a long time we heard, ‘as athletes you should be thankful to be able to throw a ball, dribble a ball, swing a baseball bat. You shouldn’t be able to speak about anything else.’

“That is not the case anymore. It won’t be the case for a long time.”

LeBron Passes Durant For Lead In NBA All-Star Balloting

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 12: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled by Dillon Brooks #24 of the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on February 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  Meg Oliphant/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

LeBron James says playing an NBA All-Star Game this season would be a “slap in the face” for players but a lot of fans want to see him do it.

Los Angeles Lakers playmaker James overtook Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant for the overall lead in Thursday’s latest voting returns announced by the league for the NBA All-Star Game.

Despite his criticism of the idea, James surged into the lead in worldwide voting totals with 4,369,553 to 4,234,433 for Durant.

In initial voting returns announced last week, Durant set the pace with just over 2.3 million votes to 2.288 million for James.

The league has not yet confirmed there will even be an elite showdown of the Eastern and Western Conference superstars, but multiple reports say the NBA and players union agreed on staging it March 7 in Atlanta during a one-week break in the campaign.

James said last week he didn’t want to lose his mid-season break after leading the Lakers to the NBA crown on October 11 following the longest canmpaign in NBA history due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

NBA clubs then started pre-season training camps on November 10 and began the 2020-21 season December 22, a much shorter off-season than usual.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on February 12, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.  Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

 

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said last week. “I am not happy about it. If I am selected I will be there physically but not mentally.”

James, 36, noted players were told there would not be an All-Star contest when they agreed to start the season so soon after deciding the title in an Orlando Covid-19 quarantine bubble.

“It is pretty much a slap in the face,” he said.

Among other players who criticized the idea of staging an NBA All-Star Game were James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

James is averaging 25.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists a game for the Lakers while Durant is averaging 29.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists a contest.

James set the pace for Western Conference forwards followed by Denver’s Nikola Jokic, a Serbian center, with 3,006,981 votes and Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers on 2,462,621 with Anthony Davis of the Lakers a close fourth on 2,329,371.

Among Eastern Conference forwards, Durant was followed by Greek big man Antetokounmpo on 3,282,478 and Cameroon star Joel Embiid of Philadelphia on 3,022,105.

 

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on February 12, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.  Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

– Curry leads all guards –
Among guards, NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal set the pace for Eastern Conference guards on 2,528,719 with Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving second on 2,104,130 and his backcourt partner on the Nets, Harden, third on 1,829,504.

In Western Conference backcourt voting, Golden State’s Stephen Curry led with the third-most total votes on 4,033,050 with Slovenian Luka Doncic of Dallas second on 2,484,552. Portland’s Damian Lillard was third on 2,095,157.

All top-three players remained in the same order at their positions as they enjoyed last week.

Worldwide fan voting will conclude on Tuesday. Starting lineup selections will be announced next Thursday and All-Star reserves chosen by NBA coaches will be named on February 23.

Fan balloting will count for 50% of a player’s total with current player voting and a media panel each contributing 25% to decide a final ranking for each individual.

 

Lebron Passes Durant For Lead In NBA All-Star Balloting

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 10, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP Adam Pantozzi / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

 

LeBron James says playing an NBA All-Star Game this season would be a “slap in the face” for players but a lot of fans want to see him do it.

Los Angeles Lakers playmaker James overtook Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant for the overall lead in Thursday’s latest voting returns announced by the league for the NBA All-Star Game.

Despite his criticism of the idea, James surged into the lead in worldwide voting totals with 4,369,553 to 4,234,433 for Durant.

In initial voting returns announced last week, Durant set the pace with just over 2.3 million votes to 2.288 million for James.

The league has not yet confirmed there will even be an elite showdown of the Eastern and Western Conference superstars, but multiple reports say the NBA and players union agreed on staging it March 7 in Atlanta during a one-week break in the campaign.

James said last week he didn’t want to lose his mid-season break after leading the Lakers to the NBA crown on October 11 following the longest campaign in NBA history due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NBA clubs then started pre-season training camps on November 10 and began the 2020-21 season December 22, a much shorter off-season than usual.

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said last week. “I am not happy about it. If I am selected I will be there physically but not mentally.”

James, 36, noted players were told there would not be an All-Star contest when they agreed to start the season so soon after deciding the title in an Orlando Covid-19 quarantine bubble.

“It is pretty much a slap in the face,” he said.

Among other players who criticized the idea of staging an NBA All-Star Game were James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

James is averaging 25.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists a game for the Lakers while Durant is averaging 29.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists a contest.

James set the pace for Western Conference forwards followed by Denver’s Nikola Jokic, a Serbian center, with 3,006,981 votes and Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers on 2,462,621 with Anthony Davis of the Lakers a close fourth on 2,329,371.

Among Eastern Conference forwards, Durant was followed by Greek big man Antetokounmpo on 3,282,478 and Cameroon star Joel Embiid of Philadelphia on 3,022,105.

Curry Leads All Guards

Among guards, NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal set the pace for Eastern Conference guards on 2,528,719 with Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving second on 2,104,130 and his backcourt partner on the Nets, Harden, third on 1,829,504.

In Western Conference backcourt voting, Golden State’s Stephen Curry led with the third-most total votes on 4,033,050 with Slovenian Luka Doncic of Dallas second on 2,484,552. Portland’s Damian Lillard was third on 2,095,157.

All top-three players remained in the same order at their positions as they enjoyed last week.

Worldwide fan voting will conclude on Tuesday. Starting lineup selections will be announced next Thursday and All-Star reserves chosen by NBA coaches will be named on February 23.

Fan balloting will count for 50% of a player’s total with current player voting and a media panel each contributing 25% to decide a final ranking for each individual.

LeBron Shines As Injury-Hit Lakers Leave It Late

ORLANDO, FL – SEPTEMBER 12: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers brings the ball up court against the Houston Rockets during Game Five of the Western Conference SemiFinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 12, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

 

LeBron James scored a 28-point triple double as the injury-depleted Los Angeles Lakers bagged a fifth consecutive win on Monday in a 119-112 overtime defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

For a second straight game, James and the Lakers were forced to dig deep in overtime, overturning a double-digit deficit early in the fourth quarter to grind out their 19th win of the season.

With the Lakers missing Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso through injury, Oklahoma City led for long periods with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (29 points) and Darius Bazley (21) outstanding.

Oklahoma City led 90-79 with just over 10 minutes remaining but saw their lead cut in half at 107-102 with two minutes left.

An 8-0 run put the Lakers in charge with just seconds of regulation left before Gilgeous-Alexander nailed three free throws to tie the game and force overtime.

The Lakers reasserted themselves in the extra period however, with Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder and Wesley Matthews putting them 117-110 ahead.

A James slam-dunk made it 119-112 to seal the Lakers win.

James finished with 14 rebounds and 12 assists to complete his third triple double of the season.

He was backed with 19 points from Schroder and 21 from Harrell off the bench. Matthews also delivered a big contribution off the bench with 16 points.

A relieved James said the Lakers needed to improve their urgency after being forced to come from behind.

“We’ve got to be more conscientious how we start games,” James said.

“Getting down double digits is not something we want to have. Our pace was very slow at the start of the game, but we understand that and we know what we need to do to change that.”

– Bucks roll on –

In Denver, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way as the Milwaukee Bucks notched a fifth straight victory with a 125-112 defeat of the Nuggets.

Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points and nine rebounds as Middleton added 29 points with 12 assists and eight rebounds.

Bryn Forbes had 15 points while Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo added 13 points apiece.

Elsewhere in the Western Conference on Monday, Devin Booker poured in 36 points as the Phoenix Suns overpowered the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-113.

Mikal Bridges added 22 points for Phoenix with Deandre Ayton adding 15 against a Cavaliers side who slumped to a fourth straight defeat.

In San Antonio, Stephen Curry led the scoring with 32 points including six three-pointers but it was not enough to stop the Golden State Warriors falling to a 105-100 reverse against the Spurs.

San Antonio improved to 14-10 with the win and are now fifth in the Western Conference standings.

The Spurs recorded a third straight victory thanks to 27 points from Dejounte Murray while DeMar DeRozan added 21 points.

In Dallas, the Mavericks withstood a late fightback from the Minnesota Timberwolves before completing a 127-122 win.

The Timberwolves, bottom of the Western Conference with only six wins against 18 defeats, looked to be on course for a crushing defeat after trailing by 20 points early in the fourth quarter.

But Minnesota whittled the deficit to just three points at 120-123 with 27.7 seconds before the rally faltered.

Elsewhere Monday, LaMelo Ball had a hot hand with seven three-pointers in a 24-point tally as the Charlotte Hornets routed the Houston Rockets 119-94.

Six Hornets players finished in double figures as the visitors slid to defeat.

LeBron James Extends Contract With LA Lakers

 In this file photo taken on October 11, 2020, LeBron James (C) of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with teammates after winning the 2020 NBA Championship in Game Six at AdventHealth Arena in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Douglas P. DeFelice / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
In this file photo taken on October 11, 2020, LeBron James (C) of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with teammates after winning the 2020 NBA Championship in Game Six at AdventHealth Arena in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Douglas P. DeFelice / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Reigning NBA finals MVP LeBron James, who will turn 36 this month, has agreed to a two-year, $85 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent Rich Paul said on Wednesday.

The extension means James will make $39.2 million next season and will be a Laker through the 2022-23 season, American sports broadcaster ESPN reported Paul as saying.

James will also make $41.1 million in 2021-22 and $44.5 million in 2022-23. By the time his contract ends he will have played two decades in the NBA.

Last season, James averaged 25.3 points and led the NBA in assists with 10.2 per game.

READ ALSO: Van Bronckhorst Quits China After One Season

James was named playoff MVP after the Lakers beat the Miami Heat in six games for the NBA championship.

He became the first player in NBA history to win the award with three different teams. He also was finals MVP with the Heat in 2012 and 2013 and with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

James enters his 18th NBA season in 2020-21 ranked third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 34,241 points, behind only Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).

 

AFP

LA Lakers Crush Miami Heat To Capture 17th NBA Title

LeBron James
ORLANDO, FL – OCTOBER 11: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with the Bill Russell Finals MVP Trophy and the Larry O’Brien Trophy on court after winning Game Six of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on October 11, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at AdventHealth Arena. Images/AFP

 

The Los Angeles Lakers, fueled by superstar LeBron James’s triple-double, dominated the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday to win a record-equalling 17th NBA championship but their first in a decade.

James added another chapter to an epic career, delivering 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as he captured his fourth NBA title with a third team.

He earned NBA Finals Most Valuable Player honours for the fourth time, and said the accomplishment had a special flavour with the Lakers.

“This is a historic franchise and to be a part of this is something that I’ll be able to talk about and my grandkids and kids will be able to talk about — their pawpaw played for the Los Angeles Lakers,” James said.

“It’s like playing for the Yankees and winning or playing for the Cowboys and winning a Super Bowl, or the Patriots. It’s like playing for the Red Sox.”

James said the magnitude of what he was trying to accomplish with the Lakers kept his mind focused in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

“To be able to win with a historical franchise is something that, no matter if your mind wavers away, you can always remember what you’re doing it for,” said James, recalling that he told Lakers president Jeanie Buss when he arrived in Los Angeles in 2018 that he “wanted to put this franchise back where it belongs.”

Anthony Davis, playing in his first title series after years of frustration in New Orleans, added 19 points and 15 rebounds as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-two triumph more than eight months after the helicopter crash that killed team legend Kobe Bryant, who had led the Lakers to their last title in 2010.

– Emotional season –

The series in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida, capped not only an emotional season for the Lakers with the loss of talisman Bryant but a season of uncertainty and upheaval for the NBA as players grappled with the coronavirus pandemic and the demands for social and racial justice sweeping across the United States.

The Lakers out-hustled, out-muscled and out-played Miami, making sure it wouldn’t come down to any last-gasp effort as it did when Los Angeles were denied in game five on Friday.

Los Angeles had blew Game 6 open by halftime, their 36 second-quarter points equalling the Heat’s entire first half total as the Lakers took a 64-36 lead into the break with four players already scoring in double figures.

Rajon Rondo was a perfect six-for-six from the floor in the first half as the Lakers built the second-largest halftime lead in NBA Finals history.

Rondo, who won a title with the Celtics in 2008, scored 19 points off the bench. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17, Danny Green scored 11 and the Lakers pulled level with the Boston Celtics for most titles all-time.

The Heat, who had stunned the Lakers on Friday on the back of Jimmy Butler’s gritty triple-double, couldn’t produce another miracle in the face of Los Angeles’ stifling defence.

Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Butler and Jae Crowder added 12 apiece, but Miami simply had no answer for the knockout blow Los Angeles delivered in the first half.

– Davis ‘over the hump’ –

James played his 260th playoff game — surpassing Derek Fisher for the most all-time.

He had signalled the Lakers’ determination with nine first-quarter points.

The Lakers were devastating in transition, none more so than James, who went coast-to-coast for a basket at the rim with 6:21 left in the opening period that boosted the Lakers’ lead to 18-3 and brought the bench to its feet.

Miami got an emotional lift with the return of high-scoring guard Goran Dragic with 1:09 remaining in the first quarter.

Dragic had been sidelined since suffering a torn plantar fascia in his left foot in game one, but he finished the night with just five points on two-of-eight shooting.

Butler connected on just one basket in the opening quarter. “Obviously nobody likes to lose,” Butler said. “But I think we fought all year long, ups and downs, we stayed together — and I think that’s what it’s all about.”

James said one of the great satisfactions of the victory was helping Davis gain a title.

“I know what it feels like to have seven years where you feel like you can’t get over the hump,” said James, who had his arms around Davis on the sideline as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“To be able to get him and we push him and let him know how great he is …. that’s what it’s all about.”

-AFP