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Baron Davis UCLA Needs To Hire Earl Watson ... I'll Be His Assistant

1/16/2019 1:29 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Baron Davis says he wants to see Earl Watson be UCLA's next head coach ... and if that happens -- the ex-NBA superstar says he'll be an assistant on the staff ... FOR FREE!!!

B-Diddy is one of the greatest UCLA Bruins ever ... and tells TMZ Sports the former Suns head coach and ex-UCLA player is the right man to replace Steve Alford in Westwood.

In fact, Baron wants to see Earl coach the team so badly ... he says he'd be down to be on Watson's staff -- and UCLA wouldn't even have to pay him!!

"If Earl Watson was the head coach, I would coach for free. I would do whatever for free."

Of course, lots of ex-UCLA players agree with Baron ... guys like Matt Barnes and Lonzo Ball have already made it clear Earl would be their choice for the job too.

Watson -- whose NBA career spanned from 2001 to 2014 -- has been out of professional coaching since being fired by the Suns last season.

USC Fans Face 3 Years In Jail For Allegedly Vandalizing UCLA Statue

1/10/2019 10:56 AM PST
Breaking News

Two USC fans have been charged for allegedly vandalizing UCLA's on-campus statue and now face up to 3 YEARS in JAIL.

Louis Torres (19) and Willie Johnson (18) allegedly hit up UCLA's campus on Nov. 13 -- just days before the Trojans' rivalry game with the Bruins -- and sought to violate the bear statue.

Officials say the two men doused the statue in Trojan-colored paint ... and also inked the letters "SC" into the landmark's pedestal.

It's interesting ... 'cause in preparation for the big game -- UCLA officials actually boxed up the bear ... which means the vandals had to go the extra mile to get to it ... physically prying open the box to get to the statue.

Reports estimate the vandalism caused $15,000 worth of damage ... and now, officials say both suspects could face up to 3 years in jail, if convicted.

This ain't the first time the Bruin bear has been subject to USC antics ... back in 2009, it was also doused in red and yellow paint -- which caused a reported $20,000 of damage.

For their part ... USC fans make sure UCLA can't retaliate by wrapping their on-campus statues in duct tape and having students guard them throughout rivalry week.

Shareef O'Neal Shows Off Gnarly Heart Surgery Scar ... '#Zipperboy'

1/2/2019 1:48 PM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal just revealed his heart surgery scar for the first time Wednesday ... and he's already given himself a new nickname, "Zipperboy."

TMZ Sports broke the story ... Shareef needed a heart procedure done after UCLA doctors detected an abnormality during a routine check-up.

O'Neal went under the knife on Dec. 13 ... but came out of it just fine -- and when he finally got a look at the scar this week, he was able to joke about it.

"My first time seeing my scar ..... #zipperboy."

The operation doesn't seem like it was a laughing matter though ... the scar runs from the top of his chest to halfway down to his belly button!!!

The good news ... Shaq told us just several days ago his son's doing okay -- and could be back on the basketball court in just a few months.

Shaq Shareef Gunning for April Return ... After Heart Surgery

12/23/2018 3:33 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Here's some great news going into your holiday weekend ... Shareef O'Neal could be back on the UCLA basketball court in 4 to 5 months! 

... this according to his dad, Shaq

The Diesel was at the Magic Wheels Toy Giveaway in L.A. doing his Santa Shaq thing (awesome, BTW) when he gave us the update on his son who underwent heart surgery on Dec. 13. 

As we previously reported, UCLA doctors detected an abnormality during a routine check up and advised O'Neal that a heart procedure was crucial. 

Shaq told us Shareef is continuing to focus on his recovery and hopes to be back on the floor as early as April -- which is fantastic news! 

There's more ... Shaq also weighed in on Lil Wayne recently saying he thinks Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan

When we asked Shaq to pick his #1 -- he went with someone else entirely ... not Magic Johnson, not LeBron, not himself! 

But, the best part of this clip is the great work Shaq continues to do in the community -- making sure every kid has a Merry Christmas! 

Shaq has been doing toy drives for 26 YEARS -- and you can tell from the video ... he's just as passionate about helping out now as he was when he started. 

Shareef O'Neal In Good Spirits After Heart Surgery

12/13/2018 8:09 PM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal is out of heart surgery -- and he's already thinking about his return to the basketball court! 

The UCLA basketball star went under the knife early Thursday morning to correct an irregularity that team doctors had spotted during a routine check-up earlier this year. 

The good news ... Shaquille O'Neal's 18-year-old was in great spirits when he got out of surgery Thursday evening -- and posted a message to his fans (that he dictated to his younger sister).  

"I made it, Thank you for all the love and support! I really appreciate all your thoughts and prayers, that's what helped me through this surgery."

He added, "I'm on the road to recovery, and I'll be back soon ... better than ever."

Shareef is already getting support from his famous friends including Dwyane Wade who wrote -- "Love you lil bro. You will come back stronger."

Austin Rivers added, "Stay up bro! Coming back stronger than ever."

Shareef O'Neal Undergoing Heart Surgery

12/13/2018 9:33 AM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal is currently undergoing heart surgery to correct an irregularity that forced the UCLA basketball star to miss the 2018 season ... TMZ Sports has learned. 

We broke the story ... Shaq's 18-year-old son -- one of the top college freshmen in the country -- learned about his medical condition during a routine checkup with team doctors earlier this year. 

At the time, Reef told us, "Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early."

On Thursday morning, Shareef went under the knife -- and his mother, Shaunie, was there to see him off. 

"This morning was by far my toughest moment being a Mom," she said in a statement.

"If only I could take his place today. Could I at least go with him in that operating room and hold his hand. Separating from him as he was wheeled off to surgery was heartbreaking. THATS MY BABY!"

"I don’t care how old, how big, how grown my kids get I still want to protect them. I had no control over any of this. But there is a God, I trust and believe He is in there with my baby right now and has complete control."

Shaunie is asking for prayers for Shareef. 

O'Neal previously told us he expects to make a full recovery and rejoin the UCLA Bruins basketball team in time for next season. 

Dahntay Jones If LaVar Ball Stays Quiet ... Duke Would Love LaMelo!

11/27/2018 8:28 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Dahntay Jones tells TMZ Sports LaMelo Ball would be a great fit at Duke ... ONLY IF LaVar Ball stays quiet.

Of course ... Melo's recruitment is wide open these days -- especially after LaVar said there's no way in hell LaMelo follows in his brothers' footsteps to UCLA.

Jones -- an ex-Duke star -- says he could see a place for Melo with Coach K ... but says the Big Baller has to keep out of the limelight ... something he's been able to do recently.

"If [LaVar] can coexist like this, I think Duke would be a place for him. If LaVar operates like this right now, I think Coach K could find a way."

LaVar did make waves earlier this week for saying Melo is better right now than LeBron James was as a teenager -- but Jones says that statement wasn't THAT outlandish.

"That's what happens when you have sons. I think my son is better than LeBron in grade school right now ... That's just natural love for his son."

Bottom line ... Dahntay says it's the meddling with coaches, rosters, game plans and teams that LaVar needs to stay away from if he wants to see Melo at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"Just be a normal parent and operate like this and let his son's talent speak for itself."

Lavar Ball Blasts UCLA No Way LaMelo Goes There After LiAngelo Debacle

11/26/2018 6:04 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

There's a ZERO percent chance LaMelo Ball will follow in his bro's footsteps and play at UCLA next season ... so says LaVar Ball who tells us he's still furious over the way the school treated LiAngelo

17-year-old LaMelo is playing pretty well at the Spire Institute in Ohio -- and recently dropped 30 points during a game in Atlanta. 

LaVar tells us his son is "better than LeBron" was as a teenager -- calling him "unbeatable" and "the coldest person on two feet."

So, where's he gonna play his college ball next year? Definitely not in Westwood. 

"Heck no, he won't be at UCLA," LaVar says ... "UCLA? Why? After what they did to my other son? Are you crazy?"

Remember, LiAngelo withdrew from UCLA after the shoplifting incident in China. UCLA had suspended him indefinitely but that didn't sit well with LaVar. 

"Suspend him and don't tell him when he supposed to be able to play and all that? No, they ain't behind him like that. One mistake and now you put him to the side and act like he's supposed to come the next year?"

LaVar says he's also upset that UCLA forced LiAngelo to wear #15 when he wore #3 all his life -- "so it started off wrong."

As for LaMelo, Ball says he'll start taking recruiting trips to colleges "when he feels like it."

LaVar's oldest son Lonzo Ball went to UCLA before being selected by the Lakers with the #2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Shareef O'Neal Hangin' With LeBron Jr. At UCLA ... Recruiting Mission?

11/20/2018 7:34 AM PST
Breaking News

Shareef O'Neal might not be on the court at UCLA this year but he's still finding a way to give the rest of the PAC-12 fits ... 'cause he's getting in early on a BLUE-CHIP L.A recruit ... LeBron James Jr.

14-year-old Bronny hit the UCLA game Monday with his brother, Bryce, and the rest of the O'Neal kids -- including his current Crossroads schoolmate, Shaqir O'Neal

The whole crew was there to support Shareef -- a member of the UCLA team who's sidelined this season due to a heart condition. As we previously reported, he'll be undergoing surgery next month. 

The O'Neals and the James families are REALLY close ... so all of this could just be a fun night out, but you have to wonder if hanging around Westwood is gonna give the Bruins an inside track on Bronny for 2023.

We can't be sure about that, it's too early to tell ... but we are 100% sure about one thing.

These kids are growing like beanstalks, seriously. We have to know what Shaq, Shaunie, LeBron, and Savannah are feeding these children.

Shaunie O'Neal Shareef's Heart Surgery Set For December ... I'm An Emotional Wreck!

10/31/2018 11:09 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Shareef O'Neal's heading to the operating table to fix his heart issue in December -- and his mom tells TMZ Sports she couldn't be more nervous for the UCLA superstar.

"I've been an emotional wreck, really. To be honest," Shaunie O'Neal says ... "I just really have. I still am. I'm just trying to push through."

We broke the story ... Shaq and Shaunie's son was diagnosed with an issue that will temporarily halt his hoops career -- and now that a date has been set for the open-heart surgery ... Mom says she's havin' a tough time.

"It's scary. It's scary no matter what. There's nothing anybody can say, do, tell me -- it's scary. And, I'm going to be feeling that way until this is over."

The good news ... Shareef doesn't seem too worried about the procedure -- telling us just a few weeks ago he's already planning for his life after the operation.

In fact, today he was goofing around on the basketball court in his Halloween costume. 

As for Dad ... Shaunie says Shaq's been helping out families who have been put in similar situations as the O'Neals -- giving out iPads and even cash at the hospital.

Only a few more weeks until Shareef's on the other side of all this ... and we're all rooting for him.

Shareef O'Neal Focused On NBA After Heart Issue ... But I Love Fashion Too

10/17/2018 12:40 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

UCLA hoops star Shareef O'Neal says, despite being sidelined this season with a heart issue, he's still 100% committed to his dream of going to the NBA ... but admits he also has FASHION on the brain.

We broke the story ... Shaq and Shaunie's son was diagnosed with an issue that will require open heart surgery putting a halt to his hoops career, but according to O'Neal, not a stop at all.

"Basketball is still my main focus," O'Neal said when we got him out in L.A.

But, it's far from his ONLY focus ... because the 6'10" highlight machine says he's gonna use his time away from the court to build his skills in another area he loves.

"The NBA is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but this is the opportunity to try to find other things if so. I mean, I've been doing a lot of stuff with fashion lately."

Shareef says he gets a lot of inspiration from his big brother Myles, who's making his name as a big-time model. As far as his dad's foray into the clothing world, not as much.

"I'm looking more for a higher-end fashion, I know how his mindset works."

Shout out to Shaquille O'Neal XLG Big & Tall Men's Clothing ... no shade from us.

Matt Barnes Yes, I Faked Ball AT Kobe ... End Of Mystery

10/3/2018 1:31 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

All the Internet detectives can put their magnifying glasses down ... Matt Barnes is ending the debate, telling TMZ Sports he DEFINITELY faked the ball RIGHT AT Kobe Bryant.

And, of course ... Kobe didn't flinch.

The debate over this 8-year-old NBA occurrence started when a Twitter user floated the theory that Kobe's all-time tough guy move wasn't that ... because Matt didn't put the ball directly in his face.

BTW -- If you don't remember the incident we're talking about ... you need NBA league pass ... BADLY.

We talked to Matt -- who was just thrilled to discuss it AGAIN -- and Barnes says he definitely faked the ball at Kobe's face and Mamba kept his cool.

"As far as I know that sh*t went in his face and he didn't flinch. I thought that was a dead story."

See ... 

BTW -- If you want to hear about something IMPORTANT that Matt cares about ... he also talks to us about the medical cannabis initiative he's started with his alma mater, UCLA.

Shareef O'Neal To Undergo Heart Surgery ... UCLA Docs Saved My Life

9/28/2018 1:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

UCLA basketball star Shareef O'Neal -- Shaq's son -- says he'll be forced to sit out next season due to a heart issue that will require major surgery ... but vows to return ASAP. 

TMZ Sports spoke with the 18-year-old superstar who said he was having a routine checkup recently when the docs "found a medical issue dealing with my heart."

Shareef didn't specify the exact problem -- but said the issue is severe enough that he'll be having heart surgery in the near future. 

"Thank God the UCLA medical staff caught it early," O'Neal tells us. 

Shareef says he's been talking with his dad and mom Shaunie O'Neal about how best to handle the situation -- and will NOT withdraw from school while recovering. 

"During rehab, I'll be attending my classes and being a normal student."

Shareef says he vows to return to the court in 2019 after redshirting this upcoming season -- and describes the ordeal as "just a bump in the road."

"I'll be back in no time."

Shareef was one of the top high school players in the country in 2018 and was expected to have a real impact with UCLA this upcoming season.

He's also a super nice kid and we're all rooting for him. 

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