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LeBron James helps design sneaker for disabled athletes

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CLEVELAND (AP) β€” LeBron James has teamed up on a special sneaker for special athletes.

The Cavaliers star and Nike have unveiled a new shoe designed for disabled athletes that can be slipped on and off more easily. The LeBron Soldier 10 FlyEase is modeled after the signature shoe worn by James, but it has no laces and can be secured with Velcro straps and zippers.

“It’s about us empowering every kid and everybody to understand we are all athletes,” James said.

The project is near and dear to James, a father of three. He hosted kids from the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation last week at the team’s facility and presented them with new pairs of the stylish, slip-on sneakers.

“Sports should never be taken away from a kid,” the three-time NBA champion said. “It creates fun. It creates laughter. It creates brotherhood or sisterhood. To be able to have shoes that are easy to get on and off gives kids another opportunity to live out their dreams.”

Longtime Nike designer Tobie Hatfield said the new model is designed to eliminate the struggle for some kids to simply get the shoe on their foot.

“One of the key learnings we’ve had in crafting accessible footwear is the importance of easy entry and exit of the shoe, not just simplifying its fastening system,” Hatfield said. “Eliminating the intricate hand movement of lace tying is important, but if the athlete cannot get their foot into the shoe, lacing becomes a moot point.”

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year β€” apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well β€” but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

β€œWhen James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. β€œI told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. β€œI’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. β€œI guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court β€” and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them β€” they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.