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NBA Finals Preview: Lakers-Heat

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The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 6 Sunday night. They will advance to the NBA Finals to face the Los Angeles Lakers.

What We Know:

  • The Celtics were fighting for their playoff lives on Sunday down 3-2 in the series. They managed to keep the score close for most of the game behind 90 combined points from Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, even holding a 100-98 lead with six minutes left in the game.
  • The Heat would finish the game on a 27-13 run and got stellar contributions from their bench. Tyler Herro scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and Andre Iguodala shot 4-4 on three-pointers. In the final minutes, Heat center Bam Adebayo was the one who took over the game. Adebayo put everything out there, showing off his drives, his jump shot, and his playmaking abilities. He finished the game with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Heat won 125-113 and closed out the series 4-2.
  • A Lakers-Heat series was not expected at the beginning of the season, but this is sure to be an exciting finals. The Lakers are coming in as favorites because they have the two best players in the series with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the Heat have proven that they’re no joke by winning all but three games this postseason. Miami has already defeated the league-MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and has the defensive personnel and gameplan to make life hard for the Lakers. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has dominated these playoffs with his use of zone defense dribble hand-off offense, and he trusts his bench and has gotten the most out of this roster. It will be interesting to see if the Heat have enough tricks up their sleeve to defeat the two-headed monster from LA.
  • This year’s NBA Finals will be historically significant for many reasons. The main reason being that this will be the first finals played at a neutral site in October due to a global pandemic. Furthermore, this is the first time the two final teams missed the playoffs the previous year, with the Lakers and Heat both falling short of the postseason in 2019.
  • The Lakers finished off the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, ending the series 4-1. LeBron James will advance to his 10th NBA Finals and his ninth over the past ten years. LeBron is only the fourth player in history to play in ten NBA Finals, joining Bill Russell, Sam Jones, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If the Lakers win, LeBron will capture his fourth championship on his third team, and he has the opportunity to become the first player ever to win Finals MVP for three different teams.
  • An additional wrinkle in this series is that LeBron James played for the Miami Heat from 2010 to 2014. He won two championships with the team and enjoyed his greatest success, but left on poor terms with team president Pat Riley. Riley revealed in 2018 that he and LeBron hadn’t spoken since they parted ways in 2014. It will be interesting to see how their beef plays out in this series.
  • These are two of the best franchises in NBA history and it’s great to see them back in the finals. The Heat have won three championships over the last 15 years and have long been praised for their gritty, hardworking culture. Their front office and coaching staff are made up of winners and they have veteran and championship experience in the locker room with Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala, who will be playing in his sixth straight NBA Finals.
  • The Lakers will be playing in their 32nd NBA Finals, the most in NBA history. Another championship this year would tie them with their rivals, the Boston Celtics, for the most titles in history. A championship this year would also be incredibly meaningful for Los Angeles because of the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant. Bryant is an LA icon and the team has honored him with their Black Mamba jerseys. Bryant played 20 seasons with the Lakers and won five championships, including their most recent title and finals berth in 2010.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be Wednesday, September 30.

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Sagar is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance and Economics. Sagar writes for Black News Alerts and the BNA Daily Podcast. He also produces the BossFM Morning Show.

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ESPN Cancels Rachel Nichols Show After Racist Comments About Maria Taylor

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In addition to cancelling The Jump, ESPN also removed Rachel Nichols from NBA coverage.

What We Know:

  • The network confirmed Nichols’ departure on Thursday. ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Production David Roberts declared in a statement that Nichols and ESPN mutually agreed that ending her time with the channel was the best approach for NBA coverage. Roberts went on to call Nichols “an excellent reporter, host, and journalist;” he also thanked her for her contributions to NBA content.
  • Nichols confirmed her time with the sports network ended on Twitter. On social media, she thanked The Jump’s production crew for assisting her for the past five years and declared there was “more to come.”

  • Nichols’ deadline with ESPN comes after The New York Times released a recording of her bashing coworker Maria Taylor. In a conversation with Lebron James’ adviser Adam Mendelsohn and agent Rich Paul, Nichols implied ESPN only selected Taylor to host  NBA Countdown during the NBA finals because of her skin color. Nichols stated the channel would not take her “thing” away because officials felt pressure about their “crappy longtime record on diversity.”
  • After her comments became public, ESPN removed Nichols from her NBA Finals assignment. She also apologized for her statements on The Jump. Nichols affirmed she respected her colleagues and apologized for disappointing anyone she hurt, especially Taylor.
  • Despite the apologies, Taylor quickly left the channel. After she and ESPN could not reach an agreement on her salary, Taylor proceeded to host the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with NBC Sports. Taylor will also cover Football Night in America, the Super Bowl, and Prime Plus with Mike Trico.

ESPN will continue producing episodes of The Jump without Nichols for the next few weeks. After its run, ESPN will replace it with a new afternoon NBA show.

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Michael B. Jordan Launches Basketball Showcase for HBCU Athletes

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The “Hoop Dreams Classic,” a one-night event in Newark, New Jersey, will feature the nation’s top Division 1 HBCU men’s and women’s basketball teams.

What We Know:

  • HBCU Gameday reported that Hoop Dreams Classic would include two games featuring the teams with the biggest HBCU basketball rivalries. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will play against Howard University, and North Carolina Central University will go against Hampton University.
  • The showcase will also celebrate HBCU culture and tradition through live musical performances, a Battle of the Bands competition, and film festivals. It will also provide educational resources for students to learn more about opportunities for college and career advancement.
  • Actor Michael B. Jordan first announced the basketball showcase in December 2020. The Black Panther actor stated he felt inspired to put on the event following the increased global awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, especially after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, among others. In a statement, Jordan wrote 2020 was a “tipping point” for many, including himself, who is “revving up support” for the Black community. He further said as a Newark native, he feels committed to bring change to the community and will do so with the Hoop Dreams Classic.

“Through our shared love of basketball, I look forward to bringing the communal spirit of HBCUs to the city that helped shape me into the man I am today,” said Jordan.

  • In addition to the event, Jordan amplifies Black voices and stories through his #ChangeHollywood initiative. This movement aims to hold Hollywood accountable for showcasing Black stories and hiring Black creators.

The Hoop Dreams Classic will take place at Newark’s Prudential Center on December 18, 2021. In addition, a percentage of the proceeds will go to organizations working to advance HBCUs in the area.

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Olympics: Simone Biles out of team gymnastics final ‘due to medical issue,’ officials say

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((BREAKING NEWS))

Biles withdrew due to a medical issue, according to a statement from USA Gymnastics.

“She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” officials said in the statement.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist competed in Team USA’s first rotation on vault Tuesday, bailing out of her Amanar and only completing a 1.5 twist on a 2.5-twisting Yurchenko, then taking a big stumble backward on the landing.

She scored a 13.766 and was seen walking off the floor with her bag and a trainer.

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