LeBron James asked a fellow athlete to eat with him, got shot down

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You’d have to imagine that on those lists people do of “people you want to have a dinner party with,” that would show up a few times. He’s a polarizing athlete and the world’s best basketball player. But apparently one Olympic swimmer had the chance, and turned him down. 

Yup, LeBron James. Shot down. 

From the Daily News: 

USA swimmer Lauren Perdue tweeted that LeBron had asked her to dinner.

Perdue (@LoPerdue) tweeted “Lebron James just invited me to dinner… Um wuuuutttt?!?” She also sent out an Instagram picture of her standing with a horn-rim clad James and the caption “Oh heyy Lebon.”

via .

Oh, Lauren. That’s not going to go well. 

Naturally, everyone started speculating that James was pursuing Perdue, you know, romantically, because the internet is collectively a five-year-old. But sadly for TMZ and the like, no matter what James does in his own time, this was not such an instance. From the Charlotte Observer: 

“He did,” Perdue said. “He was kind of joking but he was basically like, ‘Would you like to come eat with me at the dining hall?’ And I said, ‘Um, I’m sorry, I have a curfew. So I turned that one down, yeah.”

One more note: Perdue said LeBron was “gracious” and certainly didn’t imply that he was asking her to anything other than a meal at the Olympic Village dining hall.

via .

Just to review, Michael Phelps doesn’t hang out with Olympic athletes and draws a ton of criticism, James reaches out to the Olympic swimming team and gets a ton of rumor mongering. There are lots of stories of James’ adventures in hiade an offer for West Ham United defender Issa Diop, it has been revealed.Le 10 Sport says United made their move for Diop as an aat’s on the advice of former United midfielder Kleberson.”I don’t think it would be great for Maddison to join United,” the World Cup winner told USsummer move to Tottenham.Spurs boss Jose Mourinho has admitted interest in the Swede and his RBL teammate Yussuf Poulsen.Agent Hasan Cetinkaya responded: “I can say this: everyone will soon see what will happen to Emil Forsberg.”On Forsberg’s form, h-Bookies.com.”They [Leicester] have had a good start to the season but when you do a big jump from a slternative to No1 defensive target Harry Maguire, of Leicester City.United have made a verbal offer of €55m plus a chos social life, but this was something harmless. 

But seriously, who says no to going to dinner with LeBron?

Well, and . Probably them.

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Bucks GM makes it clear they’re not in a hurry to extend Brandon Jennings

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(Getty Images) The ‘ relationship with Brandon Jennings has become pretty complicated. After a huge rookie season, Jennings looked like the point guard of the future for Milwaukee. But Jennings never really took a step forward with his jumper or shot selection. that he was “doing his homework” on the bigns hurling abuse at Jesse Lingard after their FA Cup win at Derby County.Lingard was targeted at Pride Park, and United have indicated they will be contacting Derby officials to see if they assist them in identifying those responsible for the appalli markets for free agency. at the trade deadline, for whatever reason. On Friday, Bucks General Manager John Hammond told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that there’s not going to be any big push to re-sign the speedy gunner this summer when he hits restasting a wide net to find their next manager after the sacking of Niko Kovac.The Guardian says their top target is Ralf Rangnick, but they have not ruled out a move for former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.Rangnick has a lot of Bundesliga experience, haricted free agency.  

John Hammond on a possible contract ext. for Brandon Jennings: “it’s not something we have to do.”

— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) Well, then. When the Bucks traded for , there were questions about how there would be enough shots to go around. With Jennings making it clear he’s interested in a market upgrade, bringing in a better, more traditional point guard (or even rolling with for a year) might not be the best course of action. The Bucks will likely wait on Jennings to sehn Barnes says Jose Mourinho lacked the support at Manchester United that Jurgen Klopp has enjoyed with Liverpool.Mourinho was sacked by United in December.After seeing Liverpool reach the Champions League final, Barnes said: “They trust him because e if he makes a significant jump in the final year of his rookie contract and then decide at the trade deadline whether to dump him for assets or commit to him by signing or matching his offers in restricted free agency in 2013. But the Bucks are trying to find a new identity, and it’s not clear whether that identity involves Jennings or not.

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s for his recent form.But Kovac says: “Philippe is

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n-loan Barcelona midfielder has been heavily criticised in the local press for his recent form.But Kovac says: “Philippe is a player, a person, who always puts himself at the service of the team. Many expect from him magic gestures, as he shows in tr

center of Thursday’s against the Nets with a broken nose, the team announced.Hamilton broke his nose in the second quarter of the game. He finished with two points and one rebounds while logging only two minutes of game acttheir number one.The second choice keeper has come in for the injured Hugo Lloris.But his impressive displays have left Scotland legend Hutton very impressed.Gazzaniga started against Liverpool in thDaniel James has what it takes to succeed at Manchester United.The Welsh winger got his first goal for the Red Devils after coming off the bench against Chelsea on Sunday.James got the fourth goal in a 4-0 win at Old Trafford, with his deflected effoe Premier League at the weekend and was very confidion.

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Before Showtime can begin, D’Antoni has to make peace with Magic

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Before Mike D’Antoni can reinvent Showtime in Los Angeles, he has to contend with criticism from the architect of the original Showtime, none other than Magic Johnson.

 Johnson, a Lakers executive and TV analyst, has made no secret of the fact that A) the Lakers shouldn’t have hired Mike Brown to replace Phil Jackson in the first place, and B) they should’ve hired Jackson to replace Brown. He said on Twitter that he’s been “mourning” the team’s decision to hire D’Antoni insullback was presented to local media on Wednesday.Perez was spoke to a room filled with Mendy’s family and club ambassadors like Roberto Carlos among others.”We’ve been through truly exciting days. We want to elevate the history of Real Madrid,” the tead, and added Wednesday night in his role as studio analyst, “I don’t believe in Jim Buss. He’s made two critical mistakes already.”

 In his introductory news conference Thursday, D’Antoni dealt with Magic’s backlash as deftly as he could, saying he planned to reach out to Johnson in an effort to earn his approval.

 “I’m going to do everything in my power to make it a good decision,” D’Antoni said. “I can understand all the stuff that went on. That’s normal. Phil’s a great coach, is a great coach, will be a great coach. I understand that.

 “Magic is, when you think of the Lakers, you think of him,” he said. “I’ve reached out to him; I will reach out to him. We would love to be able to play Showtime-type basketball. Now they might have done it the best that you can do it. We would like to get someplace close to that, and I think that would be awesome. So what better person to talk to and pick his brain than him?”

More on LakersRelated links

 Later Thursday, Johnson took to Twitter to backtrack and urge Lakers fans to support D’Antoni.

“The decision’s been made that D’Antoni is the coach so we must support him,” Johnson said. “I appreciate him reaching out to me & look forward to speaking.” 

Kobe Bryant, who’s said that D’Antoni was his first choice before he knew Jackson was an option, said of Magic’s earlier comments: “Everybody has an opinion. But his opinion is valued greater than most others because of what he’s done with this franchise. I can only speak from my perspective in my dealings with Jim and he’s been phenomenal. So far he’s made all the right choices. Going back in time, I’m sure he would’ve rathSouthampton forward Che Adams scored in their under-23 side’s loss to Leicester City.The Saints also had Oriol Romeu involved in the game.Adams opened the scoring, but George Hirst, Callum Wright and Connor Tee ensured that the Foxes won the game.It er called me and consulted me on the Mike Brown hiring, but that is what it is. Other than that, he’s been behind some pretty big trades, some pretty big moves for this organization.”

 Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he was “disappointed” that Magic criticized the hire.

 “He’s entitled to his opinion, and I respect his opinion,” Kupchak said. “And I don’t agree, with the exception of Mike Brown. I didn’t see the comments, but I’m not going to stand here and say we did not make a mistake with Mike because he’s no longer with us.”

 Kupchak said he would’ve wanted to speak with D’Antoni two years ago when Jackson stepped down, but D’Antoni was still employed by the Knicks. Citing the protocol in the coaching fraternity, Kupchak said for the same reason he could not and would not speak with D’Antoni or Jackson while Brown was still in place.

 “Not only are Mike D’Antoni and Mike Brown represented by the same agent, I would never want to contact a coach before you let another coach go,” Kupchak said. “That’s just unheard of in this business amongst the coaching fraternity. So we couldn’t contact anybody, least of all Mike D’Antoni, until we let go of Mike Brown.”

 This is where the timeline gets puzzling. Kupchak went on to describe how he’d come to conclude that D’Antoni’s up-tempo style emphasizing more possessions to accentuate the talent of the current roster was a better fit than Jackson’s triangle offense. So if that were the case, why were Kupchak and Buss speaking with Jackson about the job at all? It’s not like they weransfer market.Bruce is upbeat following a “very, very good meeting” with owner Mike Ashley this week.”It went very well,” Bruce said of the meeting with Ashley. “We just reiterated what I’ve been saying to you guys. We showed what we are trying to e unaware of Jackson’s coaching philosophy.

 “That seems contradictory,” one reporter said to Kupchak Thursday.

 “It is,” Kupchak said. “And that’s why we hired Mike D’Antoni.”

 Basically, Kupchak said the decision to meet with Jackson was strictly a response to public pressure that mounted almost immediately after Brown was fired.

 “When we relieved Mike [Brown] of his duties, clearly what we anticipated took place, which was a groundswell of support for Phil Jackson,” Kupchak said. “And to be honest with you, by late Friday night after the game and early Saturday morning, if we had to make a decision at that point, statistically there was a real good chance that Phil Jackson would be our coach. There was just so much public support that it might be difficult not to hire him.

 “He really wasn’t a consideration going into the decision to relieve Mike [Brown],” Kupchak said. “My feeling was that he didn’t want to coach anymore, and when he in fact left two years ago, he felt he stayed a year too long. So it really wasn’t something we thought about at that time. But once we got to the initial meeting with Phil and we had some time to challenge, in our minds, the public support, and look at our team and the personnel on our team, we gradually got to the position that we could and we should do what we think is right for the team — not only for the present, but going forward.”

 Kupchak said when he and Buss looked at the roster, the coaches available and the vision they had for a team with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard on it, D’Antoni’s style was a better fit for the way they wanted to play “a year or two down the road.”

 “It took us a couple of days to sort through that, and we knew there would be a ridiculous amount of criticism for making this decision,” Kupchak said. “But it was clearly and only a basketball decision.”

 If you’re confused, as far as we know Mike D’Antoni is the coach of the Lakers, and not Phil Jackson. How that really happened, maybe we’ll never know.

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CBSSports.com Basketball Podcast: Lakers Drama and LeBron James

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Matt Moore joins me to discuss all the drama that is the in the post-D’Antoni hiring process and weigh in on Monday night’s action in the .

Phil Jackson is upset at the Lakers’ hiring process and we’re trying to figure out if what he’s saying is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Also, is it rightof Kylian Mbappe has told PSG he wants to join Real Madrid this summer, it has been revealed.ABC says Mbappe’s personal legal representative Delphine Verheyden met with PSG chief Leonardo where it was made clear of the striker’s intentions.Verheyden for him to throw Mike D’Antoni under the bus?

We then get into ‘ ridiculous second half against the in which he scored 32 of his 38 points. Is this theiker Erling Haaland.While he has been linked with Manchester United and Arsenal, a move to sister club Leipzig has also been mentioned as a possibility for the teen.And a bullish Nagelsmann stated, “Of course I would take him. “He is a very gd midfielder Declan Rice.The Irons and England star, 20, is said to be the Old Trafford club’s No 1 target for the next window, says Goal.Rice would cost £80m but the club hierarchy – which includes executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward – are preparedood stri evolution of his game or is it a hot streak? And what’s wrong with the  defense this season?

We review the rest of last night’s action and look ahead to tonight’s. 

. You , and you should  on Facebook. Follow .

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OUTLOOK: Kenneth Faried

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forward really came into his own last season during the team’s Maldini could yet stay after the departures of fellow director Leonardo and coach Rino Gattuso.Milan chief Ivan Gazidis has offered Maldini a new role with greater responsibility wSolskjaer is prepared to stick with Anthony Martial.The Mirror says despite a frustrating season from the forward, United and Solskjaer will keep faith with Martial, who cost £36million – rising to £58m – from Monaco back in 2015.The 23-year-old Frithin the club.This could include choosing a new coach with Gattuso’s franchise-record run of 57 wins. Faried had abdundant energy and consistently out-worked and out-classed his bigger opponents. The 6-foot-8 energetic hard worker averaged 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last year but it was the little things that set him apart. He also put up over a block and steal per game and consistently was a difference maker for the Nuggets. He should give new coach Brian Shaw the same grit and determination in his third season and should even display a more polished offensive game. The Manimal, as he is called, lacks a solid mid-range shot and isn’t the best fited are set to continue negotiations with Genk regarding midfielder Sander Berge.The Norwegian international is a key target for the Blades in January, as they hope to strengthen their squad for the rest of the season.Sky Sports reports that Genk anree throw shooter, but you can be sure he’s worked to improve upon that in the offseason. The 23-year-old started 80 games last year and showed great improvement. We expect a similar continual improvement in 2013-14 and consider Faried a man worth drafting beginning in the middle rounds on Draft Day.

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rnets in the summer in a permanent rom Barcelona.R

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Bobcats center was ruled out for Friday’s contest against thet the Hornets in the summer in a permanent rom Barcelona.Reports claimed that the La Liga champions are planning a £70million swoop for the striker this summer.It has been suggested that the Catalan side could offer Arsenal both Andre Gomes and Samuel Umtiti to tempt Unai Emery into acceptindeal. The Pozzo family own both clubs.He told Gazzetta dello Sport: “At Watford the cycle was over, Pozzo opened my return and luckily I still hadn’t sold the house. “Besiktas? I almost said yes, the contrac Heat as he continues to nurse sprained left ankle. Mullens has now missed five straight games with his injury and the club is considering shutting him down for the season, reports the team’s official Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque says they must be patient with Brazilian pair Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes.Del Bosque says the attackers must be given room and time to develop.”Vinicius and Rodrygo are exceptional cases because they have co website.

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VIDEO: Blake Griffin hits Chandler Parsons with a low blow

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Beware of . He’s known for his vicious posters, but he’s far more dangerous in a postgame handshake line.

Following the – game way back on Jan. 15, Griffin got with a subtle but blatant … tap.

Why is Parsons outing Griffin for his move now? That motive is unclear (possibly because the video only surfaced on YouTube on Thursday), but here’s the tweet that Parsons used to make the world aware:

Seriously dude? @ , @ .

— Chandler Parsons (@ChandlerParsons)

Griffin responded within minutes with his excuse:

@ spraineacho wants to stay.Marca says the defender has considered his options and believes remaining at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to be the best of the bunch.The Spaniard knows his standing at the club but feels that, despite being offered prominent roled my wrist and had to keep it moving.. My bad didn’t even see you.

— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin)

Now, before you get all huffy and yell at Griffin, understand that he and Parsons are good pals. “Channy,” after, you guess it, has rejected Manchester United’s latest new contract offer.The Sun says De Ginish in 13th after a horrible start to the 2018/19 campaign.Despite uncertainty over Rafa Benitez’s future, Ghana international Atsu remains optimistic about the club’s prospects.”Newcastle is a very big club, the fans are passionate about the club ea has made it clear he is not extending his deal beyond next season, piling pressure on Old Trafford chiefs to sell him this summer.United have failed to meet De Gea’s mark Chandler Parsons.

One thing’s for sure, though: The next time that the Rockets and Clippers meet, Griffin might find it wise to wear a cup. Tapbacks are, well, you know.

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r last three matches since Henderson was sidelined

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Spurs guard was not much of a factorse.The Reds have lost two of their last three matches since Henderson was sidelined with injury.Speaking after the loss to Chelsea on Wednesday, Henderson said: “He’s been very good for us this season.”Very important. And he is our captain. We apprec during Tuesday’s contest against the Timberwolves. Mills finished with eight points in the 10ons has announced he’s leaving Barcelona.The exciting midfield talent, who has long been followed by Chelsea, is expected to pop up at PSG.Simons has taken to social media today to confirm the decision.”I have felt the support and affection of hundre7-83 defeat on 2 of 7 shooting from the field. He also added six assists and one rebound to his stat line, while logging 24 minhe decision to overturn the red card of Tottenham attacker Heung-min Son.Spurs appealed the forward’s dismissal for his tackle on Andre Gomes during the draw at Everton, which led to the Portugal international suffering a fracture dislocation to his utes of game action.

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Report: Kings ‘unlikely’ to offer Tyreke Evans extension

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To some it will be shocking, to others, completely expected, but either way, it looks like will be a restricted frSergio Aguero.At the age of 31, with 173 goals in 250 appearances for City, Aguero is in the twilight of his Etihad career.Just how do you go about replacing a talent so rare?“I don’t know if you can develop that type of player,” Goater told the Loee agent this summer. 

From .com: 

Evans has shown flashes in his first three seasons, but not enough to pique ‘s interest to give him a deal. The Kings will “probably not” be offering an extension, a source says.

via .

The NBA.com piece talks about how few of the 2009 class will wind up getting the prized extensions, Evans is no exception. But we’re talking about one of the few players to ever log 20-5-5 in their rookie season not getting an extension. You can say that Evans has disappointed based off his playmaking and shot development, you can say the Kings have absolutely blown it by never committing to a plan with him, you can say it was an impossibility for him to thrive due to his postional confounds inherent in his play, and any and all would be correct. 

Evans hasham fullback Serge Aurier is wanted back in France.The Sun says the 26-year-old is wanted back for a return to Ligue 1 two years after leaving Paris Saint-Germain for Spurs in a £23million micester City boss Brendan Rodgers was happy to see Harvey Barnes on the scoresheet in defeat to Burnley.Rodgers was pleased with Barnes’ goalscoring contribution after the Academy graduate netted his second strike in three games in all competitions.Hove.PSG are among the teams looking at bringing him back to been on the cliff for months, and with the deadline just a little over two weeks away, it makes sense they’re backing off. It doesn’t mean that Evans won’t remain a King, but it will enable him to test the market, or fail to successfully do so. That’s the gamble the Kings are making. 

Meanwhile, depending on how the Kings season goes, you should consider Evans officially on the trade market, despite whatever the team will say. Former Rookies of the Year with expiring rookie deals don’t come along often and if a team needs a spark, Evans is just the type of player you aim for. 

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NBA warns Cavs’ Donald Sloan, Timberwolves’ J.J. Barea for flopping

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If you had , or in your office pool, tough luck. Your first victims of the ‘s new flopping rules: and .

that both Barea and Sloan have been warned for flopping. The first violation results in a warning, the second a $5,000 fine, the third a $10,000 fine, the gning of Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace.Wan-Bissaka has signed a five-year contract with an option to extend for a further year.He said, “It’s an unbelievable feeling and an honour to call myself a Manchester United player and something I know thafourth a $15,000 fine and the fifth a $30,000 fine with any subsequent violations possibly resulting in a suspension.

Barea got caught exaggerating from a swinging left arm from while Sloan, well, I’m not sure what Sloan was doing.

Both flops were very cle.The Welsh winger made an immediate impact by netting a goal against Chelsea on his debut.James admits the goal in front of the Stretford End was one of the best moments of his career, along with his winner for Wales on his first full international sar violations of the league’s rules — and exactly tat his former Arsenal teammates.Oxlade-Chamberlain has highlighted the mental strength of this Reds team as they sit eight points clear at the top of the table.“There’s times in my career where I definitely haven’t gone into all games 100 per cent he type of plays that the NBA is trying to eliminate, for very good reason.

The league is making an effort to stop foul simulation with the new rules, and part of the deterrent being the public shaming that comes with being outed for it. Next time for Sloan and Barea though, it hits their wallets.

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s in their long-term plans.Mac Allister has comple

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Wizards centefootball chief Dan Ashworth insists Alexis Mac Allister is in their long-term plans.Mac Allister has completed a season-long loan move to Argentinian giants Boca Juniors until 30th June 2020.The 20-year-old joined the Seagulls in January this year, br just missed out on a double-double during Tuesday’s contest against the Bulls. Okafor finished with 10 points and nine rebounds in the 90-86 win on 4 of 10 shooting from the field. He went 2 of 4 from the charity stripe aiverpool captain Sami Hyypia says Steven Gerrard could handle the manager’s job.Gerrard is ar Galatasaray.Fotospor says Galatasaray have held talks transfer talks with City legend Silva.The Spaniard will leave the Blues at the end of the season.The Super Lig side want to sign the 33-year-old and have held talks with his representatives.Howelready being linked with the Liverpool job (for the post-Klopp era) after just one season as Rangers manager. Does Hyypia believe Gerrard could cope with the nd also added one assist to his stat line, while logging 22 minutes of game action.

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nt surgery on a broken right thumb, will be openi

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coach Maurice Cheeks said Monday that he’s hopeful guard , who underwent surgery on a broken right thumb, will be opening night against Washington, the Detroit Free Press reports. 

Stuckey underwent the surgery on Friday and the plan has him removing the splint just before the opener against tstle United fans he’s happy where he is.Schar insists he is happy at the club.The defender has been linked with a mo.The Blues are sweating on a ruling, as are PSG, reports Le 10 Sport, with several potential deals in place with Chelsea.Fullback pair Thomas Meunier and Layvin Kurzawa are both interesting Chelsea, plus defender Thiago Silva and attacker Julian Draxve to AC Milan this summer.”To be honest I heard so much, about me and about all of our players,” said the defender. “This club nded down to Dele Alli after his controversial coronavirus video would be “unnecessary”.The England star has apologised after posting a clip on Snapchat in which he suggested that an Asian man in his vicinity had the deadly virus.He is expected to fahas plhe Wizards. 

“I’m hoping,” Cheeks said. “We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m hoping he will be ready.”

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Charles Barkley would be interested in Sixers GM position

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(Getty Images) That sound you hear is thouands of reporters foaming at the mouth for a chance at this. General Managers generally are reserved guys who don’t say much, don’t make a fuss, and are haraxy, the 38 year-old striker has a contract offer from AC Milan and also has fielded interest from Everton this week.However, Gazzetta dello Sport says Ibrahimovic is unsure about taking up Milan’s offer.The Swede is hesitating as he’s concerned he md to get ahold of. Charles Barkley is none of those things, but apparently is interested in the opening for Philadelphia GM with Rod Thorn retiring. From CBS Philly:

94WIP’s Anthony Gargano is reporting that Charles Barkley would be interesting in becoming the nen for Juve ahead of PSG and Barcelona.The former Ajax captain explained: “My future? I thought about it a lot, I decided to wait until the end of the holidays. I made my decision to leave after the semi final with Ajax last year. “Many people talk abw Sixers general manager. Gargano asked Barkley via text message if he’d be interested in being the Sixers GM, and Barkley responded “yes sir.”

via .Barkley has no experience in managing an . This doesn’t exclude him from the position. Take a look around the league and that’s pretty easy to see. He would be a big-name acquisition to instill some excitement Adrian admits speaking with AC Milan goalkeeper Pepe Reina before signing for Liverpool.Reina was happy to recommend his former club to the former West Ham keeper.Adrian said, “I have spoken to quite a few. Most of all, Pepe Reina, with whom I am vin the team, but it’s a pretty risk bringing him on board. The Sixers, meanwhile, for the position. Barkley might be worth an interview for PR’s sake, but don’t count on seeing Barkley explaining draft day deals any time soon. 

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Kobe breaks down Dwight Howard’s free-throw shooting problems

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center sucks at free throws. 

He’s so bad at it that I feel like I end up writing something about it every three days. In fact, if he keeps up his current pace of 11.1 attempts per game and 46.9 percent from the line, he’ll have just the 10th seasonew manager Jose Mourinho.Spurs sacked Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday evening and moved swiftly to fill the vof Bradford City.Armando Broja broke the deadlock after nine minutes and had an argument to claim the second, which was eventually credited to Marcel Lewis, as well.Midfielder Lewis doubled his tally after 65 minutes but that was after Henry Lawrenceacant role, hiring the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss in his place.A statement on the THST website read: “The club has moved quickl in hiited hero Gary Neville believes Chelsea will beat Liverpool on Sunday.Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool face a tough test at Stamford Bridge this weekend, and Neville is hoping Chelsea can get a result.”Sunday’s a big game,” said Neville on Sky Sports. “The lstory of more than 10 attempts per game and less than 50 percent accuracy. He already did this last season when he attempted 10.6 freebies per game and made just 49.1 percent of them.

Wilt Chamberlain accomplished this five times and Shaquille O’Neal has done it twice. Maybe this is another attempt by Dwight to be just like Shaq? has his own theories on how Dwight got to this point and says the root of the problem is with basketball development in this country. :

“I think it all depends on how you’re raised, how you’re taught the game from when you were little,” Bryant said. “I think that’s why it’s such a critical thing in how we develop our players growing up, whether it’s AAU and all these other camps.

“I think they pretty much wanted (Howard) to play inside the paint his entire career, ever since he was 12 years old. They wanted him to dunk everything and finish everything at the rim. They didn’t want him shooting it because he was bigger than everybody, and, as a consequence, they left out the shooting aspect of his game.

“If you contrast that with some of the European players growing up, they’re taught at an early age how to play all aspects of the game — from ball-handling, to shooting. So, I think it’s really just about our system here in the States and how we teach kids how to perform.”

That … is actually an incredibly cogent point by Kobe Bryant. That’s not to say it should absolve Howard from being able to make an acceptable percentage of his free throws. However, it wouldn’t shock many of us if he was never taught to properly shoot a basketball because the focus was always on his size and strength.

For players who don’t have the developmental benefit of having a late growth spurt in their high school years, they’re often just thrown to the basket by coaches and told to stay there until they’ve finished dominating the competition of smaller children and peers. In the NBA, you have to be a special kind of physically dominant (i.e. – Shaq) player to be able to still get away with that.

Although, it seems weird that once Dwight jumped from high school to the pro ranks, he wouldn’t have been pulled aside by a shooting coach and forced to learn how to make free throws. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to take the advice from others on a sensitive subject like this, which magnifies the vulnerability in his skills.

Also in that piece by Dave McMenamin, Howard apparently was given tips by and then had this comment:

“My mind cannot get clouded with everybody telling me how to shoot a free throw,” Howard said. “I just have to go up there and shoot it my way and not get caught up in what everybody else is saying, because that’s when I miss.”

“My way,” huh? Well, your way, Dwight, isn’t very sporting or even good. As a career 58.4 percent free throw shooter, Howard’s way doesn’t exactly seem to strike much confidence in those who want/need better results. It’s quite possible he’s received so much advice over the years that it gets into his head and causes him to doubt himself. And when that happens, good luck making your free throws on a pressure-packed stage.

Still, his way also includes his own form, which looks horrendous to the marginally trained eye. His way has caused teams to foul him when he doesn’t have the ball because they’re confident it will sink his team. When you have guys like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash on your team, you’re not taking advice from just anybody. 

You’re taking advice from a guy who has made the fourth-most free throws in NBA history with a career 83.8 percent success rate (Bryant) and another guy who is tied with Mark Price for the highest free throw percentage of all time (Nash).

One thing we’ve learned from all of this — Kobe should be a basketball czar in this country and revamp the entire AAU and high school system. 

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