Stephen Jackson BACK OFF LEBRON!!! 'He's Coming from a Good Place'

Exclusive
DON'T CRUCIFY LEBRON
TMZSports.com

"This is not the time to try to crucify LeBron's character. We all know who LeBron is."

That's ex-NBA player Stephen Jackson going to bat for his pal, LeBron James ... telling TMZ Sports Bron ain't the kowtowing sellout some people are making him out to be.

Look, Jackson admits LeBron probably could have handled the China situation better ... but thinks people need to stop hatin' and consider all of the GOOD stuff Bron does for people.

"He's done so much off the court. We can't let this one incident when we knew he was coming from a good place [destroy his reputation]. He was coming from a good place, he might not know everything he's talking about but we know LeBron, and it's never coming from a bad place. I would stand to say that."

Of course, LeBron has been under fire for condemning Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey -- and suggesting the guy "wasn't educated" when he sent his controversial pro-Hong Kong tweet.

Bron's also taking heat for saying Morey should have waited another week before criticizing the Chinese government -- since the Lakers, Nets and other NBA personnel were in China for an exhibition game at the time.

But, Jackson says the people who are trying to cancel LeBron over the controversy were just LeBron haters in the first place ... and they were looking for a reason to go after Bron.

"We know who he is as a person," Jackson says.

We also spoke with ex-NBAer Al Harrington -- who WENT OFF on people attacking LeBron.

IT'S NOT UP TO THE PLAYERS
TMZSports.com

Harrington also said the suggestion LeBron could say or do anything that would have a real impact on the China/Hong Kong situation is stupid.

"Anybody can speak on it, but what can you do? It don't matter if LeBron, it don't matter if President Trump say, 'Treat Hong Kong right' ... they're not gonna do it."

And, Al says anyone who thinks differently is just "full of s**t."

Jon Jones Pleads No Contest ... In Strip Club Slap Case

Exclusive Details
TMZ.com

6:02 PM PT -- Jon's rep, Denise White, tells TMZ Sports ... the UFC fighter is "pleased with the findings  with the Prosecutors Office of the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office which thoroughly examined the complaint against Jon Jones."

"Jon looks forward to putting this behind him and concentrating on training and spending time with his family."

A bizarre ending in the Jon Jones strip club vagina slap case -- the UFC star pled no contest to disorderly conduct ... but officials say they couldn't prove Jon actually did what he's accused of doing!!!

Remember, a waitress at TD's Eubank Showclub in Albuquerque told cops Jones had slapped her in the vagina during a wild April 19th night out with his NFL star brother, Chandler Jones.

TMZSports.com

The woman claimed Jon came up from behind her that night and put her in a "tight rear-naked choke hold" and then lifted her up in the air in what felt like a "wrestling match."

Once he put her down, the woman claims Jon slapped her right in the genitals.

Jones was initially charged with misdemeanor battery -- though he ADAMANTLY denied all wrongdoing and pled not guilty at the time.

Cops investigated the allegations and interviewed "numerous independent witnesses" -- but NOBODY could corroborate the woman's allegations.

In fact, cops say they tried to work with the accuser -- but she stopped cooperating with law enforcement during the investigation.

Ultimately, the Bernalillo County DA's office tells TMZ Sports, "There was not enough evidence to proceed with the petty misdemeanor charge of battery under New Mexico state law."

But, Jones isn't out of the woods ... somehow, officials say Jones agreed to plead no contest to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to a 90-day deferment program, which we'll explain in a sec.

What we can't understand ... if no witnesses confirmed a crime took place and there's no longer a victim, why would Jones take a plea deal? We're trying to get in touch with his people for an answer.

As for the 90-day deferment program -- it essentially means the charge will be dropped altogether if Jones adheres to several conditions over the next 90 days, including:

-- no alcohol or drugs

-- no going to the strip club where the alleged incident took place

-- no contacting the accuser

We've reached out to Jon's camp for an explanation and we'll update once we hear back.

Originally Published -- 4:40 PM PT

UFC's Yair Rodriguez Hey, Jeremy Stephens ... I'm More Dangerous at Sea Level!!!

NOTHING PERSONAL
TMZSports.com

Yair Rodriguez SWEARS there will be no eye pokes when he rematches Jeremy Stephens this weekend -- and he even got a brand new manicure to make sure his fingernails don't go rogue and scratch anyone!

Remember, Yair and Jeremy were set to do battle in Mexico back in Sept. -- but the fight was stopped in the first few seconds after Yair accidentally jammed his finger in Jeremy's eye.

The fight was ruled a no-contest and the two agreed to run it back on October 18 at "UFC on ESPN 6" in Boston.

Yair says there are a bunch of major changes this time -- this will be a 3-round fight instead of a 5 rounder ... and the fight will be at sea level in Boston, instead of 8,000 feet elevation, like it was in Mexico.

Rodriguez believes the new parameters will give him a major advantage -- "It's gonna be even easier than last time."

As for their post-fight altercation after the Mexico debacle, Yair says he has no hard feelings ... he just wants to beat up Jeremy and move on with his life.

LeBron James New Comments On China Controversy Can We Focus On American Problems?

Breaking News

2:47 PM PT -- LeBron was just asked about the backlash he's received since his comments on China ... and he explained, "It's a tough situation we're all in right now."

James spoke with media after Lakers practice on Tuesday and started off by saying, "I try to do things that make my family proud, make my fans proud every time I step out of the house."

When asked if he understands where the criticism of his China comments is coming from, LeBron offered this explanation ...

"Obviously, it's a tough situation we're all in right now. Us as an Association, us as athletes, owners, GMs, so on and so forth."

"I think when an issue comes up, if you feel passionate about it or you feel like there's something you wanna talk about, then so be it. I also don't think that every issue should be everybody's problem as well. When things come up, there's multiple things that we haven't talked about that happen in our own country that we don't bring up."

LeBron brought up his efforts to help kids in the inner city -- which has been commendable for sure -- but that's not really what people are asking about right now.

James wrapped up his statement this way ...

"There's issues all over the world. The best thing we can do is, if you feel passionate about it, talk about it. If you're not ... if you don't have a lot of knowledge about it or you don't quite understand it, I don't think you should talk about it because it just puts you in a tough position."

Unclear if that last line was another shot at Daryl Morey -- who Bron had previously accused of being "misinformed" about the China situation.

12:18 PM PT -- Michael Rapaport just DESTROYED LeBron on "TMZ Live" -- saying he's the "fakest" guy in the NBA. He also blasts Bron's team, including Maverick Carter, saying they're all "yes men" and "flunkies."

NOT SURPRISED
TMZSports.com

Rapaport also says people should STOP comparing Bron to Muhammad Ali -- explaining, "This guy couldn't hold Muhammad Ali's jockstrap."

7:21 AM PT -- As expected, protesters in Hong Kong are FURIOUS at LeBron James for speaking out against Daryl Morey ... and now they're burning Bron's jersey in the streets.

Around 200 people were reportedly demonstrating at the Southorn Playground in Hong Kong ... chanting praises for Daryl Morey while trashing James.

In fact, the Associated Press says the chants about LeBron included language that is "not printable."

Getty

LeBron James is FINALLY talking about the Daryl Morey tweet that sparked an international incident ... saying the Rockets GM simply "wasn't educated" about China before he posted his pro-Hong Kong tweet.

"I think that's another situation that should stay behind closed doors," LeBron told the media.

Remember, LeBron and the Lakers were in Shanghai to play the Brooklyn Nets in an exhibition game last week when the backlash over the tweet began.

Chinese officials essentially blackballed the Houston Rockets immediately -- taking down signage, pulling merchandise and blocking TV networks from airing games.

But, now LeBron is back in the U.S. ... and he's calling out Morey for what LeBron is describing as a selfish tweet.

"We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others and you're only thinking about yourself," LeBron said.

"I don't want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And, so many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So, just be careful what we tweet and what we say, and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too."

When questioned about why he thinks Morey -- who had tweeted out "Fight For Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong" --  is uneducated, LeBron had this to say:

"That's just my belief. I don't know. That's my belief. That's all I can say. I believe he was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation."

"And, if he was, then so be it, but I have no idea. That's just my belief that when you say things or do things and you know the people can be affected by it, and the families and the individuals and everyone that can be affected by it, sometimes things can be changed. And, also sometimes social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well. But, that's just my belief."

After LeBron made the comments, there was immediate backlash on social media from people upset with his comments. LeBron went to Twitter to defend himself.

"Let me clear up the confusion," LeBron said ... "I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet.  I’m not discussing the substance.  Others can talk About that."

"My team and this league just went through a difficult week.  I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others.  And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen.  Could have waited a week to send it."

Originally Published -- 10/14 7:37 PM PT

Travis Scott Dislocated His Knee ... Surgery on the Table

Exclusive
Getty

Travis Scott has a seriously bum knee after his onstage fall at Rolling Loud -- and all signs point to him going under the knife as fast as possible.

Sources connected to Travis tell TMZ ... he went to see orthopedic specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache this week at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute. We're told he was diagnosed with a dislocated knee -- specifically, a stretch or tear in the patellar tendon.

As we reported ... Travis hurt himself this weekend while performing at NYC's Rolling Loud Festival, landing on his leg wrong while he was jumping up and down. He was hobbling around afterward but finished the show nonetheless. Total trooper!

THE SHOW MUST GO ON
TMZ.com

Now, here's the interesting thing ... our sources say doctors would like to wait another day or 2 before conclusively deciding if surgery's needed, or if the knee can just heal on its own -- but Travis would actually prefer the former.

We're told he might opt for surgery because he wants to get back to full health -- NOT for music performances, but for love of the game ... of bball.

AUGUST 2018
SICKO HOOPS
SLAM/slamonline.com

Our sources tell us Travis gets on the court quite a bit and wants to be able to hoop again, ASAP -- like he did against Meek Mill last year for James Harden's charity.

So, we're told he's leaning toward surgery ... if it's the quickest path back to ballin'.

President Trump To STL Blues Player 'Think I Could Take Him in a Fight?!?'

Breaking News
GOIN' FOR THE K.O.

The St. Louis Blues celebrated their Stanley Cup title at the White House on Tuesday ... with President Trump crackin' jokes and picking hypothetical fights with the players!!!

The champs were honored at 1600 Penn. for beating the Boston Bruins in Game 7 to win it all last season ... and one player, Alexander Steen, got POTUS' attention (for obvious reasons).

"Look at that guy, look at the mouth on that guy," Trump told the crowd. "Come here a minute, come here."

"You think he's taken a few hits? You think I could take him in a fight?! I don't know."

There was more funny business ... with the stars of the team, like Jaden Schwartz, issuing a golf challenge to POTUS ... and Trump calling out rookie Jordan Binnington for giving up ONE goal in Game 7.

"He stopped 32 of 33 [shots], so why didn't you stop the other one, Jordan? You coulda made the game a lot easier!"

CHAMPS IN THE HOUSE
TMZSports.com

The Blues thanked Trump for the hospitality and gave him his own Trump 45 jersey ... and ended it all with one last golf joke.

Packers' Nick Collins Claps Back At 'MNF' Ref Haters ... Lions Blew That Game!!!

Exclusive
THEY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY!!
TMZSports.com

Ex-Green Bay star Nick Collins says the Lions have nobody to blame but themselves -- not even garbage refs -- for their loss to the Packers ... telling TMZ Sports Detroit just blew it!!!

"They had so many opportunities to win that game," Collins says.

If you missed it ... the refs on "Monday Night Football" were as bad as they've been all season -- throwing flags for two questionable illegal hands to the face fouls that helped lift the Packers to a win.

But, Collins -- who admits the calls were trash -- says despite those penalties the Lions still had every opportunity to take control of the NFC North ... and they just didn't.

"Those calls probably played a factor," Collins says, "but they had a chance to just blow the game out of proportion."

Collins also tells us the Lions were helped out by sloppy play from the Pack ... saying if Green Bay didn't turn over the ball THREE times -- the game would've gotten ugly!!!

By the way, Nick says after their win over Detroit ... he believes the Packers are now the favorite for the North crown -- especially if they get a win Sunday over the Raiders.

Muhammad Ali's Ex-Wife I Love LeBron ... 'But He's No Muhammad Ali'

Exclusive
NOT ALI-LIKE
TMZSports.com

Muhammad Ali's ex-wife -- who was married to him during his Vietnam War protest -- says she wishes LeBron James would have stood up for the people of Hong Kong, because that's what Muhammad would have done.

TMZ Sports spoke with Khalilah Ali -- who was married to the boxer from 1967 to 1976 -- and she says she was his adviser for his biggest protest ... refusing to fight in the Vietnam war.

Khalilah says she's aware of China's issues with the NBA -- and the pro-Hong Kong tweet sent by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey -- but says she'll ALWAYS support people "who are standing up for their rights."

So, when Khalilah heard LeBron's comments -- which condemned Morey's tweet -- it was clear to her Muhammad would have handled the situation MUCH differently.

Listen to the audio, Khalilah essentially says powerful people like LeBron and Muhammad should stand up for people fighting for their human rights.

Khalilah also says Muhammad was more savvy when it came to his political comments because he was a "man of the world" who was always fighting for the global good.

"They would not take Muhammad Ali's shorts and burn them anywhere, it would never happen."

Khalilah's referring to the backlash LeBron has gotten in Hong Kong -- where protesters are burning LBJ's jersey in the streets.

Critics of LeBron have been trashing him on social media -- saying he's no Muhammad Ali. Khalilah agrees ... but says he "could be" if he changes the way he handles global political issues.

She adds, "I love LeBron James. I think he's the greatest. But, when it comes to people and society and companies, we have to put that aside. Respect it, but you have to stay the course when it comes to human respect and human fight, human liberty."

Terrell Owens Cowboys Should Fire Garrett ... They'd Go On A 6-Game Win Streak!!!

Breaking News
95.7 THE GAME
95.7 The Game

Terrell Owens says the Dallas Cowboys could be 9-3 by the end of November ... IF Jerry Jones would just fire Jason Garrett already!!!

"I guarantee if he made a change right now, it would probably re-liven, rejuvenate that locker room," Owens says. "If they get rid of him, they may go on a six-game winning streak!"

Owens -- who trashed the hell out of his former coach on Twitter over the weekend -- elaborated on his disdain for JG on 95.7 "The Game" on Tuesday.

TO says it's blatantly obvious to him that Garrett has lost the Cowboys' locker room ... and a viral clip of Dallas players ignoring the coach's high-five attempts proves his point.

"Clearly, he doesn't have the heartbeat of that locker room," Owens says. "I'm telling you, if they got rid of Jason Garrett today, tomorrow -- these guys are going to play lights out."

Owens -- who played receiver for the Cowboys in 2007 and 2008 when Garrett was the offensive coordinator -- says he has no idea why Jones insists on keeping the guy around.

"Maybe Jason Garrett has something on Jerry Jones," Owens joked. "Some personal information that if he cuts him, maybe he's going to be whistleblower or something!"

The bad news for Dallas? TO says the Cowboys might be stuck with Garrett even after this year -- because he thinks the 'Boys will probably make the playoffs despite JG!!!

Aaron Rodgers Yo Hablo Espanol!!! Drops Spanish In Post-Game Interview

Breaking News

Who needs a translator?!? Not Aaron Rodgers!!!

The Green Bay Packers QB flexed his Espanol during a post-game interview with ESPN Deportes on Monday night ... and it wasn't bad!!!

Of course, he wasn't exactly giving a lecture on geopolitics in Spanish ... he just used a few short phrases to praise his teammates' 23 to 22 victory over the Detroit Lions, but still -- impressive!!!

"Esto es un equipo increíble," Rodgers said ... "Te amo estos hombres."

Loose translation ... "This is an incredible team. I love those guys!"

The guy doing the interview, John Sutcliffe, was impressed -- and when Rodgers described himself as the old man on the team, Sutcliffe gave him a new Spanish nickname, "El Viejito."

By the way, Rodgers had a pretty decent game given his top WRs were all out with injuries -- completing 24 of 39 passes with 283 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT.

Now how do you say "terrible officiating" in Spanish???

Rob Gronkowski I'm Staying Retired Says 'No' To Return to Pats

Breaking News
NO MEANS NO
The Greg Hill Show - WEEI

Rob Gronkowski is putting the rumors to rest once and for all ... saying he is NOT coming out of retirement to return to the New England Patriots.

There have been rumblings for weeks that the All-Pro tight end was considering a comeback after retiring last season ... with the 30-year-old himself even teasing he'd be back in Week 14.

But, Gronk has finally put the speculation to rest on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on Tuesday ... when one caller asked to give a definitive "yes" or "no" to whether there was a chance he could throw on the #87 jersey again.

"When I retired, I retired for a reason: because I needed to step away," Gronk said. "So, it would be a 'no.' There it is."

"I never say 'no,' because I've said 'no,' and everyone's like, 'Yeah ... he's kidding. He's coming back,' ... But it's a 'no.' In my mind, that's how it is. It's a no."

Of course, Gronk has moved on to promoting CBD Medic and has explained how it has kept his body finally pain-free after years of wear and tear.

He's also said he's had probably 20 concussions and 5 blackouts throughout his football career, so it shouldn't come as a surprise he's ready to put that behind.

... even if it means giving up another Super Bowl run with Tom Brady.

North Korea Plays South Korea In Empty Stadium ... For World Cup Qualifier

North Korea faced off with South Korea in a historic soccer World Cup qualifier ... but nobody saw it -- 'cause North Korea didn't allow fans in the stadium OR a TV broadcast.

The meeting between the two teams on Monday -- which ended in a 0-0 tie -- was surreal ... it was reportedly the first match between the two national squads in Pyongyang EVER.

But ... North Korean officials reportedly put massive restrictions on who could view the game -- with no TV coverage, no fans in the stands and no journalists allowed.

Check out the pics ... it's straight-up eerie.

Of course, North Korea and South Korea have a tense relationship ... the two countries are technically still at war -- and reports say everything surrounding the match was strained.

According to international reports ... the South Koreans were forced to leave their cell phones at the South Korean Embassy -- and communication to and from the game was nearly impossible.

As for fans who wanted to follow the match ... their only option to watch it live consisted of brief posts about the match on FIFA and Asian Football Confederation websites.

But, North Korea will reportedly hand over a DVD of the game to South Korea this week so it can broadcast the match to its fans on tape delay at a later date.

Backlash over the blacked-out match has been strong in South Korea ... with many fans upset over the lack of coverage.

As for soccer ... unclear how the tie will impact each team's chances at a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup -- but the squads will reportedly have to rematch in an away location next June.

UFC's Khabib Nurmagomedov Swims In Freezing River In Dagestan ... Insane Training Video!!!

Breaking News
GOIN' WITH THE FLOW

He's wrestled live bears and sprinted up mountains, but now Khabib Nurmagomedov is taking his training to the next level ... swimming a freezing cold Dagestani river!

Oh, and he's swimming against a pretty strong current!!!

THIS IS INSANE!!

Khabib -- who recently defeated Dustin Poirier -- is gearing up for a tough fight (presumably against Tony Ferguson) and he's not wasting any time getting into fight shape.

Which is why he ended up taking a dip in a river in Kizilyurt -- a small town in Dagestan.

Khabib's pal (who goes by King Farruh) shot the footage and gave his account of the session.

"Hard work and dedication from champ khabib_nurmagomedov. Today was very cold, he doesn’t care."

"Water was very cold I tried to put my feet and almost freeze my a$$ off. Tony you’re in trouble!"

Khabib is 28-0 as a pro MMA fighter with signature wins over guys like Conor McGregor, Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Al Iaquinta.

Enes Kanter Goes After LeBron Over China Comments

Breaking News
TMZ/Getty Composite

Enes Kanter has a message for LeBron James -- "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE."

Moments after LeBron broke his silence on the situation with China, the Turkish-born Boston Celtics player went to Twitter to express his disgust, as illustrated by the green "sick face" emoji.

Oh, and when LeBron pointed out that he and his team had a "difficult week" dealing with the fallout of Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweets while the Lakers were in China, Kanter essentially had this to say to Bron, "Boo hoo!"

Actually, Kanter -- who's spoken out against the Turkish government for years -- spelled out to LeBron all of the things he's sacrificed to put a spotlight on the injustices and atrocities he feels are taking place in his home country.

"Haven’t seen or talked to my family 5 years," Kanter noted ... while also pointing out the Turkish government has jailed his father, revoked his passport, issued an international arrest warrant and more.

Kanter says he's received death threats daily and was the target of a kidnapping attempt in Indonesia.

While Kanter never mentioned LeBron by name in his tweets, it's pretty obvious he was trying to send a message Bron's way.

Question now ... will LeBron respond?

Tito Ortiz Bros Out with Trump's Sons ... Gets White House Invite

Exclusive
TRIP TO TRUMP TOWER

Tito Ortiz's love for the Trump family is definitely mutual -- with the UFC legend getting invited to hang with the President after a private lunch with Don Jr. and Eric Trump.

Tito's camp tells TMZ Sports ... Eric personally reached out to Tito last week when he heard the MMA superstar was in New York -- and the two sides quickly arranged a lunch date at Trump Tower.

"Secret Service walked us through crowds to a private room in Trump's restaurant," Tito's rep tells us.

"They talked fights and politics before Donald Jr. came down to join before heading off to a campaign event."

TMZ Sports obtained footage of the meeting which shows the guys chumming it up together and giving all sorts of Trump swag to Ortiz.

Tito and the Trumps go wayyy back -- Tito appeared with Donald on "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2008. Plus, Dana White has previously credited Donald for helping to take UFC to the next level when other hotel and casino owners were giving the company the cold shoulder.

The Trumps are big fight fans -- they recently had VIP seats to watch Colby Covington beat down Robbie Lawler at a UFC event in New Jersey.

PRESIDENTIAL INVITATIONS
TMZSports.com

During lunch, we're told Tito invited the whole family to his Dec. 7 fight against former WWE champ Alberto Del Rio (aka Alberto El Patron) and we're told the guys are going to try and make it work with their schedules.

The Trump Bros. also told Tito their dad would love to see him -- "So, a trip to the White House is officially in the works!"

NBA's Moritz Wagner The Next Charles Barkley?!? YOUR GOLF SWING IS TURRIBLE!!!

Breaking News
SWING AND A MISS

An NBA player being compared to Charles Barkley isn't always a good thing -- especially when it comes to golf ... because Mortiz Wagner is giving Chuck a run for his money for WORST SWING EVER!!!

NO EXAGGERATION -- THIS DUDE IS A PRO ATHLETE AND COULDN'T HIT THE BROADSIDE OF A BARN!!!

Here's the deal ... 22-year-old Mortiz joined the rest of his Washington Wizards teammates for an outing at Top Golf in Virginia on Monday -- and saying it went poorly for Wagner is a gross understatement.

Watch the vid ...the 6'11" power forward missed so badly, he nearly took a chunk out of the floor mat ... and his Mulligan swing wasn't much better.

But, is it worse than Barkley??? Watch and compare ...

And, get this, Mo's swing was so terrible ... Wagner's ex-Lakers teammate, Josh Hart, went to social media to make fun of him.

"Bro what is this...." Hart wrote.

Wagner tried to defend his painful assault on golf balls by firing back, "This was literally my worst try. I hit that thing over the net one time I swear."

Sure, Mo ...

As for the Hart-Wagner rivalry ... the two have been good for a TON of laughs over the last year -- remember when Josh got after Mo for his Michigan ring last season?!?

SLOPPY SECONDS

Clearly, not even a blockbuster trade out of Los Angeles can give these two some chill!!!