LeBron James Kyrie Was Wrong ... But Punishment's Excessive

LeBron James says he knows what Kyrie Irving did was wrong ... but the Lakers superstar still came to the Nets point guard's defense Thursday, claiming the punishment KI is now facing is just too much.

James, who played with Irving for several seasons in Cleveland, took to Twitter to relay his stance on the matter to his fanbase ... writing out several tweets while he was in the middle of rehabbing a lower-body injury.

"I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information," James said. "And I’ll continue to be that way, but Kyrie apologized, and he should be able to play. That’s what I think. It’s that simple."

Irving was suspended by the Nets last Thursday after he repeatedly refused to apologize for tweeting out a link to the antisemitic film, "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America!"

The team called the ban indefinite -- saying Irving would have to satisfy "a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct" in order to return to the floor.

According to Shams Charania, some of the stipulations included sensitivity training, antisemitic training and meetings with Jewish leaders.

James clearly feels it's all too much ... adding, "Help him learn- but he should be playing. What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive IMO. He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him."

For his part, Irving did finally apologize ... and, per Charania, had a 'productive' meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver over it all earlier this week.

NBA Star Donovan Mitchell Hits L.A. Hot Spot With Girlfriend ... After Cavs Game

DINNER DATE
BACKGRID

The Cavs might have lost, but Donovan Mitchell was winning after the game -- hitting up an L.A. hot spot with his beautiful girlfriend ... and TMZ Sports has the vid!!

Cleveland lost just its second game of the season against the Clippers on Monday ... falling 117-119 and snapping an 8-game winning streak, despite Spida's 30-point effort

26-year-old Mitchell and his lady, Tinara Westbrook, decided to get over the loss at The Nice Guy in West Hollywood ... enjoying a peaceful meal late into the night.

The 3-time All-Star and hair entrepreneur have been going strong this year ... making their romance "Instagram official" back in September.

Spida is off to an insane start in his first season in Wine & Gold ... averaging 31.2 points, 6 assists and 4.1 rebounds a game.

Westbrook was in attendance for the Cavs vs. Clippers game at Crypto.com Arena ... and she had some pretty good seats for the matchup.

The Cavs will finish their West Coast road trip with games against the Kings and Warriors before heading back home ... and we assume Westbrook will be along for the ride.

The Miz Cavs Will Make the NBA Finals ... Donovan Mitchell Is a Star!

GOING TO THE FINALS !!
TMZSports.com

The Miz says the Cleveland Cavaliers are AWEEEEEESOME -- telling TMZ Sports he thinks his hometown team is going to make it all the way to the NBA Finals this season!!

We spoke with the WWE Superstar out at LAX this week about his Cleveland sports teams ... and while his Browns are struggling, he says there's hope with the Wine & Gold.

"We're going to the NBA Finals," Miz tells us. "They got a young squad, and they got some good superstars. They look better than the Lakers."

The Cavs have been playing well so far this season -- they already have more wins than the Browns -- and have been led by newly acquired star Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen ... even with Darius Garland missing games with an eye injury.

Miz is clearly a fan of the Cavs' blockbuster trade ... saying, "Spida is going to be amazing."

"He is the star," Miz adds. "And we welcomed him with open arms, 'cause we didn't think we could get another star. It's Cleveland. It's not like an L.A. or NY, or Miami market."

What's even more surprising -- Miz isn't exactly worried about whether LeBron James ever comes back home ... saying he believes the current Cavs squad can win it all without the King.

"Oh man, we have the team that could actually do this."

Zydrunas Ilgauskas Wife Dies At 50 ... Cavaliers Mourn Death

UPDATE

1:39 PM PT -- Cavaliers GM Koby Altman just addressed Jennifer Ilgauskas' death with reporters ... and said the team is mourning the loss.

UPDATE
THEY'RE IN OUR HEARTS
Cleveland Cavaliers
UPDATE

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ilgauskas family and his two boys," he said. "It's obviously a really, really sad time for that family, so we wish them the best."

UPDATE

The Cavs added in a statement Wednesday they were "deeply saddened" by the death.

UPDATE

"Our hearts are with Zydrunas and their two sons, Deividas and Povilas who are forever a part of our Cavaliers family."

The wife of Cleveland Cavaliers legend Zydrunas Ilgauskas has sadly died, a funeral home in Ohio confirmed this week. She was just 50 years old.

Jennifer Ilgauskas, according to an obituary from the Zeis-McGreevey Funeral Home, passed away on Sunday. A cause of death was not revealed.

Zydrunas and Jennifer had been married for almost two decades -- the couple reportedly tied the knot way back in 2004, when Big Z was starring for the Cavs.

She had worked in the medical industry while Zydrunas was playing in NBA arenas ... and according to her obit, "She always had ideas for growth and the never-ending desire to achieve more."

"She truly enjoyed working and being a leader who led by example," her family and friends wrote in the obituary. "She cared deeply about everyone she employed, and her door was always open to those who needed to talk. She was generous with her time, finances and counsel."

Jennifer and Zydrunas had two sons. Her funeral is scheduled for Sept. 17.

The former basketball player -- whose jersey was retired by the Cavaliers in 2014 -- has yet to publicly comment on the loss.

RIP.

Originally Published -- 6:07 AM PT

Donovan Mitchell Traded To Cavs ... In Massive Deal

Donovan Mitchell's days in Utah are over -- the NBA star has been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a huge deal on Thursday.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out the bombshell news just minutes ago -- the face of the Jazz franchise is officially on the move to northeast Ohio.

Mitchell -- who was drafted by the Nuggets out of Louisville -- spent all 5 of his seasons with the Jazz after being traded on draft night ... where he established himself as one of the game's best young stars.

The Cavs are sending Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji and three first-round picks to Utah ... and the rights to swap two other future picks in the deal.

The Knicks had been floated as a potential landing spot for Spida ... but their dreams were officially squashed after the Cavs -- who made the play-in tournament last year -- sealed the deal.

Utah appears to be in complete rebuild mode -- the team traded away Rudy Gobert, a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, and now have shipped Donovan out of town as well.

Mitchell will join a young Cavs team that showed promise under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff -- and will now suit up alongside guys like Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

Kevin Love Watches Lions Devour Prey ... 'Africa is DIFFERENT'

Kevin Love's honeymoon in Africa just took a WILD turn -- the NBA star watched lions hunt down a wildebeest ... and then saw them completely devour it from limb to limb!

Love, who's with his model wife, Kate Bock, in Tanzania celebrating their recent nuptials, shared video of the scene on Friday morning ... and, warning, it's pretty graphic.

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

In the footage, you can see a group of lions snacking on their prey -- all while Love recorded just feet away in a vehicle.

"We were told it’s very rare (and lucky) to see a kill play out in front of your eyes from start to finish," Love said, before adding, "It’s an ugly and yet beautiful game out there."

Love and Bock have been in Africa for a few days now, and the two seem to be thrilled with their experience so far.

The couple has been spotted watching elephants, giraffes and other exotic animals, all while enjoying some food and drink.

"This place is everything we dreamed of & more," Bock said. "The views, the animals, the light, the warm people, the adventure, the wildness…. Tanzania, you’re something special."

Have fun on the trip, guys ... but try not to get TOO close to the feeding animals now!!

Rajon Rondo Domestic Violence Case Dismissed

The emergency protection order that was filed against Rajon Rondo last month after he was accused of pulling a gun on the mother of his kids has been dismissed, TMZ Sports has confirmed.

A judge ordered the dismissal of the petition on June 16, according to court records.

Court documents show the reason for the move was Rondo and his accuser, Ashley Bachelor, "reached an agreement." No further details surrounding the pact were revealed.

As we reported, the emergency protection order was initially filed on May 13 after Bachelor claimed Rondo became enraged after she interrupted a video game session between the NBA player and his son in Kentucky on May 11.

Rondo allegedly smashed a bunch of items around the house ... and, according to court documents, told Bachelor "You're dead" before leaving the residence.

Bachelor claimed Rondo eventually came back with a gun, scaring her and their kids.

Bachelor was eventually granted protection for herself and her two children, and Rondo had to temporarily stay at least 500 feet away from Ashley and their kids.

We've reached out to Rondo for comment on the case's disposition, but so far, no word back yet.

Kevin Love Havin' A Ball At The Louvre!!!

Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love got an eyeful at the Louvre Museum on Friday ... and by an eyeful, we really mean it.

The 2016 champ hit up the world-famous museum in Paris prior to catching Rafael Nadal's semifinal match against Alexander Zverev at the French Open ... and decided to document all the artistic man junk he saw along the way.

Relax ... it's art!!!

K. Love also checked out some non-nude pieces along during the trip ... including the Mona Lisa (which was cleaned up after the cake attack on Sunday), Athena of Velletri and The Wedding at Cana ... as well as Napoleon's apartment.

Enjoy your time in Ville-Lumière, Kev!! Go nuts.

Tristan Thompson LeBron, Kyrie ... One Of The Best Duos Ever!!!

TWO OF MY FAVORITES
TMZSports.com

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were one of the greatest 1-2 punches in NBA history -- so says NBA vet Tristan Thompson ... who tells TMZ Sports he has nothing but praise for his old teammates.

TT's comments come after Irving recently admitted on the "I AM ATHLETE" podcast that he and LeBron would have won more championships together if he had been more mature.

Of course, that admission has to sting a little bit for Thompson (hey, at least he got one off the Warriors!!) ... but he explained to us Bron and Kyrie will always hold a special place in his heart after what they accomplished in 2016.

"I win a 'ship with somebody, they're always my favorite," Thompson said.

Tristan knows firsthand what the two guys are capable of -- he was a part of the Cavaliers team led by James and Irving that erased a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to beat the Golden State Warriors ... and was a key role player in the series.

Before the breakup, LBJ and Kyrie enjoyed success together in Cleveland ... dominating the Eastern Conference and making four consecutive Finals appearances.

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and Shaquille O' Neal and Kobe Bryant are generally touted as the standard for best duos ... and, rightfully so, considering the careers they had.

But, it appears Thompson thinks they've cemented their place amongst those on that list ... even if they broke up prematurely.

Rajon Rondo Allegedly Pulled Gun On Mom Of Kids ... Threatened Her Life During Outburst

UPDATE

3:37 PM PT -- The NBA tells TMZ Sports it is aware of the report and working on getting more information on the alleged incident.

UPDATE

2:43 PM PT -- The judge who signed off on the protective order has ordered Rondo to temporarily stay at least 500 feet away from Ashley and their kids.

UPDATE

Ashley has also been awarded temporary custody of the two children.

UPDATE

Rajon has also been ordered to temporarily turn over his firearms to the court.

UPDATE

FWIW, the court's granting of the Emergency Protective Order isn't an indication of the ferocity of the claims within it. It's simply a temporary order until the parties can get before a judge and argue the merits of a protective order.

Rajon Rondo allegedly pulled a gun on the mother of his children and threatened to kill her during a heated altercation ... and the woman claims their kids witnessed the whole thing.

TMZ Sports has learned 36-year-old Ashley Bachelor, Rondo's former partner and mother of his two kids, filed for an emergency protective order in Louisville last week, requesting protection for her, her son and daughter ... and the story she tells about the alleged incident is scary.

Bachelor says Rajon -- a 2x NBA champ and 4x All-Star -- was playing video games with his son on May 11 ... when Ashley asked the boy to separate laundry. Bachelor says Rajon became enraged and ripped the game console out of the wall in front of the kid.

Ashley says Rajon then continued the destructive behavior, smashing everything from a teacup to outdoor lights and trash cans.

Bachelor says the kids were upset after witnessing their dad losing it, so she tried to "deescalate" the situation. But, she says Rajon responded by making a death threat, allegedly saying, "You're dead."

Rondo temporarily left the home, according to Ashley, before returning about 15 minutes later, when he allegedly approached a back door and began banging on the window with his gun.

Bachelor says she didn't know what was going on, so she approached the door from the inside to take a look. She allegedly saw Rondo with the weapon and asked him to stop because he was scaring her. She says Rondo didn't listen, and instead yelled, "Go get my f**king son!"

Ashley says she feared if she didn't comply with the alleged gun-wielding hoops star something bad may happen, so she brought their son, Pierre, downstairs, but kept the backdoor closed.

Soon after, Ashley says Pierre opened the door and Rondo "yanked him outside."

Bachelor says Rondo, who was still allegedly holding his gun, was screaming at Pierre, asking why the boy was scared of his dad.

Ashley, who claims her son was "visibly upset," says she didn't intervene because she was scared Rajon would shoot her.

Bachelor says Rajon eventually demanded their daughter also come outside ... where she claims he yelled at both kids for being afraid of him.

Thankfully, Ashley says Rajon's mom and dad both arrived at the home ... and although they didn't have much success in calming down Rajon, she claims he eventually left the scene.

But, now Bachelor says she's scared for the safety of her and her kids, writing the following in the emergency order of protection on May 13.

"I am extremely fearful for my safety and for the safety of my children. Rajon has a history of volatile, erratic, explosive behavior. He is verbally, emotionally, and financially abusive. He physically hits our son and calls him names like 'p***y' and accuses him of acting like a 'bitch.'"

"Rajon verbally assaults our daughter. He calls her names like 'thot, bitch, and d**khead.' Rajon has made several threats on my life, saying at various times he will shoot me or shoot up my car."

Ashley Bachelor was granted protection for herself and her two children by a local judge.

We reached out to Rondo's reps, but, so far, no word back.

Based on our digging, Rondo has not been named a suspect in any crime by police, and has not been arrested.

Kyrie Irving Fined For 'Motherf***er' Clapback At Fan ... $25,000

CLAPPING BACK AT FANS
@_willswish

Kyrie Irving clapped back at a fan and now it's going to cost him -- the NBA just fined the Nets star $25,000 for his "motherf***er" retort in a game on Monday.

The league announced the punishment on Thursday afternoon ... saying in a statement they levied the fine "for directing obscene language toward a fan."

The incident took place during Brooklyn's game against the Cavaliers in Cleveland ... when in the second quarter of the Nets' 114-107 loss, a fan appeared to ask Irving, "Kyrie, you need LeBron?"

Check out the clip ... you can hear Irving fired back at the troll by saying, "I got ya'll a championship and ya'll motherf***ers still ungrateful."

The back and forth between the hecklers and Kyrie continued ... as another fan appeared to yell, "It was just one. It was just one."

Irving -- who is only allowed to play in the team's road games due to his vax status -- then told the crowd, "Keep it, keep it. Save it."

It's not hard to see why Irving had an issue with the heckling in Cleveland -- after all, he averaged 27.1 points in the 2016 NBA Finals and helped deliver (alongside LeBron James) Cleveland its first major sports championship in 52 years at the time.

Iman Shumpert Hits LeBron Celly While Shirtless ... In Epic 'DWTS' Routine

A topless Iman Shumpert lifted his partner over his head AND shouted out LeBron James in his "Dancing With The Stars" routine Monday -- and it was epic!!

The former Knicks star -- who became the first ex-NBA player to advance to the finals of "DWTS" this week -- pulled it all off during his jazz dance with Daniella Karagach.

The two grooved to Kanye West's "Dark Fantasy" ... opening up the performance with Shumpert hoisting Karagach over his head before walking her down the stairs and onto the stage.

The duo put on quite the show ... and then Shumpert broke out LBJ's signature "Silencer" celebration.

Check out the clip, you can see Shump -- who won a championship with LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2016 -- pushed his hands down violently, like James does, before beating his chest in classic LBJ-fashion.

The two scored a 38 out of 40 for the work ... and are now set to compete for the Mirrorball trophy with three other couples next week.

Good luck, Iman!

Kyle Kuzma Rips Cavs Fans 'Without LeBron, CLE Wouldn't Be 💩'

Kyle Kuzma stabbed Cavs fans in the heart with a game-winning shot on Wednesday ... and then twisted the knife with his postgame comments, saying, "Without LeBron (James), Cleveland wouldn't be s***."

Kuz's trey with just over 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter helped secure the 97-94 win over the Wine & Gold ... and after the game, he blamed Cavs fans for motivating him to knock down the shot in the clutch.

SH**TY SHOTS
Washington Wizards

"I was just ready, I was ready for it," Kuz told reporters. "Plus, there was some hecklers during the game, talking to me. It was their fault, really. It was their fault."

Kuz -- who won a championship with the Lakers in 2020 -- points out a few fans in particular who had a sign that read, "LeBron won Kuzma his ring" ... and he didn't hold back when addressing them directly.

"I said, 'Without LeBron, Cleveland wouldn't be s***' ... so, they chose violence and I just kept going. So, thank you guys, I appreciate it."

In fact, Kuz rubbed it in fans' faces after the W ... taking a Sharpie and autographing the sign that inspired him to nail the dagger at the end of the game.

Of course, it's no secret the Cleveland Cavaliers organization owes everything to LeBron for ending the city's 52-year drought ... but considering Kuz averaged 8.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.5 assists in the Finals for the Lakers, let's not pretend he doesn't also owe a ton to the King.

Aside from the jab, the Cavs seem to be showing promise for the first time in a post-Bron era -- they're currently 7-5 with guys like Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and even Ricky Rubio balling out so far this season.

Enjoy the win now, Kuz ... but ya might regret it down the road if these two teams face off in the playoffs. 🤷‍♂️

Kevin Love On Botched Inbound Pass 'I F***ed Up'

I LOST MY COOL
Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love just poured his heart out about his bizarre inbound play on Monday night ... admitting he knows he "f***ed up" and apologizing for his outburst.

32-year-old Love went viral for swatting away an inbound pass late in the 3rd quarter against the Toronto Raptors ... easily turning the ball over to the Raptors for a wide-open 3-pointer.

It appeared as if Love -- who's posting career-low numbers this season for the 21-40 Cavs -- had become fed up with the losing and just snapped.

But, the 2016 champ says that's simply not the case.

Love started off his media availability Wednesday morning with an emotional, 15-minute speech ... saying, "My intent wasn't to disrespect the game. My intent wasn't even for the damn ball to go inbounds. It was a moment that I got caught up in."

"I didn't even understand what really happened as the possession even played out. I think I was a little bit dumbfounded."

He added ... "I didn't realize how bad it looked, really, until after the game. I truly didn't ... After that, I just completely shut down. I never want that to be who I am. I don't want to have to be here and defend my character."

Love says he has apologized to his teammates for the outburst ... calling it a "moment of sheer frustration."

So, what caused the disastrous turnover?? Love says it stemmed from blown calls throughout the 112 to 96 loss.

"Not to say too much that could get me fined, but it was the officiating," Love told USA Today.

It's gotta be tough for Love -- he's averaging 11.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 18 games this season -- and the glory days of the LeBron James-era are long gone.

Love says the moment was blown way out of proportion by the media ... and he really only cares about the opinions of his teammates.

"I take this one on the chin, naturally. I'll do that as a man, I'll do that as a teammate and continue to get better. That's really all I can do."

As for his relationship status with Cleveland?? Love makes it clear he's still their guy.

"I love Cleveland, I'll f***ing rock with Cleveland 'til the day I die."

Report: Larry Nance Jr. Lost Nearly 20 Lbs. In One Week ... Due To Mystery Illness

Scary situation for Larry Nance, Jr. -- the Cleveland Cavaliers forward reportedly lost nearly 20 POUNDS in just over a week while battling a non-COVID-related illness.

But, luckily, the 28-year-old is starting to show signs of improvement and is "on the mend."

Nance came down with the mystery illness on March 29 while in Utah for a road game ... and hasn't played a minute of basketball since.

The details are now coming out about the hooper's symptoms -- and it's gnarly.

Nance spent the past week and change bedridden and unable to keep food down, according to cleveland.com ... all while getting consistently tested to help determine what he's fighting.

It's NOT COVID-19 ... but it's still unclear what exactly he's dealing with.

The report says Nance has experienced a DRASTIC weight loss in the short amount of time ... losing 20 pounds in a little over a week.

The good news?? Nance is starting to feel better ... and will slowly work on getting back to his reported weight of 245 lbs. and rebuild his stamina.

It's been a tough year for the guy -- Nance also previously missed 12 games while battling a fractured left hand.

Get well soon!!

LeBron James Mourns Cavs Radio Legend Joe Tait 'Rest In Paradise, My Friend!!'

UPDATE

4:00 PM PT -- LeBron James is mourning the loss of a fellow Cavaliers legend ... sharing his condolences in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

UPDATE

"Rest In Paradise my friend!! You’ll be extremely missed here!"

UPDATE

Tait was the Cavs radio guy for each of LeBron's first 7 seasons in the NBA.

Broadcasting legend Joe Tait -- voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers for 39 seasons -- has died after battles with kidney failure and liver cancer. He was 83 years old.

Tait joined the Cavs radio team for the inaugural season in 1970 ... and stayed on the mic nearly every year until his retirement in 2011.

Tait was known for his signature calls over the years -- including the Miracle in Richfield in 1976, when the Cavs won their first playoff series.

He was also known for his classic opener and sign-off -- "It's basketball time at ..." and "This is Joe Tait. Have a good night, everybody!"

Tait was recognized by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, when he received the Curt Gowdy Media Award ... which is given to outstanding writers and broadcasters.

Cleveland also honored Tait with a commemorative banner at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse prior to his departure from the team ... which hangs in the rafters alongside the retired jerseys.

The Cavs released a statement Wednesday afternoon ... saying, "The Cleveland Cavaliers mourn the passing of one of our beloved founding fathers and the original, long-time voice of the franchise – Joe Tait."

"A friend and mentor to many over the years, Joe Tait wasn’t just a member of the Cavaliers family; he was a part of the Cavs story like no one else and his voice and unique, candid perspective reverberates throughout the team’s history. He will be dearly missed."

Tait spoke about his life in an interview published just days ago ... saying, "I’m not afraid to die," he told The Plain Dealer.

"I do wonder what happens after you die. If anything does. I’m curious to find out. I do know I’ve had a good life. Lots of people have been great to me."

RIP.

Originally Published -- 2:52 PM PT

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