None other than Warren Buffett praises LeBron’s business savvy

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LeBron James has never made a secret of his desire to be a billionaire, which when he was younger came off like some of his other boasts — the ramblings of person who has never really had to deal with the real world.

But things seem to be changing. On the court we have seen a maturity come over him that propelled him to his first ring and had him playing up near the level of the guy you can’t compare anyone to.

Off the court, the guy you can’t compare anyone to is Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett. He’s the investment guru and the second richest man in the United States.

And he thinks LeBron is brilliant at business, too, he told the Miami Herald.

“You have to get to know him,” Buffett said. “LeBron’s not initially really talkative. He’s savvy. He’s smart about financial matters. It’s amazing to me the maturity he exhibits. I know that if I had been famous at that age, I would have had trouble keeping my feet on the ground.”

Forbes estimates that salary and endorsements brought LeBron $53 million in income last year, the fourth highest among athletes. And it would have been more if not for the lockout.

And that number is going up because companies want him as an endorser again (he just signed with Samsung). It’s a swing in his image from just a couple years ago. Again from the Herald.

“He’s arguably the most marketable athlete currently in the U.S. because he brings the most long-term value,” said Robert Tuchman, president of Goviva, a sports and entertainment company. “I don’t think there’s anyone you can compare him to right now … he’s perceived as a really good guy and a winner.”

I don’t really know (or really care) if LeBron gets to his $1 billion goal. But if you’re hanging with Warren Buffett and he thinks your savvy, you’re doing something right.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?