WNBA's Brittney Griner Praises Lil Nas X for Coming Out ... 'Takes a Lot of Bravery'

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THE NEW NORMAL
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WNBA superstar Brittney Griner says it's "AWESOME" that Lil Nas X has come out as gay -- telling TMZ Sports, "I think it's real big!"

28-year-old Griner is openly gay -- she's engaged to longtime girlfriend Cherelle Watson -- and knows first hand how tough it can be to come out when you're a big star under the microscope. 

But, the 5-time WNBA All-Star says she's especially impressed with the "Old Town Road" artist for not letting homophobes and negative gay stereotypes (especially in the hip-hop world) stop him from going public about his sexuality. 

"I just think it's awesome he did that," Griner says ... "takes a lot of bravery."

Griner says it's 2019 and people should be able to love who they want to love and be who they want to be without fear of a backlash ... and she thinks Lil Nas X is helping to achieve that goal. 

"I think it's real big ... kudos to him."

Lil Nas X came out via a social media post on June 30 -- the last day of Gay Pride month -- and we're told he was inspired to do so after such a positive experience performing at the Glastonbury Music Festival in England, which is known for its inclusivity. 

Kobe Bryant Daughter Shows Off Mamba Skills ... In Insane Highlight Video

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Kobe Bryant clearly doesn't need a son to carry on his hoops legacy -- his daughter's got this ... and her insane highlight video proves that!!!

13-year-old Gianna Bryant -- one of Kobe's 3 daughters -- put on a clinic in an AAU game this past weekend ... flashing all the moves Kobe made famous in his 20-year NBA career.

Spin move in the lane? Check. Step-back 3-pointer? Check. Killer crossover? That's there too!!

Kobe's talked a lot about Gianna carrying the basketball torch for the fam in the future ... saying recently she's "hellbent" on playing ball for Geno Auriemma at UConn.

And, Dad's been super proud of her throughout this whole process ... tweeting out Sunday, "She’s working and getting better everyday."

Some people still think Kobe and his wife, Vanessa, could try for a boy -- Vanessa's currently pregnant with the couple's 4th girl -- but if they don't, seems Gianna's doing just fine carrying the Bryant name on the hardwood for now!

WNBA's Todd Troxel Dom. Violence Case Dismissed ... 'I Never Assaulted Her'

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WNBA coach Todd Troxel is off the hook in his domestic violence case -- and says he and his fiancee are "moving on with our lives."

Troxel was an assistant coach for the Phoenix Mercury back in November when he was charged with assault and disorderly conduct for allegedly attacking his fiance after a Phoenix Suns game.

Troxel severed two arteries in his arm during the incident -- in which he allegedly punched through a glass window at his home during a heated argument with his fiancee. Troxel has maintained he never laid a finger on his fiance.

In the initial police report, cops say Troxel claimed he suffered the injury as a result of an accident while putting up Christmas lights ... but while at the hospital, the fiancee told a nurse a different story.

Cops investigated and Troxel was charged with 2 misdemeanors -- but now, TMZ Sports has learned the case was officially thrown out in part because the victim refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

Troxel has issued a statement ... essentially viewing the dismissal as a victory and says he and his fiancee are together and doing just fine.

"My fiancé and I are thrilled to have this situation behind us and look forward to moving on with our lives," Troxel said.

"I cannot thank her enough for her support, love and friendship always."

"I regret getting into an argument with my fiancé the night of the incident, but I never assaulted or hurt her in any way."

Troxel's fiance Lauren Helt issued a statement saying, "I am so glad to have this nightmare behind us. It’s unfortunate that this situation was blown out of proportion. Todd has never hurt me and should never have been charged in this case. He is and has always been a loving and supportive figure in my life and I look forward to moving on with our lives together."

The Mercury publicly severed ties with Troxel after its own investigation -- but now Troxel says he's focused on getting his coaching career back on track.

"My lifelong passion has always been to coach basketball and it has been an honor coaching in the WNBA. I’m proud of the women that are dedicated to the game of basketball and it’s a privilege to coach them as they redefine what it takes to be a word class athlete. I will continue to follow the performance of the Mercury and wish all of them the best."

WNBA Coach Suffers Gruesome Injury ... During Alleged Dom. Violence Incident

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An asst. coach for a WNBA team severed two arteries in his arm while allegedly punching through glass in a domestic violence incident and was rushed to the ICU ... TMZ Sports has learned.

The man at the center of the incident is Todd Troxel -- an assistant coach for the Phoenix Mercury. He's also famously worked with NBA stars like Yao Ming and Marko Jaric.

Todd was hospitalized on Dec. 1 -- and while he was there, he told cops that he accidentally sliced his arm on broken glass while putting up Christmas lights.

But, a nurse at the hospital told cops she had spoken to the fiancee and got a different story -- that he raged out during a fight and punched through a glass window at their home.

Cops spoke with the fiancee who told them the whole thing started after they left the Phoenix Suns game on Nov. 30. She claims they argued because Troxel wanted to smoke weed in their Uber.

Once they got to the home, Todd's fiance essentially broke up with him and he flipped out. She claims he grabbed her and pinned her to the ground and when she got up ... he yanked her hand, dislocating her finger. He then followed her to the front door and punched through a window.

The fiancee called 911 -- and then transported Troxel to a nearby hospital.

When investigators circled back with the fiancee hours later, they told her there was sufficient evidence to support possible criminal charges against Troxel.

But, the fiancee made it clear she did not want to cooperate with investigators -- and just just wanted him to get better.

Troxel required surgery to repair the damage to his arm. Cops documented the bloody scene at the home ... it's nasty.

Troxel has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

We reached out for comment, so far, no word back.

We also called the Mercury -- no comment from them either.

Gonzalez Twins Making Moves For The WNBA ... Training Every Day

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PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
TMZSports.com

Ridiculously gorgeous hoops playing sisters, the Gonzalez twins, are jumping out of the music biz to focus making it into the WNBA, TMZ Sports has learned.

Dylan & Dakota were both stars at UNLV -- and even Drake came to their games to show the love. But, they left school early to pursue music careers, mainly because of NCAA made it tough for them to play and release songs.

But, now sources tell TMZ Sports the IG superstars (over 1 million followers each) have decided to jump back into basketball, training full-time to knock the rust off and get back into form.

We're told they even have a team in mind ... hoping to get roster spots on the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces by the time the 2019 season tips off next May.

If you think it's a pipe dream you're wrong, when the 6'0" twins were at UNLV they were HUGE contributors ... with Dakota actually leading the team in scoring.

We wish the girls luck, but if basketball doesn't work out (which it probably will, they're great) the gallery below proves they have plenty to fall back on.

Skylar Diggins-Smith I'm Pregnant!!

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Skylar Diggins-Smith is winning even in the off-season ... 'cause the WNBA superstar is pregnant with her first child!!

The 4-time All-Star and husband Daniel Smith announced the big news on Wednesday with an Instagram post of the sonogram captioned, "Can’t wait to meet you!"

Obviously, it's great news for the couple ... but could be bad news for the Wings -- they might've lost one of their best players for a little bit (if our math's right).

The WNBA season kicks off in May, and if Skylar is at least 12 weeks preggo, she's most likely gonna need some time away from the squad.

FYI -- it's incredible how quickly female athletes can get back to competing after giving birth. Candace Parker returned to practices a little over a month after giving birth in 2009 ... and Olympic swimmer Dara Torres competed again just 3 weeks after having a child in 2006.

Congrats to the couple!!

WNBA Star Cappie Pondexter Reveals Tiny Salary ... Demands Change

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DOWN FOR A HOLDOUT
TMZSports.com

Cappie Pondexter tells TMZ Sports she BARELY makes six figures a year as one of the WNBA's biggest superstars ... and she's pissed off about it, saying the league "should pay me what I deserve!"

It's been a heated topic in the hoops world recently -- with players like Skylar Diggins-Smith voicing their dismay about the pay difference between NBA players and their WNBA counterparts.

Pondexter couldn't have agreed more with Skylar when we got her out in L.A. promoting her CBD skin care line ... telling us the league ONLY shells out $113,000 a year for her to play.

"It's just getting out of line now," the Indiana Fever star says.

"I've been in the league for 13 years, making the vet minimum, which for me is $113,000 for the last five years, which is nothing compared to what the minimum is and the maximum is for the NBA."

"I'm not saying that we have to get what they have, but I think we should see some progress at this point."

Pondexter says she's so fed up with it all ... she's actually willing to be a part of a league-wide work stoppage -- if other stars like Diana Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne are down for it.

HIGH BEAUTY
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Fired WNBA Coach Breaks Silence After Reported Screaming Match With Owner

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IT IS WHAT IT IS
TMZSports.com

You're looking at Fred Williams -- who was JUST fired from his job as the head coach of the Dallas Wings after getting into a screaming match with his boss Sunday night ... and now he's telling us why he thinks he got the chop.

Williams -- who was the head coach from 2014 to 2018 -- was seen screaming at Wings CEO Greg Bibb after a 93-80 loss to the Mystics earlier in the day. Bibb issued a statement announcing he fired Williams a short time later.

Williams touched down in D.C. early Monday -- and broke his silence about the situation to our photog ... telling us why HE thinks he got the axe.

"It could be because we had some losses in row," Williams tells us. "Everything builds up. It's just the management decision."

Fred didn't seem too busted up over the move -- explaining to us this DEFINITELY won't be his last stop in the WNBA.

Dallas Wings star player Skylar Diggins-Smith seemed to agree ... saying players LOVED playing for Fred ... and they still support him after his firing.

WE STAND BY HIM
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Brittney Griner Engaged Again! After Disastrous 1st Marriage

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Brittney Griner is gonna try the marriage thing again -- the WNBA star just proposed to her longtime girlfriend with a fat ring ... and she said YES!!

The Phoenix Mercury center popped the question to Cherelle Watson -- the two met while they were students back at Baylor.

Hopefully, Griner's 2nd time on the alter will go better than her first -- a 28-day marriage to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson that ended in violence.

As we previously reported, both Griner and Johnson were arrested for domestic violence in 2015 after an argument turned physical ... and they ended up in a full-on fight in their Arizona home.

Johnson got pregnant with twins during their relationship -- and when they split, the judge ordered Griner to pay child support to Johnson.

Johnson reportedly moved on and began dating a man. Griner began her relationship with Watson shortly after.

In a social media post to Watson, Griner wrote ... "My best friend, my lover, my partner in life. I love you."

Good luck!

WNBA's Diamond DeShields Trolled By Teammate ... 'Is Your Rash Okay?'

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PUT ON THE SPOT

WNBA star Diamond DeShields took an immediate L courtesy of her teammate after getting a huge win Wednesday ... and the video of it is hilarious.

After the Chicago Sky beat the Phoenix Mercury, 101-87, DeShields earned the postgame interview attention as the star of the day ... and then Gabby Williams struck.

The reporter asks how big of a win it was ... and while Diamond's giving her answer -- Williams yells, "Hey, is your rash okay?!"

Diamond -- clearly embarrassed -- tries to laugh it off, turns to the camera and says, "Jokes! Jokes!"

We know one person who's certainly hoping Gabby was kidding -- Diamond's BF, Saints star Alvin Kamara!!

Seems like it's all fake though ... so no rash lotion necessary.

As for that new burn she's got courtesy of Gabby ... that might need some caretaking.

Alvin Kamara Le'Veon Bell Is Gonna Make Me Rich

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PAY THE GIRLS
TMZSports.com

Alvin Kamara is pretty sure Le'Veon Bell is about to make his wallet a whole lot fatter ... 'cause the Saints star says Bell's big contract demands are going to revolutionize how RBs are paid.

We got the NFL's reigning Rookie of the Year outside The Highlight Room when he praised Le'Veon for balking at the Steelers' long-term offer for the second straight year.

"All I know is Le'Veon is about to change something up for us," he says.

The money talk didn't stop there ... Kamara gave us his thoughts on why NFL contracts aren't fully guaranteed, saying it's all the owners' faults.

And, while we were on the subject ... Kamara told us the WNBA needs to pay its players some more cheddar too -- especially the Chicago Sky, where his girlfriend plays.

"They doing all the same things males are doing," he tells us.

FYI ... Kamara's rookie deal with the Saints expires after the 2020 season -- and here's a sneak peak into how those negotiations will look ... probably.

Lisa Leslie Rips Trump 'He's Not About Equality At All'

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NOT DOWN WITH 45
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Lisa Leslie wants to see more equality when it comes to the way women are paid in pro sports -- but she's adamant Trump is NOT the guy to help make that happen.

"I don't think 45 is the person I want to meet for equality," the WNBA legend told us in NYC ... "He's talking about grabbing women and those types of things."

"I don't think he's about equality at all."

The conversation started about the lack of female representation on the 2018 Forbes Highest Paid Athletes list ... something Leslie described as "so messed up."

She's right ... and says a big part of the issue is the lack of endorsement deals for top women athletes.

We also asked if she took offense over the WNBA champions Minnesota Lynx not getting a White House invite ... and she gives a fire answer on that too.

By the way, here are some Leslie highlights to remind you she was a BEAST on the court!!!!

Oakland Raiders Owner Hits Golden Knights Game Commitment to Vegascellence

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Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis was sitting right up on the glass at the Vegas Golden Knights game Wednesday night ... and even though the team lost, it's probably another big win for him.

The Raiders have been on a PR push to win over Vegas fans before the Silver and Black move into town -- they've taken out newspaper ads and put up billboards.

But, having Davis with his face pressed against the glass (sitting next to Jim Gray) is another good look for the Raiders ... especially since he's been to a TON of Knights' regular season games.

He's also supported other Vegas teams -- attending the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces game on Sunday night. That's commitment!

Don't worry Bay Area teams ... Mark's been courtside cheerin' on the Warriors this season -- he just likes Vegas better now.

And you would too, if this was your future home!!

Zach Randolph Having a Female Coach ... 'One of the Best Experiences'

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GIRL POWER
TMZSports.com

Zach Randolph is ALL ABOUT having a female head coach in the NBA -- especially after working with a female asst. coach on the Kings ... telling TMZ Sports it was one of best experiences of his career.

The entire NBA is buzzing about Becky Hammon -- an assistant with the Spurs who's in the running for the head coaching job in Milwaukee. If hired, she'd be the first female head coach in NBA history.

Enter Z-Bo who was out in ATL when he stopped to rave about Jenny Boucek ... an assistant player development coach with the Sacramento Kings.

"This was the first year we had a [female assistant coach]. This was my first year ever experiencing that and it was a great experience ... probably one of the best experiences."

As for Hammon, Randolph says ... "If she knows basketball -- and she KNOWS basketball -- I think she'll be fine."

WNBA's Candace Parker Pays $400k In Alimony ... To Divorce NBA Hubby

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How's this for turning the tables ... a former NBA lottery pick getting a massive $400,000 alimony check from his WNBA star wife?

That's exactly what happened between Candace Parker and Shelden Williams ... according to court docs obtained by TMZ Sports.

Candace -- one of the biggest stars in WNBA history -- married Williams back in 2008, two years after he was selected 5th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Despite the fact Williams reportedly made more than $12 MILLION during his 6-year NBA career, Parker has apparently done better ... and agreed to shell out the $400k alimony payment. In exchange, she won't have to pay ongoing spousal support.

The couple also divided the profits on their former home in Encino, CA which they just sold for $3.75 mil.

As for their 8-year-old daughter, the couple agreed on joint legal and physical custody -- but neither party will pay child support. Instead, they both agreed to equally fund her education and split any major costs associated with her care.

And that's a wrap.

BIG3's Clyde Drexler Hires First Female Head Coach In Men's Pro Basketball

EXCLUSIVE

Clyde Drexler ain't been on the job for a week as BIG3 commish -- and he's already makin' history -- hiring the 1st ever female as head coach of a men's pro basketball team ... TMZ Sports has learned.

"The Glide" tapped Nancy Lieberman -- a member of the Naismith and Women's Basketball Hall of Fame -- to coach Power, the squad he previously coached before leaving to run the league.

Lieberman -- a legend for her hoopin' on the court -- isn't a novice to coaching either. She was an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings ... and was the head coach of a WNBA team from '98 to '00.

N.L. isn't goin' to be coaching bums ... she's got former NBA stars Corey Maggette and Cuttino Mobley in her starting lineup.

Ice Cube -- the leagues co-founder is behind the move -- saying, "She was a helluva player and she's a helluva coach. Nancy's a winner and I expect her to win in this league."