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Former NBA player J.J. Hickson charged with armed robbery, assault

Former NBA player J.J. Hickson stole $100,000 and assaulted a teenager during a violent home invasion in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Police in Cobb County said the incident, which took place Friday evening, left a 17-year-old resident with a broken nose when James Edward “JJ” Hickson Jr., 29, entered the home in Senoia after breaking a 17-year-old’s nose upon entering the house through a side door. The teenager is reportedly “expected to be okay” after he was reated at a local hospital.

Hickson, meanwhile, is being held without bond in the Coweta County Jail on charges of armed robbery with a knife. At least two people were involved in the home invasion, but only Hickson faces charges, Coweta sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Yarbrough said. Another department took Hickson into custody, and he was turned over to Coweta County afterward.

A standout basketball player at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Hickson played at N.C. State before he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2008 NBA draft. He also played for Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards over the course of his eight-year NBA career. He reportedly signed with the Lebanon Champville SC team two months ago.

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Father of NBA player charged with being terrorist group member

Turkish authorities have charged the father of NBA player Enes Kanter with “membership in a terror group,” ESPN reports.

Kanter has reportedly said he believes that the Turkish government targeted his father because of his own pasts statements, in which he was critical of the regime and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The indictment of Kanter’s father, Mehmet Kanter, comes on the heels of an investigation by prosecutors who are seeking to imprison the elder Kanter for five to ten years, according to Turkey’s official news agency.

Kanter, a 6-11 center for the New York Knicks, is reportedly a follower of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government alleges masterminded a military coup against them in 2016. Gulen has denied the allegations but tens of thousands of people with suspected ties to his network have been arrested or fired.

The indictment accuses Mehmet Kanter, a college professor who was removed from public service after the coup attempt, of contacting around 120 suspects linked to Gullen, including many who allegedly communicated through an encrypted messaging application.

Enes Kanter, who had his Turkish passport cancelled last year, has vowed to continue speaking out against the Turkish government.

“No matter what happens, I will continue to keep fighting for human rights and freedom of speech; justice and democracy above all,” Kanter said in a statement to ESPN. “I will stand for what I believe in. All I’m doing is trying to be the voice of all those innocent people.”

 

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Adam Silver says NBA won’t change anthem policy

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that the league has no plans to change its national anthem policy, which has required players and coaches to stand for the anthem for over thirty years.

According to Fox News, Silver, in the wake of the NFL’s controversial decision last week to fine players who refuse to stand for the anthem, suggested that the two leagues are in vastly different situations regarding the issue.

“Of course, I’ve watched what the NFL has done. I feel that they’re in a very different situation than the NBA is in,”  Silver said at a press conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday. “We’ve had a rule on our books that precedes David Stern. It was put in place by Larry O’Brien in the early ‘80s. From my standpoint it’s been about respect – respect for the institution, respect for the fans, respect for the country that these players are playing in.”

The biggest difference, the commish noted, is that many of the NBA’s players are foreigners, and the patriotism angle doesn’t apply to the same degree that it does in the NFL.

“In the case of the NBA, of course, 25 percent of our league is comprised of players who aren’t American, so it’s hard to say in the case of the NBA it’s about patriotism when a quarter of our players aren’t even American,” Silver continued. “But we’ve viewed it, and we collectively have viewed it as a moment of unity in our arenas. Frankly, it’s been a different dialogue in the NBA than it’s been in the NFL. Our emphasis at least has been on constructive activities in our communities. There has been no discussion with our Players Association about changing our existing rule.”

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Toronto stuns all with a series tying win over LeBron and Cleveland in Game 4

The Toronto Raptors, who had long been counted out of their 2016 NBA Eastern Conference Finals series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, have clawed their way back into tying the series two games apiece after a surprise win in Game Four on May 23, 2016.

“We’ve been counted out, and we like that challenge,” said Raptors All Star, DeMar DeRozan, after their 105-99 win over the Cavs.

Toronto got huge performances from its All Star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who have both continued to shoot themselves out of their respective historic slumps.

Lowry scored 35 points on a blistering 14-20 shooting night from the field including going four for seven from three point range. He also added five rebounds, five assists, and snatched three steals defensively. DeMar DeRozan added 32 points on 14-23 shooting.

Bismack Biyombo continued his recent surge of dominant post play, blocking three shots and grabbing 14 rebounds, bringing his rebound total to 40 in the two Toronto wins in the series.

Now the Raptors look to take their positive turn in play back to Cleveland where the Cavaliers have won the season and playoffs series three games to none and by a total of 72 points.

“We had a few defensive breakdowns that you can’t have down the stretch of a game, especially in the playoffs,” said Tyronn Lue after the game. “They executed every time we made a mistake.”

“We have to continue to make sure that when they punch, we punch back,” said Lowry. “And if they punch three times, we punch four times.”

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Draymond Green will not be suspended for Groin Kick

Warriors forward will be playing in Game 4. The decision took a full day to reach. The incident where Draymond kicked Steven Adams in the groin was discussed. The decision took a whole day to deliver on. The leg kick should have led to a suspension.

The kick attracted a small penalty of $25, 000, and the foul was upgraded to a flagrant two. “The way everybody is blowing it up makes me think I’m going to get suspended, when I don’t think it should even be considered because I know I wasn’t trying to kick him,” said Green. Green has been on a streak. He has a flagrant one foul in a game with the Houston Rockets. One more offense and Draymond is out of the basketball for good.

The decision has attracted criticism for the Vice President of Operations Kiki Van De Weghe. He took the time to talk with USA Today about the decision. On the question of how come Draymond got off the hook so easily, he responded that it was a tough decision even for him.

To reach the decision, the vice president watched the similar situation in the past. A player can get either of the three: a Flagrant One, a Flagrant Two or Flagrant Two with fines, or a suspension. Referees and Investigators play a critical role in coming to the decision.

After receiving all of the feedback from all the concerned parties, the NBA Commissioner comes in. USA Today asked about the Dahnty Jones situation. The incident was similar to Draymond Jones. The Dahnty Jones situation was such that his fist was closed. Draymond case attracted a higher penalty because his leg was involved.
This is not the first time Draymond has done this. Steve Adams has been a victim of his antics. In response, the vice president reiterated Draymond already had a severe enough penalty to handle.

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Toronto Raptors lean on their All Star backcourt to defeat the Heat in Game Five

Toronto Raptors guards, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who have struggled all postseason, turned in All Star performances May, 11, 2016, to take a three games to two lead over the Miami Heat in their Eastern Conference semifinals series.

Lowry and DeRozan combined for 19 points in the first quarter and never looked back. They combined to score 59 points overall on 20-47 shooting.

“We just tried to go out there and be aggressive,” explained DeRozan. “We’ve been aggressive these past two series, and shots just weren’t dropping for us. We just told ourselves we were going to continue to be aggressive and it was going to come back around.”

DeMar DeRozan, a pending free agent, had struggled the entire postseason up to Game Five. He scored a playoff career high 34 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 100 percent shooting from the free throw line, and contributed two steals defensively.

Kyle Lowry, who had been on a historically bad stretch of playoff games, scored 25 points, albeit on 9-25 shooting, and added 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block in the 99-91 Game Five victory.

“We have faith in those guys; they’ve carried us the entire season,” said Toronto Raptors head coach, Dwane Casey. “Not one time did we doubt their ability to score.”

Toronto center, Bismack Biyombo, also gave a mighty effort with 10 points, six rebounds, two steals and four blocks on the night.

The Raptors never trailed at any point during Game Five and will now look to finish off the Heat and reach the first Eastern Conference finals in franchise history on May, 13, 2016 in Miami, Florida.

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Thunder dynamic duo may have spells end of the Spurs dynasty era

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the San Antonio Spurs from the 2016 NBA playoffs in six games, possibly spelling the end of the “Big Three” era in San Antonio.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 65 points as the Thunder lead ballooned to as much as 28 points in a 113-99 Game Six victory over the Spurs on May, 12, 2016.

Durant scored 37 points on 12-24 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, Westbrook scored 28 points on 10-21 shooting and added 12 assists and two steals, and center, Steven Adams, scored 15 points and added 11 rebounds, two steals, and a block in the victory.

The Thunder bounced back to win four out of five against the Spurs after being blown out in Game One.

“We had that game, and we left it behind us,” remarked Westbrook of Game One. “We came out after that and had a different mindset. We knew what we had to do to win the series. They’re a great team. They’ve been winning for 10-plus years, same pace. I’m just proud of our guys.”

The Spurs have more questions than answers after their elimination, including the future of 40 year old future Hall of Famer and anchor of five Spurs NBA Championships, Tim Duncan, who is undecided about whether he will retire.

Spurs guard, four time NBA champion and probable future Hall of Famer, Manu Ginóbili, has also considered retirement and some sports pundits speculate that Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich, might follow his long time superstar, Tim Duncan, out the door if he decides to leave.

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Kyle Lowry, Raptors to face Eastern power Cavs after beating Heat in Game 7

Kyle Lowry and his 35 point performance eliminated the Miami Heat in Game Seven of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series May, 15, 2016.

“We want Cleveland! We want Cleveland!” screamed Toronto fans in the final seconds of their 116-89 victory over the Heat. They will make their franchise conference finals debut against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on May, 17, 2016.

“It’s great to hear the home crowd,” said DeMar DeRozan. “This organization deserves it, this country deserves it — to see them get to the next step, somewhere they haven’t been. But we’re not done yet.”

DeRozan and Lowry, two NBA All Stars who many believe to be the second best back court in the NBA, have struggled for most of the playoffs but picked up their team, their franchise, and all of Canada over the last few games.

In Game Seven, the two combined for 63 points. Lowry scored 35 points on 11-20 shooting from the field, hit five three pointers, and added seven rebounds, nine assists, and four steals defensively. DeRozan scored 28 points on 12-29 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in the effort.

Center, Bismack Biyombo added 17 points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks for the Raptors.

Dwyane Wade scored 16 points for the losing Heat.

“We fought tooth and nail to try to get to that goal of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals,” lamented Wade. “We came up, obviously, one game short of that. For myself and a lot of guys on this team, there’s not always another season, another season, so you want to take advantage of the opportunities.”

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OK Thunder shock Warriors for upset win in Game 1 thriller

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the defending champion Golden State Warriors 108-102 with a fourth quarter comeback in Game One of their Western Conference Finals series on May, 16, 2016.

After a season of fourth quarter let downs and leads that they have let slip away, the Thunder turned the tables on the Warriors to take a one game nil lead in the series. The Thunder led in each of the three fourth quarters in which the teams met in the 2016 regular season.

The Thunder were able to overcome poor shooting performances from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and a 13 point deficit at half time to rally for a victory over the defending champions.

“You have to have a mindset coming into these kinds of venues. Our guys, I think they understand what they’re walking into,” said Oklahoma City head coach, Billy Donovan of the resilience his team showed. “You don’t just walk in here and say, Oh, everything’s going to be OK. You have to have a mindset to understand. The first thing is to embrace the fact it’s going to be hard.”

Durant scored 26 points, added 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block in the game. Westbrook scored 27 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, added 12 assists, and snatched up seven steals defensively. Their numbers seem gaudy except for the fact that they combined for eight turnovers and 17-51 shooting from the field

Steph Curry had seven turnovers by himself, scored 26 points, and added 10 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in the losing effort.

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NBA to place sponsor patch space on all team jerseys

The National Basketball Association has agreed to put sponsorship logo spaces on their in game jerseys beginning in the 2017-2018 season.

It is estimated that the patch spaces might generate upwards of $100 million dollars per year. The three year trial is set to coincide with the onset of the mega deal between the NBA and Nike, who will also have their famous swoosh on all NBA jerseys beginning in the 2017-2018 season.

The NBA is the first of the four major American sporting leagues to experiment with sponsors on game jerseys. NASCAR is famous for wearing sponsor patches and decals on suits and cars and internationally, club and league teams in multiple sports at the highest levels wear sponsor logos larger than the insignia of the actual team. Major League Soccer also allows sponsor logo space on their jerseys.

According to the Associated Press, the NBA sponsor patch space will be on the front left of the jerseys, and will measure approximately two and a half inches by two and a half inches.

Silver added that it was up to each team whether they wanted to participate in filling the space on their jerseys and with which sponsors they would like to cooperate and said that their decisions in both regards would determine their revenue from the venture.

“I think the greatest impact will be on sort of this amplifying effect of a company choosing to associate directly with a team’s jersey, then going out and promoting that relationship in the larger market,” explained Silver. “I think that will lead to greater engagement of our fans with these teams.”