LaVar Ball Says LeBron James ‘Is Coming to LA,’ Would Fit with Lonzo on Lakers

LaVar Ball has a knack for speaking things into existence, so perhaps we should hear him out when he says LeBron James is going to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers next summer. 

“Let me tell you this, it would be a great fit, and LeBron is coming to L.A,” Ball told ClutchPoints’ Ryan Ward. “What’s in Cleveland? You want to be a superstar, man. Superstar franchise.

“It’s going to be like this, and I’m talking about reality. He’s going to say, ‘You know what? I went to Miami. Won a championship. Brought one back to my hometown. I’m the only one to go to three different places and bring a championship.”

The Ball family patriarch was also adamant that James linking up with his son, Lonzo, would give the Lakers a title-caliber tandem. 

“You do not give Lonzo Ball the best player in the game and don’t think they going to win! He is going to fall in love with Lonzo so much on the way that he play. They both understand the game. Best player in the game and you don’t think he coming? Stop it!”

Buzz regarding James’ potential departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers cropped up in June, when Adrian Wojnarowski, then with The Vertical, (h/t NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman) said he had heard it was a real possibility the three-time champion could bolt in summer 2018. 

“Not only is there no guarantee he’s coming back, I’m not sure there’s an expectation he’s re-signing there,” Wojnarowski said. “I think they feel, I think within Cleveland and around the league, they feel that he’s very much in play to leave again and likely head out West to one of the two L.A. teams. The Lakers could very well be a target.”

Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher followed up Aug. 25 and reported the “prevailing sentiment among the league executives” was that James would opt out of his $35.6 million 2018-19 player option and test free agency. 

“I don’t see him staying in Cleveland,” one executive told Bucher. 

Kevin Durant, it should be noted, believes James isn’t going anywhere and has told him as much. 

“I personally always said he was staying,” Durant said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. “I told him this. That’s me. I feel like he’s going to end it in Cleveland. That’s his crib now. He run it, and he gonna turn it into something mega when he’s done. He’s going to do something.”

Conversations like the ones Ball and Durant had are sure to envelop the 2017-18 NBA season ad nauseam—especially in the aftermath of the Kyrie Irving blockbuster.  

But considering James has left the Cavaliers once before, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll try to conquer the Association from a new kingdom come 2018. 

Top Seeded Nadal, Pliskova Both Rally At US Open To Reach 4th Round

NEW YORK (AP) — Karolina Pliskova can still win the U.S. Open and keep her No. 1 ranking, thanks to a big comeback Saturday.

Pliskova fought off a match point in the second set and rallied to beat No. 27 Zhang Shuai of China 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round.

The runner-up last year needs to at least return to the final for a chance to remain atop the rankings when the year’s final major tournament is over, and it appeared for a while that the Czech wouldn’t get close.

But she stayed alive while trailing 4-5 in the second set, then pulled out the third after receiving treatment from a trainer on her right forearm between sets.

“Last Grand Slam of the season and knowing you played fine last year, you just want to play that good again,” Pliskova said. “I don’t feel like I’m playing that good again, but I’m still in the draw, actually, so I’m not going to be that sad.”

gettyimages 842002424 Top Seeded Nadal, Pliskova Both Rally At US Open To Reach 4th Round

Rafael Nadal reacts after his win over Leonardo Mayer during their third round Men’s Singles match on Day Six of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2017. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The top seed on the men’s side also had to rally after dropping the first set. With the roof closed at Arthur Ashe Stadium because of rain, Rafael Nadal started to find the range with his punishing shots in the second set and beat Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

Roger Federer followed him onto Ashe to face No. 31 Feliciano Lopez. The five-time U.S. Open champion has won all 12 meetings but hasn’t played his top tennis yet in this tournament. He’s played consecutive five-setters to open a major tournament for the first time.

Besides Pliskova, Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina are the other women who can still get to No. 1. Svitolina advanced to the round of 16 with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over American Shelby Rogers, who won the longest women’s match in U.S. Open history on Thursday when she beat No. 25 Daria Gavrilova in 3 hours, 33 minutes.

This one went 1:33, ending when Svitolina’s forehand hit the tape and barely fell over the net onto Rogers’ side.

Pliskova, who fell to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 final, would need to win the tournament if Muguruza reaches the semifinals and loses. If Muguruza advances to the final, Pliskova would be eliminated from contention for the WTA’s top ranking.

“It’s not only about the points, but I just felt I really can play well here,” said Pliskova, who will next face American Jennifer Brady.

Another American advanced when No. 20 seed CoCo Vandeweghe outlasted No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. No. 15 seed Madison Keys hoped to join them later when she faced No. 17 Elena Vesnina of Russia.

Upsets have scrambled one half of the men’s bracket, but everything is mostly as expected on the other side.

Nadal, Federer, No. 6 Dominic Thiem and No. 9 David Goffin remain alive in their half. No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta is the top seed in the other, which will send a first-time Grand Slam finalist to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the championship match next Sunday.

Thiem eased into the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 30 Adrian Mannarino of France. He will next face No. 24 seed Juan Martin del Potro. The 2009 champion swept past No. 11 Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

“I think that bottom half of the draw is going to be surprising for one guy. But in the top half, you have Roger and Rafa, Dominic, as well, and they are favorites to win a Grand Slam title, for sure,” del Potro said.

Goffin won his match when No. 18 Gael Monfils of France retired with knee, back and arm injuries with Goffin leading 7-5, 5-1.

Also advancing were No. 33 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, a straight-sets winner over Australian John Millman, and Alexandr Dolgopolov, who routed Viktor Troicki 6-1, 6-0, 6-4.

Dolgopolov is into the fourth round for the first time since 2011 and would be the next opponent for Nadal, but was peppered in his post-match news conference about questions related to a match he was involved in recently in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that’s under scrutiny because of unusual betting patterns.

The match is being assessed but is not yet under formal investigation, Tennis Integrity Unit spokesman Mark Harrison said earlier this week.

“Obviously it’s disappointing, but not more,” Dolgopolov said. “If people want to write something, they write something. You can’t stop them from doing it. It’s just not under my control.”

French Open women’s champion Jelena Ostapenko was ousted with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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The Most Dangerous Place to Raise a Child

The Most Dangerous Place to Raise a Child

Our craving for more has plagued us from the very beginning.

Our first parents lusted after more when they trusted a talking snake and took forbidden fruit to satisfy their longing to be like God (Genesis 3:5). When God brought his beloved people through the parted sea, Israel’s triumphant song devolved into grumbling over meat and bread in less than two months (Exodus 16:2–3). The prophet Amos decried the northern kingdom of Israel for their gluttonous appetite, which led them to “trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth” (Amos 2:6–8).

The Old Testament leaves us with no lack for examples of greed among God’s chosen people.

And should we think we’re immune, we must realize that this diseased desire for greedy gain doesn’t just infiltrate its way from outside us into the recesses of our minds; it bubbles through the cracks of hearts that exchange “the fountain of living waters” for “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

The cup of our lives might sparkle with that just-washed sheen on the outside, but inside, the grime of greed has caked itself on in layers too thick to scrub away with mere elbow grease.

Greed Doesn’t Discriminate

Greed’s deceit knows no socioeconomic boundaries. Whether you’re of modest means, have an overflowing portfolio, or find yourself smack-dab in “the disappearing middle,” the song of More! rings sweet in all our ears. Proverbs says as much when the sage inquires of God,

   Give me neither poverty nor riches;
   feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
   and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
   and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:8–9)

Indeed, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” — especially idolatry (1 Timothy 6:10). When we start thinking we have enough, we conveniently forget the one who gave to us in the first place. Or when bills seem to devour every last dime, we show our distrust of God’s promise to provide by taking matters (or sometimes, things that don’t rightfully belong to us) into our own hands. Whatever the number of figures in your salary, we all tend to slide right past the midpoint of contentment into havens of greed.

In Gold We Trust

In the wealthy, twenty-first-century west, we tend to have more reasons to forget the Giver than to pilfer goods. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American man one-hundred years ago made about $687 a year, roughly the equivalent of $16,063 in the present day. That wage just doesn’t quite measure up to the comparatively handsome full-time median income of $50,383 today. On average, we’re nearly three times as better off wage-wise than we were a century ago.

And while not at the very top of the GDP per capita list, the U.S. always ranks high. Compared to most of the world, 71 percent of whom live on less than ten dollars a day (not to mention the 15 percent who live on less than $2 a day), most Americans boast incredible wealth.

You might not think so when you pull up your account balances, but the average man or woman in the land of the free is exceedingly rich. And because of our affluence, we must remain all-the-more vigilant. John Piper explains,

Jesus never said, “It’s hard for a person in Darfur to get into the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus just said, “It’s hard for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven,” so the most dangerous place to raise a kid is America.

We may never really believe it, but our seemingly safe streets dotted, with single-family homes, can lurk with more danger than a war-torn, famine-stricken land. There, sin’s destruction reigns apparent in violence and hunger. But here, the wealth that masquerades as God’s undeniable favor can turn, oh so subtly, into a barrier, not a blessing. A craving for more, intensified by our exceptional means, just might lead some of us away from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10).

Simply Stewards

Of course, reaping the fruits of a harvest God has graciously provided is no sin — as long as we realize that we’re just stewards at every step. Whatever we have, we’ve received (1 Corinthians 4:7). When we acknowledge that every good gift comes to us from our generous Father (James 1:17), gratitude smothers our desire for more, and grace begins to loosen greed’s icy grip.

  • When I’m tempted to complain about how the mileage on our family’s minivan is equivalent to taking its fifth trip around the earth, I can give thanks that I have an opportunity to transport the five of us (soon to be six) safely and conveniently whenever I need to.

  • Instead of griping about the square-footage of our apartment, I can be glad that we not only have shelter that protects us, but a place to call home.

  • Or if I’m enamored by the latest model gadget with the supersonic turbo processor, I can thank God that I already have countless resources at my disposal that I don’t deserve.

When I whine for more, I align myself with evil (1 Timothy 6:10). But when I give thanks, I lock onto the very will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And in God’s curious kindness, when we praise him for all that he is for us, he gives us the best gift anyone could ask for: more of himself.

So, in the end, more stuff, more money, and even more time can never satisfy. But in Jesus, God gives us more than we could have ever bargained for. When we invest in contenting our souls in him, he pays unimaginable dividends in the currency of eternity.

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