Al Harrington Powerful Speech For Allen Iverson At Weed Launch Party

WELCOME TO THE BUSINESS
TMZSports.com

Allen Iverson has crossed over into the weed game -- the NBA legend has teamed up with Al Harrington to introduce his very own cannabis line ... and was honored by his new biz partner with a pretty powerful speech.

"The Answer" hosted a bunch of his celebrity fans for the official launch of his Indica-dominant flower -- dubbed "96" to reference the year he was drafted -- with Harrington's Viola Brands in L.A. this weekend ... and there was plenty of music, drinks, a basketball court and oh yeah, WEED.

The man of the hour took center court with Harrington to celebrate the huge accomplishment ... with Harrington grabbing the mic to share some special words about Iverson.

"Obviously, we here because we celebrating my brother, Bubba Chuck, AKA Allen Iverson," Harrison said in front of the packed crowd.

"Not too many people get to do collabs with icons. You know what I'm saying. And, we all know Allen Iverson is an icon," AH added.

Harrington explained the decision to link up ... saying he wants icons like AI to help take over an industry that lacks black representation.

THE GREEN ANSWER
TMZSports.com

Harrington even gave AI a customized bottle of Dom Pérignon as a sign of his appreciation ... and it was so pretty, Iverson had to give it a smooch!

We also talked to AI about why he wanted to start a weed brand ... and he's got a pretty great reason.

The NBA Hall of Famer had one final message for everybody as he embarks on this next chapter -- "Live your life. You only live once."

#YOLO

Shaquille O'Neal Hits The Stage with Snoop ... While Raising Millions for Charity

NUTHIN' BUT A SHAQ THANG
Shaquille O'Neal Foundation

Shaq's no stranger to taking the stage, but audience members at his inaugural charity event got a never-before-seen performance when the NBA legend collabed with Snoop Dogg on a hip-hop classic.

The Shaquille O'Neal Foundation held their first-ever "'The Event' Presented by Pepsi Stronger Together" Saturday night in Vegas. Jimmy Kimmel took over hosting duties, but Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson and Snoop were among the performers to grab the mic.

At one point during Snoop's set, Shaq jumped on stage to perform "Nuthin' But A G Thang" ... and as expected, the crowd went wild.

The event raised $2.7 million to benefit The Boys and Girls Club and Communities in Schools throughout Las Vegas and Atlanta ... including ticket sales and a live auction.

Speaking of the auction, Shaq wowed the crowd when he bid $90k of his own cash for a walk-on role in an upcoming Adam Sandler movie.

The world needs more people like Shaq.

Enes Kanter Slams LeBron Over Vaccine Stance ... 'It's Ridiculous'

OUR RESPONSIBILITY
CNN

Enes Kanter is making it clear, he's pissed over LeBron James' COVID vaccine stance ... saying this weekend he thinks the Lakers star should be urging everyone to get the shots.

"When I heard it," Kanter said during a television interview with CNN, "I was very disappointed, and it’s ridiculous."

James told reporters last week he would NOT try to convince anyone to get the vax -- despite receiving it himself -- saying, "That's not my job."

NOT MY JOB
Los Angeles Lakers

Kanter, who started 35 games for the Portland Trailblazers last season, disagreed -- explaining he thinks it's obviously Bron's duty.

"LeBron James, he's one of the faces of the league," Kanter said, "and he should be the first one to go out there and say, 'Listen, everyone. I got the vaccine, and I'm encouraging everyone, my community, everyone, basketball fans, non-basketball fans and sports fans are just going out there and get this vaccine, so we can save other lives.'"

Kanter added, "When I heard that, I just couldn't believe it. But, I hope he can educate himself about this vaccination and inspire and encourage other people around him."

For his part, LeBron said he felt uncomfortable urging others to get the jab because he felt he shouldn't "get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods."

Fellow NBA star Draymond Green agreed with LeBron days after the L.A. star's take, revealing he, too, believes it's not a decision he should be putting pressure on others to make.

Drew Pearson I Could Turn LeBron Into HOF Receiver ... Just Join The Cowboys!!!

LEBRON, LET'S WORK!
TMZSports.com

LeBron James ... 4-time NBA champ AND Pro Football Hall of Famer?!

Drew Pearson says he can make that a reality for the King ... telling TMZ Sports if Bron switched to football and joined the Cowboys, he could turn the Lakers star into a HOF receiver!!

"If I had a chance to work with him at wide receiver or tight end, he'd become a Hall of Famer, that's for sure," Pearson said.

"He'd become a Hall of Famer because he's got that talent, and with my coaching, I can coach him up to become a Hall of Famer and get one of these rings."

Pearson added that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys would be more than willing to give the basketball player a shot ... saying, "We got a contract for you."

"If you want a contract," the Cowboys legend said, "you come to Dallas, we'll make sure it works. I know Jerry Jones will make that work."

Of course, Jones has already sent LeBron a contract once before ... with James saying this week the 'Boys -- along with the Seahawks -- offered him deals back in 2011.

Seems, though, James is content fighting for yet another NBA title ... but, hey, if a change of mind goes down -- we're pretty sure Drew's waiting!

Metta Sandiford-Artest Simmons Will Be MVP Candidate

MVP BOUND
TMZSports.com

Ben Simmons ... MVP candidate???

Metta Sandiford-Artest thinks so ... telling TMZ Sports he truly believes the Philadelphia 76ers guard (at least for now, that is) ... will be one of the best players in the NBA this season.

The NBA champ had high praises for the disgruntled star when we spoke with him this week ... and despite all the drama surrounding his trade demand, Metta says it will be a breakthrough season for the 25-year-old.

"This kid is going to be an MVP candidate," the former All-Star emphatically expressed. "Just because he’s a superstar doesn’t mean he needs to be a shooter."

Metta even cited players like Gary Payton and Jason Kidd, who didn't necessarily have the best shooter's touch throughout their NBA tenure ... but went on to have Hall of Fame careers.

MSA even goes on to say Ben will hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy when it's all said and done ... and believes there can be a kiss and make-up moment with the Sixers.

"He will be an MVP candidate, and he will be second-team all-NBA, and he will be a champion. Hopefully in Philly with my good brother (and current Sixers GM) Elton Brand. Work it out."

Of course, Simmons is no scrub -- he was third-team All-NBA in 2020 -- but his recent struggles have folks wondering if he's pushing himself to his limit.

Sandiford-Artest offered some advice to Simmons and other players that might find themselves in a similar situation.

"You don’t request trades when you don’t have to, 'cause you don’t want to mess with your legacy," he said. "Stay with one team as long as you can. Build that comfort. Build your legacy."

It's unclear if Ben and the Sixers will be able to work it out -- things have gotten ugly as Simmons appears to be hellbent on getting shipped out of Philly ... but at least Metta is holding out hope.

Devin Booker Back At Suns Practice ... After COVID-19 Battle

Devin Booker is back in the mix -- the NBA star made his first appearance at the Phoenix Suns training camp on Friday after his stint with COVID-19.

As we previously reported, the shooting guard revealed on a Twitch stream earlier this week he tested positive for the coronavirus and had been battling the virus for a week.

The ex-Kentucky baller was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols ... causing him to miss the first 3 days of training camp with his teammates.

Booker confirmed he was vaccinated before catching COVID -- he told reporters he was gradually getting his sense of smell and taste back ... adding it was great to be back with his teammates.

The 24-year-old had a breakout year last season ... averaging 25.6 points, 4.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game before leading Phoenix on an improbable run to the NBA Finals.

BATTLING COVID
Twitch.tv/dbook

The Suns open up preseason play on October 4 against the Sacramento Kings ... but it is unclear if DB can suit up that soon. Here's hoping he's ready to go.

Welcome back, D-Book!!

Shaquille O'Neal Nets Should Trade Kyrie Over Vaxx 'Get His Ass Out Of Here'

Shaquille O’Neal is fed up with Kyrie Irving ... saying the Brooklyn Nets should cut ties with the star if he won't be able to play home games due to being unvaccinated.

Irving has been under attack for reportedly not getting vaccinated as the pandemic rages on ... and he currently won't be able to play home games due to NYC's COVID-19 mandate.

With the Nets poised for a title run with KI, Kevin Durant and James Harden in 2021-22, Shaq was asked what he'd do if Kyrie misses half the season ... and he's not holding back.

"I would go upstairs and say, 'Get him up out of here,'" Shaq told "Tiki and Tierney" this week. "We can win with a two-punch and a great shooter and some rebounders like we got. Get his ass up out of here."

"Of course, if I played with him, I’d be in charge all the way, all day," Shaq added.

"Whoever owns the Brooklyn Nets, get him up out of here."

But, Shaq wasn't done sharing his thoughts on the topic -- he expanded on his take on "The Big Podcast" on Thursday ... saying he is not going to "knock" Irving's right to have an opinion, but the hooper has to think about the bigger picture.

"In this game of ours, sometimes you have to think about others instead of yourself," he said. "Now, Kyrie has his own views and his opinions. I’m not going to knock that."

"He does have an obligation because he took that $200 million. Once you sign up for this life there is no privacy. And you have to accept it."

FYI -- some of that 200 milli will disappear if Kyrie misses all the home games this season ... with the guard reportedly set to lose out on $17.5 million.

No word on if that's changed Irving's mind at all ... but it seems like this drama ain't ending anytime soon.

Report: Ben Simmons Willing To Lose $33 Million, Sit Out If Not Traded From Sixers

Ben Simmons would rather lose tens of millions of dollars than suit up for the Philadelphia 76ers ever again ... 'cause the NBA star is reportedly willing to sit out the whole season and forfeit his salary if he's not shipped to another team.

Simmons and the Sixers have been butting heads all offseason amid the All-Star's trade demand -- he's refused to show up to training camp or meet with anybody from the organization.

The 25-year-old is owed more than $33 million for the upcoming campaign and has four years left on his remaining contract ... but if he decides to stick to his guns and sit out 'til a trade is made, as ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reports is likely to happen, that coin will go bye-bye.

Philly has made it abundantly clear that they will not move BS unless the right deal presents itself … but they have expressed a desire to get the ex-LSU star back into the swing of things.

6/29/21
BEN'S A BEAST
TMZSports.com

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers even told us back in June he wanted Ben on the team this season ... and is holding out hope for a change of heart.

Of course, it’s ultimately Simmons’ decision to show or sit out … but sheesh, $33 million, bro??

LaMelo Ball Launches College Scholarship Program ... School Matters!!!

LaMelo Ball may not need school, but the NBA star is stressing the importance of an education for others ... by kickstarting his very own 4-year scholarship program!!

The 20-year-old Charlotte Hornets superstar announced the big plan on Wednesday ... saying he'll help one lucky student looking to study sports management or communication/marketing at Long Island University's Roc Nation School of Music, Sports and Entertainment in Fall 2022.

Students with a 1100 SAT score (or 22 on the ACT score) are eligible ... and the app requires a written essay on what the LaMelo Scholarship will mean to them 10 years down the road.

The scholarship will come with some sweet perks -- the Roc Nation school prides itself in its variety of industry resources to help students prepare for the real world.

Ball says he decided to give back in hopes of helping the youth succeed ... just like he did when he entered the league in 2020.

"I want to encourage the next generation of sports executives and leaders to follow their dreams just like I did to make it to the NBA," LaMelo tells TMZ Sports.

"I’m fortunate to have the means and public platform to support others, so I want to do my part and create a lane for a student to get a strong education and be in position to make a meaningful impact in the sports industry."

Of course, Ball recently spoke out about his own educational experience ... saying "school not even teaching you s***" ... but later clarified he didn't mean that was the case for EVERYONE.

With the new scholarship, it's clear LaMelo doesn't think school is for fools.

Travis Kelce LeBron Would Be A 'Problem' In NFL ... At Tight End

'BRON THE BALLER
TMZSports.com

The greatest tight end in the NFL believes LeBron James would have thrived as a pro football player ... 'cause Travis Kelce tells TMZ Sports the King would've been a serious "problem" in the league if he didn't become a basketball icon.

LBJ recently revealed he received offers to play for the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks during the 2011 NBA lockout ... and said he would have likely tried out at tight end if he decided to play football.

Considering Kelce is a 5-time All-Pro tight end, a Super Bowl champ and a 6-time Pro Bowler, we had to ask about LBJ's chances in the league ... and he truly believes James would have balled out!!!

"I think LeBron is one of the greatest athletes in the world, right," Kelce told Babcock on the TMZ Sports TV show (airs nightly on FS1).

"His athleticism, how knowledgeable he is about the game of basketball that you can tell how he plays, he gets down to the scheme of things."

Kelce continued ... "And, that's a lot about being a football player is understanding schemes, going out there, playing free and letting your athleticism show."

Of course, there may be a bit of bias in Kelce's answer ... he grew up in Cleveland Heights, just about 45 minutes from LeBron's hometown of Akron. But, make no mistake, he's serious about LeBron's abilities on the gridiron.

"I think Bron would have definitely been a problem on the football field, no doubt about it," he added. "Especially with tight end room. That's us Northeast Ohio guys, man. We're all-around athletes. You can throw us in any sport, we'll have success."

As for whether LBJ would have been able to make that transition in 2011, Kelce says he wishes he could have seen that experiment unfold.

MEANINGFUL WORK
TMZSports.com

We also spoke with Kelce about his partnership with LG, where he's opening the doors to his life off the field for the "Travis Kelce, Only On OLED" series ... which also stars 2 of his childhood friends.

9/21/21
THAT'S MY GUY
TMZSports.com

Kelce says he had a blast shooting the parody-style show ... adding, "We're just in there having a whole lot of fun."

Ex-NBA's Chris Webber Opening a $50M Cannabis Facility ... In Detroit!!!

Ex-NBA star Chris Webber is bringing more weed business to his hometown -- by opening a $50 million cannabis facility in Detroit.

Of course, Webber is already in the weed industry -- he launched a $100 million equity fund with JW Asset Management to help minority entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry earlier this year.

Now, he's taking it one step further and building Players Only Holdings -- a 180,000 square foot facility featuring a 60,000 square foot cultivation, a dispensary and a cannabis consumption lounge.

The $50 million dollar location -- that will be owned by Webber and Lavetta Willis -- will also be a training spot that will focus on cannabis cultivation, creative content and management, branding and real estate.

The awesome compound just broke ground on Tuesday and is expected to be finished in March 2022 ... with plans of expanding the cultivation by 80,000 square feet later on.

Webber's also expanding Cookies Campus -- his cannabis training program in California -- to the Motor City ... and the 5-time NBA All-Star is excited to bring this opportunity to his hometown.

"We will create, foster and provide a cannabis ecosystem that celebrates diversity, creates jobs, and benefits this community – focusing intensely on those who are being left behind," Webber said.

"As social equity programs struggle in many states, we are here to support legacy operators who created the foundation for this industry so that they are included in future iterations of it while we wait on the politics to catch up."

LeBron James I Got The Vaccine ... But I Won't Urge Others To Do Same

NOT MY JOB
Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James just confirmed he is, in fact, vaccinated ... but he said he will not urge others to do the same, explaining, "That's not my job."

The NBA superstar broke down his feelings on the COVID vax at Lakers media day Tuesday ... saying to reporters he was initially skeptical of the shots -- but decided to get them after doing his research.

Still, James said he had no interest in pleading with others -- including his NBA peers -- to follow in his footsteps ... believing it's a decision each person must make on their own.

"We're talking about individuals' bodies," LeBron said. "We're not talking about something that's political, or racism, or police brutality. Things of that nature. We're talking about people's bodies and well being."

"So, I don't feel like, for me personally, that I should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods."

James compared it to giving out job advice -- explaining he would never tell someone how to choose their own career paths.

"You have to do what's best for your family," LeBron said. "So, I know what I did for me and my family. I know some of my friends and what they did for their families."

"But as far as speaking for everybody and their individualities and things that they want to do, I don't feel like that -- that's not my job."

James said the Lakers -- who will head into the season with a 100 percent vaccination rate -- never talked as a team about getting the vaccine ... reiterating he wanted it all to be a choice each individual made on their own.

LeBron James I Was Offered NFL Contracts By Jerry Jones & Pete Carroll

LeBron James says he almost played in the NFL, telling Eli and Peyton Manning the Cowboys and Seahawks both offered him a contracts during the NBA lockout in 2011.

Bron joined the Manning Bros during their "Monday Night Football" broadcast ... when the Giants legend asked James if it were true that Dallas recruited him back in the day, with Eli asking if he had "any temptation to put the uniform on and go play for the Cowboys?”

"That's true, Jerry Jones offered me a contract. Also, Pete Carroll did as well, in Seattle during our lockout time," LeBron told Eli and Peyton.

"It definitely got my blood flowing again. Got my mind racing again thinking about the game of football, being out there on Sundays."

Unfortunately for Cowboys and Seahawks fans, Bron says NBA players and owners quickly worked through their differences, and lockout ended shortly after.

"We were able to get a deal done in the NBA and I was back on the court in no time, but I definitely thought about it. I still got the jerseys too, that Jerry and Pete Carroll sent me from 2011."

Eli asked which position teams envisioned the 6'8", 250+ lb. basketball legend playing -- wide receiver, tight end?

“Yeah, more tight end, tight end," LeBron answered ... "I wanted to be a red-zone specialist like Gronk.”

You'll recall, James was a talented receiver in high school, playing for St.-Vincent-St. Mary’s football team … even getting recruited by several Division 1 schools (for football).

He smashed the competition during his junior year ... racking up 57 receptions, 1,160 yards, and 16 TDs.

Great numbers ... but safe to say his decision to quit football and focus on hooping turned out well for the future Hall of Famer.

But, not even Peyton could stop himself from imagining what it would've been like to throw the ball up to a freakishly big, strong, and talented athlete.

“I would have thrown so many touchdowns to LeBron, put him out wide, throw the ball, throw the fade, jump ball. 75 touchdowns.”

Defenses, you're lucky ...

Kyrie Irving Misses Brooklyn Nets Media Day ... Dodges COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

SOME RESPECT PLEASE
@kyrieirving / Instagram

9:52 AM PT -- Kyrie just held a live stream presser with reporters after missing media day ... and shut down any questions regarding his vaccination status, citing his "privacy."

KI said he isn't putting limits on rejoining his teammates soon ... but made it clear he was not about to give any more details other than that.

As for his own beliefs, Irving says he's a human first and foremost and wants to handle everything the right way.

The Brooklyn Nets are without part of their "Big Three" to kick off the 2021-22 season ... 'cause Kyrie Irving will not attend the team’s media day due to New York City's COVID-19 protocols.

Irving is believed to be in the roughly 10% of the league that has not been vaccinated ... with Rolling Stone reporting he's actively engaging with wild anti-vax conspiracies on social media.

Considering there's a mandate requiring NYC-based NBA players to have at least one vaccine shot before practicing or playing indoors, Irving had no choice but to miss the team's event on Monday ... and now, his status for the season is in jeopardy.

29-year-old Irving is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro ... dropping 26.9 points on 50.6% shooting and averaging 6.0 assists and 4.8 boards.

Irving certainly figures to be a crucial part of any hopes the BK Nets have to win a title this season ... but unless he gets a religious exception from the league (Andrew Wiggins' request was denied), there is a slim chance he can suit up until the city's protocols change.

Irving's teammate -- Kevin Durant -- was asked about why he isn't concerned about KI's vaccination status ... and he downplayed the whole situation.

"That's his personal decision," KD told the media. "What he does is not on us to speculate. I expect us to have our whole team at some point."

Now we all know, Irving marches to the beat of his own drum ... but that drum may not be at a championship parade if things don't change.

While his NYC availability is up in the air, Irving is expected to travel with the team to San Diego later Monday for training camp.

Story developing ...

Originally Published -- 9:01 AM PT

David Letterman Grills Kevin Durant At Nets Media Day ... 'Why Do People Call You KD?!?'

"THAT WAS THE LAST ONE"
Brooklyn Nets

Late-night legend David Letterman crashed the Brooklyn Nets' media day on Monday ... and it was bad news for Kevin Durant, who was interrogated with a ton of tough questions!!

The former longtime "Late Show" host kicked off his round of Qs for the 2-time champ with quite possibly the hardest-hitting question in sports journalism -- asking about Durant's "KD" nickname ... which, of course, has always been a big mystery among fans.

"Why do people call you KD??" Letterman asked.

Durant explained the reasoning behind the moniker with unenthusiastic delivery ... and you gotta give him credit for having the patience to walk Letterman through that toughie.

Letterman had more fire for KD ... asking how much effort he was going to put out on the court this season ... to which he replied, "110%"

The best question came when DL asked if KD would consider playing for the Nets AND Knicks at the same time ... but that's when Durant's patience ran out.

"All right, Dave, that was the last one," he said ... before adding, "They let anyone in here."

We're sure KD was in on the bit, but it's hilarious to watch him stay stone-faced the entire time.

Devin Booker Reveals COVID Battle On Live Stream ... 'No Taste, No Smell'

BATTLING COVID
Twitch.tv/dbook

Devin Booker says he's currently fighting COVID ... revealing on a Twitch stream over the weekend he's been battling the virus for about a week -- and it's sapped him of his taste and smell.

The NBA superstar -- who's been famously dating Kendall Jenner for the past year -- broke it all down for his followers while playing "Call of Duty" on Sunday.

"I got the 'vid, man," Booker said ... adding later in the stream, "Honestly, I'm feeling straight, man. Only thing that I'm dealing with is no taste, no smell. Which is the worst part of it."

"But," Booker continued, "I'm about a week in. I'm going to be back in no time. No time."

Booker -- who vacationed all over the globe with Jenner in August -- declined to say if he was vaccinated or not ... but did mention on the stream, "You can still get COVID with the vaccine."

Booker is now expected to miss the start of the Phoenix Suns' training camp while he recovers from the virus.

It's unclear, meanwhile, if Jenner has also contracted COVID.

Get well soon, D-Book.

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