YO, THIS IS AWESOME!!
Remember those two girls who went viral for playing rooftop tennis at their apartment buildings in Italy back in April?!
Roger Federer just surprised 'em for a special rooftop match -- and the video rules!
Yeah, it's a cheap publicity stunt for a pasta company -- but you can't fake the excitement the girls had when their tennis hero showed up out of nowhere!!
BACKSTORY -- During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 13-year-old Vittoria and 11-year-old Carola went SUPER VIRAL for their rooftop match, which took place on top of two buildings in Liguria, Italy.
The video was shared all over the world -- with people giving 'em huge props for finding a way to play even though courts were closed.
Fast forward to July ... the girls were told they were going to be interviewed by the news media about their viral moment -- not knowing Roger Federer was secretly waiting behind the scenes!
During the interview, both girls praised Roger as their favorite player -- with Vittoria saying, "If I were to meet him, I would jump on him or I would be starstruck!
That's when the current #4-ranked player in the world appeared out of nowhere -- AND THE LOOK ON THE GIRLS' FACES IS PRICELESS!!!
"We cannot believe it, Federer is on our rooftop!!!"
The moment was awesome -- they took selfies, they chatted ... and then they played rooftop tennis!!!
Federer and the girls successfully volleyed for a bit ... but naturally, some shots came up short and became a hazard down below.
No one cared about that though -- the lost balls are probably collector's items now!
The whole surprise was coordinated by the Barilla pasta company --which explains why everyone scarfed down noodles after the match!
Federer also hooked up his new friends with another incredible experience -- 2 entries to Rafael Nadal's tennis camp!!
No bubble? No problem!
Steph Curry found a silver lining with his Golden State Warriors not qualifying for the NBA Bubble ... he got to spend his anniversary with his wife!
Steph and Ayesha celebrated 9 years of marriage on Thursday by spending a day at the beach -- climbing rocks, kissing and taking pics!
"Nine years in. And what they say? Forever to go! I love you," Steph said in a love note to Ayesha.
"Thank you for always making me better, for pushing me, for keeping it real with me, for bringing light and energy to every room you walk in, for showing our kids what it means to be passionate and caring and loving, for always being my eyes and ears, Traveling with me on every high and every low, and most importantly....for always being unapologetically you!"
Steph jokingly tagged location of the pics as, "My Own Bubble."
Ayesha and Steph met in a church youth group in Charlotte when they were teenagers and the rest is history.
They tied the knot in 2011 and have 3 kids together.
As for basketball ... Steph doesn't seem bitter about not being in the bubble with the league's other top stars.
In fact, he wishes everyone well -- tweeting Thursday night, "I love every one of my @NBA brothers out there! Welcome back."
Harvey Updyke -- the Alabama fan who gained national fame for poisoning the famous oak trees at Auburn in 2010 -- has died ... his son said Thursday.
He was 71 years old.
Bear Updyke added to AL.com his father passed away of natural causes.
Harvey became a part of college football history back in the 2010 season ... when he called into The Paul Finebaum Show and admitted to putting poison on Auburn's beloved Toomer's Corner trees.
"Let me tell you what I did,” Updyke said. "The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees."
"I put Spike 80DF in 'em ... they’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die."
Harvey was eventually tracked down and charged for the act ... and later, in 2013, he pled guilty to felony criminal damage.
Harvey spent time in jail over the crime ... and was ordered to pay nearly $1 million in restitution.
The tree poisoning wove him into the fabric of the Tigers vs. Tide history ... he was prominently featured in ESPN's famous 30 for 30 about the schools' rivalry.
Auburn, meanwhile, was forced to replace the trees despite efforts to save them.
6:08 AM PT -- 7/31 -- Damien Williams has broken his silence on his decision to opt out of the 2020 NFL season -- saying his mother is sick and he wants to be able to spend time with her.
"I’m dealing with a family matter," Williams said on SiriusXM NFL Radio ... "My mom was just diagnosed with cancer and it’s Stage 4, so that was my decision."
6:07 AM PT -- He added, "With everything that’s going on, she was the only one there for me. I never had the opportunity to have my dad there. My mom is my rock, my everything, so during a hard time like this, I think I should be next to her every step."
Williams says the decision to opt out was tough -- and he talked it over with close friends and family members -- but in the end, decided it's family first.
"My mom was just like, whatever’s your decision, I’m behind you. It was hard. Football is my life and coming off a championship and wanting a repeat -- and I know they’re going to handle that -- but at the end of the day, it was something personal I had to handle.”
KC Chiefs running back Damien Williams -- who scored TWO 4th-quarter TDs in the Super Bowl -- is opting OUT of the 2020 NFL season.
"Damien Williams informed the club of his decision to opt out of the 2020 season," Chiefs GM Brett Veach announced Wednesday.
The 28-year-old has not yet issued a statement explaining his decision -- but this is a big one.
Williams was a stud for the Chiefs in 2019 -- but REALLY broke out during the playoffs.
During Super Bowl LIV, he rushed for 104 yards and a TD against the SF 49ers -- and also caught 4 passes for 29 yards and a TD!
The receiving TD with 1:12 left in the game basically sealed the victory for KC.
Some people feel he could have been named Super Bowl MVP.
Williams was reportedly set to make $1.85 million in 2020 -- the final year of his contract.
The good news for the Chiefs ... they drafted a BEAST in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft -- scooping up LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Not a terrible fall back plan.
Other RBs on the roster include Darwin Thompson and Darrell Williams.
Story developing ...
Originally published -- 7/29 1:59 PM
5:44 AM PT -- 7/31 -- After the game, LeBron James credited Colin Kaepernick for inspiring the kneeling demonstration -- and said, "I hope we made Kap proud."
"I hope we continue to make Kap proud. Every single day I hope I make him proud on how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor, but off the floor."
"I want to always speak out against things that I feel like are unjust. I always want to be educated on things and go about it that way."
LeBron added, "Kap was someone who stood up when times weren't comfortable, when people didn't understand, people refused to listen to what he was saying. If you go back and go look at any of his postgame interviews when he was talking about why he was kneeling, it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag. It had absolutely nothing to do with the soldiers, the men and women that keep our land free."
"He explained that, and the ears were closed, people never listened, they refused to listen, but I did."
"A lot of people in the black community did listen, and we just thank him for him sacrificing everything that he did to put us in a position today, even years later, to be able to have that moment like we had tonight."
6:20 PM PT -- LeBron James and all his Lakers teammates participated in the kneeling demonstration during the anthem before they tipped off against the L.A. Clippers.
The Clippers also took a knee ... along with all of the coaches, staffers and referees working the game.
4:44 PM PT -- NBA commish Adam Silver is addressing both teams' decision to kneel before the game, saying they will not face punishment for the gesture.
"I respect our teams' unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem."
Powerful moment from the NBA restart -- where every single player on both the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz took a knee in solidarity during the national anthem.
It was quite a statement Thursday evening in the first official game of the NBA restart -- which tipped off in the bubble environment at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
All of the players were wearing "Black Lives Matter" shirts -- and were standing behind the BLM art at center court.
The anthem was performed by musician Jon Batiste -- an instrumental rendition featuring heavy guitar and piano elements.
The players were arm in arm during the anthem -- some players raised their fists.
After the anthem, Shaquille O'Neal praised everyone involved -- saying the kneeling was "beautifully done in unity -- nice to see."
He added, "We have to continue to fight, continue the movement ... now we have to go vote."
Charles Barkley also weighed in ... saying, "If people don't kneel, they're not a bad person. I want to make that clear."
Barkley added that if a person chooses not to kneel, "they should not be vilified."
Of course, the kneeling movement was started by Colin Kaepernick who says the point of the demonstration is to put a spotlight on police brutality and social injustice.
The NBA allowed players to replace their names on the back of their jerseys with social justice messages.
Originally published -- 7/30 3:55 PM PT
"They do things a little bit different here," says the K.C. legend, who's now in his 27th season as the team's VP of baseball operations. "Your family is number 1, baseball is number 2."
"And, I think he's going to fit right in with the ownership group and with the Royals culture that they have within the ball club."
Pat just used a portion of his new $500 MILLION contract to buy into the Royals this week ... and Brett says he couldn't be happier to welcome the Chiefs QB to the team.
In fact, the Royals G.O.A.T. says the two are actually golfing buddies ... so he knows Pat well -- and he tells us he's certain the move will be good for both the Royals and the NFL superstar.
"I'm sure everybody in Kansas City is real excited," Brett says. "Because, like me, they've adopted Patrick Mahomes."
By the way, we asked George about Mahomes' baseball prowess ... and the Hall of Famer told us from everything he's seen, he believes the 24-year-old could've been a hell of a pitcher.
But, if Brett had to face Pat in his prime? Ya gotta hear George tell us how that would've been an absolute laugher ...
Former Jacksonville Jaguars exec and Super Bowl-winning head coach Tom Coughlin is in recovery after being hit while riding his bicycle over the weekend, according to reports.
73-year-old Coughlin says he was riding in Jacksonville when another biker "came out of nowhere" and hit him, the NFL legend told ESPN.
Coughlin was pretty banged up in the accident -- claiming he suffered 4 broken ribs, a punctured lung and required stitches.
Get this -- Coughlin initially didn't want to go to the hospital ... but family members were able to persuade him to go to the emergency room for X-rays and a CT Scan.
Coughlin became an NFL coach in 1984 ... most notably with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants. T.C. led the G-Men to 2 Super Bowl championships over Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Coughlin -- who served as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations with the Jags until 2019 -- will take about 6-8 weeks to recover, according to the report.
Barstool Sports guys Dan "Big Cat" Katz and PFT Commenter are putting their bodies through the wringer, but this time ... their shenanigans are all about helping children.
The "Pardon My Take" podcast hosts hold a fundraiser like this every year -- something they call "Grit Week" -- but due to the pandemic, they had to get creative with their grittiness this year.
So, the fellas decided to put themselves to the test to show their commitment to the charity drive for the Children's Miracle Hospital Network ... with a full 24 hours of beer and hot dogs.
Starting Wednesday morning, PFT drank a beer every hour and Big Cat downed a dog ... and they live streamed the whole thing for their massive podcast audience.
The obvious questions are how'd they hold up, and which was worse -- the nonstop alcohol or the processed meat? We'll let them explain ... sounds like they're both in bad shape, but maybe Big Cat's worse off thanks to a questionable hot dog decision.
The good news is they made it out alive, and raised a bunch of money for an important cause ... and there's still time for you to chip in too.
Conor McGregor says he "accepts" a fight with UFC rising star Khamzat Chimaev ... but calm down everyone, it's far from official.
"I’m getting bored, please @danawhite give me @NateDiaz209 @GamebredFighter @TheNotoriousMMA same night," Khamzat tweeted.
"I can smash all these guys ... I’m not cocky guy I’m just confident. I understand if they don’t want to fight me."
Moments later ... Conor responded -- "I accept!"
Khamzat fired back with some sass -- "Beg me."
So, is this really gonna happen!?!?
We reached out to Dana White for some answers! Here's the situation ...
White says there's no official fight in the works for those two guys at the moment -- so we asked if it would be possible at some point down the line if the stars align?
Dana's response -- "Probably not but who knows?!"
Let's get real ... Conor has been gunning for rematches with Nate, Khabib and Floyd Mayweather -- which would probably take priority if he actually "unretires."
In the meantime, Dana says the UFC is working on putting together a different fight for Khamzat on August 29th, which would be his 3rd fight in a little over a month!!!
If you're unfamiliar, Chechen-born Khamzat is 8-0 as a pro MMA fighter -- and out struck his last two opponents 192 to 2!
So, hold your breath on Khamzat vs. Conor for now ... but don't give up hope.
By the way, Khamzat recently told us he'd "smash" Conor in the 1st round if they ever do fight. Dude definitely doesn't lack confidence!
2:02 PM PT -- West just returned to the field ... now umping from third base.
Washington Nationals broadcasters say he required stitches to close the wound.
Scary scene on the diamond Thursday ... MLB ump Joe West took an accidental bat to the side of the head -- and was forced to leave the game after he couldn't stop the bleeding.
It all went down just a few minutes ago in the Nationals vs. Blue Jays game in D.C. ... when Toronto star Bo Bichette swung at a pitch but accidentally let the bat slip from his grasp.
The piece of lumber went backward, connected right to the side of 67-year-old West's head ... and immediately, players signaled for trainers to rush over.
West was bleeding profusely from his ear area ... and despite medical personnel pressing a towel on the wound -- he was forced to go into the locker room for further treatment.
It should be noted ... West didn't seem out of it, and cameras actually caught him smiling -- but there's been no official update from MLB on his status yet.
Originally Published -- 1:47 PM PT
Some of the biggest icons in pro sports -- from Patrick Mahomes to Marshawn Lynch to George Kittle -- have now publicly joined the fight to end racism in hockey ... sending a powerful video message Thursday.
FYI -- the HDA was just created last month by Akim Aliu and Evander Kane ... and its main goal is to eradicate racism from a sport that's had a checkered history of it.
Mahomes and Green start out the vid ... while others chime in at different points -- with everyone involved promising to stand behind Aliu and Kane in the fight for equality.
"There's no place for racism in our sport," the players say in the video. "Let's all do our part. Because sport has the power to change."
TMZ Sports spoke with Akim about the impact those huge stars can make in hockey.
"Their support means the world to us," Aliu says.
"Having athletes of that stature and that caliber believe in our message will further broaden our reach to make the necessary changes we need, in not just hockey, but society as a whole."
He adds, "It's time the NHL and the rest of the hockey world begin to take tangible steps into making our game more inclusive and diverse."
Aliu, Kane and the HDA say in the six weeks since they formed the org. ... they've had "ongoing dialogue" with some of hockey's biggest organizations, including the NHL.
And, while they say commitments haven't been made just yet ... they're encouraged by the talks -- and vow to keep pushing forward in the battle.
COVID has infiltrated Formula One -- with driver Sergio Perez testing positive for the coronavirus and dropping out of the British Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Mexican driver was in England getting ready for Sunday's race when his first COVID test on Thursday came back inconclusive.
A second test later confirmed he has coronavirus.
Now, Perez is quarantining himself in hopes of limiting exposure to other drivers or crew members.
"Perez has entered self-quarantine in accordance with the instructions of the relevant public health authorities, and will continue to follow the procedure mandated by those authorities," F1 said in a statement.
The racing org. also says a "full track and trace initiative" has been launched to see if anyone may have been exposed.
"All close contacts [to Perez] have been quarantined."
So far, the event will continue as planned ... as long as there's no Miami Marlins-style outbreak.
As for Perez, F1 says he's "physically well and in good spirits."
Perez is the first F1 driver to test positive for COVID.
Of course, the pandemic has hit other sports hard over the past few months -- everything from baseball to soccer to MMA.
The NBA seems to be soldiering through -- they created a bubble environment in Orlando, FL and currently ZERO players there have tested positive for COVID.
The NCAA has voted to allow athletes to put social justice statements on their jerseys this upcoming season ... giving all students the opportunity to express their views.
The vote came down last week ... and follows the lead of the MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA and more leagues in using jerseys to promote equality as they return to competition.
The org.'s playing rules oversight panel determined each student-athlete will be able to sport patches on the front and messages on the back of their uniforms "to express support and voice their opinions."
Of course, the NBA is allowing players to wear messages like "Black Lives Matter" and "Equality" when the season restarts Thursday ... and WNBA players are wearing Breonna Taylor's name on their jerseys.
The NFL also announced it will feature the names of police brutality victims on helmets for the 2020 season.
"Obviously Jack won more during the time he played," MJ said ... "Tiger evolved it to where it crossed a lot of different boundaries -- where it's not just a white guy's sport."
MJ says Woods paved the way for other minority golfers to get a shot on the big stage ... which led to a bigger audience and more interest in the game. In other words, Tiger made golf cool.
"Now, does that constitute him being the greatest? Does that mean he's any less than Jack -- I think [the sentiment] is unfair."
MJ noted at the time of the interview Jack had 4 more majors than Tiger (now, he has 3 since Tiger won the 2019 Masters) ... but Jordan says an apples to oranges comparison isn't really fair since they played in different eras.
"I won 6 championships, Bill Russell won 11 -- does that make Bill Russell better than me or make me better than him? No, because we played at different eras."
"So, when you try to equate who's the greatest of all time, it's an unfair parallel. It's an unfair choice. I think those are the demons that obviously Tiger had to live with and he's gonna be challenged, he's gonna be graded upon that but for me, I think they're both great. I would never say one is greater than the other."
There's more in the interview ... Jordan also reveals he smokes 6 cigars every day and tries to play 36 holes of golf almost every day!
That's so much golf!!
Jordan also opens up about his short baseball career -- and explains why his stint in the minor leagues made him a better NBA in the long run.
10:39 AM PT -- As expected ... the Phillies' games against the Blue Jays this weekend have been postponed.
The Philadelphia Phillies have brought all team activities to a screeching halt ... after 2 members of the organization tested positive for the coronavirus.
Remember, the Miami Marlins announced a serious COVID-19 outbreak after playing a series in Philly over the weekend ... with at least 19 reported cases as of Thursday morning.
The problem -- some Marlins players reportedly found out they tested positive for COVID prior to Sunday's game against the Phillies ... but the rest of the team decided to play anyway.
Now, the Phillies are reporting 2 members of the team -- zero players -- have tested positive ... and are taking no chances at letting things get worse.
The team says it's shut down all team activities "until further notice" ... which also leaves the Phillies' weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays up in the air.
Story developing ...
The U.S. Open has a 'Rona problem and a Drone-a problem -- meaning there's concern about unmannned aircrafts infiltrating the tennis tournament ... and the NYPD is on the case.
With the U.S. Open set to go down in New York on Aug. 31, organizers have already said no fans will be allowed to attend the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sources tell TMZ Sports ... law enforcement is now anticipating an uptick in drone activity around Flushing Meadows from both journalists and fans trying to get a bird's-eye shot of the action.
We're told ... there are concerns about athlete safety and also the possibility of drones creating distractions during tournament play that could affect the event.
The NYPD tells us they will "have a counter-drone team" at the event to keep watch for anyone who violates drone laws.
"Drones are illegal over New York City and anyone using one needs to basically have a pilot's license and a flight plan," an NYPD spokesperson tells TMZ Sports.
So, how will cops catch the drone violators? We're told the NYPD will use sensors that can detect signals from drones and the handheld devices that control them.
If caught, illegal drone operators could face stiff penalties -- especially if an out-of-control drone strikes a person.
Bottom line -- just watch the action on TV.