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President Joe Biden welcomes NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, praises team for achievements on and off the court

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden welcomed the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks to the White House on Monday, praising team members not just for their achievements on the court but also for their efforts to promote coronavirus vaccinations and for speaking out after the 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake sparked protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Bucks were the first NBA champions to visit the White House in nearly five years, ending a Donald Trump-era hiatus.

“You took a stand for justice and peace in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and you’ve gotten people engaged,” Biden said.

The NBA postponed games in 2020 after the Bucks announced they would not participate in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series as they sought to shed light on what they said were racial injustices facing African American communities.

The Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, seemed genuinely excited to get back to the tradition of NBA champs visiting the White House. Antetokounmpo even posted a video on social media of him practicing his greeting for the president.

Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks end a 50-year drought, bringing home an NBA championship for the first time since Lew Alcindor (the Hall of Famer who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after converting to Islam) and Oscar Robertson led the team.

Biden spoke of Antetokounmpo’s humble upbringing before he came to fame in the NBA. Antetokounmpo, who was born in Greece to Nigerian immigrants, said after the ceremony that he became emotional hearing Biden tell his story. He was also proud that the president highlighted his and his teammates’ activism.

“What we did had never happened in sport,” he said. “I’m proud of my teammates that we were able to stay in the locker room, talk about it, voice our opinion. … I was able to take a stand for something I believe in.”

Biden also paid tribute to Ted Kellner, a Wisconsin businessman and philanthropist who served as an honorary chairman of the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, and former Bucks owner Herb Kohl, a Democrat who was a U.S. senator from Wisconsin for four terms, starting with the 1988 election.

Biden noted that Kellner had helped save his first run for the U.S. Senate in 1972 with an infusion of cash when he was running short on funds.

Current Bucks owner Marc Lasry slyly suggested that he hopes that the team keeps coming back to celebrate championships as long as Biden is president.

“What the hell, why don’t we come back for the next four years?” Lasry said. “Let’s do it for eight years.”

The sitting president, regardless of party, often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically nonpartisan affairs in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

But the celebratory visits became highly charged during the Trump presidency as many athletes took issue with Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more.

The last NBA team to visit the White House was the Cleveland Cavaliers, just days after Trump was elected president and while Barack Obama was still in office.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant injures left knee in 1st, out for rest of game

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Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant suffered a left knee injury that caused him to exit Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter.

Morant was hurt while dribbling the ball toward the paint, although there was no contact that appeared to cause the injury. He began to limp, passed the ball and then hobbled off the floor in the middle of the play.

After briefly being attended to in front of the Grizzlies’ bench, Morant was helped to the locker room, putting no pressure on his left leg. Minutes later, the Grizzlies announced that he was ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Morant, 22, has established himself as one of the NBA’s premier young stars. He seemed to be on the path to his first All-Star appearance this season, averaging a career-best 25.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game entering Friday night.

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Kyle Kuzma’s edgy pregame fits include oversized sweaters, short-shorts and more

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Kyle Kuzma‘s resume already includes being on the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2018 and 2020 Finals champion as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, it may be appropriate for the fashion-forward Washington Wizards standout to formally add sports-couture trendsetter to that list because his pregame outfits keep turning heads.

Last month, Kuzma expressed the large role that fashion plays in his life.

“Life is all about art, and I think the first impression in life is always what you wear,” he told the Boardroom. “And I always look at fashion not as I’m just putting on clothes, but I’m putting together a story and putting together a look that when you see me, it’s a conversation piece.”

On Friday, ahead of Washington’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he continued his stylish escapades by donning his latest conversation piece in his arrival to the OKC’s Paycom Center

But the puffy coat isn’t even his most eye-catching fit of the week. On Monday, he wore an oversized pink sweater that had the NBA world talking. In fact, two of his former teammates were among those that weighed in on social media.

“Ain’t no f—ing way you wore that!!!” commented Lakers star LeBron James on Instagram. “I’m not pressing the like button cause this is outrageous Kuz!”

Anthony Davis shared James’ sentiment under the post, saying “You’re outta line sir!!!!”

The Raf Simons sweater in question, which came with a hefty $1,360.94 price tag, also had some fans. Las Vegas Aces star Liz Cambage praised the fit with this compliment: “he went and done did it”

Kuzma is in a relationship with supermodel Winnie Harlow, who has some influence on his stylish decisions.

“Who bought this fit [fire] head to toe” commented former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Harlow.

Last season, Kuzma posted a picture in another memorable pregame fit and tagged well-known Belgian fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck.

These fits weren’t the first and definitely won’t be the last of Kuzma’s bold style statements as the NBA and fashion worlds alike are on notice for the next talking piece his clothing provides.



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Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James fined for obscene gesture, warned about profanity

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NEW YORK — LeBron James was fined $15,000 for an obscene gesture Friday by the NBA, which also warned the Lakers superstar about using profane language.

James made the gesture after making a shot late in Los Angeles’ 124-116 overtime victory in Indiana on Wednesday night.

He had missed a loss at New York a night earlier after he was suspended one game for hitting Detroit center Isaiah Stewart in the face and drawing blood last Sunday. He used profanity in his postgame interview after the victory in Indiana when discussing the suspension.

Also Friday, the NBA fined Portland’s Robert Covington $15,000 for throwing his facemask at a referee Wednesday. He was given a technical foul and ejected for that action, with 49 seconds left in the second quarter of the Trail Blazers’ 125-121 loss at Sacramento.

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