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 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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Butler’s transformation into ‘Jimmy Freakin’ Butler’ during the Heat’s game 1 victory over the Boston Celtics
Jokic’s two unreal step back 3’s against the Lakers
Jimmy eerily predicting the Heat would the Heat would overcome their game 7 loss to Boston in the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals
Jokic’s two (huge) brothers picking up head coach Michael Malone after their conference finals victory over the Lakers
Jokic gets into it with Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia and then keeps it classy and shows love to Ishbia the next game
Jimmy drops 56 in Game 4 against the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks
Joker drops 53 in Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns
Jimmy Buckets says “no” to holding ECF trophy, says he’ll “hold the next one”
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.
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.
This weekend marks the Final Four, a culmination of busted brackets and Cinderella stories. The 2023 tournament has truly exemplified madness in March. However, another kind of madness has been brewing in professional basketball for years, underscored by the recent departures of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets to the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, respectively.
A new era of player empowerment
LeBron James’ “Decision” to take his talents to South Beach, leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, marked the beginning of the “player empowerment” era. Since then, high-profile players have used their superstar power and influence to pressure management, forcing trades to desired teams, regardless of their current contract situations. Occasionally, these players create chaos until the downside of keeping them outweighs the benefits (James Harden serves as a prime example).
LeBron’s initial move to Miami, where he teamed up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, resulted in two NBA championships in four years – not bad, but not as impressive as initially predicted. Durant’s move to the Warriors earned him two championship rings, but Golden State had already won two championships before his arrival and likely would have continued to succeed with or without him.
However, these examples represent the best outcomes. Many other instances, including the recent situation involving Harden, Irving, and Durant in Brooklyn, have ended disastrously. Pegged by many as the ultimate “inmates running the asylum” experiment, the trio ended up playing a total of 16 games together and winning a single playoff series. Other low points include: KD demanding the team fire Steve Nash and Sean Marks or trade him, Kyrie missing 35 home games due to his refusal to get the Covid-19 vaccine, and, of course, the ultimate departure of all three superstars without even coming close to a Larry O’Brien trophy.
Even LeBron’s (and subsequently Anthony Davis’) move to the Lakers could be considered a bust, despite the 2020 NBA bubble championship. They may be headed for their second straight year of missing the playoffs despite the added play-in games.
Traditional basketball enthusiasts often assert that the game thrived when players concentrated on their performance and left team matters to management, attributing the absence of team chemistry and lasting franchise success to this shift in power dynamics. However, it is interesting to note that these very same purists frequently champion labor rights and personal liberties in other aspects of their existence.
The right to choose
The most talented employees in almost any profession typically work where they want, for whom they want. Billionaire NBA owners might not like it, but it’s the truth. Reaching the NBA is a monumental achievement, and only about 5-10% of NBA players are considered “superstars.” Almost every NBA player makes it to the league because of their talent, unlike some owners who have inherited financial and social privilege through generational wealth.
It’s impossible to ignore that every principal NBA owner besides Michael Jordan, Vivek Ranadivé, Joseph Tsai, and Dwayne Wade is white, and the racial dynamics of white owners trying to limit the freedom of a majority-Black NBA player population is very real. These owners are, for the most part, uber-successful business people used to getting what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.
To them (and many NBA fans), the thought of letting young Black men choose their own paths, while making millions of dollars, despite potential objections from ownership and front offices, is often just too much to swallow.
Media gatekeepers and the rise of athlete-driven content
The power struggle between the league’s stars and management often unfolds through passive-aggressive media exchanges. NBA writers and “insiders” are sometimes used as mouthpieces for general managers, agents, or owners, sharing information that favors one side or the other based on their connections. There’s a reason certain reporters, like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Adam Schefter, always seem to get the biggest scoops before anyone else, and then sometimes don’t report on certain stories at all.
Many players have gotten wise to the notion that the entire sports media industrial complex is not always beneficial to their brand (or finances). With the rise of social media and plug-and-play platforms for podcasting and streaming, it’s much easier for players to create their own identity, voice, and surrounding revenue streams without the help of mainstream media. Why do an interview on broadcast TV when you can create, shape, and release your own content without oversight from league partners?
LeBron’s media company, Springhill, has done just this. It brings the athlete’s voice directly to the consumer with a message that’s tailor-made by the athlete themselves. It can even serve as an instrument to put pressure on NBA franchises or brands that don’t align with their social and political goals.
Draymond Green’s successful foray into the podcast space with The Draymond Green Show is yet another example. And he’s not just lining up a post-retirement media job, he’s doing it while he’s playing. Often commenting on on-court spats with opposing players, technical foul calls, and ongoing social issues.
So even if you have issues with the on-court results of player empowerment, there’s more to life than just dribbling a basketball.
Cat’s out of the bag
Regardless of what you may think about the new power dynamics of the NBA, one thing is for certain: there’s no going back. Well, at least for the best of the best.
The truth is it all boils down to value and talent. If a player is valuable enough that their presence alone can transform a team’s playoff chances (and the entire economy surrounding the franchise), they’re always going to have a say in their future employment prospects – whether you like it or not.
This new crop of NBA superstars has not only realized their power on the floor but off of it as well, advocating for social justice in the face of constant police violence and systemic racism. Gone are the days of “toeing the line,” and the NBA is better off for it.
New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter is opening up about his once-strong friendship with Alex Rodriguez and how it fell apart. At 48 years old, Jeter is telling all aspects of his life and talking about the 20-year Major League Baseball career he spent entirely with the Yankees.
The new ESPN documentary series called The Captain includes many of the off-putting interview statements over the years that led to the erosion of trust between the two baseball superstars.
Rodriguez and Jeter both came up in the major leagues at a young age–Jeter was called up in 1995 at 20, Rodriguez in 1994 at 18. They were close friends–they would crash at each other’s houses and apartments in the early ’90s.
But what caused their friendship to sour was that 2001 Esquire profile of Rodriguez, where he said Jeter was, “blessed with true talent around him and that he never had to lead.”
Okay, I don’t think Derek liked that. Jeter said those comments bothered him because he’s extremely loyal. He also said he worked hard and would never have said that about Alex. Well, of course, the media kept putting it up there and it just became noise, which frustrated the Yankees captain.
Anyway, he talks about other stuff in the documentary as well, but he says that he really feels bad about how things played out with Rodriguez. Well, now A-Rod is saying he feels bad about it too–let’s hope they kiss and make up.
In other news, Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah has pleaded guilty to federal charges of organizing a $5 million telemarketing scam and praying on hundreds of elderly people. Shah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The second count of conspiracy to commit money laundering was dropped.
Shah’s assistant, Stuart Smith, said he also had a part in the same scam and was due to testify against his former employer until she pleaded guilty. The U.S. Attorney’s office says that Shah faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Good Lord. I don’t know how she’s going to take that, because she is not exactly Martha Stewart. Anyway, the reality star also agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and pay restitution up to $9.5 million. Addressing the court, Shah said she knew she was wrong and is so sorry for hurting so many people, including her husband, children, family, friends, and supporters.
The NFL has its first Black female president, Sandra Douglass Morgan. She will lead the Las Vegas Raiders. As a native of Las Vegas, Morgan says it’s a dream come true. For 20 years, she served as a practicing attorney. She also formerly worked as the Nevada gaming control board chair and executive director, the first African American in the state’s history.
Her husband, Don Morgan, was an NFL defensive back for four seasons after playing for the Nevada Wolf Pack. Morgan’s hire comes two months after interim president Dan Ventrelle left after less than a year on the job. A Las Vegas newspaper reports that he claims he was fired in retaliation for bringing concerns from multiple employees to the NFL about a “hostile work environment.” The Raiders became the first team in the modern NFL to hire a Black head coach when they hired Art Shell back in 1989.
The main story about sports betting is all the revenue it brings in but what about the peace of mind it gives gamblers that no longer have to rely on under the table deals? I sat down with avid bettor Aaron Felder to discuss the changes and benefits he sees.
Click ▶️ to listen to Brian Jeffries’s AURN News story:
Lead: it’s easy to fall for the tremendous influx in cash sports betting is bringing to Maryland but the tax dollars are only a part of the story gambling help centers try to assist the community as best they can.
Click ▶️ to listen to Brian Jeffries’s AURN News story: