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

LeBron Powers Lakers Past Nuggets Into NBA Finals

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

 

The Los Angeles Lakers, fueled by a triple-double from superstar LeBron James, beat the Denver Nuggets 117-107 on Saturday to reach the NBA Finals.

With the win in the league’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, the Lakers completed a 4-1 victory over the Nuggets in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.

James scored 16 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers remained perfect in elimination games this post-season.

Denver, already the first team to twice come back from 1-3 series deficits in the same playoffs, couldn’t work the magic again.

James added 16 rebounds and 10 assists, and Anthony Davis scored 27 points for the Lakers, who are back in the championship series for the 32nd time — and the first time since they lifted the trophy for the 16th time in 2010.

Kobe Bryant was NBA Finals MVP that year, and it has been an emotional road to the finals this season for the Lakers after the death of Bryant in a helicopter crash in January.

“Every time you put on the purple and gold you think about his legacy, you think about him and what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years,” James said of Bryant.

The Lakers will take on the winners of the Eastern Conference final series between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The Heat lead that series 3-2 with game six coming up on Monday.

“We’re going to enjoy it tonight, but we understand we’ve got bigger fish to fry,” James said as the Western Conference title was celebrated on court. “We understand there’s a bigger goal.

Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant scored 20 points apiece for the Nuggets and Jamal Murray added 19 points with eight assists despite being slowed by injury.

A tight first quarter that featured nine lead changes ended with the Lakers up 33-30, with reserve Alex Caruso pushing the Lakers’ lead in the closing seconds with a layup off an assist by James.

With 14 points from James in the second quarter the Lakers began to separate themselves, leading by as many as 11 points and taking a 61-51 lead into halftime.

It looked like the Lakers might run away with it when they built a 16-point lead early in the third quarter.

But Denver kept chipping away. Murray drove for a basket and was fouled, converting the free throw to cut the Lakers’ lead to two points.

Murray’s two free throws with 11 seconds left in the third made it 84-84 before Davis drained a three-pointer to put the Lakers up 87-84 heading into the final period.

– ‘Amazing’ LeBron –

That’s when James took over. Fouled on back-to-back baskets he made the free-throws to stretch the Lakers lead to 95-88 with 9:33 remaining.

James scored nine straight points late in the period — a stretch capped by a three-pointer that put the Lakers up 115-103 with 1:57 left.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a guy take over a game the way he did in the fourth quarter tonight in person,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James. “It was remarkable.”

James is in the NBA Finals for the 10th time — and the first time with the Lakers.

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of this franchise getting back to where it belongs, and that’s playing for championships,” James said.

Davis is in the championship series for the first time in his first season in Los Angeles, after his move from New Orleans.

“Feels good,” Davis said. “It’s good to get something like this accomplished with this group of guys.

“We battled through a lot this year, starting with the beginning of the season. We know the job’s not done. It’s a great feeling, but we got four more to win for the ultimate goal.”

Nuggets star Jokic said he and his teammates would never forget their experience in the bubble, where the NBA resumed play in July four months after halting play in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had a really good group of guys,” Jokic said. “There was a lot of fight in us. We had six elimination games.

“Today, they were better,” he said. “They won the game. LeBron was amazing.”

AFP

LeBron Leads Lakers To NBA West Finals With Rout Of Rockets

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. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

 

LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their first NBA Western Conference final in a decade with a 119-96 blowout win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Anthony Davis tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma had 17 and Markieff Morris finished with 16 for the Lakers, who eliminated the Rockets in five games in the quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Los Angeles advanced to their first NBA final four since the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers beat Phoenix for the conference title and then defeated Boston for the 2010 NBA championship, the last time they won.

“It’s the reason I wanted to be a part of this franchise is to take them back to a place they were accustomed to being. And that’s competing for a championship,” said James.

“It’s an honour for me to wear the purple and gold and for us to just try to continue the legacy and just play great basketball for our fans.”

This will be James’s 11th career conference finals but when asked by reporters how it feels, he changed the subject to talk about the group as a whole.

“Every game is a learning experience for us. Every game is another opportunity for us to get better. We want to continue to build,” said James.

They will face either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Denver Nuggets in the next playoff round. The Clippers lead that series 3-2.

The Lakers got off to their best start of the series, dominating the opening plays to take a 35-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Their only lull of the game came in the start of the second quarter when Houston briefly woke from their slumber and cut the lead to seven, 38-31.

But the Lakers outscored the Rockets 33-18 in the third to take full command.

They drained 19 three-pointers and shot 52 percent from the floor.

With the game in hand, the Lakers sat three-time NBA champion James and Davis for much of the fourth quarter.

“Everything is falling into place. When I got here the goal was to win a championship and now we are eight wins away,” said Davis.

– ‘A piece away’ –

Once again the James Harden-led Rockets put up little resistance as Houston, after surprising the Lakers in game one of the series, lost their fourth straight and their third in a row by more than 10 points.

Harden led the Rockets with 30 points and Russell Westbrook scored just 10 in the loss.

Harden had a disappointing series, delivering another series of fourth-quarter playoff disappearing acts that have pockmarked his career.

“Tough season for us. Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. So, we just got to figure it out,” he said.

In the past five years, Harden has shot less than 25 percent from beyond the arc in post-season fourth quarters and overtime. He finished two-of-eight from three-point range on Saturday.

Harden said Saturday all they need to become great is to add one more piece to the puzzle.

“It’s very, very frustrating. Especially the amount of work individually I put in,” he said. “But I’ve got to keep chipping away. I’ve got to keep going and keep going until I can’t go anymore.

“I feel like we’re a piece away and we’ve just got keep trying to figure it out. Keep trying to put the pieces around me and Russ to get us where we want to go,” said Harden.

Tempers flared in the fourth quarter both on and off the floor. The brother of Lakers Rajon Rondo now has the dubious honour of being the first fan thrown out of a bubble game after he exchanged words with Houston’s Westbrook.

The public is not allowed in the arena because of the coronavirus pandemic but players are allowed to invite a limited number of family and friends to watch the games in person.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, whose contract expires at the end of the season, couldn’t say whether he will be back.

“We’ll see what happens. I had four years. Hopefully it keeps going, but you just never know,” he said.

AFP

LeBron James Sombre After Losing Black Panther, Black Mamba In 2020

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 29: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers crosses his arms for the Wakanda salute during a moment of silence to honor the death of actor Chadwick Boseman before the start of Game Five of the Western Conference First Round against the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 29, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

 

LeBron James described 2020 as the worst year of his life on Saturday, with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar losing two of his black heroes just seven months apart.

James honoured actor Chadwick Boseman prior to the Lakers game five first-round playoff contest against Portland by folding his arms across his chest in the Wakanda salute from the Black Panther movie.

Boseman, star of the ground-breaking superhero blockbuster, died at the age of 43 this week after a battle with cancer. His death comes seven months after former Laker icon Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.

“To lose the Black Panther and the Black Mamba in the same year, we can all agree that 2020 is the (expletive) year … in my 35 years, there is no question,” said James.

James also talked Saturday about stepping up his leadership both on and off the court in the NBA’s pandemic bubble, using his platform to ignite social justice change in communities across the United States.

“It is great to be back on the floor. But more important it is good to have a (social justice) plan and execute it and put into action right away,” said James, who scored 36 points as the Lakers reached the second round of the playoffs with a 131-122 win in over the Trail Blazers.

James this week helped negotiate the NBA’s restart after the players decided to boycott three days of playoff games following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin.

He was part of an initiative Saturday to get Staples Center and other NBA arenas designated as polling stations for the US presidential election this year.

James, who is no fan of US President Donald Trump, has spoken out numerous times since the Black Lives Matter protests started that change can happen when Americans use their right to vote.

“Having NBA arenas for polling sites is unbelievable,” James said. “November is just around the corner and we all understand how important that is.”

James said the players did consider not playing any more games this season, but added he was confident throughout the talks that they could work out a deal with the owners.

“There was some doubt,” James said. “It is great that we put together a plan. We are going to execute it. That is what we have been able to do the last few days.

“With solidarity we stood with our brothers from Milwaukee. We stood with them as a league.”

James said one of the problems with the way the NBA’s bubble was set up is that they are dealing with a busier game schedule than normal.

“We had a mission. That mission was lost in translation,” he said. “When the playoffs started. We were playing every other day.

“When we are trying to create (social justice) change we can’t lose site of what the main thing is. This was an opportunity to take a deep breath.

“It was the moment to just exhale and say what are we really doing and are we really trying to create change.”

James, who is a father, admitted he has thought about leaving the bubble environment in Orlando, Florida, but more so because of reasons other than political ones.

“I have had numerous nights and days, thinking about leaving the bubble. Everyone has. But not because of what has transpired.

“It crossed my mind for sure.”

AFP

LeBron’s Lakers Steamroll Blazers, Heat Close Out Pacers

ORLANDO, FL – AUGUST 24: Wenyen Gabriel #35 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during Round One, Game Four of the NBA Playoffs on August 22, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

 

LeBron James finished with 30 points and 10 assists to help the Los Angeles Lakers roll over the Portland Trail Blazers 135-115 in game four of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Monday. 

Anthony Davis tallied 18 points, five rebounds and five assists before leaving the contest in the third quarter with back spasms as the top-seeded Lakers seized a 3-1 lead in the series.

“I am proud of my team, the way we played tonight,” said James.

The Lakers wore special black and yellow-trimmed “Black Mamba” jerseys to remember former Laker great Kobe Bryant who died, along with his daughter and seven others, in a helicopter crash seven months ago.

Sunday would have marked Bryant’s 42nd birthday.

“I am extremely blessed and honoured … to continue to remember Kobe Bryant and Gigi Bryant and all the fallen people who were part of that tragic incident,” said James.

– ‘OK, he’s here’ –
Bryant wore No. 24 for his last 10 seasons and No. 8 before that with the Lakers.

James said at one point in the first half he glanced up at the scoreboard and noticed they were ahead 24-8.

“When I looked and saw 24-8, I was like OK, he’s here in the building,” James said of Bryant.

Portland star Damian Lillard also exited in the third quarter with a right knee injury. He was already nursing a dislocated finger and finished with just 11 points in 27 minutes.

Kyle Kuzma scored 18 points and Danny Green added 14 as the Lakers breezed to the dominating wire-to-wire win.

Jusuf Nurkic delivered 20 points and 13 rebounds and CJ McCollum scored 18 for the Trail Blazers.

The Lakers can clinch the best-of-seven series with a win in game five on Wednesday.

In the Eastern Conference first round, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points and Khris Middleton added 18 of his 21 in the fourth quarter as the Milwaukee Bucks dominated late to down the Orlando Magic 121-106.

The Bucks, owners of the best record in the regular season, took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series, with game five on Wednesday in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

The underdog Magic, who stunned the Bucks in game one, kept it close through three quarters.

But Milwaukee, up 84-81 heading into the final frame, erupted for an 18-3 scoring run to seize control.

– ‘Shoot until your arms fall off’ –
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo added 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who are trying to win their first NBA title since 1971.

Wesley Matthews scored 12 points and Brook Lopez 10 for Milwaukee.

Middleton, who averaged just 11 points per game in the first three playoff games on 12-of-37 shooting, said Antetokounmpo told him to “shoot until your arms fall off”.

“At times I am too unselfish, so I have to force the issue,” Middleton said. “Giannis told just to be aggressive and that is what I tried to do.”

The Magic, still without key contributors Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba, were led by 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists from Nikola Vucevic.

Markelle Fultz added 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Magic who made 18 three-pointers.

“To start the fourth we went through a dry spell offensively and we didn’t execute well,” Vucevic said.

“It’s tough when you play well for three quarters. You have to be able to execute and make shots and we didn’t.”

In another East contest, Goran Dragic scored 23 points and the fifth-seeded Miami Heat completed a first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers with a 99-87 win.

Tyler Herro tallied 16 points and Bam Adebayo had 14 points and 19 rebounds for the Heat, who reached the second round for the first time in four years.

Victor Oladipo had 25 points and Myles Turner finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Pacers, who have dropped four consecutive playoff series to Miami since 2012.

Miami’s reserves outscored Indiana’s depleted bench 38-3.

In the West, Oklahoma City erased a 15-point deficit to record their second straight win with a 117-114 victory over the Houston Rockets. The series is tied 2-2.

 

-AFP

Basketball Star LeBron James Seeks To Promote African-American Voting Rights

(FILES) In this file photo LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court injured during a time out in their game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. EZRA SHAW / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Basketball star LeBron James announced Wednesday that he and several other professional athletes plan to found a charitable organization to protect black Americans’ voting rights, five months ahead of the country’s presidential election, The New York Times reported.

The move also comes as mammoth protests have swept the United States and the world calling for an end to hundreds of years of racial discrimination against black people.

“We feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference,” James told The New York Times.

The organization, called More Than A Vote, aims to encourage African Americans to register to vote and to show up to the polls for the November 3 elections.

The group will also fight against any factors that could contribute to African Americans’ disenfranchisement.

“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James told the Times. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”

James, who has more than 135 million follows across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook said he plans to use social media to denounce attempts to limit voting from racial minorities.

“King James” himself will finance the project, joined by basketball players Trae Young and Jalen Rose, football player Alvin Kamara, and comedian Kevin Hart.

The group plans to collaborate with other get-out-the-vote organizations, the newspaper reported, including When We All Vote and Fair Fight.

The initiative comes as the US grapples with renewed anger over racism and police violence after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who was killed last month when a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

James had expressed his own anger on Instagram, posting Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe.”

The voting movement is not the Los Angeles Laker’s first foray into politics. He appeared at a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Nor is it his first charitable endeavor: He has offered university scholarships through the LeBron James Family Foundation and even set up a school for third through eighth-graders in his home state of Ohio.

James also heads a production studio producing a documentary about the massacre of approximately 300 African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.

AFP

Coronavirus: LeBron James Says He Won’t Play Without Fans

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/AFP
Katelyn Mulcahy / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Basketball superstar LeBron James said Friday he won’t play if his Los Angeles Lakers have to hold games behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The NBA has reportedly told teams to look into strategies on how to play without fans in the arena amid concerns over the spreading virus.

“Nah. It’s impossible,” James said after the Lakers’ 113-102 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

“If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans in the crowd, then I ain’t playing.”

The league sent a memo to each team on Friday asking them to develop contingency plans to combat the spread of the virus. One of the alternatives is playing games behind closed doors.

“I ain’t never played the game without no fans,” James said. “Ever since I started. This ain’t Europe.

“I play for my teammates and I play for the fans. That’s what it is all about.”

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James and Anthony Davis scored all but one of the Lakers’ points in the final quarter Friday as they rallied to beat the NBA-leading Bucks and clinch their first playoff spot since 2013.

No High-Fives

As fears grow over the spread of the virus, and sports leagues formulate contingency plans, the NBA’s Friday memo told teams to start “developing” plans on how to play games with only “essential staff” in attendance, American sports broadcaster ESPN reported.

The NBA had sent out a previous memo to teams earlier this week, recommending players to use fist-bumps instead of high-fives with fans. It also said to avoid taking items such as pens, balls and jerseys from fans to sign.

“The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount,” the NBA said in a statement on Monday.

The NBA said it has been taking advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely.”

The global spread of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the international sporting calendar with Formula One motor racing, golf and athletics among the sports canceling or postponing events.

In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 148 deaths from the novel coronavirus, all major sports events, including football matches, will be played behind closed doors until April 3. Six Nations rugby games in Italy have been postponed.

Davis Cup tennis ties in Italy and Japan are being played behind closed doors this weekend.

The World Health Organization has called the spread of the virus “deeply concerning” as a wave of countries reported their first cases of the disease — which has now killed nearly 3,500 people and infected more than 100,000 across 92 nations and territories.

AFP

James Vows To Carry On Bryant’s Legacy

 

LeBron James vowed Friday that he and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates would continue the legacy of club icon Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash.

James, his voice fraught with emotion, addressed the Staples Center crowd before the Lakers returned to NBA action for the first time since Bryant’s death.

Flinging away his prepared notes, James said to cheers he would speak from the heart, calling on all present to celebrate Bryant’s life and a career that included five NBA titles in 20 years with the Lakers.

“I know at some point we will have a memorial for Kobe,” he said. “But I look at this as a celebration tonight.

“This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, sitting down to everything, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be.

“Tonight we celebrate the kid who came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years.

“The fact that I’m here now means so much to me,” James said. “I’m going to continue with my teammates to continue his legacy not only for this year but as long as we can continue to play the game of basketball that we love, because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want.”

After the game, James said he decided to deviate from his notes “pretty much when I went up there.

“I wanted to make sure I acknowledged all the lives that were lost Sunday morning and I didn’t want to mess that up so I looked at the names on a paper,” James said.

He movingly pronounced the names of all nine people who died in the crash, a somber list that included Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

“But when I kind of looked at the notecards I had or that was kind of being insisted on — and some of it was what I wanted to talk about — I decided for me personally just letting the words flow right from the heart and whatever comes out they’re pure – there’s truth to it.”

One truth he’d come to realize, James said, was that the ruthlessly competitive Bryant had blossomed since retiring in 2016 as he focused on creative pursuits and life with his wife, Vanessa, and their four daughters.

“Seeing Kobe play the game of basketball 20 years for the Lakers since he was 18 to 38, and I was like you know it’s crazy, these last three years, out of all the success he had, five rings, multiple MVPs, All-Star Game MVP, first-league everything, all-life, all-world all-basketball — it felt like these last three years was the happiest I’ve ever seen him,” James said.

LeBron James Scores 21 As Lakers Snap Losing Streak

 

LeBron James scored a team-high 21 points and equalled his season-best of 16 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 128-120 win over Portland on Saturday.

“We just wanted to play well,” Jame said. “We just try to play the right way, sharing the ball on offense. Win, lose, or draw we did that tonight.”

James was a late addition to the lineup because of a groin injury that has hampered his play of late. James said treatment for the injury includes plenty of ice packs.

READ ALSO: Martial, Rashford Score For United In Burnley Win

“I am doing all right. I am playing on it. I let the ice take care of its business,” he said.

Kyle Kuzma scored a team-high 24 points and Anthony Davis added 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the win.

Coach Frank Vogel said the Lakers needed to clean up the mistakes that caused them to suffer their longest losing streak of the season.

“We got a win and we are all happy about it,” he said. “We made some adjustments to things that were hurting us the last couple of games.”

Damian Lillard recorded 31 points and nine assists for the Trail Blazers, who lost their third straight game.

Elsewhere, Kyle Lowry scored 30 points as the Toronto Raptors avenged a Christmas Day loss to Boston with a 113-97 rematch victory over the Celtics.

Serge Ibaka finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Raptors snapped a two-game losing skid which included a 118-102 loss to Boston on Wednesday, as the two Eastern Conference contenders were playing for the second time in less than 72 hours.

Patrick McCaw had 18 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, while a resurgent Fred VanVleet also scored 18 points in the win for the defending NBA champs. Lowry also had seven assists in front of the crowd of 19,100 at the Boston Garden arena.

“It didn’t sit well with me on Christmas Day,” McCaw said. “We definitely didn’t give it our best effort and I think tonight guys took it personally. It wasn’t talked about. Guys just went out and gave it their all.”

Kemba Walker scored 30 points for the Celtics, who had their five-game winning streak halted.

“We beat those guys two times already (this season), and obviously a few days ago on Christmas,” Walker said. “They definitely remembered that, of course. But those are the defending champs. They’ve got a target on their back, you know? They’re the team to beat.”

The injury-hit Raptors managed to slow down Jaylen Brown, who finished with 17 points. Gordon Hayward (13), Jayson Tatum (12) and Enes Kanter (11) also reached double figures in scoring.

McCaw got a layup in the first quarter to give the Raptors the lead and start a quarter ending 19-8 run.

Terence Davis’ putback gave the Raptors an 89-79 lead heading into the fourth, and Ibaka’s layup with 10:11 remaining lengthened the lead to double digits for good. Toronto led by as many as 17 over the final 12 minutes.

The Raptors were playing without forwards Norman Powell (shoulder) and Pascal Siakam (groin), as well as centre Marc Gasol (hamstring).

Also, Luka Doncic tallied 31 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 141-121 victory over the hapless Golden State Warriors.

The triple-double was the ninth of the season for Doncic and ties the franchise record set by Jason Kidd in 1995-96. Doncic also made five three-pointers as Dallas set a franchise record by making 24 from behind the arc. The old mark of 22 took place three times.

Tim Hardaway made six three-pointers and scored 25 points and Kristaps Porzingis made four three-pointers while adding 18 points as the Mavericks won for the 15th time in the last 20 games.

D’Angelo Russell scored a game-high 35 points in the loss.

Family affair

In New Orleans, Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, and a half dozen teammates also scored in double figures as the New Orleans Pelicans cruised past the Indiana Pacers 120-98.

Jrue Holiday added 20 points, JJ Redick scored 15 and E’Twaun Moore and Josh Hart came off the bench to score 11 each for the Pelicans.

Jrue, Justin, and Aaron Holiday became the first trio of brothers to play in a NBA game when Justin checked in for the Pacers with 5:13 left in the first quarter. Jrue started for New Orleans and Aaron started for Indiana.

“It was cool,” Jrue said. “What happened was Justin was about to come in and (coach) was about take me out. I told him no I was staying in just because of the moment like that.”

Due to the age difference between the brothers — Justin is 30, while Aaron is 23 — the three have never played in the same game before, even as children.

 

LeBron James Injured In Lakers Rout Of Defending Champion Warriors

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers leans over in pain after he was hurt against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of their NBA Basketball game at ORACLE Arena on December 25, 2018 in Oakland, California. LeBron James left with a groin injury but the Los Angeles Lakers regrouped for a 127-101 blowout win over two-time defending champion Golden State that snapped an 11-game losing streak on the Warriors' home court. Thearon W. Henderson / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers leans over in pain after he was hurt against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of their NBA Basketball game at ORACLE Arena on December 25, 2018 in Oakland, California. PHOTO: Thearon W. Henderson / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

LeBron James left with a groin injury but the Los Angeles Lakers regrouped for a 127-101 blowout win over two-time defending champion Golden State that snapped an 11-game losing streak on the Warriors’ home court.

“That was our most complete game of the season,” said Lakers coach Luke Walton. “We knew they were going to go on a run and a lot of the time we rely on LeBron or our veteran leaders to keep us in it.”

“Without LeBron, the group as a whole did a good job of fighting back.”

James was injured halfway through the third quarter when he reached for a loose ball. He grimaced and grabbed his left groin before heading to the sidelines where he tried to stretch it out.

He was moving gingerly when he left the court for good and headed to the team’s locker room.

“Hopefully it is not a long thing I can get back on the floor as soon as possible,” said James, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Walton said team doctors would examine James on Wednesday.

“He will get an MRI tomorrow and we will have a better understanding of what he has got going on,” Walton said.

Kyle Kuzma contributed 19 points, Croatian Ivica Zubac had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Rajon Rondo 15 points and 10 assists as the Lakers won on the Warriors’ home floor for the first time in six years.

They also ended a seven-game losing streak overall in the series with their first win in the California rivalry since 2016.

“We just want to continue to get better,” James said. “It is always the next man up. You have to be able to take punches and punch back and we were able to do that.”

Kevin Durant had 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Andre Iguodala came off the bench scored a season-high 23 points in the contest — one of five NBA games on Christmas Day.

Golden State struggled mightily from three-point range, shooting just nine for 36 overall, with Stephen Curry going two of eight and Durant three for eight.

Elsewhere, James Harden scored 41 points as the Houston Rockets recorded their seventh win in their last eight games with a 113-109 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden has scored 35 points or more in his last five contests, which is the longest such streak since Carmelo Anthony did it over a six-game stretch in April 2013.

“Our record isn’t where we want it to be, but it’s getting there,” Harden said. “And we’ve got to continue to work hard every day, continue to get better and grow.”

Harden became the first player to score 40 or more points on Christmas since Durant had 44 for the Thunder eight years ago.

Russell Westbrook sank one of two free throws to cut the Rockets’ lead to just three points with 15 seconds left, but Houston’s Austin Rivers made a free throw with seven seconds left to secure the victory.

In New York, Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 30 points and 14 rebounds as the high-scoring Milwaukee Bucks took their frustrations out on the New York Knicks with a 109-95 win.

Brook Lopez scored 20 points in the Bucks’ victory.

Avenge loss

Milwaukee leads the league in scoring but they were coming off an embarrassing loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday in which they scored just 87 points.

The Bucks also wanted to avenge a 136-134 loss in overtime to the Knicks, the last time the two teams met on December 1 at Madison Square Garden.

“This is one of the highest stages,” said Antetokounmpo of the Bucks, who were playing on Christmas for the first time since 1977. “Special teams play Christmas Day, and… it’s an opportunity for us and we’re really happy.”

In Boston, Kyrie Irving made a clutch shot to force overtime then scored six points in the extra session as the Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 121-114.

Irving finished with 40 points, hitting back-to-back three-pointers in overtime while leading Boston back from a five-point deficit.

In regulation, he nailed a 13-foot jump shot to tie it 108-108 with 20 seconds to go in the fourth and force the OT.

AFP

NBA Superstar James Apologizes For Controversial ‘Jewish Money’ Post

LeBron James/ AFP

 

American basketball star LeBron James has apologized for posting controversial song lyrics with the phrase “getting that Jewish money” on Instagram, where he boasts over 45 million followers.

“We been getting that Jewish Money, Everything is kosher,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward posted in an Instagram story over the weekend, reciting lyrics from rapper 21 Savages’ song “asmr” while wearing a Lakers sweatshirt.

Darren Rovell, a sports business analyst who formerly worked for ESPN, called attention to the post’s problematic use of stereotypes painting Jewish people as wealthy and tightfisted.

“Surprised LeBron, who makes very few mistakes, put this out. Does quoting lyrics from a song absolve the person quoting from the responsibility behind the words?” Rovell tweeted. “I’d argue no, especially with a following of 45 million.”

Speaking to ESPN following the Lakers’ Sunday loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, James said “it definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”

“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” the 33-year-old basketball great said. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric,” adding that he regularly posts song lyrics.

“That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the by-product of it,” he continued. “So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies.”

The NBA does not plan to fine James over the post, ESPN said.

James — who regularly speaks out on politics and sociocultural issues — also made waves over the weekend for comparing the US professional basketball and football leagues.

“In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality,” James said during Friday’s episode of his HBO show “The Shop.”

He then lauded the NBA’s commissioner Adam Silver for letting players express themselves.

“It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we are saying, he at least wants to hear us out,” James said.

“As long as we are doing it in a very educational, nonviolent way, then he’s absolutely okay with it.”

The NFL in recent years has grappled with protests from players kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem, as part of a movement calling attention to issues of racial injustice and social inequality.

AFP