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30 Times Celebrities Had a Blast Sitting Courtside Basketball Games
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30 Times Celebrities Had a Blast Sitting Courtside Basketball Games

 

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Raptors fan Drake shouts from courtside at a 2016 game between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors in Canada.

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Rihanna attends a Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays in 2014.

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Justin Bieber meets Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic during the 2011 NBA All-Star Game as Beyoncé looks on.

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Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Tracy Morgan, and Leslie Jones react to a game between the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors in 2018.

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Gordon Ramsay snaps a picture with the Magic Dragon during a Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors Global Game in London in 2016.

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Sharon Stone and Jack Nicholson catch a Los Angeles Lakers game in 1996.

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Diddy and Ashton Kutcher watch a 2013 NBA playoff game between the Boston Celtics and the New Jersey Nets.

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Karlie Kloss, Taylor Swift, and Ben Stiller share courtside seats at a New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls game in 2014.

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Method Man watches an NBA Finals game between the San Antonio Spurs and the New Jersey Nets in 2003.

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Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez watch (or don’t watch) a Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs game in 2003.

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Ashanti, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, and Lee’s son Satchel pose at a New York Knicks game against the Denver Nuggets in 2004.

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Sylvester Stallone, Eddie Murphy, and Steven Spielberg sit courtside at a Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers game in 2008.

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John Legend and Chrissy Teigen watch a Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers game in 2016.

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Jack Nicholson and Matthew McConaughey cheer during a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers game in 2000.

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Olivia Wilde, Will Forte, and Jason Sudeikis snap a selfie with fan at a Orlando Magic vs. Los Angeles Lakers game in 2015.

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden share a laugh during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game between the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team and Brazil in 2012.

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Jack Nicholson and Benicio Del Toro sit courtside at a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets game in 2000.

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Shakira and her family sit courtside at a New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers game in 2017.

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Michael B. Jordan sits with Kamal Gray, Questlove, and Tariq Trotter of the Roots at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.

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Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher watch Kobe Bryant play during a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game in 2014.

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Rihanna sits courtside during the 2014 Summer Classic Charity Basketball Game at Barclays Center in 2014.

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Brad Pitt watches a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings game in 2002.

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Lil Wayne watches a 2016 game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Alessandra Ambrosio and Will Arnett laugh at a Los Angeles Clippers vs. New York Knicks game in 2015.

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West catch a Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers game in 2014.

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Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner sit courtside at a 2017 NBA Playoffs game in Houston.

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Spike Lee reacts to a call during a Golden State Warriors vs. New York Knicks game in 2015.

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Michael B. Jordan, Jay Z, Blue Ivy, and Beyoncé sit courtside at the NBA All-Star Game in 2017.

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Kanye West cheers at a Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers game in 2016.

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Rosie Perez, Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Brooke Shields, and Tracy Morgan catch a New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics game in 2009.

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The Beautiful Matchup of Roger Federer vs. The Most Beloved Man in Tennis
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The Beautiful Matchup of Roger Federer vs. ‘The Most Beloved Man in Tennis’

 

Something beautiful is about to happen at the BNP Paribas Open, tennis’s “fifth major,” in the California desert. The invincible, seemingly ageless, Roger Federer is back in the final for the eighth time. He hasn’t lost a match yet this year.

Federer sprinted through the Australian Open two months ago without dropping a set en route to the final. He snagged his 20th grand slam title and regained the No. 1 ranking shortly thereafter, kicking off yet another Federer Moment after an astonishing 2017 season. It’s difficult not to root for Federer. You’d be cheering for an end to The Moment: the gushing about his late-career aggressiveness, the silkiness of his game, the likening his movement to ballet (or some other metaphor that can be traced back to David Foster Wallace).

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But the man who will stand across the net in Sunday’s final, Juan Martín del Potro, complicates the Federer allegiance, and the matchup gives us reason to ditch every thought of the calamitous dream that is 2018 and savor a tennis moment we may not see again.

Del Potro in Indian Wells.Getty Images

Del Potro, the 29-year-old Argentine, got his 400th career win after Saturday’s semifinal against Canadian Milos Raonic, and is one of the few players in the world who can split a crowd in a Federer match up on U.S. soil. When the final gets underway, the Federer caps and the Swiss flags will be there, but so too will the Argentine flags, the olés, and the shrieks, Delpo!

Why? Because Juan Martin del Potro is irresistible. “The most beloved man in tennis,” as the Wall Street Journal aptly put it. From his enthralling style of play to his bashful, tender temperament off the court, he defies the stoic impenetrability often associated with tennis players and engages—no, thrives—off the crowd getting involved, inviting us all along for the ride.

Once the No. 4 player in the world, del Potro had three wrist surgeries that forced him out of the game for three years. It left his ranking hovering somewhere outside the top 1,000 and his backhand unreliable—he often opts for a neutralizing slice on the flank. But he eventually came back in 2016, exuberant and smiling, the sport’s emotional soft spot, with a forehand as ferocious as any shot on tour—100 miles-per-hour at last year’s U.S. Open—and a freewheeling style of play ripe for are-you-kidding-me comebacks the tennis world rarely sees.

My favorite thing about del Potro is not necessarily his gangly play though, it’s what happens after he wins. He throws his head back and slouches slightly as if to say, ‘Ah, what the hell? Let’s keep this party going.’ Every win is a gift to himself and a surprise to celebrate. He’s one of the sport’s greatest ‘What if?’ stories, so he swings without trepidation, willing the rest of us to do the same.

When he joins Federer in Stadium 1 (at 4 p.m. Eastern on ESPN), it will be their 25th meeting. Federer leads their series 18-6, with one of the losses coming in the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Open. Del Potro is currently ranked No. 8 in the world; Federer is the number one seed. Federer is the favorite, of course, but del Potro can win. He won six months ago, after a marathon five-set match in which he could barely stand when it was over. Tomorrow’s could be that kind of match, when both players relish in the victory. For either, it doesn’t feel like there’s any expectation anymore. Del Potro seems to recognize and cherish this. “If I had to take one match or one opponent to play in a final I would take Roger for sure,” he told reporters.

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And when it’s over, one of tennis’s greatest sportsman will give the other all the credit. They’ll finally rest and get ready to do it all over again. In the meantime, we can hope they continue meeting like this, because when they do, all the apocalyptic premonitions circling 2018 begin to fade. Everything is just fine.

A 36-Year-Old Accountant Stepped in as an NHL Emergency Backup Goalie
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A 36-Year-Old Accountant Stepped in as an NHL Emergency Backup Goalie

 

It’s the sort of thing we’ve all dreamt of as our heads loll at our desks during hour six of a soul-killing nine-to-five, but for Illinois’ Scott Foster, the fantasy became real. The 36-year-old accountant, dad of two, and rec league hockey player was called up as the Chicago Blackhawk’s emergency backup goalie Thursday night and blocked seven shots to secure the team’s win against the Winnipeg Jets.

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Foster, who previously played for Western Michigan University, found himself on the ice at the Blackhawks’ arena after a string of bad luck left the team down three goaltenders. Anton Forsberg, who was replacing injured starting goalie Corey Crawford, was himself injured during a pregame warm up. Forsberg’s replacement, Collin Delia, was forced out of the game by muscle cramps. That meant that Foster, whose role as emergency backup goalie generally involves snacking while watching the games from a box, was called up.

As Foster blocked a total of seven shots, protecting the Blackhawks’ lead, fans in the arena chanted his name. At the end of the game, he was awarded the team belt.

“A few hours ago I was sitting on my computer,” said Foster, “Now I’m standing in front of you guys just finished fourteen and a half minutes of NHL hockey. From my perspective, this is a dream regardless. This is something that no one an ever take away from me, it’s something that I can go home and tell my kids, and they can tell their friends.”

Ray Allen on Rajon Rondo, Colin Kaepernick, Kevin Garnett, and Activism
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Ray Allen on Rajon Rondo, Colin Kaepernick, Kevin Garnett, and Activism

 

Ray Allen is the NBA’s three-point king. His 2,973 treys are more than anyone who’s ever played—a feat he managed while shooting 40 percent from deep.

With the Miami Heat, Allen cashed in one of the greatest three-point field goals of all time when he splashed one from deep in the corner, with a hand in his face, during Game Six of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat won that series, giving Allen his second championship ring.

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The first ring, of course, was the product of the Big Three era at the Boston Celtics. It might be standard now, but combining a group of star free agents to build a title challenger in a single offseason was novel in those days. It brought success, but also tension—which is a slice of what’s covered in Allen’s new book, From the Outside: My Journey Through Life and the Game I Love.

One section in particular has sparked a media firestorm. It recounts a borderline delusional episode from his former teammate, Rajon Rondo, who claimed to have carried that 2008 Celtics team to a championship,

Far more than that, though, the book is a meditation on the game and what it takes to succeed on the highest level. For Allen, success required him to practice every shot, everywhere, more times than anyone else. That’s why he became one of—if not the—greatest pure shooters to ever play the game. After all, we soon learned Allen made that Finals shot against the Spurs because he’d practiced it.

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Esquire interviewed Allen at the NBA Store this week before a book signing for From the Outside in partnership with Fanatics. We talked making threes, drama on the C’s, and whether professional dedication to the game is compatible with social activism in the tradition of Muhammad Ali.

You retired as the king of the three-pointer, but its role in the game has already grown and developed since. How do you feel about that?

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It was an evolution over the course of my career. My first NBA coach never liked us shooting threes. He thought it was settling. “Don’t settle, don’t settle.” That’s all I heard. It was like, “This is actually a shot we shoot a lot when we practice.” That’s why I was never thinking that I was a three-point shooter. I never was. I was just a slasher at first.

So the game certainly evolved. Kids that watched us growing up, they evolved into that type of player. They enjoyed it, and they wanted to shoot the three ball. That’s where we are today.

Is it the focus for teams now? Is that new?

You can’t have a big guy that doesn’t shoot. Because having a stretch four or stretch five, it changes the dynamics. Because if your five man can’t come out to the perimeter and guard the other five man, because he can shoot, then you’re in for a long night.

Do you feel your level of focus and dedication to the game set you apart?

No, I just believed that if I didn’t work at it—if I didn’t stay extra—then I wouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as any great player in the NBA. It was my way of not being found out. I always felt that if you find out I’m actually not that good, then you’re going to take my paycheck away from me. So that was my constant homage to paying for my salary. Doing my job, and making sure that I earned my salary on a daily basis.

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In the book, you say Kevin Garnett is someone you really admired because he never took a game off. Was he unique in that regard?

He was in a land of his own. He just felt it was—he couldn’t just sit down. He wouldn’t not play. He was always doing whatever it took to put his body together and go out there and play. Even practice, he wouldn’t sit down in practice. He was like, “I’m not taking no day off. I need to be out here practicing.” Coach had to tell him to sit down.

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That was always what I knew, and we certainly were cut from the same cloth when it came to how you had to be accountable for your own work. I admired that in him, because I knew that was in me. I felt guilty if I worked into the gym and I decided not to practice that day.

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It’s a small slice of the book, but Rajon Rondo’s response to a story about him claiming credit for carrying the 2008 Celtics team to a championship—were you surprised by how that played out?

No, it’s sensationalism. Sensationalizing a story. The book is not about that situation, it’s not about him. It explains, from a beginning to ultimately my departure out of Boston—which a lot of people ask questions about. That’s the media, when you take it and you push it to a whole ‘nother level. His reaction is going to be whatever it is. I have no control over that.

Your introspection—and the intensity and focus it brought with it—were clearly a plus for you as a player. Were there ever times it caused problems?

There were times when guys asked me if I watched a particular game on a certain night, and I’d say no. And they were like, “Oh, you don’t watch games when you’re home.” And I was like, “No, because kids keep me busy.” What you learn as a father, as an athlete, as a player that’s been in the league 10-plus years—you have so many things going on, so many hats to wear. So I tried not to worry about whether we were all on different pages if when we came to the court we were on the same.

Yesterday, Gregg Popovich—a member of the NBA community—spoke out on social issues, and he’s been doing that regularly. Do you think that can be part of your job as a player, or should people be focused on the game?

Here’s probably the most disappointing thought that I have, and have had for the longest time. In light of all the social issues that we deal with now, and in the world today—we, as athletes, pay a lot of money in taxes. Most of us have kids. We have homes. We have families. So every issue that is in play affects us. Too often, we have fans—whether they’re cheering for us or against us—that tell us to “shut up and dribble,” or stop being political, or stay out of politics. Just stick to basketball. It’s disrespectful to all of us, because we do have positions. We do have perspectives.

 

“We pay a lot of money in taxes. Most of us have kids. We have homes. We have families. So every issue that is in play affects us.

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Most of us are way more educated than people give us credit for. Because we do pay attention to what’s going on around us. We have to stay awake and keep our eyes open and pay attention to what’s going on. And then, when we see something that’s unjust, we have to speak up on it. There’s a lot of things that are going wrong in America today.

We have it easy as black athletes now in America. We have it easy compared to what Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain—what those guys had to deal with back in the ’50s and ’60s. We have it easy. But they fought all the social injustices, just so they could exist and form their sport. So that we can now have the platform that we have. So we have to continue to fight those injustices and those societal ills that people put on us. Because we’re going to have to continue doing it for the next generation.

You know, Muhammad Ali got thrown in jail because he wouldn’t go to war. The inequalities that took place back in those days? It’s crazy. And people forget that. It’s the same now when somebody tells us—Colin Kaepernick. When they tell him it’s not the right time to kneel—I’m like, there’s never a right time for a protest. That’s the whole point of a democracy, is to be able to speak out. And when people get mad that people protest or speak out, it defeats the purpose of America. That’s why we have these rights: to be able to speak out against things that we don’t like. Everybody’s like, “Tell the athletes to be quiet.” But the athletes, we care. We care about the people that support us.

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We’ve been a part of a team our whole lives. We do things for our community because we’re a part of a team. When we leave the court, we go home and we have a community: we have our kids, we have our neighbors, we have a school system. That’s a community. We do what we can. That’s why it’s a responsibility for all of us not just athletes for everybody to speak out. We’re not just doing it for ourselves, we’re doing it for people that can’t speak up for themselves.

Who’s the greatest player you ever played against?

Michael Jordan.

In your rookie year, you were featured in the dunk contest alongside Kobe Bryant. What was that like? Did you know him going in?

We knew each other.

Did you see him as the big competition in that class?

We had no clue. We had no idea what our careers would entail. We just knew we were young guys, we wanted to make a splash in the league, and we could jump a little bit. So we were going to do whatever we could to be a part of it. You’re unbiased—you’re not jaded by All-Star Weekend, or the length of the season. You’re like, just let me do everything I can. When you get older, you realize you’ve got to save some energy.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Donte DiVincenzo Deleted Tweets - Advice for People Who Are Suddenly Famous
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Donte DiVincenzo Deleted Tweets – Advice for People Who Are Suddenly Famous

 

There was an internet joke a few years back about what to do in the case of an emergency. Printed on t-shirts, and popping up on shows like Parks and Recreation and American Dad, it goes like this: If I die, please delete my browser history.

The reality is, when someone dies, we usually cut them slack. It’s when we don’t die, when we excel in life, that things get tricky. There needs to be an update to the trope: If I suddenly become famous, delete my Twitter account.

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Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo could’ve used a friend at the killswitch last night, as he powered the Wildcats to a victory over Michigan in the NCAA Championship, scoring 31 points, and winning the game’s Most Outstanding Player award. It was truly a heroic performance and the game of his life. Unfortunately, the relatively unknown player also won the night’s Milkshake Duck award, when Twitter sleuths uncovered a series of offensive and bizarre tweets he’d posted to his account years ago.

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DiVincenzo, it should be said, is 21 years old, and thus was between 13- and 15-years-old when he posted many of the tweets in question, including using the n-word and f-word in posts. The question of whether spelunking through the social media of suddenly famous people from when they were young teens is a worthwhile use of our time as a culture is a good one, but this is simply the reality we inhabit now. You’d have better luck asking the tide not to come in. There are far worse things being said online every day about a group of teenagers from Parkland, and all they’ve done is said maybe we shouldn’t have to get shot in school so much.

With that in mind, there are a few things people like DiVincenzo, who find themselves thrust into the spotlight, or even just the rest of us as a general precaution, should always keep in mind.

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1. Never tweet.

Just don’t do it. Whatever benefit you might derive in the moment from the dopamine rush of sharing your thoughts online and being rewarded for them with likes simply is not worth it. For some of us with broken brain disease, it’s already too late, but you don’t have to succumb to it if you haven’t already.

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Best case scenario: you might claw your way to being moderately internet famous for telling jokes for free all day to make a tech company wealthy. Worst case scenario: you tweet your way out of a job, even if you’re already a powerful person, like Laura Ingraham has nearly done.

2. If you must tweet, here’s what you cannot say.

There really aren’t very many rules about free speech, despite what the constantly-aggrieved center rightists like Jonathan Chait, Bari Weiss, and Andrew Sullivan might tell you. But for some, there are, in fact, a very small and reasonable handful of things you should not say out loud or post online, or even think really, and they are the n-word and the f-word.

Yes, DiVincenzo was very young at the time, and appeared to be quoting a Meek Mill song when he tweeted: “Ballin on these n**** like I’m derrick rose!”, but, speaking as a straight white guy, it’s not my place to give him a pass for it. (The Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse team learned this lesson the hard way themselves recently.) This seems like a very easy concession to make.

3. Be ready to hit the eject button.

DiVincenzo probably had other things on his mind last night than posts he made six years ago, but it might be a good idea for people to keep their head on a swivel. If you suddenly sense yourself rising to prominence—whether it’s a feat of athletic prowess on a national stage, or simply showing up on the local news as a hero for saving a cat from a sewer or whatever—your second thought, after, “wow this is great!”, needs to be: Shit.

If you followed the first two steps, you won’t need to even worry about this one. But evidence has shown us that’s simply not going to be how it works. Instead, here’s what you do: Much like you would have an executor for your will, or someone listed as your contact in case of a medical emergency, hand over your passwords to one trusted friend. When you sense yourself leveling up into a Milkshake Duck, give them the signal and they know what to do. It’s like you were never even here.

Steph Curry Interview on Trump, Activism, and Who He Wanted to Be Growing Up
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Steph Curry Interview on Trump, Activism, and Who He Wanted to Be Growing Up

 

Stephen Curry is a revolutionary figure in the land of basketball. While LeBron James remains the king of the realm, a consensus is building that Curry, and the Golden State Warriors team built around him, have fundamentally changed the game. Along the way, they’ve overwhelmed James’ Cavaliers in two of the last three NBA Finals.

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Simply put, no one ever played like Curry and the Warriors. The question may now be whether, barring any rule changes from the NBA, successful teams will play any other way in the future.

The Warriors play fast and fluid with the ball, and on the defensive end they’re all long arms and versatility. But more than anything, they can shoot. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are elite three-point shooters, and Golden State often fields lineups that are a threat from distance at all five positions. That stretches out the defense and opens up driving lanes, too. Curry is at the center of all of this, in part because he’s a threat off the dribble. More than that, at age 30, Curry has already built a solid case he will go down as the greatest deep-range shotmaker to ever play the game.

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Oh, and he’s also a two-time MVP and, as mentioned, a two-time NBA champion.

But even beyond all that, Curry is in the vanguard of this generation’s professional athletes willing to speak out publicly on the social and political issues of the moment. Appalled at the president’s behavior, particularly following the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Curry suggested this preseason that he would prefer to skip the customary visit to the White House reserved for major-sport champions.

This got him a namecheck on Trump’s Twitter feed as the president rescinded the Warriors’ invitation, but he and the team took it in stride. When it came time to visit Washington, they crewed up with a group of students from Kevin Durant’s nearby hometown of Suitland, Maryland, and visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture—a telling choice.

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Not all Curry’s work is happening on the court, though, as he’s also partnered with Brita to bring clean water to an Oakland school system struggling with a contaminated supply on a systemic level. That’s a national problem, and when we caught up with Curry, we assessed the implications of that and a whole lot more.

Some say you and the Warriors have ushered in a basketball revolution. Is that true?

I think there’s a certain skill set that we have as a team. How much we rely on each other, sharing the ball, shooting threes, playing at a fast pace, spreading the floor. And winning championships while doing it. That’s kind of reshaped how teams put together rosters over the summer, and try to close the gap. So it’s a different era, a different time in basketball, and I think we’ve had a lot to do with it for sure.

At the 2016 NBA Finals.Getty Images

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Was there a player you wanted to be growing up, or did you always just want to be Steph Curry?

I always wanted to stay true to who I am, and who I was as a player. But I was always trying to model my game after Steve Nash and Reggie Miller. Those were my two favorite players, and guys—I always thought I wanted to morph those two guys together, like a super-player, almost. Be creative with the ball, as a playmaker, as a PG. Able to distribute like Steve Nash did, with his creativity. But also be able to shoot and play off the ball like Reggie did as combo guard-type vibe. I used to want to take the best of both those guys.

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Who’s the most challenging matchup in the league at your position?

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“I always thought I wanted to morph those two guys together, like a super-player, almost.”

You could look at all 30 of the starting point guards across the league and it’s hard to pick. Obviously you have your guys who separated themselves a little bit. You’ve got your Russ [Westbrook], CP [Chris Paul], Kyrie [Irving], John Wall, Kyle Lowry—guys that play at a superstar level every single year. The hardest thing about playing the point guard position is you’ve got to be on every night for that reason.

When Under Armour released the Curry 2 it got memed on social media. Was that on your radar?

I definitely heard about it. I embraced it at the time, because it was early in the signature shoe game. You obviously want to put out the best product every single time. Sometimes you do, sometimes you have some misses. For me, I think we’ve taken that moment and really elevated and evolved the product to where it’s turning heads in a positive way. You always want to give that heat every single time, but sometimes you miss a little bit—just like on the court. You just got to keep it moving. What comes next?

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Your work with Brita is centered around getting clean water to kids in Oakland public schools. How did that issue come to your attention?

When you talk about communities and schools, contaminated water has been a nationwide conversation at this point. There are so many school districts that are dealing with similar issues, trying to figure out a solution to the contamination in the water supply for their students. They often rely on bottled water as a solution.

So we partnered with Brita on the For the Future campaign. We’re pledging one dollar from the sales of Brita’s long-last filter to provide schools around the country with Brita hydration stations. It’s a solution for clean, safe drinking water. And we’re trying to obviously continue to bring awareness around the issue, but also find a solution that will help the students, the schools, and the environment—to cut down on waste and protect our kids’ health.

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Curry hands out filters to Oakland students.Brita

As a team, the Warriors ultimately chose to visit the Museum of African-American History instead of the White House when you were in Washington. Why did you feel that was important?

We wanted to be able to control the narrative around the celebration and conversation of us winning a championship. And not let somebody else who wasn’t spreading positivity and love do that for us. So it was a great opportunity to reach out to the community, to have that interaction with some kids from Seat Pleasant, Maryland. And give them an experience at the National African-American History and Culture Museum that they might not have had contextualized—our history as a country, where we are and where we’re going. Our championship was an opportunity to create that experience and that interaction, and I think we did an amazing job of controlling the narrative and the positivity around us winning a championship.

Who Will Win The 2018 Masters Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Speith All Favorites
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Who Will Win The 2018 Masters? Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Speith All Favorites

 

The run-up to this year’s Masters tournament was all about one golfer: Tiger Woods. It’s been a tumultuous 10 years for one of the most dominant athletes of our lifetime, but after a lengthy, injury-induced hiatus, Tiger has returned to the game with a vengeance. He’s registered two top-five finishes in his last three starts, his swing looks better than it has in years, and he’s charming the media along the way.

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This time, it really does feel like Tiger is back.

His return, and all its hype, presents an interesting opportunity for his opponents. While the media, and the crowds, are closely following his progress—he shot a one-over 73 on day one—players like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have the opportunity to calm down and play their game. That’s the only way to win a green jacket, and after day one at the Masters they’re both in position to do so. But it’s only Friday.

 

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Spieth demonstrated his chill masterfully on Thursday. A rocky start and 73 finish for Woods cleared the way for Spieth, whose five straight birdies on the back nine resulted in a six-under 66. With all eyes on Tiger, the 24-year-old phenom casually finished the first day as leader in the clubhouse.

Woods finished with a +1 73 in Thursday’s round, seven strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth.Getty Images

Although Tiger’s not the top-ranked player in the world (that would be long-ball bad boy Dustin Johnson), Augusta National is Tiger’s playground. He knows the course more intimately than any other golfer on tour. Leading up to Thursday, he’s looked confident, comfortable, and poised to bring home his fifth green jacket. During Thursday’s round, Woods grimaced in frustration as his tee shots found fairway bunkers and pine straw, but he was able to bounce back and pick up two shots by day’s end.

The Tiger Factor is still a factor. Not all is lost. But it’s only Friday.

Traditionally, the Tiger Factor—or the knowledge that Tiger is on the course, not far off the lead, and could surge at any moment—is a detriment to other golfers. There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than being in the top five on Sunday with Woods hot on your trail. If you let the attention get to you and drop a few strokes, Tiger will pounce.

For the not-so-well-known names who are lucky enough to survive through to the weekend (there is always someone that makes you say, “Who?”), this pressure can be debilitating, especially on a course as unforgiving as Augusta National.

Jordan Spieth, the fourth ranked golfer in the world, dominated Augusta on day one with five straight birdies on the back nine. He’s seven strokes ahead of Tiger Woods going into Friday.Getty Images

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But for the world’s top ranked golfers, the unprecedented hype surrounding Tiger’s return may provide an opportunity for a relatively peaceful few days on the golf course. While Woods was absent, superstars like Johnson, Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Rickie Fowler rose up the ranks, and with their success came the brunt of the media’s attention. With the spotlight now on Woods, the young guns have a chance to strike early and climb up the leaderboard unfettered. Spieth started to on Thursday. But it’s only Friday.

The names atop the leaderboard have only one day left of chill in them. If Tiger goes low tomorrow, they’d better do the same. Yes, it’s only Friday, but if Tiger Woods goes into the weekend in position to strike, the Tiger Factor will take over.

Conor McGregor Arrested and Charged
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Conor McGregor Arrested and Charged

 

It’s been a tumultuous 24 hours for Conor McGregor and the UFC.

On Friday morning, the controversial Irish fighter was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of felony criminal mischief following a wild Thursday afternoon incident at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which was hosting a media event for Saturday’s UFC 223.

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Backed by a 20-person entourage, McGregor, who was not scheduled to fight, snuck into the arena and appeared to hurl various pieces of metal utility equipment at a bus, injuring three fighters and forcing the UFC to reconfigure the card for UFC 223. McGregor is nicknamed Notorious for a reason.

Here’s how it all went down. Strap in, because there’s a lot to unpack here.

The drama began earlier this week when UFC president Dana White announced that the winner of Saturday’s fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway would be UFC’s new lightweight champion. The belt had been held McGregor, who won it by defeating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November of 2016. McGregor has refused to defend his title, though, prompting White’s decision to strip him of it. McGregor was not happy.

“You’s’ll strip me of nothing you’s do nothing c*nts,” he tweeted Thursday morning.

That afternoon, McGregor showed up to Barclays with his entourage, sneaking into the venue with the help of someone who was credentialed to cover the event.

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According to White, who said he communicated with McGregor following the incident, it wasn’t McGregor’s frustration at losing his title that led him to Barclays, but rather a beef with the Russian Nurmagomedov. Earlier in the week, another Russian fighter, Artem Lobov, a friend of McGregor’s who was also scheduled to fight in UFC 223, got into a scuffle with Nurmagomedov at a hotel.

It’s hard to tell exactly what is being said, but as the man holding the camera notes, “some Russian shit is going down.”

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It’s unclear what exactly McGregor and his crew set out to accomplish by storming into Barclays, but it didn’t end well. On Thursday afternoon, a video surfaced of a man who appears to be McGregor grabbing a metal barricade in an underground parking area and hurling it at a bus containing several fighters, including Nurmagomedov.

TMZ obtained an additional video of a man they identify as McGregor jogging across the same parking area, grabbing a dolly, and throwing it at the bus, breaking one of its windows.

When the dust settled, three fighters were injured (but not Nurmagomedov, who told MMA Fighting, “I am laughing.”), and McGregor was, well, at first no one seemed to know.

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McGregor would later turn himself into authorities, who held him overnight. On Friday morning, he was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. Cian Cowley, a member of McGregor’s entourage, was charged with one count of assault and one count of criminal mischief. UFC 223 will still take place, but three fights have been canceled, two because of injuries resulting from McGregor’s antics, and one because it involved Lobov, who was part of McGregor’s entourage.

McGregor was released from custody Friday on $50,000 bail. His next court date is set for June 14.

Max Holloway, who was scheduled to fight Nurmagomedov, was among the injured, but it appears that the UFC will replace him with another opponent.

On Friday morning, McGregor was led out of Brooklyn’s 78th precinct in handcuffs.

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Dana White has done plenty of press since the incident took place. On Friday morning, he told ESPN that he would not be helping McGregor wriggle his way out of trouble.

“Normally, yes, I would dive right in and do everything in my power to help one of my guys,” he said. “But not in this situation. He came into the Barclays Center, attacked our fighters and attacked my staff with a bunch of guys. No, you don’t get my help on this one.”

As for whether White will fire McGregor from UFC, which would seem to be a rational response to an employee going on a violent rampage attacking his co-workers, White was noncommittal. “Obviously, the big question everybody’s been asking me is, ‘Are you firing Conor McGregor?'” White said. “This is bigger than Conor McGregor getting fired. There are so many more moving pieces to this thing.”

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White is a fight promoter and a showman, and as bad as it was, the incident on Thursday resulted in a bounty of publicity for the UFC, which hasn’t generated many headlines as of late. Though White vehemently denied the fracas was orchestrated, telling ESPN it’s “the last stunt on Earth we would ever pull,” it’s not unreasonable to wonder if the wheels may have been greased. The story is almost too ridiculous to believe (McGregor just happened to be in New York this week?), and the UFC stands to cash in big if the fallout is managed properly.

It’s still pretty implausible that any facet of this was premeditated, but the potential storyline of McGregor returning from his hiatus—and possible jail time?—to fight Nurmagomedov in an effort to win back his lightweight title sounds like a plot devised in a WWE writers’ room. Such a bout would also bring in untold sums of Pay-per-view money, and as anyone who follows professional fighting knows, never bet against the money. In other words, we have a feeling McGregor hasn’t stepped into his last octagon.

Snow at Baseball Stadiums - Coors Field Opening Day Snow
Sports,

Snow at Baseball Stadiums – Coors Field Opening Day Snow

 

A wintry mix fell on baseball stadiums across the country this week, which marked the beginning of the 2018 baseball season. Diamonds from Denver to Boston were covered in snow as players and fans steeled themselves for the chilly temps. “It’s cold,” Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts said at Fenway Park, where Boston played its home opener on Thursday. “You keep trying to play mind tricks, but it’s still 40 degrees. No matter how much you say ‘mind over matter,’ it still matters.”

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Denver

 

Coors Field in Denver was covered with snow ahead of the Colorado Rockies home opener against the Atlanta Braves.

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Chicago

 

Detroit Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario catches a pop-up in the 4th inning of a game against White Sox in Chicago.

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Minneapolis

 

Gregory Polanco of the Pittsburgh Pirates is tagged out by Minnesota Twins catcher Jason Castro while attempting to score.

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Minneapolis

 

Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano celebrates with teammate Logan Morrison after a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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New York

 

Men shovel snow from the sidewalks in front of Yankee Stadium before the Yankees home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Boston

 

Members of the maintenance crew use pressure washers to clear snow off of the seats and clean the aisles at Fenway Park in Boston.

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Chicago

 

Chicago White Sox pitcher James Shields stands on the mound while pitching in the snow against the Detroit Tigers.

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Chicago

 

Detroit Tigers outfielder Leonys Martin fields a ball while playing the White Sox in Chicago.

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Boston

 

A member of the grounds crew works at Fenway Park in Boston during a morning snowfall.

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Minneapolis

 

Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Fernando Rodney tries to field a few flakes while playing the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Minneapolis

 

A worker is engulfed in steam while using hot water to melt snow in the stands at Target Field in Minneapolis.

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New York

 

A Tampa Bay Rays employee snaps a few pictures of the snow at Yankee Stadium.

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Chicago

 

Snow falls during the season’s first game at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

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Chicago

 

Chicago White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia runs to first as snow falls in a game against the Detroit Tigers.

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New York

 

Snow covers the field at Yankee Stadium before what was supposed to be the Yankees’ home opener.

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Minneapolis

 

Snow piled on the television platform next to the Minnesota Twins dugout at Target Field.

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Chicago

 

Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers clubs an RBI single against the Chicago White Sox.

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New York

 

Piles of snow sit outside Citi Field before a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.

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