Fact: The child abuse investigation into NBA star Dwight Howard has just been kicked to the Atlanta PD.
Fact: If charges are brought against Dwight, the matter would be prosecuted by the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.
Fact: The Fulton County District Attorney ... is Dwight Howard's uncle.
We broke the story ... the Cobb County PD was initially handling the investigation into allegations Dwight beat his 6-year-old son Braylon with a belt buckle.
But the CCPD tells us investigators now believe the alleged incident occurred in Fulton County, where Dwight's uncle has been the head prosecutor in charge since 1997.
So, what does it mean? Paul Howard is almost certainly going to have to recuse himself from the case ... which would likely mean the prosecution would be handled by the Georgia Attorney General (and judging by his photo, we're guessing there's no relation).
If Paul doesn't recuse himself, you could bet the alleged victim will put up a helluva fight ... for obvious reasons.
We reached out to the Atlanta PD and the Fulton County DA for comment. So far no word back.
Hits Up Paintball Park
After Shoulder Injury
1/25/2015 8:53 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Just days after being diagnosed with a season-ending rotator cuff injury, Kobe Bryant his up a popular paintball park in L.A. this weekend ... to kick it with Anderson Silva.
Kobe and the UFC legend were hanging at the Hollywood Sports park in Bellflower, CA on Saturday -- where Silva and his kids go paint splatterin' every other weekend.
Seems unlikely Kobe got in on the action -- since everyone else in the pic is dressed for combat and Kobe's not ... and also, he's still nursing that injury.
At the very least, it's good to see he's not moping around the house.
NBA's Mark Jackson
RIPS ROGER GOODELL
... He's a Terrible Commish
1/24/2015 11:52 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Deflate-gate -- or anything like Deflate-gate -- would NEVER happen in the NBA ... because Adam Silver doesn't SUCK like Roger Goodell ... so says ex-NBA coach Mark Jackson.
The former Golden State Warriors head coach strongly believes the issues in the NFL trickle down from horrible leadership -- and says the buck ultimately stops with Goodell.
"The issue is how poorly the Commissioner and the league is handling the entire situation [Deflate-gate]," Jackson says ... "It's been a horrible year."
"I think they're doing a bad job as far as leadership in the National Football League."
Injury Hurts Local Restaurants
Expecting Fans to Bail
1/24/2015 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
It's not just the Lakers who will take a hit with Kobe Bryant out the rest of the season -- local L.A. restaurants are also concerned ... telling TMZ Sports business is significantly slower when the Mamba isn't on the court.
FYI -- Staples Center is located right next to L.A. Live ... a major entertainment center packed with restaurants often trafficked by people before and after events at the arena.
But with Kobe going down with a torn rotator cuff, several restaurant staffers tell us everyone is going to suffer.
We spoke with Mike Zislis -- owner of Rock ‘N Fish at L.A. Live -- who tells us, "We feel like we’re gonna lose at least 10 percent of our sales per home game."
"Last year when Kobe was out we calculated we lost $250k in revenue," Zislis says, noting that Kobe only played in 2 home games during the '13-'14 season.
"Lakers fans generally spend more than Kings or Clippers fans so when they suck and Kobe isn’t there to draw fans, it hurts."
We also spoke with staffers at Katsuya at L.A. Live who echoed Mike's statements. One staffer told us, "When Kobe is out, the restaurant is empty and business is slow. It sucks for the staff because less people equals less tips."
Of course, there's one simple solution to the problem -- the Lakers could go on a winning streak and bring the fans back to the arena.
No pressure Swaggy P.
NBA PAL MAKES ALL-STAR TEAM
Thanks to Pop Star's Support
1/23/2015 6:03 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Maybe he really IS the most powerful man in the NBA ... because Justin Bieber's pal Kyle Lowry has been voted to be a starter in the NBA All-Star game ... and it seems Bieb's support put him over the top.
As we previously reported, Lowry was 3rd in All-Star voting for the Eastern Conference backcourt position behind Dwyane Wade and John Wall ... that is, until Bieber tweeted to his 60 MILLION followers to vote for the Toronto Raptors star.
Well, Bieber's plan worked ... with Lowry surging ahead in the voting at the last minute to secure a starting spot ... beating out Wade by 15,000 votes.
Spurs Star Danny Green
To Wear Stuart Scott Shoes
1/22/2015 3:39 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
San Antonio Spurs star Danny Green has been given the green light to rock a special pair of sneakers dedicated to Stuart Scott for TONIGHT'S GAME ... the NBA tells TMZ Sports.
Green had approached custom shoe designer Jake Danklefs and ordered up a special pair to pay tribute to his fellow North Carolina Tar Heel ... and was only waiting tor permission from the league.
Well, we spoke with Tim Frank -- Senior V.P. of Communications for the NBA -- and asked if everything was a go for tonight and here's what Tim said:
"He is ... Danny was asked and given permission to wear them for one game. Unlike some reports you might have read, he was never told 'no.'"
It's a great night for Green -- since the Spurs vs. Bulls game will be nationally broadcast on TNT.
I Won't Buy the ATL Hawks ...
NBA Owners Are Powerless
1/22/2015 6:32 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Seems T.I. has taken himself out of the running to buy the Atlanta Hawks -- telling us NBA owners have no real power and the whole thing seems like a waste of money.
T.I. was leaving Ricardo Steakhouse in NYC Wednesday night -- when he told us he's "excited" about how well the Hawks are doing this season ... but says he's flat out "not interested" in ownership.
"The thing about me owning a NBA franchise ... you never get bigger than the NBA," T.I. says.
"So, whatever it is that you do, it'll be controlled by a bunch of people who probably have more money than you. And who have been involved with the organization for longer than you. So you won't be able to do a lot of the things that you want to do. So, I'm not interested."
FYI -- according to Forbes, the Hawks are worth roughly $825 million ... and the price is probably going up -- considering the Hawks are ON FIRE ... winning their 14th game in a row Wednesday.
OUT-THUNDERSTORMS NFL STAR
... At L.A. Strip Club
1/21/2015 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
One made it THUNDERSTORM ... the other made it drizzle.
TMZ Sports has learned ... L.A. Clippers star Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Tampa Bay Bucs star Dashon Goldson were two of the stars that hit up the grand opening of Ace of Diamonds in L.A. on Monday.
For the record, Goldson signed a $41.2 million contract in 2013. Davis has made about $26 million in his NBA career.
Which is why it was a bit shocking when Big Baby created his own indoor monsoon that dwarfed Goldson's mini-downpour.
Our strip club sources tell us Davis was throwin' so much cash around, 4 dancers left with $3k each ... and that doesn't include the $5k he dropped around the stage.
Check out the pic below which shows one dancer's take from Davis.
As for Goldson, as one strip club source put it -- "He made it sprinkle."
No one said being fiscally responsible was fun.
Campaigning for NBA Player
to Make All-Star Team
1/19/2015 12:27 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Justin Bieber is hoping his 60 MILLION twitter followers can make a dent in NBA All-Star voting ... and he's putting his weight behind a guy who plays in Canada.
Bieber is pushing for Kyle Lowry -- a point guard for the Toronto Raptors who's having a pretty good season ... and is currently 3rd in the All-Star voting behind John Wall and Dwyane Wade.
The Canadian pop star tweeted, "Toronto has been killin it and @Klow7 deserves to be an nba all star. Make sure to vote for him. #WeTheNorth. Good luck buddy."
The All-Star game "starters" are chosen based on fan voting -- so if Bieber can mobilize his army, there's a good chance Lowry can leapfrog the other two guys in the Eastern Conference backcourt.
Stay tuned ...
Back On Probation
For Illegal Fireworks Bust
1/19/2015 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Gilbert Arenas is back on probation ... stemming from an illegal fireworks bust from 2013 ... TMZ Sports has learned.
The former NBA superstar -- who was famously involved in a NBA locker room gun showdown back in 2010 -- was arrested in L.A. with 100 POUNDS of illegal explosives in June 2013.
The timing couldn't have been better for Arenas ... who had completed probation from the gun incident roughly one year before the fireworks arrest. Talk about a close call.
As for the fireworks bust ... Arenas was charged with misdemeanor fireworks possession and was facing jail time -- but ultimately cut a deal with prosecutors to get probation instead.
According to official docs obtained by TMZ Sports, Arenas pled no contest ... and in exchange was hit with $41,240 in fines, penalties and other fees. Plus, he was ordered to complete 10 days of community service pertaining to "fire prevention."
Court docs show Arenas paid the fines and completed the community service -- and will remain on probation until January 2016.
Translation -- probably best to leave the fireworks to the pros this year.
Johnny Gill To Kareem Rush
Your Singing Needs Work
... But There's Hope
1/18/2015 12:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
R&B legend Johnny Gill has some good news and bad news for ex-Lakers player Kareem Rush and his dream of being the next big thing in music.
The Good News? He doesn't suck.
The Bad News? He needs a whole lotta work.
As we previously reported, Rush is attempting to score in the studio these days -- dropping a new pop-R&B album later this month.
The former NBA baller even made an appearance on "TMZ Hollywood Sports" earlier this week and gave the whole crew a sample of the goods -- busting out an a capella version of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me."
So when we ran into Johnny out in Hollywood this week ... our camera guy decided to play a little "TMZ Sports Idol" with the multi-platinum artist to see how he really feels about Kareem's pipes.
Check out the clip -- ever hear the phrase "brutally honest?"
I'm Not Buying the Brooklyn Nets
1/16/2015 8:07 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Donald Trump is taking himself out of the running to buy the Brooklyn Nets ... telling TMZ Sports he won't even consider making a bid for the NBA team now that they're up for sale.
Of course, Trump flirted with the idea of buying the Buffalo Bills last year ... and it seemed like the guy was pretty serious about adding a major professional sports team to his portfolio.
But last night, after having dinner with L.A. Clippers President Doc Rivers, Trump told us Mikhail Prokhorov will have to find another rich person to take the squad off his hands.
Clippers' Doc Rivers
My Son Won't Get Special Treatment
Now That He's On My Team
1/16/2015 6:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
L.A. Clippers President Doc Rivers says the NBA ain't Little League ... telling TMZ Sports his son Austin Rivers won't be treated ANY DIFFERENTLY now that he'll be joining his team.
FYI -- The Clippers acquired the 22-year-old in a 3-team trade that went through on Thursday.
Hours after the deal, we saw Doc leaving a power dinner with Donald Trump at Boa Steakhouse in West Hollywood and asked him if he was worried that the players thinking Austin will get special treatment because of their relationship.
Rivers is adamant he'll treat Austin just the same as everyone else -- not easier, not harder.
A father has never coached a son in the NBA before -- so the minute Austin takes the court, he'll be making history.
Pretty cool, right?