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2018 ESPY Awards Drama, Jokes and Danica Hosts ... Go Behind the Scenes!!!

7/18/2018 7:39 PM PDT

The 26th annual ESPYs brought the feels early with an intense recap of the year's most exciting and touching sports moments ... then Danica Patrick lightened the mood.

Danica -- the show's first ever female host -- came out hard with jokes ... about Cleveland sports, J.R. Smith's Finals blunder, LeBron's hair, Ben Simmons joining the Kardashians -- and even the National Anthem controversy.

As you can see, some went over better than others.

Then it was on to the awards, with Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell kicking things off with an ESPY win for Best Breakthrough Athlete. Other winners included the U.S. Women's Hockey Team for Best Game, Baker Mayfield for Best College Athlete, and Nick Foles for Best Championship Performance.

Chloe Kim took home the ESPY for Best Female Athlete, Alex Ovechkin nabbed Best Male ... and the Houston Astros won Best Team.

The evening also included powerful tributes to Bills QB legend Jim Kelly, who received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, Best Coach going to the 3 coaches killed in the Parkland shooting ... and the sister survivors of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar being honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Check out the pics for a behind-the-scenes look at more of the ESPYs excitement.

Samantha Hoopes Loves Saquon's Naked Pics ... You Gotta Be a Model!!

7/4/2018 12:10 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Game respects game ... 'cause Sports Illustrated smokeshow Samantha Hoopes says Saquon Barkley's naked pics are so good, he OWES IT TO THE WORLD to keep modeling!!!

You gotta watch the video ... Samantha's reaction to Saquon's nude pics in ESPN's Body Issue is real, and she's legit impressed!!!

"I do think that you're kind of limiting yourself with a body like that if you don't model," Hoopes says about the 21-year-old NY Giants running back.

"You know, 'cause we all work out to look like that and so if you've already got it, you might as well flaunt it. Right?!"

Samantha knows a little something about the modeling game ... she's posed for Guess, Levi's and has become a fan favorite in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. 

There's more ... the 27-year-old blonde also weighs in on Gisele's recent comments about it being tougher for models to make it big these days thanks to social media. 

Hoopes explains why she believes Gisele has a solid point. 

Saquon Barkley My Naked Pics ... Going Up On My Wall!!

6/29/2018 8:20 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Saquon Barkley is gonna put his big, round, sweaty, naked ... THIGHS ... on his wall -- 'cause the NY Giants star tells TMZ Sports he's framing his ESPN Body Issue pics!!

And ... can ya blame him??

Espn Body Issue ☑️ @espn

A post shared by Saquon Barkley (@saquon) on

The 6-foot, 233-pound running back showed off his oily, clothesless body for the mag's annual nude edition ... and we gotta say -- he killed it.

As for how he got that jacked body ... Barkley told us at CC Sabathia's charity softball game at Yankee Stadium ... it's sometimes fueled by spicy chicken sandwiches, french fries and strawberry milkshakes.

Dude says he doesn't even consider that a "cheat meal" too!!

Some guys have all the luck ... and biceps.

Meek Mill I'm Not Back in Prison! No Matter What PA Says

5/10/2018 11:01 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Meek Mill is back behind bars ... is what the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would have you thinking if you eyed its online records. He's not locked up, and there's actually some good news for Meek.

An alert went out early Thursday morning to people signed up for VINELink, an inmate notification system. It said Robert Rihmeek Williams was in Chester State Prison as of 4 AM. 

We double checked the inmate records at the facility, and sure enough ... it still shows Meek is there, and the reason is kinda funny. The PA Dept. of Corrections tells TMZ ... this is all about getting Meek paid!

We're told the "full release process includes the processing of Mill's final paycheck." Meek's name will remain in the system until he gets that check. VINELink alerting his name appears to be an electronic error.

As for that final check ... we're told Meek's got $15.12 coming to him, plus $644.90 that was deposited in his inmate account by family and friends. Total windfall ... if he wasn't already a super-rich and successful rapper.

If ya needed more proof Meek's still free -- he was on ESPN Thursday morning with Stephen A. Smith. Oddly, they did NOT discuss his pending payday. 

John Skipper Ex-ESPN President Gets New Job

5/8/2018 6:06 AM PDT
Breaking News

Just 5 months after leaving ESPN over a cocaine problem, former president John Skipper has a new gig ... running an international sports media company.

The 62-year-old has accepted the role of Executive Chairman at Perform Group -- which collects, produces, packages and distributes content from all sports, in all formats, across one digital platform.

The company is based in the U.K. but Skipper will work out of NYC -- overseeing all of Perform Group's operations and strategy and report to the board.

According to its website, Perform Group works with with everyone from the NFL to the BBC, the Premiere League, MLS, UFC and more.

Skipper left ESPN back in December to focus on treating "substance addiction" -- which he later revealed to be a coke problem

LeBron James Sued for Ripping Off TV Show You Have No Business in My Barbershop!!!

4/16/2018 2:34 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

LeBron James stole something extremely valuable at a barbershop ... so claims a company that is suing the basketball legend for allegedly jacking their idea for a TV show.

Adventure Enterprises claims in a new lawsuit, obtained by TMZ Sports, it pitched a TV show to LeBron called "Shop Talk." The backdrop for the show was a barbershop where celebs share their business success stories while getting a haircut.

The company claims it had numerous talks about the idea with LeBron's company, UNINTERRUPTED, over a period of 2 years ... fleshing out the idea and figuring out a strategy for pitching it to various networks.

According to the lawsuit, LeBron went and cut Adventure Enterprises out of the picture and created a ripoff show called "The Shop," featuring LeBron in a barbershop with his contemporaries, "while engaging in an intimate conversation describing cultural experiences." The show aired as a webisode.

Adventure Enterprises claims it confronted LeBron's people, and what they got back was an apology and assurances it was a one-time deal and wouldn't happen again.

Apparently it did happen again, because another segment aired on ESPN no less.

Adventure Enterprises is gunning for an injunction prohibiting LeBron and his company from producing any more episodes. They also want some serious cash.

The company is also suing LeBron's business partner, Maverick Carter.

A source close to LeBron and Maverick tells TMZ calls the lawsuit "totally frivolous and publicity seeking."

Ex-NFL Player Dimitri Patterson Tackled Cop ... Police Report Says

4/5/2018 7:40 AM PDT
Exclusive Details

ESPN ain't sweatin' the $50 million defamation lawsuit filed by ex-NFL player Dimitri Patterson ... because the police report obtained by TMZ Sports essentially confirms their story about Patterson's insane courtroom arrest. 

Patterson sued ESPN claiming the network's 2017 story about a "courtroom escape attempt" was false and defamatory ... and he wants them to pay up BIG to make things right. 

But, the problem for Patterson ... the Miami Police Dept. report detailing the incident in question describes exactly what ESPN reported ... Patterson violently tried to escape a courtroom. 

"The defendant ran towards the door of the courtroom to exit. While running towards the door, the defendant tackled officer B. Robert causing her to fall backwards and sustaining an injury to the back of her head."

The police report says Patterson continued to struggle with officers and pulled another cop to avoid being handcuffed. He was eventually arrested and booked for battery on an officer and resisting arrest -- both felonies. TMZ Sports has obtained his mugshot. 

So ... unless Patterson has some bombshell evidence (like a secret twin brother or something) ... it seems his case has a snowball's chance in hell.

Ex-NFL Player Sues ESPN for $50 Million ... Claiming Defamation

4/4/2018 1:37 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Former Miami Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson is suing ESPN for $50 million claiming the network defamed him in a 2017 article saying he was in custody after a "courtroom escape attempt."

The article -- published on August 15, 2017 -- says Patterson injured two police officers while trying to abruptly exit a Miami-Dade courthouse and avoid being arrested. 

ESPN says it confirmed the info with police -- noting, "a female officer suffered neck and back injuries, and a male officer injured his wrist while apprehending Patterson."

FYI, Patterson played in the NFL from 2005 to 2013, racking up 9 interceptions in 79 games. 

But, Patterson says the information is wrong -- saying, "The article is false and defamatory in its overall portrayal of DP as a violent, impulsive, unstable person."

Patterson says there is court video footage which backs up his claims. 

In his suit, which he filed while acting as his own lawyer, Patterson includes a letter from ESPN legal team in which the network defends the accuracy of the article. 

Patterson is demanding $50 MILLION in damages. 

We reached out to ESPN for comment. So far, no word back. 

Ex-ESPN President John Skipper Admits Cocaine Problem

3/15/2018 6:56 AM PDT
Breaking News

John Skipper is finally opening up about his shocking exit from ESPN -- and admitting the "substance addiction" that led to his resignation was with cocaine. 

"I did get some therapy. I did go through treatment," Skipper told The Hollywood Reporter

"I thought the best thing to do was to take the time to check myself into a facility, and I was able to understand a bit more about substance use and to think about how it intersected with my life."

Skipper is adamant he never had a problem with alcohol, heroin or opioids -- it was strictly cocaine.

"At ESPN I did not use at work, nor with anyone at work, or with anyone I did business with. I never allowed it to interfere with my work, other than a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments."

But, Skipper says he knew he had to come clean about his coke habit in December when someone he bought cocaine from tried to extort him. 

The dealer is described in the article as a "strange source."

Skipper also claims rumors of alleged sexual misconduct contributing to his resignation are false.

"My behavior relative to women at ESPN was always respectful. I did not touch anybody inappropriately. I did not tell off-color jokes. I treated everybody with respect."

WWE's Jonathan Coachman I'm NOT a Sexual Predator ... Slams Accuser

3/6/2018 8:13 AM PST
Breaking News

Ex-ESPN anchor Jonathan Coachman is firing back against allegations he was a sexual predator during his time at the network ... saying he's the victim of "vicious lies."

Coachman -- who now works for WWE -- was mentioned in a lawsuit filed by ex-ESPN legal analyst Adrienne Lawrence ... who claims Coachman was part of the "misogynistic and predatory culture" at the network. 

Specifically, Lawrence claimed Coachman hit on her and employed tactics from the "ESPN predator's playbook." She claimed Coachman was a notorious sexual harasser at the office. 

Lawrence is suing ESPN, not Coachman personally. 

But, Coachman is furious and has finally responded to the allegations. 

"In 21 years of being a PROFESSIONAL I have never been more offended in my life," Coachman says. 

"In my 9 years I can count on one hand the amount of times I interacted with anyone other than a co-anchor. To allow someone to spread vicious lies and flat out fabrications is not ok and it’s time someone stood up for themselves."

"I am also offended that someone can dangerously throw peoples’ names into something for the clear attempt at getting headlines."

"My heart goes out to anyone falsely accused of anything. Trust me it doesn’t feel good. But most of you have been incredible and supportive. Onward and upward."

Jemele Hill I Clashed with Chris Berman ... But No Racist Voicemail

3/5/2018 4:11 PM PST
Breaking News

Jemele Hill says Chris Berman NEVER left her a racist voicemail -- despite allegations in a lawsuit -- but admits she did have a "personal conflict" with the ESPN legend. 

As we previously reported, ex-ESPN legal analyst Adrienne Lawrence is suing ESPN -- and while she attempted to paint the company as a bastion of misogyny, she also included an allegation that Berman left a "racially disparaging" voicemail for Hill. 

Now, Hill is issuing a statement on the matter ... saying: 

"A few years ago, I had a personal conflict with Chris Berman, but the way this conflict has been characterized is dangerously inaccurate."

"Chris never left any racially disparaging remarks on my voicemail and our conflict was handled swiftly and with the utmost professionalism."

"I felt as if my concerns were taken seriously by ESPN and addressed in a way that made me feel like a valued employee."

"Frankly, I’m more disappointed that someone I considered to be a friend at one point would misrepresent and relay a private conversation without my knowledge -- in which I simply attempted to be a sounding board -- for personal gain."

ESPN also issued a statement saying the company "conducted a thorough investigation of the claims Adrienne Lawrence surfaced to ESPN and they are entirely without merit."

"The company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”

Lawsuit: ESPN's Chris Berman Left 'Racially Disparaging' Voicemail ... for Jemele Hill

3/5/2018 12:29 PM PST
Exclusive Details

ESPN legend Chris Berman left a "threatening and racially disparaging voicemail" to fellow ESPN star Jemele Hill in 2016 and nothing was done ... this according to a new lawsuit.

The woman behind the suit is NOT Jemele -- it's Adrienne Lawrence -- a former ESPN legal analyst who's suing ESPN for sexual discrimination, hostile work environment and more. 

Lawrence specifically says ESPN host John Buccigross made her life a living hell after she rejected his "unwelcome advances."

In her suit, Lawrence describes ESPN as a company rife with misogyny -- and points to several alleged incidents to make her point. 

One such incident involves Berman and Hill. 

"In early 2016, ESPN's 'The Undefeated' personality Jemele Hill received a threatening and racially disparaging voicemail from Berman on her ESPN phone line."

Lawrence claims Hill notified ESPN executive Marcia Keegan -- who oversaw Hill's show, "His & Hers" -- but ultimately "nothing was done."

Lawrence claims Berman has been involved in multiple incidents involving mistreatment of women -- but "remains a celebrated and welcome ESPN employee."

We've reached out to ESPN multiple times for comment. So far, no word back.

Michael Wilbon NBA's 1-And-Done Rule's Gotta Go ... But, Racist?!

2/27/2018 9:29 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

The NBA's 1-and-done rule is "complicated" and objectionable" and has got to go ... so says ESPN star Michael Wilbon -- but he definitely stopped short of calling it "racist."

We got the "Pardon The Interruption" host leaving Craig's in L.A. -- and asked him about Stan Van Gundy's recent comments about the league's 1-year collegiate mandate being racist ... since most athletes it's holding back are black.

"The '1-and-done' is complicated and it's not good and its gonna go away," Wilbon said ... "I don't know if it's racist or not, but it's objectionable."

The complication? Wilbon points out that such a high percentage of college and pro basketball players are black ... suggesting people arguing against the rule might be able to twist the numbers to make their argument.

Bottom line -- Wilbon believes the 1-and-done is on its way out ... and ya gotta think the NBA's considering it after a bunch of its stars were named in last week's NCAA hoops corruption scandal.

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