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Cavs' J.R. Smith holds premature baby girl for first time in heartwarming photo

NBA star J.R. Smith shared a heartwarming moment with his Instagram followers Monday.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

The Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard posted a photo of himself holding his premature baby daughter, Dakota, for the first time. 

"Today is one of the greatest days of my life. Today I get to hold my youngest for the first time! GOD is GREAT! #DakotaStrong," wrote the father of three.

>> See the post here

Today is one of the greatest days of my life. Today I get to hold my youngest for the first time! GOD is GREAT! #DakotaStrong A photo posted by JR Smith (@teamswish) on Feb 6, 2017 at 9:10am PST <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

Smith and wife Jewel Harris revealed in January that Dakota was born five months early.

>> Read more trending news

"We decided to share with the world what’s been going on with our family the past five days," Harris said in a video posted Jan. 7. "We know a lot of you guys congratulated us on the expectancy of our little baby girl, but we had her five months early. She’s 5 days old today, and her name is Dakota, and she weighs 1 pound."

>> Watch the video here

.@TheRealJRSmith and his wife share difficult family news. pic.twitter.com/efNsDANUo8— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) January 7, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

(h/t WJW-TV)

Spurs coach: Racism still 'our national sin'

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, asked what Black History Month meant to him, said Thursday night that it’s a “celebration of some of the good things that have happened,” and added a pointed reminder that “there’s a lot more work to do."

 >> Read more trending news

"But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin,” ESPN reported, quoting an interview Popovich did with the San Antonio Express-News. “It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that,’ or ‘Do we have to talk about race again’

“And the answer is, ‘You’re damned right we do.’”

Popovich, never shy about expressing his opinions about matters on and off the basketball court, made his comments about Black History Month, celebrated every February in the United States and Canada, before the Spurs’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The outspoken coach added that persons born white “automatically have a monstrous advantage” in terms of education, economics, legal matters and social issues.

“We have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve,” he said. “It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”

LeBron James lashes out at 'hater' Charles Barkley in interview

LeBron James has finally lost his patience with TNT’s Charles Barkley and sounded off in an interview after yet another puzzling loss, this time to the struggling Dallas Mavericks.

“He’s a hater,” James told ESPN of Barkley following the loss Monday. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”

Much has been made of the money the Cleveland Cavaliers have spent the last three years on players to keep James happy. That hasn’t stopped him from being upset with the team’s inability to trade for a playmaker off the bench to alleviate some of the pressure on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love as well as himself. 

>> Read more trending news

Barkley made his opinion of the matter known last week on the popular studio show “Inside the NBA.”

“Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above. The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted [Iman] Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. He’s the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t want to compete? He is an amazing player. They’re the defending champs.”

That was the last poke that LeBron would take as he unleashed on Barkley for questioning his competitive spirit.

“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that. I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.”

He then called Barkley a hypocrite for his comments on being friends with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony and how today’s NBA is too friendly.

“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot. Barkley and Jordan were laughing and joking with each other during one of the games while somebody’s shooting a free throw. In the Finals. But, oh, nobody were friends back then.”

[h/t ESPN]

Rockets' James Harden surprises fan celebrating 100th birthday

The Houston Rockets’ James Harden had a great night on the court, but it’s what he did after the game that has fans cheering.

After scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Harden headed to the stands, where he signed a ball for a very special fan, a woman celebrating her 100th birthday. Harden presented her the ball and sat down to speak to her briefly, according to The Associated Press. During a post-game ESPN interview, Harden said he told the woman how blessed he was to have a chance to meet her.

>> Read more trending stories

The Houston Rockets posted the heartwarming exchange on the team’s Twitter page.

That moment you get the game ball from @JHarden13 on your 100th birthday. pic.twitter.com/sRBueSShDW— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 19, 2017

NBA considers changing game over millennials’ short attention spans

NBA basketball games are shorter than the other major league sports games like football and hockey, but the last minutes of a game can drag on for a considerable time.Commissioner Adam Silver said last week the league is considering making changes so they don’t lose millennials, who are tuning out in the final minutes of the game.

>> Read more trending stories 

“It’s something that I know all of sports are looking at right now, and that is the format of the game and the length of time it takes to play the game,” Silver said to ESPN.com’s Tom Hamilton.

“Obviously people, particularly millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to,” he added.

During the last two minutes of a basketball game, coaches call time outs, they switch players, and plan for plays that could help them win, but it can turn those final two minutes into 10 to 15 minutes, or longer.“We are going to take a fresh look at the format, specifically in the last two minutes," Silver said. It’s ultimately up to the NBA’s board of owners, but there’s been no word on what kinds of changes might happen or when.

Plane carrying Miami Heat skids on taxiway in Milwaukee

A charter flight carrying the NBA’s Miami Heat basketball team slid on a taxiway after it landed at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, WISN reported.

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However, the plane stayed on the pavement as it taxied toward the terminal, and team officials said nobody was hurt.

The incident, which occurred at 9:20 p.m., was caused by ice on the runway, WPLG reported. The plane had to be towed to safety, the television station reported.

Flights arriving and departing at the airport were temporarily suspended earlier in the evening due to icy conditions in the plane parking/taxiway area, WITI reported. The suspension was lifted 90 minutes before the plane carrying the Heat landed.

The Heat will play the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. Miami played Golden State on Tuesday night.

Upon landing in Milwaukee tonight the team plane slid while taxiing but never left the pavement. Everyone on board has deplaned and is ok.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 12, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Atlanta Hawks GM apologizes for comment

Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox has apologized for a comment he made at a recent meeting with season-ticket holders.

>> Read more trending stories

Wilcox issued a statement Friday in response to a published report that he made a racially insensitive comment that offended Clarenton Crawford and his wife during a question-and-answer session in December.

The statement from Wilcox read: "At an early December chalk talk, I made a self-deprecating comment at my own expense regarding my family, which is multi-racial. This joke offended Mr. Crawford and his wife and for that, I apologize."

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and Chief Diversity Officer Nazinga Shaw met with Crawford this week. The team does not consider the matter closed, pending further internal discussion.

Notable sports deaths in 2016

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