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LeBron James gets laugh out of his ‘reaction’ to James Harden trade



Chances are if you are a sports fan, you’ve seen the name James Harden trending across social media this week. Harden was traded by the Houston Rockets on Wednesday to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team megadeal that also sent Caris LeVert to the Indiana Pacers and Victor Oladipo, among others (plus a pile of draft picks), to Houston.

So there’s now a new Big Three in Brooklyn: Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Someone familiar with being part of a Big Three is LeBron James, who won two NBA championships with the Miami Heat when he famously teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. Ten years later, James’ Los Angeles Lakers are the defending NBA champions — and they are the team to beat in the quest to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season.

Cue Mark Phillips, who is the founder and face of RDCworld1 — a YouTube channel providing online entertainment through skits, vlogs and short films. Phillips posted a video with him imitating James as James found out about the Harden trade and the new-look Nets.

“So it’s James, Durant and Kyrie? I’m 36! I’m 36! Why is it everybody versus me?” Phillips, playing James, screams. “I’m not Thanos! Stop throwing me the ball! I’m tired of doing this! I just beat the Warriors!”

The clip also got Thanos — the Marvel villain– trending.

On Twitter, the video had more than 8.7 million views as of Thursday evening. It had another 1.9 million on YouTube and 1.2 million on Phillips’ Instagram page. It’s not shocking that The King himself saw the video — and he reacted to it.

Phillips told ESPN that he and his friends have been making videos for years, and they’ve been growing in popularity. They’ve had hits with other videos about James, and have been shouted out by other celebrities, from Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to rapper J. Cole to actor Michael B. Jordan. But this took things to a new level.

“But what’s crazy about LeBron is that we make videos involving him … so when he did it, it’s like, I didn’t think it was real,” Phillips said. “We were actually in the middle of filming a YouTube video and didn’t know he tweeted it. My nephew FaceTimed me and told me, and I was in shock.

“Immediately he was like, ‘You made it, you made it,’ and we couldn’t believe it at all, but we were just yelling in joy and all just crowded around one phone with the highest level of excitement.”

Approval from The King? That truly is trend-worthy.

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Sources — Brooklyn Nets expected to bring back Iman Shumpert and Andre Roberson, add Tyler Cook



The Brooklyn Nets are waiving three players — Noah Vonleh, Iman Shumpert and Andre Roberson — ahead of the deadline to guarantee deals for the season, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Brooklyn then plans to re-sign guards Shumpert and Roberson to 10-day contracts, as well as add forward Tyler Cook on a 10-day deal, sources told ESPN.

Wednesday is the league’s deadline to guarantee nonguaranteed contracts for the rest of the season.

Vonleh, Shumpert and Roberson would clear waivers on Friday at 5 p.m. ET. If they are claimed during the waiver process, their contracts would become guaranteed.

The moves give the Nets roster flexibility to take on players in trades or the buyout/free agent market.

Vonleh had a cap hit of $263,995, Shumpert $447,155 and Roberson $163,818.

Cook has averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and 4.6 assists in the G-League Bubble for Iowa in seven games.

The Nets can continue to use 10-day contracts up until the March 25 trade deadline to retain roster flexibility.

Information from ESPN’s Bobby Marks was used in this report.

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Kevin Durant expected back for Brooklyn Nets before break, Steve Nash says



NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said he expects Kevin Durant, who has missed five consecutive games with a strained hamstring, to return before the NBA All-Star break.

“We’re just trying to monitor and be cautious,” Nash said before Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “We definitely have kind of slowed things down in that respect: not putting any pressure on him, not trying to rush him back in any capacity and just make sure that we give him the right amount of time to be more than healed, to be strong and conditioned to come back to the team.”

The Nets have four games remaining before the break begins on March 5. Their final game of the first half of the season is on March 3 at the Houston Rockets.

Durant was selected to be a team captain out of the pool of Eastern Conference All-Star starters. Nash said he hasn’t discussed with Durant how his hamstring injury would affect Durant’s availability or minutes in the All-Star Game on March 7.

“I’m not sure how the league would approach that,” Nash said. “So, I probably couldn’t say anything on how to approach that one.”

Durant did some shooting and on-court work in Barclay’s Center ahead of the Nets’ game on Tuesday.

The Nets are riding a six-game winning streak heading into the contest with the Kings. Durant has played in just 19 of the Nets’ 32 games this season. He has missed two weeklong stretches in the league’s health and safety protocols after being exposed to people who tested positive for COVID-19. The Nets’ Big Three of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Durant have played just seven games together since Harden was traded from Houston to Brooklyn in January.

Durant is averaging 29 points, 5.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game this season.

The Nets have three All-Stars: Durant, Irving and Harden.

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Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden headlines Eastern Conference’s All-Star reserves, while Utah Jazz send two to Western Conference roster



The NBA announced the reserve selections for next month’s All-Star Game in Atlanta on Tuesday night, a list headlined by Brooklyn Nets star James Harden as well as center Rudy Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell from the league-leading Utah Jazz.

Harden, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2018, is representing Brooklyn for the first time in what will be his ninth consecutive All-Star appearance. The previous eight came with the Houston Rockets, who traded Harden to Brooklyn as part of a four-team deal last month. Since the trade, Harden has averaged 24.9 points and 11.4 assists per game in 18 games with Brooklyn. He will join teammates Kevin Durant — one of two captains, alongside Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James — and Kyrie Irving, both of whom were voted in as starters last week.

In addition to Harden, the six other selections from the Eastern Conference were: guard Jaylen Brown and forward Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons; and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic.

Brown, the front-runner for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award this season, is averaging career highs across the board for the Celtics, including points (25.5), assists (3.9) and all three shooting percentage categories: field goal (49.7), 3-point (40.9) and free throw (76.6), helping him earn his first All-Star selection. Tatum, meanwhile, is averaging a career-high 26.4 points per game, and is making his second straight appearance in the league’s midseason showcase.

Vucevic will make his second All-Star appearance, having made his first two seasons ago, and is averaging a career-high 24.1 points per game and shooting a career-best 40% from 3-point range. Simmons, meanwhile, will make his third consecutive All-Star appearance; the well-rounded guard is, alongside starter Joel Embiid, a huge reason the Sixers entered Tuesday with the Eastern Conference’s best record.

They will be joined by a pair of first-time All-Stars from two of the league’s flagship franchises in Randle and LaVine, both of whom are having career years. Randle, who has helped lead the 15-16 Knicks into surprising contention for a playoff berth, is averaging career bests in virtually every category playing under Tom Thibodeau, while LaVine is averaging career highs of 28.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.

Over the past few weeks, there has been intense debate over who would merit the final couple of spots in the East, with a deep pool of candidates garnering support. Ultimately, though, the league’s coaches wound up leaving off several of them, including: Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo and forward Jimmy Butler; Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton; 76ers forward Tobias Harris; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet; Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Domantas Sabonis; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young; and Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward.

Out West, Gobert and Mitchell were the headliners, as they were the two representatives for the streaking Jazz, who go into Wednesday’s showdown versus the Lakers on ESPN with the NBA’s best record, and having won 20 of their past 22 games. Gobert, who is positioned to win his third Defensive Player of the Year award, makes his second straight All-Star appearance this season after a couple of near misses in previous seasons. It also is the second straight appearance for Mitchell, who is averaging career highs of 24.5 points and 5.2 assists this season.

They were joined by: Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard; LA Clippers forward Paul George; Lakers forward Anthony Davis; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson.

Lillard easily could’ve been a starter, as he’s having another stellar season, averaging 29.8 points and 7.7 assists and keeping Portland in the playoff picture even though guard CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic are out with long-term injuries. George, meanwhile, is back in the All-Star Game for the seventh time after missing it last year, his first in Los Angeles, after injuries delayed the start of his season. Davis, on the other hand, is all but certain to be replaced by someone ahead of the All-Star Game because of the calf strain that currently has the Lakers star sidelined.

The final two spots out West went to one of the league’s oldest stars in Paul and one of its youngest in Williamson. Paul, whom Phoenix acquired before the season, makes his 11th All-Star appearance and his second in a row after making the roster last year for Oklahoma City. Williamson, the top overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, makes his first appearance after averaging 25.1 points and shooting over 60% from the field.

Those two beat out a field of candidates for the final couple of spots that included: San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan; Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander; Jazz guard Mike Conley, who continues to hold the unofficial title of best player never to make an All-Star team; Suns guard Devin Booker; and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram.

Like in recent seasons, the NBA will combine the All-Stars into one pool, which will be divided into two teams by captains James and Durant. Jazz coach Quin Snyder will coach James’ team, while Sixers coach Doc Rivers will helm Durant’s squad.

The game will also, like last year, feature the Elam Ending, in which the teams play to a final score as opposed to a timed fourth quarter. Like last year, that final score will be determined by taking the combined score of the team that’s ahead through three quarters and adding 24 points — in honor of the late Kobe Bryant — to that total.

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