Kevin Durant Sorry People Saw Homophobic Slurs I Used ... 'Hopefully I Can Move Past It'

3:50 PM PT -- Kevin Durant addressed the homophobic slurs he used in a private IG convo with Michael Rapaport -- explaining he's sorry people saw him use the language ... but didn't apologize for using the offensive words.

“I’m sorry that people seen the language that I used. That’s not what I want people to see from me. Hopefully I can move past it," Durant said Thursday afternoon during a media session with reports.

Nets head coach Steve Nash was also asked about the situation, and said the team has spoken with KD about the language he used ... but would keep the details private.

"First of all, it was a private conversation with him and the other party. We've talked about it internally but we'll keep all that stuff internal."

It's still unclear if the NBA will take action against Durant. We've reached out several times, but have not heard back from the league.

NO BIG DEAL
TMZSports.com

No, the NBA should NOT punish Kevin Durant for the homophobic insults he used in a private IG convo with Michael Rapaport ... so says P.J. Tucker.

"Of course not, he did nothing wrong," the Milwaukee Bucks player told us in Beverly Hills on Wednesday before taking on the L.A. Lakers.

"He didn't do nothing wrong."

Not everyone agrees with Tucker -- some people are VERY upset Durant used crude homophobic and misogynistic slurs to attack Rapaport in a private DM conversation the actor made public earlier this week.

Rapaport posted screenshots of recent conversations with the Brooklyn Nets star and said, "I receive threats and disgusting messages DAILY, but never in my wildest dreams did I think [Durant] would be among them."

"[Duant] himself is now threatening me, bringing up my wife and wants to fight. This is supposed to be America’s sweetheart right?"

The question now ... will (and should) the NBA get involved and take action against Durant, considering the league's recent push against hateful language directed at any minority group.

Remember, the NBA took action against Meyers Leonard who used an anti-semitic slur during a video game live-streaming session ... suspending him for a week and hitting him with a fine.

Sure, Durant's comments were intended to be private ... but fact is, they're public now.

For his part, KD has only commented once about the Rapaport convo -- saying, "Me and mike talk CRAZIER than this on the regular and today he's pissed ... My bad mike, damn!!"

Originally Published -- 6:10 AM PT

Lil Kim Makes It Rain In Halftime Show ... At Brooklyn Nets Game

It's all about the Benjamins when Lil Kim's on stage ...  which is why the rap legend made it rain with suitcases full of cash during her amazing performance Monday night at the Brooklyn Nets game!

The Nets booked Lil Kim to perform as part of the team's annual Women’s Empowerment Game -- which celebrated the "achievements, contributions, and overall impact women have had on our society."

Well, Kim has contributed to the world of hip-hop and fashion in a big way -- and when she hit the stage, she rocked Barclay's Center with some of her biggest hits.

The Queen B came through heavy in shiny Nets gear -- she had a role in the costume design -- and performed classics like "Ladies Night" and "Lighters Up" while the Brooklynettes danced beside her.

But, when "All About the Benjamins" came on, ya know Lil Kim had to make it rain with some dolla bills -- so the dance team busted out suitcases full of green!

Afterward, the team presented Kim with a special custom Nets jersey ... and her reaction was PRICELESS!

"Oh my God, I'm about to cry!" she screamed holding up the jersey ... "I always wanted my own jersey!".

FYI, Lil Kim was put on to the rap game back in the early '90s by late rapper Notorious B.I.G.

She's sold more than 15 million albums worldwide, won over 41 awards .. and is considered one of the best female rappers of all time.

Brooklyn in the house!

Bobby Shmurda Gets VIP Treatment at Nets Game ... Jersey from James Harden!

THE HARDEN HOOKUP

Life on the outside is proving to be GOOOOOD for Bobby Shmurda -- the formerly incarcerated rapper got the VIP treatment at the Brooklyn Nets game on Monday ... and a signed jersey from superstar James Harden!

The 26-year-old had been in custody since December 2014 after he was charged with conspiracy to murder and other gun charges.

In 2016, Shmurda copped a plea deal to conspiracy to possess weapons and possession of a weapon -- and was sentenced to 7 years in prison followed by 5 years probation.

He was released in February 2021 and immediately embraced by rap stars like Quavo. He also had a big presence during NBA All-Star Weekend.

And, the celebration continued Monday night at Barclay's Center where Shmurda enjoyed a VIP suite to watch the Nets take on the NY Knicks.

After Brooklyn secured the W, James Harden took off his game-worn jersey and presented it to Shmurda -- along with a personal message and signature on the threads.

Shmurda was so fired up about the gift, he went right to the media and showed it off while sporting that sick new gold chain he recently scooped up.

Bottom line ... Shmurda is back to living like a true rockstar. The next question -- when will he get back in the studio and release another album???

Cleveland Cavs Honor Kobe With Emotional Vid During Game Against Lakers

5:40 PM PT -- The Cavaliers shared an incredible tribute video to Kobe during the first timeout of their game against the Lakers on Monday ... featuring soundbites and pictures of the legend's biggest moments in Cleveland.

LeBron James' interactions with Kobe were heavily featured throughout the video ... as well as players like Larry Nance, Jr., Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.

"One year ago, the NBA family lost an all-time great," the video said. "Tonight, we celebrate his memory."

Kyrie Irving is honoring the late Kobe Bryant before taking the court Monday night ... wearing the Lakers legend's iconic #8 jersey ahead of the 1-year anniversary of his death.

KAI and the Black Mamba built a strong relationship over the years ... with the 5-time champ serving as a mentor for the young superstar.

With Tuesday marking one year since the Bryant's tragic death, the Brooklyn Nets guard wanted to make sure he did something Kobe-related with his wardrobe choice.

"You know who I was rockin’ tonight," Irving said as he entered Barclays Center to face off against the Miami Heat ... showing off the Purple & Gold threads.

The players may decide to pay homage to Kobe, but teams and the NBA reportedly will not officially address the anniversary per the family's request, according to reporter Jason Dumas.

Lakers star Anthony Davis spoke about how emotional the next few days will be ... saying, "As we approach his 1-year anniversary, it saddens our hearts to actually come to the realization that he's gone."

"I know I still have trouble with it, you still just can't believe it."

LeBron James added ... "There's a lot of things that die in this world, but legends never die." James said "And he's exactly that."

RIP

Originally Published -- 4:03 PM PT

Joe Johnson KD, Harden, Kyrie ... Best Scoring Big 3 In NBA History

BOPPIN' IN BROOKLYN
TMZSports.com

Ex-NBA star Joe Johnson says Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are already the most lethal scoring big 3 in NBA history ... telling TMZ Sports the Brooklyn Nets will be a serious problem for "any damn body."

It's a huge statement coming from Johnson -- after all, the Golden State Warriors won 2 'ships with the offensive juggernaut of KD, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson ... and very well could have won more if everyone had stayed healthy.

JJ says the entire league -- including LeBron James' Lakers -- will struggle to stop Brooklyn's trio of superstars ... but there's one major issue keeping them from being a lock to win the Larry O'Brien trophy this season.

"They can score the ball, it's just getting stops," Johnson told us at LAX on Thursday. "That's gonna be their biggest problem the whole season."

Johnson isn't ready to call them the best overall big 3 in the game, but scoring-wise?? Hell yeah.

"No question. The best three isolation, get-a-bucket -- yeah you're not gon' get better than this."

When asked what this means for LeBron's quest for ring #5, Joe keeps it real.

"S***, they're gonna be a problem for any damn body. Not just the Lakers. But, like I said, the Nets, they'll figure it out over the course of the season and they'll get things rolling. Right now, they still tryna find themselves."

There's more -- we also spoke with Johnson about the status of the next Big 3 season ... and any fans of Ice Cube's 3-on-3 league will wanna peep his response.

Kyrie Irving Apologizes To Fans After Nets Return ... 'Happy To Be Back'

Kyrie Irving is officially BACK!!

After missing 7-straight games due to personal reasons, the Brooklyn Nets superstar made his highly-anticipated return on Tuesday ... and he's got a message for the fans.

"I am back, I am happy to be back, we got some great pieces and we move on and I let my actions and my game speak for itself like I planned on doing," Irving said, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews. "I just needed a pause."

Kyrie further explains he had "a lot of family and personal stuff going on, so just wanna leave it at that.”

Irving declined to speak about potentially violating the league's COVID-19 protocols by attending a birthday party for his sister ... saying he's ready to move forward.

It was a bizarre situation for first-year head coach Steve Nash, who initially admitted he had trouble communicating with the 28-year-old guard during his time away.

Irving says he has talked to his teammates and he's been welcomed back ... adding, "I have a conversation with each one of them and we move on."

Irving -- who has been active in numerous causes off the court during his career -- also spoke about the state of the country ... and delivered a strong statement about what really matters in his life.

Kyrie is expected to suit up for the Nets' next game Wednesday night ... which just so happens to be against his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving Fined $50k, Forfeits More Than $800k ... For Maskless Partying

Kyrie Irving has been hit with yet another fine this season ... this time, the Brooklyn Nets superstar will have to cough up $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols.

As we previously reported, the NBA was investigating video of a maskless Irving attending a private birthday party for his sister earlier this week, which is against the league's COVID-19 policy.

The rule states players cannot attend indoor events exceeding 15 people.

The Association handed down its punishment Friday ... and while KI was hit with the $50k fine, he will also forfeit game checks for the 2 games he missed following the party, which amounts to $816,898, according to insider Bobby Marks.

It's not the first time Irving has had to pull out his wallet this season ... he was fined $25k for refusing to speak to the media.

The latest development adds to the drama-filled season for Irving -- who went MIA on the Nets last week for "personal reasons."

Irving will be able to return to the team as early as Saturday -- as long as he continues to test negative for COVID -- but whether he actually shows up is a different issue.

James Harden Angry Fans Leave 1-Star Reviews For Unopened Restaurant

James Harden's new upscale restaurant in Houston isn't even open yet, but the place is getting flooded with bad reviews ... courtesy of a bunch of pissed-off Rockets fans!!

Despite being shipped to the Brooklyn Nets this week, Harden's restaurant -- named "Thirteen" after his jersey number -- is set to open its doors later this month.

A number of passionate fans used the restaurant's review section as an opportunity to troll the hell out of their new nemesis ... leaving a bunch of angry 1-star reviews of the place.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Here are a few examples of the reviews:

"Literal trash just like James harden"

"Owner doesn’t know how to cook it up in the court."

"Doesn't quite have that championship taste."

"toxic owner, food just never comes out finished. definitely a choking hazard. owner walked out on the chefs he brought in himself. wouldn’t touch this place with a 4 mile long pole."

One fan even used the same words from Harden's final post-game presser with the Rockets ... saying, "I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed"

There are a LOT more we could share ... but you get the point.

Some fans, however, are taking the higher road by trying to combat the bad reviews with 5 stars and kindness, like this guy who said, "The owner carried my team for 8 years and made us relevant."

The new spot will offer fine wine, cocktails and steaks ... so folks can at least enjoy that even if Harden is gone.

That is, as long as it doesn't leave a bad taste in their mouths.

Nets' Jarrett Allen Secret to Beating Jazz?! ... Alfredo Sauce!!!

SAUCE BOSS
Brooklyn Nets

"I’m normally a pesto on my pasta type of guy, but today I went with Alfredo sauce."

You heard right ... the sauce is what caused Brooklyn Nets' Jarrett Allen to GO OFF on the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.

The 6'11" Allen usually comes off the bench behind DeAndre Jordan -- but the 22-year-old center got the starting nod on Tuesday and went FULL beast mode!

Final stat line -- 19 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks!

Allen even put Rudy Gobert on a poster TWICE --- with the Nets dominating the Jazz in a 130 to 96 victory.

So, what fueled his amazing performance?? Allen says it was all about the pre-game meal!

"Before the games, I’m normally a pesto on my pasta type of guy, but today, I went with alfredo sauce," Allen said post-game.

"So, I really think that was the thing that turned my game on tonight."

The Nets take on the 76ers on Thursday -- someone tell the team chef to load up on the white sauce!!!

Steve Nash Too Busy To Worry About Critics 'Trying To Build Something'

FOCUSED ON THE TEAM
TMZSports.com

Steve Nash says his haters will NOT be his motivators with the Brooklyn Nets -- telling TMZ Sports he's too busy working to worry about outside noise.

And, there has been A LOT of noise ... with current and former NBA players, coaches, analysts and fans criticizing the Nets for hiring Nash over a qualified Black candidate.

So, when we saw Nash leaving Lilia in Brooklyn over the weekend, we asked if he's using the backlash as fuel to succeed.

"No," Nash told us straight-up ... "I'm busy trying to build something and collaborate with my staff."

Nash understands the criticism -- he has no real coaching experience and admitted to "skipping the line" to land the Nets job. But, he also argued that he's extremely qualified saying last week, "I think leading an NBA team [as a player] for almost 2 decades is pretty unique."

I'M THE GUY
Brooklyn Nets

There's more in our convo with Nash ... here are the quick hits:

TMZ Sports: Have you spoken with Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant about the social justice movement?

Nash: "I haven't actually spoken with them about that," Nash says ... "but they know I'm an ally."

TMZ Sports: "Have you reached out to other coaches for advice?"

Nash: "I have."

TMZ Sports: Anyone, in particular, you can share?

Nash: "I can not."

TMZ Sports: "What's one goal you have in Brooklyn?

Nash: "Build a great environment for my players and make the community proud."

TMZ Sports: Were there any other teams you considered?

Nash: Just this one.

NBA's Byron Scott Players Should Advocate for Black Coaches ... Like Kobe Did for Me!

NOT SURPRISED
TMZSports.com

Byron Scott thinks top NBA players should take a more active role in advocating for Black coaches ... just like Kobe Bryant did for him back in the day.

59-year-old Scott says he likes and respects Steve Nash -- but couldn't help but feel disappointed when he saw the Brooklyn Nets hired Nash as head coach over other well-qualified Black candidates.

"My first thought was why didn’t Mark Jackson or some other African-American guys who have coached in this league at least get an opportunity to coach with the Brooklyn Nets?"

Fact is, Scott says ... "We don't get jobs that are that set and that good -- where you got 2 stars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant."

Scott believes Black coaches usually get opportunities with teams that are in pretty bad shape ... unlike Nash and the stacked Nets.

Scott says his opinion is based on his OWN experience -- he took over the Hornets when they were only an 18-win team and New Jersey coming off a 20-win season.

"We don’t get those jobs where there is built-in superstardom guys on that roster right away."

"We get the kind of jobs where you have to make something out of nothing and when you don’t or you’re not able to do it, they’ll say, 'Well, we gave him the opportunity.'"

So, what's the solution? Scott says he wants to see more powerful NBA players go to bat for Black candidates.

"Our players don’t do a good enough job for advocating for Black coaches and that's just something that we need to change as well."

Scott says when he was up for the Lakers head coaching job back in 2014, it was Kobe Bryant who had his back with upper management ... and lo and behold, he got hired.

Charles Oakley Questions Steve Nash Hire Plenty of Qualified Black Guys!

THINGS CAN BE BETTER
TMZSports.com

Charles Oakley is straight-up confused about why the Brooklyn Nets hired Steve Nash as their new head coach ... when there are so many other qualified coaches with actual coaching experience!

The NY Knicks legend didn't beat around the bush when we asked him about the Nash hiring ... telling us straight up, "We need more Black coaches in the NBA."

Oakleys says like everyone else in the NBA world, he had no idea Nash was even interested in a coaching gig ... "but that's how the world is."

"People hire their friends, people that they believe in. Somebody must believe in Steve Nash, a great player."

But, Oakley says there are plenty of Black coaches -- like Mark Jackson, Pete Myers and Jason Kidd -- who have been waiting for jobs ... and got beat out because "this guy comes out of the blue."

"That goes to show you we're still behind the 8 ball," Oak says ... "That's what we're trying to fight for, equal opportunity."

"Hopefully, We can get more Black coaches in the NBA because it's a Black league. We should have more Black coaches. More Black owners and GMs."

In case you're wondering, in the 2018-19 season, roughly 82% of NBA players were people of color, according to an ESPN report.

Oakley -- who just joined the new season of "Dancing with the Stars" -- says the level of coaching in the NBA playoffs has been bad ... and it's about time teams upgrade to people who have a legit resume.

Steve Nash 'Of Course' I've Talked W/ KD, Kyrie ... We're Stoked!!!

GET READY!
TMZSports.com

First Steve Nash sighting after the big news!!!

The newest Brooklyn Nets head coach celebrated his new gig with an Italian dinner at one of NYC's most popular restaurants on Thursday ... and you better believe TMZ Sports was there.

The interaction outside Carbone was super quick -- only 12 seconds long -- but Nash tells us he's already touched base with his teams 2 biggest stars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant ... and they're excited to work together!!!

Nash was wearing a mask on his way out of the restaurant due to the whole COVID-19 sitch ... but we're guessing he had a huge grin underneath it, considering he just landed what many consider the best available coaching job in the NBA right now.

Of course, we had a LOT more we wanted to ask Nash ... but there's only so much you can do with 12 seconds. Hey, we'll take it.

As we previously reported, the NBA Hall of Famer signed a 4-year deal to take over as head coach of the Nets ... which came as a surprise as nobody knew that he had thrown his hat in the ring.

We look forward to another 12 seconds next time you're out, coach!!

Brooklyn Nets Hire Steve Nash as New Coach ... No One Saw It Coming!!!

Steve Nash has been tapped as the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets ... leaving many wondering, WHAT?!!?

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?!!

46-year-old Nash is a Hall of Famer and widely regarded as a genius when it comes to basketball -- but seems nobody had any idea he wanted to become a head coach!

The Nets say they secretly interviewed Nash -- along with a bunch of other top candidates -- as a full-time replacement for Kenny Atkinson, who was fired back in February.

Jacque Vaughn had taken over as interim head coach -- and the Nets liked him so much, he'll remain on the coaching staff under Nash.

Vaughn is reportedly now the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA.

As for Nash, he signed a 4-year deal -- but so far, no word on the money. Not like he needs the cash, Nash reportedly made over $146 million in contract money during his NBA playing career.

“I am honored to have this opportunity with such a 1st-class organization," Nash said in a statement.

"Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn."

Nash takes over a stacked Nets team that includes superstars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

The Nets issued a statement about the hiring process to bring on Nash.

"After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” General Manager Sean Marks said.

"In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players."

Nash played 18 seasons as a player in the NBA -- and was a 2-time NBA MVP, 8-time NBA All-Star and 5-time assist champion.

After he retired in 2015, Nash became a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors.

Nash was inducted into the HOF in 2018.

NBA's DeAndre Jordan Surprises COVID-19 Frontline Workers ... With 200 Meals!!!

Brooklyn Nets star DeAndre Jordan is doing his part to personally assist those combating the coronavirus -- by surprising 200 frontline workers with free meals!!

TMZ Sports has learned -- the 6'11" center popped up at the myCovidMD in Los Angeles on Thursday ... teaming up with Postmates to provide the large group of workers administrating COVID tests with food from one of his favorite local joints -- Harold & Belle’s.

We're told Jordan hooked the workers up with chicken creole and his personal fav -- veggie jambalaya.

Of course, it's a great gesture coming from Jordan -- who was unable to compete in the 2020 NBA restart after testing positive for COVID-19.

Awesome move from the All-Star ... and now we're hungry for some Louisiana creole cuisine.

NBA's Jonathan Isaac Stands For National Anthem Here's My Explanation

LAST MAN STANDING
Courtesy of NBA

2:53 PM PT -- Jonathan Isaac just addressed the media, where he was asked to explain why he didn't kneel or wear a BLM shirt ... and he says a lot of it has to do with his religious beliefs.

Isaac said he believes Black lives do matter ... but doesn't believe the kneeling demonstration or BLM shirt "go hand in hand with supporting Black lives."

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

Isaac went on to explain how the teachings of Jesus Christ influenced his life and decisions ... and insists after much thought, the kneeling demonstration wasn't right for him.

"I think when you look around, racism isn't the only thing that plagues our society, that plagues our nation, that plagues our world, and I feel like coming together on that message that we want to get past not only racism but everything that plagues as a society. The answer to it is the gospel."

We think what Isaac is trying to say is his priority is on following the teachings of Jesus Christ, above all else ... including the Black Lives Matter movement.

Orlando Magic power forward Jonathan Isaac became the first NBA player to stand during the national anthem following the season restart ... deciding against both kneeling and wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt.

The league's coaches, refs and players -- from LeBron James to Zion Williamson -- have been using the anthem demonstrations to raise awareness as games pick back up in Orlando ... a gesture that is being supported by NBA commish Adam Silver.

Isaac became the first player to choose to stand as the anthem was played before the Magic's match-up with the Brooklyn Nets on Friday ... while the rest of the team's players and staffers took a knee.

It's worth noting -- Silver says everyone will have the option to kneel during the anthem without consequence ... despite a league rule requiring players to stand.

The same goes for anyone who wishes to stand -- no one is saying the players HAVE to kneel, either.

So far, Jonathan hasn't commented on his decision to stand publicly -- because the game is currently being played. But, when he does, we'll update here.

Charles Barkley spoke about the demonstrations on Thursday during TNT's "Inside The NBA," saying, "The national anthem means different things to different people."

"I’m glad these guys are unified. If people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear. I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified."

The Magic released a statement in support of the demonstration, saying, "The DeVos Family and the Orlando Magic organization fully supports Magic players who have chosen to leverage their professional platform to send a peaceful and powerful message condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police, especially against people of color."

"We are proud of the positive impact our players have made and join with them in the belief that sports can bring people together — bridging divides and promoting inclusion, equality, diversity and unity."

Originally published -- 1:08 PM PT

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