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The ‘Bobi and Tobi’ show is real, Boban and Tobias Harris are as authentic as it gets

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LOS ANGELES — From the first minute you start talking to them, sitting next to each other in a stylish Marina Del Rey office, you realize isn’t some “made for YouTube” performance dreamed up by a marketing department. This is real.

Boban Marjanovic and Tobias Harris are best friends — and they interact like best friends. They sound like you out with your mates, a conversation littered with inside jokes and little digs.

And if someone steps up and tries to make a serious point, usually Harris, the other one comes in over the top with a joke. Usually Boban.

For example, try asking them what drew an African-American from New York and a pale white guy from Serbia together as close friends.

“I think it was just personalities…” Harris said.

“You know like bad and good cop, he was bad,” Boban interjected.

“That was the connection, personalities,” Harris said, shaking his head and trying to steer the conversation back on point. “Then we were always in the weight room lifting, so we were around each other a whole lot…”

“He wants to say we are super strong,” Boban joked.

It’s like that all the time. People may get drawn in by the “Odd Couple” look of Harris and Marjanovic as best friends, but it becomes instantly clear the chemistry is genuine. It’s why people love their YouTube “buddy cop” shorts the “Bobi and Tobi Show,” because its authentic. They are having a good time, they want you to have a good time. It’s that simple. That pure.

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That genuine connection has even led to the pair landing sponsorship deals together, such as one to promote the Subway Golden Token Instant Win Game. The popular sandwich chain is offering Subway rewards members the chance to win trips to major sporting events, including the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, and it runs through Nov. 15.

“Subway came about because they are doing to Golden Token sweepstakes,” Harris said. “When we first started the Bobi and Tobi Show, it was to give back and just get people excited.”

“You should have a smile on your face every time [you watch their show],” Boban interjected. “I can’t respect that if people can’t smile around you. Make them more proud, make them more happy. We want people to smile more.”

“And Subway felt the same way,” Harris said, trying to wrest back control of the conversation. “The type of sweepstakes they’re doing now, giving people and fans, just random customers the opportunity to go to the NBA All-Star Game, the NHL All-Star Game, the Daytona 500, or the Rose Bowl, so we think we’re the perfect people for it, and we’re excited to be part of this with Subway.”

The duo met when they were together on the Detroit Pistons, and it was there their friendship first took root. In the weight room, sure, but also just going to restaurants together, hanging out on the road and spending time.

“You can call me a foodie,” Harris said.

“He knows food, I eat food,” Boban added.

Then last Jan. 29 both were traded to the Clippers as part of the Blake Griffin deal, as was fellow Piston Avery Bradley.

“When we did come over here it was three of us, but Avery was hurt, we were relatively new to a new situation, and we had a prior friendship, but I think it did help because when you’re in a new city you’re going to go with the person you’re most comfortable with,” Harris said.

“I followed Tobias everywhere,” Marjanovic said, putting it more bluntly.

Being in the larger market of Los Angeles came a brighter spotlight with the celebrity culture all around them, and it opened doors. Marjanovic got a small role as an assassin in Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick 3,” which comes out next year.

“He’s killin’ it, literally getting his ass beat, but that’s okay,” Harris joked while Marjanovic gave him the side eye.

“Why you always get mad when I tell people John Wick beat your ass — it happened,” Harris said with a laugh.

Coming to L.A. also led to their Bobi and Tobi YouTube show, which has been a hit.

“I really look forward to it being continued,” Marjanovic said.

“It’s gonna be a little bit harder,” to film them during the season,” Harris added. “Like last year we did it after the season was over, so we had time, but we’ll see what happens. We get a couple days off and want to do it, we’ll do it.”

Right now, the pair is focused on the season itself — the 4-3 Clippers are in the thick of the West playoff hunt early on, with a few quality wins (Oklahoma City, and Houston twice). This is a team that believes the playoffs are within its grasp.

“I think we can be a playoff team. The West is really hard, because we’ve both been in East and West,” Marjanovic said, shooting a look over to Harris. Then he went into coach speak. “Our goal is to get more and more and more wins, and get better every day, and first of all to enjoy it on the court. We’ve put high levels on the season, the playoffs is one of them.”

“The goal is to be in the playoffs,” Harris added. “Any time you go into the season, especially with the group we have, we have a really good group of guys chemistry wise… there are things we can get better at, just progress on, I like this group and think we’re a playoff team.”

Hanging over that is the fact both Harris and Marjanovic will be free agents next summer.

“Everyone says they don’t think about it, but it’s human nature,” Harris said. “One of the things I’ve predicated myself on and just going into every year focused on is just being better every single day and not worrying about what’s coming in the summer but just being locked in on helping the team win, and you kind of lose track of free agency and things like that.”

Both say they would, ideally, like to stay with the Clippers. Harris’ name has come up in Jimmy Butler trade talks, but the Clippers have not wanted to part with him in a deal. In a perfect world, the Clippers want to keep Harris, but they are going big game hunting this summer — I’ve heard from sources, and there’s been plenty of other reporting, that they will be in the mix for Kawhi Leonard — and whether they have the money to bring back Harris remains to be seen.

But both will be quick to tell you this is not the Clippers of a decade ago — this is a franchise players now want to be a part of. Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers, Jerry West, Lawrence Frank have changed the franchise culture to one seen as player friendly.

“I truly would say so,” Harris said of the change. “It’s a great organization top to bottom, great coach, an owner that is really invested in the team. I’ve been in different situations, different organizations, and this organization is top of the line. So it’s definitely a situation that players, in my opinion, would want to be at.”

“We just feel great right here,” Marjanovic added. “Just everything, just organizational, our coach, people, teammates, people who work there, everybody you meet, when you walk in the building you feel a great energy, to feel good.”

Free agency could see the Bobi and Tobi show going their separate ways. Basketball is a cold business like that.

Just don’t think it’s splitting up their friendship. That is authentic.

“This is somebody who is very caring for people, always wants to go out of his way to serve others in essence, and I think myself, that’s who I aspire to continue to be every single day,” Harris said of his friend. “Somebody who’s just trying to be a better person and be able to lead by example and show people a different way.”

That may be the highest praise there is.

Lakers’ Rajon Rondo fractures thumb, out 6-8 weeks

Rajon Rondo injury
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The Lakers guard depth is getting hit hard. First, Avery Bradley chose to stay home from the NBA restart in Orlando for family reasons. Now this:

Rajon Rondo fractured his thumb during practice on Saturday and will need surgery that will sideline him 6-8 weeks, the team announced.

On the optimistic side, that timeline should have Rondo back for most or all of the conference finals and NBA Finals. That’s about the only positive here.

Rondo came off the bench for the Lakers this season, averaging 7.1 points and five assists a game. More importantly, he was the guy running the offense when LeBron James was off the court, something that will be difficult to replace. He is not the defender and player he once was, but he fit with the Lakers.

Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook will get some extra run, plus it opens up room for veterans Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith.

The Rondo injury is not going to put the Lakers in danger in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but if he is not back and 100% in the conference finals (very possibly against a deep Clippers team) and the Finals, this will be a blow to L.A.

Stephen Curry, Charles Barkley join “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” on NBC family

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In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and the protests that followed, citizens of the United States have started to have a long-overdue and challenging discussion of race and systemic racism in America. Black celebrities — guys such as Stephen Curry and Charles Barkley, plus other NBA stars — have stepped into the middle of that conversation and are using their voices.

That discussion, along with Barkley and Curry, comes to the NBC Sports family of networks Monday in “Race and Sports in America: Conversations.” The roundtable discussion show airs at 8 p.m. ET simultaneously on NBCSN, the Golf Channel, the Olympic Channel, and every member of the NBC Sports regional broadcast network.

The wide-ranging conversation (recorded in Lake Tahoe) included discussion both of the recent protests that swept the nation and the calls for police reform — Barkley said he wants to see that.

“The first thing we need, listen, we need police reform.  We need to, listen, I got in trouble for defending cops.  And I’m always going to defend cops.  I don’t want them out there killing unarmed Black men, but we need cops…” Barkley said. “But we need good cops.  We need to hold cops accountable.  If they do something wrong — the way the system is set up now, if cops do something wrong, other cops judge them.  That’s not fair in any aspect of life.  If you are a cop and you saw what happened to Mr. Floyd and you think that was all right, you shouldn’t be a cop.”

Curry spun the discussion of police reform into the need for people to vote for change — particularly at the local and state level.

“Same concept around reforming police, getting the bad ones out, is in every form of leadership in government in terms of how important voting is.  Not just at the national presidential level, but in our local, city, state elections…” Curry said.

“That’s where the real change happens.  So when it comes to voter suppression which we’ve seen since George Floyd’s passing in Georgia, we’ve seen long lines; people have been standing there for 12, 13 hours trying to vote.

“And that’s where a local election, as we look forward from a year from now and beyond, every single cycle, how do we continue to let our voices be heard, not just what we’re saying and crying for and asking for help, but how can we actually use our given right to go vote, to go put people in positions of power that they’re going to look out for us in a very meaningful way that’s going to make a true difference.”

Beyond the two NBA stars, Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins, James Blake, Jimmy Rollins, and Ozzie Smith take part in the discussion.

Tune in Monday night across the NBC Sports family of networks for a can’t miss discussion of race and sports in America.

Not one NBA equipment manager packed light for NBA restart

NBA equipment manager
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Rob Pimental spent a good amount of time thinking about everything the Miami Heat would need for what could be a three-month trip to Walt Disney World.

He is the Heat equipment manager. Every jersey, sock, sneaker, whatever the team needs, it’s his responsibility to have it ready. So, when it came time to figure out what was getting packed for Disney, Pimental came to a realization.

“Pretty much everything,” said Pimental, who confessed to having a few sleepless nights of worrying. “I’m the type of guy who wants everything on hand, so I literally packed up my entire equipment room and brought it with me.”

He’s not alone.

All 22 teams in the NBA restart had to pack more than ever, for a road trip like none other. Every team is assured of spending at least five weeks at Disney, and some could be there for three months. The challenges for players and coaches are obvious, but the challenge for equipment managers — among the unsung heroes of this restart plan — aren’t anywhere near as visible to those watching games from afar.

“This is what equipment managers were built for, honestly,” Orlando Magic equipment manager Jacob Diamond said. “We have some of the smartest guys around the league that do what I do and at the end of the day, for us, it’s really no job too big, no job too small. Our coaches are relying on us, our players, and this is history right here. So, it’s kind of cool to be a part of it — even though it’s extra work.”

For this trip, Diamond has a two-room suite in the hotel that the Magic are calling home.

It’s not a perk. He needed the space.

Luggage is lined up around all four walls, with more bags in the middle of the room, along with a clothes rack, a large trunk and a bunch of bright blue bags with the Magic logo stacked over by the sliding door that leads to the balcony. He knows the contents of each, where every item is, so if Nikola Vucevic needs a certain pair of socks or Aaron Gordon needs a certain type of compression gear, Diamond finds it in a flash.

“I made sure I overpacked for this rather than underpacked,” Diamond said. “It’s not so easy to have things sent here. I’d rather have things here, ready to go, so here we are.”

Toronto Raptors equipment manager Paul Elliott prides himself on typically taking only what he needs. He tends to take 45 bags on a standard road trip; by NBA standards, that is packing light.

Not this time. For this trip, Elliott’s count was 176 bags.

And while most teams only had to move their operation once — from their home facility to Disney — Elliott had to pack the Raptors up twice, first from Toronto to their pre-camp workouts at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, and then again to get the stuff up to Disney.

“I looked at it as what they were going to take for a two-week Western road trip, took what I would usually pack for that, and kind of quadrupled it,” Elliott said. “I just had to make sure I had enough options for these guys to accommodate them when they need. I just want to be prepared.”

More gear is on the way.

By the time games start, the 22 teams will have more than 4,000 jerseys between them. Every team brought three sets of uniforms — typically, two jerseys each for each player. Then the decision was made to give players at Disney the opportunity to wear jerseys with a message raising awareness about social injustice and racial inequality, and those huge shipments are expected to arrive in the next few days.

When Elliott started unloading the Raptors’ 176 bags, several staff members who aren’t usually tasked with helping with equipment ran to his aid. More bags will be going back to Toronto when the season ends; Elliott had his assistant send him empty ones to accommodate the new jerseys.

“We’ve got the greatest staff for that sort of thing,” Elliott said. “Nobody’s above anything. They just want to make sure it’s done properly.”

Washington coach Scott Brooks said the Wizards are using a similar everybody-must-help approach, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra insisted his team do the same.

“There’s an absolute understanding that this is an all-hands-on-deck situation,” Spoelstra said. “And that means bags, laundry, cleanup, everything — not just for equipment managers, but everybody. … We’re all going to be involved in every aspect of it.”

Days will be long for equipment managers. Each team only sent one; it’s not unusual for two equipment personnel to travel, but that wasn’t possible on this trip because of the restrictions on the amount of people who can be in the NBA bubble.

Extra work will add up as well. After practices or games, equipment managers will have to load up the sweaty gear, take it back to the hotel, then call a shuttle to pick them up and take them to the laundry facility built for the restart — 66 washers and 66 dryers, all lined up inside what once was a batting cage at the Atlanta Braves’ former spring training complex.

There’s also a code among the equipment managers. While the 22 teams will be trying to beat each other, the equipment staffs are working together and helping one another where possible.

“We all understand each other’s daily battles,” Diamond said, “because we share the same ones.”

The real comforts of home are gone for the next several weeks. The trick, Pimental said, is making sure players don’t have to worry about getting what they need.

“It’s something we’ve never done before,” Pimental said. “But we’ll make it work.”

Joakim Noah says focus of Achilles recovery was to make Clippers roster

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Joakim Noahlike Kobe Bryant and so many athletes before them — didn’t want an injury to define how his career would end.

Noah said he injured his Achilles back in September and the focus of his rehab is the chance he has now with the Clippers.

“You know, in September, I had a freak accident and cut my Achilles, and you know, I told myself that that’s just not how I wanted to end my career,” Noah said on a conference call with reporters Saturday.

“So you know, the day after the surgery, I was in the gym working out with the hope of making this team. I knew that if I didn’t keep training and if I got a call from the Clippers and I wasn’t ready, I knew I would have regrets for the rest of my life. So I kept training, and to be in this position right now, I feel very fortunate to be in this position, being with God, great players, being in a position to win a championship, it’s not something that I take for granted.”

Joakim Noah added he was supposed to have a workout with the Clippers before the season, but the injury ended that.

“I was supposed to work out with them in September right before the season started. I was ready. I was really excited for the opportunity, and then, you know, just from up with one minute to the next, I cut my Achilles.

“So to be back in this position and to have the confidence from the organization… It’s just a class organization. I just feel like very, very blessed to be in this position right now.”

Noah provides depth and versatility behind an established Los Angeles frontcourt, something needed with the compacted schedule in the Orlando NBA restart. The Clippers start Ivica Zubac, a more traditional center, then bring potential Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell off the bench. Harrell brings his energy, 18.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a night, great pick-and-roll chemistry with Lou Williams, plus improved defense to the mix.

The Clippers are counting on the Noah from the second half of last season, where he was solid coming off the bench in Memphis playing quality defense plus scoring 7.1 points per game. Noah could even play himself into a Clipper contract for next season (depending on what happens with Harrell in free agency this offseason).

For now, Noah is just happy to be back on the court.