Dwyane Wade meets with family of Parkland high school shooting victim

AP
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Dwyane Wade was touched when he found out that Joaquin Oliver, a victim of the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., was buried in his Miami Heat jersey. Wade, who returned to the Heat just days before the Feb. 14 attack, made it a special task to get one of the backordered “Vice” edition jerseys for Oliver’s family.

This weekend, Wade was able to give it to them.

Wade stood next to Joaquin’s sister, Andrea Ghersi, during pregame introductions, and after the Heat took on the Detroit Pistons at American Airlines Arena on Saturday, Wade met with Joaquin’s parents, Manuel and Patricia. Wade gave the family a pair of specially-made shoes, complete with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas nameplate and straps with Joaquin’s name on them.

Wade also gave the Olivers the special edition jersey, spending some time speaking with them.

Via SunSentinel.com:

“I had somebody design them,” Wade said of the shoes that sat by his locker before Saturday’s game. “I gave them to the family with that jersey. It’s hard to get that jersey. I know they said he wanted that jersey when I first got back to add it to his collection of jerseys that he had. I reached out to a good friend of mine to customize those shoes. I made sure I gave them to the family.​”

“Just getting an opportunity to finally meet them, I had a few words, what they’re doing, the strength of them,” he said by his locker stall. “It’s a tough time for their family. It’s a tough time for a lot of families in Parkland.

“I’m thankful they came to the game, thankful I got a chance just to talk to them and tell them my appreciation, to let them know we will continue to use our voice, to continue to shine the light on what they’re talking about and what they’re going through and what they’re dealing with. Because it’s not just happening to them, it’s happening to all of us and it could be anyone of us.”

Wade is a pillar in the Miami community, even after spending time with both the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. His return to the Heat was announced to major fanfare, with his Vice edition jersey experiencing huge production delays that currently span out into the summer.

That he was there to take the lead was no surprise to anyone. Good for Wade for stepping up, making that connection, and helping in any way he could during the grieving process for that family.

Wade has dedicated the rest of the season to Joaquin Oliver’s memory.

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”