Dominique Wilkins Here's How To Fix The Broken Slam Dunk Contest ... I Know, I Won It Twice

THE GUY IS LEGIT
TMZSports.com

Dominique Wilkins -- one of the greatest high flyers in NBA history -- says he knows how to fix the (broken) slam dunk contest, telling TMZ Sports superstars must participate ... just like he and Michael Jordan did back in the day.

We spoke with the Hall of Famer -- a 2x Slam Dunk champ known for his prowess as a dunker -- about why the dunk contest has fallen out of favor with NBA fans, and how he would fix it.

"Until you get star athletes, your best players who are athletic to get in the dunk contest," Wilkins said, continuing ... "It takes a lot away from it. You don't have that same pop -- that same energy."

'Nique then lamented about the old days ... when bonafide superstars, legends, entered the contest each and every year.

"When we did the dunk contest Michael [Jordan] myself, Dr. J, Larry Nance, you talking Spud [Webb] ... they wanted to know who the best was."

Of course, Dominique was part of the greatest and most memorable DC ever ... a showdown against MJ in 1988. Jordan won ... but it was controversial.

Wilkins says during his day the dunk contest set the tone for All-Star weekend, giving fans something to look forward to. But, Wilkins admits as of late, it's been less than stellar.

"The dunk contest raised the bar for All-Star weekend," he said. "It's been hard to watch as of late."

FYI, last year's contest featured Cassius Stanley, Anfernee Simons, and Obi Toppin, who won.

Nice players and super athletic guys ... but not exactly Ja Morant and Zion Williamson battling each other like MJ and DW.

Ultimately, Dominique thinks players are too worried about their image ... rather than just going out and putting on a show for the crowd.

"Guys look at it the wrong way," 'Nique said. "I don't want to get in it because maybe it'll affect my legacy."

Wilkins told us when he was going at it with Jordan, it wasn't about who won or lost, but rather two great players matching each other's will.

We also asked the Hawks legend if Atlanta's superstar point guard Trae Young can be the best player on a championship team despite recent criticism saying he can't.

"Trae's a special talent, and a special young man that loves the game of basketball," 'Nique said. "Anytime you don't win, there's always going to be that doubt, 'well, can he lead a team to a championship?'"

Wilkins says although the Hawks -- who made the Eastern Conference Finals last year -- seemingly regressed this season, he believes Ice Trae can lead his team to a chip.

CONNECTING FANS AND PLAYERS
TMZSports.com

We also talked to 'Nique about his new collab with NFT Genius ... they've partnered up to create a super exclusive, 1-of-1 BALLERZ NFT.

In addition to being able to bid on the unique piece of digital art, there are also a bunch of other cool prizes like signed memorabilia, meet and greets with the NBA legend, and rack NFT packs like NBA Topshot, UFC Strike and NFL All Day.

And, the best part ... we're told some proceeds will benefit KultureCity, a non-profit organization that helps people with "invisible disabilities."

Adreian Payne Former MSU Star Dead At 31 ... Shot And Killed In Florida

UPDATE

11:05 AM PT -- TMZ Sports has obtained Dority's mug shot. Jail records show he's still in custody.

UPDATE
UPDATE

9:15 AM PT -- Police tell TMZ Sports ... Payne was shot and killed early Monday morning in Florida.

UPDATE

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, officers responded to a report of a shooting at around 1:37 AM and discovered Payne suffering from a gunshot wound.

UPDATE

Cops say Payne was transported to a hospital, but later died there.

UPDATE

A spokesperson for the sheriff's office says 29-year-old Lawrence Dority was identified as the shooter ... and was ultimately arrested on a warrant for first-degree murder.

Former Michigan State men's basketball star Adreian Payne has died ... his former teammate announced on Monday. He was just 31 years old.

Details surrounding the death have not yet been revealed ... but Jared Sullinger -- the former Ohio State Buckeyes star who played with Payne at some point in their basketball careers -- announced the sad news via his Twitter page.

"Hate the news i received this morning…." Sullinger said in a tweet. "Rest Easy to my brother/Teammate @Adreian_Payne."

Payne became a massive star for the Spartans after arriving on the East Lansing campus in 2010 ... recording 16.4 points per game and 7.3 rebounds in his senior season in 2013. That year, Payne helped lead MSU to an Elite Eight appearance.

Adreian went on to be taken by the Atlanta Hawks with the #15 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He bounced around the Association for several years after that, before eventually moving overseas to play professionally.

Payne last played for Juventus Utena in Lithuania in the 2021-22 season.

Off the basketball court, Payne was perhaps best known for his relationship with 8-year-old cancer patient Lacey Holsworth. Adreian befriended her while at MSU, and the two grew so close, they referred to each other as brother and sister.

In fact, Holsworth -- who later passed away in 2014 -- joined Payne on his senior night at Michigan State.

Famed college basketball head coach Archie Miller mourned Payne's death on Twitter on Monday ... writing, "Sad to hear the passing of Adreian Payne this morning."

"Started watching him while he was in 10th grade, remember his grandmother on his visit. Loved seeing him develop at Michigan St. and become an NBA player. [Prayers] for his loved ones, Spartans, and Dayton, OH. #RipAP"

RIP.

Originally Published -- 8:11 AM PT

DJ Khaled Airballs 3 At Heat Playoff Game ... Booted Off Court

NOT THE BEST
Jacob Ripps

DJ Khaled better hit up Lil Baby (remember?) for some jump shot tips ASAP ... 'cause the rapper/producer hilariously airballed a 3-pointer during the Heat's playoff game on Sunday.

The "We The Best" star was on tap for the first game of Miami's 1st round series against the Hawks ... and decided to get in a "practice shot" during a break in the action.

In the video, you see Khaled take one dribble to gather his shot before launching a 3-pointer from the top of the key ... and, well, he misses everything.

In Khaled's defense, security was coming over to stop him from shooting, even going as far as to put a hand up to try and block the attempt.

So, the degree of difficulty was definitely there, but the airball wasn't even the funniest part ... 'cause security then booted the hip hop icon off the court in epic fashion.

Khaled, however, was a good sport about it all ... leaving the court and returning to his seat to enjoy the rest of the game.

On a recent episode of LeBron James' "The Shop," Khaled's close friend, Rick Ross, was asked what would happen if the two played one-on-one.

"I'd do em dirty," Ross said ... and judging from Khaled's airball, it's kind of hard not to agree with Rozay.

As for the game ... Khaled was able to celebrate 'cause the Heat ran away with the victory, defeating Atlanta, 115-91.

NBA's Miles Bridges Drills Fan With Mouthpiece ... In Angry Exit From Court

Charlotte Hornets star Miles Bridges was so furious after being ejected from a game Wednesday night -- he angrily chucked his mouthpiece into the stands, accidentally hitting a young girl near her face.

The wild moment happened in the fourth quarter of the Hornets' blowout loss to the Hawks in Atlanta -- just seconds after Bridges was tossed from the contest for arguing about a goaltending call.

The 24-year-old was pissed at the ref for blowing the whistle on him ... and he was so livid, his teammates and coaches had to usher him off the floor before things escalated.

But, as Bridges was on his way back to the locker room, an Atlanta fan appeared to taunt him -- which set the Hornets forward off.

Check out the video from the game's broadcast -- Bridges attempted to launch his mouthguard at the heckler ... but it missed, and hit a girl in the neck area.

The girl did not appear to be injured -- but she was clearly confused and perturbed.

After the game, Bridges calmed down and apologized for it all ... and said during his meeting with reporters that he was hoping to get in contact with the girl and "do something nice for her."

"I was aiming for the guy that was screaming at me and it hit a little girl," Bridges said. "So that's definitely unacceptable on my part and I take full responsibility."

"That's out of character for me," he added. "You've been around me -- I don't act like that or ever flash out like that. So, that was definitely wrong, a lot of emotions and hopefully, I can get in contact with the young girl and sincerely apologize to her and do something nice for her, but that's definitely on me."

The NBA is expected to hand down a punishment sooner than later -- and Bridges made it clear, he's going to accept whatever comes his way from league officials.

"I'm ready for any consequence that the NBA gives me," he said.

With the loss to the Hawks, Bridges and the Hornets' season is now over.

NBA's John Collins My Clothing Line Is Taking Off!!! ... Wanna Be Like Supreme

FASHION BALLER
TMZSports.com

Atlanta Hawks hooper John Collins has high hopes for his clothing line ... telling TMZ Sports he wants his brand to reach iconic heights like Adidas and Supreme.

24-year-old Collins recently launched his very own line -- "The Baptist" -- which recently hit the shelves in places like Foot Locker and Champs.

The former Wake Forest star tells us he's just getting started ... and his dream is to make his business a household name among some of the biggest clothing brands in the industry.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

"I wanna be looked at like Supreme," Collins tells us. "I wanna be looked at like Adidas ... I wanna be looked at in that sphere, so I just gotta keep working. Be consistent."

As for whether he's been speaking with any designers who have come before him, Collins says he's taken inspiration while also being true to himself.

You can tell the guy's seriously passionate about the brand -- Collins says he's as hands-on as they come ... making every choice from design down to the fabrics.

As for who he'd like to model his Baptist clothing line on the runway?!? He's got some huge names in mind.

BONUS -- if you want a look at some of his items, just peep Collins' hat!!!

Rapper 2KBABY Teases Collab With Lou Williams ... He's Got Bars!!!

BALLERS DROPPIN' BARS
TMZSports.com

If this is Lou Williams' last year in the NBA, a big music career could be part of his retirement plan ... 'cause rapper 2KBABY tells TMZ Sports he's spent hours in the studio with the hooper -- and they have a bunch of songs ready to drop!!!

The 35-year-old Atlanta Hawks guard recently spoke out about his future in the league ... saying 2021-22 could very well be the last time we see Lou Will on the court.

Of course, Williams has dropped music in the past -- he even has a tribute track to the late Kobe Bryant -- but 2KBABY says there's much more on the way ... and he knows that because he's on the tracks!!!

"Shoutout Lou Williams, though," the "Luigi" rapper told us in L.A. this week. "That's my n****, bro. Me and Lou, we locked into the studio when I was in Atlanta."

"Me and Lou got some tracks."

Okay, so they have some songs together ... but is the 3-time 6th Man of the Year any good?!? 2KBABY says hell yeah -- "Lou can spit!!!"

2K even goes on to talk about how Lou Will compares to Damian Lillard's rap skills ... and you'll have to hear what he has to say!!!

NFL's Malik McDowell Grateful For 2nd Chance At Career After 11 Months In Jail

8/31/21
BLESSED BY THE BROWNS
Cleveland Browns

Malik McDowell -- a 2nd round pick out of Michigan State in 2017 -- is gunning to make the most of his second chance at being an NFL player ... saying he's in the "best place" he's been in a long time.

Of course, 25-year-old McDowell has yet to play a down in a REAL NFL football game -- he suffered an injury in an ATV accident just weeks before his rookie training camp with the Seattle Seahawks ... and was arrested 5 times between 2017 and 2019.

He was released by the 'Hawks in March 2019 ... and was sentenced to 11 months in jail later that year. Needless to say, most people expected McDowell's career all but over.

FEBRUARY 2019
THE VIOLENT ALTERCATION

But, McDowell has been busting his ass ever since his release -- he signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns in May ... and on Tuesday, he was named to the team's 53-man roster for the 2021 season.

Malik spoke about his journey back to the field ... saying his time behind bars helped put his priorities in order and motivate him to turn things around.

"I know what my life could be without football and the stuff I fell into without playing football," McDowell said Tuesday. "I just wanted to get more structure back in my life."

FEBRUARY 2019
DISORDERLY ARREST
TMZSports.com

Malik says he's not going to make the Browns look bad for giving him another shot ... and he's going to give it his all.

"My career's at stake, my livelihood, taking care of my family, chance to take care of my family. Just to do what the everyday person can't do, go out there in front of thousands of fans and play a game and get paid lots of money to do it."

"That's a lot of people's dreams and I get to live my dream."

McDowell also gives a big shoutout to his biggest supporter -- his mother, Joya Crowe.

"When I ain't believe in myself, she was still believing in me and everyday she told me you gon' play football one day again, even when I didn't believe her 'cause I'm going through all my situations."

"She saw past everything I was going through and she know me the best. That's my real driving force. She was the one who pushed me the most."

Awesome to see Malik turn things around.

ATL Hawks' Clint Capela Unloads WWE-Style Rant On Knicks ... You're Fake Tough!!!

RIGHT BACK AT YA
Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela just went HAM on the New York Knicks ... calling out the players for trying to "play tough" and guaranteeing to boot them from the playoffs!!!

The Knicks vs. Hawks series has been chippy and rough through 4 games to say the least ... and when the 27-year-old baller was asked about the Knicks playing physical, Capela unloaded.

"They try to play tough, push our guys around and talk s***, but we can do that, too," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We show them as soon as they came back here. We can push guys around, too. We can talk s*** as well, so whatchu gonna do about it? -- and we can get a win with it."

Capela insists the Knicks' style of play hasn't posed a serious threat ... and guarantees a victory in Game 5 to send the Knicks packing on Wednesday.

"And now we’re coming to your home to win this game again and send you on vacation."

DAMN, CLINT!!! Tell us how you really feel!!!

There's more ... Clint had words for Knicks star Julius Randle shoving Danilo Gallinari during Game 4 as "retaliation" for hitting Reggie Bullock's neck on the previous possession.

"You’re trying to look physical, but it’s not working. It’s the last solution," he added.

"You don’t get your star player making dirty plays. Of course, that was a dirty play, retaliation or not … we all can shove someone. You can play hard but within the game."

As for the Knicks ... they're not taking the bait.

Randle responded shortly after, saying, "Why would I give a hell what Clint Capela has to say?"

Derrick Rose added ... "I’m 32 years old. I’ve never talked s*** like that in my life."

"I’m too old for that."

Knicks and Hawks tip-off at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Getcha popcorn ready.

As for Capela ... Vince McMahon's gotta hit this guy up after the NBA!!!

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Shades The Hell Out Of Trae Young ... 'Stop Hunting For Fouls'

CUT IT OUT
@NYCMayor / Twitter

Just when you thought the trash talk in the Hawks vs. Knicks series couldn't get any better ... here's NYC mayor Bill de Blasio throwing more fuel on the fire, shading the hell out of Trae Young!!

The 60-year-old -- rockin' a NY Knicks ball cap -- took time out of his daily press briefing Tuesday to take shots at the Atlanta star ... and it was aggressive!

The mayor accused Young of crying for calls ... and told him to straight-up stop.

"Stop hunting for fouls, Trae," de Blasio said. "I want to quote Steve Nash -- great player, great coach -- he says, ‘That’s not basketball.'"

de Blasio continued, "Trae, that hawk's not going to fly in New York City. Come on. Play the game the right way."

Of course, Trae ripped the soul out of the Knicks during the first game of their playoff series on Sunday ... hitting a game-winning floater and talking all kinds of smack to the crowd at Madison Square Garden afterward.

Even Trae's Dad got involved ... puffing out his chest and celebrating BIG-TIME after the shot.

NY fans -- who chanted "F*** Trae Young" throughout the game -- have since fired away all over social media ... and it's all getting REALLY good.

Clearly, de Blasio thinks his Knicks can back up all the talk, though ... he continued to Trae during his rant Tuesday, "I think the Knicks are going to teach you a lesson."

Game 2 tips off Wednesday night at MSG ... start buttering that popcorn.

'Courtside Karen' Apologizes for Cussing Out LeBron 'I Take Full Responsibility'

UPDATE

1:10 PM PT -- "Courtside Karen" is now "Mea Culpa Karen?"

UPDATE

Juliana Carlos is publicly apologizing for screaming, yelling and cussing at LeBron James during Monday night's game ... saying she takes "full responsibility" for crossing the line.

UPDATE

"To say things escalated quickly at yesterday's game is an understatement, and I want to apologize for losing my cool and removing my mask in the heat of the moment," Juliana said in a statement.

UPDATE

"My husband is a huge sports fan and we're passionate people, and let's be real; sports wouldn't be sports without a little trash-talking."

UPDATE

She continued, "What should have been quick back-and-forth between two adults got out of hand and my natural instinct to stand up for the man I love kicked in."

UPDATE

"Did I get defensive when that happened? Yes. Did I use offensive language when I could have taken the higher road? yes. And for these things, I take full responsibility."

UPDATE

Will King James accept??? Stay tuned ..

She came. She saw. She got ejected for cussing out LeBron James!!!!

A woman and her husband were removed from the Lakers vs. Hawks game in Atlanta on Monday night for going absolutely nuclear on LeBron from the sideline ... and man, it's insane!!

The woman is Juliana Carlos -- an Instagram model who attended the game with her husband, Chris Carlos.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

The couple was sitting courtside -- when the woman claims her husband got into a heated verbal argument with LeBron (which Bron confirmed after the game).

Juliana decided to get involved ... and began screaming, cussing and flipping off James from her insanely expensive seats causing a huge scene!

Worth noting ... the woman was initially wearing a COVID mask, but removed it to yell at LeBron.

In fact, the scene got so wild the refs stopped the game and the woman -- along with her husband and 2 others -- were all ejected from the building.

While she was getting the boot, Juliana flipped on her IG Live and gave her side of the story ... complete with threats and LOTS of F-bombs!!

SHE HECKLES & SHE RANTS
Julianaacarlos / Instagram

"So, I'm minding my own business, and Chris has been a Hawks fan forever," Juliana explained ...  "He has this issue with LeBron. I don't have an issue with LeBron. I don't give a f**k about LeBron."

"Anyway, I'm minding my own business, drinking, having fun. All of the sudden, LeBron says something to my husband, and I see this and I stand up. And, I go, 'Don't f***ing talk to my husband.' And, he looks at me and he goes, 'Sit the f**k down, b*tch.'"

"And I go, 'Don't f**king call me a b*tch. You sit the f**k down. Get the f**k out of here. Don't f**king talk to my husband like that.'"

She was FIRED UP!!!!

After the game -- which the Lakers won 107 to 99 -- Bron was asked about the incident.

"At the end of the day, I'm happy fans are back in the building," Bron said with a straight face ... "I miss that interaction. I need that interaction."

As for the couple, Bron thinks booze may have been a factor -- "They might have had a couple drinks, maybe."

"I don't think taking down the mask harmed anybody," Bron added ... "I wasn't close enough to her."

Bron expressed concern for a few of the refs who got close to the woman -- "I hope they're okay. Safety first."

The NBA legend then dropped a tweet -- saying, "Courtside Karen was MAD MAD!!"

She sure was.

Originally published -- 5:58 AM PT

NBA's Trae Young Buys Lunch for ATL Election Workers ... 'Thanks for All You Do'

Trae Young with the assist!!!

The Atlanta Hawks superstar did a VERY cool thing on Friday -- splurging for lunch for the people counting ballots at State Farm Arena ... and they couldn't be happier about it!

The 22-year-old NBA sensation's rep hit up Jason's Deli in midtown Atlanta -- and told the crew Young wanted to do something nice for everyone helping out with the election process.

Young ended up buying 50 boardroom box lunches -- complete with sandwiches, chips, a pickle and a cookie. He also sprung for extra fruit side items for all. Way to keep it healthy!

Total cost -- $670 plus a nice 20% tip.

Obviously, Young can afford it -- he's super-rich, but this is more about the gesture than the price.

The Fulton County election workers were stoked when the food arrived with a note from Young that read, "Thanks for all you do!"

Fulton County thanked Young and the ATL Hawks -- noting the NBA team has "supported us throughout this election process."

There's a ton of pressure on the election workers in ATL right now -- as the votes in that area are playing a pivotal role in the presidential election.

Props to Trae -- and obviously shout out to all the patriots helping to count the ballots during this crazy time!

Vince Carter I'm Officially Retired At Least I Made My Last Shot!!!

Vince Carter is finally "officially" saying what we all knew was coming ... his 22-year run in the NBA is over,

"I'm officially finished playing basketball," 43-year-old Carter announced on the "Winging It" podcast.

"I'm officially done playing basketball professionally."

Carter says he's still open to playing celebrity basketball games and things like that -- but now, his focus will be on his golf game.

Of course, most people assumed Carter would be hanging it up after the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season back in March due to COVID-19.

The league is restarting the season in Orlando in a few weeks -- but only the top 22 teams were invited to participate ... and Carter's ATL Hawks didn't make the cut.

Carter said he had been discussing a formal retirement since his last game on March 11 ... but the fact his team was eliminated helped make up his mind.

"I felt that it was pretty much over."

Carter admits the end of his career didn't go exactly as planned -- calling it a "weird ending" -- but he's ready to move on after 22 seasons in the NBA.

"Retired Vince can go and golf now," Carter said.

"I joke about it but I think my love for golf and playing golf helped subside and put to the side the basketball part of it ... that's what made the transition easier."

Carter also points out, "I came into the league on a shortened season and I walk away fro the league on a shortened season."

Carter entered the league in 1998 -- a season that was shortened by the lockout, 2020 was shortened thanks to COVID.

But, Carter is grateful went out with a bang -- nailing his final NBA shot while playing the NY Knicks on March 11 ... a 3-pointer in overtime.

"Making my last shot helped the situation," Carter said ... "If I didn't make my last shot, it would have been a little different."

"You always wanna say at least I made the last shot of my career and I can always say that, so I'm happy."

Chandler Parsons Returns To Cali For Treatment Following Car Accident

Chandler Parsons is leaving the Atlanta Hawks and heading back to California for treatment ... after the NBA player claims he suffered serious and permanent injuries in a car accident with a drunk driver.

The 31-year-old was on his way home from practice around 2:00 PM on January 15 when a man -- who admitted to drinking and had alcohol in his car -- hit Parsons and caused a 3-car wreck.

The Hawks provided an update on Parsons' condition Thursday ... saying he will head back to his home in California for recovery.

"Atlanta Hawks forward Chandler Parsons remains in the first stage of the NBA’s concussion protocol and has not progressed to exertional challenges, such as light conditioning."

The team added ... "Additionally, Parsons continues to receive treatment for symptoms of whiplash and the associated cervical disc injury."

"After discussing with Parsons, his medical team and the doctors at Emory Sports Medicine, it was agreed by all parties that it would be best for Parsons’ recovery for him to return home to California and continue to recover and rehabilitate under the treatment of a team of doctors and therapists overseen by the Hawks and Emory Sports Medicine staff."

Parsons' attorneys claim the injuries he suffered from the accident could potentially end his career.

Attorney: Chandler Parsons Suffered Traumatic Brain Injury After Hit By Drunk Driver

UPDATE

11:51 AM PT -- TMZ Sports has obtained a picture of Parsons' 2017 Rolls-Royce after the accident ... showing the luxury car's front completely smashed.

UPDATE

According to the accident report, the driver responsible for the crash reeked of booze and had a 7Up bottle filled with alcohol.

UPDATE

The report says the driver was "only able to answer one question coherently" and his eyes were glossy while at the scene.

Atlanta Hawks forward Chandler Parsons suffered several serious and permanent injuries after getting hit by a drunk driver last week ... and now his NBA future is in jeopardy, his attorney claims.

The 31-year-old was on his way home from practice around 2:00 PM on January 15 when a man -- who admitted to drinking and had alcohol in his car -- hit Parsons and caused a 3-car wreck.

Parsons' attorneys, John Morgan and Nick Panagakis, say he may never fully recover from the accident ... claiming he suffered a brain injury, disc herniation and a torn labrum.

Trae Young Cancels $1 Million Of Medical Debt ... In Atlanta

NBA superstar Trae Young is starting off 2020 by giving back to his new city in a HUGE way ... by helping cancel out more than $1 MILLION in medical debts for people in Atlanta.

The 21-year-old pro teamed up with a nonprofit called RIP Medical ... which, according to the site, uses donations to buy large bundles of medical debt and then forgive that debt with no tax consequences to donors or recipients.

Young's foundation recently donated $10,000 ... which translates to $1,059,186.39 in medical debt getting erased, helping 570 people in need.

"The City of Atlanta has welcomed me with open arms," Young said, according to WSB-TV in ATL.

"Giving back to this community is extremely important to me. I hope these families can find a bit of relief knowing that their bills have been taken care of as we enter the New Year."

We spoke with Young's dad, Rayford ... who tells us "[Trae] understands where he came from. He understands everyone is not in a position he's in."

Rayford adds that he was in medical debt before Trae got to the NBA ... so it's a cause that hits close to home.

The coolest part??? Rayford tells us each person affected by Trae's donation will receive a personalized letter from the hooper.

Save that letter!!! Young's stock is exploding in a big way these days ... did you see that move he pulled off the other day? GOOD LORD!!!

NBA's John Collins Popped For Synthetic Hormone ... Suspended 25 Games

NBA rising star John Collins has been suspended without pay for 25 games after the Hawks power forward tested positive for an illegal growth hormone ... the league announced Tuesday.

The 22-year-old stud violated the league's anti-drug policy after getting flagged for growth hormone-releasing peptide 2 ...  which increases food intake and appetite, according to studies.

Collins is the 3rd player this season to get popped for violating the league's anti-drug policy ... joining Brooklyn's Wilson Chandler and Phoenix Suns star DeAndre Ayton.

Collins addressed the test results in a statement to ESPN saying he plans to appeal the punishment.

"First I want to apologize to my teammates, the Hawks organization, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation."

"I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed in myself for putting all us in this position."

"I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement, which unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component."

Collins -- the 19th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Wake Forest -- has been averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds for ATL this season.

"I plan to appeal my suspension in arbitration so I can get back on the court as soon as possible and continue to contribute to our 2019-20 campaign."

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