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NBA says Charlotte is eligible to host 2019 All-Star Game

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NEW YORK (AP) — Charlotte will be eligible to host the 2019 All-Star Game after a compromise deal to replace a North Carolina law that limited anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday.

The league’s Board of Governors discussed it during their meetings this week and made what Silver said was “not an easy decision.” He says it’s “not a done deal” that Charlotte will get the game, because the league would need assurances of anti-discriminatory policies for venues that would host its events and hotels they would use.

But Silver said it is his “expectation” that Charlotte would get the game if those assurances were met. He said those requirements would need to be met within the next month or so.

“We are excited that the NBA has once again made the City of Charlotte eligible to host All-Star Weekend in 2019,” the Charlotte Hornets said in a statement. “We look forward to resuming our discussions with the league on the next steps regarding this international event. We know that our city, our fans and our business community remain extremely enthusiastic in support of hosting NBA All-Star Weekend.”

Charlotte was scheduled to host the game this year, but the NBA pulled it over its objection to the law known as the “bathroom bill.” The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority estimated the yanked event would have generated about $100 million in economic impact. That was part of more than $3.76 billion over a dozen years in lost business as a consequence of HB2, an Associated Press analysis found.

Gay-rights advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union have denounced North Carolina legislation passed last week to undo HB2 as inadequate.

The mayors of New York, Washington, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City and other cities announced this week that previous municipal bans on taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina will stay in place because discrimination persists in the replacement law.

The measure left some LGBT restrictions in place, including a moratorium until December 2020 on local governments passing broad nondiscrimination ordinances covering sexual orientation and gender identity. While the new law ended the HB2 provision requiring transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to their birth certificates, state lawmakers remain in charge of future bathroom policies.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said it was the best compromise that the Republican-controlled legislature would approve. The deal was done ahead of a deadline by the NCAA, which removed championship events from basketball-crazy North Carolina for the current academic year and threatened to exclude the state from hosting any new ones through 2022.

On Tuesday, the collegiate athletic association expressed concerns about the new law’s provisions but said it “meets the minimal NCAA requirements” to keep North Carolina in consideration as a host for championship events.

The replacement law is an “important step forward in protecting people from discrimination and bringing jobs and sports back to North Carolina and helping to repair our reputation,” Cooper said.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.