Shaquille O'Neal's still calling the shots -- but now in the political arena -- telling TMZ it was HIS brilliant idea to endorse Republican NJ Gov. Chris Christie.
Shaq -- who's a native of Newark -- was in neighboring NYC last night when we asked about the Governor's newest strategy ... a 30-second campaign commercial featuring the big man (O'Neal not Christie).
Clearly, Shaq's a big fan ... telling us Christie's "a good man" who's done a lot for the Garden State. ... that's why he came up with what could be a game winning play for the Governor.
I COULD DUNK A BASKETBALL
... But Not Anymore ...
10/30/2013 8:52 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
John Stockton is finally settling one of the great mysteries surrounding the NBA -- can he dunk a basketball????
The Hall-of-Famer was out in NYC yesterday promoting his new book," Assisted" when we asked if he ever got above the rim.
John's answer -- "Not anymore ... I could at one time."
For the record, trying to find a video clip of John dunking a basketball is like trying to find the Loch Ness monster ... it's virtually impossible.
So, here's the next best thing ...
Lamar Odom May Have Burned His Lakers Bridge
10/30/2013 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Lamar Odom may have ruined his chances of EVER returning to his beloved Los Angeles Lakers ... so says his ex coach and NBA legend Phil Jackson.
Jackson didn't mince words to TMZ when we asked if he thought Lamar would ever return to the purple and gold. He said, "I think that bridge might have been burned."
In case you didn't know, Phil is pretty tight with Lakers execs -- he lives with team Prez Jeanie Buss.
And this is interesting. Phil tells us ... he's not blaming the Kardashian family for Lamar's woes, despite a recent interview in which he hinted that Lamar would have been better off without the K-fam.
He says although the reality show was "a distraction" for Lamar, there's a benefit that outweighed the negative -- "Lamar got a family and a caring unit."
He also said he worries that Bruce Jenner is out of the picture ... because Lamar related to him as an athlete.
As for what caused Lamar to unravel, Jackson said he's been dealing with "too many personal things," although he was not specific.
New Shoe Available with
10/30/2013 12:02 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Breakfast Date with Phil Jackson
10/25/2013 12:53 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Kobe Bryant has apparently forgiven Phil Jackson for calling him an insecure, sensitive sub-Jordanesque player in his book ... 'cause the two got together for breakfast this week, TMZ has learned.
We've learned ... Kobe and his former Lakers coach shared a booth at Wendy's Place in El Segundo Thursday morning ... chowing down on eggs and other breakfast-y items.
Kobe and Phil have had a complicated relationship over the years ... which Phil touched upon in his book, "Eleven Rings," which he released back in May.
In the book, Phil wrote that Michael was a better shooter, defender and overall leader than Kobe ... which some people interpreted as a slight against the Mamba.
But at breakfast yesterday, the two seemed as chummy as ever ... talking about basketball while scarfing down their meal.
So, who paid when the bill came??? The guy with the most jewelry.
Side note -- we spoke to someone who was there that day ... and when we asked how Kobe looked, we were told, "Beautiful."
Risks Most Valuable Hand
... To Pet a LION!!!
10/24/2013 4:36 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The fate of the Los Angeles Lakers rests in the hands of Kobe Bryant ... which is why it might be concerning that his hands are near the mouth of A LIVE MAN-EATING LION!!!
Kobe faced down the king of the jungle at an L.A. studio today ... during a commercial shoot for Turkish Airlines. Kobe's a celebrity spokesman for the airline.
Check out the pics above ... that's Kobe sticking his right hand (his shooting hand, mind you) directly up to the lion's mouth.
Fortunately, Kobe emerged without a scratch ... and he's lucky ... 'cause as everyone knows, big cats can be dangerous to humans. Just ask Adam Sandler ...
I Chose Not to Attend
10/23/2013 6:14 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Lamar Odom tells TMZ he hasn't been blackballed from the Kardashian family -- and WAS invited to Kanye's big proposal to Kim -- but he CHOSE not to go because he had better things to do that night.
It was just one of the topics Lamar addressed on his way out of the Spitting Chicken Cantina in Sherman Oaks, CA last night ... telling us about his friendship with Kobe, his relationship with his dad and his battle to get back into the NBA.
In fact, L.O. says he believes he's back in playing shape -- telling us, "I can play a basketball game and probably play really well."
He wanted to prove it by showing off his physique -- jokingly asking, "Do you wanna see me with my shirt off or my pants down?"
Don't worry, he didn't follow through on his offer.
In the end, Lamar couldn't have been nicer .... but something still seems off.
I'm Wearing My Ring, I'm Healthy, I Could Be a Laker
10/22/2013 12:55 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Lamar Odom aggressively wanted to talk to a photog yesterday, about life, health, basketball and marriage.
Lamar has NEVER been chatty, so this lunchtime video is pretty shocking. The photog tries to end the interview several times and Lamar actually calls him back. Among the subjects:
-- His prospects of returning to the Lakers
-- His outlook on life and death
-- His obsession with health
You gotta see it. It's as revealing as anything we've seen in a long time.
I Won't Fight Dwyane Wade's Battles
(Especially the One with Kevin Durant)
10/22/2013 12:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Gabrielle Union is refusing to confirm if the beef between her BF Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant is real ... but she ain't exactly saying it's BS either.
Things have been heating up between Wade and Durant recently -- after Durant called Wade an overrated player who should no longer be on the NBA's top 10 list. He later said Wade needs to "pass the torch."
Wade responded with an Instagram post saying, "Note to self ... make [Durant] respect your place in history ... again."
Union was at LAX this weekend -- and while she tried to play down the feud as a one-time thing, it seems as if there's more to the story.
Either way, the Heat take on the Thunder on January 29 -- bring your popcorn.
10/20/2013 11:20 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Lamar Odom's got recovery on his mind -- chowing down on a healthy breakfast in L.A. this morning.
Sources at Crave restaurant in Sherman Oaks tell TMZ, Odom only stopped by for about 20 minutes with another person, but ordered a healthy breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, and coffee.
We're told he ate pretty much everything, which is a good sign ... because if his appetite is returning, it could mean he's finally weaning himself off crack.
As we reported, Lamar's been looking thinner and thinner recently, so a good meal could really benefit him. Especially if he's considering a return to the NBA.
Coughs Up $340k to Ex-Mistress
Here's Your Damn Hush Money
10/20/2013 9:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Former NBA star Stephon Marbury has officially gotten his bitter ex-mistress off his back -- and all it cost him was nearly a million dollars in hush money payments ... TMZ has learned.
As we reported, Marbury and Thurayyah Mitchell -- the personal chef he banged in 2006 while he was married -- had a legal agreement she would keep quiet about the affair, if he coughed up $900,000.
Problem is ... Marbury stopped paying around the $600,000 mark. So Mitchell dragged him to court earlier this year, and a judge ordered him to pay off his tab, or face losing his assets.
According to new court docs, Marbury has now paid the full outstanding debt of $341,153 and all's square once and for all.
To review: Marbury bought $900k worth of silence over an affair everyone now knows about.
For Packin' Heat at Airport
10/19/2013 12:43 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The 11-time NBA champ was breezing through security at Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle Wednesday ... when a screener noticed something funny in his carry-on. Turns out ... Bill was packin' a fully loaded, .38 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.
He could be fined up to $7,500.
Russell -- who became the first Black coach in the NBA -- got the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, courtesy of Barack Obama.
We reached out to Russell for comment ... so far, no word back.
Do Your Homework!!!
I'll Give You Knicks Tix
10/19/2013 12:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Stay in school, kids ... because if you do well, Carmelo Anthony will give you free Knicks tickets!!! At least that's what he did in Baltimore this week.
Melo and teammate Iman Shumpert dropped by the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center in MD to spend some time with the kids in the program, and Melo rewarded the 15 Students of the Month with free Knicks tickets to Thursday's game in Baltimore (against the Wizards).
Anthony gave each student 2 tickets ... handing out 30 total ... but he didn't forget about the non-Students of the Month. We're told he handed out t-shirts to everyone. And they all had a blast.
Talk about a real winner -- and not just because the Knicks trounced the Wizards 98-89.