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LeBron James says he ‘stands with Nike’ in reference to Kaepernick

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NEW YORK (AP) β€” Clutching his young daughter in his arms, LeBron James said on Tuesday that he `stands with Nike,’ a clear reference to the company’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign.

The basketball superstar – and new Los Angeles Laker – made the remarks as he received an award Tuesday for both his style and his philanthropy from the Harlem’s Fashion Row. The fashion collective partnered with Nike for the New York event, both a fashion show and an awards ceremony which focused on diversity and inclusivity in the fashion world. The evening culminated in the reveal of the latest LeBron James Nike basketball shoe: a women’s sneaker designed by three female African-American designers and inspired by strong African-American women.

In emotional remarks, James paid tribute to the three women in his life – his mother, wife and 3-year-old daughter, Zhuri.

He noted how his mother had raised him alone, and given him “a sense of pride, a sense of strength, a sense of no worry.”

“Because of you, Gloria James, I’m able to be in a position today where I can give back and showcase why I believe African-American women are the most powerful women in the world.”

He called his daughter “my rock.”

“People always told me if you ever have a girl, she’ll change you,” James said. “I was like, nobody’s changing me, I’m a man.” But she did, he said.

“Not only did she change me, she’s made me a better person,” James said. “A more dedicated person, a stronger person, I guess a more sensitive person.”

Closing his remarks, he said he stood “for anybody who believes in change.” He added: “I stand with Nike, all day, every day.”

The new endorsement deal between Nike and Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, launched vigorous debate on Tuesday as some fans expressed displeasure over the apparel giant’s support of a player known for starting a wave of protests among NFL players against police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues.

Some angry fans were even burning and cutting out the signature swoosh logos on their gear – and posting the results on social media.

But Kaepernick and his Nike campaign, which marks the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It,” received plenty of support from the fashion world in attendance Tuesday.

Bethann Hardison, an activist for diversity in fashion and a former supermodel who was also honored Tuesday, said she was happy with Nike’s move. “It’s such a divided situation in our world right now,” she said of the negative reaction by some fans. “But I’m such a huge, huge, wholeheartedly, supporter of Colin that I’m very proud that someone understands what he’s done and (is giving) him some kudos.”

Prominent African-American designer Tracy Reese said she loved the new Nike campaign.

“It was tastefully done,” she said. “And really, this is the time to stand up for what you believe in. Colin Kaepernick has done that and I think that we need to follow his example and really go where the heart leads, instead of where everybody expects you to go.”

Also honored Tuesday were designer Dapper Dan and stylist Jason Rembert. A fashion show highlighted the work of designers Kimberly Goldson, Undra Duncan and Fe Noel, who together created the new shoe.

Gordon Hayward does not plan to leave bubble for birth of son

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When Boston first went to the NBA restart bubble in Orlando, Gordon Hayward was upfront: He was leaving the bubble for the birth of his fourth child.

Hayward ended up leaving the bubble for another reason β€” he severely sprained his ankle and was out for more than a month. During his rehab, Hayward left the bubble and spent time at home, returning a couple of weeks ago. Saturday he played his first game back for Boston, helping it to a win against the Heat.

Hayward’s wife, Robyn, has yet to have their son, but now Hayward does not plan to leave the bubble for the event, something first reported by Rachel Nichols of ESPN during Saturday’s game.

Hayward confirmed this after the game. So did Robyn in a social media post, adding the reports she was in labor already were not true.

I don’t envy the Hayward family having to make this choice. As a parent, I can’t imagine having missed the births of any of my children, but, like everything else in 2020, this is far from a typical decision at a typical time. The Haywards are making the best of it they can. They deserve support no matter what they choose.

LeBron James, Dion Waiters’ son engage in a little trash talk

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“Yeah, right.”

That was Dion Waiters Jr.’s response to pretty much everything LeBron James during the Lakers’ practice on Saturday before Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

LeBron was getting up some corner threes and told Waiters Jr. he would make 100 straight.

“Yeah, right.”

When LeBron missed one,Β “I missed that on purpose.”Β 

“Yeah, right.”

“I missed that on purpose, so you’d think I’m human,” LeBron joked.

Got to love Dion Waiters Jr. β€” he’s got some of his dad’s spunk.

Families have been allowed in the bubble for teams for a couple of weeks, although LeBron’s sons are not there, with LeBron saying it’s not a great place for kids (he’s right, for anyone over about 7 or 8, there would be little to do).

Aggressive, attacking Boston drives right into heart of Miami defense, wins Game 3

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On Boston’s first possession of the game, Marcus Smart drove right to the rim and got an and-1 on a reverse layup.

Next possession, Jaylen Brown got a bucket cutting for a layup, with the assist from Smart. Next possession, Brown drove the lane and banked in a floater. The next Boston bucket was a Jayson Tatum driving layup.

The first nine Boston points came with them attacking the heart of the Miami defense (going at Duncan Robinson in particular), and that continued all game with the Celtics getting 60 points in the paint.

“Boston came out with great force. You have to give them credit for that,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said after the game.

Throw in 31 quality minutes from Gordon Hayward in his return from a sprained ankle β€” providing more quality wing play and good decision making β€” and Boston raced out to a comfortable lead then hung on at the end for a 117-106 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 not until Wednesday night (a little delay to allow the West to catch up).

After a sloppy Game 2 loss where the Celtics became passive in the face of Miami’s zone defense in the second half, followed by a postgame meltdown and meeting of the minds, the guys at the heart of the Celtics young core stepped up their game on Saturday night.

Particularly Brown, who had 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting and was getting to the rim all game. He also was playing smothering defense.

Smart β€” an All-Defensive Team player β€” had his best game of the series, blanketing Goran Dragic, who had been the Heat’s best scorer and shot creator through two games. Without Dragic breaking down the Celtics’ defense and getting points in the paint, Miami has to live by the three and the Celtics defenders did a better job staying home.

“Marcus’ ball pressure on Dragic was important,” Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens said postgame. “It’s something we need to continue to look at. Marcus did a great job on a guy who is playing better than I’ve ever seen him.”

Boston also got more minutes from Gordon Hayward than expected, minutes Stevens called a “stabilizing force” for the team.

“I’m extremely tired right now. My ankle is pretty sore,” Hayward said postgame, adding with the extra days off he should be good to go for Game 4.

Hayward’s presence also allowed Boston to play small ball without Daniel Theis or any true center on the floor, the Celtics switched everything defensively, and Miami didn’t take advantage. Look for Eric Spoelstra to turn to more Bam Adebayo against that small lineup next game.

“They got us on our heels. They were out there hooping and having fun. I guess that was the difference in the game,” Bam Adebayo said postgame.

Miami didn’t shoot the ball well Saturday night, hitting just 27.3% from three. Jae Crowder, who had been hot, was 2-of-8 from deep, while Tyler Herro was 4-of-12. Adebayo had 27 points and 16 boards to lead the Heat.

Boston had four players with more than 20 points: Brown (26), Tatum (25), Kemba Walker (21), and Smart (20).

Boston will need another game like that β€” and they will need to close better, Miami made it interesting late β€” to even the series on Wednesday.

Miami said postgame they saw what happened in this game as a challenge to them. Game 4 is going to be intense.

Ja Morant points out one person who didn’t vote him Rookie of the Year

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Ja Morant was not the unanimous Rookie of the Year β€” 99 out of 100 media members voted for him, one voted for Zion Williamson.

When the media votes became public Saturday, Morant got to see who the one voter who voted for someone else was: Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Crowley stood up for his vote, and everything was good between them (at least on social media).

While the votes come from media members, the NBA goes out of its way to put together voters who see things differently, something ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne talked about is an excellent thread on Twitter, although she was speaking about the case for LeBron James over Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP.

To be clear, I was one of the Morant voters, and I will readily admit that Zion is the better player (at least right now). I consider the impact on winning heavily when voting, which led me to Morant because he played 59 games before the bubble and had his team in a playoff position, while Zion played only 19 and did not (only games before the NBA restart in Orlando were to be considered, per NBA rules). I also expect and respect the fact that not everyone will see it that way, or even define what matters most in winning the award the same way. Diversity of thought and views is a good thing, it leads to better outcomes. Crowley should vote what he sees and believes, and that should be respected.

Unanimous or not, Morant will go down as the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. The voting will be a footnote at most.