In this Feb. 3, 2013, file photo, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones (12) reacts after returning a kickoff for a over 100-yards for a touchdown during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans. The Houston Texans, Jones' team for the first five seasons of his career, announced his death Sunday, July 14, 2024. He was 40. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Former Ravens Wide Receiver Jacoby Jones Dies at 40, Remembered for “Mile-High Miracle” and Super Bowl Record

Retired Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones has died at age 40. Drafted by the Houston Texans in 2007, he played there for four years before joining the Ravens from 2012-2014, earning a Pro Bowl spot in 2012.

Jones is best remembered for the “Mile-High Miracle,” his game-tying 70-yard touchdown catch in a playoff game against the Denver Broncos, leading to a 38-35 double-overtime victory. He also set a Super Bowl record with a 108-yard kickoff return against the San Francisco 49ers.

In this Nov. 10, 2013 file photo, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones cheers in overtime of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore. The Houston Texans, Jones’ team for the first five seasons of his career, announced his death Sunday, July 14, 2024. He was 40. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

After stints with the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers, he retired as a Raven in 2017 and later coached at Morgan State and Alabama State universities.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed. Rest in peace, Jacoby Jones.

Click play to listen to the AURN News report from Clay Cane. Follow @claycane & @aurnonline for more.

Angel Reese and Sha'Carri Richardson credit by AP:AURN

Navigating Bias: Angel Reese and Sha’Carri Richardson’s Resilience in the Face of Double Standards

LSU Forward Angel Reese (10) reacts during the Fourth Quarter of an Elite Eight round college basketball game against Iowa during the NCAA Tournament, Monday April 1, 2024, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

In the unforgiving arena of double standards, Black women athletes like Angel Reese and Sha’Carri Richardson are forced to be more than just competitors. They’re pioneers, shattering glass ceilings in their sports while navigating a media landscape rife with prejudice. Their resilience isn’t a badge of honor, it’s a necessity. By examining their journeys, we’ll not only see how race and gender bias play out in sports media, but also celebrate the unwavering strength and authenticity these remarkable women bring to the game.

Born and raised in Randallstown, Maryland, Reese’s basketball pedigree runs deep. Her mother also played basketball and Reese grew up honing her skills on the court. By high school, she was a national standout, leading her team to championships and earning McDonald’s All-American honors.

Reese’s collegiate career was beyond impressive. She lit the court up at both the University of Maryland and Louisiana State University, where she averaged a double-double as a sophomore and garnered numerous accolades, including All-America honors. Her dominance on the boards and scoring prowess made her a nightmare for opposing teams.

But despite her undeniable success, her participation in the 2023 NCAA women’s championship game exposed how the perception of “trash talk” is skewed when it comes to race and gender. Reese fell under heavy scrutiny after making a “you can’t see me” hand gesture (popularized by professional wrestler John Cena), to Iowa standout, Caitlin Clark. Even though Clark had done the same in a previous game, Reese was slammed with claims of her actions being unsportsmanlike and even referred to as “classless,” according to NPR

But did Clark receive the same backlash? No. Coincidentally, she was even praised by the man who started it all himself– John Cena. “Even if they could see you… they couldn’t guard you! Congrats on the historic performance @CaitlinClark22…” And this wasn’t a first (or even last) for Clark. She’s known to have a reputation for trash-talking during the game. For example, in a game versus South Carolina, Clark is seen waving off players as if she wasn’t worth the energy to defend.

So, what’s the difference between the two players? Angel Reese is Black and Caitlin Clark is white. 

When it came to Reese, Forbes reported that “Barstool’s Dave Portnoy called her a ‘classless piece of sh*t’ and commentator Keith Olbermann called her a ‘f*cking idiot.’”

“All year, I was critiqued for who I was. I don’t fit the narrative, I don’t fit the box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year. When other people do it, and y’all don’t say nothing,” Reese said in a press conference following the championship.

“So this is for the girls that look like me. For those that want to speak up for what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. And that’s what I [did] before tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. And Twitter is going to go into a rage every time.”

While Reese had and still has an obvious understanding of the bias she faces, it doesn’t make it right … especially since she’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last. In the conversation of unapologetic and confident Black women athletes who are shattering glass ceilings and prospering despite what criticism she receives— Sha’Carri (pronounced Shuh-Kerri, don’t forget it)  Richardson has a rightful place in the conversation as well.

In this June 19, 2021 photo, Sha’Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the first heat of the semis finals in women’s 100-meter runat the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. Richardson cannot run in the Olympic 100-meter race after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana. Richardson, who won the 100 at Olympic trials in 10.86 seconds on June 19, told of her ban Friday, July 2 on the “Today Show.”(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

A track and field star, Richardson electrifies the racing world with both her lightning speed and her vibrant personality. Born in Dallas, Texas her talent emerged early, blossoming into record-breaking performances at the high school and collegiate levels. In 2019, as a freshman at Louisiana State University, she shattered the collegiate 100-meter record, cementing her status as a rising superstar, according to World Athletics.

Richardson’s athletic prowess is indisputable. She boasts a personal best of 10.72 seconds in the 100 meters, ranking her among the fastest women of all time. But her impact extends far beyond the track. Known for her colorful hairstyles, long nails and outspoken personality, she challenges stereotypes and injects a dose of individuality into the often-conservative world of athletics. A modern-day Flo-Jo to the core.

Her journey hasn’t been without hurdles. After a positive marijuana test in 2021, Richardson faced a suspension that sidelined her from the Tokyo Olympics, a heartbreaking setback for the young athlete. However, Richardson’s resilience was on display. She bounced back, using the experience to advocate for changes in anti-doping regulations and mental health awareness in sports as she revealed she was using marijuana to cope with the loss of her biological mother.

The news of her use of marijuana quickly turned those in favor of Richardson against her. Even after taking accountability for her actions and apologizing she faced a lack of empathy as many people criticized her decision further kicking her while she was already down. According to The Guardian, some common discourse included: “Are we supposed to bend the rules because someone has a sob story?” and “What kind of example is she setting as a celebrity?”

“It almost seems like we have to be superheroes,” Richardson told Teen Vogue last year. “It’s just irritating because you take away the abilities, you take away the speed, you take away the talent … and we’re still human.”

But the onslaught didn’t stop there. According to NPR, after Sha’Carri’s suspension, Russian skater Kamila Valieva was cleared to compete in the 2022 olympics despite also having tested positive for a World Anti-Doping Agency banned substance – trimetazidine, which is believed to increase blood efficiency and endurance boosting overall athletic performance, unlike THC. 

Richardson called out the double-standard in a since deleted post via X (formerly Twitter), “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mine? My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3,”she wrote. “The only difference I see is I’m a Black young lady.”

While Bleacher Report considered Richardson’s exclusion a “fall from grace,” she wasn’t falling for long. In 2023, Richardson reclaimed her dominance, becoming the World Champion in the 100 meters. This victory, achieved with her signature flair, solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with on the track. As Sha’Carri Richardson continues to blaze a trail, one can’t help but be excited to see what the future holds for this captivating athlete.

But despite the success of these young women, their stories shed light on the very ugly struggle of Black women and especially Black women in sports. Sha’Carri said it best in her interview with Teen Vogue, “If you take away the ‘Black’ in front of the ‘woman’ and another woman reacts the same way, it’s not considered ‘sassy,’…[or] ‘aggressive,’”

Being confident and sure of yourself shouldn’t be a crime for Black women athletes, but for some reason– it’s “offensive,” “disrespectful” and “classless” when they flex their capabilities. In the critically-acclaimed romance movie, Love & Basketball, the character Monica (played by Sanaa Lathan) told her love interest who had accused her of having a bad attitude when it came to the way she played basketball, “Please, you jump in some guy’s face, talk smack and you get a pat on your a*s.  But because I’m a female, I get told to calm down and act like a ‘lady.’” 24 years ago and Monica’s words still speak to the experience of many Black women athletes.

From Serena Williams to Coco Gauff, Brittney Griner to Angel Reese– Black women have the right to be loud and proud without thoughtless attacks on their behavior due to outdated stereotypes.

The bias against Black women athletes like Angel Reese and Sha’Carri Richardson is undeniable. Their talent is celebrated, but their personalities and celebrations are deemed “aggressive” or “classless” – labels never thrown at their white counterparts. This double standard has to end.

We can fight back. Share their stories online, discuss them with others and support the brands they represent. Call out biased commentary, demand equal representation in sports media and back organizations promoting diversity in sports. Let us be clear: confidence is a strength, not a flaw. Together, we can create a world where Black women athletes are celebrated for their full selves, both on and off the court.

Knickerbocker Walt Frazier, 19, recovers loose ball during first period of game against Detroit in Madison Square Garden, New York, Thursday, Jan. 29, 1970. Contesting is Otto Moore, 20. (AP Photo)

On this day in 1945, basketball legend Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier was born in Atlanta

On March 29, 1945, basketball legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier was born in Atlanta. As the point guard for the New York Knicks, his impressive career included averaging 19.3 points per game and setting numerous team records in points scored, games played, and assists.

Basketball player Walt Frazier of the New York Knicks models a black mink fur coat outside Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel Tuesday, Sept. 10, 1974. The coat was one of a number of mink fashions displayed at the Annual Ben Kahn Fur Collection showing in New York. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)

Frazier’s career spanned seven NBA All-Star games. He clinched two championships with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973, solidifying his status as a basketball icon. Frazier was also the first athlete paid to endorse a sneaker, a suede style made by Puma.

In recognition of his remarkable contributions to basketball, Frazier was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1987.

New York Knicks Walt Frazier hangs over shoulders of Chicago Bulls John Mengelt after Mengelt tried to stop Frazier from reaching the basket with the ball in second quarter action of their NBA game at Madison Square Garden, in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 1977. Frazier managed to score despite the attempted block. (AP Photo/Carlos Rene Perez)
Walt Frazier, number one draft choice of the New York Knicks is shown outside Madison Square Garden in New York City, on June 22, 1967, after signing with the National Basketball Association Club. Frazier, 6′ 4″, was a guard on the Southern Illinois team that took the 1966 NIT Championships. (AP Photo/Ray Howard)

Click play to listen to the AURN News report from Clay Cane. Follow @claycane & @aurnonline for more.

Travis L. Williams

How Travis L. Williams Turned Tragedy into His Life’s Purpose at the Helm of Service and HBCU Basketball

Travis L. Williams is a family man, entrepreneur, philanthropist, Nupe, and veteran basketball coach with experience at HBCUs and PWIs. As CEO and founder of HBCU All-Stars LLC, a sports marketing, events and media company in Atlanta, the core of his work intersects basketball, service, faith, and purpose. Williams’ journey wasn’t easy. He didn’t grow up with a father figure in his home, and he lost his mom to lupus at age 12, but he turned tragedy into victory by dedicating his life to service. 

“I experienced a lot of ups and downs very early in life, but it all made me who I am today,” Williams tells AURN. “I come from a praying grandmother that trickled down to my mother, and so, I’m a man of faith, family. I live a life of service and just try to impact the world and make a difference.” 

Williams is making a difference through his namesake foundation, a non-profit that focuses on educating, empowering, and mentoring youth and families, the Patricia Williams Scholarship Fund, in honor of his late mother, and Patricia’s Blessed Closet, which provides clothes, shoes, food, books, and financial assistance to youth and families. He also gives back to youth in his hometown of Tifton, Ga., via free basketball camps and clinics, and provides opportunities for development and exposure for HBCU athletes and coaches. 

Next up for Williams is the third annual HBCU All-Star game on April 7 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, broadcasted live on CBS Sports. The HBC All-Star game is a college basketball showcase featuring some of the nation’s most talented basketball players from HBCUs, representing MEAC, SWAC, CIAA, and SIAC.  

“It’s an entire HBCU All-Star game experience. We get an opportunity to take the bands, the cheerleaders, and the dance team to that part of the country where HBCUs don’t exist,” Williams tells AURN. “We’ll have a large ceremony where we recognize this historic moment for these guys and celebrate them being the top players in the nation representing our four premier conferences, and the best in Black college basketball. Not only that, we’ll recognize some of our local leaders that have really impacted the Phoenix community. We’ll let them know that they matter to what we’re doing in Phoenix during this HBCU All-Star game experience.” 

The kick-off ceremony starts on April 3, and leading up to the main event, over Final Four Weekend, there will be a series of related events in Phoenix such as a community give back, a dedication at a renovated community basketball court, an HBCU-focused college admissions fair, and more. 

“God placed this vision in my spirit. I’m being very obedient. I’m staying faithful, and I’m serving my purpose, and I think that’s the best way to put it,” says Williams. “We haven’t been in this space, and so whenever we do our events, especially during Final Four Weekend, if there are historic events, and where we’re able to amplify Black excellence, Black culture experience, and Black history at the highest level, that’s where I am.”   

A former pitcher, Rube Foster was serving as both president of the Negro National League and owner-manager of the Chicago American Giants in 1921. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

On this day in 1920, Andrew ‘Rube’ Foster Established the NNL, Pioneering Black Professional Baseball

On February 13, 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster made history by establishing the Negro National League (NNL), marking a pivotal moment in African-American sports. Known as the “Father of Black Baseball,” Foster’s vision led to the creation of the first professional baseball league exclusively for Black players.

First colored world series, opening game Oct. 11, 1924, Kansas City, Mo. / photo by J.E. Mille[r], K.C., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The NNL, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, provided a platform for Black athletes to showcase their talent and passion for the game in an era marked by segregation and discrimination. Under Foster’s leadership, the NNL flourished, becoming a beacon of hope and opportunity for Black baseball players across the nation.

Despite facing numerous challenges, including financial constraints and racial prejudice, the NNL operated successfully until 1931, leaving a lasting legacy in American sports history.

Team publicity photo for 1919 Chicago American Giants, an African American baseball team | See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Click play to listen to the AURN News report from Clay Cane. Follow @claycane & @aurnonline for more.

Top 10 All-Time NBA 2K Soundtrack credit by Lysious/AURN

Top 10 All-Time NBA 2K Soundtracks

NBA 2K has been one of the, if not the most superior basketball video game out for some time now. Each year, people want to grab the new 2K due to its graphics, gameplay, soundtrack, and more. What makes the NBA 2K soundtrack so unique is that about every month or two, NBA 2K will have an update which adds songs to the soundtrack so you will always have something new to listen to while playing the game. This first started in NBA 2K20. Prior to NBA 2K20 the soundtrack stayed the same and would only change when a new NBA 2K was released. Now that we are up to NBA 2K24, the soundtrack changes and makes the game feel more ‘fresher’ and enjoyable for the person playing.

As an avid NBA 2K player, I created my own top 10 ‘All Time NBA 2K Soundtrack’ list. This list is completely opinion based and doesn’t necessarily mean these are the best NBA 2K songs ever, just my top 10 (no particular order)  based on what I like. So, here I go:

1. Come See Me – PARTYNEXTDOOR & Drake (NBA 2K17)

  • I chose this song because it’s calm and relaxing. This is the type of song where I can just let it play in the background and not have to engage in gameplay on NBA 2K. In my opinion NBA 2K17 had one of the better soundtracks that 2K has offered.

2. I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) – Jamie xx ft. Young Thug & Popcaan (NBA 2K17)

  • This was definitely one of my favorite songs on 2K. I really like Young Thug’s verse, he made this song enjoyable. As I said before, NBA 2K17 had a great soundtrack, and this is one of the better songs.

3. Didn’t Cha Know – Erykah Badu (NBA 2K23)

  • As I’m writing this I’m currently 25 years old, turning 26 this Sunday. I say that to say I’m young, but I am somewhat an old soul when it comes to music like this. Erykah Badu’s voice is super therapeutic and soothing. This is also another song I can just listen to without actually playing NBA 2K. This song is definitely in my top five.

4. Damage – PARTYNEXTDOOR, Halsey (NBA 2K19)

  • This song is uptempo and just puts me in a good mood overall. Both PARTYNEXTDOOR and Halsey (who I’m not very familiar with as an artist) did a great job on this song. 

5. West Like – Destiny Rogers, Kalan.FrFr (NBA 2K23)

  • I like the west-coast style sound this song offers. I became hip to Kalan.FrFr when I first heard this song, I like his sound. This is another song that puts me in a good mood.

6. B.R.O. (Better Ride Out) – A Boogie Wit da Hoodie ft. Roddy Ricch (NBA 2K24)

  • Me being a New York native, A Boogie is somewhat a pioneer to my generation. I would’ve listened to this song whether it was on 2K or not. I actually like A Boogie’s music. His sound is very unique. The hook is my favorite part about this song.

7. Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill (NBA 2K15)

  • As I said before, I have an old soul. I’ve always liked this song even before NBA 2K15, but as I heard more and more as I played, I fell more in love with it. From the beat to the hook this is just a great song. I really like the part of the song when Lauryn Hill says “How you gon’ win when you ain’t right within?” That lyric speaks volumes. 

8. Rise & Shine – J. Cole (NBA 2K16)

  • J. Cole used to be one of my favorite rappers when I was younger. This album came out in 2011, and this really stamped him in the Hip-Hop game, not to mention being signed to Jay-Z.  Lyrically J. Cole is on a different level than other artists. One of my favorite lyrics from this song is “Hope my momma gets to see Jamaica before she meets her maker”. That line right there gives me goosebumps because it’s so relatable. 

9. Chosen – Blxst, Tyga ft. Ty Dolla $ign (NBA 2K22)

  • This song is just chill vibes. I enjoy the hook alot, it’s catchy. Subconsciously you’ll just catch yourself nodding your head to it.

10. Gold – Kiiara (NBA 2K17)

  • This song is legendary when it comes to NBA 2K17. This was the song that would first play as your at the loading screen. I started hearing it so much that it became a favorite. I’m not exactly sure what she is saying, however I do know it’s catchy and has a great rhythm to it. Definitely a top five. This just goes to show how good the NBA 2K17 tracklist was.

Honorable Mentions

1. Black and White – Nasty C, Ari Lennox (NBA 2K24)

  • I really like the hook on this song. Ari Lennox did a great job on this track. I wasn’t familiar with her prior to this song. 

2. Dior – Pop Smoke (NBA 2K21)

  • Being from NY, I felt as if I had to include Pop in this list. This song had New York in a frenzy when it first came out. R.I.P. Pop Smoke.

3. AEAO – Dynamicduo, DJ Premier (NBA 2K16)

  • Every OG 2K player knows this song. This is a fan favorite for sure. The hook is extremely catchy.

See playlist “>HERE

Rihanna performs during the halftime show at the NFL Super Bowl 57 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Hollywood Live: Rihanna’s Super Bowl baby has finally arrived | Lamar Odom leaves car accident without injury

Rihanna’s Super Bowl baby has arrived. Of course, I’m talking about the big reveal that she was pregnant while performing at the Super Bowl back in February. Rihanna and A$AP Rocky have introduced their newborn son to the world. They posed for a series of adorable photos that featured the couple’s newborn baby son, Riot Rose — yes, that’s his name: Riot Rose — as well as their son, RZA, who’s 16 months old.

In the pictures, Rihanna’s holding the baby Riot while Rocky carries RZA on his shoulders, posing together for the first time as a family of four. And you know RZA’s already sporting some Fenty and Puma in this aged, silver, adorable miniature leather jacket.

Yep, the boy’s got it going on already. Rihanna was also photographed carrying her newborn alone as she leaned up against a car. I gotta tell you, these babies are so cute! Congratulations to the family.

Lamar Odom arrives at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 26, 2022, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Lamar Odom looked pretty good this morning after being involved in a three-car collision. The 43-year-old NBA champion looked to be in good shape as he headed to the grocery store in his Calabasas neighborhood. The former L.A. Lakers player was not injured but was shaken up after he wrecked his Mercedes.

Odom collided with two parked cars near his home at around 3 a.m. on his way back home from a friend’s house. Now, apparently, he dropped his phone, was reaching down to retrieve it while he was still driving, and ended up hitting one parked car, which bumped into another one in front of it.

No one was inside either car at the time. When authorities arrived on the scene, they did not file a police report or press charges. They also concluded that Odom did not need medical assistance, even though the impact did deploy his airbags.

And the best news? Lamar was sober! Yay! Good for you, Lamar. We’ve been rooting for you on this one.

And for all these stories and a whole lot more, don’t forget to follow Tanya Hart on social media @tanyahollywood and @aurnonline.

Click play to hear the Hollywood Live report from Tanya Hart:

FILE - NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin speaks on air during the NFL Network's NFL GameDay Kickoff broadcast before the start of an NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins, Nov. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Two men who were in a Phoenix hotel lobby the night Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin was accused of misconduct with an employee said Wednesday, March 8, 2023, they didn't see him do anything wrong and that his brief interaction with the woman appeared friendly. (AP Photo/Doug Murray, File)

Michael Irvin settles lawsuit against Marriott International

Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin has settled his lawsuit against Marriott International. In February, Irvin filed a lawsuit against Marriott and six others alleging that a hotel employee at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel falsely accused him of misconduct during the week of the Super Bowl. 

After the alleged incident became public, Irvin was removed from covering the NFL for ESPN. According to Irvin’s account, the interaction with the hotel employee was minimal.

Irvin vehemently denied any wrongdoing and no criminal charges were ever filed over the incident.

Irvin is now an analyst on NFL Network’s “GameDay.”

Click play to listen to the AURN News report from Clay Cane. Follow @claycane & @aurnonline for more.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, looks to pass the ball as Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

2023 NBA Finals Preview: A battle of superstars with mediocre athleticism and elite determination

The Showdown

The Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat have catapulted themselves to the NBA Finals platform following notably divergent paths through the 2023 season. Denver has consistently been a threat for the championship, barging into the playoffs as the number one seed in the Western Conference, and is currently the strong favorite to emerge victorious with odds at -425 (DraftKings Sportsbook).

Conversely, the Miami Heat had an underwhelming regular season and only managed to secure a playoff spot through the recently implemented play-in-game format. Despite starting the playoffs as the lowest-ranking team in the Eastern Conference, Miami has shocked its opponents much to the delight of Heat Nation. Let’s not forget, before the Eastern Conference Finals began, ESPN analytics gave Miami a 3% chance of knocking off the Celtics.

The Titans

The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic and the Heat’s Jimmy Butler both occupy a unique space in the NBA universe. They are perhaps the two superstars with the least amount of athleticism, yet through what appears to be sheer force of will they both have punched their tickets to the NBA Finals.

In many ways, they represent the epitome of the hard-hat wearing, lunch box toting “working man’s” kind of NBA player — a breed many older fans wistfully consider endangered in today’s league. Despite their shortcomings athletically, their drive and work ethic have propelled them into marquee players. So, while it may not be the classic Lakers-Celtics matchup many fans were clamoring for, it is a spectacle to behold and admire.

The “Joker”

Nikola “the Joker” Jokic, the Serbian-born sensation standing at 6’ 11’ and weighing 284 lbs, possesses an unprecedented skill set in the NBA. He can dominate in the paint like your typical big man but can also step out and knock down a three, dribble with ease, and thread the needle with a behind-the-back no-look pass to a cutting guard. Denver’s entire offensive strategy is essentially built around Jokic.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) collides with Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) in the second half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Final series Monday, May 22, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Jokic’s 2023 postseason averages include 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game, while shooting 53.8% from the field and 47.4% from beyond the arc. He has achieved a record eight triple-doubles in this year’s playoffs. That’s eight triple-doubles in the first three rounds of the playoffs, enough to knock off Wilt Chamberlain for the most in a single playoffs and there’s still one round left to go.

“Playoff Jimmy”

Not far behind Jokic’s pace statistically, Jimmy Butler has averaged 28.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game in this year’s playoffs. With a supporting cast that lacks the offensive firepower of the Nuggets, one could argue that Butler has faced the greater challenge.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) goes up for a shot against Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Derrick White (9) during the first half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Saturday, May 27, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

With a staggering nine undrafted players on the roster, the Heat are truly the underdogs America loves to root for. The highest drafted player on the roster is Cody Zeller — yes, the guy who clocks in for a mere 9.2 minutes per game donning a clear face mask. He’s currently averaging 2.6 points per game. Let that marinate for a moment.

Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) aims to score as Miami Heat center Cody Zeller (44) defends during the first half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 21, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Series Forecast

On paper, the Denver Nuggets are a clear favorite. They’ve outperformed all season, possess a more talented roster, and defeated the Heat in both their regular-season encounters. But if the 2023 NBA playoffs have taught us anything, it’s that this is the year of grit and determination overcoming raw talent.

A pivotal element will be whether Tyler Herro can make a comeback after a broken hand benched him in the first round. He’s reportedly eyeing a game 3 return, which could inject some desperately needed scoring prowess for Miami.

Another key will be the coaching matchup: Miami’s Erik Spoelstra vs. Denver’s Michael Malone. Both are seasoned veterans of the NBA’s coaching fraternity, but Spoelstra’s ability to get the most out of his roster and develop undrafted players into rotation pieces is outmatched.

Herro’s return, along with Miami’s celebrated “Heat Culture” and head coach Erik Spoelstra’s mastery of game planning and adjustments, are enough to overcome the dominance of Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

Prediction: Heat in 7.

Where to watch

The 2023 NBA Finals will kick off on Thursday, June 1, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

Jokic & Butler postseason highlights

  1. Butler’s transformation into ‘Jimmy Freakin’ Butler’ during the Heat’s game 1 victory over the Boston Celtics
  1. Jokic’s two unreal step back 3’s against the Lakers
  1. Jimmy eerily predicting the Heat would the Heat would overcome their game 7 loss to Boston in the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals
  1. Jokic’s two (huge) brothers picking up head coach Michael Malone after their conference finals victory over the Lakers
  1. Jokic gets into it with Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia and then keeps it classy and shows love to Ishbia the next game
  1. Jimmy drops 56 in Game 4 against the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks
  1. Joker drops 53 in Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns
  1. Jimmy Buckets says “no” to holding ECF trophy, says he’ll “hold the next one”
Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant (12) drives to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers' Jarred Vanderbilt during the first half in Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Friday, April 28, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Ja Morant’s Misstep (Again) & Cher Announces Her Breakup

As we approach the end of the NBA season — my prediction, by the way, is it’s probably going to end up being Miami versus Denver in the finals, and may the best team win — a second video of Ja Morant flashing a gun surfaced on social media last week.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he was shocked by the behavior of the Memphis Grizzlies guard. Well, fast forward, there have been a couple of these that have shown up, and since that announcement, all the live videos of Morant (I think) have been taken down. But in the meantime, it seems like he’s been suspended from all team activities pending league review. What can you say? Stupid loves stupid? I don’t know. I hate to talk about people like that. But Ja, come on.

Cher arrives at the premiere of “Chevalier,” Sunday, April 16, 2023, at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Somebody who isn’t stupid, of course, is our friend Cher. She and her boy toy called it quits. You know, everybody was so upset because she was 40 years older than him or something. In Cher’s mind, and in many of our minds, age is nothing but a number.

Well, she’s been tweeting over the weekend about turning 77, and she says she doesn’t feel old in the slightest bit. Her declaration of eternal youth comes after the breakup with her 37-year-old boy toy Alexander Edwards. She said they still care a lot about each other and they might reunite in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised.

And Cher, no matter what honey, you look fabulous. And we all love you and your music. You and Diana Ross, you girls are hard to keep up with.

And for all these stories and a whole lot more, don’t forget to follow Tanya Hart on social media @tanyahollywood and @aurnonline.

Click play to hear the Hollywood Live report from Tanya Hart: