Carmelo Anthony I Know I Can Still Play in NBA

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I'M NOT DONE
ESPN

Carmelo Anthony says there's no question he still belongs in the NBA ... and claims his absence from the league is more about politics than talent.

35-year-old Anthony has been out of the league since he was cut from the Houston Rockets back in November ... and there's been a public campaign by his NBA peers to get him back in the league ever since.

Melo sat down with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's "First Take" on Friday to discuss rumors of wanting a "farewell tour" similar to Dwyane Wade's last season in the league ... and he says that's simply not true ... because he's still got a lot left in the tank.

"I feel like I still can play, I know I still can play. My peers know I still can play," Melo says.

"I don't think it's about basketball anymore. I think it's about me as a person willing to accept certain roles on basketball teams. Am i willing to accept a certain role on a basketball team? Yes."

Melo says he was willing to accept smaller roles with OKC and Houston ... but got cut from the Rockets before he could prove he was willing to come off the bench.

"That's major, major ego hits. So, that was a whirlwind for me over that year and a half. But, I got to a point in Houston where I can accept that, I'm going to do that."

Melo says he "1,000%" believes he's gotten a bad rep with people inside the league ... but makes it very clear he's not giving up.

James Harden Shanghaied in China!!!

TMZSports.com

James Harden may have been rocketing down a Shanghai street a little too fast, because he was corralled by cops and slapped with a ticket.

Khloe Kardashian's ex was cruising on a scooter Friday when he was pulled over. It's unclear exactly what he did wrong -- allegedly -- but whatever it was caught the eye of police. BTW, Shanghai is crawling with cops.

HOUSTON GLOBETROTTER
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It looks like he was riding with friends, and they went on their merry without incident.  

The Rockets star has been in China for more than a week doing a promotional tour for Addidas.  He's done a meet and greet with fans at the Beijing University of Technology and led a youth basketball clinic at the Tianhe Sports Center in Guangzhou.  

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Harden and the Rockets are super popular in China. He made similar trips in 2016 and 2017.    The team played preseason games in China back in 2016.

Dikembe Mutombo Gives Nephew 'Finger Wag' O.K. ... Kinda

EXCLUSIVE
WAG OF APPROVAL
TMZSports.com

The finger wag celebration is BACK ... 'cause NBA rookie Mfiondu Kabengele says he got approval from his Hall of Fame uncle Dikembe Mutombo to use his signature block celebration!!!

... well, sort of. He's just gotta keep his wallet nearby.

TMZ Sports spoke with the 6'10", 250 lb. ex-Florida State star one day after getting drafted by the L.A. Clippers ... and he says he can't wait to get to L.A. and meet his new teammates and coach Doc Rivers.

But, being the relative of one of the all-time greats -- with an equally great trademark celly -- we had to ask if he's gotten Dikembe's approval to use the signature wag.

"I think so, but I gotta pay him every single time when I do it, so I gotta be extra careful with it," Kabengele says.

Now, he could be joking ... or maybe Mutombo's showing his nephew some tough love -- after all, rookies gotta learn, right?

Regardless, Kabengele says his unk is really proud of him for getting drafted ... and excited to see what he can do with the Clippers.

Austin Rivers CP3 vs. Harden Beef?!? 'Fake News!!!'

EXCLUSIVE
HOUSTON, WE GOT NO PROBLEMS
TMZSports.com

Austin Rivers tells TMZ Sports ... the reported rift between his Houston Rockets teammates, Chris Paul and James Harden, is nothing but a LIE ... saying, "It's just made up news, fake news!"

The NBA world went crazy Tuesday after Yahoo Sports reported the relationship between Paul and Harden has become "unsalvageable"-- with CP3 demanding the Rockets either get rid of "him or me."

So, when we saw Rivers at Craig's in L.A. on Tuesday ... we had to ask if he saw any of the reported drama in the locker room during the 2018-19 season.

"I know NOTHING about any of that," Rivers said ... "I don't know where that's coming from. A lot of fantasy tales being told right now"

He continued to shoot down the report -- "It's definitely not true. I didn't see any issues between any of them. It's just made up news, fake news like most of the stuff you see on these Instagram pages."

When asked if he'd like to play with both guys again, Rivers said ... "Yeah. I'd love to. Both Hall of Fame players."

We also shot James Harden in L.A. on Tuesday night leaving Bootsy Bellows -- but he definitely wasn't in the mood to talk about the alleged drama in Houston.

BLOCKIN' OUT THE NOISE
TMZSports.com

As for Rivers ... there's more cool stuff -- he gives advice to his old teammate, Anthony Davis, about how to be successful in Los Angeles.

And, he also has a message for LaVar Ball and his family.

NBA's P.J. Tucker Warriors' Mark Stevens Got Off Easy ... Demands Harsher Punishment

EXCLUSIVE
NOT HARSH ENOUGH
TMZSports.com

Houston Rockets player P.J. Tucker ain't happy with the NBA's 1-year ban against Golden State Warriors part-owner Mark Stevens ... telling TMZ Sports, "It should be more!"

As we previously reported ... in addition to the 1-year ban, Stevens was also fined $500,000 for pushing Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals after Lowry dove into the crowd trying to save a loose ball.

Lowry says Stevens also cussed at him several times during the interaction.

Tucker says the NBA's punishment feels very light -- and says everyone should be outraged by Stevens' conduct.

"Don't put your hands on people," Tucker says ... "There's nowhere in the game for that."

Tucker says he's not sure what the punishment SHOULD be ... but noted, "If a player put his hands on a fan, it would be a lot harsher."

"No telling what happens ... [that player would] probably never play again."

James Harden Rages With Lil Pump & Smokepurpp ... After Playoffs Loss

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PUMPIN' WITH THE BEARD

James Harden enlisted the Gucci Gang to get over that crushing playoffs loss to the Warriors ... partying his face off with Lil Pump and Smokepurpp in Miami!!

The Beard's Houston Rockets just got booted from the postseason after losing to the Dubs in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Friday ... and naturally, Harden jetted to South Beach for some well-deserved R&R.

The Miami rappers -- along with Adrien Broner -- showed off their ice and partied like rockstars while partying through the night at Mokai Lounge.

The guys danced to a bunch of hits -- including "Yes Indeed" by Drake and Lil Baby and "Put a Date On It" by Yo Gotti and Lil Baby.

But, Pump wasn't done partying after hanging with Harden ... moving on to "rent out" a strip club to himself and throwing singles 'til early in the morning.

#ESKEETIT

Lala Anthony Carmelo Will Return to NBA ... 'Facts'

EXCLUSIVE
HE'LL BE PLAYIN'
TMZSports.com

Don't close the book on Carmelo Anthony's career ... because his wife Lala Anthony tells TMZ Sports he'll DEFINITELY be back on a roster next season.

Lala was out in NYC when we asked about her hubby's NBA status -- considering he hasn't been on the court since 2018 and some people think he's done for good.

But, Anthony is only 34-years-old and he's been training hard recently -- so, we had to know if Lala expects to see Melo back in the league when the 2019-20 season kicks off.

"Why wouldn't we?" Lala said ... adding, "Facts!"

So, where she think Melo will land???

"Whatever team is gonna appreciate him!"

There's talk Anthony could return to the Knicks -- where he played for 7 seasons before he was traded to the OKC Thunder in 2017.

Anthony later spent a minute in Houston in 2018 before being traded to the Chicago Bulls, where he was waived on Feb. 1.

Unclear if Lala's statement will come to fruition -- but one thing's for sure ... Carmelo ain't ready to hang 'em up yet.

Steph Curry Dislocated Finger Looks Like a Lightning Bolt

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Two things in this photo ...

1) Check out the pic of Steph Curry's gnarly dislocated finger from Tuesday night's playoff game against the Houston Rockets ... pretty sick, right?

2) Did you also know Steph Curry has a Hebrew tattoo on his left hand?

Wanna know what it says? When read phonetically, it's pronounced "Curry."

As for the finger ... seems the Golden State Warriors training staff popped it back in and taped it up ... and of course, he went back to hitting shots like nothing was wrong.

The Warriors ended up winning the game 115 to 109 ... with Curry dropping 20.

Now, the Warriors are up in the series 2-0.

Tiger Woods Sneaker Tribute from Chris Paul ... After Masters Win

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This is pretty cool ... Chris Paul was so proud of his pal, Tiger Woods, for winning the Masters on Sunday, he honored his friend with a pair of custom Tiger-themed kicks!!

Chris and the Houston Rockets took on the Utah Jazz after Tiger's comeback -- so, Paul decided to make a few alterations to his red CP3.12s to pay homage to the golfer.

BTW, Chris and Tiger have been friends for years -- with Chris previously crediting Woods with getting him into golf in the first place.

They've been spotted on various courses together several times in the past.

As for Paul, he won too -- the Rockets smashed the Jazz 122 to 90.

Unclear who actually crafted the custom Tiger shoes. We're looking into it.

8:13 AM PT -- A rep for Nike tells us the shoe was the product of a "partnership between Chris and our performance footwear team" ... and note that it was actually made by Jordan Brand.

Rip Hamilton Giannis Is NBA's MVP ... Not James Harden

EXCLUSIVE
WINS COUNT MORE
TMZSports.com

Sorry, James Harden ... you are NOT the MVP of this year's NBA, so says Rip Hamilton -- who tells TMZ Sports, "I might have to go with Giannis."

The Association's MVP race is basically down to Harden vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo with only a handful of games left to play ... and Rip tells us he's giving the nod to the Bucks star for now.

And, why? The Detroit Pistons legend says he's gotta reward Giannis' win-loss record.

"You gotta give credit to Giannis, man. He's on the No. 1 team. He could be All-NBA on defense. So, right now, with Giannis being the best team, I might have to go with Giannis."

Antetokounmpo's Bucks are No. 1 in the East with a 59-20 record ... while Harden's Rockets sit at No. 3 in the West at 51-28.

But, Harden's numbers KILL Giannis' ... James is averaging almost NINE more points per game AND more assists and steals per contest too.

So, is Rip right??? Maybe ... but doesn't seem like there's a wrong answer to us!!!

Austin Rivers I Wanna Whoop Dad's Team For Fam Bragging Rights!!!

EXCLUSIVE
NO TAKING IT EASY
TMZSports.com

It could get REALLY awkward at the Rivers family dinner table during the holidays ... 'cause Austin and Doc are prepping to face off in the playoffs -- and the NBAer is lookin' to embarrass his dad!!

If the NBA postseason started right now, Houston and L.A. would be set up to play in the first round. But, that possibility didn't prevent the 2 from breaking bread together at Craig's on Wednesday.

TMZ Sports spoke with the Rivers boys about the possible matchup ... and Doc jokes he hopes Austin will take it easy on the Clips ... but he ain't holding his breath.

So, we had to ask Austin if the Rockets would let up on the Clips a little bit, given it's his papa on the other side ... and uh, nope.

"Absolutely not. Bragging rights for the household, man. He's done enough in his career ... it's my turn to win something."

Of course, things could change between now and the playoffs ... but PLEASE let this happen.

Teyana Taylor Keeping That Same Fine Energy in Miami

Teyana Taylor was right when she said you're gonna love her -- 'cause there's not much else you can do when she shows up to the beach wearing this little get-up.

The G.O.O.D. Music singer was out in Miami with her daughter Saturday, where she hit up a beach wearing a sheer leopard print bodysuit without much coverage around back. It's kinda hard to see, but Teyana's got a tattoo of a national flag on her right cheek.

Mexico? Italy? It's not exactly clear ... but we're happy to take our time to figure it out.

BTW ... no sign of her husband, Iman Shumpert, here. The Houston Rockets -- who recently acquired him in a trade -- were in town this past week to play the Heat, but it looks like Teyana was out here by herself with their kid for some quality mother-daughter time.

Don't worry, Iman ... she represented the family well. Always does.

Rihanna Takes Rich BF to Lakers Game ... Team Delivers Comeback Victory

You think LeBron James and the Lakers were gonna let Rihanna down on the night of her birthday celebration???! Hell no!!

RiRi took her superrich Saudi boyfriend to Staples Center on Thursday to cheer on her favorite NBA player on the night after her 31st birthday ... and the team delivered one heck of a gift!!!

Check out the pics of Rihanna and Hassan Jameel in a private box -- going berserk as the Lakers came back from 19 down to beat the Houston Rockets ... one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

Of course, Jameel is a bit of a baller himself -- in 2017 his family was reportedly worth $2.2 BILLION -- which made them the 4th richest family in the Arab world.

Jameel started dating Rihanna in 2017 and by the looks of these pics, they're still going strong.

Other huge stars at the game -- "Wheel of Fortune" star Pat Sajak, Denzel Washington, French Montana and Jimmy Iovine.

They picked a great game to attend -- the Lakers were getting destroyed for the first 3 quarters before LeBron activated "playoff mode" and went nuclear on everyone ... exploding for 29 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Lakers ended up winning the game 111 to 106 -- boosting the Lakers' record back to .500.

Meanwhile, the Rockets' James Harden extended his 30-point game streak to 32 games, the 2nd longest 30-point streak in NBA history.

By the way, Lakers officials gifted Rihanna her very own customized "Bad Girl RiRi" Lakers jersey, but she didn't wear it ... instead, opting to rock her #23 LeBron James threads.

One last thing ... every year LeBron has won an NBA title, Rihanna has dropped a new album -- and there are rumors she's working on a new album right now.

So, good juju for the Lakers?

James Harden Kobe's Right ... I Can't Win A Title Playing This Way

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James Harden says he AGREES with Kobe Bryant ... the Rockets will almost certainly NOT win a title with the guard being SO ball dominant.

"This way that we're playing, won't happen in the playoffs," the Houston superstar said Tuesday night ... "It won't get us to where we want to go."

ICYMI ... Kobe served up a warm take about Harden's recent hot streak to ESPN's Rachel Nichols, saying, "I'm not a fan of it in terms of winning championships."

He added, "I don't think that style is EVER going to win championships."

Of course, the style Kobe is referring to is Harden's recent play where he's scored nearly every one of his (many) points in isolation.

In fact, Harden's playing so selfishly ... there was a streak last month where James scored 263 STRAIGHT points UNASSISTED.

But, James says he understands Kobe's criticism -- and says he has no plans to replicate this style of play once the Rockets get healthy and truly begin their hunt for an NBA title.

For his part, Kobe seems to understand all that ... telling Nichols he expects things to change as well once Chris Paul really gets back in Houston's mix.

"You have to do what you have to do to win games. And, he's doing that."

Kendall Jenner Sits with Ben Simmons' Mom ... at 76ers Game

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Seems Ben Simmons is getting more serious about Kendall Jenner -- because he sat his girlfriend with his MOTHER at the 76ers game on Monday!

Check out Kendall rubbing elbows with Julie Simmons at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia -- where Ben and the 76ers beat up on the Houston Rockets in a 121 to 93 victory.

Ben's stat line wasn't spectacular -- only 9 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. And, he only hit 3 of 12 shots, which is bad for him (he usually shoots well over 50%).

But, who cares about individual stats when your team wins, right?

Plus, the most important question ... did Kendall and Mom get along?! Pretty well actually. The two were seen smiling and chatting. Good times.

It's not the first time they've kicked it together -- Kendall and Julie hung out at a game back in November 2018 and got along great then too.

Ben and Kendall have been dating on and off since May 2018. The next big question ... when does Julie get to come to L.A. to meet the rest of the Kardashians??

Stay tuned!

Ice Cube I Don't Want Carmelo In BIG3 ... Yet

EXCLUSIVE
STILL SOME IN THE TANK
TMZSports.com

Ice Cube is looking forward to the day Carmelo Anthony suits up for the BIG3 league, but says that shouldn't be for a long time, because he thinks 'Melo can still get it done in the NBA.

The BIG3 has become the go-to spot for ex-league guys to flex their skills, with dudes like Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, and soon to be Lamar Odom all competing at a high level.

Anthony's not doing anything right now, so when we got league boss Ice Cube at LAX we asked if he's clamoring to have 'Melo join up ... not so much.

"Of course, we'd accept him. But, he still could play in the NBA, he should be in the NBA."

Don't get Cube wrong, he'd LOVE Anthony in the BIG3, but he thinks the former scoring champ still "got some NBA in him."

Dope that Cube is supporting Anthony, but we have a question ... if Kevin Durant and Steph Curry wanted to leave the Warriors and join the BIG3, would he discourage them too?

Sure he would.