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New York Liberty Stars Talk Upcoming Playoff Game With Phoenix Mercury

Liberty teammates Brittany Boyd and Shavonte Zellous talked defending Mercury's Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner, National Anthem protests and much more.

The New York Liberty (21-13) may have clinched the third seed in the WNBA playoffs, but that only qualified them for a matchup with the Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner led Phoenix Mercury (16-18) tomorrow night (Sept. 24), at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off for the one game elimination playoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST and you can catch the match up nationally on NBA TV.

Vibe caught up with Liberty's own Brittany Boyd and Shavonte Zellous to talk playoffs, Bill Laimbeer, national anthem protests and much more at the flagship 5th Ave NBA Store in New York City. They both agreed that the old playoff format was better than the new one. Instead of having home court advantage for the series, it will be a winner-takes-all playoff with everything on the line.

On the biggest key in defending Olympians Taurasi and Griner, "You have to play smart basketball, it's a team collective thing," said Zellous, who confirmed she'll be out there tomorrow despite a back injury she sarcastically didn't acknowledge as real. Boyd added, "Just being in their space, making them feel uncomfortable." Defense sounds like it'll be the key to a Liberty victory.

The Indiana Fever collectively took a knee for social injustice in America before their playoff game Wednesday night (Sept. 21), during the national anthem. Boyd, a California native, has been sitting during the anthem the past five games in support of Colin Kaepernick, saying, " I think it's good that they're bringing awareness to the social injustices that are going on today. I think as more people in the league continue to do that, it's going to bring more awareness and hopefully create change. For me, I'm going to continue to sit on the bench during the national anthem."

Zellous piggy-backed off her teammate. "I think a lot of people are getting our protesting and taking it in a bad way against our country," she said. "Around the league there's several players and coaches that have had family members in the military and with them kneeling it kind of took a stance....I really applaud them (Indiana Fever) for taking a stand because it is social injustices that we are going through and we're taking it one step at a time. It speaks more volumes when you stand together."

The team doesn't have anything planned yet regarding a protest during the anthem of Saturday's (Sept. 24) playoff game. The Orlando native said the team, "is still in discussions about it so we'll see," and whatever we do we will do it "as a team."

Good luck to the ladies of the New York Liberty. Make sure to tune in to NBA TV tomorrow at 7 p.m. EST for their game against the Mercury.

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Drake Riles Up Fans After Toronto Raptors’ Game 5 Win

Drake is going viral for his latest display of hometown affection. The Toronto Raptors’ global ambassador unleashed his excitement behind the NBA team’s Game 5 win (May 23), and gave an impassioned post-game speech ahead of Saturday's match-up against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“We have the best player, we have the best fans in the whole NBA, in the whole world,” Drake said. “Look around you, look at this. We created this. This didn’t exist before we were here. Look around at the square. I promise you right now, we did this. Doesn’t matter what anybody says. They can say it’s disrespectful, they can say it’s this and that; everybody’s within the rules, everybody’s doing their thing. All we are is proud and passionate. We are like a college sports team. The Toronto Raptors are a college sports team, I promise you. I love Toronto, I love this team and we’re going to the NBA Finals.”

The Views rapper's passionate display arrives days after sports commentators and viewers discussed his court-side actions. Even ESPN's Stephen A. Smith dissected Drizzy's fandom and highlighted other celebrities' gestures on the court.

On Thursday evening, the Raptors defeated the Bucks 105-99 to advance to a 3-2 Eastern Conference Finals standing. The win arrives after a double overtime matchup during Game 4. The Raptors will have home court advantage on Saturday (May 25). The team to reach four wins first will face-off against the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors, who defeated the Houston Rockets within a six-game series.

After “weathering the storm,” Raptors’ small forward Kawhi Leonard said he’s looking forward to the series’ continuation. “We’re taking it one game at a time and I’m just excited we got the win tonight,” he said.

"I love Toronto, I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals."

—Drake after Game 5

(via @WISN12News)pic.twitter.com/2YjKIeKjQk

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 24, 2019

"We play in an American league and I promise you a Canadian team is going to the NBA Finals."

Drake spoke to the fans in Toronto after the Game 5 win. (via @turcottespencer) pic.twitter.com/w1hayO65pl

— ESPN (@espn) May 24, 2019

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Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach Criticizes Drake For Courtside Behavior

It's no secret that Drake is a super fan of his hometown team the Toronto Raptors, and his fandom is with good reason. The team is No. 2 in the Eastern Conference and recently added another W to their resume after a hard-fought game against the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks in the Playoffs. However, his court-side behavior at Game 4 of the Conference sparked criticism from several people.

The Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer called out the Scorpion musician for his antics during the game, which included taunts against Giannis Antetokounmpo, yelling during free throws, and giving back rubs to the Raptors' head coach, Nick Nurse. It's fun to poke fun at the opposing team, but there's a limit.

"I see it in some timeouts, but I don't know of any person that's attending the game that isn't a participant in the game a coach -- I'm sorry, a player or a coach that has access to the court," Budenholzer said of the 6 God. "There's certainly no place for fans and, you know, whatever it is exactly that Drake is for the Toronto Raptors. You know, to be on the court, there's boundaries and lines for a reason, and like I said, the league is usually pretty good at being on top of stuff like that."

Georgios Dimitropoulos, the former European rep for Antetokounmpo, commented about Drizzy's behavior in a now-deleted tweet, writing that he has "Never seen anything as disrespectful as this before."

We'll see if he cleans up his act the next time he attends a game. Game 5 takes place tomorrow (May 23), and the teams are tied up, 2-2.

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Lachlan Cunnigham

Former Boxer Sues Jay-Z's Roc Nation Over Severe Brain Damage

Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports are reportedly being sued by former boxer, Daniel Franco, for the severe brain damage he suffered as a result of being pressured into competing in three fights within 79 days, TMZ reports.

Franco reportedly inked a deal with the sports division of the multifaceted company in 2015. It wasn't until 2017 that Franco ran into some medical issues. The athlete claims he came down with the flu before a big match and was unable to train for three weeks as a result. Franco said he told Roc Nation that he needed to postpone or cancel the match, but the label allegedly pressured him into keeping his schedule.

Unfortunately, Franco lost in the third round. As opposed to taking time off to recover from his loss, Roc Nation reportedly booked him to fight another match only 50 days later. The company then booked a third fight a month later.

Franco says he suffered two skull fractures and a brain bleed before he even stepped into the ring for his third fight. Despite his unsatisfactory bill of health, he fought in the third match, lost, and suffered more brain damage in the process.

Franco said he was later diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage and briefly fell into a coma. Doctors were forced to remove a piece of his skull to relieve pressure from the wound.

Franco awoke from his coma two weeks later, but he claims he still has severe neurological and cognitive issues and is required to wear a helmet at all times. Franco claims Roc Nation is liable because the company never took the proper steps to make sure he was medically fit to fight.

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