Lakers Gift Newborns With Kobe Bryant Gear ... To Honor Mamba's Birthday

The L.A. Lakers honored Kobe Bryant's birthday Monday by passing on the gift of Lakeshow fandom to newborn babies ... and the gesture was AWESOME.

Lakers officials teamed up with UCLA Health to hook up some lucky parents and their newborns with Mamba gifts -- and they added a sweet "Welcome to the World!" letter with the swag bag.

In the note, the Lakers explained in order to pay homage to Kobe's birthday, they were passing along shirts and other KB gear.

KOBE GEAR FOR THE KIDDOS
@lakers / Instagram

"On this special day, we want to honor Kobe Bryant and celebrate you," Lakers officials wrote in the letter.

"Kobe loved his family, and so this Kobe Day, we're giving you and your family three shirts: two for your loved ones and one for you to grow into someday."

They concluded the letter, "Lakers family is for life."

The gift bundle not only included classic #24 Lakers shirts, it also came with a #8 baby cap and even a little baby Lakers blanket!

L.A. shared video of the happy families holding up their shirts with their newborns ... and it was all adorable.

Bryant -- who was killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020 -- would have turned 43 this week.

#RIP

Vanessa Bryant Birthday Message To Kobe ... 'Te Amo Por Siempre'

Vanessa Bryant is honoring Kobe Bryant on his 43rd birthday by posting a heartfelt message to her late husband ... saying she will love him forever.

The tributes have been pouring in for the NBA legend on Monday ... with the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Wilson and more sharing messages of love.

Vanessa shared a picture of the couple kissing and posing with the Larry O'Brien trophy after winning one of his 5 championships on Instagram just minutes ago ... saying, "Happy birthday, Papi. Te Amo por siempre. Amor Eterno. ❤️💔 43."

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Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, passed away in a tragic helicopter crash in January 2020 ... and Vanessa has previously opened up on the "unimaginable" pain she's gone through since the accident.

"Lying in bed crying isn't going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again," Vanessa told People.com back in March ... "But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that's what I do."

RIP Black Mamba.

Devin Booker Boozy Lunch With Kendall Jenner ... After Romantic Lake Trip

Devin Booker's offseason of love is still going strong ... 'cause after a romantic lake trip with Kendall Jenner, he sipped booze with the model at a lunch in NY -- and, yeah, the NBA star sure looks smitten.

The attractive couple hit up a party for Jenner's 818 Tequila brand at Sunset Beach Hotel on Shelter Island on Wednesday ... with Booker playing the role of proud BF as he watched Jenner celebrate the success of her alcohol.

Booker was seen smiling, laughing and schmoozing with Jenner's friends ... and we're told Kendall couldn't have been happier to have her tequila with her man by her side.

Of course, Booker and KJ have been inseparable since his triumphant return from the Tokyo Olympics ... they were just spotted enjoying other's company on a lake earlier this week.

In fact, Jenner proudly displayed her BF's new gold medal while rockin' a tiny bikini on their boat.

The two have been dating for over a year now ... and sure have been hot and heavy through the last few months -- with Jenner even hitting the road to see most of his playoff games.

Begs the question ... even though Booker didn't get an NBA championship bling this year -- is a wedding ring in the cards??

Probably not ... but maybe?!?!

J.R. Smith I Wanna Be A College Golfer!!! ... Enrolls At HBCU

NBA guard J.R. Smith is gunning to take his talents to the links -- the hooper has enrolled at an HBCU in hopes of making it on the golf team!!

35-year-old Smith -- who skipped college ball for the NBA Draft in 2004 -- is taking full advantage of his newly acquired free time by becoming a student at North Carolina A&T.

Of course, the 2-time NBA champ has not played in the league since winning a ring with LeBron James and the L.A. Lakers in 2020 ... going all last season without a team.

Now, J.R. is looking to join another team -- A&T's golf team.

"Golf is one of those games that can have you feeling really high or it can bring you down to your knees and humble you," Smith told WFMY.

"To have that feeling and knowing that all of the game is pretty much on my own hands and I don’t have to worry about teammates to pass the ball to, receiving passes and playing defense -- I can just play my game and have fun."

Smith says he learned the game from Hall of Famer Moses Malone ... and is waiting on the NCAA to sort out his eligibility, according to ESPN.

No word on if shirts are required for college golfers. We'll get back to you on that.

Kobe Bryant NBA Debut Shoes Hit Auction Block ... Could Fetch $500k!!!

The shoes Kobe Bryant wore for his VERY FIRST NBA game can now be yours -- if you got half a milli lying around -- 'cause the iconic kicks are hitting the auction block!

The Black Mamba arrived on the scene for the L.A. Lakers on November 3, 1996, against the Minnesota Timberwolves ... going scoreless in just 6 minutes of action off the bench.

Bryant rocked a custom pair of size 14 Adidas kicks as he stepped on the court for the first time ... which he ended up giving away to a diehard fan outside The Forum after the game.

A few years later, the fan was able to run into Kobe again -- and got the legend to quickly sign them outside the team's hotel!!!

Now, the fan is looking to part ways with the keepsakes ... putting them up for auction via Gotta Have Rock And Roll.

We're told these sneakers -- which also come with a ticket stub from the game -- are NOT gonna come cheap ... they have a minimum bid of $100k and could sell for up to $500k!!!

Of course, the 5-time champ went on to eventually score quite a bit in his career -- he's ranked 4th all-time with 33,643 points ... and became one of the greatest players to ever pick up a basketball.

Bidding starts Wednesday ... good luck!

MLB's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Honors Kobe, Gianna With Cleats ... Will Give Pair to Vanessa!!

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is paying tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant ... by getting some incredible custom cleats -- and he's giving a pair to Vanessa!!!

TMZ Sports has learned ... the 22-year-old star has been wanting to honor the late Lakers legend and Gigi on his feet for more than a year.

VG specifically wanted to cop the tribute cleats for the Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels series ...  so he hit up New Jersey artist Michael Jordan for the job.

Jordan tells us he started the project back in June to make sure the All-Star Game MVP got 'em on time -- and the finished product is awesome!!!

The white and black Jordan cleats feature a detailed image of Gigi in her Mamba Academy gear and Kobe in his Lakers uniform.

It also has Gigi's jersey #2 and both Kob's #8 and #24 splattered on the whole sneaker -- as well as their nicknames Mamba and Mambacita.

The all purple pair showcases some father and daughter moments -- Kobe celebrating with Gigi after winning the 2009 Finals ... and the duo sitting courtside at a Lakers game in 2019.

It also has a quote from Beyonce's song "XO," "your love is bright as ever" ... the same song she sang at Bryant's memorial service at the Staples Center in February 2020.

We're told the free-handed artwork took a total of 60 hours ... and VG will give the purple pair to Vanessa Bryant after the series.

#RIP

Matt Barnes Lakers' Age Is A Good Thing 'Older People Work Smarter'

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
TMZSports.com

All the critics cracking jokes about the Lakers' free agent signings will have to eat their words -- so says NBA champ Matt Barnes ... who tells TMZ Sports L.A.'s older roster is actually a GOOD thing!!!

It's no secret -- the Lake Show didn't get any younger this off-season ... adding guys like Russell Westbrook (32), Dwight Howard (35), Carmelo Anthony (37), Trevor Ariza (36), Wayne Ellington (33) and more to join forces with LeBron James (36) and Anthony Davis (28).

Of course, those guys have all been around the block a few times ... with people (not us) comparing the team more to a retirement home than title contenders.

But, Barnes ain't in that group ... 'cause he tells us he's a fan of what the Purple and Gold have done so far.

"I like what they're doing, man," Barnes tells us. "I think you know, they’re saying the team is old, but they got a lot of experience, a lot of great players. So, I'm excited to see what happens.

Of course, Barnes makes it clear the guys have to stay healthy throughout the season ... but thinks everyone's on the same page and knows they have a long journey ahead.

"I just think older people work smarter, so they're going to understand how to work even when they need to do the work during the season and understand that it's a marathon, and I think they're going to be okay with it."

Barnes -- who played in the Association 'til he was 37 -- tells us there are a few key things older athletes gotta do to keep healthy ... and it's some pretty plant-friendly advice!!

LeBron James Producing Native American Hoops Film For Netflix ... 'Rez Ball'

LeBron James is back on the movie scene -- this time, it's behind the camera ... producing a new flick about Native American basketball!!

SpringHill Company -- LBJ and Maverick Carter's production business -- will be teaming up with director Sydney Freeland to make the sports drama for Netflix called 'Rez Ball.'

The movie is about the Chuska Warriors -- a Native American high school basketball team in New Mexico that has to step it up to win a championship after losing their star players, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

FYI, Rez Ball is actually short for Reservation Basketball ... which is a different form of hoops that is played by Native Americans in Arizona, New Mexico and other states.

No word on the casting but the filming will take place in NM and is scheduled to be released in 2022 or early 2023.

Freeland -- who is known for her 2014 film, "Drunktown's Finest" -- is stoked to work on this project ... saying, "basketball on the Rez is like high school football in West Texas."

"What we want to do is bring people into our world, to tell a story about the people and places we know, and what better way to do that than through a sports movie?"

"We are so excited with the team we’ve assembled and can’t wait to bring this to the screen.”

James just finished acting and co-producing 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' that blew up the box office, making $31.7 million opening weekend.

Maybe King James will hop in front of the cam and make a cameo in 'Rez Ball'?

Carmelo Anthony I'm A Laker!!! Finally Teams Up W/ Bron

IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!!!

Carmelo Anthony is teaming up with his bestie, LeBron James -- the 10-time All-Star just signed a 1-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers!!!

Of course, LBJ and Melo have been tight for 20 years ... but aside from Team USA action, the two never suited up for the same NBA team.

UNTIL NOW!!!

Melo's manager, Bay Frazier, made the news official on Tuesday ... but the official terms of the deal have not been announced just yet.

Anthony is 37 years old now, but the guy has proven he can still hoop -- averaging 13 points a game and playing a key role with the Portland Trail Blazers last season.

Anthony is one of the best players of his era -- he's made the All-NBA team 6 times, was the scoring champ in 2013 and is 10th in points in league history.

The signing adds to the Lakers' big haul through two days of free agency -- Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk and Dwight Howard have all agreed to suit up for the Purple and Gold.

Kyle Kuzma His SUV Gets Stolen ... Driver Leads Cops on High-Speed Chase, Crashes

Kyle Kuzma's SUV was stolen ... and then taken on a joy ride that led to a high-speed chase, and an eventual crash.

Law enforcement sources tell us ... Kuzma's Chevy Tahoe SUV was stolen somewhere in Hollywood and eventually became involved in a police pursuit around 1:30 AM early Sunday morning. The chase, we're told, ended with the suspect hitting a cop car, and sending an officer to the hospital with minor injuries.

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The suspect was eventually nabbed, and we're told he'll be booked on a number of charges. Eyewitnesses on the scene tell us the Tahoe came to a halt when it finally crashed into a gate at Belmont High School, just outside of DTLA ... which is a ways from Hollywood proper.

We're told the driver was detained, and taken to a hospital ... as they appeared to have suffered some sort of a leg injury. Some of the aftermath of that wreckage was captured by photogs who showed up on the scene ... and it looks like a lot of police were called in to deal.

It's unclear if the vehicle was stolen from Kyle's house, or just off the streets somewhere.

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In any case -- sources familiar with the situation confirm to TMZ that the SUV is, indeed, registered to Kyle ... but we've been assured, he had nothing to do with the incident itself. We're told Kyle's manager drives the car, and is the one who filed the police report. Kyle wasn't even made aware the car was gone until sometime Sunday morning.

Like we said, tough break for Kuz ... who just got traded away by the Lakers ... and is on his way to Washington D.C. Not the greatest farewell gift L.A. could give him 😅.

Russell Westbrook Crushes Shirtless Workout In L.A. ... Feeling 'Great' After Laker Trade

Russell Westbrook wasted no time getting back to work after becoming a Laker -- the NBA superstar got in an intense workout in LA on Friday ... and he says he's feeling "great!!!"

32-year-old Brodie -- who grew up in SoCal -- has been touring his old stomping grounds after the news broke Thursday ... including a trip to The Nice Guy in WeHo with his buddy, Kevin Hart.

But, it was back to business on Friday ... with the 2017 MVP working up a shirtless sweat at a nearby training facility.

FEELIN' GREAT TO BE BACK
SplashNews.com

Westbrook is clearly happy -- the smile hasn't left his face since the deal ... and who knows if it'll ever leave!!

The guy even shared a tweet hyping up his new team just minutes ago ... saying, "HomeTeam. WHYNOT?"

Westbrook also spoke with cameras briefly as he left his workout ... saying, "I feel good, brother."

When asked how it feels to be coming home, he replied, "great!"

Nice to see this guy truly happy to be home ... and it's clear he's serious about bringing a ring back to L.A.

Russell Westbrook All Smiles With Kevin Hart In L.A. ... After Lakers Trade

WELCOME HOME
TMZSports.com

Russell Westbrook couldn't have looked happier right after his big trade to the Lakers ... hitting an L.A. hot spot with Kevin Hart on Thursday -- smiling from ear-to-ear!!!

Of course, Brodie was the centerpiece of a MASSIVE deal between the Lake Show and Washington Wizards ... with Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and draft picks getting shipped out of town for the 2017 MVP.

Westbrook -- a SoCal native -- wasted no time celebrating his big homecoming ... rolling through The Nice Guy with his comedian friend just a few hours after the news broke.

Hart spoke with our camera guys Thursday night ... saying the move means "everything" for the Lakers.

MAY 2019
ALL-STAR KICKBACK

While there are some folks wondering how the new Big 3 of Bron, Russ and Anthony Davis would mesh, the guys certainly seem to get along off the court.

Remember, James hosted Westbrook at his L.A. home for stogies a few years back ... and the L.A. Times reports the trio met up prior to the trade and agreed to put their egos aside.

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LeBron certainly seems THRILLED with the trade ... posting a photoshopped pic of his new teammate in the Purple and Gold on Instagram.

Enjoy the honeymoon phase, guys ... we'll check back in after the All-Star Break!!

Russell Westbrook Traded To Lakers ... In Blockbuster Deal

LeBron James is getting another superstar on his squad ... and it ain't Lola Bunny -- Russell Westbrook has been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster deal!!!

The rumors had been swirling for weeks ... with many expecting the Lake Show to try and bring in another piece to help the King and co. return to the NBA Finals.

Now, it's become a reality -- with LA sending Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and a 2021 first-round pick to the Washington Wizards in exchange for the 2017 MVP, according to ESPN.

It's a HUGE move -- Brodie is a triple-double machine ... averaging 23 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists on his 13-season career.

It also allows Westbrook -- who is a Southern Cali native -- to return back to his roots and play for his hometown!!

LeBron has yet to address the trade ... but he's hosted Westbrook at his L.A. crib in the past, so we're sure he's all for bringing in another friend.

Now, the question is, does this new Big 3 dethrone the Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden as the most dangerous trio in the game right now???

Better Big 3?

NBA Play-In Tourney Back For 2022 ... LeBron Pissed???

The NBA's play-in tournament is back for another year ... and ya know who probably ain't happy about that??? LeBron James.

Of course, the additional games were first tested out in the Disney World bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic ... and after a pretty successful run, the league brought 'em back for the 2021 season.

The tourney widens the number of postseason teams from 16 to 20 by featuring the 7th through 10th seeds of each conference, instead of the top 8 seeds automatically moving on to the playoffs.

While fans may have been in favor of the extra games, the King wasn't too pleased ... previously saying back in May, "Whoever came up with that s*** needs to be fired."

Some folks believe LeBron's comments might have been more about his own team's position than the actual tourney -- thanks to the league’s new changes, the Lakers’ post-season chances required a few extra games.

The 2020 play-in brought some of the most memorable matchups of the playoffs. LeBron’s series went through his rival Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors ... and who doesn't wanna see that???

This year’s play-in tournament is scheduled from April 12-15 of 2022.

It's a win-win for everyone… except maybe LeBron.

Magic, LL Cool J, Samuel L. Cruisin' Thru Italy On Pricey Yacht ... $1.1 Milli A Week!!!

LITTLE ESCAPE
@llcoolj / Instagram

It's that time of year -- when Magic Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J team up to remind us how insanely rich they are ... by cruising on a yacht that costs MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS A WEEK!!!!

Of course, the group of buds gets together every year to celebrate all their accomplishments ... making their way through the Italian waters on expensive ass boats.

The Lakers legend returned to the incredible 281-foot Aquila for this year's bash ... which as we previously reported, is as baller as it gets.

The boat comes with a gym, jacuzzi, movie theater, spa, it's own nightclub ... and reportedly a whopping $1.1 MILLION price tag per WEEK (even higher than its previous rate of $950k a week in 2019).

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Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete are also along for the ride ... but there's no sign of usual attendee Steve Harvey yet.

LL has been documenting the whole trip -- showing off incredible views of Capri, Porto Cervo and more -- and the gang has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Hey, the guys can afford it -- so party on!!

Lakers Star, Fashion Nova CEO Cops Looking Into Robberies, Shooting ... Possibly Part of a Ring

The violent robbery of NBA's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, as well as the attempted robbery of Fashion Nova CEO Richard Saghian that turned into a deadly shoot-out, could be connected ... according to our law enforcement sources.

TMZ's learned police are investigating the 2 June incidents -- along with multiple others that have been reported in L.A. lately -- to determine if they're part of a larger crime ring.

We're told in both cases and other similar cases, it's believed the victims were followed home after a night out and once they arrived ... they were approached by the suspects and robbed of their valuables at gunpoint.

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HOLLYWOOD SHOOTING
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As we reported ... one such incident went down in the Hollywood Hills in the early morning hours of June 25, where cops say 3 suspects tailed a Rolls-Royce taking the Fashion Nova boss home.

After Saghian went inside, we're told the suspects ordered 2 men who were traveling with Richard to the ground and took jewelry ... but then Richard's security responded and a shootout ensued.

Security and the suspects exchanged fire, and one of the suspects was shot and killed. Another suspect was critically injured. The security guard was shot as well. The third suspect was unharmed.

A week earlier -- as TMZ Sports first reported -- the Lakers guard was robbed at gunpoint by 3 suspects while he was in his driveway around 4 AM talking with friends. We're told the thieves made off with about $150,000 worth of loot, including a Rolex, jewelry and an iPhone.

It's unclear if the two cases are connected in any way, but our sources say that's exactly what cops are looking into ... and the investigation is ongoing.

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