Devin Booker Sending WCF Tix, Autographed Jersey ... To 'Suns In 4' Fan

10:24 AM PT -- 6/17 -- Devin Booker is hitting the "Suns In 4" guy with the ULTIMATE hookup -- sending the dude an autographed jersey and tickets to the upcoming Western Conference Finals!!

Of course, multiple eyewitnesses say McKellar was purely acting in self-defense, so it's not like the baller is rewarding the fan for wildin' out.

Booker posted on social media earlier this week asking to get in touch with the guy ... and it didn't take long at all for him to connect and give McKellar an awesome "thank you" package, according to ESPN.

So cool!!!

The famous "Suns In 4" guy is FINALLY opening up about his violent brawl with Nuggets fans ... claiming the whole thing went down because the Denver dudes poured beer on him.

Nick McKellar joined Barstool Sports' "The Dave Portnoy Show" this week and broke the whole fight down from start to finish ... explaining he was NEVER the aggressor in the situation.

McKellar claims he showed up to Ball Arena for Game 3 last Friday and made friends with nearly everybody around him right away.

But, he says when he started lightheartedly joking with two Nuggets fans toward the end of the game ... that's when things turned contentious.

"These guys are walking past me and obviously they didn't think it was funny," McKellar said. "Meanwhile the whole crowd that I made friends with, initially they were laughing, having a good time."

"I wasn't being annoying. So, these guys were like, 'You know what, I'm taking offense to this.'"

McKellar says the two Nuggets fans then got in his face, talked smack, flaunted money at him ... and then tugged on his jersey and poured beer on him.

That's when McKellar says the action picked up on video ... and the rest is history.

"Instincts of self-defense kick in," McKellar says.

McKellar told Portnoy he was escorted out of the arena by cops after throwing the haymakers, but says he was NOT arrested because witnesses told the officers he did nothing more than protect himself in the skirmish.

As for if Devin Booker ever got a hold of him, McKellar said he has been in contact with the Suns superstar -- and told Portnoy there could be a future collab between the two in the future.

Originally Published -- 6/16 8:04 AM PT

NBA's Meyers Leonard Gets Emotional In Speech to Jewish Kids ... 'I'm Deeply Sorry'

MEYERS MAKES PROGRESS

Powerful moment from NBA player Meyers Leonard ... who choked backed tears while addressing a group of Jewish kids at a temple in Florida, as he explained his regret for using an anti-Semitic slur back in March.

The 29-year-old took the mic at Boca Raton Synagogue over the weekend ... and began by saying, "I owe everybody, truly, a sincere apology."

As we previously reported, the former Miami Heat player was playing "Call of Duty" on March 9 when he hurled the K-word at an opposing player. The session was being live-streamed on Twitch at the time.

Twitch immediately blocked Leonard from the platform -- and the NBA hit Meyers with a $50k fine and a 1-week suspension.

Leonard apologized and vowed to educate himself about why the slur is dangerous and offensive ... and it's pretty obvious he's been putting in the work.

At least, according to Rabbi Efrem Goldberg ... who spoke glowingly about Meyers at Sunday's event -- praising him as a good dude and a "great friend of the Jewish community."

Rabbi Goldberg told the crowd, "Over the last 3 months, I’ve gotten to know Meyers off camera and off the court … I've gotten to know what's in his heart and who he is."

"Meyers has learned a lot about the Jewish community ... meeting with Holocaust survivors and reading books about Jewish history."

Leonard also opened up about life after the incident -- saying, "I've had a lot of really good moments and some pretty dark emotional moments but I just like to say, again, I'm so, so thankful for the people in the Jewish community whether it's a little kid, a teenager, a high schooler or a rabbi."

"I've just been very educated, I've had so many events away from the public eye that have just uplifted not only myself, my wife and our immediate family but my friends. I just learned so much and I'm so thankful through a very dark moment. Sometimes people say God works in mysterious ways."

Michael Jordan Signed 'Player Sample' AJ1's ... Sell For $204k!!!

6:21 AM PT -- 6/17 We have a winning bidder ... with the one-of-a-kind Js going to a new owner for a whopping $204,545, TMZ Sports has learned.

No word on who the lucky winner is ... but whoever it is must be happy with the final price!!

A true one-of-a-kind pair of Michael Jordan's Air Jordan 1's just hit the market and they're literally from before the start of all J's -- 'cause it's his sample sneakers!

Yes, a sample sneaker ... meaning these red, black and white kicks were specifically made for His Airness to test out before releasing 'em.

And, these samples are verified .. with the code "850204-TYPS" on the tongue which means these 1's were made between February and April in 1985 -- and TYPS is "Tong Yang Player Sample".

Another dope authentication check is the mismatched sizes .. 13 for the left foot and 13 1/2 for the right  -- 'cause MJ always wore a bigger size on his right foot!

Even though MJ never wore 'em, they were autographed by the then-rookie and it comes with the original NIKE shoebox.

The owner of the kicks got 'em back in the '80s -- when he was a director of communication for a gas and electric company and during his business meeting with a sports agent, he was asked 'what sports figure I admired'.

Jordan was one of them .. and then a few weeks later, he received the shoes in the mail!

The rare sneakers hit the market -- with RR Auctions -- 2 weeks ago with a current bid of $95,420 ... but are expected to sell for $250,000!!!

The auction comes to a close on June 16 ... so you still got some time to put in your bid!

Originally published -- 12:40 AM PT

NBA Fact Checks LeBron 'Injury Rates Were Virtually The Same' This Season

4:36 PM PT -- The NBA is firing back at its most popular player -- with the league actually fact-checking LeBron's criticism Wednesday afternoon.

"Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20 while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons," the Association said, according to Marc Stein.

"While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our game, we recognize the enormous sacrifices NBA players and teams have made to play through this pandemic."

It's uncommon for the league to hit back at one of its biggest stars like this ... but clearly, they weren't here for the narrative.

LeBron James says the rash of injuries in this year's playoffs are all the NBA's fault ... claiming the bumps, bruises, tears and sprains are entirely due to the league's early start date.

Bron went off on the league in an epic Twitter rant Wednesday ... claiming he saw this coming from a million miles away once the NBA decided to start its 2021 season in December despite finishing the 2020 season in October.

"They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season," said LeBron, who did insist back before the season began that a December date was way too early to come back.

"I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME!"

The NBA playoffs have been marred by injuries so far ... mega stars like Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have all missed time.

And, on Wednesday, it was announced Clippers star Kawhi Leonard could be done for the playoffs with a knee injury as well.

All of it has Bron fuming ... claiming it could have all been easily prevented.

"This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players. It’s insane," LeBron said.

"If there’s one person that know about the body and how it works all year round it’s ME! I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year. Sorry fans wish you guys were seeing all your fav guys right now."

LeBron added, "And I know all about the business side too/factors so don’t even try me! I get it."

Originally Published -- 12:08 PM PT

Brooklyn Nets Halftime Singer Laughs Off Critics DMX Cover Won't Please Everyone!!!

WHAT AN HONOR
TMZSports.com

No matter what the haters say, the Brooklyn Nets' country singing halftime performer says he had a freakin' blast singing DMX and Notorious B.I.G. on Tuesday ... telling TMZ Sports he's unbothered by people pissed about his nod to the rap legends.

35-year-old singer Sam James went viral on social media after performing at the Nets vs. Bucks game ... with some folks giving their honest (and sometimes brutal) reviews of his setlist involving rap covers.

As it turns out, James says he grew up a HUGE fan of X ... and being able to perform his music in front of the massive crowd was a career moment for him.

"DMX's passing was so unexpected to me, and just to be able to do that last night at Barclays, it was special," James tells us."

He had the same feeling when covering "Juicy" by Biggie ... adding, "To be able to pay tribute last night to some of the greatest Brooklyn artists in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center in front of a crowd like that -- that was unreal."

James somehow had no idea his performance was spreading on the Internet ... but when we recited some of his not-so-nice reviews to him, the dude couldn't have been a better sport.

"I mean, listen, at the end of the day, you can't listen to what other people are saying about music," James said, laughing off the harsh comments. "Music is subjective. Everybody can have their own opinion."

"It's nothing off my back if people aren't into it."

In fact, James says the crowd around him was LOVIN' it ... so, he's more focused on what he experienced than what the trolls are saying.

"I was in the zone ... but everybody that was around me was pretty hyped. So, it felt great!"

James says he knows people are entitled to their opinion ... but he's down to try and change the haters' minds in the future.

"People that are into it, that's awesome. People that aren't, it's cool. Listen, I still got a little time to turn you around."

LaMelo Ball Wins NBA Rookie Of The Year ... As LaVar Predicted!!!

Call LaMelo Ball "ROY" from now on ... 'cause the Charlotte Hornets star has just been named the NBA's Rookie of the Year!!!

And ya know who predicted this way back in November?! None other than Melo's dad, LaVar ... who told TMZ Sports it was "GUARANTEED!!!" to happen.

NOVEMBER 2020
FAMILY UPDATE
TMZSports.com

Now, before we give him the title of "LaVarstradamus," it wasn't that bold of a prediction to begin with -- Melo was the #3 overall pick and the expectations were high from the very beginning.

19-year-old Ball managed to average nearly 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 51 games as a rook ... and still held on to get the top honors despite missing a chunk of the season with a wrist injury.

There will almost certainly be some folks pissed with the results -- Minnesota Timberwolves #1 pick Anthony Edwards had a stellar rookie campaign, earning just over 19 points, 4.7 rebounds and nearly 3 assists per game.

The decision is made by a list of sportswriters and broadcasters who vote for the top 3 rookies of the season -- first place votes get 5 points, second gets 3 points and third gets 1.

Whoever gets the highest point total of votes wins the award ... no matter which player has the most first place votes.

The league has yet to make Melo's award official, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski says it's a done deal.

Lil Uzi Vert, Big Freedia, Dame New 'Space Jam' Soundtrack ... Insane Tracklist!!!

The "Space Jam: A New Legacy" soundtrack has just been announced ... and it's filled with features from today's biggest stars -- from Lil Wayne to the Jonas Brothers to Kirk Franklin and more!!!

Of course, the first "Space Jam" soundtrack is a classic -- with iconic songs like Seal's "Fly Like An Eagle" getting radio spins to this day.

Now, the LeBron James-led flick has brought on some of the hottest names in the industry to go big for the new soundtrack ... including Lil Uzi Vert, Big Freedia, Lil Tecca & Aminé, Saweetie, Chance the Rapper, Brockhampton and 24kGoldn.

What's even cooler?? Portland Trail Blazers superstar/rapper Damian Lillard (AKA Dame D.O.L.L.A.) is also featured on the project ... and we're guessing his song might be a sort of Goon Squad anthem, considering his villainous role in the movie.

There are seriously so many more features we haven't even gotten to mentioning yet ... but luckily, the reveal came with a handy hype vid of all the folks involved.

The songs and artists weren't just picked randomly, however -- each song on the project will also be featured in the movie, director Malcolm D. Lee told Rolling Stone.

"The music that we get for the movie has to be in the body of the movie," Lee said. "So, that’s always the thing that we strived for."

The movie hits theaters in exactly one month ... and the soundtrack will be available July 9.

Happy jamming!!!

Chris Paul Tests Positive For COVID-19 ... Reportedly Vaccinated

9:50 AM PT -- More details are coming in about Paul's status ... with Arizona Sports reporter John Gambadoro claiming the guard did, in fact, test positive for COVID-19.

What makes the situation a true case of bad luck -- Paul WAS vaccinated, according to ESPN's Jalen Rose ... which makes it rare, but not impossible, to come down with the virus.

The fact Paul is vaccinated is good news for getting back on the court ... he could return sooner than the 10-14 day window once he starts testing negative.

Potentially devastating news for the Phoenix Suns -- superstar point guard Chris Paul has been sidelined for an indefinite period of time ... as part of the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

In other words, CP3's status for the start of the Western Conference Finals is reportedly "up in the air" ... depending on when the Clippers/Jazz series ends, according to Shams Charania.

Paul has been the backbone for the red-hot Suns -- averaging 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists through 10 games this postseason.

Phoenix has been on a tear in the playoffs ... eliminating LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round and sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the semifinals.

The Jazz vs. Clippers series is currently tied at 2 games apiece ... and if either team wins in 6, it sounds like Paul will not be ready to go.

The report adds if the series goes 7 games, the WCF will start after Sunday.

Shams also points out the isolation period may be shorter for vaccinated players -- depending on the medical circumstance -- but those details have not been revealed at this time.

Story developing ...

Originally Published -- 6:44 AM PT

WNBA's Skylar Diggins-Smith Beefs with Jazmine Jones ... "Girl Shut TF Up!!!"

"Girl shut tf up!"

That's how Skylar Diggins-Smith responded to some shade Jazmine Jones threw her way this week ... and yeah, there's now some Grade-A beef going down in the WNBA!!!

The epic clapback from the Phoenix Mercury star went down Monday afternoon ... after she saw an IG comment Jones had left on one of her highlight videos.

Bleacher Report had posted footage of Diggins-Smith destroying NY Liberty rookie DiDi Richards during their game Sunday ... and Jones hated it, noting Diggins-Smith's squad still lost to the Liberty despite the highlight clip.

"Yeah but caught the L….." Jones wrote. "Hyping up the wrong stuff."

Jones went on to say the video should've featured her star teammate Betnijah Laney, who helped lead the Liberty over Diggins-Smith's Mercury squad, 85-83.

Diggins-Smith, though, was having NONE of the shade ... she responded by telling Jones to shut her mouth -- adding, "They can’t post a highlight?"

"Complain to your organization, first, why they only hype one person!"

Jones didn't take long to fire back, writing, "'Girl Shut tf up' is fighting words … so what’s really good."

The Liberty and Mercury won't play again until August ... so here's to hoping two months doesn't prevent everybody from keeping this same energy when they clash on the court!

Charles Barkley I Can't Joke About Fat Women Anymore ... On 'Inside The NBA'

Charles Barkley says his days of mocking the "big ol' women down in San Antonio" on TV are over ... and he's blaming cancel culture.

For YEARS, Barkley has talked about the "big ass women" of San Antonio on "Inside The NBA" ... but has repeatedly said it's just a joke, and he has nothing but love for his larger fans.

However, Charles says show producers have finally put the kibosh on the fat jokes -- after a recent article on MySanAntonio.com took aim at Barkley and his "fat-shaming shtick."

"They won't even let me talk about San Antonio anymore," Barkley said this week during an appearance on the "Grant & Danny" show on 106.7 The Fan.

"They're like, 'Charles, we got one lady wrote an article.' I'm like first of all, I didn't call anybody PERSONALLY fat in San Antonio. I was just joking around and when this one lady wrote this article ... we've been having fun with this for probably 10, 15 years!"

Barkley says the outrage is a product of cancel culture -- saying, "You can't even have fun nowadays without these jackasses trying to get you canceled and things like that."

The 58-year-old says he's not too worried -- because he plans on retiring in a few years anyway.

"I'm trying to hang on for another couple of years until I'm 60 and then they can kiss my ass."

"I'm only working till 60 ... I've already told 'em that. I'm not working until the day I die, that's stupid. And, if I don't have enough money by now, I'm an idiot anyway, so they should fire me anyway."

Shoni Schimmel Ex-WNBA Superstar Arrested Felony Assault, Criminal Mischief

Ex-WNBA superstar Shoni Schimmel -- the 2014 All-Star Game MVP -- was arrested following an allegedly violent incident in Oregon on Monday ... and is currently behind bars.

TMZ Sports has learned, 29-year-old Schimmel is being held on felony charges of assault and criminal mischief ... as well as misdemeanor charges of menacing, recklessly endangering another, harassment, and domestic abuse.

Jail records show Schimmel was booked at 1 AM. Her bail has been set at $48,750.

We’re working on the rest of the details -- stay tuned on that.

Schimmel -- a native of Mission, Oregon -- was an All-American guard for Louisville before going #8 overall to the Atlanta Dream in 2014, where she became a 2-time All-Star.

Schimmel was named ASG MVP in 2014 after scoring 29 points and adding 8 assists ... winning the honors over Skylar Diggins and Maya Moore.

She was traded to New York prior to the 2016 campaign ... playing for the Liberty for one season.

After sitting out the 2017 season, due to personal reasons, Schimmel signed with the Las Vegas Aces in May 2018 ... but was waived 8 days later.

Story developing ...

Glen 'Big Baby' Davis Goes Off On Kyrie For Dissing Celtics 'Karma is a Motherf***er!'

JUST YOUR LUCK
TMZSports.com

"His ankles is f**ked up and Lucky got his ass!"

That's Glen "Big Baby" Davis doubling down on his attack on Kyrie Irving -- saying Kyrie's ankle injury is "karma" for stepping on the Celtics during the playoffs.

Actually, what Glen specifically said was ... "Karma is a motherf**ker!"

Here's the backstory ... Kyrie made a point to step on Lucky the Leprechaun after the Brooklyn Nets beat Boston in Game 4 of their playoff series.

Kyrie famously played for the Celtics from 2017 to 2019 -- but clearly doesn't feel love for the city.

Big Baby, on the other hand, won a championship with the Celtics in 2008 and LOOOOOVESSSS all things Boston.

So, when Kyrie suffered a sprained ankle Sunday while playing the Milwaukee Bucks, Davis sounded off on social media ... saying the whole thing was "karma."

Davis got some pushback on social media -- but he's not fazed, and made a VIDEO going scorched-earth on Kyrie for the disrespect toward his beloved Celtics.

"Everybody mad at me 'cause Kyrie Irving stepped on Lucky and Lucky got his get back," Davis said ... "Don't get mad at me because Lucky got his get back!"

"Karma is a motherf**ker!!"

"You do right by people, people do right by you and I don't care if it's a logo. I don't even care if it's a logo! It means something to me!"

"Like, you know what I'm saying, for example, countries that have flags! You go and step on a logo flag, what is that?! That's disrespect!"

Davis continued, "I played for the Celtics, I'm a Celtic forever!!! So, it don't matter! It don't f**king matter! Stop getting mad because your man got weak ankles!"

"His ankles is weak!! His ankles is f**ked up and Lucky got his ass!"

Hall of Famer Dawn Staley Confident In Coaching NBA ... I Can Lead Men!!!

Hall of Fame hooper and coach Dawn Staley is 100% confident she would THRIVE at the helm of an NBA team ... saying, "I surely can stand in front of men and lead them."

Staley -- one of the greatest WNBA players of all time -- is reportedly one of two female candidates interviewing with the Portland Trail Blazers to replace Terry Stotts ... and if hired, she would become the first woman to be named head coach in the NBA.

While breaking that kind of barrier could come with an insane amount of scrutiny, Staley says "There are a lot of women good enough" for the task.

"I come with a lot of credentials," Staley told the New York Times. "I surely have the confidence. I surely can stand in front of men and lead them. First team All-Stars. MVPs. I’m okay with that."

Of course, Staley's résumé is stacked -- she was a 6-time All-Star in the WNBA and most recently named Coach of the Year with the Gamecocks in 2020 ... but she understands there will be a ton of critics against the hire.

"A lot of people would be out there, just waiting for you to make a mistake, waiting for you to be wrong," Staley added. "There’s a whole dynamic that men, white or Black, just don’t have to think about. It’s a female thing. The expectation will be so much greater than the male coach. So much greater."

Staley -- who led South Carolina to a national title in 2017 -- says she's more than happy with her current position at the college level ... but is adamant she is capable of making the jump.

"I haven’t coached in the league. But you know what? I’m a quick learner."

Staley and San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon are among the several coaching candidates to interview for the Blazers gig ... proving it's a matter of when, not if, a woman gets that kind of opportunity.

"It would be huge. We just need the right situation."

While she says she's more than happy coaching future WNBA talent at the college level ... but if she's interviewing with NBA teams, it's an obvious sign she's open to change.

Phoenix Suns Crazed Fans Swarm Streets to Greet Team ... After 4-Game Sweep!!!

PHOENIX POPS OFF!
@deandreayton / Instagram

The Phoenix Suns returned home to Arizona late Sunday night to ONE HELL OF A WELCOMING PARTY ... where fans were going crazy after the team's 4-game sweep of the Denver Nuggets!

Check out this crazy footage of Sun Nation showing out to greet stars like Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and more ... just losing their minds at the players trying to leave the airport.

The 6'11" Ayton opened up his sunroof and screamed back at the fans -- everyone was hyped! It was awesome!!!

When CP3's car drove up, the fans began the "MVP" chant!

The Suns swept Denver in 4 games -- impressing the NBA world considering they were playing against league MVP Nikola Jokic and stars like Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr.

The Suns are now headed to the NBA Western Conference Finals to face the winner of the L.A. Clippers vs. Utah Jazz series. The Jazz are currently leading 2-1.

Suns fans have been making almost as many headlines lately as the team -- especially after that fight in Denver where a man in a PHX jersey beat up two men in Utah jerseys and then screamed out, "Suns in 4."

Welp, he wasn't wrong.

Lamar Odom I'm 'Hurt' Over Lakers Early Exit L.A. Needs Another Piece!!!

LAKERS NEED HELP
TMZSports.com

The Lakers may need more than LeBron James and Anthony Davis if they're trying to return to the NBA Finals ... so says Lamar Odom, who tells TMZ Sports they're one more star away from dominance.

Of course, the Lake Show was sent home early after losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round ... and AD's groin injury is believed to have played a major role in their demise.

We asked LO if the Purple and Gold need to make big changes this offseason ... and he says Bron and Davis are usually enough, but their heath issues could spell trouble in the future.

"I was hurt!" Odom tells us. "I was hurt when I watched them. They gotta get another guy who can play right alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis."

LeBron also had to sit out a portion of the season due to a tough ankle injury ... and keeping everyone healthy is a major concern for LO.

"I mean, [James and Davis] probably is enough but we need them healthy but just in case if they're not healthy."

"I think once the Lakers put another piece with those two guys, then they'll be alright because they have enough supporting cast right now but I just think they need one more strong piece."

The guy knows what it takes to win it all -- after all, he won championships alongside Kobe Bryant in 2009 and 2010.

Odom points out the Brooklyn Nets ... saying that squad has 3 legit MVP caliber players on their team ... and L.A. needs that third option to be able to compete.

Speaking of Brooklyn, Odom had strong words for Charles Barkley, who recently said he's rooting against the Nets due to his hatred for "super teams."

"Yeah, nah f*** that. F*** that. GMs, you gotta get better then."

"S***, the NBA is a copycat league anyway. If they gave you a script, then maybe you want to make that your movie."

Ben McLemore Lakers Would Still Be In Playoffs ... If AD Was Healthy

UNHEALTHY HICCUPS
TMZSports.com

LeBron James and the Lakers would still be playing right now if it weren't for Anthony Davis' brutal injury ... so says Ben McLemore, who tells TMZ Sports "everybody knows" things would've been a LOT different if AD stayed healthy.

Remember, AD went down with a groin injury in Game 4 of the first-round series against Phoenix ... and the Lakers ended up getting eliminated in 6 games.

We spoke with McLemore about the impact the injury had on the series ... and it's safe to say he thinks the Lakers would've extended their run had the whole team been healthy.

"I think everybody know that," McLemore told us out on Rodeo Drive this week. "Great superstar. Everybody knows that."

AD was a beast for the Lakers before the injury -- posting back-to-back 34-point performances in games 2 and 3 -- but Devin Booker and Chris Paul proved to be too much for the shorthanded Purple and Gold (they also dealt with injuries to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso).

We also spoke with Ben about his future in L.A. and what it was like to play with LeBron and the Brow ... and hoops fans will wanna check out what he says!!

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