Clippers' Brandon Boston Dedicates Career Game to Clarke .. 'His Energy Carried Me'

L.A. Clippers rookie Brandon Boston Jr. had the best game of his young career against the Celtics on Wednesday ... and dedicated his performance to the late Terrence Clarke.

The guard went off on the Cs in the 114-111 win ... scoring 27 points (including 5 3-pointers, going perfect from the free throw line and earning 4 steals in just 25 minutes off the bench!

The effort resulted in career-highs in points, threes and steals ... and after the game, Boston Jr. devoted the stellar performance to Clarke, his former Kentucky teammate.

"He would of called or screamed," " BJ said to reporters during post-game interviews. "Just excited with a bright smile on his face, just telling me, 'I told you! I told you! You the best in the world! Just keep going.'"

"That's the type of relationship we had."

Boston and Clarke both played college hoops together for the Wildcats -- and were both set to enter the 2021 NBA Draft.

However, Clarke was tragically killed in a car accident in Los Angeles on April 22 -- just months before the draft. Boston witnessed the crash as he was riding behind him.

"He always pushed me to be my best self so I always keep that in the back of my mind," BJ added.

"I actually like dedicated this game [to him] cause he's from Boston and he wanted to play for Boston."

"So, just going out there and carrying that chip on my shoulder. His energy just carried me along the way."

BJ has been honoring his close friend in many ways since his death -- including a tribute tattoo on his left leg featuring Clarke's UK basketball photo and "TC World."

#RIP

Staples Center Sign Comin' Down ... Amid Crypto.com Arena Name Change

Anyone have a staple remover??

The iconic Staples Center signage is officially coming down on Monday ... with workers slowly removing the red letters off of the building to make way for Crypto.com Arena.

As we previously reported, the cryptocurrency company bought the naming rights to the venue last month ... which came with a whopping $700 MILLION price tag.

While the name change won't officially happen until Christmas Day, AEG wasted no time kick-starting the rebrand ... which will undoubtedly have some fans upset.

Of course, Staples Center was often referred to as "The House That Kobe Built," as a nod to the late Lakers legend, who played at the venue for the majority of his Hall of Fame career.

No matter what people officially call the arena, Vanessa Bryant made it clear all the history that Kobe made inside will always live on.

The new deal will see Crypto.com's logos on the building for at least the next 20 years ... so maybe people will get used to it by 2042.

Staples Center Call Me Crypto.com Arena ... Iconic Venue Getting New Name After 22 Years

Staples Center is no more ... the iconic building that the Lakers and Clippers have called home since 1999 is getting a new name -- Crypto.com Arena.

Officials announced the stunning name change Tuesday night ... explaining the rebrand will take effect on Christmas Day next month.

The new name will stick for the next 20 years as part of the new agreement, officials say ... and the new deal will all reportedly cost the cryptocurrency app around $700 MILLION.

Of course, the announcement was hardly met with joy from L.A. fans -- as the building has only been known as Staples Center for YEARS to Kings, Sparks, Lakers and Clippers fans.

Still, officials were pumped over the move nonetheless ... sending out a mock of how the new signage will look on the top of the building in 2022.

In the announcement of the new deal, officials also promised "large-scale, premium branding and signage throughout the interior and exterior" of the new Crypto.com Arena.

As for how Kobe Bryant's family is reacting to the news -- considering Staples has been dubbed "The House That Kobe Built" -- Vanessa Bryant shared a photo of the building on social media following the announcement, putting a crown emoji on her late husband's head.

Clippers' Ivica Zubac Rolex Stolen In Burglary Hooper Interrupted Break-In

Clippers center Ivica Zubac's Los Angeles area home was burglarized Friday night ... and the 7-foot tall big man interrupted the burglary, TMZ Sports has learned.

Unfortunately, the 2 assailants were able to escape ... according to our law enforcement sources.

The 24-year-old, 7-foot tall Croatian hoops player -- who's averaging nearly 10 points and 8 boards a game with LAC -- left his home around 8 PM Friday night ... before returning around midnight.

When he arrived back at the crib, Zubac -- the 32nd overall pick of the Lakers in 2016 -- noticed a ladder was placed against his home, leading to a second-floor balcony.

Ivica then witnessed two men bolt from the area, hopping a fence and booking it from the property.

The big man called the police ... and the cops responded and cleared the home, ensuring there were no more bad guys inside.

We're told Zubac's place -- which was locked and had a working alarm system -- was ransacked and at least one piece of expensive jewelry, a Rolex watch worth over $20K was gone.

Police are currently investigating.

Clippers Video Asst. Assane Drame Dead At 26 ... After Tragic Car Accident

Assane Drame, L.A. Clippers video assistant, was tragically killed in a car accident earlier this week following a ground breaking ceremony for the organizations new stadium.

He was only 26 years old.

Drame, who joined the organizations as an intern in 2019, worked with the Clips digital media group.

Before the fatal crash, Assane was present at the Clippers ground breaking ceremony in Inglewood Monday afternoon.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Officials say Drame was on the 10 Freeway in L.A. ... when he pulled his 2012 Honda Accord to the shoulder off the road. Moments later his vehicle was hit by another car, causing fatal injuries.

Assane was originally reported missing by his family after they received a call from Clippers HR, saying he hadn't showed up to work.

The Clippers organization released a statement on the Assane's death, writing ... "The Clippers organization mourns the loss of Assane Drame, a dedicated employee, a talented videographer and a loyal friend."

The statement later continued ... "He was a hard worker and a gentle soul, passionate about his craft and kind to his colleagues, earning the respect and admiration of players, coaches and staff."

And, that's clear ... 'cause players like Nicolas Batum and Terrence Mann expressed their condolences online.

Batum wrote, "Just heard the sad news. Rest In Peace King πŸ™πŸ½πŸ•Š"

"πŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎ Heard nothing but great things about Assane. πŸ€žπŸΎπŸ•ŠπŸ•Š Send Prayers up," Mann tweeted.

The Rowan University alum is survived by his family in New Jersey.

RIP

NBA's Jason Preston Uses First Check For Phone Upgrade ...'I Had The iPhone 7!!!'

READY FOR THE BIG LEAGUES
TMZSports.com

L.A. Clippers rookie Jason Preston has made his first big purchase after becoming a pro baller ... and it's not a house or a car -- but a new iPhone!!

The 22-year-old former Ohio Bobcats star was the Clips' #33 overall pick in the NBA Draft last month ... which secured him a 3-year, $4.4 million deal.

So, naturally, when we ran into the hooper out at LAX this week, we had to ask if he's treated himself to anything nice after making it big time ... and he dished on his favorite new toy.

"This phone," Preston said while showing off the new gadget. "I had an iPhone 7 before. I got a 12 now."

BTW -- the 6-foot-4 guard shot 43% from midrange and averaged 9 points and 4.8 assists per game during Summer League play ... and said he was able to chop it up with new teammates Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who were there to support their rookies.

"They've been great!"

Of course, if you haven't heard of Preston's story, it's pretty incredible -- he averaged 2 points a game during his senior year of high school and nearly pursued a career in journalism before enrolling at a prep school, where he blossomed into a baller.

He later joined Ohio, where he had huge games against some notable basketball programs in the country ... impressing the Clippers so much, they took him with their first second-round pick.

Enjoy the new phone, Jason ... and best of luck in the Association!!

KD, Draymond Blame Steve Kerr, GM Bob Myers ... For Warriors Fallout

Kevin Durant is finally opening up on his sudden breakup with the Warriors ... saying the way Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers handled his public spat with Draymond Green sparked his departure.

The heated altercation went down in Golden State's game against the Clippers in 2018 ... when KD and Draymond went after each other over poorly executed possessions toward the end of regulation.

Both guys went off in the huddle and had to be separated ... and KD infamously mouthed "That's why I'm out."

Now, both stars are setting the record straight ... getting to the bottom of the whole thing in a sit-down with Bleacher Report.

"It wasn't the argument, it was the way that everybody -- Steve Kerr act like it didn't happen, Bob Myers didn't try to just discipline you and think that that would put the mask over everything," KD said.

"I really felt like that was such a big situation for us as a group the first time we went through something like that. We had to get that s*** all out."

KD compares the situation to a scene from "The Last Dance" ... when all Scottie Pippen's teammates called him out for refusing to enter a game in the final seconds in a 1994 playoff series.

Durant says that's the kinda reaction he and Draymond should have gotten -- but didn't.

"We needed that!" he added. "We just needed to throw all that s*** on that table and say, 'yo Dray, K, that was f***ed up that we even had to go through that. Let's just wipe our hands with that and go finish the task.'"

Draymond says Myers and Kerr sat him down and tried to make him apologize for the incident ... and he laughed in their faces.

"I told them right then and there, I said 'y'all about to f*** this up!' I said, 'the only person that can make this right is me and K and there's nothing that y'all can do. Y'all are going to f*** this up.'"

"And, in my opinion, they f***ed it up!"

KD agrees ... adding, "I think so too."

Draymond was suspended one game without pay for the altercation ... and the Warriors would end up losing to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals.

KD would leave shortly after -- joining Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.

After all these years, it's good to bury the hatchet and move on.

Serge Ibaka Clippers Can Make Title Run In '22 ... 'We Are A Good Team'

"STRONGER THAN EVER"
TMZSports.com

The Clippers shouldn't have too hard of a time making another deep playoff run next season ... so says Serge Ibaka, who made it clear to TMZ Sports this week, he REALLY likes his squad!!!

We got the Clips center out at Highlight Room in L.A. ... and he ensured us the back injury that kept him out of most of L.A.'s playoff games in 2021 won't bother him next season.

Then, the dude told us he thinks his team has a legit shot at making a charge at the 2022 title!

"We have a good team," the 31-year-old said. "We have a good team. I'm going to be ready."

Serge added, "Man, we are a good team, man."

He ain't wrong ... L.A. did have a solid offseason, adding Jason Preston and keeping both Reggie Jackson and Kawhi Leonard in the fold with new contracts.

YOU'RE NEXT STEPH!
TMZSports.com

And, speaking of Leonard, we also asked Serge about his YouTube cooking show ... and he says to this day, the most memorable thing he's ever fed someone just happened to be to Kawhi.

Yeah, watch the clip, we wouldn't soon forget that dish either!

Suns Vs. Clippers Fans Get In Huge Brawl After Game ... Beer Can Attack!!!

Patrick Beverley wasn't the only one acting up after the Clippers got booted from the playoffs on Wednesday ... 'cause several L.A. fans got into an all-out brawl in the stands!!

The footage is wild -- at least 3 dudes decked out in Clippers gear appear to go after a tall man in a black shirt at Staples Center ... with one of the fans using what looks like a beer can during his attack.

Of course, there's a bit of violent history between both teams' backers -- as we previously reported, Suns and Clippers fans threw haymakers in Phoenix after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

And, even before that series, the "Suns In 4" guy went viral for getting into it with a pair of Denver Nuggets fans in the semifinals.

NBA writer Farbod Esnaashari posted footage of the newest brawl from Wednesday night ... claiming the guy in the black shirt is a Suns/Lakers fan.

The man in the black shirt impressively takes on multiple guys punching at him at once ... before being pushed down into the row below him.

Thankfully, it looks like no one was badly injured ... the guy in black is well enough to give the Clippers fans 2 BIG middle fingers while on the ground.

The Clips' season is over ... but hopefully the Suns fans will be able to keep their hands to themselves in the Finals.

Devin Booker Broken Nose Procedure Was Gruesome ... 8 Shots & 'They Break It Again!!!'

TOUGH BREAK
Courtesy of NBA

"Like eight shots to numb it up and then they go in there and put it back -- they break it again. They break it back in place."

That's Devin Booker describing the straight-up horror show he had to go through after breaking his nose earlier this week ... and yeah, it feels like a miracle the Suns star was able play Thursday night!!

The 24-year-old broke it all down for reporters after struggling in Phoenix's loss to the Clippers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals ... saying the procedure he went through Wednesday to fix his facial issues was GNARLY.

"It's a procedure that they usually say they put you under [anesthesia] for," said Booker, who broke the nose in 3 places after clashing heads with Patrick Beverley in Game 2 on Tuesday.

"But we had a flight out a couple hours later, so they just numbed it up -- all over the place, it felt like."

Booker called the surgery "probably the worst part" of his entire injury process ... but, shockingly, he said he felt okay about 24 hours later while playing in the game.

"The nose feels fine," Booker said. "We just lost the game."

Booker -- wearing a clear, plastic mask to protect the injury for the night -- was just 5-for-21 in the game ... and scored just 15 points in 40 minutes.

He swore, though, the mask and injury were NOT a problem ... saying it all didn't affect his play one bit.

"He got the mask; he's fine," Booker's teammate, Chris Paul, said. "We're not one of those teams looking for excuses and all that stuff. Give [the Clippers] their credit -- they played really well tonight."

"We'll get ready for Game 4."

NBA's Devin Booker Busts Nose In On-Court Collision Gets Stitches and Returns to Game!

Devin Booker is tough as hell -- not only did the guy get his nose busted open during the Suns playoff game against the Clippers on Tuesday, he got stitched up and kept playing!!

In fact, the 24-year-old played a KEY ROLE in helping the Suns win Game 2!!!

Here's the deal ... D-Book and Clippers star Patrick Beverley appeared to accidentally clash heads during a play in the 3rd quarter.

You can see in the video ... Booker suffered a nasty gash to the bridge of his nose, blood began to drip down immediately.

The Suns star was taken to the locker room where doctors stitched up the wound and Booker returned to action in the 4th quarter.

It looked painful, but Booker battled through the injury and threw a key screen on that inbound dunk to DeAndre Ayton that ultimately helped the Suns win the game.

Suns coach Monty Williams praised Booker's toughness after the game ... saying, "He was probably playing with a great deal of pain."

"I thought he broke his nose when I saw it. I was worried about the blood continuing to flow."

Booker may need to wear a protective mask in Game 3 -- and maybe even the rest of the playoffs.

But, props to Devin and the Suns -- these dudes are leading the series 2-0 and look like real contenders.

Clippers' Ivica Zubac We're 'Not Giving Up' Against Mavs ... We Can Still Win the Series!!

DOWN, BUT NOT OUT
TMZSports.com

IT AIN'T OVER YET!!

That's Clippers player Ivica Zubac staying positive about his team's chances against the Dallas Mavericks, despite being down 2-0 in their playoff series.

"They gotta beat us 4 times," Zubac told us outside of Avra in Beverly Hills ... "We're gonna fight and we got a chance to win the series. We're not giving up."

Clipper fans have been down in the dumps since the team gave up the first 2 games AT HOME -- and now, they're traveling to Dallas for games 3 and 4 and it ain't lookin' good.

But, Zubac says the Clips are going there to win -- and they're confident they can get it done.

"We're going there to win games, that's it … they gotta win 4."

Dallas will have a packed house full of fans for Games 3 and 4 -- and Zubac says he's fired up about that, too!

"That's great, we haven’t played in front of that many fans in 2 years … gonna be fun!"

Can they silence the Dallas faithful with a couple of road victories? Game 3 tips off on Friday.

Clippers' Terence Mann Hey Rajon Rondo ... I Carry Your Rookie Card in My Wallet!!!

GOOD LUCK CHARM
Los Angeles Clippers

The Rajon Rondo trade to L.A. is a dream come true for Clippers player Terance Mann ... who IDOLIZES Rondo so much, he's been carrying the guy's rookie card in his wallet for years!!!

AND HE PROVED IT ON CAMERA!!

Check out Mann whipping out his 2006 Topps #251 Rondo rookie card during Thursday's news conference with the media ... right after the Clippers announced Rajon was coming to town!

24-year-old Mann -- a 2019 draft pick -- explained he's been carrying the card in his wallet since 7th grade because he thinks it's good luck!

Mann explained ... "Somebody gave it to me, then I made the A-team for my travel team. I was like, 'Man, it’s gotta be this card!'"

Mann continued, "So I kept the card, and I kept getting better and better at basketball."

Hey, if it works ... why break tradition?!

Now, with the collectibles market blowing up at record levels -- Mann needs to get Rondo to SIGN the card (and get it authenticated) and it could be worth a fortune!!

What a day for Mann!

Blake Griffin Becomes Free Agent After Buyout ... Lakers Next?!

Blake Griffin is officially a free agent -- the 6-time All-Star has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons ... and now the big question is: where's he gonna go next?!

31-year-old Griffin -- the #1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft -- can now join any team he wishes ... and there are some serious contenders reportedly interested in adding Griffin for a playoff run.

One of those teams?? The Los Angeles Lakers, a squad that's already stacked ... but could really use the depth in the hunt to repeat as NBA champions in 2021.

There are 3 other teams that have expressed interest in Griffin -- the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets, according to reporter Marc Stein.

Of course, Griffin hasn't played for the Pistons since Feb. 12 ... when Detroit announced he would remain inactive while they explored trades and the possibility of buying out his contract.

Considering Blake has a player option worth nearly $39 million for next season, it's no surprise Motor City couldn't find a suitable offer.

Griffin played in L.A. for 9 years with the Clippers ... but there's a real possibility he could return to his old home as a Laker this time around.

Story developing ...

Clippers' Jerry West Alleged Voicemail Called Lakers A 'Sh*t Show' To Sway Kawhi To Clips

THE ALLEGED VOICEMAIL

The man suing Jerry West and the Clippers for his alleged role in landing Kawhi Leonard says West left him a voicemail message in 2019 acknowledging their relationship and trashing the Lakers in the process.

Johnny Wilkes tells TMZ Sports ... West left the voicemail for him on July 1, 2019, around 2 PM ... "expressing concern that Kawhi would choose the Lakers over the Clippers."

Wilkes says, "In the same message, Jerry thanked me for all my efforts in getting Kawhi to sign with the Clippers."

TMZ Sports has obtained the voicemail -- in which a man who sounds like West says, "Hey there, this is Jerry calling. I really want to thank you a lot for trying to help. I heard this morning that everyone over in the Lakers camp thinks they're gonna get him."

"I just find it hard to believe that he would want to go to that sh*t show where he would not even be ... wouldn't even get his name in the paper and he wouldn't be the face of the franchise that's for sure."

"He might be the best player on the team, but hope things are well and again, I really really appreciate everything you've done."

The man believed to be West is seemingly referring to the fact LeBron James is with the Lakers -- and there's zero shot Kawhi would overtake him as the face of the team.

The man also seems to think Kawhi is a better player than LeBron, Anthony Davis and other members of the Lakers.

FYI, West is an executive board member with the Clippers. He's also considered one of the greatest Lakers players of all time.

The voicemail continues ... "I will keep you apprised of what's going on. But, I do want to get together with you privately and would love to take you to dinner and even Sam if he's around. So I can at least pay my respects to you guys for being so generous and helpful. Take care, talk to you sometime soon. Bye-bye."

We're told the "Sam" in question is Sam Watson -- who Wilkes claims was also involved in the effort to land Kawhi with the Clippers.

As we previously reported, West has DENIED any wrongdoing connected to the signing of Kawhi Leonard -- but when contacted about this specific piece of audio, neither West nor the Clippers would comment.

The Clippers previously issued a statement saying, "The lawsuit filed by Johnny Wilkes is replete with inaccuracies and the allegations are baseless. The Clippers are fully cooperating with the NBA in its investigation, which is standard when these types of allegations are made.

"[The Clippers] are providing the NBA with evidence that the allegations are false."

The NBA has launched an investigation into the allegations stemming from the lawsuit.

NBA Investigating Clippers & Jerry West Kawhi Leonard Denies Involvement

5:47 AM PT -- 12/18 -- Kawhi Leonard is now weighing in on the allegations -- saying the claims in Johnny Wilkes' lawsuit are simply not true.

After the Clippers played the Utah Jazz in a pre-season game on Thursday, Leonard was asked if Wilkes had a role in his decision to come to the Clippers.

"Not at all,” Leonard said ... "That has nothing to do with me coming here."

"I’m from L.A. I grew up here my whole life. Out here, people try to find any way to get some money. So it probably won’t be the last. I know a lot of people out here."

The NBA has launched its own investigation into allegations made against the Clippers and Jerry West in a new lawsuit, TMZ Sports has learned.

The allegations are spelled out in a lawsuit filed by Johnny Wilkes -- who says West promised him $2.5 MILLION for helping the Clippers sign superstar free agent Kawhi Leonard in 2019.

If the allegations are true, it would be a violation of NBA policy -- and West and the Clippers could be subject to league discipline.

For his part, West has DENIED the allegations -- telling TMZ Sports, "I deny engaging in any improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard.”

In his lawsuit, Wilkes says he has close ties with Kawhi and Kawhi's uncle, Dennis Robertson -- and promised he had information that would give the Clippers an advantage in the battle to land the NBA's top free agent.

Wilkes says he also helped facilitate a deal between West and Kawhi's uncle ... in which West agreed to give Uncle Dennis a Southern California home and a travel expense account.

Kawhi ultimately signed with the Clippers -- but Wilkes says West never ponied up the $2.5 million fee ... so he filed a lawsuit for breach of contract and more.

Originally Published -- 12/17 3:10 PM PT

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