Lamar Odom Gambling Debt Was So Bad I Called Kobe to Bail Me Out

Lamar Odom -- who made more than $100 million in his NBA career -- admits he struggled with a gambling problem ... and says things got so bad, he turned to Kobe Bryant for help paying off his debt.

The 41-year-old says his call to Kobe about the gambling issue was one of the last conversations they had before Bryant's death in Jan. 2020.

"I had been gambling," Odom said on the "All The Smoke" podcast ... "And, I had an old debt that got a little too steep for where I was at at that time."

"It was getting tight. And, if you're in a bad situation, especially about some money, he ain’t the one that you’re gonna want to call."

Odom never revealed the exact amount of money he owed his bookie -- but he was clearly embarrassed about the debt ... and admits the call to Kobe was out of desperation.

Lamar admits Kobe gave him a tongue lashing about the debt -- but ultimately offered to help him out.

"He was just, 'Have your people call my people, and then we’ll figure it out," Lamar said ... "And that was one before the last time I spoke to him."

Odom did not say if Kobe ever sent him the money before he passed.

What we do know ... Kobe was incredibly fond of his former Lakers teammate and treated him like a family member.

In fact, when Lamar suffered that drug overdose in a Nevada brothel in 2015 -- Kobe bailed on a Lakers preseason game early to visit Odom in the hospital.

Odom says he still misses Kobe every day ... and praises him for teaching him valuable lessons on and off the court.

Dame Lillard Portland Should Retire LaMarcus Aldridge's Number After Sudden Retirement

1:40 PM PT -- Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard is calling on his franchise to retire LaMarcus Aldridge's #12 jersey ... and he's dead serious.

"It's time for the Blazers to retire #12," Dame said Thursday on the "Jalen & Jacoby" show ... "He had an amazing career in a Trail Blazers uniform."

Dame added, "There's no denying the kind of career he had in Portland and what he meant to this city. So, I think that's the proper respect is to retire that jersey because of who he was and what he did for this organization."

Aldridge spent 9 seasons in Portland -- including 3 seasons with Lillard.

LaMarcus Aldridge -- a 7-time NBA All-Star -- just announced he's retiring from the league after learning he played with an "irregular heartbeat."

The 35-year-old Brooklyn Nets star -- who dropped 12 points against the Lakers on Saturday -- made the shocking announcement in an emotional social media post Thursday morning.

"My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat. Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse which really worried me even more," Aldridge said.

"The next morning, I told the team what was going on and they were great getting me to the hospital and getting me checked out."

Aldridge says he's "better now" -- but explains, "What I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I've experienced."

"With that being said, I've made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA. For 15 years, I've put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and family first."

Aldridge was the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft -- and spent nearly a decade with the Portland Trail Blazers.

After that, he spent 6 years with the San Antonio Spurs before signing with the Brooklyn Nets in late March.

Aldridge says he's "thankful for everything this game has given me; the great memories, including all the ups and downs, and the friendships I’ve made and will keep with me forever."

"I thank Portland for drafting a skinny, Texas kid and giving him a chance. The city of Portland has given me some unforgettable years. They will always remain in my heart."

"I want to thank the Spurs for letting me into the family and giving me 5 fun years."

"Last but not least, I want to thank Brooklyn. You wanted me for me. In a game that’s changing so much, you asked me to come and just do what I do which was good to hear."

Aldridge ended his statement with this -- "You never know when something will come to an end, so make sure you enjoy it everyday. I can truly say I did just that."

Originally Published -- 8:00 AM PT

Ben Askren Fears Becoming Global Star For KO’ing Jake Paul I Don’t Wanna Be Famous!!!

NOT INTERESTED IN THE FAME
Triller

Ben Askren knows a public beatdown of Jake Paul on April 17 would make headlines all over the world ... and the thought of that kind of fame makes him sick.

The 36-year-old UFC star spoke on Thursday about why it would actually suck MORE to win this weekend ... admitting he doesn't want to be celebrated as an Internet legend if he beats Paul to a pulp.

"I think most fans are more invested in the results of this bout than I am," Askren said at the Triller Fight Club media day. "For me, I think, actually, the biggest negative comes from winning."

"'Cause if I beat Jake Paul's ass, I'm gonna be like, world-famous ... and I ain't really trying to be world-famous."

Askren explained he prefers his anti-social lifestyle over becoming a household name ... saying the stardom is "just not a place I want to be in my life."

But, don't get it twisted -- despite hating the spotlight, Askren says he's gonna try to pummel the YouTuber's ass ... but if he loses?? Big whoop.

"Obviously, I'd like to win, but I don't really think it changes my life a whole lot either way."

THIS IS WHAT I TRAINED FOR
Triller

As for Jake, he was VERY subdued at the media event -- abandoning the usual trash talk and explaining why the past 18 months of training will pay off on Saturday.

He also spoke about why he’s pumped for Justin Bieber to perform at the event ... and he hopes to kick it with the Biebs after the fight!!

Washington's NFL Team Floats 'Demon Cats' As Potential New Nickname

The NFC East could come down to the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Washington Demon Cats in 2022???

It's true ... 'cause the Washington Football Team is now putting out feelers to fans regarding potential new monikers, and one of the squad names it's floating includes the "Demon Cats."

It's unclear why -- D.C. has never been known for its demons or its cats -- but it's one of at least 30 names WFT officials sent out to season ticket holders to evaluate this week.

Some of the others that don't make a whole lot of sense? Aces, Belters, Brigade and Rising.

There were some pretty cool ones, though ... WFT -- which ditched its old team name due to its racist ties last year -- also asked fans to weigh in on names like Redtails, Red Hogs and Washington DC Football Club (DCFC).

The list was NOT meant to be a new team name vote, according to WFT execs ... but rather a way for the org. to get a feel for what names were important to its fan base.

WFT officials have said they'd like to have a new nickname in place for 2022. And, they've reiterated multiple times they could just stick with WFT.

Here's the rest of some of the reported monikers WFT fans got a peek at this week:

Aces
Ambassadors
Anchors
Archers
Armada
Aviators
Beacons
Belters
Brigade
Commanders
Defenders
Demon Cats
First City Football Club (FCFC)
Griffins
Guardians
Icons
Majors
Monarchs
Pilots
Presidents
Razorbacks
Redtails
Redwolves
Red Hogs
Renegades
Riders
Rising
Royals
Rubies
Swifts
Warriors
Washington DC Football Club (DCFC)
Wayfarers
Wild Hogs
32FC (W32)

See any leaders in the clubhouse there???

Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan to Present Kobe at HOF ... In May Ceremony

Get the tissues ready ...

When Kobe Bryant is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in May, the man presenting him will be none other than his hero ... Michael Jordan.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame just announced the official plans for the May 15 event at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Kobe -- along with NBA legends Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett -- is set to be inducted into the class of 2020 (which was delayed due to COVID).

The HOF says members of the 2020 class were each asked "to select previous inductees to accompany and present them to their peers" during the ceremony.

In the case of Kobe, who passed away in January 2020, the decision was left for his family -- and they chose MJ.

Everyone knows ... Kobe modeled his entire career after Jordan and they grew close over the years.

In fact, after Kobe's death, Michael Jordan took the mic at Staples Center and paid tribute to Mamba in a very emotional and memorable speech to the L.A. crowd.

"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," MJ said at the time.

Here is the rest of the list of HOFers and their presenters ...

Patrick Baumann, presented by Russ Granik (’13), Vlade Divac (’19)

Kobe Bryant, presented by Michael Jordan (’09)

Tamika Catchings, presented by Alonzo Mourning (’14), Dawn Staley (’13)

Tim Duncan, presented by David Robinson (’09)

Kevin Garnett, presented by Isiah Thomas (’00)

Kim Mulkey, presented by Michael Jordan (’09)

Barbara Stevens, presented by Geno Auriemma (’06), Muffet McGraw (’17)

Eddie Sutton, presented by John Calipari (’15), Bill Self (’17), Sidney Moncrief (’19)

Rudy Tomjanovich, presented by Calvin Murphy (’93), Hakeem Olajuwon (’08)

Jim McMahon Craps All Over Chicago Bears I Don't Care About Them Anymore

He's the punky QB known as McMahon ... and good lord, does he HATE the Chicago Bears.

Of course, Jim McMahon is a Chicago legend -- famous for leading his 1985 Bears team over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Remember the Super Bowl shuffle?!

But now, the 61-year-old could care less about his former franchise ... ripping the organization during an appearance this week on the "Fat Mike Chicago Sports Show."

First, McMahon pointed out Chicago hasn't had a decent starting QB if forever -- and noted, "I think it’s where quarterbacks go to die."

Ouch.

When asked about how the Bears should approach the 2021 NFL Draft -- McMahon cut even deeper.

"I don’t know, don’t watch them, don’t care. I wouldn’t know what they need or who they’re thinking of drafting."

Ouch again.

And, to add salt to the wound, McMahon PRAISED the Bears' longtime rival Green Bay Packers, where he ended his NFL career.

"It was the best team, or the best organization, that I’ve played for of the 7 teams I’ve played for," McMahon said ... adding, "By far, from top to bottom ... it was great people."

McMahon spent 7 seasons in Chicago including that special 1985 championship run -- but left for San Diego in 1989 and bounced around several teams after that before calling it quits after the 1996 season.

He reunited with several Bears legends at Soldier Field back in 2016 -- but it seems he doesn't have a strong relationship with the franchise anymore.

After his football career wrapped up, McMahon was diagnosed with early-onset dementia -- and has spoken with reporters about his battles with depression and memory loss.

J Lo She's Still Got that $1.8 Mil Engagement Ring!!!

J Lo and A-Rod may have broken up, but there are still some housekeeping matters to tend to  .... notably, who gets the $1.8 million engagement ring?

Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... J Lo still has the ring in her possession. As you may know, an engagement ring legally is a "gift in contemplation of marriage." When the couple breaks up before hitting the alter, in most states the person who proposes gets the ring back.

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Our sources say there's been no discussion between J Lo and A-Rod over the fate of the ring. However, our sources are quick to add ... the former couple exchanged "massive amounts of jewelry." A-Rod bedazzled J Lo with all sorts of bling, and she fortified his massive watch collection. So, they could just call it a wash, but they haven't decided yet.

We're told the engagement ring is NOT in the Dominican Republic, where J Lo's been shooting a movie. She didn't want it lying around every day while she films ... for security reasons.

Our sources say there will be no conflict over jewelry ... they are getting along well, and even plan to stay in business together, so don't look for J Lo and A-Rod on a "Judge Judy" episode.

LPGA's Jessica Korda Epic 'Kobe!' Celebration After Dunking Chip Shot

"KOBE!!!!!"

That's how LPGA Tour star Jessica Korda celebrated an amazing chip shot on the golf course Wednesday ... and it was AWESOME!!

The 28-year-old was up near the green for her 3rd shot on the 17th hole during her 1st round at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii ... when she straight-up dunked her ball into the cup on the fly!!

Check out the clip ... the stroke was incredible -- her ball landed in the center of the hole from about 30 yards away -- giving her an eagle!!!

The best part? Korda celebrated immediately after the shot hit the plastic, flicking her wrist and yelling out, "Kobe!"

Of course, the celebration has been around for YEARS ... who hasn't thrown a ball of socks into a laundry basket and yelled out the NBA legend's name???

But, it's taken on a whole new meaning since Kobe Bryant tragically passed away last year ... and it's pretty incredible to see the honor still going on to this day.

Korda, meanwhile, used the awesome shot to propel her into 7th place on the leaderboard heading into Thursday's second-round action.

High School Basketball Coach Killed In Shootout with Mexican Cartel ... Officials Say

A high school basketball coach in North Carolina was shot to death while trying to steal drugs and money from a stash house used by a violent Mexican drug cartel, officials say.

Yeah, this is one of the craziest stories we've ever heard.

Officials have identified Barney Harris -- who worked as a coach and teacher at Union Academy in Monroe.

Investigators say Harris was also part of a "criminal organization" that was hell-bent on robbing some of the most dangerous people in town ... the Sinaloa New Generation Cartel.

According to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, Harris -- along with "a team of people" -- snuck into a mobile home park on April 8 to clean out a "stash house" used by the Cartel.

Harris allegedly entered the stash house first and captured one of the Cartel members, Alonso Beltran Lara.

Officials say Lara was subsequently tied up and shot twice in the head, execution-style.

At some point during the incident, officials say another suspected Cartel member entered the home and a gun battle broke out.

"It was almost like an old western shootout," Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said.

"What was found was over 30-some shell casings in the trailer and outside the trailer, and three other mobile homes, in that particular park, with bullet holes in them."

When cops arrived at the scene, they found Harris shot to death in one of the bedrooms. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and mask at the time. But, officials say his vest was no match for the high-powered weapons that were used against him.

Officials say they found Lara still alive and raced him to a hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Sheriff Johnson says investigators searched the crime scene and found 5 guns, roughly $7,000 in cash and more than a KILO of what they believe to be cocaine.

The concern now ... officials are VERY worried about violent retaliation from the Cartel.

"When we are dealing with the Mexican drug cartel ... somebody is probably gonna die as a result of this," Sheriff Johnson said.

"The Mexican cartels, they don't forget. They're gonna pay somebody back, somewhere and that concerns me."

Sheriff Johnson says he's puzzled as to how and why the Cartel decided to operate in North Carolina -- but says the goal now is trying to put an end to the drugs and violence.

Deshaun Watson Accuser Drops Lawsuit Over Privacy Concerns ... 'For Now'

Deshaun Watson's accuser list is back down to 22 ... one of the women who had filed a lawsuit against the QB officially dropped her case this week, though she stressed the move might only be temporary.

In court docs, obtained by TMZ Sports, the female masseuse -- using the pseudonym, Jane Doe -- said she was not going forward with her case due to "privacy and security concerns."

She noted in the docs, however, the decision was only "for now" ... explaining if her concerns are assuaged, she might refile the suit later on.

As we previously reported, judges ruled last week most of Watson's accusers could NOT use "Jane Doe" aliases in their suits anymore... and ruled the women must identify themselves if they wanted to go forward with their cases.

It seems one of the Does did not feel comfortable doing that ... and officially dropped the suit in a court filing this week.

22 other women are still moving forward with their cases, though ... with Watson's latest accuser officially filing a new suit against the Texans player Wednesday.

In that suit, Erica Chapman -- a make-up artist -- claims Watson contacted her on Instagram in Sept. 2020 ... and the two set up a massage at the quarterback's Texas residence shortly after.

While there, Chapman claims Watson was sexually inappropriate.

According to the suit, the two still agreed to do another massage session two months later in November ... and during that one, Chapman says Watson manipulated "the massage and her into sexual coercion."

Chapman, who claims the QB's actions left her "ashamed, embarrassed, deeply distressed and confused," is suing for undisclosed damages.

EVERYTHING WAS CONSENSUAL

Watson, through his attorney, Rusty Hardin, has admitted to having sexual encounters with some of his massage therapists in recent years -- but the QB has insisted the acts were always consensual.

A criminal investigation into Watson by the Houston Police Department remains ongoing.

Mike Tyson Drops AEW's Cash Wheeler With Haymaker ... During Ringside Beatdown

Mike Tyson served as the "special ringside enforcer" at AEW's "Dynamite" on Wednesday ... and man, HE ENFORCED!

The boxing legend cracked Cash Wheeler right in the face with a hard right hand during a ringside encounter ... sending Wheeler crashing to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

It was awesome!!!

In fact, just listen to the sound of the contact -- yeesh!!

Here's the backstory ... Inner Circle's Chris Jericho was taking on The Pinnacle’s Dax Harwood in a heated 1-on-1 march -- and before the opening bell, Mike vowed to keep the peace by any means necessary.

Long story short, Cash Wheeler tried to interfere with the match to help his tag team partner Dax. At one point, he even grabbed a baseball bat in hopes of taking a swing at Jericho.

... and that's when Iron Mike came around the corner and gave him the ol' Michael Spinks treatment (Google it).

Ultimately, Jericho got the win -- and thanked Mike for having his back and included Mike as an auxiliary member of the Inner Circle.

Mike Tyson man ... killin' it.

J Lo & A-Rod Announce Split & End Engagement

8:07 AM PT -- In what may have been his biggest split-clue of all, A-Rod also posted a video showing a table full of J Lo photos while Coldplay's "Fix You" played in the background. Not to mention, he tagged Jennifer with a heart in the post.

EMOTIONAL A-ROD

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez have called it quits, and this time, it's more permanent ... announcing the end of their engagement, and each is going their own way professionally.

In a joint statement to TODAY, the couple announced, "We have realized we are better as friends and look forward to remaining so. We will continue to work together and support each other on our shared businesses and projects. We wish the best for each other and one another’s children. Out of respect for them, the only other comment we have to say is thank you to everyone who has sent kind words and support."

The couple's been together for four years, getting engaged in March 2019. They had a wedding planned before COVID hit in early 2020, putting the ceremony on ice.

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Of course, it was early March when sources close to the couple had told us they first split, but in less than 24 hours they reassured us the two were back together and everything was fine ... A-Rod even flew to the Dominican Republic to be with J Lo as she worked on a movie.

Sources connected to the now exes tell us, both made a real attempt to work things out -- remember those pics of them kissing down in the DR -- but the first real sign it wasn't working out came last week.

Alex announced he was buying the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Jennifer was not part of the ownership team. That's a significant change, because J Lo was front-and-center when they tried and failed, to purchase the New York Mets.

Jennifer also continued to post photos on her Instagram account without wearing her engagement ring -- and on Wednesday Alex sent up his own IG red flag.

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In a post that was all about what he's grateful for ... there was no mention of J Lo, and no picture of her or her kids. Just a throwback shot of A-Rod and his daughters.

Game over.

Originally Published -- 5:45 AM PT

Colton Underwood Coming Out Sparks Production Talks ... Time for a Gay 'Bachelor'???

Colton Underwood's coming out story is not only going to be covered in a new reality show ... it may inspire a major change in the reality show that made him famous.

'Bachelor' production sources tell TMZ ... Colton's been getting a lot of support not just from former cast members and Chris Harrison, but also from many producers of the popular dating series.

We're told a number of producers were moved by Colton's revelation, and they've informally talked over the last few days amongst themselves about a gay 'Bachelor' season.

ACCEPTING MYSELF
ABC

Our sources say the bigwigs on the show haven't weighed in and there has been no formal discussion, but creative ideas for TV shows typically begin with shop talk among producers and other staff, and that's happening now.

We have no idea whether Colton would be interested, but we do know this ... there's a lot of love for him in the production offices of the show. We're told many people on staff cheered Colton as he revealed to Robin Roberts he's hidden the fact he's gay for most of his life.

Colton is not under contract with "The Bachelor" anymore. We're told he booked the interview on his own and chose Robin because he's appeared with her in the past and felt comfortable with her. Nevertheless, we're told Colton called producers the night before his interview aired and gave them the heads up.

We broke the story ... Colton's been filming the past few weeks with a Netflix crew for a new reality series chronicling his journey as a newly out gay man.

Netflix does dating shows too, so ... just sayin'.

Rob McElhenney From Big Mac to Buff Mac ... Shredded for Mag Shoot!!!

Rob McElhenney was born at the wrong time, because in earlier days he'd surely be one of Michelangelo's muses.

The "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star is showing off his incredible physique in this month's issue of "Men's Health," while also describing the journey his bod's been through and what's motivated him ... and it's not what you think.

In a wide-ranging interview with his buddy and business partner, Ryan Reynolds, 'Always Sunny' Mac says he's fascinated with the human body, so for the show he wanted to satirize the body-image culture by building his into something "absolutely ridiculous and truly impossible to keep up unless you devoted your entire life to it."

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And, that's what he did for Season 13 of the series in 2018 -- this just a few years after he purposely packed on 50 lbs. to play Fat Mac -- and though he says his workout regime is not as insane today ... he's still jacked to the max.

Also worth noting -- he didn't do this for the ladies. Rob tells Ryan ... "The people who were most fascinated by my body when I was in great shape were dudes. Women could give two s***s."

He says his own wife -- 'Sunny' costar Kaitlin Olson -- didn't like the way he looked and thought he was trying too hard ... to which he says, solid point.

BTW -- McElhenney just turned 44 ... so all you guys in your 40's ... now you got something else to feel bad about.

Bryce Hall I'm Gonna Buy My Mom A House!!! After I K.O. Austin McBroom

MOMMA'S BOY
TMZSports.com

TikTok star Bryce Hall has a truly adorable reason for wanting to beat the living hell out of YouTuber Austin McBroom in their upcoming boxing match ... saying if he comes out with a K.O., he's getting his mom a new house!!!

Of course, more Internet superstars are following Logan and Jake Paul's lead into the ring ... with 21-year-old Hall and McBroom, 28, headlining the "YouTubers vs. TikTokers" card on June 12.

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Hall tells TMZ Sports he's SERIOUSLY cashing in on the event ... doubling down on his claim he's really going to make $5 million just to enter the ring.

On top of that, Hall -- who has 19.6 million followers on TikTok -- says he's going to get another $1 MILLION bonus if he's able to knock out the former college basketball player ... and that money would go to a great cause.

"That's like, my mom's house right there," Hall told us outside Toast in L.A. "I'm gonna buy my mom a house right after the fight. And, that knockout is my mom's house ... that's how much it means to me."

Hall shows us how serious he is by displaying some of his moves ... and even lets a random dude on the street punch him in the stomach!!

There's more -- we also talked to Bryce and his buddy Tayler Holder about Jake's fight against Ben Askren this weekend ... and they think it's gonna be a BAD night for the ex-UFC star.

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