LeBron, Kobe, Durant get Elite versions of their signature shoes

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For the second straight season, Nike Basketball is rolling out premium versions of its signature shoes for LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

The Elite series features lighter and stronger materials, along with some design tweaks that are most noticeable in the KD V Elite, which goes from a high to a low version for the postseason.

From the official release:

“With the playoffs promising gold, Nike Basketball unveils the Nike ELITE Series 2.0+ to celebrate the players’ achievements in the final stretch to ultimate victory.

“The gold-accented LEBRON X PS ELITE+, and KD V ELITE+ incorporate the most innovative materials and design techniques. The signature footwear draw inspiration from the championship trophy and feature lightweight construction, enhanced fit and dynamic protection.

“The design of Nike ELITE Series 2.0+ reflects the moment that matters most to every elite athlete – the run for the championship. The elegant white and black colorways feature a gold Swoosh design and other gold details that vary from shoe to shoe, including athlete logos, gold-flecked Kevlar® aramid laces, gold-threaded Flywire technology and speckled outsoles.”

LeBron and Durant will see their versions drop on April 20, while fans of Kobe Bryant’s Elites will have to wait until June 1 to pick up a pair of his.


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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?