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NHL's Alex Ovechkin

Vladimir Putin's a 'Nice Guy'

2/14/2015 10:24 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Hockey superstar Alex Ovechkin says when it comes to Vladimir Putin, a lot of people have the wrong idea -- because the President of Russia is really a "nice guy."

The Russian-born Washington Capitals superstar was hanging out in L.A. yesterday when we asked if Putin's as intimidating in person as he appears on TV.

Alex told us he didn't want to get into politics, but it's clear he's a fan of Putin -- and even picked him to beat Obama in a hypothetical steel cage match.

Bill Bradley

If The Knicks Need Someone

... I'm Available

2/12/2015 10:13 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

021115_bill_bradley_launch_v2Bill Bradley clearly agrees with Aaliyah about that whole "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number" thing ... 'cause at 71 he tells TMZ Sports he's willing to suit up for the struggling Knicks RIGHT NOW.

The former Knick -- and U.S. Senator -- was out in D.C when we asked him what exactly the Knicks need to get them out of the kingdom of suckdom that they have resided in all year.

"I'll go back for the average salary as a designated free throw shooter," Bradley said.

He was obviously joking around ... but he definitely turns serious when asked how many years he thinks it'll take his friend Phil Jackson to turn the team around.

And no, the answer is not "Infinity."

Rap Legend Twista

Little League Is Racist

For Stripping Title From All-Black Team

2/11/2015 4:41 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0211-twista-tmz-01Chicago hip-hop legend Twista tells TMZ Sports the decision to strip Jackie Robinson West of their U.S. LLWS title wasn't about following rules and ALL about one thing ... racism.

Team J.R.W. became the darlings of the 2014 Little League World Series, becoming the first all-black squad to take the U.S. crown ... earning them instant celebrity status and even a visit with President Obama.

When it was announced earlier Wednesday that the tykes had been stripped of their title due to a falsified boundary map, some people called B.S. ... including Twista. 

We spoke to Twista -- one of the most celebrated rappers from the Windy City -- and he tells us that he thinks the whole thing was totally about discrediting an all-black team.

"I'm outraged. You don't see this extensive of an investigation happen unless it happens to black people."

Twista also says that there's a legit reason why some of the boys traveled out of district and that the higher-ups at Little League headquarters just don't care.

"There was a park in the Dolton area that got torn down, that made the kids have to even play at Jackie Robinson. No one pays attention to what they have to go through to play baseball."

He didn't stop there ... Twista essentially says America is still uncomfortable with a group of black kids succeeding in the country's celebrated pastime. 

"It's the friendly game of baseball ... no one is comfortable when a group like them does something positive in that. They rush to tear them down."

Clint Eastwood

'American Sniper' Bashers Have a Point

2/10/2015 6:05 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

021015_clint_eastwood_launchClint Eastwood said something really weird Monday night about "American Sniper" ... appearing to agree with his harshest critics.

Clint was leaving Dan Tana's in West Hollywood when our photog asked what he thought about Bill Maher and Michael Moore blasting the portrayal of military sniper Chris Kyle as a hero. You'll recall, Moore called snipers "cowards," and Maher said Kyle was a "psychopath patriot."

Clint seems to hear and then process the question before he responds ... with agreement.

It's just bizarre. Watch and judge for yourself.

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North Korea

Ping Pong Diplomacy

With U.S. Table Tennis Star

2/7/2015 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0206-north-korea-ping-pong-TMZ-SPORTS-01Basketball didn't work ... but the future of U.S., N. Korean relations could rest in the hands of an American ping pong player ... TMZ Sports has learned.

We know ... several members of the N. Korean team struck up a friendship with American table tennis player Adam Bobrow last month at an international tournament in Dubai.

Bobrow -- whose "excessive ping pong celebration" made him an Internet sensation -- tells us at first, the North Korean team was exceptionally reclusive ... keeping their distance from other teams and other players. 

"I felt like there was this bubble around them that nobody was willing to penetrate. Like they were off limits to talk to ... and I thought to myself, 'They're people just like me. Why can't I talk to them?'"

Eventually, Bobrow says he approached the N.K. players and asked for a photo together -- and to his surprise (considering the political climate), they agreed. 

"Everyone smiled and that started the silent friendship ... because I don't speak a lot of Korean and they don't speak a lot of English."

However, the official N.K. translator spoke PERFECT English -- and Adam says they began engaging in friendly conversation ... with the translator eventually giving Adam a "gift" as a token of their friendship. 

"He gave me some books ... including a sports magazine from N. Korea. He also gave me a book of transcribed speeches of Kim Jong-un and said, 'Here are some words from our leader.'"

Adam says the speeches -- which were translated into English -- were mostly "words to pump up and inspire the nation. He talked about the history of the country and how they will stay strong."

"Everything in the book was reasonable," Bobrow says ... "No outrageous claims. I don't remember anything that struck me as bizarre or unusual."

But here's the kicker ... Bobrow says before they parted ways, he invited the N. Korean team (through the translator) to compete in the U.S. Open of Table Tennis in Las Vegas in June. 

"He didn't seem opposed to it," Bobrow says ... "He said he would bring it to the N. Korea Association and see what they think."

Bobrow says the team rep explained that he didn't have an email address -- but said he'd give his answer at the next tournament they both attend. 

"I think we were on the same page about it ... it could be a very positive thing for international relations."

The tiny ball is in their court. 

'Empire' Creator Lee Daniels

The Kennedy's Inspired My Show

2/7/2015 8:41 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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"Empire" creator Lee Daniels says the inspiration for the show's main character didn't come from a famous hip-hop mogul ... it came in part from the Kennedy matriarch. 

Lee was heading out of Equinox when he shot down rumors P. Diddy or Jay Z may have been the germ of the idea for the show.  There were multiple inspirations ... a little here, a little there, but it seems the Kennedy influence loomed large.

Hint: it's not JFK.

BTW ... Daniels was a big "Dynasty" fan.

Tom Brady

Political Endorsement

... from Patrick Kennedy?!

2/4/2015 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

020315_patrick_kennedy_launchHe already won the Super Bowl ... and the MVP award ... but could Tom Brady also win an election one day???

Don't count him out ... so says former Congressman Patrick Kennedy -- who says Tom's got all the right qualities for a career in politics.

Kennedy (Dem-Rhode Island) was out in D.C. when he joked that Brady could win any election in the country right now (except for Seattle) ... and praised the guy as a real stud in the community.

For the record, Brady has said he's thought about a political career in the past ... but is leaning toward staying out of it.

Yeah, that's just what a politician would say.

Chelsea Handler

My Boobs Bring Peace ...

To The Middle East

1/29/2015 12:37 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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Chelsea Handler believes the God to whom you pray doesn't matter ... one thing's universal ... men of all faiths can appreciate a nice rack. 

Handler has two things that can bring Jews and Muslims together and they're both on her chest ... she posted the topless Instagram pic -- with Star of David pasties -- while vacationing Wednesday in Israel.

This isn't her girl's first rodeo -- she swapped the camel for a horse and out-chested Vladimir Putin -- and pants also seem optional.

She's right though, you don't need to be topless for peace ... but it doesn't hurt to try.

Dennis Rodman

'I Get Death Threats A Lot'

Over North Korea Trip

1/26/2015 11:55 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF


Dennis Rodman says he's constantly the target of vicious death threats ... all because of his trip to North Korea ... and it's clearly taking one hell of an emotional toll on the NBA legend. 

The Worm nearly broke down during an interview scene in the new documentary "Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang In Pyongyang" ... in which he tries to explain why he was so passionate about going to N. Korea in the first place. 

"I get death threats a lot," Rodman said ... "People ask, why are you doing this Dennis? I'm just trying to keep everything together."

Rodman also calls out Jay-Z and Beyonce -- claiming the couple is way more famous than he is, but aren't willing to risk what he risks in order to make the world a better place. 

It's pretty emotional stuff.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

I'm Entering WWE Hall of Fame, Baby

1/26/2015 8:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
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Arnold Schwarzenegger is going into the Hall of Fame ... not for acting or bodybuilding ... the former governor is being inducted for his contributions to wrestling. 

TMZ has learned Arnold will be the next inductee WWE announces for their HoF's celeb wing -- featuring the likes of Mike Tyson, Pete Rose and Donald Trump.

Schwarzenegger is a long time wrestling fan whose appeared at many Monday Night RAW and Smackdown events. He also inducted legendary wrestler Bruno Sammartino into the Hall in 2013. 

As we previously reported ... "Macho Man" Randy Savage will also be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame during WrestleMania 31 weekend.

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Blake Shelton

I Don't Have to See 'American Sniper'

To Blast Celebs Attacking It

1/22/2015 6:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
012215_blake_shelton_launchBlake Shelton has no problem defending "American Sniper" and ripping celebs who trash it, even though he hasn't even seen the movie!

Shelton was leaving 30 Rock (probably after his "Saturday Night Live" rehearsal) when he told us ... he was defending the military, not the movie itself, when he tweeted, "Sickens me to see celebrities or anybody slam the very people who protect their right to talk sh*t.. #truecowards"

Shelton admitted this week he might have been drunk tweeting ... but tells us he does plan to see the movie soon.

Kid Rock also went on the attack against Seth Rogen and Michael Moore, for their 'Sniper' criticisms -- writing on his website, "F*** you Michael Moore, you’re a piece of s*** and your uncle would be ashamed of you. Seth Rogen, your uncle probably molested you. I hope both of you catch a fist to the face soon."

Unclear if Kid was drinking, but chances are ...

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Meet The Most Excited Person

At President Obama's

State of the Union Address

1/21/2015 10:01 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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The crowd at Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address may have been there for President Obama's speech ... but the governmental group was way more turned on by Barack himself.


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This guy was stoked over his autographed tie.


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These folks were thrilled by a handshake.


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This woman somehow managed to play it cool.


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But no one was as excited Rep. Terri Sewell.


Here's the Alabama Congresswoman on a normal day.


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Last night, however, the excitement had her bugging out.


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Rep. Sewell had no chill.


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Seriously, zero chill.


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The face of Obama's #1 fan!


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Let's face it -- you'd probably bug out too.

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