Zion Williamson Getting Full-Court Press from Puma ... Nike In the Running

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Zion Williamson has still NOT signed a shoe deal -- despite being the most sought after NBA draft pick since LeBron James -- and our sources say it's all because of Puma.

Nike was believed to be the front-runner to sign Zion for months ... with legendary former Nike exec Sonny Vaccaro telling us he thinks Zion's deal could hit the 9-figure mark.

And, with Zion rocking Nikes in college, in pre-draft workouts and in some NBA Summer league games ... it seemed like it was just a matter of time before Zion signed with the Swoosh.

But, we're told Puma -- which has made a serious push in the basketball shoe space in recent years -- has come out of nowhere to become a major contender to sign the NBA's #1 overall pick.

Puma already has rising stars Marvin Bagley III and DeAndre Ayton on its roster -- the first 2 picks from the 2018 NBA Draft.

And, get this ... Zion rocked a pair of Puma RS-0 "Video Game" kicks during a Summer league game earlier this month, and our sources tell us that's no coincidence.

IMAGN

We're told Nike is aware of the competition and is making a hard push to get a deal done with Williamson first. As one source puts it, "He's the #1 priority."

Remember, Zion did have one bad experience with Nike in college ... when his Nike PG 2.5s blew out during the opening seconds of the Duke vs. North Carolina game.

Fun Fact: The shoes were never seen in public again after that incident ... and Ken Goldin from Goldin Auction told us he thinks the kicks could be the most valuable collegiate sneakers of all time ... worth more than $250,000 if they ever hit the auction block!!!

The NBA season kicks off in October and whatever brand signs Zion is going to want him to wear their sneaker on opening day ... so, ticktock.

Jussie Smollett Special Prosecutor is BS!!! And, The Judge is Prejudiced

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TMZ

Jussie Smollett is pushing back against the appointment of a special prosecutor for his criminal case in Chicago ... and he's doing everything he can to stop it.

The actor's legal team filed three motions Friday, obtained by TMZ, seeking to overturn the appointment of a special prosecutor ... arguing it would expose Jussie to double jeopardy.

According to the docs, Jussie is trying to reverse the order issued last month by a Chicago judge, who faulted Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and laid the groundwork for Jussie possibly facing prosecution for allegedly faking the now infamous "attack."

Jussie's attorney, Tina Glandian, takes issue with the judge's apparent conclusion Jussie is guilty of staging a hate crime. In the docs, Jussie's legal team claims the Osundairo brothers attacked Jussie, got caught and then blamed him.

According to the docs, Jussie's attorney is floating the idea Abel and Ola Osundairo were motivated by homophobia, and she cites text messages from Ola degrading another man as a "fruit." His legal team is seeking grand jury testimony from the two brothers.

It's another twist in the ongoing Smollett saga ... as you know, the charges against Jussie were essentially dropped, even after the grand jury indicted him on 16 felony counts of lying to cops.

3/26/19
SOMETHING STINKS
Fox 32 Chicago

We broke the story ... Jussie claimed he was attacked by 2 masked men who beat him and put a rope around his neck while screaming homophobic and racial slurs. Police called BS.

The City of Chicago is also suing Jussie in civil court ... seeking to recoup the overtime costs of the investigation.

A$AP Rocky Treated Way Differently Than White Rapper

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TMZ

10:58 AM PT -- Jada Pinkett Smith's weighing in on the situation after apparently just learning about G-Eazy's experience in Sweden compared to Rocky's ... saying, "We got the message loud and clear Sweden. Trust me ... we got it."

As A$AP Rocky rots in a Swedish jail for weeks without being charged with a crime, you gotta wonder how another rapper -- a white rapper -- accused of the same crime and more spent a relative nanosecond behind bars before being allowed to go on his merry way and leave the country.

You may recall a story TMZ broke a year ago in May, when G-Eazy was arrested in Stockholm after punching a security guard in a club and snorting coke using a $100 bill.

Backgrid

G-Eazy was arrested for assault, possession of drugs and use of narcotics. There was no video of the attack, yet prosecutors allowed him to strike a deal a day-and-a-half later ... he pled guilty to violent resistance, a crime of violence against an official and illegal drug possession. His sentence -- a $10k fine and probation. He was also ordered to pay the security guard $900.

That was it ... G-Eazy was allowed to leave the country, no muss, no fuss.

Now, compare that to A$AP. There's VIDEO of the assault -- actually 2 videos, the other being the alleged victim assaulting Rocky first -- yet prosecutors and the judge have kept him in jail for more than 2 weeks as they continue to "investigate" and decide if he'll be charged. As we reported, prosecutors mistakenly played their hand Friday and said he was going to get indicted.

A$AP faces 6 years in prison for his alleged assault. G-Eazy spend less than 2 days behind bars.

JULY 2015
TROUBLE IN SWEDEN

And, one more thing. Remember, back in 2015 Snoop Dogg was arrested in Sweden after being snatched out of his car because cops believed he was driving under the influence. He was forced to pee in a cup and was released after cops determined he was clean. Snoop, who was there for a concert, said it was a case of DWB and he would never return to the country.

So, what gives?

Tom Cruise Revives Les Grossman from 'Tropic Thunder!!!'

LES GROSSMAN IS ALIVE AND WELL!!!

Tom Cruise revived the overweight studio exec character from "Tropic Thunder" Thursday night on Conan O'Brien's show at Comic-Con in San Diego. 11 years later and Tom has NOT lost the famous dance moves that catapulted Les into legendary status.

Tom made a surprise appearance at Comic-Con to promote the first "Top Gun: Maverick" trailer -- which looks SICK, BTW -- and later stopped by "Conan" to reminisce about the Ben Stiller-directed action-comedy.

Ya gotta watch ... after busting out the dance moves and explaining how that sequence all came about ... Tom summed up the glory days by busting out Les' signature cursing dialogue -- at Conan's request. Tom obliged.

Tom, of course, dropped the classic Les line -- "Would you stand back and literally f*** your own face?!?" -- during a scene with Matthew McConaughey as Rick Peck.

There was no fat suit or bald head for Tom to slip into ... but his delivery was spot on, which begs the question ... how about "Tropic Thunder 2"?!?!

Eddie Murphy In Talks With Netflix For Insanely Lucrative Stand-Up Special

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TMZ

Eddie Murphy is itching to get back onstage to perform stand-up comedy -- and our sources say Netflix wants to give him the perfect landing pad -- with a massive payday.

Sources connected to Murphy tell TMZ ... the comedian has been locked in talks with the streaming giant for an undisclosed number of comedy specials. We're told negotiations are hovering right around $70 MILLION for the deal ... though we've been unable to firmly confirm the exact figure.

$70 mil sounds astronomical -- Neil Armstrong astronomical -- but it's actually in line with the top dogs in comedy. Dave Chappelle scored $60 mil for 3 stand-up specials on Netflix back in 2017, and Chris Rock got $40 million for 2 specials the year before.

Murphy hung up the comedy mic years ago, and people have been clamoring for a comeback. So, given his track record -- which is incredible -- $70 mil seems in the ballpark.

Eddie was very open about his desire to return to stand-up during his conversation with Jerry Seinfeld on "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." He said if it's gonna happen, he's gotta get his groove back, although there are certain things that just come naturally ... especially for him.

A$AP Rocky Judge Orders Rocky to Stay in Jail ... Says He's a Flight Risk

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TMZ

9:40 AM PT -- Rep. Adriano Espaillat says Swedish authorities are using "KGB tactics" by keeping A$AP in jail.  He echos what A$AP's team knows ... they are going to indict him.

7:53 AM PT -- A$AP's lawyer, Slobodan Jovicic, tells TMZ, it is unjust to hold his client in jail because prosecutors believe he's a flight risk. Jovicic says there's no way A$AP would go on the lamb, because he's an international star and fleeing Sweden would torpedo his ability to tour and maintain his career.

The lawyer also says given the circumstances -- that there's video of the alleged victim attacking A$AP and his crew before A$AP took action, that A$AP tried to de-escalate the situation and that this was really a case of pushing and shoving ...  at most he should get probation.

5:34 AM PT -- A judge just sided with prosecutors and ordered that A$AP stay in jail for another week while prosecutors continue their investigation. They say they'll make a final decision next Thursday ... although given their original press release early Friday, it seems the die is already cast -- they're going to indict A$AP. Prosecutors say they must keep the rapper behind bars because he's a flight risk. 

Again, the man A$AP allegedly assaulted -- the man who assaulted him and others first -- hasn't spent a minute in custody. As for why prosecutors need more time when it's all on video ... beats us. That means Rocky will be in jail for 3 weeks before any charges are even filed.

3:20 AM PT -- Now check this out ... Swedish prosecutors just issued a REVISED press release and have taken out the original statement that they will indict A$AP Rocky. Now it just says they need more time to investigate so he should stay in jail. So the question, was it a mistake, or was it a mistake that they just inadvertently played their hand?

A$AP Rocky is going to be indicted ... that's what prosecutors just said in a press release -- so what makes this bizarre case even more bizarre and abusive, they say they want him to stay in jail because they still need to investigate to figure out what happened on the streets of Sweden. So, why the hell have they already decided to charge him if they haven't figured out the case?

It's the latest twist in an outrageous case. The judge will hear the matter in a couple of hours.

Prosecutors say A$AP and 2 others in his crew may face crimes of abuse, assault and attempted assault ... remember, the assault is against the Swedish guy who first assaulted A$AP and others.

Prosecutors say they need until next Thursday to figure out, which raises the question ... if they haven't figured it out, how have they already figured out they are going to indict him?

The statement comes on the heels of the Trump administration getting involved in helping free the rapper. TMZ broke the story ... Kim Kardashian and Kanye West lobbied the White House to get involved in the drama across the pond. It was actually Kanye who urged Kim to get on the horn and talk to President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner -- with whom Kim is very familiar with from her previous White House work.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also got involved ... calling out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not doing more and claiming the State Dept. wasn't moving fast enough.

VICIOUS ATTACK
TMZ.com

As you know by now ... Rocky had been held behind bars for more than 2 weeks now as prosecutors determined if the rapper should be charged with aggravated assault.

We broke the story ... Rocky's troubles began almost immediately after video surfaced showing the rapper and his crew pummeling a guy in Sweden ... leaving him battered and bloodied. Police then began investigating after a report was filed.

THE INCITING INCIDENT

But, a second video then surfaced showing the alleged victim harassing A$AP and hitting his bodyguard with a set of headphones. The rapper actually tried to be a peacemaker .. telling the guy, "We don't wanna fight y'all. We don't wanna go to jail."

As we first reported ... Rocky was held in a Swedish jail with shockingly inhumane conditions. Our sources had said an official from the U.S. Embassy in Sweden told A$AP Rocky's team that the person from the U.S. Consulate who visited Rocky in the jail reported back, "Walking into that place was like walking into a toilet."

Originally Published -- 3:06 AM PT

Tyreek Hill Will NOT Be Suspended By NFL ... NFL Star Speaks Out

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8:31 AM PT -- Tyreek Hill just issued a statement on the situation ... stating the allegations against him are false -- and praising the NFL for its decision. 

"The last few months have been very difficult for me, especially as a father. The false allegations originally reported in March were highly publicized and involved the care of my son. I am grateful for so many things and grateful for so many people who have supported me during this challenging time. I fully respect and accept the NFL's decision."

Hill added, "To the fans, friends, and family that I have made in Kansas City: I love you and thank you for your continued support."

"To the NFL, Commissioner Goodell and everyone who assisted in this investigation: thank you for your time and for conducting a thorough investigation. I will not let you down."

"I can assure you that I will continue to work to be the person, player, and teammate that you envisioned me to be."

"To my children, my beautiful children: I love you all dearly and I promise you all that I will continue to strive to be the best father, the best friend, the best role model, and the best mentor that I can be. I love you all."

Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill will NOT be suspended by the NFL over allegations he physically abused his 3-year-old son ... the NFL said in a statement.

Long story short ... the NFL says it conducted a thorough investigation but ultimately could not reach a definitive conclusion that Hill beat up his kid.

"Over the past four months, we have conducted a comprehensive investigation of allegations regarding Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill," the NFL said.

The K.C. Chiefs star was suspended from all team activities back in April after disturbing audio surfaced featuring the NFL star arguing with his girlfriend, Crystal Espinal.

During the argument, Espinal accuses Hill of breaking their 3-year-old son's arm and claims the kid is "terrified" of the NFL star ... to which Hill responds, "You need to be terrified of me too, b*tch."

THE SHOCKING AUDIO
KCTV5

Hill denied all wrongdoing -- and in a later piece of audio that went public, Tyreek can be heard denying a 2014 attack on a then-pregnant Espinal ... saying, "Did I hit you? Tell me the truth in my eyes right now. Look at me."

NFL reporter Albert Breer says league officials were NOT able to interview Espinal for their investigation despite multiple attempts.

The NFL says they were careful not to interfere with the investigation being conducted by law enforcement officials ... but they also admit they simply did not get access to ALL of the information in the case.

"The information developed in the court proceeding is confidential and has not been shared with us, and the court has sealed all law enforcement records," the NFL said.

"Local law enforcement authorities have publicly advised that the available evidence does not permit them to determine who caused the child's injuries. "

"Similarly, based on the evidence presently available, the NFL cannot conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy."

Now, Hill -- who had been suspended from team activities pending the investigation -- has been cleared to return to the Chiefs.

"He may attend Kansas City's training camp and participate in all club activities."

The league says Hill will "continue to be subject to conditions set forth by the District Court, Commissioner Goodell, and the Chiefs, which include clinical evaluation and therapeutic intervention."

The league is also leaving the door open when it comes to the case -- saying, if further information becomes available through law enforcement, the pending court proceeding, or other sources, we will promptly consider it and take all appropriate steps at that time."

The Chiefs released a statement on the NFL's decision ... saying "the club fully supports the conditions for return laid out by the league and will continue to monitor any new developments in the case."

"We are glad to welcome Tyreek back to the team and look forward to the start of training camp next week."

Originally Published -- 7:10 AM PT

Wendy Williams Shines on 55th Bday ... Especially My Louis Vuitton Sneakers!!!

GO SHAWTY
TMZ.com

Wendy Williams gave glitz and glamour a whole new meaning on her 55th birthday ... with a tiara and some shiny, custom, SUPER EXPENSIVE Louis Vuitton sneakers!!!

The talk show host hit up Serendipity 3 in NYC Thursday night after a looong night of celebrating her bday. Seems there was LOTS of toasting in her honor, but clearly, Wendy knows how to party right ... 'cause she was ready for more at the famous dining joint.

STUNTIN' SHOES

On her way inside ... our guy asks Wendy what's the best gift she got and she literally stops in her tracks to show off her Louis Vuitton sneakers customized with Swarovski crystals. Pricey -- and shiny -- for sure. Those sneakers can go for around $1,000, although Wendy seems to think they cost 4x that much.

She wouldn't spill the tea on who gifted her the fancy footwear. She said it was a benefactor. But, who the heck cares ... she rocked the hell outta them in her black gown.

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Wendy spent the morning at Tiffany & Co. ... chowing down on a cake frosted to look exactly like the company's famous blue jewelry box. Now THAT'S how you treat a princess on her birthday.

Mod Sun Bella's Off-Base About Girl Code ... Tana and I are Tight

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CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
TMZ.com

Mod Sun says Bella Thorne getting up in arms over girl code is ridiculous ... because she doesn't play by the rules in any of her relationships.

The rapper was out near Hollywood Thursday when we asked about his ex-girlfriend beefing on Twitter with her ex-girlfriend, Tana Mongeau -- who's also sort of his ex-GF -- and he clearly sides with Tana.

For the uninitiated, Bella dated both Mod and Tana -- at the same time -- and all 3 were cool with the arrangement ... until Bella had breakups with both earlier this year.

Then, after Mod was spotted getting dinner with Tana this week, Bella tweeted she was "no longer good" with Tana ... because she broke girl code.

Mod tells us this new rift is definitely about him hanging with Tana. As we've reported ... things haven't been good between Mod and Bella since their split, so it seems pretty clear she's upset Tana's still cozy with him.

Mod thinks that's totally unfair, though, because he's close with Tana from their time together while he was also dating Bella ... and he says they also worked on music together.

I RESPECT GIRL CODE
TMZ.com

Making matters all the more complex ... Tana recently got engaged to fellow YouTube star, Jake Paul. We got the couple at Craig's Thursday night, and while Tana says she respects the girl code Bella's accused her of breaking ... she adds that all that really matters is her love for her new fiance.

Janet, Chris Brown, 50 Cent Perform in Saudi Arabia ... No Boycott for Us

Janet Jackson, 50 Cent, Chris Brown, Future and Steve Aoki took the stage Thursday night in Saudi Arabia ... and it's interesting, no one knew the final lineup until the day before.

They were all last-minute additions to the Jeddah World Fest. They weren't announced until Wednesday. It's unclear why the lineup was secret until then. BTW, Liam Payne also performed.

Some performers -- notably Nicki Minaj -- have backed out of performing in the country, after the murder of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The country is also in the stone age when it comes to women and the LGBTQ community.

The concert was sold out -- standing room only ... for 62,000 concertgoers.

Nick Jonas & Priyanka Chopra Get Lit at LIV ... for Her 37th Birthday!!!

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Instar

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra partied like it's 1982 ... celebrating her 37th birthday.

Nick, Priyanka and friends hit up David Grutman's Komodo Restaurant in Miami for a late dinner ... followed by a raucous celebration at LIV Nightclub. We're told once the lovebirds got settled inside LIV ... a video appeared on the LED screens with a special birthday message from none other than Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, who are on their honeymoon in the Maldives.

BIRTHDAY WISHES
TMZ.com

Priyanka -- wearing the hell outta an elegant red sequin dress -- also enjoyed a $5,000 four-tier birthday cake by Divine Delicacies that could probably rival her wedding cake. BTW ... Joe and Sophie weren't the only ones to show Priyanka some love on her big day.

Kevin Jonas' wife, Danielle, also posted a pic on Instagram and gave her a huge shout out ... captioning the pic, "Happy birthday @priyankachopra. I hope your day is as bright and beautiful as you. love you!"

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Not to be outdone ... Nick also showed his wifey some love on social media. His message was succinct but incredibly thoughtful ... writing, "Light of my world. My whole heart. I love you baby. Happy birthday."

#RelationshipGoal

Prince Estate Awarded $7 Million In Bootleg Music Lawsuit

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Getty

Prince's estate just scored a big legal victory that will help preserve the legacy and integrity of his music ... and it got a ton of cash too.

According to new legal docs, obtained by TMZ ... the judge sided with the late musician's estate in its suit against Eye Records, which Prince's estate described as a "bootleg label dedicated to Prince."

The estate gets $7 million in the default judgment and the record label's been ordered to take down all of its bootlegged Prince property.

We broke the story ... Prince's estate sued Eye Records in August 2018 for allegedly releasing 18 Prince compilations since his death, including live performances and unreleased tracks, without rights.

According to the suit ... the record label was using the online store newlovesigne.com to sell the bootlegged music, and Prince's estate wanted $2 million for every alleged Prince trademark violation, for which there were a lot.

The estate wasn't awarded that much moolah, but $7 mil's nothing to sneeze at ... and it appears the website has been taken down already.

Jordyn Woods Rick Ross Music Video Gig ... My Dad Would Be So Proud!!!

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TMZ

Jordyn Woods isn't typically in the business of making music videos, so everyone's wondering why she's starring in Rick Ross' ... well we know, and it's meant to be an homage to her late father.

Sources close to Jordyn tell TMZ ... she recently met the 'Miami' rapper while the two were doing an episode of VH1's "Hip Hop Squares." They got to talking and Jordyn's mom, Elizabeth Woods, brought up the fact her late husband loved -- LOVED -- RR's music.

Everyone exchanged numbers on the game show set, and they kept in touch. Soon after, Rick expressed to Jordyn he had a great opportunity for her ... and wanted her to be the leading lady in his newest music vid.

We're told Jordyn jumped at the offer ... feeling it was a great way to honor her father's memory. John Woods died in January 2017 -- when Jordyn was just 19 -- after a battle with cancer.

As we reported ... the music video shoot went down Wednesday in Miami, where Jordyn was showing off her figure in some lingerie and a cute dress, with Ross on her hip.

No doubt Jordyn's dad would be proud ... his daughter's a BAWSE!!!

Jadakiss When it Comes to My Pizza ... Only Crust is a Must

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CRUST ME
TMZ.com

Jadakiss says there's logic behind his pizza crust ordering practices ... when there's cheese on the pie, they have to give him plenty of dairy-air.

The "Why" rapper raised eyebrows this week when a Brooklyn pizza shop posted an image on social media showing his custom order ... a cheese pizza with the center cut out, leaving behind nothing but a ring of crust.

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Jadakiss tells us the crust has been his favorite part of pizza since he was a kid ... and now that he's 44, he cuts right to the chase and skips everything except the crust because he's on a health kick, and dairy is not part of his diet.

Jadakiss says that's been his drill for years -- cheese pizza, hold the cheese.

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Kiss says the viral image is actually from a year ago, and his good friend, the owner of Cuts and Slices pizza shop in Brooklyn, re-posted it after another pizza parlor announced it was now offering a pie made only of crust.

Jadakiss' odd order sent the Internet into a tizzy ... but he's not dishing back the hate he's received. He says pizza lovers should order their pies however they want, and he's got nothing against peeps who pile on cheese. It just ain't for him.

Anyone else hungry?

Yung Joc I'd Televise My Wedding for Free ... To Show the World Men Can Change

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TMZ

Yung Joc is doing penance for the way he treated women in the past, because he now wants to have his wedding televised without making a dime, so he can show others people can change.

The "It's Goin' Down" rapper just got engaged to Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Kendra Robinson. The date for the wedding has not been set, but YJ is a man with a plan.

Anyone who's familiar with "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" knows ... Yung Joc has been a dirty dog when it comes to women. The show has chronicled lying, cheating ... the works.

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He now says he's found his soulmate and is changing his ways. He thinks it's important to pay it forward by not getting paid for a televised wedding, so he can show other men they too can come back to the straight and narrow.

Fact is ... there's potentially a fortune he'd be leaving on the table. Gucci Mane scored a $1 million deal for his nuptials.

BTW ... his engagement to Kendra is not without issues. She made it clear she heard rumors he was stepping on her around the time leading up to their engagement, but she still said yes.

Joc tells us he wouldn't necessarily turn money away if offered, but if that were his motivation he's kind of screwing himself by putting it out there he'd say "I do" without scoring some Benjamins.

Joc was previously married for 13 years before his 2014 divorce.

Keith Thurman Rips Floyd Mayweather You Ducked Me and You Know It!!!

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WHY NOT ME
TMZSports.com

Keith Thurman says Floyd Mayweather is straight CHICKEN -- accusing the boxing legend of running scared before he retired and now he's calling Floyd out.

"If he wanted a real fight, he would have saw me years ago," Thurman tells TMZ Sports.

"You never wanted to fight me. I was right there right underneath you for years. I was the #1 contender of the WBA and then they made you super champion so that our names didn't have to be in the same sentence together."

FYI, a WBA Super Champ is a fighter who holds multiple titles in the same division -- and is exempt from mandatory title defenses. Essentially, Super Champs can pick their own opponents.

Thurman says during Floyd's active fighting days, there were plenty of opportunities to make a fight between the two ... but Mayweather wussed out and didn't want the smoke.

Now, Thurman -- who's 29-0 -- is gearing up for the biggest fight of his career against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday ... and he knows a victory could open some huge doors.

In fact, Keith says he sees big fights with stars like Terence "Bud" Crawford and Errol Spence in 2020 ... and says, "I'm very open to those contracts."

But, for now, Thurman says the plan is to beat Manny and then take the rest of 2019 off to gear up for a massive 2020.

Oh, and when he is ready to announce his next opponent ... Keith says he's coming to TMZ Sports to drop the bombshell!!!