NBA will say farewell to a brother when Nipsey Hussle is laid to rest


NBA will say farewell to a brother when Nipsey Hussle is laid to rest

His face solemn and his eyes dark, Kevin Durant stands next to me, gesturing and squinting and shuddering, constantly repeating this process, as if trying to shake away unwelcome reality.

“I just wish I could have run into him again. Know what I’m saying?” Durant told me in a recent conversation. “I mean . . . I met him, but I know him mostly through his music and what he was doing in the community. He was just genuine. I wish I had the opportunity to just give him another hug or dap him up again. Anything. Because he was so real.”

This was a few days ago, and Durant is not alone. Not in the NBA. Not this month.

Plenty of grown millionaires are grieving the loss of influential rapper/entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle.

“All the (expletive) he went through growing up and to come out and make the kind of impact he was making is . . . what could be bad about that?” Durant says.

Durant and many other American athletes, particularly those in the NBA, have spent much of the past 11 days trying to collect themselves in the wake of the senseless murder of Hussle (born Ermias Joseph Asghedom) that occurred March 31 in Los Angeles. He was 33.

When Nipsey is buried Thursday in Los Angeles, hundreds of NBA players will be there in spirit. A considerable number will be there in person. That’s how much he meant.

Nipsey’s death in Los Angeles took away a brother, a friend, someone universally admired. DJ Sharp, the turntable whiz at Oracle Arena, made sure to spin Nipsey’s beats that night. Upon recognizing it during a timeout, Warriors teammates Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Durant responded with a spontaneous dance as a way of paying respects.

The word spread, the reaction grew and players around the NBA did plenty to keep Nipsey in the news, express what he meant to them and how he had touched their lives.

Asked about Nipsey on the night of his death, Steph Curry, sitting at the podium, struggled to slide his response around the lump in his throat. They were friends. Brothers. Look it up.

The Los Angeles Clippers produced a pregame video tribute to Nipsey and played it at Staples Center just hours after his death. Moreover, they placed a pair of shoes next to a jersey – “Hussle” – in a stall between those of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell in their locker room.

Harrell said he wished he could have worn it on the court during the game.

Two nights after Nipsey was shot and killed, Russell Westbrook went out and posted the first 20-20-20 (points, rebounds, assists) game in the league in more than a half century. The last player to achieve the feat was Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. Russ and Nip? Brothers.

Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith responded by adding a textured tattoo of Nipsey in profile. Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie ordered a pair of customized shoes featuring Nipsey that are up for auction this week, with the revenue being donated to charity.

“He was everything to us,” former Warriors star Baron Davis said on TNT.

“He meant everything to me,” Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas told The Undefeated.

The bond between musicians and athletes is as strong as it has ever been. But the bond with Nipsey was more intense than that. His upbringing was like many of theirs. His evolution from at-risk teenager to successful corporation, from selling his own mixtapes to being nominated for a Grammy, is much like many of theirs.

Their quest to build better communities in an effort to serve people of color was Nipsey’s quest.

“Through his music and interviews, you hear where he came from,” says Warriors forward Alfonzo McKinnie. “You hear how he made it out and how he transformed from being that ‘hood person,' the gangbanger that he was back in the day, to a businessman and entrepreneur. He was uplifting the kids and the culture in general. That’s why (his death) hit so many people.”

[RELATED: Nipsey Hussle's death hits Warriors hard]

And now he’s gone. A celebration of Nipsey’s life will be held at Staples Center, with the funeral procession winding through the streets of South Central en route to a funeral home in his beloved Crenshaw neighborhood.

The NBA mourns and will for a while. And some will be compelled to step even further forward and take action in ways that would have made Nipsey Hussle proud.

Chris Paul refutes multiple reports he demanded Rockets trade him


Chris Paul refutes multiple reports he demanded Rockets trade him

The rumors started eight days ago. All-Star point guard Chris Paul "wants out" of Houston, Stephen A. Smith reported.

Since then, there have multiple reports of chaos within the Rockets organization, one that even stated Paul's relationship with NBA MVP James Harden is 'unsalvageable.'

But on Sunday, Paul tried to put all those rumors to bed.

“I never asked for a trade,” Paul told The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen. “I never demanded a trade.”

Trading Paul would be difficult for Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. Paul still is owed more than $124 million over the next three seasons, and finding a team that can take on that kind of salary for an aging point guard would be tough.

As for the reported rift with Harden, Paul claimed he's not unhappy in his current situtation.

“I’ll be in Houston,” Paul told Feigen. “I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good.”

[RELATED; Morey shoots down CP3 trade request rumor]

The Rockets gave the Warriors a good battle in each of the last two postseasons. With Golden State nursing its wounds during the 2019-20 season, this might be Houston's chance to pounce and get to the NBA Finals.

We'll find out over the next few weeks if Paul is telling the truth or if the whispers of his unhappiness actually were true.

NBA rumors: Kawhi Leonard 'seriously considering re-signing' with Raptors


NBA rumors: Kawhi Leonard 'seriously considering re-signing' with Raptors

The Kawhi Leonard-Toronto Raptors marriage might not be a one-year fling after all.

Yahoo's Chris Haynes reported Sunday that the 2019 NBA Finals MVP will decline his $21.3 million player option for the 2019-20 season, but that Leonard is "seriously considering re-signing with the Raptors."

Most experts have been predicting that Leonard will bolt Toronto for one of the Los Angeles teams. But Haynes' reporting changes things a bit.

Haynes also reported that rival front-office executives view the Raptors as the favorites to land Leonard.

The Raptors can offer Leonard a five-year, $190 million contract, according to Haynes.

[RELATED: Curry vows to not let Warriors' run end]

While the Warriors likely aren't in the mood for any Kawhi-related news, considering he just ended their bid for a three-peat, they have to be excited at the thought of Leonard not joining the Pacific Division.

Leonard put on a dominating performance against the Warriors in the NBA Finals, as he averaged 28.5 points and 9.8 rebounds over the six games.