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Andre Drummond has ‘hunger and excitement’ to make his debut with Los Angeles Lakers at long last

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When Andre Drummond makes his Los Angeles Lakers debut sometime this week, LeBron James (high ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (calf strain and tendinosis in his right leg) will still be in street clothes.

However, once Los Angeles’ co-captains can return to the court alongside the team’s latest acquisition — signed as a free agent for the remainder of the season after reaching a buyout agreement with the Cleveland Cavaliers — Drummond envisions defensive dominance as a trio.

“I think our defense is going to be really crazy when those guys come back,” Drummond said Monday during his introductory videoconference. “And I’m looking forward to it.”

He has been looking forward to finding his new team since mid-February, when Cleveland pulled him from the rotation while searching for a trade partner for the nine-year veteran with career averages of 14.6 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

Unable to work out a deal including Drummond’s $29.5 million salary for this season, Cleveland bought Drummond out, allowing the 27-year-old center to become a free agent once he cleared waivers Sunday. L.A. was able to sign Drummond to one of its open roster spots for $794,536 — the same amount he gave back to Cleveland in the buyout — according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Despite not suiting up in a game since Feb. 12, Drummond said he stayed prepared for whatever his next opportunity would be.

“It’s been almost a month [and] 10-plus days since I last played. You can imagine the hunger and excitement I have to play and step on the court,” Drummond said. “I had an incredible month of work where I’m ready to play today.”

Los Angeles has a practice scheduled Tuesday and hosts the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. Drummond said he still had to speak to the Lakers’ brass about whether he would play the Bucks or wait to slip on his No. 2 Lakers uniform for the first time.

The Lakers, while still ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency this season even with the injuries to Davis and James, have missed the paint presence of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard — the center rotation on last year’s championship team. This season’s Lakers team has featured Marc Gasol as the primary starting center, with Montrezl Harrell coming in off the bench.

“I’m not here to steal nobody’s shine,” Drummond said when asked if he would start. “I’m here to help this team win as many games as possible.”

Drummond said he hopes to “cause havoc in the paint” with his 6-10, 279-pound frame and has already spoken to the Lakers’ defensive-minded coach, Frank Vogel, about the areas he can be of service to the team to that end.

“My defensive game is going to help this team out a lot with my quick feet, quick hands,” he said. “Going to be able to recover and play 1 through 5.”

Drummond had other options — the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics were among the teams reportedly interested — but called the Lakers “just the best fit.” When asked specifically about the Knicks, Drummond replied, “All I know is that I’m here now in L.A. I’m just here to win as many games as possible. I’m not really discussing that.”

He joins a Lakers team featuring two former Detroit Pistons teammates in Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Davis, who went No. 1 in the 2012 NBA draft, while Drummond was selected No. 5 out of UConn.

“I think for me coming here, AD could slide to the 4 and play his true position and be very good at it without taking all the bumps and bruises I do at the 5,” Drummond assured.

Drummond’s decision might have been preordained. Nearly 10 years ago, he tweeted his goal to team up with James.

When his old tweet recently went viral, Drummond said his best friend reminded him they were together when he sent it, a day before he reported to UConn for the first day of his freshman season.

“For it to come back full circle and have the opportunity to do it,” Drummond said, “it’s just crazy how time works.”



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Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown undergoes wrist surgery, expected to resume activities in 3 months

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Boston Celtics All-Star guard Jaylen Brown underwent successful wrist surgery Wednesday and is expected to return to basketball activities in approximately three months, the team announced Thursday.

This timeline for Brown would have him ready to return to the court in time for training camp.

The Celtics announced Monday that Brown, who averaged a career-high 24.7 points on 48.4% shooting, had a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist and would miss the remainder of the season.

Boston is familiar with the procedure as guard Romeo Langford had it Sept. 22. Langford was ready to make his debut in mid-March before he contracted COVID-19 — about 5½ months after the surgery.

Brown’s injury adds to what has been a frustrating season for the Celtics, who are officially headed to the play-in tournament.

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NBA creates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award

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The NBA has created a new award in honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league’s all-time leading scorer and a noted civil rights activist, that will recognize a player who best embodies his striving for social justice and racial equality, the league announced Thursday.

The winner of the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award will be announced during the playoffs and will receive $100,000 from the league to donate to an organization of his choosing. Four additional finalists will receive $25,000.

“It’s nice to see the NBA try to promote social justice awareness, and I am very flattered they would see fit to name the award after me,” Abdul-Jabbar, 74, told The Undefeated. “I know I have some history with this, so I’m happy the way it’s worked out.”

All 30 NBA teams will nominate a player for the award, and finalists will be selected by a seven-person committee composed of league executives, activists and former NBA players.

Aside from being one of the sport’s greatest contributors, Abdul-Jabbar is also a man of conviction, who in the face of Jim Crow-era segregation and racial discrimination, took principled stands for the betterment and progress of African Americans.

Growing up in the Dyckman housing projects in New York City, Abdul-Jabbar was exposed to the governmental neglect of, and targeted injustices toward, poor, Black people. Incidents such as the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, when Abdul-Jabbar was just 8 years old, and the Harlem riots of 1964, sparked by the fatal shooting of James Powell, a 15-year-old Black boy, by a New York police officer, are what triggered Abdul-Jabbar’s ascent into racial politics.

“Right then and there I knew who I was and who I had to be,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1980. “I was going to be Black rage personified, Black power in the flesh.”

Abdul-Jabbar won three consecutive NCAA championships (1967 to 1969) while at UCLA. In between them, he, alongside famed sociologist Harry Edwards, helped organize a boycott of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City due to the then-recent assassinations of civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., and the continued mistreatment of Black people in America.

“It was too difficult for me to get enthusiastic about representing a country that refused to represent me or others of my color,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in his 2017 book, “Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court.”

While in the NBA, Abdul-Jabbar and other famous Black male athletes, including Jim Brown and Bill Russell, organized the Cleveland Summit in support of world champion boxer Muhammad Ali’s decision to refuse entry into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Today, Abdul-Jabbar sees many similarities in how athletes — such as Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and Maya Moore — have taken a measured approach to racial equality work much as he and others did during the civil rights movement.

“I’m glad that they’re taking their time and not rushing into it. If you go into trying to effect change with a chip on your shoulder, and a lot of anger, it really turns off the people that you’re trying to talk to,” said Abdul-Jabbar, who grew up on the teachings of adopted Harlem son Malcolm X before a chance encounter with King while in high school led him to a peaceful, direct action.

“And I am glad they’ve learned that lesson and have made a commitment to do it sensibly in a nonviolent and constructive way. That’s how we get change done. That’s how we managed to overcome the communication gaps and break through.”

Abdul-Jabbar said he hopes this award inspires young, up-and-coming basketball players to continue the work he and other athletes started some half-century ago amid heavy criticism and even death threats.

“They can’t be afraid. That’s the one thing that they can’t do, because if you’re going to give into fear, then we won’t achieve anything,” he said. “We have to have the courage to speak truth to power, and if we can do that, then get the others to feel that way, we can effect change.”

Abdul-Jabbar played in the NBA for 20 seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Lakers, winning six championships (five with Los Angeles). Aside from points, Abdul-Jabbar is also the career leader in All-Star Game appearances (19) and MVP awards (six).

Outside of sports, Abdul-Jabbar has written 14 books; has starred in multiple films, most notably the 1980 hit “Airplane!”; and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama in 2016.

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Brooklyn Nets sign Mike James for remainder of season

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NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets are keeping Mike James for the rest of the season.

The Nets signed the guard to a contract Thursday after the expiration of his second 10-day deal.

James has appeared in 11 games, including starting in Brooklyn’s victory over San Antonio on Wednesday. He has averaged 7.1 points and 3.7 assists in 17.5 minutes per game.

He signed his first 10-day deal April 23 after spending the previous two seasons with CSKA Moscow. He has played most of his nine-year pro career in Europe.

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