The NBA is never short on excitement. Something is always going down, either on the court or off, and no one ever knows what might happen – like the league being threatened to be banished from China or a police officer being “bullied” by a team representative.
The president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, is having to defend himself against a lawsuit by Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland. When Ujiri tried to walk onto the court at Oracle Arena after his team beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last year, the officer apparently didn’t recognize him and wouldn’t let him pass. Ujuri allegedly pushed Strickland and hit him in the face.
He wasn’t charged, but is now facing a civil lawsuit by the officer. Strickland claims he suffers “physical, mental, emotional, and economic injuries,” according to the suit. He must have led a pretty mundane life on the force up to that point. Ujuri calls the suit “malicious” and asserts that the “truth will come out.”
Hoops fans were looking forward to seeing Damian Lillard at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, as well as the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest, this weekend. However, the Portland Trail Blazers guard is going to have to sit them both out, thanks to a strained groin he suffered last night while playing against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“That’s something you look forward to, those festivities and having fun,” Lillard said. “But my health is first, and I knew right away. I’ll still be there and be a part of it, but I’m not going to play.”
Taking his place on Team LeBron, after being tapped by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, is Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns.
This is going to be Booker’s first appearance at the game. After being passed over during a vote, and by coaches, this past Sunday, he must have felt a little underappreciated, but it worked out in the end. According to league rules, a player subbing for an injured player has to come from the same conference as that player, and Booker fit the requirements. He was also given a boost as a candidate by Lillard, who said Wednesday, “Hopefully somebody who should have been there and didn’t make it … hopefully, Devin Booker or somebody like that will get the spot.”
These aren’t the only changes coming to the All-Star action this weekend. Nicolò Melli of the New Orleans Pelicans is coming into the Rising Stars Game to replace DeAndre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns on Team World. Ayton is out due to an ankle injury, and Melli, originally from Italy, is now the sixth player in Pels history to be selected to a Rising Stars squad.
Speaking of the All-Star action this weekend, which is going to take place in Chicago, everyone knows that there are going to be a lot of tributes to Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The league announced today that there is a new entry in the lineup, with singer and Chicago native Jennifer Hudson planning on performing prior to the player introductions at the All-Star Game. Chaka Khan will be there, as well, to sing the national anthem, and the halftime show will feature Chance The Rapper, DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne and Quavo of the group Migos.
James is going to go down as one of the greatest round ballers in the history of the game. He was a legend before he passed away, and will live on in infamy as long as basketball exists. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that a unique basketball card that features an NBA logo patch from his jersey, as well as that of Michael Jordan, just sold for a record amount. TMZ reports that the card was sold by Goldin Auctions through a private sale, and that the winner paid $900,000 to pick up the one-of-a-kind 2003-2004 Upper Deck “Exquisite Collection” card. The price is $400,000 more than the previous record, held by a 1969-70 Topps Lew Alcindor card that was purchased in 2016.