Shaquille O’Neal Honored by Los Angeles Lakers with Statue in Front of Staples Center in Los Angeles

Shaquille O’Neal and his Statute (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

article by Chelsea Edwards and Rob Fukuzaki via abc7.com

A 9-foot, 1,200-pound bronze statue of Laker great Shaquille O’Neal was unveiled in the front of Staples Center in  Friday. The statue, which is connected to Staples Center and suspended 10 feet off the ground, was brought to downtown Los Angeles on Thursday prior to the unveiling ceremony.

The ceremony at Star Plaza outside Staples Center included live music, a Ferris wheel, interactive games as well as speeches from O’Neal himself and his teammates, colleagues and friends. Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Jerry West, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke at the event.

“I just want to say thank you. I’ve learned so much from you as a player. Everything you’ve done for this city, everything you’ve done for this franchise,” Bryant said. “Kids, your kids, you guys should know your dad was a bad man. Congratulations and much love to you, my brother.”

A few of O’Neal’s six children also spoke during the ceremony and helped him unveil the massive statue hanging above the ground. O’Neal thanked Jerry West, his former teammates and, of course, the fans for believing in him throughout his career. “This moment is very unexpected because I see two Lakers ahead of me that definitely deserve this statue,” he said. “To the fans, you know I love you, and I just wanted you to know that I heard you in the games when I was missing free throws.”

At the end of his speech, he chanted, “Can you dig it?” to a cheerful crowd. O’Neal played for the Lakers from 1996 to 2004, leading the team to three consecutive NBA championships and winning the NBA finals MVP award each time.

Source: Shaquille O’Neal honored with statue in front of Staples Center | abc7.com

NBA Champion Stephen Curry Helps Donate 20,000 Shoes to Children in Africa

NBA star Stephen Curry (photo via vibe.com)

article by Desire Thompson via vibe.com

Stephen Curry has used his star power to help Liberty University collect over 20,000 shoes for children in Africa. CBS Sports reports Curry paid a visit to LU on Wednesday (March 1) for the drive and the school’s convocation.

Curry teamed up with Kick’n It for a Cause founder and LU alum Chris “COSeezy” Strachan for the “Kick’n It for A Cause Shoe Drive.” Started by Strachan, the organization is an extension of the lifestyle sneaker brand Kick’N It.

The shoes donated will be sent to children in the Republic of Congo, in hopes of reducing illnesses contacted through bare feet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cites the top causes of death in the DRC include diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, and malaria.

Kick’n It will continue accepting donations for the cause until March 5.

Find out how you can help here.

To read full article, go to: Steph Curry Helps Donate 20,000 Shoes To Children In Africa

Magic Johnson Named President of Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers President Magic Johnson (photo via Variety.com)

article by  via Variety.com

NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson has been named the Los Angeles Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations in an overhaul of the struggling team’s front office. The team announced on Tuesday that general manager Mitch Kupchak has been let go and that Jim Buss will no longer serve as executive VP of basketball operations.

Buss is the son of the deceased Lakers owner Jerry Buss and brother of Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss. The team is currently 19-39 and in 14th place (of the 15 teams) in the NBA’s Western Conference.

Johnson was hired as an adviser to the Lakers earlier this month and subsequently said he would like to “call the shots” for the team. The announcement did not specify whether Johnson will handle day-to-day operations. “It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as president of basketball operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family,” Johnson said in a statement. “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

Johnson played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons, leading the team to five NBA championships in what was widely known as the team’s “Showtime” era. He won three Most Valuable Player awards Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ president, governor, and co-owner said that the team is actively searching for a new general manager.

To read more, go to: Magic Johnson Named Lakers President | Variety

Jalen Rose ABC Comedy Pilot Casts TV Vets Anna Maria Horsford, Marla Gibbs

Anna Maria Horsford (l); Marla Gibbs (r) [photos via Variety.com]

article by  via Variety.com

NBA star and ESPN host Jalen Rose has cast his mother and grandmother for his ABC comedy pilot, Variety has learned.  Anna Maria Horsford and Marla Gibbs have signed on to play Rose’s mother and grandmother, respectively, in Rose’s single camera comedy “Jalen vs. Everybody.”

The half-hour follows Rose as he juggles his career responsibilities with the challenges of being a single dad. The project hails from the team behind ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat.” Nahnatchka Khan wrote the pilot and will executive produce with Jake Kasdan, Melvin Mar, and Mandy Summers. Aside from starring, Rose will also serve as a producer.

Horsford has a career rich in both comedy and drama, from long roles on FX’s “The Shield” to even lengthier stints starring with Sherman Hemsley in the NBC comedy “Amen” and also in the WB’s “The Wayans Bros.” Gibbs, of course, was a 1980s sitcom staple with “The Jeffersons” and “227.”

To read full article, go to: Jalen Rose ABC Comedy Pilot Casts Anna Maria Horsford, Marla Gibbs | Variety

L.A. Lakers Legend Magic Johnson Takes Consulting Position with Former Team to Advise Ownership

NBA and Lakers Legend Magic Johnson (photo via latimes.com)

article by Tania Ganguli via latimes.com

In his first public comments since being hired as an advisor to Lakers governor and co-owner Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson tread softly about the Lakers executive of whom he has been most critical through the years.  His role, he said, was simply to help in any way he could.

“Jim [Buss] is calling the shots,” Johnson said during an interview with Spectrum SportsNet, the station that holds the rights to Laker broadcasts. “I want him to understand I’m just here to lend advice.”The Lakers hired Johnson on Thursday, two weeks after Johnson and Jeanie Buss were seen having dinner before watching a Lakers game together. Johnson’s duties will include “collaborating with coaches, evaluating and mentoring players, assessing future franchise needs, and helping ownership to determine the best path for growth and success,” according to a release on the team website.

Johnson, who was not available to other media outlets, described a versatile role, where he will advise team executives and employees on everything from business to basketball should they want it.He also indicated he did not want to force his way into any situation. He said he was open to helping Lakers Coach Luke Walton in working with players, but also open to being uninvolved in the players’ day-to-day development if Walton was comfortable with that.  “What I want to do is try to just, little by little build the Lakers back up to where they should be,” Johnson said.

Johnson spent 13 seasons playing for the Lakers, winning five championships and three MVP awards. During that time, he grew especially close with late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Jeanie and Jim’s father. The elder Buss sold an ownership stake in the organization to Johnson after he retired from playing. Johnson, who also has an ownership stake in the Dodgers and Sparks, sold his share of the Lakers in 2010.

To read full article, go to: Lakers hire Magic Johnson to advise ownership – LA Times

Magic Johnson Pledges $250,000 to Aid Flint, MI Schools, Inspires Kids at Local Holiday Event (VIDEO)

Magic Johnson took part Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 in the Holiday Hope event at Flint Northwestern High School. The Lansing native spoke with children about the importance of education and chasing their dreams before helping to give out food, clothing, and toys to families as part of a partnership between the Magic Johnson Foundation and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. (Photo via Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com)

Magic Johnson took part Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 in the Holiday Hope event at Flint Northwestern High School. The Lansing native spoke with children about the importance of education and chasing their dreams before helping to give out food, clothing, and toys to families as part of a partnership between the Magic Johnson Foundation and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. (Photo via Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com)

article by Roberto Acosta via mlive.com

FLINT, MI — Earvin “Magic” Johnson helped load up meals in the back of vehicles lined up outside Flint Northwestern High School on a snow Saturday morning, but he also delivered an assist to Flint children ahead of the giveaway.

In the Vehicle City for the Holiday Hope Flint event that provided meals, clothes, and toys to families, the NBA Hall-of-Famer told kids seated in the gymnasium to chase their dreams.

“We want you to understand dream big. Get your education and you’ll be able to do anything in life you want to do,” he said. “I was once just like you. A little kid from Lansing, Michigan right down the street. I grew up poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams.”

Johnson stressed to children “Nobody defines who you are going to be but you, but you must get a good education so it starts in school.”

He pledged $250,000 toward Flint Community schools during a September visit that will be used to establish three walk-in clinics within the district and athletic facility improvements and told people he would return to the community.

The NBA Hall of Famer returned to the Flint-area on Friday night for a fundraising event titled “An Evening with Magic Johnson” at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre.

SodexoMagic, Johnson’s food service company, was approved for a $3.36 million contract with the school district in June. The company also holds a contract with the Saginaw School District.

 To read more, go to: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2016/11/magic_johnson_tells_flint_chil.html

LeBron James Donates $2.5 Million for Muhammad Ali Exhibit at National Museum of African American History & Culture

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James (DAVID LIAM KYLE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

 article via huffingtonpost.com

LeBron James is donating $2.5 million to support a Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the basketball star and the museum announced on Thursday.

The Cleveland Cavaliers forward said he was a longtime fan of Ali, one of the most beloved sports figures in history, who died on June 3 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s syndrome.  “Every professional athlete, regardless of race and gender, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Muhammad Ali,” James said in a statement. “His legacy deserves to be studied and revered by every generation.”

The “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change” exhibit features items from the late boxer, including a training robe worn at Dundee’s Fifth Street Gym in Miami. While the exhibit details Ali’s sports journey, it also highlights his community activism, spirituality and politics.

“We are extremely grateful to LeBron James,” said Damion Thomas, curator of the museum’s Sports Gallery. “As the most socially active superstar in sports today, LeBron James is a testament to the influence of Muhammad Ali (who) embodied the racial and social tumult of his times, blurring lines between politics and sports, activism and entertainment.”

James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, is also contributing to the exhibit, which has been on display since the museum opened on Sept. 24.

The funds will also support the museum itself, which is located on the National Mall.

To read more, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lebron-james-donates-25-million-muhammad-ali-exhibit_us_582dd99ae4b058ce7aa98273?