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2021 NBA Finals: (2) Phoenix Suns vs (3) Milwaukee Bucks

2021 NBA Finals: (2) Phoenix Suns vs (3) Milwaukee Bucks

Baseline Times 2021 Summer Intern – Adam Kinberg previews this year’s NBA Finals at BaselineTimes.com

(2) Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns are coming off a very strong postseason run in which they beat some of the best teams in the western conference. Their playoff run began with a meeting with the heavily favored and defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Both of the Lakers’ stars were banged up with injury but nobody was willing to bet against the tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers ended up beating the Suns in Phoenix in game two and in LA in game four. It looked like the Suns were done, with their arena packed with “let’s go Lakers” chants and the team being smothered by the greatness of LeBron James. The Suns then showed their championship pedigree by winning three straight games to take down the scrappy and resilient Lakers in six games. The Suns then moved on to the Denver Nuggets.

The Suns made a very solid Nuggets team even without Jamal Murray look like a JV squad. The Nuggets were one of the best teams in the regular season and were thought to make a deep playoff run with their MVP in Nikola Jokic. Phoenix had other plans. “Suns in 4.” The Suns then went back to Staples Center to play the Los Angeles Clippers. Even without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup, the Clippers were still a very resilient and fierce team coming back from an 0-2 deficit in each of their last two series. The Clippers were known for making comebacks but Phoenix would have none of it. The Suns took care of homecourt in games one and two with the help of some Deandre Ayton heroics then took game four in LA. The Clippers were in the position that they loved to be in, counted out.

The Suns then dropped the possible series clincher at home but cliched the series in LA with a masterpiece of a game from Chris Paul in the arena and city he once called home. The Suns are going to the finals for the first time since 1993. Phoenix is now set to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA finals. The Bucks have not won an NBA championship since 1971 while the Suns have not won a championship in their team’s history. Phoenix and Milwaukee are both very well constructed teams with strong foundations. This series will come down to execution, defense, and veteran leadership. This series will be very entertaining and it will come down to a game six or seven. In the end, the Suns will be the 2021 NBA champions. The offensive tandem of Chris Paul and Devin Booker will overwhelm the Bucks. Chris Paul will be the factor that tips the needle in Phoenix’s favor. The veteran savvy that Paul provides will lift the Suns to their first championship.

(3) Milwakuee Bucks

The Milwaukee Buck is coming off a very successful playoff run in which they defeated the best teams in the east. They made the previous eastern conference champion in the Miami Heat look like child’s play sweeping them in four games. They then moved onto the Brooklyn Nets in which they came out victorious in a hard-fought seven games series that saw Milwaukee climb out of an 0-2 hole and a 3-2 deficit. They then moved onto the red hot Atlanta Hawks that featured an up and coming star in Trae Young. They took care of the Hawks in six games which saw many key injuries including the Bucks own Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Hawks’ Trae Young.

Khris Middleton was superb in this series showing that he is a worthy co-star for Giannis. He dropped a whopping 38 points in a must-win game three in Atlanta and 32 in the series-clinching game six in Atlanta. Both were very high stakes games and Middleton rose to the occasion. He also did not have the help of Giannis in game six as he was out with injury. The Bucks are now set to face one of the hottest and most well-balanced teams in the league in the Phoenix Suns. This matchup is one of the most intriguing in years as it does not feature a super team. Both the Suns and Bucks are teams that have built through the draft with smart free-agent signings.

The teams that usually win the championship are those that go all out on big names and stack their team as much as possible. Neither the Suns nor Bucks have done this. The Bucks duo of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo Are set to face Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Both teams are very balanced and talented. It remains to be seen if Giannis will play but nonetheless, this will be a very entertaining series.

Top players to watch

Devin Booker – 2021 Playoffs

  • 27.0 PPG
  • 6.4 RPG
  • 4.8 APG

Giannis Antetokounmpo – 2021 Playoffs

  • 28.2 PPG
  • 12.7 RPG
  • 5.2 APG

Where should the money go?

SUNS IN 6!

Schedule and Results

Game

Away

Home

Date

Time

TV

Results

Game 1:
PHX leads series 1-0

7/06

9:00 PM ET

ABC

Bucks - 105 
Suns - 118

Game 2:
PHX leads series 2-0

7/08

9:00 PM ET

ABC

Bucks - 108 
Suns - 118

Game 3:
PHX leads series 2-1

7/11

8:00 PM ET

ABC

Suns - 100
Bucks - 120

Game 4:
series tied 2-2

7/14

9:00 PM ET

ABC

Suns - 103
Bucks - 109

Game 5:
MIL leads series 3-2

7/17

9:00 PM ET

ABC

Bucks - 123 
Suns - 119

Game 6:
MIL wins series 4-2

7/20

9:00 PM ET

ABC

Suns - 98
Bucks - 105

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2019-2020 NBA BUBBLE STANDINGS

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2019 – 2020 NBA Bubble Standings

2019-2020 NBA Bubble Standings reflecting the final standings after eight seeding games and NBA Playoffs 2020 Bracket

2019-2020 NBA BUBBLE STANDINGS
2019-2020 NBA BUBBLE STANDINGS
2019-2020 NBA BUBBLE STANDINGS

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2020 NBA Playoffs Bracket

The 2020 NBA Playoffs tip-off on August 17th, 2020

Eastern Conference First Round:


East First Round: (1) Milwaukee Bucks vs (8) Orlando Magic
East First Round: (2) Toronto Raptors vs (7) Brooklyn Nets

Western Conference First Round:

West First Round: (2) Los Angeles Clippers vs (7) Dallas Mavericks
West First Round: (4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Oklahoma City Thunder


Full 2020 NBA Play-In and Playoffs Schedule

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2020 NBA Playoffs: Play-In and First Round Schedule and Matchups

The NBA has formally released the Play-In Tournament and First Round Schedule and Matchups schedule. Seeding play is ending on August 14th, 2020. Missed the bubble seeding standings? Check them out here!

When are the NBA Finals?
The NBA Finals will begin on Sept 30, 2020.

2020 NBA Western Conference Play-In

(8) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (9) Memphis Grizzlies

Game 1: Sat, Aug 15 Memphis at Portland, 2:30 ET, ABC
Game 2: Sun, Aug 16 Memphis at Portland, 4:30 ET, ESPN*

2020 NBA Western Conference First Round

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Play-In Winner

Game 1: Tue, Aug 18 Play-In Winner at Los Angeles, 9 ET, TNT
Game 2: Thu, Aug 20 Play-In Winner at Los Angeles, 9 ET, ESPN
Game 3: Sat, Aug 22 Los Angeles at Play-In Winner, 8:30 ET, ABC
Game 4: Mon, Aug 24 Los Angeles at Play-In Winner, 9 ET, TNT
Game 5*: Wed, Aug 26 Play-In Winner at Los Angeles, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Fri, Aug 28 Los Angeles at Play-In Winner, TBD, TBD
Game 7*: Sun, Aug 30 Play-In Winner at Los Angeles, TBD, TBD
 

(2) LA Clippers vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks

Game 1: Mon, Aug 17 Dallas at LA, 9 ET, ESPN
Game 2: Wed, Aug 19 Dallas at LA, 9 ET, TNT
Game 3: Fri, Aug 21 LA at Dallas, 9 ET, TNT
Game 4: Sun, Aug 23 LA at Dallas, 3:30 ET, ABC
Game 5*: Tue, Aug 25 Dallas at LA, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Thu, Aug 27 LA at Dallas, TBD, ESPN
Game 7*: Sat, Aug 29 Dallas at LA, TBD, TNT
 

(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Utah Jazz

Game 1: Mon, Aug 17 Utah at Denver, 1:30 ET, ESPN
Game 2: Wed, Aug 19 Utah at Denver, 4 ET, TNT
Game 3: Fri, Aug 21 Denver at Utah, 4 ET, TNT
Game 4: Sun, Aug 23 Denver at Utah, 9 ET, TNT
Game 5*: Tue, Aug 25 Utah at Denver, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Thu, Aug 27 Denver at Utah, TBD, ESPN
Game 7*: Sat, Aug 29 Utah at Denver, TBD, TNT
 

(4/5) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (4/5) Houston Rockets

Game 1: Tue, Aug 18 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 6:30 ET, TNT
Game 2: Thu, Aug 20 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 3:30 ET, ESPN
Game 3: Sat, Aug 22 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 6 ET, ESPN
Game 4: Mon, Aug 24 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 4 ET, TNT
Game 5*: Wed, Aug 26 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Fri, Aug 28 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD, TBD
Game 7*: Sun, Aug 30 Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD, TBD​​​​​​

2020 NBA Eastern Conference First Round

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Orlando Magic

Game 1: Tue, Aug 18 Orlando at Milwaukee, 1:30 ET, TNT
Game 2: Thu, Aug 20 Orlando at Milwaukee, 6 ET, ESPN
Game 3: Sat, Aug 22 Milwaukee at Orlando, 1 ET, TNT
Game 4: Mon, Aug 24 Milwaukee at Orlando, 1:30 ET, NBATV
Game 5*: Wed, Aug 26 Orlando at Milwaukee, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Fri, Aug 28 Milwaukee at Orlando, TBD, TBD
Game 7*: Sun, Aug 30 Orlando at Milwaukee, TBD, TBD
 

(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Brooklyn Nets 

Game 1: Mon, Aug 17 Brooklyn at Toronto, 4 ET, ESPN
Game 2: Wed, Aug 19 Brooklyn at Toronto, 1:30 ET, NBATV
Game 3: Fri, Aug 21 Toronto at Brooklyn, 1:30 ET, NBATV
Game 4: Sun, Aug 23 Toronto at Brooklyn, 6:30 ET, TNT
Game 5*: Tue, Aug 25 Brooklyn at Toronto, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Thu, Aug 27 Toronto at Brooklyn, TBD, ESPN
Game 7*: Sat, Aug 29 Brooklyn at Toronto, TBD, TNT
 

(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers

Game 1: Mon, Aug 17 Philadelphia at Boston, 6:30 ET, ESPN
Game 2: Wed, Aug 19 Philadelphia at Boston, 6:30 ET, TNT
Game 3: Fri, Aug 21 Boston at Philadelphia, 6:30 ET, TNT
Game 4: Sun, Aug 23 Boston at Philadelphia, 1 ET, ABC
Game 5*: Tue, Aug 25 Philadelphia at Boston, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Thu, Aug 27 Boston at Philadelphia, TBD, ESPN
Game 7*: Sun, Aug 29 Philadelphia at Boston, TBD, TNT
 

(4/5) Miami Heat vs. (4/5) Indiana Pacers

Game 1: Tue, Aug 18 Miami vs. Indiana, 4 ET, TNT
Game 2: Thu, Aug 20 Miami vs. Indiana, 1 ET, ESPN
Game 3: Sat, Aug 22 Miami vs. Indiana, 3:30 ET, TNT
Game 4: Mon, Aug 24 Miami vs. Indiana, 6:30 ET, TNT
Game 5*: Wed, Aug 26 Miami vs. Indiana, TBD, TBD
Game 6*: Fri, Aug 28 Miami vs. Indiana, TBD, TBD
Game 7*: Sun, Aug 30 Miami vs. Indiana, TBD, TBD

* – If Necessary
TBD – To Be Determined


Per NBA.com

NBA Studs and Duds from the first weekend of the season restart

One weekend down and many to go. Our Shoot or Pass Podcast Co-Hosts will be sharing their Studs and Duds right here. Who impressed and who disappointed? Find out below!

STUDS

Chevy – Damian Lillard

While we’ve witnessed a win and a loss from the Blazers, Dame is making NBA headlines. Dame means business in the bubble. He’s not here to play just 2 weeks and 8 games of basketball, he plans on sticking around for a deep run. He’s playing playoff minutes (45 vs. the Grizzlies, 44 vs. the Celtics) and is averaging about 30 points each game (29 vs. the Grizzlies, 30 vs. the Celtics). Unfortunately, the Blazers lost yesterday after a big on Friday, but the goal here is to get within 4 games of the 8th seed to force a play-in. I think Dame can keep them hanging around for it.

Rhoby – Kyle Lowry

KYLEFORNIA knows how to party! Lebronto is no more, as Lebron and the Lakers were bullied around by Kyle Lowry Friday night. NBA players are supposed to be breaking down by their mid-30s and undersized guards aren’t supposed to be hitting threes with a 7-footer in their face or making an impact as a rim protector, however, Kyle Lowry isn’t getting the memo. He scored a game-high 33 points, nabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, and has 6 assists. I am sold. The Raptors are a force to be reckoned with in this NBA Restart.

DUDS

Chevy – Zion Williamson

I know I have to tread carefully here because this is the NBA’s new poster boy, but if I’m Adam Silver you want him to be seen and on the floor. What is his deal? A month or two ago, a picture of Zion surfaced on social media and he looked like he was in great shape and ready to lead the Pelicans to the playoffs. Needless to say, I don’t understand the way Alvin Gentry is restricting his minutes. In the loss to the Jazz, Zion was on the bench for a crucial 4th quarter. Wouldn’t you want the best player on your team to be playing in those scenarios? Definitely a concern for a rising star on a team fighting for playoff spot.

Rhoby – Shake Milton

To begin with, this stat line says it all – 0 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists. NOT a good look for the new starting PG of a Sixers. This team appears to be failing expectations. What’s new? He appeared to have no command of the ball, only took one shot in the game in the 4th quarter, made some bad turnovers, and found himself in foul trouble. He focused on racial injustice in post-game comments, which is great, but I hope he’s also focusing on his game going forward because the Sixers need him to show up if they want to make noise in the playoffs!

For more NBA content, subscribe to the Shoot or Pass podcast anywhere you get your podcasts and follow us on Instagram & Twitter @BaselineTimes

NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions

The NBA is going to Disney Wooooorld!

So, I decided to describe NBA teams as Disney World rides/attractions, here’s what I’ve got so far:

New York Knicks – Tower of Terror

Yeah, I know the Knicks are not playing in Orlando. I also know that being a Knicks fan is basically like living in the Twilight Zone – frozen in time, abandoned, and constantly seeing the darkest corners of your imagination come to life.

Oklahoma Thunder – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Who said trading away Russell Westbrook would leave the Thunder stuck in a rebuild? This team is still a gold mine and can become a real big obstacle on the rickety track to NBA Finals. The Clutch Conductor (CP3) and the Locomotive driver (SGA) have led OKC to 16 games over .500 with a chance to get to the 4th seed in the WC.

Milwaukee Bucks – Soarin’

The Bucks are soarin’ high, sitting comfortably at 6.5 games ahead of the Raptors at the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to world wonder and potential back-to-back MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo

LA Lakers – Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster

This was one was easy. Hollywood. Iconic, Legendary players in LeBron & AD. LA traffic. A chance to see J.R. Smith topless stumblin’ around chugging Hennessy at a championship parade.

Toronto Raptors – DINOSAUR

Well, what else did you expect here? Will Toronto be able to travel back in time, kidnap Kawhi Leonard and bring him back to the present as a Raptor for their repeat bid? No. Their top 7 players may have been in/out of the rotation with injuries, but they are healthy now and ready to defend their title against anything – 21 NBA teams, fiery meteors, COVID-19.

Got any suggestions for NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions?

Leave us a comment or email media@18.232.170.104 for a chance to be featured on the Shoot or Pass podcast!

Warriors take 3-0 lead on Kevin Durant dagger

The Golden State Warriors won’t stop and can’t be stopped.

With just under four minutes left the Cavaliers led by six points for the first time all series in the fourth quarter. With under a minute left in the game Lebron James would pass to Kyle Korver for a corner three-point shot that could have put Cleveland up comfortably.

Instead Korver missed the shot as Durant rebounded and headed the other way to hit the dagger three as James contested the shot.

Durant finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

It was a coming out game for Kyrie Irving who finished with 38 points and six rebounds. Irving rebounded from his poor Game 2 shooting as he shot 55-percent from the field Wednesday night.

James would finish with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists. J.R. Smith also had a rebound game shooting 5-of-10 from the field and finished with 16 points. James, Irving, and Smith would be only Cavaliers scoring in double digits.

The Warriors take a 3-0 lead in the series. No team had ever came back and won the series after trailing the series 3-0.

Game 4 is in Cleveland on Friday night. Tip-off is at 9 PM EST on ABC.

How Cleveland Must Defend the Land

The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in a familiar place after Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals. It was a little over a year ago they lost Game 2 110-77 in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Let’s fast forward to 2017 and add an ingredient to the mix. Kevin Durant is sporting blue and yellow for Golden State and coming off a 33-point (13-of-22 from the field), 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and five blocks performance in Game 2.

What’s the quick fix for LeBron James going back home? “I just need food and wine and I’ll be alright”, stated James after the Cavaliers 132-113 loss in Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals.

If history plans to repeat itself in 2017, James certainly has all reason to be calm as the Cavaliers ran away with a 120-90 victory in Game 3 of the 2016 Finals.

“Defend the Land”

The 2017 Playoffs slogan is stamped on every corner in Cleveland as the is city still ignited by their first NBA Championship last year.

Through two games in the 2017 NBA Finals, the margin of victory in this series so far is 20 points for Golden State. Perhaps on the bright side is that the margin of victory was 26 points after Game 2 in last year’s Finals. As the series shifts back to Cleveland for Game 3 and Game 4 there are a few key details the Cavaliers will need to improve on.

Pace

The Warriors are an offensive juggernaut and pouring in points at an ease. Of course, this is all possible and obvious when you add Durant to the mixture of already prolific three-point shooters in NBA history. However, the Cavaliers will need to play a pace that favors them. Let’s kick it to turtle mode for this one. Slowing down the pace and avoiding unnecessary turnovers can increase the chances to keep the Warriors from transition threes. The one concern for Cleveland would be settling into isolated play with the slower pace. The ball must move while the shooters are freed up for Cleveland. They’ve shot the three ball terribly at 31-percent in Games 1 and 2 which is below the 43-percent average coming into the Finals.

Tristan Thompson

He was certainly my X-Factor coming into the Finals and still remains that. His limited minutes in the series so far has not allowed Cleveland to see many second chances. Thompson is averaging 21 minutes a game in the Finals and only four rebounds a game. Prior to the Finals, Thompson averaged 4.2 offensive rebounds and pulled in 9.3 rebounds per game in the Eastern Conference journey. The Cavaliers will need to try and keep Thompson on the floor and battle on the glass. The offensive rebounds can give the Cavs second chance looks at home.

Better Guard Play

The starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith will have to improve their shooting which is no easy feat to match Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Irving and Smith shot 19-of-51 (37-percent) from the field combined in Games 1 and 2. Smith has only attempted six shots in the two games combined. They say shooters will have to shoot themselves out of a slump, however, time is limited if Klay Thompson remains hot next to Curry.

Chess Match

The highest level of play comes with a chess match demeanor. Steve Kerr returned to the bench in Game 2 and certainly out-coaching Tyronn Lue. The talk of Game 2 was what adjutants would Cleveland make to recoup from their Game 1 loss. One obvious adjustment seen from Coach Lue was Channing Frye off the bench in Game 2 as he did not play in Game 1. With J.R. Smith having no impact on the series thus far perhaps a change in the starting line-up could help boost the Cavaliers. Whatever it is, Cleveland needs a significant adjustment that may come from Lue’s call.

Will History Repeat?

Flashback to the 2016 NBA Finals. In Game 3 of the very same Finals, Kevin Love did not play due to a concussion. This served no difference as Cleveland avenged their first two losses with a 120-90 win. If this series is headed in favor of the history between these teams things are looking up for Cleveland.

Game 3 is on Wednesday night in Cleveland. Tip-off is at 9 PM EST on ABC.

Baseline Times NBA Staff: Finals Predictions

It’s a rubber match between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Our writers make their predictions for the NBA Finals, which tip off Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pressure for the Rubber Match

The chasing of Michael Jordan’s legacy or proving that betraying your former team of nine seasons was worth the switch? After blowing a 3-1 series lead in the Finals last year does that make the pressure to win this series lie with Golden State? With a 3-5 record in the NBA Finals, is it LeBron James that has all the pressure to increase his wins to four?

The NBA’s first ever trilogy in the NBA Finals comes with an intriguing question of who beholds the most pressure to win?

The Warriors lured away Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City last summer as the clear winners of Free Agency. Adding Durant to an already 73-win team seems as the sure guarantee that in about two weeks the Golden State Warriors will be hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and perhaps Durant as the Finals MVP?

We’re talking about pressure after blowing a 3-1 Finals lead and Draymond Green’s comments that he’d like to “annihilate” the Cavaliers. Even though the Cavaliers are the defending champions the Warriors are still favored to win the Series according to Vegas.

There is no discrimination against Durant going to the Warriors here but it does add to the story line a reason of added pressure for the Warriors to win. For once, James can walk into an NBA Finals as the All-Time Leading Scorer in NBA Playoffs history. There are daily conversations in the media, Facebook, and other areas of social media that debate Lebron versus Jordan. It seems this is the most scrutiny that faces the kid from Akron as he enters his seventh straight NBA Finals.

Durant enters his second NBA Finals with a 12-0 record combined from the previous rounds in the playoffs. Beyond the success of the Warriors, they could potentially enter the next season with four max contracts. This summer the Warriors will have to make a decision to pay Durant and Stephen Curry their max contract which will tally four max contracts alongside Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Could the Warriors losing this Series potentially create the idea of Golden State management rethinking if four All-Stars is too much?

There is still a seven game series to be played to determine if the pressure on Golden Sate can be handled. Kevin Durant seemed to allude that he would be unaffected if he remains winless in the Finals in a recent interview with The Vertical.

“It wouldn’t mean my life was complete. I’ve got a lot of life I want to lead and I’ve got a lot of [expletive] I want to achieve. So if I win a ring, it would be fun to experience that moment when the buzzer sounds and embracing my teammates in the locker room and all that stuff that comes with it, but after that, what’s next? That’s how I look at it. What’s next for me? But it’s that high. It’s that two-, three-week high, I can tell. You can tell when teams win a championship. I saw last year, the Cavs, they all went to Vegas, they all hung out in Vegas for a night. But that two-week high, I want to experience that, but it’s not going to complete me at all, as far as being a person or what life is all about. At the end of the day, it’s going to be another basketball milestone that I reach, if it happens. We’ll see. But if I don’t do it, I’m not going to ball up in my room and not come out. I’m going to work on my game and enjoy myself.”

A day before the Finals and Lebron James has only one worry. His home in Los Angeles was vandalized with a racial slur on the front gate. During  Wednesday’s media availability, all Lebron could do was express his relief that his family is safe and shed light on his thoughts about the incident. The media availability would turn into Lebron’s few minutes to share his thoughts on social issues. “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are…being Black in America is tough”.