University of Virginia Basketball Team Will Not Celebrate NCAA Win at the White House

(WASHINGTON) — The Virginia Cavaliers, winners of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, won’t be going to the White House to celebrate with President Donald Trump.

Head coach Tony Bennett tweeted Friday that the team has “received inquiries about a visit to the White House” but “would have to respectfully decline an invitation.”

Bennett said, “With several players either pursuing pro opportunities or moving on from UVA, it would be difficult, if not impossible to get everyone back together.”

The Villanova Wildcats, who won the 2018 NCAA men’s tournament, didn’t visit the White House, either.

However, the Clemson Tigers, who won the college football championship in January, did go to the White House — where Trump famously served them fast food from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King.

And the Baylor Lady Bears, who won this year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament, have accepted a White House invitation. The school said Wednesday that coach Kim Mulkey and the Lady Bears expect to meet with Trump when they are in Washington on Monday.

Sports – TIME

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Virginia Basketball Was Supposed to Be Boring. Hah!

In the hours leading into tipoff, Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball national championship game, between Virginia and Texas Tech, received about as much love a blister on a big toe. Or a wart. Pundits and the general basketball populace wrote it off as an eyesore. Two of the best defensive teams in the country, sans transcendent stars, and worst off all, the game featured Virginia, the team that plays that plodding pace and grinds you into the ground. The message: you’re better off watching Mary Tyler Moore Show rerun than enduring the Cavaliers and Red Raiders.

Thankfully, Monday night’s affair, which Virginia won 85-77 in a riveting overtime victory, utterly failed to play to that type. And by the way, Virginia, which clinched its first title in school history and has now won 66 of its last 72 games over the last two seasons, can no longer be called boring, or bad for college basketball, with its deliberate style and pretty vanilla coach, Tony Bennett. Virginia—yes, Tony Bennett’s Virginia—has just delivered a historically entertaining national championship. Virginia, that Virginia, could be the most thrilling team in college basketball history.

Consider: has there ever been a team that won three straight games, in such an unlikely fashion, to close out a title run? Against Purdue in the Elite Eight, the Cavaliers were done, down two with six seconds to go, before Virginia point guard Ty Jerome missed a foul shot and freshman Kihei Clark chased down a loose ball and before throwing a 40-foot pass to Mamadi Diakite, who flicked in a short shot at buzzer to force overtime. (Virginia eventually won, 80-75). Then, on Saturday night, Virginia was done after blowing a ten-point lead late in the second half; until Kyle Guy got fouled while attempting a three-point shot in the final second: he made all three, giving Virginia a 63-62 win.

Then, on Monday night, Virginia blew another lead: the Cavaliers were up 10 points with a little over ten minutes left, and led by 8 at the 5:46 mark. No way could they pull off part III. And yet, Jerome found De’Andre Hunter, Virginia’s outstanding sophomore forward who scored a career-high 27 points against Texas Teach, alone in the corner, with the Cavaliers down three. I have to make this, Hunter said to himself. True, and he did. Virginia tied the game with 14 seconds left. Another overtime, another Virginia victory, as this time Virginia prevailed 85-77.

“They scored 85 points,” said Bobbie Paterson, grandmother of Virginia guard Kyle Guy, who finished with 24 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. “How can you say that’s boring?”

So go ahead and call Virginia—the team that couldn’t even pull off a comeback against 16th-seeded UMBC, the team that blew the Cavaliers out in the opening round in last year’s tournament—the most exciting college hoops team ever. Virginia junior Braxton Key, who played 28 minutes off the bench on Monday, is with me. “Yes, I think your thesis is very accurate,” says Key. “Those three games, back to back to back, to have crazy finishes … wow, I never thought of that.” He laughs, knowing Virginia flipped all preconceptions.

After a slow start—and lots of Twitter snark about Texas Tech’s 3-2 lead at the first media timeout—the national title game more than exceeded its minimal expectations. The second half, in particular, featured an NBA-level duel between Hunter and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver. Hunter won it handily, as Culvert struggled from the field, shooting 5-22—and 0-6 from three-point range—and finishing with 15 points. Hunter wasn’t scoring much in the first half, as he shot 1-8 from the field. But Jerome, in particular, told him to keep looking for this opportunities to score. “He told me he loves aggressive me,” Hunter says.

After the confetti fell and the team watched “One Shining Moment” on the U.S. Bank Stadium Jumbotron, Jerome buried his head on his mother’s shoulders, sobbing. After the UMBC loss last year, Jerome’s mom and dad stayed up until 2 a.m. in the team hotel in Charlotte, consoling him. “We couldn’t believe what happened,” says Jerome. “We thought we were going to win it last year. And we obviously weren’t ready for it. A lot of years. I just went back to Charlottesville, I remembered that feeling. I put a plan together for the summer. And we got better.”

As he was talking on the confetti-strewn court, Jerome cradled the championship trophy. After everyone wrote off Virginia for becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No.16, the title tastes even sweeter. “You can criticize, you can argue the system doesn’t work, you can argue we’re not talented,” says Jerome. “We’re national champions. You can’t say anything.”

So it’s probably time to zip all griping about Virginia’s style. “I think it’s entertaining,” says Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, the Virginia grad who won the NBA rookie of the year award in 2017. “I think it’s good basketball. Virginia produces pros. Coach Bennett’s the best coach in the country. That’s what he’s proven tonight. It’s a dream come true.”

“Hey, I love the way we play,” says Virginia associate head coach Jason Williford from the victorious Virginia locker room. “We’re never going to apologize for that. I’ve heard it all. You couldn’t win. You can’t recruit guys. You’re not going to go to the pros. Well, guess what? We’re the national champions.”

Sports – TIME

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This College Basketball Team Banned Smartphones. Now It’s in the Final Four

Texas Tech men’s basketball team, the parents of America salute you. Our country’s coaches also offer a hearty thanks, as does any teacher who’s had to battle an electronic device for attention. Why are millions of us so grateful to the Red Raiders? Well, because of your actions, we can now — with a straight face — tell our children, our players, our students that if they just put down their stupid phones and go to sleep already, they too can make the Final Four.

These Red Raiders aren’t just a very fine basketball team that will face Michigan State in Saturday’s second national semifinal, in Minneapolis (Virginia plays Auburn in the first game, which tips off at 6:09 eastern). They’re also borderline heroes who’ve done more to prove the power of a tech disconnect than a dozen Ted Talks combined.

Texas Tech’s glorious work all started before a Feb. 9 road game at Oklahoma. The Red Raiders had just lost three straight road games against conference opponents (Baylor, Kansas State, and Kansas). So senior captain Norense Odiase, a 6’9″ center from Fort Worth, came up with an idea: let’s bag up all our cell phones before bed. “Get locked in,” says Odiase. “No distractions.” The players complied — some with more protest than others — and Texas Tech won 66-54 the next night. A routine was born.

Texas Tech’s third-year coach, Chris Beard, already has no love for cell phones: he bans them at team meals, and at a two-day team bonding retreat at a ranch some 100 miles south of Lubbock, his players surrendered their devices. (They did karaoke instead of scrolling through Instagram). So Beard pushed Odiase’s idea even further: cell phones would be collected on all nights of a road trip, not just the night before a game. “That was never my idea,” says Odiase. “Some of the guys give me some stuff for that.”

They shouldn’t: Tech’s a cool 13-1 since the Odiase-ordered ban. Every night at a hotel, Texas Tech junior manager Cooper Anderson knocks on player doors around 11, to collect the contraband. He puts them in a red and black Texas Tech cooler bag (without the ice). He hears a smattering of groans: senior Bradone Francis, according to Anderson, gives him the most gruff. “He’s a good guy,” says Anderson. “But he likes his phone a lot.” I asked Francis about his feelings on the ban, but by the time he looked up from his phone to offer an answer, he had to leave for practice.

Indeed, the ban has required some adjusting. “At first, it was tough,” says sophomore guard Parker Hicks. “Our whole generation wants to look on our cell phones.” Hicks was used to idling away on Twitter before hitting the hay. “Actually having to lay there and actually go to sleep is kind of different,” says Hicks. “You look at the ceiling and look at random things. Count to ten or something. Count the sheep.”

The upside of unplugging, however, has become clear. Ever since Texas Tech beat top-seeded Gonzaga in the Elite Eight to clinch a spot in the Final Four, Tariq Owens’ phone has exploded. Everyone’s reaching out to him. “Just to be able to get away from it, just live in the moment, feels great,” says Owens, who before transferring to Texas Tech as a graduate student, played at Tennessee and St. John’s. “I know this for a fact, not a lot of teams would be happy about it. This is the kind of culture we have. Guys don’t care about it. We’re locked into more important things than cell phones.”

So let’s give Odiase, architect of one of the best bans ever, one more fist-bump. He has a message for the kids of America. “Your phone will always be there, your friends will always be there, notifications, all that stuff, will always be there in the morning,” he says. “Just get some rest.”

So you can cut down the nets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sports – TIME

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Ultimate Basketball Fan Barack Obama Reveals His 2019 March Madness Picks

Former president and noted basketball enthusiast Barack Obama revealed his NCAA tournament brackets just in time for March Madness 2019, continuing a tradition he began while he was in the Oval Office.

Obama, who memorably began publicly sharing his brackets during his time as the commander-in-chief, posted his picks for this year’s tourney via the Obama Foundation, as he did last year. This year, Obama has selected the Duke Blue Devils to take it all for the men’s championship, while for the women’s tourney, he selected longtime NCAA champions, the University of Connecticut.

For his men’s picks, Obama selected Michigan, Tennessee, UNC, and of course, Duke for the Final Four, predicting that Duke will beat known rival UNC. His decision to select Duke as the champion might have surprised some, as Obama has frequently favored the Tar Heels in his March Madness picks in the past.

See all the Obama bracket picks below.

Sports – TIME

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Gabrielle Union Doesn’t Want To Be Called A “Basketball Wife”

Gabrielle Union isn’t fond of the “basketball wife” title one bit and urges fans and followers to never use that term. Reportedly, Gabrielle is working hard to expose “unconscious bias” against women who have married professional athletes.

Currently, Union is married to the NBA player, Dwayne Wade, but during a new interview, the Bad Boys alum admitted she refused to be described as a “basketball wife.” She considers the term innately sexist and as a pejorative.

Gabrielle claims the truth is, Dwayne, is a “Hollywood husband” rather than she being a “basketball wife.” Speaking with InStyle Magazine, Union spoke at length about sexism and the struggles women face in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

Union asked why there are only terms to describe stereotypes against women and not men. She said, “there are no stereotypes or terms for men who are married to successful women.”

According to Union, she has been successful on multiple fronts for years, including on the big screen, with her fashion collection, as well as her own wine. Her memoir sold very well as well. Gabrielle said she was already fully secure before even starting her relationship with Dwayne.

Speaking with InStyle, Gabrielle said the idea that one person completes another is “BS.” An individual has to get their own first and then find the person who is good for them afterward.

Just last year, Gabrielle and Dwayne welcomed a baby girl in the world via a surrogate. The actress said she was so happy to finally have a child. Despite being “sleepless,” as she described it, she and her husband were thrilled to have their first baby girl.

In 2017, Gabrielle wrote a book called, We’re Going To Need More Wine, in which she revealed she had suffered more than eight miscarriages in her life. Union, 46, and Dwayne, 37, got married back in 2014. As Gabrielle’s fans have come to know, she has spoken honestly about her struggles as a woman, including when she was raped at knife-point as a young girl before achieving Hollywood fame.

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Ole Miss Basketball Players Kneel During National Anthem To Protest Local Pro-Confederate Rallies

Mississippi v Georgia

Source: Logan Riely / Getty

The Ole Miss basketball team is woke (well, some of them). Players on the squad knelt during the national anthem in protest of pro-Confederate rallies happening near their university’s campus.

Deadspin reports that K.J. Buffen, Terence Davis, Luis Rodriguez, Bruce Stevens, Devontae Shuler and Breein Tyree took a knee before the team’s home game against Georgia on Saturday (Feb. 24). A total of eight players kneeled per reports.

Reports ESPN:

Minutes before the game, both teams formed lines for the anthem. As “The Star-Spangled Banner” began, six Rebels players — who appeared to be KJ Buffen, D.C. Davis, Brian Halums, Luis Rodriguez, Devontae Shuler and Bruce Stevens — knelt one by one. Two more players — appearing to be Breein Tyree and Franco Miller Jr. — took a knee on the song’s final line.

The game was being played while two pro-Confederacy groups organized a march onto the campus in Oxford, Mississippi.

“The majority of it was we saw one of our teammates doing it and we just didn’t want him to be alone,” Ole Miss scoring leader Tyree said after his team’s 72-71 victory. “We’re just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like it’s our actual university having these hate groups in our school.”

So no, they weren’t disrespecting the flag or servicemen. Star player Tyree later tweeted: “To the people that fight for this country, my teammates and I meant no disrespect to everything that you do for us, but we had to take a stand to the negative things that went on today on our campus. #WeNeedChange”

The team’s coach, Kermit Davis, was unaware the protest was going to happen, but he supported his players, as he should.

Respect.

Photo: Getty

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Syracuse Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim Hits and Kills Pedestrian on Highway

(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) — Longtime Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed a man standing along an interstate late Wednesday night as he tried to avoid hitting the man’s disabled vehicle, police say.

Syracuse police say 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez was in a vehicle with three others before midnight Wednesday when their vehicle crashed into a guardrail and lost control on I-690 in Syracuse.

Boeheim struck Jimenez as he stood on the side of the road while trying to avoid the vehicle in the middle of the highway. Jimenez was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

“I am heartbroken that a member of our community died as the result of last night’s accident,” Boeheim said in a prepared statement. The 74-year-old Basketball Hall of Fame coach said he and his wife Juli “extend our deepest sympathies to the Jimenez family.”

He said he would not comment further “out of respect for those involved.”

Police said Boeheim is cooperating with the investigation.

“He stopped immediately and exited the vehicle,” said Syracuse Sgt. Matthew Malinowski.

Police said sobriety tests administered to Boeheim and the unidentified driver of the other vehicle were negative for any signs of impairment. No tickets have been issued to Boeheim at this time and the investigation is continuing.

Light rain and freezing rain were falling Wednesday night, though it is unclear if the weather had anything to do with the crash.

Just hours before, Boeheim’s team defeated 18th-ranked Louisville 69-49 at the Carrier Dome. The accident scene is between the dome and Boeheim’s suburban home. Police could not confirm if he was on his way home after the game.

Syracuse University director of Athletics John Wildhack said in a statement the university sent its condolences to “all impacted by this tragic accident.” Wildhack echoed police, saying Boeheim “is in contact with local authorities and cooperating fully.”

Boeheim has coached at Syracuse, his alma mater, since 1976 and is one of the most accomplished coaches in the country. He ranks second all-time in wins in Division I with 944, behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. Over his 43 years at Syracuse, Boeheim has led the team to a national title in 2003 and five Final Four appearances.

Sports – TIME

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Zion Williamson’s Exploding Shoe Is a Reminder That College Basketball Needs Serious Fixing

Zion? No!!! Please. Not Zion.

Even if you’re one of the biggest Duke basketball haters on the planet — we’re aware there are many of you — there was only one proper response to what transpired 33 seconds into Wednesday night’s clash between Duke and North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. And that’s utter sadness.

Duke freshman Zion Williamson is what I (somewhat stupidly?) call a “no sandwich” player. As in, don’t go fixing a sandwich in the kitchen while this guy’s on TV in your living room. Williamson’s an athletic freak, liable to leap over an entire zone defense for a post-ready slam. He’s supremely skilled, entering the game against UNC averaging 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, while shooting a ridiculous 68% from the field.

“No sandwich” players don’t come through college basketball that often. Kevin Durant was another one, at Texas, more than a decade ago. So when Williamson’s left foot tore through his Nike shoe early in Wednesday’s game, causing his knee to awkwardly buckle, basketball fans shuddered at the idea that an injured Williamson would have to miss this rivalry game, and maybe much more — especially as he’s considered a top prize in the upcoming NBA draft lottery.

Williamson might be fine — he walked off the court on his own accord, and early reports indicate that the shoe explosion caused just a mild knee strain. But no matter how many games Williamson does or doesn’t miss, the incident served as an all-too useful reminder that one key part of basketball’s business model needs serious fixing.

The Duke star was NBA-ready right out of high school. Williamson should have had the option to get drafted, and lock up a multi-million dollar NBA contract — not to mention lucrative shoe and other sponsorship deals — last June. But ever since the NBA instituted an age restriction in 2006, players have needed to be at least 19 (and one season removed from high school graduation) to be draft-eligible. Back then, the NBA was concerned that too many high school players unprepared for the pros were entering the league. So that means elite prospects like Williamson have essentially been funneled into college for a year, creating a class of “one-and-done” college sports stars who try to win an NCAA title before bolting school for the pros after freshman year.

To be fair, Williamson didn’t have to play for Duke. He could have just sat out his year before the draft, worked to improve his game, and minimized his injury risk. But college ball offers benefits beyond pure economics. Who wouldn’t want to star for Duke? Playing in front of the rabid Cameron Crazies, against bitter rival North Carolina, in front of a rapt national TV audience can be a unique, treasured life experience for an 18-year-old like Williamson. In fact, Williamson has said he would have played college basketball even if he could have shot straight from high school to the NBA.

“I always knew I would go to college,” Williamson recently told NCAA.com. “Even if they would’ve had the NBA rule, I still would’ve came to college. You’re never going to get this experience again. Once you go to the league, it’s grown men, kids, families. It’s not just teenagers having fun. It’s business then.”

Let’s take Williamson at his word. If he indeed would have skipped instant millions for a year of college, you have to respect that personal decision. But that doesn’t mean he, and others like him, shouldn’t have the option to do otherwise. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James didn’t play for Duke — or any other college team — and they turned out just fine heading straight from high school to the pros. And what’s worse, Williamson, and others like him, not only can’t join the NBA right away, but thanks to NCAA amateurism rules, they can’t receive compensation, either — all while fueling the mighty economic engine of college sports. Wednesday night, countless entities were making big money off the Zion Williamson spectacle: ESPN. Duke. North Carolina. Whoever drove Barack Obama to Cameron (Williamson draws both former presidents and the best players on the planet to his games.)

What did Williamson get out of it? A busted Nike shoe and potential for career jeopardy.

Indeed, the shoe incident was stunning. Nike, a company with some $ 133 billion in market cap that’s accrued millions in brand value thanks to its sponsorship of Duke basketball — but cannot compensate the generational talent creating a chunk of that value for the company — could have played a role in damaging Williamson’s career, thanks to a questionable product. Nike’s stock is down about 1% as of midday Thursday. “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” Nike said in a statement. “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

No matter the timetable of Williamson’s return, Wednesday night’s injury is the indelible image of this college basketball season. First, the exploding sneaker. Next, we might witness the exploding knee. No teenage athlete should ever forget it.

Sports – TIME

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Trevor Lawrence snaps, gets in intramural basketball fight

Making contact with Trevor Lawrence is a no-no — even on the basketball court. The national championship-winning quarterback didn’t take kindly to a screen set on him during an intramural basketball game, as seen in a video posted by Clemson’s Barstool account. After a pick, which looked legal, was set on Lawrence in the backcourt,…
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Carmelo Anthony investing in high school basketball network

High school basketball is so hot, it’s drawing star power. Carmelo Anthony and MSG Networks are announcing Thursday that they are backing Overtime, a Brooklyn-based sports network that focuses on emerging high school stars. The move pits Anthony, the former Knick forward, against the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who have invested in…
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Duke University Investigating Assault Claim Against Former Basketball Player Made by Fairfax Accuser

Duke University is investigating a sexual assault allegation made Friday against a former men’s basketball player.

The claims were made in a statement by the attorneys of Meredith Watson, who has also said Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sexually assaulted her on the university’s Durham, North Carolina, campus when they were both students there in 2000. Fairfax has refused to resign as he faces two allegations of assault.

“Ms. Watson was raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke,” the statement said. “She went to the Dean, who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further. Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax.”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told ESPN both he and the university understand the severity of the matter.

“I think there was an allegation made, right?” the coach told the network after Saturday night’s game against Virginia. “I’m not sure that’s true or not, but there’s an allegation. I didn’t find out about it until late last night, and I have no knowledge about it.”

The school released a statement on Saturday night.

“Duke first learned of the allegations involving a student-athlete last night when they were reported by the media,” the statement said. “Coach Krzyzewski confirms that he had no knowledge of the alleged conduct from 1999. The university is looking into the matter and will have no further comment at this time.”

The player’s identity hasn’t been released.

Sports – TIME

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It’s the same Virginia basketball team heading into Duke showdown — only better

The Cavaliers are surging in just about every category, not just their signature defense. Virginia Tech Coach Buzz Williams put it simply: “They’re doing more than they’ve done in the past.”
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‘This Is Much Bigger Than Basketball.’ NBA’s Enes Kanter Opens Up About Being Wanted by Turkey

New York Knicks center Enes Kanter is the only NBA player who, in the eyes of the government of his home country, is an international fugitive.

Prosecutors from Turkey have sought a warrant for Kanter’s arrest, and are seeking his extradition from the United States. Kanter’s a vocal critic of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan; he supports Fethullah Gulen, the cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania, whom the Turkish government believes was behind an attempted 2016 coup to overthrow Erdogan. Turkey has accused Kanter of being part of terrorist group, and revoked his passport in 2017.

Right before going to his suburban New York apartment to watch his teammates take on the Washington Wizards in London Thursday — Kanter skipped the game, which the Wizards won 101-100, because he feared assassination while overseas— the 26-year-old talked to TIME about fear, death threats, and messages for both his enemies and family back home.

[The conversation has been condensed and slightly edited for clarity]

Do you feel like a fugitive right now?

It’s weird. I put out on Twitter that the only thing I terrorize is the rim. People know me, my teammates know me, everybody knows me. That’s why when the government puts a statement out there and says, ‘Oh, he’s a terrorist,’ my teammates laugh actually. They literally laugh. All my friends were laughing. They’re like ‘What is this? This is ridiculous. If they call you a terrorist, they’re crazy.’

Are you scared?

They put my name on Interpol on the red notice. So if I step outside of America, my life will be in danger. But I feel safe in America.

So you can walk around freely here? You’re not in hiding?

Our team security said, even if you go to a supermarket, have someone with you. So everywhere I go — grocery shopping, practice, go to games, go to plays — I always have someone with me because you never know, a lone wolf, one of the crazy Erdogan supporters will do something. The only place I go alone is the bathroom. Just the bathroom.

If you get extradited, what do you think will happen to you?

Ooof. It will be very ugly, man. I don’t know if they can kill me, because there will be so much pressure on him. But there have been lots of reports out there that they torture people in jails. So they will definitely torture me very, very bad.

What kind of torture would you expect?

Ugh. I have no idea. But I know that after that torture, I will not be able to play basketball again.

What’s your main criticism of Erdogan?

Erdogan is an authoritarian leader who jails journalists and the opposition. He’s an anti-American leader who keeps American citizens as hostages, like Mr. Brunson, the pastor. Erdogan violates human rights. About 17,000 innocent women, and around 700 babies have been kept in jail with no due process. So he uses his power to abuse human rights. If you look at it right now, Turkey is the number one country in the world for putting the most journalists into jail, after the coup attempt. That shows there’s no freedom of speech in Turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, I love my flag, I love my people. Turkey could be the bridge between modern Islam and the West. But now that all this stuff is happening in Turkey, that’s impossible.

What’s your message to Erdogan?

I would just tell him to stop. Stop abusing innocent people. Stop abusing all journalists. Stop abusing women and babies. He’s killing the county. There is no democracy in the country right now. There is no freedom of speech. I cannot even invite my teammates to Turkey because they’re scared. Turkey was a peaceful county, Turkey was a lovely county. But because of all the things that are happening right now, I mean … look at my family. I cannot even bring my family to America, because they are not letting them leave the country.

Leave the innocent people alone. Not just my family. People know my story because I play in the NBA. There are thousands and thousands of stories out there way worse waiting to be heard. Please, please. Not just me and my family. Leave all the innocent people alone.

Another former NBA player, Hedo Turkoglu, is now a chief adviser to Erdogan. He’s criticized you on Twitter. What’s your message to him?

I called him a lapdog because he has to follow every comment that Erdogan gives him. We were really good friends back in 2011. We played on the same national team. All the stuff that’s going on right now, he cannot really talk freely because of his fear of President Erdogan. He’s losing so many fans, so many friends in America because of what he’s doing.

In an op-ed you wrote for the Washington Post, why did you cite Colin Kaepernick as an inspiration?

He basically sacrificed a lot of things to talk about issues. If you’re an athlete —not just an athlete, actors, singers — you need to talk about these kinds of issues, because you have that big platform. And millions and millions of fans are following you. So what he did was definitely amazing.

What is this costing you?

My family. [Eds note: Kanter’s father, mother, and sister remain in Turkey. His father faces criminal charges for connections to an alleged terrorist group]. That’s the most important thing. Because the last time I saw my family was 2015. Sometimes I even forget what they look like, you know? It’s so hard to communicate with them. Because Turkish police raided my house. They took electronics away, computers away. They wanted to see if I’m still in contact with my family or not. Any single text, they will all be in jail.

Does it disappoint you that Erdogan and President Trump seem to have a good relationship?

I don’t really know what’s happening behind the doors to be honest with you. They can tweet or they can say whatever they want, but I don’t really know what’s happening behind the curtains. That’s why I wish I could meet with Trump and talk about all these issues. Talk about all the abuses that Erdogan is doing to human rights.

Have you reached out to Trump?

I want to reach out to him. I don’t know how. If you put this out there, maybe he will read it and we’ll get a meeting with him.

Have you been getting more death threats in recent days?

I used to get death threats at least once or twice a week. Now, because of all this, the last three or four days, I’ve been probably getting hundreds and hundreds a day. I don’t count. Our Knicks security guy told me to take a screenshot of them, send them to us. It got to the point where there were so many of them. I’m like, ‘You know what, I’m not going to even bother doing it.’

Are you numb to them by now, or do they still cause concern?

I’m 6’11, around 245 pounds. But those are death threats man, you have to take them seriously. One of the crazy Erdogan supporters might come and do something and you cannot control it. The government cannot control a lone wolf. It’s scary.

Where are you going to watch the Knicks-Wizards game?

I’m actually going to watch it in my apartment. I’m going to put my jersey on. Because I want to feel like I’m still part of the team. I go there and look at their Instagram stories. I’m still in a group chat. When they say, ‘We’re going to the mall, we’re going to eat, who wants to go to dinner tonight,’ it’s breaking my heart..

What impact is your uncertain basketball status — your playing time is down as the Knicks try to develop younger players — having on all of this?

It is very stressful. Trade rumors, I don’t know whether or not I’m going to go, the team, the minutes, everything. But right now my first job is to take care of this. Because this is much bigger than basketball. Or my future in NBA.

Looking back on how this situation has escalated, would you have done anything differently?

I will just say this: I have a platform and I’m using this platform. And I’m trying to be the voice of all those innocent people who don’t have a voice. So don’t call me crazy. I don’t regret anything. I wish I could have done more.

Any message for your family back in Turkey?

Oh man. If I could say one thing to them, I would tell them, ‘I love you.’ And I would say ‘Mom, I miss your food.’

Sports – TIME

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NBA London games easily sell out, but basketball just isn’t Britain’s cup of tea

Though it is the second-most played sport among 11- to-15-year-olds in Britain, basketball there is suffering due to lack of structure, poor government support and funding, and little to no national media exposure.
Sports

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Pete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly Take Their Friendship to a Basketball Game

Pete DavidsonPete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly had another slam dunk of a day together.
The two friends and co-stars in the upcoming movie Big Time Adolescence sat courtside at the Denver Nuggets…

E! Online (US) – Top Stories

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Barack Obama Got an Emphatic Endorsement to Be the New UCLA Basketball Coach

President Obama’s most recent mention came from a less than likely place: ESPN.

ESPN analyst Bill Walton—who played for the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Boston Celtics throughout his career—told ESPN’s Dave Pasch that President Obama was the best option to coach the UCLA Bruins. Walton knows a little something about the Bruins’ expectations, considering the basketball legend led the team to two national championship wins in the 1970s.

“What type of characteristics should UCLA look for in the next coach?” Pasch asked the retired NBA player. “Barack Obama,” Walton replied.

Pasch seemed skeptical about the suggestion, saying, “I don’t think he’s gonna coach.” But Walton, who was inducted into the Basketball of Fame in 1993, did not back down, characterizing Pasch’s hesitation as “negative.”

“I’m sticking with Barack Obama until he says no,” Walton asserted.

President Obama has always loved the sport, and even had the White House’s tennis court converted to be used as a full basketball court, too. His brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, who is Michelle Obama‘s older brother, has coached professionally since 1999.

It’s not Walton’s first time bringing politics to the court. He made headlines in the ’70s when he played for Portland while using his celebrity for political and social advocacy, speaking out in opposition of nuclear power plants and raising money for Native Americans.

The permanent UCLA head coach position is yet to be filled.

Watch the full video of Walton’s Obama endorsement, and see some reactions, below.

 

Sports – TIME

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Basketball Dad Gets an Assist From Mechanical Heart Pump

Keith Childs’ condition was touch and go when he first met Barbara Amos, RN.

“He was probably about a month away from the end of his life, in a chair in the ICU attached to multiple pumps,” said the clinical nurse specialist, who manages the Ventricular Assist Device Program for Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Southern Washington.

Childs had heart failure, a condition in which the heart is too weak to pump enough blood and oxygen to the organs.

“It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest,” he recalled.

Beating the odds

Some 5.7 million adults in the U.S. have heart failure. Half will die within 5 years of diagnosis.

The ventricular assist device, or “VAD,” is a promising treatment. The mechanical pump is implanted in the heart to help the left chamber pump blood.

“It gives a second chance to patients who have a heart that’s just too weak to sustain life,” said Yong Shin, MD, chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest.

While the ventricular assist device has been shown to improve survival and quality of life, VAD therapy is complex and high-risk. Kaiser Permanente launched its program with a team-based approach and detailed care plans designed to improve patient outcomes.

The results have been impressive.

“For the past 4 years, we’ve not had a death within 12 months of VAD implant,” said Timothy Jacobson, MD, chief of Cardiology. “Current mortality rates (at other medical centers) are 10, 15 or even 20 percent.”

Nearly 4 years after receiving his VAD, Keith Childs is “healthy, fabulous, raising his kids, being a basketball dad and working,” said Amos.

“They saved my life,” said Childs. “My kids are very grateful.”

Main RSS Feed – Kaiser Permanente

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Lamar Odom Announces His Return to Professional Basketball [Photo]

Lamar Odom is ready to get back in the game.

via Complex:

More than five years after his last NBA game, the 39-year-old athlete announced he will return to professional basketball in 2019. Odom shared the news via Instagram on Tuesday, stating his intention to play in the Dubai International Basketball Championship in February. The two-time NBA champion will represent a team from the Philippines. 

Back in November, Odom told Clutch Points he had plans to join the BIG3 League as well as the Chinese Basketball Association in 2019; however, he has chosen to delay those plans to further improve his physical health.

“To me this is a great warming up for the @thebig3,” he wrote on social media. “It’s been a minute since I’ve professionally competed and I hope to be as explosive as I used to be! I was hoping to be ready for the Chinese CBA earlier this year but I didn’t feel that I was physically [where] I wanted to be. ( yet) I needed more time to recover from my multiple strokes and hearts attacks.”

Odom hasn’t appeared in a NBA game since 2013, when he was playing for the Clippers. Though he inked a deal with Knicks in April 2014, the team ultimately waived the contract in light of Odom’s reported struggles with addiction.

In 2015, the Queens native was hospitalized after he suffered a near-fatal drug overdose. Odom recently spoke about his health scare during an appearance on Kevin Hart’s Cold As Balls series.

“All my doctors that see me say I’m a walking miracle,” the athlete told Hart. “[…] I had twelve strokes and six heart attacks when I was in the coma.”

Odom says he is now sober and is committed to returning to basketball. 

We’re rooting for him!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I’d like to announce that I will be playing in The Dubai International Basketball Championship this February 1st 2019 !!!!!!! ?I will be representing team @mightysports_ph from the Philippines with my 4ever #7 ! To me this is a great warming up for the @thebig3 !! It’s been a minute since I’ve professionally competed and I hope to be as explosive as I used to be! I was hoping to be ready for the Chinese CBA earlier this year but I didn’t feel that I was physically were I wanted to be. ( yet) I needed more time to recover from my multiple strokes and hearts attacks. Im not giving up and going in full force !! Patience and moving FORWARD is KEY! Special thanks to @femaleagentsr @charlestiu for making me part of this amazing tournament in Dubai! #teamreyes ! This wouldn’t be possible without the support of my kids, @destiny_odom @lamar.morales.odom, MY FANS, my team @jared_dyem @bryantaustin23 @xpesports @billythakid23 @m2exec @showtimepersonaldevelopment @willvlo @therealyasin @ninetyplusofficial @mr2rchiang @chaselucid @saamzangenehlaw @hemplucid ! Thanks @iamzoul for building the road to my comeback life chapter ! LETSGOO ??#newpages #2019 #dubai #manila #basketball

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Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan Are Good Sports at Wheelchair Basketball Game in Australia

A vision of good sportsmanship! Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan looked fresh-faced and game ready on Saturday, October 27, during day 12 of their first international tour together.

The pair — who kicked off the royal adventure on October 15 just hours prior to the news that Meghan, 37, is pregnant and expecting her first child with Harry, 34 — got into the spirit of the Invictus Games during a wheelchair basketball game in Sydney, Australia.

The former actress wore a belted maroon peplum top by Scanian Theodore, black Outland pants and black Sarah Flint heels for the occasion. Meanwhile, the prince sported a black Invictus Games shirt and gray pants.

The couple presented each member of the winning Team USA with gold medals after the final match, with the Netherlands coming in second place and England finishing third.

While the duke and duchess sat alongside Prime Minster Scott Morrison and Defense Minister Christopher Pyne at the game, David Beckham, an Invictus Games ambassador, was also spotted taking in the match with his 16-year-old son Romeo. The former soccer pro and Victoria Beckham attended the royals’ May 19 nuptials.

Scroll down to see more of their day in Sydney.

Us Weekly

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How the College Basketball Corruption Verdict Could Help End Amateurism

A little more than a year ago, federal attorneys and the FBI — to much fanfare — unveiled their findings from a two-year investigation into corruption in college basketball. Assistant coaches and sneaker company reps and aspiring agents were arrested. Officials shared tales of illicit money sloshing around the sport in order to attract certain players to certain schools.

On Wednesday afternoon, the feds achieved their biggest win of the effort to date. A jury found three defendants — two former Adidas employees and an aspiring sports agent — guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after a three-week criminal trial at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse in New York City. James Gatto, Merl Code (the ex-Adidas reps) and aspiring player rep Christian Dawkins will be sentenced in March. (They will likely appeal the case.) On the surface, the verdict appears to count as a huge victory for the NCAA’s amateurism rules, which prevent college athletes from earning money from their schools, or from third-parties, for playing their lucrative sports. Paying players now appears to be a federal crime; NCAA regulations now appear to be enforceable by federal law.

Not so fast.

This case was a head-scratcher from the start. As TV rights agreements and other business deals plow millions of dollars into college sports, more and more people have argued that amateurism is outdated. While coaches and other stakeholders get rich, don’t the players who actually attract the audience deserve their fair share? Former college players are challenging amateurism in federal court, arguing that prohibitions against players earning salaries and third-party sponsorship violates anti-trust law. And while one arm of the federal government hears out amateurism, another swoops in with a criminal prosecution that equates paying players with corruption. This reeks of government overreach. Why are the feds doing the NCAA’s bidding and enforcing its amateurism rules?

Read more: It’s Time to Pay College Athletes

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors argued that the defendants defrauded colleges by paying players, since those payments violated NCAA rules and would make them ineligible to suit up for their schools. In effect, the defendants denied the schools the services of these athletes. So the schools were in essence the victims of a federal crime. The jury, by handing down the guilty verdict, agreed with this reasoning.

But at the same time, the NCAA can use evidence unearthed at the trial to punish the institutions supposedly wronged here. For example, former Adidas associate T.J. Gassola testified that he paid the family of former Kansas player Billy Preston $ 89,000 and the guardian of current Kansas player Silvio De Sousa $ 2,500 for online classes. Gassola also testified that a Maryland booster paid De Sousa’s guardian $ 60,000. Kansas announced that De Sousa has been pulled from the team, pending an eligibility review. The NCAA could hand down sanctions on Kansas for suiting up an ineligible player (De Sousa, for example, played in 20 games for the Jayhawks a year ago). So in essence the NCAA would be punishing a school that’s a so-called victim of a federal crime. Only in the twisted world of college sports could “victims” be subject to punishment.

“This case is filled with paradoxes,” says Matthew Mitten, executive director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University.

Read more: North Carolina Academic Fraud Decision Exposes College Sports Hypocrisy

This verdict, however, won’t necessarily make paying college players a federal crime. Conversely, some of the evidence could bolster the civil cases challenging the NCAA’s payment prohibitions. One of the NCAA’s core arguments in support of amateurism is that paying players would turn off fans and hurt the bottom line of NCAA schools. Paying players would be bad for business, so amateurism must live on.

The college hoops trial, however, showed that the opposite may be true. The testimony exposed the black market economy of college basketball; money is already flowing to players, business is booming, and it will continue to do so.

“The federal government has now proven itself ready to sink its teeth into college basketball,” says Marc Edelman, a professor of law at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business. “But the prosecutors missed the big issue here. If we’re going to be intellectually honest, the correct next step would be for the Justice Department to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA.”

Such a federal suit is unlikely to happen. Other stakeholders, however, are challenging amateurism in civil court. Many fans and pundits know that the model is unfair and unsustainable. Money has to flow to the players who deserve it, no matter what a jury says.

Sports – TIME

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Three College Basketball Recruiting Insiders Convicted of Fraud in Pay-for-Play Trial

(NEW YORK) — An Adidas executive and two other insiders from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting were convicted Wednesday in a corruption case that prosecutors said exposed the underbelly of the sport.

A federal jury in Manhattan found former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christopher Dawkins and amateur league director Merle Code guilty of fraud charges.

The trial centered on whether the men’s admitted efforts to channel secret payments to the families of top recruits luring them to major basketball programs sponsored by Adidas was criminal. At stake was a fortune in revenue for the basketball programs and potential endorsement deals for the players if they went pro.

Evidence included text messages between the defendants and coaches from top-tier coaches like Bob Self of Kansas and Rick Pitino of Louisville and testimony from the father of prized recruit Brian Bowen Jr. describing how a Louisville assistant handed him an envelope stuffed with cash.

Prosecutors claimed the schools were in the dark about the payment schemes, including $ 100,000 promised to Bowen’s family, that are outlawed by the NCAA. They accused the defendants of defrauding universities by tricking them into passing out scholarships to players who should have been ineligible.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Noah Solowiejczyk recounted testimony from cooperators and wiretap evidence about how the defendants took steps to create false invoices to Adidas, route funds through various bank accounts and convert it to cash for the families.

The behavior “tells you an awful lot about the defendants,” the prosecutor said. “It tells you that what they were doing was wrong.”

The defendants didn’t deny they sought to make the payments. But they argued that was how the recruitment game was played by Adidas, Nike and other sportswear companies – and that talent-hungry coaching staffs knew it.

A lawyer for defendant Dawkins, who was instrumental in steering Bowen to Louisville, claimed his client thought he was helping the program succeed to the benefit of everyone involved.

“What proof did the government present that Louisville suffered any harm?” attorney Steven Haney said in closing arguments. “In Christopher Dawkins’ mind, he thought what he was doing was OK.”

Defense attorneys sought to convince the jury the text messages and phone records showing Self and Patinto were in touch with the recruitment middlemen aligned with Adidas proved they had to be aware of the payments. They said further proof the schools weren’t blind to the schemes was testimony by Brian Bowen Sr. claiming he received $ 1,300 from Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson and other testimony by a cooperator, former Adidas consultant, Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola, that he delivered $ 40,000 to North Carolina State assistant coach Orlando Early intended for the family of highly-touted point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

In the texts last year, Gassnola told Self he was in the touch with the guardian of player Silvio De Sousa, who prosecutors say was among recruits whose families were offered secret payments.

Self responded: “We good,” according to an exhibit of the communication.

Gassnola said: “Always. That was light work.”

Another exhibit showed how Dawkins texted Pitino as Bowen was nearing a decision about where he would play, asking, “Would you have any interest in Brian Bowen or are you done with recruiting?”

Pitino responded: “We would love to have him.”

The exhibit showed Gatto also reached out to Pitino by text asking if they could speak on the phone, and records show there was a conversation afterward.

But there were no communications in which the coaches mentioned money. The coaches and the schools have either denied any wrongdoing or not commented on the case.

Self remains at Kansas, where De Sousa is still on the team. Kansas announced this week De Sousa is being held off the court until information that came out of the trial was reviewed. But at Louisville, the scandal resulted in the firing of Pitino and forced Bowen to leave the university and pursue a professional career.

The trial’s most emotional moment came when a prosecutor first began questioning the elder Bowen about his son, who goes by the nickname “Tugs.”

“Is Tugs in college?” asked prosecutor Edward Diskant.

“No, he’s not,” Bowen responded.

When the prosecutor asked why not, Bowen dropped his head into his hands and wept.

Sports – TIME

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Say What Now? Iowa Basketball Coach Admits to Sexually Exploiting and Abusing Over 400 Boys

An Iowa boys basketball coach is facing up to 180 years behind bars after admitting to sexually exploiting and abusing at least 400 underage boys.

via Page Six:

Greg Stephen pleaded guilty Oct. 18 to five counts of sexual exploitation of minors, one count of transporting child pornography and another of possessing child pornography.

The 42-year-old coach was arrested in March after his ex-brother-in-law found a recording device in Stephen’s house the previous month. He then handed it over to authorities after discovering it contained videos of showering boys. Investigators then searched Stephen’s other homes and found a hard drive and other devices with numerous photos and videos of boys in graphic sexual situations, reported CBS News.

Stephen confessed that he possessed a hard drive containing explicit media regarding 400 different minor males.

In some cases, he posed as a teen girl on social media to trick unsuspecting boys into creating explicit images, offering to trade nude pictures and videos while telling the males what to do. In his possession were images of boys bathing and in various states of undress in hotels. In one of his homes, recording devices were cloaked as a smoke detector and a towel hook.

Even more disturbing, Stephen took videos and photos of sleeping boys with their pants pulled down — and in some instances, recorded himself touching their genitals.

While it’s possible he could spend the rest of his life in prison if his appeals fail, he will face a minimum 15-year lockup term at his upcoming sentencing, which has not been set.

Lock him up!

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Inside the NCAA and FBI’s Smearing of Duke Basketball Phenom Zion Williamson

Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Zion Williamson is a goddamn hero. Even though he’s going to Duke this season, truly tragic, the basketball world devours this big ol’ guy’s dunks, windmills, passes, whatever. Please, watch this highlight video of the man making his high school peers look like fetuses.

Dominant. Skilled. Extremely angry at the rim. This dude is NBA catnip. He is also worth a ton of money. Take, for instance, the purveyors of this highlight tape, Ballislife. They show ads during this video of Zion and get revenue so they can make a living traveling to obscure high school gyms around the country. His college sells tickets to his games and solicits donations based on his play. A shoe company supplies them with kicks and gets their image flashed across TVs all over America, chilling on his feet. His coach, Mike Krzyzewski, will make $ 8.9 million this year, utilizing Zion’s skillset without paying him a red cent of that salary. He will do this with pride, actually, regarding himself as a moral person who follows the rules because he makes money off of Zion’s work without giving him any of it.

This Monday, Zion’s name came up in the Justice Department’s ongoing prosecution of former Adidas executive James Gatto, AAU maven Christian Dawkins, and former Clemson standout Merl Code Jr. for wire fraud related to NCAA recruiting violations, which is consuming the edges of college basketball pre-season attention. “There was a wiretapped phone call that was recorded between one of the Adidas executives and a Kansas assistant coach.” Ricky O’Donnell, a college basketball writer at SB Nation, tells me. “The executive told the Kansas coach that Zion’s father asked the company for housing, some money for Zion’s services as a basketball player, and a job for himself, and apparently the coach said, ‘Yeah sure, whatever.’”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast — Entertainment

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Kanye West’s Basketball Sneaker Banned From NBA

National Basketball Association league officials confirmed that players will be allowed to wear any sneaker they wish this upcoming season, regardless of color. Any sneaker that is, except the basketball sneaker created by Kanye West.

In prior seasons it was mandatory for players to wear league-compliant sneakers or they would face a hefty fine. This will be the first time since Adam Silver became NBA commissioner in 2014 that players have their choice of footwear.

According to an ESPN report the stringent rule change is an effort on the NBA’s behalf to allow players to express themselves while on the court. Until now, the rule on player footwear was that all sneakers worn on the court had to be 51% white or black with minimal team color accent to top it off, depending on home and visiting teams.

Rapper Kanye West, who is in partnership with Adidas for his Yeezy product line, took to his Instagram account to debut a first look at his “YZY BSKTBL” sneaker.

(Instagram)

 

Prior to this model, all of West’s sneaker designs have been for lifestyle wear and not for athletic purposes. This is the first time that the Yeezy brand is venturing into sports footwear since he released his first sneaker in 2015.

However, according to industry sources, the NBA is banning the current version of Kanye’s sneaker. The move is not because of the colors in the sneaker or because of his recent controversial comments made on social media.

The ban is because of the shoe’s gleaming, reflective-material heel. The NBA fears that the 3M material would be distracting to the crowd and also for those watching the game at home.

The Yeezy basketball sneaker was supposed to be worn during the regular season by Adidas signees like Nick Young, Donovan Mitchell, and Iman Shumpert, to name a few. With the ban on the current model of Kanye’s basketball sneaker, there is no word yet if Adidas will make the necessary adjustment to appease the NBA.

The post Kanye West’s Basketball Sneaker Banned From NBA appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise

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Publicist for basketball doc ends up in Adidas trial jury pool

The wire fraud and corruption trial of sneaker company executives involved in the NCAA basketball recruiting scandal had a humorous aside from the publishing world tied to a documentary from Dan Klores entitled “Basketball: A Love Story.” Among those in the jury pool at federal court in Manhattan Monday was Julie Cepler, who is handling…
Business | New York Post

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Kanye West’s new basketball sneaker may be banned by the NBA

Maybe he’s over the heel.

Rapper and shoe designer Kanye West— who inadvertently advocated for a return to slavery over the weekend — is expected to debut a basketball sneaker from his Yeezy collection this season. But according to ESPN, the NBA would likely ban the shoe because of its bright and…

/entertainment – New York Daily News

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