Magic, Larry Bird, Dr. J Ultra-Rare Rookie Card Hits Auction Expected To Fetch $500K!!

Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Julius "Dr. J" Erving are 3 of the greatest hoopers ever ... and now a super-rare basketball card produced 40 years ago is on the auction block ... and could rake in over $500k!!

The 1980-1981 Topps Scoring Leader card features the Celtics, 76ers, and Lakers stars in-game action ... and is currently on the block at SCP Auctions.

The card itself is incredibly valuable ... but it's the pristine condition that makes this particular version worth the price of a nice house.

The card graders at PSA scored the cardboard a perfect 10 -- mint condition -- making it 1 of only 24 copies known to exist, according to SCP.

The auction kicked off a few weeks ago ... with a starting bid price of $150,000. There have already been 7 bids placed ... with the high bid coming in at $354k!!

The auction doesn't end until Friday ... and you can bet the price will jump significantly before the clock runs out.

Too rich for your blood?? SCP also has a Michael Jordan game-worn Chicago Bulls jersey from his rookie season in 1984.

That's expected to sell for $150k ... which feels like a bargain.

Happy bidding!

NBA's Jayson Tatum Honors Kobe Bryant With #10 ... For Team USA

Kobe Bryant's legacy will live on at the Tokyo Olympics ... with Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum honoring the late NBA Hall of Famer by wearing #10 for Team USA.

Of course, Kobe is one of the greatest players to suit up for the Red, White and Blue ... winning gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Games.

Tatum -- who Bryant mentored in the years prior to his tragic death -- is set to wear the same digits as his idol as the United States prepares to win its 4th-straight Olympics this month ... a tribute he holds close to his heart.

"With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, it holds that much more value," Tatum told the AP. "It’s not something I take lightly."

As it turns out, #10 is Tatum's favorite number ... and it all had to do with his obsession with being like the Black Mamba.

"I remember that first team when I was hoping, wishing, that I got #10," Tatum said. "Kobe, everyone knows that was my favorite player. I was 15 years old and got to wear the number of my favorite player. It just felt like I had some level of connection with him."

Tatum says he understands the importance of the number ... adding, "It’s a tremendous honor ... and I’ll wear it proudly."

Matt Barnes I've Made Peace With Derek Fisher ... After Infamous Fight

BEEF SQUASHED
Charges With Rex Chapman

Matt Barnes has officially "buried the hatchet" with his ex-nemesis, Derek Fisher ... saying he's totally cool with the L.A. Sparks head coach after their infamous backyard brawl.

Of course, the two ex-NBA ballers nearly broke the internet back in 2015 ... when Barnes punched Fisher in the mouth for dating his ex-wife, Gloria Govan, and being around his kids without his knowledge.

The moment got so big, even Kanye West mentioned the incident in his track "30 Hours."

But now, Barnes says he's actually made up with D-Fish ... and explains there are two major reasons why it's so important to have a cordial relationship with him.

"To me, it’s about raising these twins the best we possibly can and co-parenting," Barnes told the Portal A's "Charges With Rex Chapman" podcast.

"So, now he and I are cool, on the same page, we communicate and see each other when we’re at events. They’ve been to my house for the twins’ birthday. I’ve been to their place."

Barnes understands the legendary story will always be a thing, but wants to clear the air about people claiming Fisher "stole my chick."

"Like he started dating my ex-wife," Barnes says. "That’s what it was. He didn’t steal s*** from me. What I’m tripping off is you’re in my house that I pay for with my kids and you didn’t tell me."

5/21/18
NO WAY IN HELL
TMZSports.com

As we previously reported, Gloria told us back in 2018 there would be NO WAY Barnes would be invited to her wedding with Fisher (BTW -- their ceremony was delayed due to COVID-19).

Maybe there will be an invite on the way now that things are Gucci between the two??

Rachel Nichols Booted From NBA Finals Sideline Gig After Maria Taylor Comments

1:29 PM PT -- ESPN has taken more screen time away from Nichols -- the network did not air Tuesday's episode of "The Jump" as originally planned ... going with "Jalen & Jacoby" instead.

Rachel Nichols has been AXED from covering the NBA Finals ... with the ESPN reporter losing her sideline gig following her controversial comments regarding Maria Taylor.

Nichols sparked outrage after leaked audio from 2020 went public over the weekend ... when she claimed the decision to have Taylor host Finals coverage was due to ESPN "feeling pressure" about adding more diversity among on-air talent.

JUST NOT AT MY EXPENSE
New York Times

In the audio -- which was leaked by an ESPN employee to the New York Times -- Nichols is heard saying, "If you need to give [Taylor] more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity -- which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it -- like, go for it."

"Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away."

While Nichols apologized for her comments and praised Taylor on Monday, ESPN has decided to keep her on the bench for the 2021 Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.

The network announced rising star Malika Andrews -- who's been an NBA insider since 2018 -- will take over the mic starting Tuesday night ... saying, "We believe this is the best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals."

It's unclear if the move is permanent, but ESPN says Nichols will continue to host "The Jump."

Originally Published -- 9:49 AM PT

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).

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

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.

6/25/21
HOLLYWOOD SHOOTING
BACKGRID

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.

ESPN's Rachel Nichols Apologizes to Maria Taylor on TV ... Perk & Jefferson Chime In

I'M DEEPLY SORRY
ESPN2

Rachel Nichols has apologized to fellow ESPN colleague, Maria Taylor, on national television -- this after a bombshell NYT report -- and ex-NBA stars Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson were there to add their two cents.

The veteran NBA anchor took a moment Monday on "The Jump" to address the Times' story from this weekend -- which shed light on drama at the sports network over the past year ... this following recorded controversial remarks Rachel made surrounding Maria, who's Black.

JUST NOT AT MY EXPENSE
New York Times

Right off the bat, RN acknowledged she didn't like that she'd become the story ... but owned up to it nonetheless, saying she was deeply sorry to anyone she let down with her comments, especially Maria. Rachel added she was grateful to be part of the ESPN team.

Perk and Rich took it from there ... with the former chiming in first, thanking Rachel for taking responsibility for her actions, and relaying to the audience that he knew her heart -- while also pointing out he'd always felt comfortable in her presence. He also shouted out Maria, whom he said was deserving of every opportunity that came her way ... and that he hoped they could all support each other going forward. RJ echoed those sentiments as well.

He ended on a somewhat sobering note though, saying he, Rachel and others at ESPN have had hard convos of late in regards to this ... and that they'll continue to have hard convos. Rachel thanked them for their POVs, and they continued on with NBA Finals coverage.

The response comes on the heels of surfaced audio, which depicts Rachel having a candid conversation with LeBron James' PR advisor, Adam Mendelsohn, last year during the playoffs ... during which Rachel expressed frustration that ESPN was looking to have Maria share hosting duties with her during the Finals -- something Rachel likened to a "diversity" move.

The NYT reported that ESPN was doing major damage control in house in the wake of the clips leaking among employees internally.

ESPN's Rachel Nichols Caught on Video/Audio ... Controversial Comments About Black Co-Worker, Maria Taylor

Rachel Nichols -- a star anchor for ESPN, covering all things NBA -- was caught on camera last year talking to LeBron James' publicist about how to prevent a fellow female anchor, who's Black, from taking over her job during the Finals ... and the fallout seems devastating.

The New York Times published a bombshell report Sunday, detailing the drama at the sports network over the past year and change ... this after a video of Nichols talking to Adam Mendelsohn was secretly recorded by an ESPN employee, leaked ... and spread like wildfire.

JUST NOT AT MY EXPENSE
New York Times

Nichols was working/filming from a hotel room last May just as the NBA Playoffs were getting underway (due to the pandemic) and it appears she left her camera on somehow, and the thing was still recording when she had this chat with Mendelsohn ... with the feed going back to the ESPN studio, where somebody captured the damning words exchanged.

In the first snippet posted by the Times, you can hear Nichols venting to Mendelsohn -- who's a PR/comms wiz -- about how ESPN had approached her with the idea of doing sideline reporting during the Finals that year, as opposed to hosting -- a task Nichols has shared on and off lately with Maria Taylor, another rising star ... who's African-American.

Check out the convo ... Nichols basically says she declined ESPN's offer, because she knew it would make way for Maria to handle hosting duties full-time, essentially pushing Nichols out of the picture ... something she was clearly not down for, as she wanted to maintain her gig.

Nichols goes on to say of Maria shortly thereafter ... "If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity -- which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it -- like, go for it." She adds, "Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away."

In a 2nd audio snipped ... Mendelsohn is heard giving advice to Nichols about how she could frame the dynamic of ESPN pitting two females against each other in order to gain leverage, even if it would potentially be at Maria's expense. He also had some interesting thoughts on #MeToo and BLM, saying he had "nothing left" and was exhausted ... in what sounds like what he (and perhaps Nichols) considered phony pandering/appeasing at the executive level.

After this video/audio was spread around among ESPN workers internally, it eventually reached the higher ranks ... and the NYT reports the network has been in damage control mode ever since, with fears that Nichols might sue -- and that Taylor might leave entirely.

The latter's contract is up this year ... and word is she has not responded to Nichols' attempts to apologize or make peace. Messy stuff, for sure ... and very telling.

Doc Rivers Ben Simmons Is 'Terrific' ... 'I Want Him Back!!!'

BEN'S A BEAST
TMZSports.com

Ben Simmons may not be getting shipped out of Philly after all, 'cause Sixers head coach Doc Rivers tells TMZ Sports he absolutely LOVES the hooper ... and wants him to stay put.

Of course, there's speculation the 24-year-old could be traded this offseason ... after Philly got booted from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third time in four seasons.

Simmons was heavily criticized for his play throughout the playoffs after going 34% from the charity stripe ... and many believe the guy has to put in some serious work on his shot in the offseason.

On top of that, Simmons was ripped for passing up on a potential game-tying dunk late in Game 7 against the Hawks.

But, Doc is having none of that talk ... giving nothing but high praise for the former #1 overall pick.

"Ben's great," Rivers told us in Beverly Hills this week. "I want him back. He's terrific. He'll be great."

"I think he doesn't need a lot of fixing. He's gonna be great for us. He'll be great."

While Rivers is voicing his support for Simmons, it doesn't mean a trade won't go down ... but it's nice to see the coach stick with his guy.

We also had to ask about the Clippers' recent playoff run ... and Rivers has nothing but positive words for coach Ty Lue.

NBA's Zach Lavine Hooks Kids Up With New Jordan 4s ... Sneaker Shop Surprise!!!

Kids at a sneaker shop in California got the surprise of a lifetime last month ... 'cause NBA star Zach LaVine popped by and hooked them up with new Jordans!!!

TMZ Sports has learned ... 4 lucky kids were hanging out at Swish Studios in Irvine, when the Chicago Bulls star showed up looking for some new shoes.

We're told the foursome -- who had just wrapped up a soccer tournament -- knew who the NBA player was right off the bat ... and couldn't help but to ask for his autograph.

That's when LaVine got generous ... and told each kid to pick out one pair of kicks for themselves!!

LaVine plopped down his credit card to buy each kid a pair of the Jordan 4 UNCs that came out on April 28, and you can see, the kids were PUMPED for the gifts!!

We're told LaVine didn't go home empty-handed either -- he bought some new Yeezys -- and in total, spent about $3,000 for himself and the young fans.

Swish Studios thanked the 26-year-old guard for the dope gesture on Instagram ... and wished him luck in the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.

"Looking forward to seeing you do some damage for Team USA!" the shop wrote.

#Awesome

Kevin Garnett Sells Malibu Pad With Ocean Views ... For $16 Million!!!

Kevin Garnett just sold his massive Malibu property for $16 million bucks ... but the lucky buyer is gonna be shelling out even more dough -- 'cause the house isn't even finished!!!

TMZ Sports has learned ... the NBA Hall of Famer purchased the estate when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2003, but decided to start a massive renovation project in 2013.

But, KG never got around to finishing the huge project -- hey, he's a busy guy -- before listing the pad a few years ago for $19.9 million.

The place is HUGE -- the house is 11,000 square feet, has a gated entrance and sits on 7 acres right on top of the Pacific Ocean ... which means #views.

There was a bit of drama tied to the place -- as we previously reported, KG's neighbor sued him in 2014 over trees blocking his sight of the Pacific ... claiming Garnett refused to trim them down.

The neighbor also complained in the suit that KG didn't have the proper permits to add-on to the home ... but ultimately, the case was dismissed.

The crib -- which was listed with Barbara Tenenbaum and Eric Hassan of Hilton & Hyland -- sold for a few milli less than the original price ... but sources close to the deal tell us the new owners will finally complete the home.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Out For Game 5 ... Due To Knee Injury

10:52 AM PT -- 7/1 -- Even though Giannis' knee is structurally OK ... it's still clearly too painful for him to play in Game 5.

The Bucks announced Thursday their best player will miss the key matchup with the Hawks.

No determination, meanwhile, has been made yet on his status for Game 6 or a potential Game 7.

1:24 PM PT -- Some great news for the Bucks -- ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting there is no structural damage to Giannis' knee and his ligaments are "sound."

There is no timetable for his return ... but it's a huge sigh of relief for Milwaukee.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo terrifyingly hyperextended his knee Tuesday -- with his leg violently bending backward mid-game -- and there's now big concern the Greek Freak could be SERIOUSLY injured.

The 26-year-old, 2-time NBA MVP crumpled to the floor in pain during the 3rd quarter of Milwaukee's playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks -- and replays of the injury were tough to watch.

As Giannis was going up to try to block a shot, he landed awkwardly on his left leg ... bending his knee in a gruesome way.

It was clear as day the injury was VERY painful ... 'cause Giannis screamed out for several seconds before trainers ultimately got him off the court and into the locker room.

The extent of the injury is currently unknown -- Giannis is slated to undergo further testing Wednesday -- but his team was obviously very concerned about it all after the game.

"I just hope it's not serious," Khris Middleton said.

With Giannis missing the rest of Game 4 with the injury, the Bucks were destroyed 110-88 ... and the series is now tied at 2-2.

Game 5 is scheduled to tip-off on Thursday.

Originally Published -- 6/30 6:05 AM PT

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.

Phoenix Suns Thousands Of Fans Flock To Airport ... After NBA Finals Berth!!!

SUNS SHUTDOWN!
@tcraig3_ / Instagram

Phoenix Suns fans partied like it was 1993 on Wednesday ... 'cause THOUSANDS of wild supporters rushed to the airport to celebrate with the team after reaching the NBA Finals!!

The Suns flew back home right after beating the L.A. Clippers 130-103 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals ... and were welcomed with a sea of fans waiting for them.

Like, seriously ... there were a LOT of fans.

You can see the Suns players in their cars going through a tunnel of crazed fans ... all of 'em chanting "MVP" when Chris Paul and Devin Booker made their way through.

Torrey Craig was standing in a Rolls-Royce with DeAndre Ayton ... dappin' up up fans while showing off their shiny new trophy.

The guys even got stuck in the crowd when the fans surrounded their cars -- but don't worry, everyone was safe and having fun.

It's been a LONG time since Suns fans have been able to go wild like this ... after all, Phoenix has only been to the NBA Finals twice -- 1976 and 1993 -- and are just 4 wins from bringing home the team's first-ever championship.

Now, the Suns wait to see who wins between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks before the Finals start next week ... but in the meantime, PARTY!!!!!

Robert Horry Claims Phil Made 'Master' Comment ... But He's No Racist!!!

YA CAN'T SAY THAT, PHIL!
PodcastOne / Big Shot Bob

7-time NBA champ Robert Horry is defending Phil Jackson ... saying he does NOT believe the man is racist -- but admits there were times he had to "check" the legendary coach for comments made towards his players.

Horry is responding to bombshell allegations Scottie Pippen made earlier this week ... when the Hall of Famer told the 'Dan Patrick Show' he believed Jackson was racist.

Big Shot Bob -- who played for Jackson on the Lakers from 1999-2003 -- shared his personal experiences with the coach on his podcast this week ... saying straight-up -- "I don't think Phil is racist."

Horry explains there were times he had to call out Jackson over his choice of words ... but he did not believe the coach had racist intent.

"We were in the huddle and Phil was like, 'You need to know the sound of your master's voice,'" Horry said on the 'Big Shot Bob Pod' on PodcastOne. "I looked at him, I was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, nah, we don't do that. I'm from the South."

Horry says Jackson was quick to backtrack ... claiming he didn't mean it the way it came out.

"I said, 'Dude, that's too close, that's too close,' and I knew where he was trying to come across as saying, because, in the arenas, you need to understand and hear your person that is trying to lead you."

Worth noting -- Phil has been dubbed the "Zen Master" due to his coaching techniques ... but given Horry's description of the exchange, that wasn't really what he was going for either.

Horry continued ... "I understand, I said, but there's certain words you can use and I'm like, 'We ain't that close yet.'"

Regardless, Horry says he does not agree with Pippen's take.

"I don't think Phil is racist at all. I don't."

Chauncey Billups Addresses '97 Sexual Assault Allegation ... Blazers Stand By Hiring

"EVERY DECISION HAS CONSEQUENCES"
Portland Trail Blazers

Chauncey Billups was introduced as the next head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday ... but before he talked hoops, the ex-NBA star opened up on his sexual assault allegations from more than 20 years ago.

Back in 1997, Billups -- a player for the Boston Celtics at the time -- was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at teammate Antoine Walker’s home.

The woman claimed she blacked out during the attack ... and woke up with injuries to her cervix, rectum and throat.

Billups was NOT charged with a crime ... but reportedly settled a lawsuit filed by his accuser.

During Billups' intro presser on Tuesday, Portland GM Neil Olshey insisted the organization took the 1997 allegation very seriously ... even hiring an independent team of investigators to look into the troubling claims.

"ADDRESS SOME OF THE FEEDBACK"
Portland Trail Blazers

Olshey said the investigators dug around and determined Billups' claim that the encounter was consensual was corroborated.

The team did not elaborate on the findings of the investigation.

Billups personally spoke about the allegations as well, saying, "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about how every decision that we make can have a profound impact on a person's life."

"This experience has shaped my life in so many different ways."

He added ... "I really, really look forward in providing insight, leadership to our guys who are young and taking on a lot of responsibility as I was at that time."

"But, just being able to support them and walk them through situations is something that I'm gonna take as a responsibility."

Members of the media tried to ask follow-up questions about the alleged incident ... but Blazers PR shut it down.

The Blazers gig is Billups' first as a head coach. As a player, Chauncey was a 5-time All-Star and NBA Finals MVP over his 16-year NBA career.

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