Tristan Thompson On Verge of Victory Against Paternity Accuser

Tristan Thompson appears to be headed for a legal win in his libel suit against the woman claiming he fathered her child ... the court is leaning toward awarding him a chunk of cash.

According to new legal docs, obtained by TMZ, the court says it's leaning towards granting the NBA baller a nearly $53k default judgment against Kimberly Alexander.

TMZ broke the story ... Tristan sued Alexander for libel last year and wanted the judge to hit her with $100k in damages, claiming allegations he fathered her child potentially cost him endorsement deals because brands and companies viewed him as a troubled athlete.

According to the docs, the court is leaning towards awarding Tristan around $50k instead of the $100k he was seeking because the judge said he hadn't offered any evidence of losing any specific endorsement deals due to Alexander's allegations.

Tristan's tentative legal win comes on the heels of his latest split from Khloe Kardashian ... as we reported, they called things off after another round of cheating allegations, this time from a woman named Sydney Chase.

Khloe's got beef with Alexander too ... she claims Alexander faked DMs from her and previously threatened to sue Tristan's accuser.

Dwight Howard Defends Ben Simmons 'You're My Brother and I Love You'

DON'T BLAME BEN
@dwighthoward / Instagram

Dwight Howard is calling for everyone to STOP HATING on his teammate, Ben Simmons -- with the 76ers star saying the negative criticism has gotten completely out of hand.

24-year-old Simmons has been under fire for playing poorly in the NBA playoffs -- particularly in Game 7 of the 76ers vs. Hawks series.

Simmons only scored 5 points in that game -- including 1 point in a hotly contested 4th quarter. Afterward, NBA analyst Shaquille O'Neal says he was so frustrated watching Simmons, he would have KO'd the guy in the locker room if they were teammates.

HEATED CRITIQUE
TNT

But, Howard says tough talk and violent threats are NOT the answer ... explaining Ben needs love and support instead.

"I don't think it's right that everybody just sending this man bad messages and all this negativity," Howard said Monday on IG Live ... "I think it sucks."

"We supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love and the best thing we can do is just send some positivity!!!"

Howard added, "This man is 24 years old! He's 24 years old. He's still learning who he is as a person and a player."

"No matter what! Ben, I got your back, man! You're my brother and I love you."

"He might have messed up, didn't take no shots, didn't do whatever -- he's gonna come back better next year. So for real, I think we just gotta send that man some love."

Master P I Want Pelicans Coaching Job ... Zion Will Be Happy!!!

6/18/21
CHANGING THE GAME
TMZSports.com

Rap legend Master P knows exactly who the next head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans should be -- MASTER P!!!! -- telling TMZ Sports superstar Zion Williamson would LOVE the move!!

Of course, times are tough in NOLA -- the Pels just fired Stan Van Gundy after one season ... and there are reports Zion's family isn't too happy with the franchise.

We spoke with P about all the drama surrounding his hometown team ... and his solution is to get himself on the sidelines as either a head or assistant coach.

"I think it's time," P tells us. "They gotta do something different, unique."

Percy has hoops experience -- he played preseason ball with the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors in the '90s ... and previously coached San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan at the AAU level.

"I played in the NBA, I done coached a lot of great players that are in the league. I done took my sons from being high school athletes to maybe they'll be the next future big-time pro athletes."

He added ... "If they bring me in as a head coach or assistant coach, I think I can change the game!"

Remember, P told us back in 2017 he was close to joining Alvin Gentry's staff ... and believes the coach would still have his job if he had brought him on board.

12/18/2017
THE MAN FOR THE JOB
TMZSports.com

"I think he'd still have his job if he did that," P says.

As for the reports regarding Zion, P thinks his involvement as a coach will certainly make everyone happy!!

"We'll win and Zion will be happy," P said. "Everything! I feel like it's motivating the players and understanding them, that's the most important thing."

FYI -- the Pels finished 31-41 this past season ... but P is confident he can turn things around.

So, how would a rap mogul switch to NBA head coach sound?? P compares it to a former Heisman winner-turned MLB hopeful-turned NFL tight end.

"You look at Tim Tebow, they brought him to play as a tight end because they looking at times is changing."

"The NBA is entertainment. I think it's time for me to be the first hip-hop coach."

Suns vs. Clippers Fans Throw Wild Haymakers In Violent Brawl ... Caught On Video

FANS THROWIN' FISTS
Storyful

11:48 AM PT -- The Suns addressed the brawl in a statement Monday morning ... saying, "while the intensity on the court continues to heat up, we still expect Suns fans to keep their cool off the court."

"We will not tolerate the violence that erupted following Sunday's game at Phoenix Suns Arena."

The team continued ... "We consider Suns fans to be the best in the world. Fighting or taunting to incite violence is not reflective of our organization or how fans from across the Valley should be represented."

"We're better than that. Let's work together to provide a model fan experience that is fun, enthusiastic and respectful."

Suns and Clippers fans got into a VIOLENT altercation during the first game of the two teams' playoff series Sunday ... and the insane fight was all caught on video.

The wild action appeared to go down in the bowels of Phoenix Suns Arena in Arizona ... when two Clippers fans got into a screaming match with a bunch of Suns supporters.

You can see in footage filmed by a bystander ... the two L.A. fans -- rockin' Kawhi Leonard jerseys -- yelled for several seconds before they let their hands fly.

One of the Clippers fans threw a big punch at a Suns fan -- before he was eventually taken down to the ground.

And then, all hell broke loose.

More than half a dozen people were involved in the fracas ... with haymakers being thrown and landed left and right.

It's unclear if there were any injuries or any arrests made ... we've reached out to police, but so far, no word back yet.

Of course, this is the second big fight the Suns have seen this month ... you'll recall, it was less than 2 weeks ago when the "Suns In 4" guy wrecked a Denver Nuggets supporter during the team's previous playoff series.

As for Sunday's Game 1 ... like their supporters in fights, the Suns won easily -- beating the Clips, 120-114.

Originally published -- 7:07 AM PT

Ex-NBA Star Josh Smith Ethers Doc Rivers 'Don't Nobody Really Like Yo Cap Ass'

GOIN' OFF ON DOC

Former Hawks superstar Josh Smith EVISCERATED Doc Rivers after yet another early playoff exit for the head coach -- railroading the dude in a profane rant on social media.

Smith held no punches back in going after the 76ers head man Sunday night ... clowning his old coach for losing Philly's playoff series to Atlanta in Game 7.

"Don't nobody really like yo cap ass," said Smith, who appeared to spend HOURS online Sunday ripping Rivers and the Sixers for the loss.

"You don't know how to make in-game adjustments. Everybody figured your ass out, man ... Yeah, you losing your power!"

Smith and Doc have had an icy relationship for years ... remember, Josh played for the head coach with the Clippers in the 2015-16 season, but was traded to Houston after only a handful of games.

It's clear the relationship hasn't thawed one bit since ... 'cause Smith unloaded on the 59-year-old, criticizing him for the loss as well as past comments he made about Paul George.

"You talked all that s*** about Paul George and how Tyronn Lue was gonna have the same offense for that n***a," the 35-year-old said.

"Shut yo' bum ass up, man! Your no in-game-adjustment-having ass, man. Start giving n****as they real credit, man. That's why your bitch-ass got that karma on your ass and you can't get past the second round, man! You done did all these real n****s wrong, man."

Smith continued, "Look in the mirror, n***a and confess your motherf***in' truths n***a or you'll never make it out the second round, n***a! Yeah!"

Smith had a chance to walk back his comments Monday morning ... but all he did was double down on them.

"Just woke up, looked at my story, man, and saw that I was wildn'," Smith said. "But I don't give a damn!!!"

Shaq Unloads on Ben Simmons I'd 'Knock His Ass Out' If He Were My Teammate

"If he was in my locker room, I would have knocked his ass out."

WOW.

That's Shaquille O'Neal pulling no punches on his disdain for Ben Simmons on Sunday night after the 76ers got bounced from the playoffs.

... and Shaq was so disgusted with the way Ben played -- and then explained his terrible performance -- he talked about how HE would've dealt with Ben if Simmons was his teammate.

HEATED CRITIQUE
TNT

Shaq's comment drew shock and even some laughs from his "Inside the NBA" co-hosts ... but Shaq replied, "I ain't laughing."

24-year-old Simmons -- the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft -- did not play well during the series against the Atlanta Hawks ... especially during that crucial Game 7.

In fact, Ben only scored 5 points -- including 1 point in the 4th quarter -- in a 103 to 96 loss to ATL.

After the game, Simmons told ESPN, "I ain't shoot well from the line this series ... Offensively, I wasn't there. I didn't do enough for my teammates. ... There's a lot of things that I need to work on."

During the post-game show, Shaq was critical of Simmons.

"If I played Game 1 and 2 and I know I’m not helping my teammates, what do you think I’m going to do in Game 3? It don’t take you seven games to realize that, I don’t wanna hear that man."

"It don’t take seven games for you to know that you’re not playing right ... Get right!"

Shaq continued, "He's not getting double-teamed, just be aggressive, that’s all I want. I don’t want to hear all that, stop that, cut it out."

As for the Hawks, they'll move on to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conf. Finals.

Shannon Sharpe On LeBron's Beef W/ NBA ... Players Deserve Blame Too!!!

EVERYONE'S TO BLAME
TMZSports.com

LeBron James can't put ALL of the blame on the NBA for the rash of injuries this season ... so says Shannon Sharpe, who tells TMZ Sports players deserve some of the finger-pointing too!

Sharpe broke it all down for us at LAX this week -- saying despite Bron's claims ... the players did NOT have to start the 2021 season in December if they truly didn't want to.

"Look, the NBA wanted to recoup some money, they were in a pandemic and lost money," Sharpe says, "but the players wanted to get those paychecks."

"They couldn't play without the NBA and the [NBA Players Association] agreeing. So, everybody's equally culpable because they needed the money and the players wanted the paycheck. It is what it is."

James was furious with the league earlier this week ... melting down on Twitter and insisting injuries to Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving were all caused by the league rushing to return in Dec. despite ending the 2020 season in October.

The league fired back at the Lakers superstar, saying the injury rates are actually the same from previous seasons -- but Sharpe did say it does feel different this year because of the nature of the high-profile injuries.

"The NBA is a superstar-driven league," the Hall of Fame tight end says. "The 5th guy on the bench, the 13th guy on the bench -- nobody cares if he's injured."

"Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joel Embiid, LeBron James, Anthony Davis -- people care about those guys."

As for LeBron's future, Sharpe called B.S. on any sort of falloff from the King ... saying straight up, "LeBron will be just fine!"

"Take a look at him next year when he has the full amount of rest time and have a full offseason to train."

AEW's Max Caster Drops New Sports Rap Verse Name Drops 'Suns In 4' Guy, Gerrit Cole, CP3

SPITTIN' BARS

AEW star Max Caster ain't a one-hit wonder ... 'cause the pro wrestler just dropped another insane TMZ Sports-inspired rap verse -- and it's pretty damn good!!

In case you missed the biggest stories of the week, Platinum Max has got you covered -- from the "Suns In 4" guy to Chris Paul getting COVID-19 to the sticky situation going on in the MLB.

Caster -- half of AEW's "The Acclaimed" tag team -- goes on for a minute straight ... even throwing in a line about the Carmelo Anthony and La La divorce.

Check it out ... our stories have never sounded better.

LaMelo Ball Gets Tattoo of 'Rare' Angel ... Rockin' His Hairdo!!!

Have you ever seen an angel tattoo with LaMelo Ball's hairdo???

Well, the NBA's Rookie of the Year just got it done on his right forearm -- and it's pretty awesome!

TMZ Sports has learned ... the Charlotte Hornets star wanted to get a tat of himself as a cherub, so he hit up his ink master, Herchell L. Carrasco.

We're told the two met up at Carrasco's shop, Pachuco Tattoo, in Orange, Calif. over a week ago ... and after 6 hours of work, the final results were in!

The piece came out dope ... there's a dramatic red and black "RARE" wording above a Melo-like angel -- plus his logo at the base with a red halo!

TATTED UP
@rockrollg / Instagram

We're told the hairdo idea was done at the last minute -- and Carrasco did it free-handed!!!

The new ink complements Melo's existing piece, also done by Carrasco, on his other forearm.

That artwork features a lion looking into water -- which Carrasco calls an "evolution tattoo" -- since Melo got it done right before the 2020 NBA Draft.

Nice tats and nice season, Melo!

Devin Booker Sending WCF Tix, Autographed Jersey ... To 'Suns In 4' Fan

10:24 AM PT -- 6/17 -- Devin Booker is hitting the "Suns In 4" guy with the ULTIMATE hookup -- sending the dude an autographed jersey and tickets to the upcoming Western Conference Finals!!

Of course, multiple eyewitnesses say McKellar was purely acting in self-defense, so it's not like the baller is rewarding the fan for wildin' out.

Booker posted on social media earlier this week asking to get in touch with the guy ... and it didn't take long at all for him to connect and give McKellar an awesome "thank you" package, according to ESPN.

So cool!!!

The famous "Suns In 4" guy is FINALLY opening up about his violent brawl with Nuggets fans ... claiming the whole thing went down because the Denver dudes poured beer on him.

Nick McKellar joined Barstool Sports' "The Dave Portnoy Show" this week and broke the whole fight down from start to finish ... explaining he was NEVER the aggressor in the situation.

McKellar claims he showed up to Ball Arena for Game 3 last Friday and made friends with nearly everybody around him right away.

But, he says when he started lightheartedly joking with two Nuggets fans toward the end of the game ... that's when things turned contentious.

"These guys are walking past me and obviously they didn't think it was funny," McKellar said. "Meanwhile the whole crowd that I made friends with, initially they were laughing, having a good time."

"I wasn't being annoying. So, these guys were like, 'You know what, I'm taking offense to this.'"

McKellar says the two Nuggets fans then got in his face, talked smack, flaunted money at him ... and then tugged on his jersey and poured beer on him.

That's when McKellar says the action picked up on video ... and the rest is history.

"Instincts of self-defense kick in," McKellar says.

McKellar told Portnoy he was escorted out of the arena by cops after throwing the haymakers, but says he was NOT arrested because witnesses told the officers he did nothing more than protect himself in the skirmish.

As for if Devin Booker ever got a hold of him, McKellar said he has been in contact with the Suns superstar -- and told Portnoy there could be a future collab between the two in the future.

Originally Published -- 6/16 8:04 AM PT

NBA's Meyers Leonard Gets Emotional In Speech to Jewish Kids ... 'I'm Deeply Sorry'

6/17/21
MEYERS MAKES PROGRESS

Powerful moment from NBA player Meyers Leonard ... who choked backed tears while addressing a group of Jewish kids at a temple in Florida, as he explained his regret for using an anti-Semitic slur back in March.

The 29-year-old took the mic at Boca Raton Synagogue over the weekend ... and began by saying, "I owe everybody, truly, a sincere apology."

As we previously reported, the former Miami Heat player was playing "Call of Duty" on March 9 when he hurled the K-word at an opposing player. The session was being live-streamed on Twitch at the time.

Twitch immediately blocked Leonard from the platform -- and the NBA hit Meyers with a $50k fine and a 1-week suspension.

Leonard apologized and vowed to educate himself about why the slur is dangerous and offensive ... and it's pretty obvious he's been putting in the work.

At least, according to Rabbi Efrem Goldberg ... who spoke glowingly about Meyers at Sunday's event -- praising him as a good dude and a "great friend of the Jewish community."

Rabbi Goldberg told the crowd, "Over the last 3 months, I’ve gotten to know Meyers off camera and off the court … I've gotten to know what's in his heart and who he is."

"Meyers has learned a lot about the Jewish community ... meeting with Holocaust survivors and reading books about Jewish history."

Leonard also opened up about life after the incident -- saying, "I've had a lot of really good moments and some pretty dark emotional moments but I just like to say, again, I'm so, so thankful for the people in the Jewish community whether it's a little kid, a teenager, a high schooler or a rabbi."

"I've just been very educated, I've had so many events away from the public eye that have just uplifted not only myself, my wife and our immediate family but my friends. I just learned so much and I'm so thankful through a very dark moment. Sometimes people say God works in mysterious ways."

Michael Jordan Signed 'Player Sample' AJ1's Up For Auction

7:42 AM PT -- 6/18 -- A rep for the auction tells TMZ Sports the kicks did not reach the reserve price set by the cosigner ... so the Jordans were not sold.

A true one-of-a-kind pair of Michael Jordan's Air Jordan 1's just hit the market and they're literally from before the start of all J's -- 'cause it's his sample sneakers!

Yes, a sample sneaker ... meaning these red, black and white kicks were specifically made for His Airness to test out before releasing 'em.

And, these samples are verified .. with the code "850204-TYPS" on the tongue which means these 1's were made between February and April in 1985 -- and TYPS is "Tong Yang Player Sample".

Another dope authentication check is the mismatched sizes .. 13 for the left foot and 13 1/2 for the right  -- 'cause MJ always wore a bigger size on his right foot!

Even though MJ never wore 'em, they were autographed by the then-rookie and it comes with the original NIKE shoebox.

The owner of the kicks got 'em back in the '80s -- when he was a director of communication for a gas and electric company and during his business meeting with a sports agent, he was asked 'what sports figure I admired'.

Jordan was one of them .. and then a few weeks later, he received the shoes in the mail!

The rare sneakers hit the market -- with RR Auctions -- 2 weeks ago with a current bid of $95,420 ... but are expected to sell for $250,000!!!

The auction comes to a close on June 16 ... so you still got some time to put in your bid!

Originally published -- 12:40 AM PT

NBA Fact Checks LeBron 'Injury Rates Were Virtually The Same' This Season

4:36 PM PT -- The NBA is firing back at its most popular player -- with the league actually fact-checking LeBron's criticism Wednesday afternoon.

"Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20 while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons," the Association said, according to Marc Stein.

"While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our game, we recognize the enormous sacrifices NBA players and teams have made to play through this pandemic."

It's uncommon for the league to hit back at one of its biggest stars like this ... but clearly, they weren't here for the narrative.

LeBron James says the rash of injuries in this year's playoffs are all the NBA's fault ... claiming the bumps, bruises, tears and sprains are entirely due to the league's early start date.

Bron went off on the league in an epic Twitter rant Wednesday ... claiming he saw this coming from a million miles away once the NBA decided to start its 2021 season in December despite finishing the 2020 season in October.

"They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season," said LeBron, who did insist back before the season began that a December date was way too early to come back.

"I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME!"

The NBA playoffs have been marred by injuries so far ... mega stars like Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have all missed time.

And, on Wednesday, it was announced Clippers star Kawhi Leonard could be done for the playoffs with a knee injury as well.

All of it has Bron fuming ... claiming it could have all been easily prevented.

"This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players. It’s insane," LeBron said.

"If there’s one person that know about the body and how it works all year round it’s ME! I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year. Sorry fans wish you guys were seeing all your fav guys right now."

LeBron added, "And I know all about the business side too/factors so don’t even try me! I get it."

Originally Published -- 12:08 PM PT

Brooklyn Nets Halftime Singer Laughs Off Critics DMX Cover Won't Please Everyone!!!

WHAT AN HONOR
TMZSports.com

No matter what the haters say, the Brooklyn Nets' country singing halftime performer says he had a freakin' blast singing DMX and Notorious B.I.G. on Tuesday ... telling TMZ Sports he's unbothered by people pissed about his nod to the rap legends.

35-year-old singer Sam James went viral on social media after performing at the Nets vs. Bucks game ... with some folks giving their honest (and sometimes brutal) reviews of his setlist involving rap covers.

As it turns out, James says he grew up a HUGE fan of X ... and being able to perform his music in front of the massive crowd was a career moment for him.

"DMX's passing was so unexpected to me, and just to be able to do that last night at Barclays, it was special," James tells us."

He had the same feeling when covering "Juicy" by Biggie ... adding, "To be able to pay tribute last night to some of the greatest Brooklyn artists in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center in front of a crowd like that -- that was unreal."

James somehow had no idea his performance was spreading on the Internet ... but when we recited some of his not-so-nice reviews to him, the dude couldn't have been a better sport.

"I mean, listen, at the end of the day, you can't listen to what other people are saying about music," James said, laughing off the harsh comments. "Music is subjective. Everybody can have their own opinion."

"It's nothing off my back if people aren't into it."

In fact, James says the crowd around him was LOVIN' it ... so, he's more focused on what he experienced than what the trolls are saying.

"I was in the zone ... but everybody that was around me was pretty hyped. So, it felt great!"

James says he knows people are entitled to their opinion ... but he's down to try and change the haters' minds in the future.

"People that are into it, that's awesome. People that aren't, it's cool. Listen, I still got a little time to turn you around."

LaMelo Ball Wins NBA Rookie Of The Year ... As LaVar Predicted!!!

Call LaMelo Ball "ROY" from now on ... 'cause the Charlotte Hornets star has just been named the NBA's Rookie of the Year!!!

And ya know who predicted this way back in November?! None other than Melo's dad, LaVar ... who told TMZ Sports it was "GUARANTEED!!!" to happen.

NOVEMBER 2020
FAMILY UPDATE
TMZSports.com

Now, before we give him the title of "LaVarstradamus," it wasn't that bold of a prediction to begin with -- Melo was the #3 overall pick and the expectations were high from the very beginning.

19-year-old Ball managed to average nearly 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 51 games as a rook ... and still held on to get the top honors despite missing a chunk of the season with a wrist injury.

There will almost certainly be some folks pissed with the results -- Minnesota Timberwolves #1 pick Anthony Edwards had a stellar rookie campaign, earning just over 19 points, 4.7 rebounds and nearly 3 assists per game.

The decision is made by a list of sportswriters and broadcasters who vote for the top 3 rookies of the season -- first place votes get 5 points, second gets 3 points and third gets 1.

Whoever gets the highest point total of votes wins the award ... no matter which player has the most first place votes.

The league has yet to make Melo's award official, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski says it's a done deal.

Chris Paul Tests Positive For COVID-19 ... Reportedly Vaccinated

9:50 AM PT -- More details are coming in about Paul's status ... with Arizona Sports reporter John Gambadoro claiming the guard did, in fact, test positive for COVID-19.

What makes the situation a true case of bad luck -- Paul WAS vaccinated, according to ESPN's Jalen Rose ... which makes it rare, but not impossible, to come down with the virus.

The fact Paul is vaccinated is good news for getting back on the court ... he could return sooner than the 10-14 day window once he starts testing negative.

Potentially devastating news for the Phoenix Suns -- superstar point guard Chris Paul has been sidelined for an indefinite period of time ... as part of the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

In other words, CP3's status for the start of the Western Conference Finals is reportedly "up in the air" ... depending on when the Clippers/Jazz series ends, according to Shams Charania.

Paul has been the backbone for the red-hot Suns -- averaging 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists through 10 games this postseason.

Phoenix has been on a tear in the playoffs ... eliminating LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round and sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the semifinals.

The Jazz vs. Clippers series is currently tied at 2 games apiece ... and if either team wins in 6, it sounds like Paul will not be ready to go.

The report adds if the series goes 7 games, the WCF will start after Sunday.

Shams also points out the isolation period may be shorter for vaccinated players -- depending on the medical circumstance -- but those details have not been revealed at this time.

Story developing ...

Originally Published -- 6:44 AM PT

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