Rob Pelinka says the Los Angeles Lakers are ready to trade their first-round picks if they have an opportunity to strengthen the roster and provide support for LeBron James.

Four-time NBA MVP James signed a new contract with the Lakers worth a whopping $97.1million last month.

Los Angeles failed to make the playoffs last season and Darvin Ham has been charged with the task of turning their fortunes around, having replaced Frank Vogel as head coach.

Lakers general manager Pelinka says they are prepared to give up picks if it means they can add quality to the ranks.

He said during a media day: "One thing that needs to be made clear is, there was a lot of speculation, will the Lakers trade their picks? Will they not trade their picks?

"Let me be abundantly clear: we have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game on our team. He committed to us with a long-term contract, a three-year contract.

"So of course, we will do everything we can, picks included, to make deals that give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end. He committed to our organisation. That's got to be a bilateral commitment, and it's there."

There has been talk that Russell Westbrook could be traded ahead of the new season, although he this week declared that he is "all-in" with the Lakers.

Pelinka said Westbrook is "a great part of our team", but gave no guarantees he will stay by stating: "If we have to continue to upgrade our roster throughout the season, we will."

The Lakers on Monday confirmed the signings of guard Dwayne Bacon and forward Matt Ryan.

 

Roger Federer ranks among sporting greats such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Tom Brady.

That was the message from 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who hailed Federer after he announced his appearance at September's Laver Cup would be his last in professional sport.

The 41-year-old won 20 grand slam titles across a legendary 24-year career, only Novak Djokovic (21) and Rafael Nadal (22) can boast more major crowns in men's tennis.

Federer has also won more men's singles main draw matches in grand slam tournaments than any other player in the Open Era (369), leaving behind a magnificent legacy as he prepares to step away from the court.

Bartoli has experienced retirement herself, having called quits on her career after a failed comeback from injury in 2018, and asked by Stats Perform whether Federer was a GOAT – greatest of all-time – Bartoli said: "Yes, he is very much in there – absolutely.

"Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, they are people that transcend their sports – they are icons.

"You go in the streets, you say Roger Federer. I'm in Dubai right now [and if] you say 'Roger Federer' everyone would know who he is. And the same for LeBron and Michael Jordan.

"When you transcend your sport and you become an icon and everyone knows who you are, that's when you know you have been one of the greatest of all time across every sport.

"Same for Serena [Williams], you can put Novak and Rafa in there as well. But it's just that amount of fame and that amount of inspiring [the next] generation."

Having spent 237 consecutive weeks ranked as number one, Federer holds the record for the longest such streak in men's singles history after a four-and-a-half-year spell at the summit.

Federer was also present in the top 10 of the men's singles rankings for 750 weeks, an unmatched number for a male player since the rankings were first published in 1973.

Regardless of Federer trailing Djokovic and Nadal for grand slam titles, Bartoli believes the Swiss remains the best of the trio due to his elegant playing style.

"It's very much depending on your own taste in a way. If you like beautiful, elegant, smooth tennis you have to go for Roger Federer," she added.

"Now obviously with Novak having 21 and Rafa having 22 grand slams, if we speak numbers only then you have two players on top of him.

"But I think it's very much a debate because it depends on the style of play you like and, that said, I absolutely love to see Novak play and win.

"I absolutely loved to see Rafa winning again at Roland Garros this year, I think it was one of the most incredible sports achievements that you can possibly witness.

"But in terms of game style, and the way he has revolutionised tennis, I think Roger was the first one. And then they pushed each other to new heights and I think that was really special to see."

While many youngsters look to emulate Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, Bartoli highlighted the importance of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, too.

"You can tell how much impact a player [has] when you see a new generation trying to copy your style. I think Pete Sampras had that impact as well as Andre Agassi on the generation of Roger, Rafa and Novak," she continued.

"Roger has had that impact on the new generation with Carlos Alcaraz. So that's why I say that he was really the first one to elevate the game to another level because he brought that dimension of his forehand when he was really almost able to play the ball wherever he wanted.

"I always remember that sentence from Andre Agassi, when he started to play against Roger saying, 'well, I never felt against anybody that I had to play on a 20-centimetre square because that's the only safe spot I can play, which is deep to Roger's back. If I play anywhere, he will take the game away from me'. [Federer] was the first one to [do that] and then obviously Rafa and Novak arrived and sought to change that and they pushed each other to new heights.

"When you have the pinnacle of the 2008 Wimbledon final and all those matches in between them that was just beyond epic for me."

LeBron James and Chris Paul believe Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver deserves a stronger punishment after an investigation found he engaged in racist and sexist conduct at the workplace.

The NBA announced on Tuesday that Sarver, who also owns the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, has been suspended for one year and fined $10million following a 10-month independent investigation.

A scathing 43-page report found Sarver was known to make a number of inappropriate comments to women in the workplace – including discussing oral sex at a business meeting as recently as 2021 – as well as repeating the n-word on five occasions in situations where he claimed he was "recounting the statements of others".

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling received a lifetime ban from the league in 2014 over alleged racist comments he made over the phone to an ex-girlfriend, whereas Sarver will be allowed to resume duties in 12 months' time.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended that decision on Wednesday, claiming the Sarver and Sterling cases cannot be compared, which led to criticism from high-profile stars James and Paul on social media.

In a series of Twitter posts, Los Angeles Lakers star James said: "Read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong. I don’t need to explain why.

"Y'all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I'm gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of behaviour. I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But this isn’t right.

"There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don't matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this ain't it."

Twelve-time All-Star Paul, who has played for the Suns since 2020, also questioned the severity of the punishment.

"Like many others, I reviewed the report. I was and am horrified and disappointed by what I read," he wrote on Twitter. "This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.

"I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behaviour. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected."

The NBA will donate Sarver's $10m fine to organisations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.

In a statement released after the report was published, Sarver said: "While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA's report, I would like to apologise for my words and actions that offended our employees.

"I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgement are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has defended his decision to not impose a lifetime ban on Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver following the outcome of an independent investigation into his tenure with the franchise.

The scathing 43-page report found Sarver was known to make a number of inappropriate comments to women in the workplace – including discussing oral sex at a business meeting as recently as 2021 – as well as repeating the n-word on five occasions in situations he claimed he was "recounting the statements of others".

There is precedent for forcing an owner to sell his team, with former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling receiving a lifetime ban from the league in 2014 – barring him from owning a team, entering the Clippers facility, and ever attending an NBA game.

Instead, Sarver was issued with a $10million fine and one-year suspension, in a ruling that caused superstar LeBron James to come out and tweet "our league definitely got this wrong".

But when addressing the media following Wednesday's meeting with the Board of Governors, Silver said they were very different situations, and that Sarver's comments were "wholly of a different kind than we saw in the [Sterling] case".

That outlook comes from the authors of the investigative report concluding that Sarver's behaviour was not the result of "racial or gender-based animus", giving him the benefit of the doubt with what they describe as his "sophomoric" sense of humour and desire to provoke.

"I think all of us would want to be judged by the totality of all we’ve done, good and bad," Silver said. 

"His track record of hiring, his track record of support for particular employees. There were many, many people who had very positive things to say about him. I took all of that into account."

Silver repeatedly defended the 60-year-old real estate developer, saying he had taken "complete accountability and seemed fully remorseful" during a recent conversation, and asserting that he had done "many very positive things" during his time as owner of the Suns.

When asked why Sarver should be allowed to retain ownership of the team when any other employee would surely be fired, Silver highlighted the difficult process of actually removing an owner, and implied that the hit to Sarver's reputation is a punishment in itself.

"There are particular rights here for people who own an NBA team," he said.

"There’s no neat answer here. Owning property, the rights that come with owning a team, how that’s set up within our constitution… is different than holding a job. It just is, when you own a team. It’s just a very different proposition.

"The consequences are severe here for Mr. Sarver, reputationally. It’s hard to even make those comparisons to somebody who commits an inappropriate act in the workplace in an anonymous fashion, compared to what is a huge public issue.

"In terms of future behaviour, he’s on notice. He knows that."

In a statement on Tuesday, Sarver said he disagrees "with some of the particulars of the NBA's report".

Tributes have poured in across the sporting world for Serena Williams following her apparent US Open swansong on Friday, though the 23-time grand slam winner has kept the door ajar on a shock return.

The American, widely considered one of the greatest sportspeople of all time, suggested she would step away from top-level tennis following the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

Following a 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 loss to Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round, her journey now looks to be over – though the 40-year-old admittted "you never know" when asked about future appearances.

Her likely last dance, however, has prompted an outpouring of glowing tributes from far and wide, with a host of major names paying their respects to an unparalleld career.

15-time major-winning golfer Tiger Woods called her "the greatest on and off the court" while four-time NBA champion LeBron James hailed her as "so dope".

The Los Angeles Lakers' decision to give LeBron James a two-year contract extension worth $97.1million is as much about the player's brand as his ability, says sport finance expert Dan Plumley.

James had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

The extension takes the 37-year-old to $532m in guaranteed career earnings, which would mean he is the highest-paid player in the history of the league.

Despite his increasing years, James is still one of the top performers in the NBA, averaging 30.3 points per game in the 2021-22 season.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Plumley admitted he is surprised by the short-term nature of the deal not usually seen in US sports, but understands the brand of the athlete is often as important as the ability.

"I think that's now more the case than ever in every professional sport," said Plumley, who is principal lecturer in sport finance at Sheffield Hallam University. "Every team's looking at how they can use their superstars across respective sports.

"Of course, it's about first and foremost what they can do on the court, on the pitch, it's absolutely still about that.

"But the other side of it is what do they bring from a commercial side of things and what's the brand association, and what's the fit like, and how can the club or team leverage some of that against the superstars that they've got?

"It's absolutely the case with LeBron James. Of course it is. But I think it's the case across the board now for a lot of professional teams."

With James approaching 40 by the end of the two-year deal and with a history of injuries, there appears to be significant risk in the investment for the Lakers, but Plumley thinks it will be worth taking if it produces a championship or two.

"I think that there's the risk... but there was also the risk of losing him and losing the asset and losing the brand association and the value that somebody like LeBron James brings with the Lakers and everything else he's got going on in his personal life as well," he said.

"We know he's connected to Liverpool [Football Club, minority ownership] and the wider network that he operates in. So there's that at play where you're balancing the risk.

"From the playing side of things, yes, the injury risk is there but I think the Lakers felt that it was enough to get the next two years where they could potentially win something again with LeBron, and that risk was far lower than losing him. I think that's where they've ended up at.

"With the NBA, we know that careers can go a little bit later versus other sports. I think when you balance that off, the Lakers have obviously arrived at the decision that it's better to keep him now for a couple of years than potentially lose him."

In terms of the wider future of the NBA, Plumley understands there is danger in seeing deals increase in size, but believes basketball and other US sports will be safe from significant damage due to their closed nature and draft system.

"I think there's always the danger that you see figures like this, and we know that the salary cap is there, and there will always be a limit on this," Plumley added.

"But we've seen increases in the salary cap over time, which is not unusual when you think about the amount of money coming in. So if there's more money coming in, then there's an argument to raise the salary cap.

 

"I think what teams will always be suggesting and the way that side of things has gone is that there's an expectation that they need to keep raising the salary cap. And that's always okay if you've got the money coming in to support it, so I think that will be the trade-off.

"It's always a risk in any professional team sport. They are reliant on broadcasters and they're reliant on commercial partners to generate that revenue at the league level. And while that's okay and growing, these little increases in salary caps have been okay.

"The question always is 'where's the benchmark?' And if the benchmark has gone higher, because this is the biggest contract we've ever seen, then others will start to look towards that as the new benchmark. And I think that's just the risk in the background that you run.

"American sports are a little bit more protected in that sense, because of the nature of their league systems."

Whenever people talk about the NBA, one name is rarely far away from any conversation.

LeBron James is once again the talk of basketball after reports emerged on Wednesday he had agreed a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers worth an eye-watering $97.1million.

The 37-year-old had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season according to ESPN, citing Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul.

James' deal takes him to $532m in guaranteed career earnings, which would mean he is the highest-paid player in the history of the league, ahead of Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

Apart from having four NBA championships, four Finals MVPs, four NBA MVPs, 17 All-Star selections and three All-Star MVPs, what has James done to earn such a lucrative deal?

Stats Perform has taken a trip down memory lane to remind ourselves just why he is still the hottest property in the NBA.

Breakout in Cleveland

As the first pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, it was hardly surprising that James impressed from the start with the Cavaliers, averaging 20.9 points per game (PPG) in his debut season from 79 games.

It was the 2005-06 season where he really exploded, though, averaging 31.4 PPG in the regular season, which remains his highest ever for a campaign, before recording 30.8 PPG in the playoffs, where the Cavs were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Detroit Pistons.

James took Cleveland to the postseason for five straight seasons, agonisingly losing the 2007 Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, before taking the mantel again in 2009 as he put up 35.3 PPG in 14 playoff outings before Conference final heartbreak against the Orlando Magic.

He had become a superstar in his home state of Ohio, though it seemed like championship glory was always going to elude him in Cleveland and so in 2010, it was time for a decision.

LeBron brings the Heat

The television event titled 'The Decision' did not go down universally well, it is fair to say, as James dramatically revealed he was leaving the Cavs for the Miami Heat.

However, it turned out to be the catalyst for him to reach the next step as he was undoubtedly surrounded by more talent in Miami, and before long, much-deserved silverware.

Linking up superbly night after night with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James reached the Finals every year in Florida, winning his first championship in 2012, before following it up in 2013 with another.

His numbers were ever so slightly lower at the Heat than they had been in Cleveland, though that clearly owed to having more help from the likes of Wade and Bosh.

James' first title win 2012 saw him average 30.3 PPG during the postseason, and led the way as he got some revenge on the Spurs in 2013, excelling in Game 7 to win his second championship.

 

The Cavalier returns home

In 2014, James came back to Cleveland with the desire to take his team to the promised land with him this time, and he did just that.

Just as he had in Miami, James went to the Finals every year of his second spell with the Cavaliers, and every year they played against the dominant Golden State Warriors.

After losing 4-2 in 2015, they returned to get revenge in 2016 as James starred on their way to an almost Hollywood-ending win against the Warriors, securing their first NBA championship.

They were unable to repeat the trick as the Warriors beat them in both the 2017 and 2018 Finals, but reaching four Finals in a row was still more than Cavs fans could have realistically expected.

Unfortunately for them, James was getting itchy feet again.

L.A. dreams not always what they are cracked up to be

James himself had a solid enough start to life in Los Angeles, posting 27.4 PPG for the Lakers in 2018-19, though injury issues sustained by him and several of his new team-mates led to a wobbly season, and therefore, no postseason for the first time for James since 2005.

Inevitably, he came roaring back the following year and in spite of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, James and the Lakers returned to win the "bubble championship", the fourth title of his career with a third different team.

However, the 2020-21 campaign was one to forget as James recorded his lowest PPG for a season (25.0) since his rookie year, before the Lakers were dumped out of the playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

Was it all over for LeBron? Not likely. He responded to that setback by scoring 1,695 points in just 56 games last season at an average of 30.3 PPG, his best regular season return since 2005-06.

James also reached a notable landmark in March, becoming the first player in NBA history to record 10,000 assists and 10,000 rebounds in a career.

 

Unfortunately for him, his team-mates were unable to match those efforts and the Lakers again failed to even make the playoffs, which could be why they were so desperate to find the funds to tie James' immediate future down.

His PPG has been higher in the playoffs than the regular season at every team he has played barring the Heat, where it was identical (26.9), proving the extent to which he is a clutch player and why it is imperative that the Lakers reach the postseason next year to make the most of the time they have left with him.

Injuries permitting, it is also practically certain he will overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's all-time leading scorer next season (currently 1,325 points behind).

Now that his new deal is agreed, you can be sure when that landmark arrives, LeBron will be wearing the same Lakers jersey Kareem did so famously.

The Los Angeles Lakers have tied down the immediate future of the greatest player of all time in LeBron James, according to Lakers podcaster Anthony Irwin.

James has agreed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers worth a whopping $97.1million, it was reported by ESPN on Wednesday, citing Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul.

The 37-year-old had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal apparently includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

Last season, James played 56 games overall, averaging 30.3 points per game, only the second time he has averaged over 30 in a single campaign (31.4 PPG for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005-06). 

He averaged 8.2 rebounds per game, 6.2 assists and hit a career-high season average of 2.9 three-pointers and 8.0 attempts per game.

James also became the first player in NBA history to record more than 10,000 career points, rebounds and assists.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Irwin said he lists James ahead of Michael Jordan and former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when it comes to judging the best player of all time.

"I have him as the greatest ever, in my book," he said. "Now, we're splitting hairs anytime you're talking about him and Michael and Kareem, who for some reason is never like involved in the conversation in ways that I think he should be.

"The league is more competitive I think now than it was when Michael was playing. I think you have to take that into account.

"If you have Michael as your GOAT (greatest of all time)? Cool. If you have LeBron as your GOAT? Cool. If you have Kareem is your GOAT? Super cool, because I would love to hear the people who make that case.

"Anybody who tries to act as if those three guys don't have a case to be made, those are the people that I find myself rolling my eyes at."

 

Irwin – who hosts Lakers podcasts on Silver Screen and Roll – was pleased with the reported agreement between the organisation and James, believing it could make things easier for the Lakers as they look to move Russell Westbrook on.

"It's good that all parties came to the conclusion that they couldn't have this loom over the season or training camp," Irwin added. "I think if LeBron was going to continue his relationship with the Lakers, they had to either announce an exit strategy or announce an extension. Fortunately, they came to the latter decision.

"The other part of this that I find interesting is obviously everybody knows they've been trying to trade Russell Westbrook.

"One source of leverage that other teams might have had on the Lakers as they tried to do that was 'You have to trade Russell Westbrook, you have to appease Lebron James. Otherwise, he's not going to sign that extension.' And you have that awkward relationship carrying forward into the season.

"Now, that's not something that other teams have. So this helps the Lakers, I think, accomplish their goal of not just moving Westbrook but not overpaying to do so. And hopefully bringing some legitimate help back in return."

LeBron James has agreed a two-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers worth a whopping $97.1million.

James, 37, had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal, as reported by ESPN, includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

The NBA great missed the Lakers' final two games of the 2021-22 season after suffering a sprained ankle, although he did enjoy the second-most productive campaign of his storied career in terms of points per game.

He played 56 games overall, averaging 30.3 points per game, only the second time he has averaged over 30 in a season (31.4 PPG for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005-06). 

 

James averaged 8.2 rebounds per game, 6.2 assists and brought three-pointers into his arsenal more than ever, hitting a career-high season average of 2.9 successes and 8.0 attempts per game.

He also became the first player in NBA history to record more than 10,000 career points, rebounds and assists.

During career, James has won four NBA titles with three different teams – the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Lakers.

In each of his championship-winning seasons, James was voted as Finals MVP, while he is also a four-time regular-season MVP, and an 18-time All Star.

LeBron James showed no rust on Saturday in his return to competitive basketball at the Drew League, while former team-mate Kyrie Irving was a no-show after being expected to take the court. 

James had 42 points, 16 rebounds and four steals while teaming with Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan at the Drew League, a pro-am event held every summer in the Los Angeles area. 

It was James' first action since missing seven of the Los Angeles Lakers' final eight games due to a sprained ankle. James appeared in just 56 games in 2021-22 as he dealt with ankle, knee and abdominal injuries. 

However, he managed to average 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists for a Lakers team that missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record. 

"I'm 100 percent healthy," James told ESPN on Saturday in his first appearance at the Drew League since 2011. 

Irving, meanwhile, was expected to play in the event but instead attended a camp hosted by Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy. 

"They were pretty sure he was coming," Drew League Commissioner Dino Smiley told NBA.com of Irving's representatives. "But you know how Kyrie is. I guess he changed his mind in the middle of it."

James and Irving won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and rumours have been swirling that they could be reunited in Los Angeles. 

Irving recently exercised his $36.5million player option for next season with the Brooklyn Nets, but with Kevin Durant requesting a trade out of Brooklyn, the Nets could be looking to move Irving as well. 

ESPN has reported that the Nets and Lakers have been in talks about a deal that would send Irving to Los Angeles and Russell Westbrook to Brooklyn. 

"In order to get great talent, you have to give up a lot of great talent and value in draft picks," Lakers president Jeanie Buss told NBA.com. "Every team is sophisticated and smart. Nobody is just asleep at the wheel. 

"Everybody is just trying to make their team better. Some teams are pivoting from a path they were on and want to deal because they have players that don't fit what their plans are. So it's a fluid situation. You always have to stay on top of it."

LeBron James has criticised the United States government for its handling of WNBA star Brittney Griner's imprisonment in Russia. 

James addressed the issue in a trailer for his online talk show, "The Shop: Uninterrupted."

"Now, how can she feel like America has her back?" the Los Angeles Lakers forward said. "I would be feeling like, 'Do I even want to go back to America?'"

The episode will air in its entirety Friday on YouTube.

Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 for carrying vape cartridges that allegedly contained cannabis products. 

Last week, Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard referenced James in her plea for officials to act more quickly. 

"If it was LeBron, he'd be home, right?" Nygaard said. "It's a statement about the value of women. It's a statement about the value of a Black person. It's a statement about the value of a gay person. All of those things. We know it, and so that's what hurts a little more."

The sports community has continued to advocate for Griner's return to the U.S. over the last five months, but she remains in Russian custody while the war in Ukraine continues to cause tension between Washington and Moscow.

The WNBA held its All-Star Game Sunday in Chicago, with Griner’s detention receiving plenty of attention. Players on both teams wore Griner’s No. 42 and name on their jerseys during the second half.

In recent weeks, both Griner and her wife Cherelle have had correspondence with President Joe Biden, but the administration has not publicly declared a plan for her return. 

Griner entered a guilty plea last Thursday in Russian court, saying she packed the cartridges accidentally. ESPN reported over the weekend that Griner’s plea could be part of a strategy to facilitate a prisoner exchange that could also include former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is also being detained in Russia. 

In June, the U.S. State Department classified Griner as being wrongfully detained. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reiterated that returning the prisoners to the U.S. remains a priority.

"We will not relent until Brittney, Paul Whelan and all other wrongfully detained Americans are reunited with their loved ones," Blinken said on Twitter last week. 

A trading card of NBA star LeBron James has sold at auction with collectibles marketplace Goldin for $2.4million, including buyer's premium.

The unique 2020-21 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman of James includes embedded segments of the 37-year-old's game-worn jerseys from his time at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

It had been anticipated that it could break the all-time record for a sports trading card, which is a Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold for $6.6m in 2021.

Panini's 2020-21 Flawless release included five Triple Logoman cards, made up of patches from three-star players, though James' was the only card that features three patches from one player.

The four other cards include patches from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry; Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton, and Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.

Serena Williams' return to Wimbledon represents a "great example" to other players, according to Nick Kyrgios, who said tennis fans should not take her or other fellow greats Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, for granted.

Comparing the quartet to four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, Kyrgios says sports fans should enjoy the legends' "amazing" exploits while they still can.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Williams – who has not played competitively since losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon last year – has been handed a singles wildcard to compete at the year's tournament, which begins later this month. 

Williams, now aged 40 and ranked 1,208th in the world, has won seven singles titles at Wimbledon, the last of which came in 2016, and 23 grand slams in total.

LeBron James intends to own a potential NBA expansion team in Las Vegas, he says.

Expansion in the coming seasons from 30 teams to 32 has been rumoured, with a return to Seattle and move to Vegas seemingly most likely.

And four-time MVP James hopes to have a role in any Vegas outfit.

"I want to own a team," he told The Shop in an episode set to air on Friday. "I want to buy a team, for sure.

"I would much rather own a team before I talk. I want a team in Vegas."

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar shared the clip with the caption: "Speaking it into existence!"

James would be following in the footsteps of fellow great Michael Jordan, who runs the Charlotte Hornets.

Darvin Ham insisted Russell Westbrook is one of the best players the NBA has ever seen upon his announcement as Los Angeles Lakers head coach on Monday.

The nine-time All-Star and former MVP had a patchy first season in the purple and gold despite averages of 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists.

The 33-year-old was widely regarded as the cause behind the Lakers finishing with a 33-49 record which saw them finish 11th in the Western Conference, even missing the Play-In Tournament.

Asked about fitting Westbrook with LeBron James and Anthony Davis during his introduction as the Lakers coach, Ham took the opportunity to defend the embattled point guard.

"Don't get it messed up," he said. "Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen, and there's still a ton left in that tank. I don't know why people tend to try to write him off.

"I'm going to approach him like I do every player I've ever encountered. We're going to talk about our running habits, with the ball, without the ball. And again, the team, the rhythm of the team and trying to establish a rhythm with LeBron, Russ, AD.

"And again, share the load defensively and offensively. Defensively is where you're going to see us make our biggest leaps and bounds. We have to commit to the defensive side of the ball or we don't have a chance to do anything. Our offence won't even matter if we don't get stops."

After an eight-year playing career in the NBA, Ham got his first coaching job in the league working as an assistant at the Lakers, as a part of Mike Brown's staff in 2012-13.

After that season, the 48-year-old spent the following years on Mike Budenholzer's staff with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, winning the NBA title in 2021.

"The fact that I got my start as a coach here, this place will always be special for me," Ham said. "It's like a homecoming for me, in all seriousness."

"As sad as it is for me to be leaving coach Bud, sometimes you got to walk that walk on your own. We went from colleagues, to friends, to brothers while all the while making history."

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