Charlotte makes it official, will bid for All Star Game in 2017 of 2018

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The last time Charlotte hosted the NBA All-Star Game it took place the same day actress Emma Roberts was born (she of American Horror Story). It was when voters in Lithuania chose independence. Whitney Houston’s Super Bowl rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” was a radio hit. Everyone was watching “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” “The Cosby Show” and “Cheers” on TV. Bernard King was still an All-Star starter.

It’s been a while.

And they want it back.

A delegation of Charlotte officials have made their way to New York on Tuesday, after a splashy press conference, to formally announce (what we reported yesterday), that Charlotte will bid to host the 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Game.

“The overwhelming support for the Hornets during their playoff run and rebranding has proven the passion Charlotte has for the NBA. And the worldwide fan base of the NBA makes this a perfect opportunity to showcase Charlotte and Time Warner Cable Arena on a global stage, said Will Webb, Charlotte Sports Foundation executive director in a released statement.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had said before the league would be interested, but upgrades to the Time Warner Arena would need to be made. Those upgrades — a partnership between the city and the Hornets ownership group — will submit plans for those upgrades next month, officials said at the press conference.

Hornets owner Michael Jordan is pushing to win back this market, one that had been stopped on and turned into a wasteland by the two previous franchise owners in that city. A winning team — the Bobcats made the playoffs last season then landed Lance Stephenson this summer — is a key step. An All-Star Game wouldn’t hurt.

It was said at the press conference that between eight and 10 teams are expected to bid to host either the 2017 or 2018 All-Star Games. The league will likely eliminate a few based on its criteria — enough hotel rooms close to the city (not 30 miles away), a convention space to host the NBA All-Star Jam Session (the side events with basketball games and activities), plus of course the arena and its amenities. It is expected the list will quickly get down to three or four venues to be considered.

However it will be the fall of 2015 before there is an announcement.

The 2015 All-Star Game is in New York and Brooklyn, the 2016 game is in Toronto.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”