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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LaVar Ball Is Requesting $3,500 From Anyone Planning On Recording Son During Tournament

As we know, LaVar Ball goes above and beyond in terms of making sure his sons become the superstar basketball players he wants them to be. His youngest son LaMelo is currently playing for SPIRE Institute in Ohio, and they have an upcoming tournament taking place in Kentucky. Mr. Ball is reportedly asking outlets to pay $3,500 at the door to videotape his son playing.

"All games are free to film except for the Spire Institute games,” an email reportedly sent by LaVar read. “To film either of the 2 Spire Institute games, you will have to present $3,500 at the gate, as per rules of the Big Baller Brand media credential… If you accept these conditions, you may present this email at the gate as proof of our approval where you will be given a media pass.”

While a few Internet folks are scoffing at the idea of having to pay that sort of money, others are pointing out the fanbase of LaMelo, stating that there are outlets who certainly would (and have) paid the fee for the chance to record LaMelo and SPIRE moments from the game. According to Forbes, this is one of many revenue streams for the Ball family.

"The Ball Sports Group in November entered into a partnership with FloSports Inc. to live stream five SPIRE games featuring LaMelo, beginning with one on Tuesday (Jan. 14) at Brush High School in Ohio," the site reports. "FloSports Inc. agreed to pay $5,000 per game, according to the contract which was signed by Foster."

Here's the email telling video outlets they must pay $3,500 to film LaMelo and @SpireBasketball this weekend in Kentucky.

— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 17, 2019

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Louisville International Airport To Be Renamed After Muhammad Ali

Louisville, Kentucky's hometown hero will have an airport named after him.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced Wednesday (Jan. 16) that the Louisville International Airport will be renamed after Muhammad Ali.

"Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville," Fischer said.

"Muhammad became one of the most well-known people to ever walk the earth and has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people."

The city is hoping to finalize the renaming of the Louisville International Airport to the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport by June. The news was shared a day before the two year anniversary of Ali's 2016 death. Ali would've been 77.

Officials with the Louisville airport are currently working on receiving approval from Ali's family, however, they say an agreement is near. The decision for the rename to hopefully increase tourism.

"It is important that we, as a city, further champion The Champ's legacy," the mayor added. "And the airport renaming is a wonderful next step."

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Gladys Knight To Sing National Anthem At Super Bowl LIII

As reported by the National Football Leauge (NFL) and CBS, Gladys Knight will sing the National Anthem at the 53rd Super Bowl event. The Motown legend will usher in the final game of the season in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

"I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta," Knight said. "The NFL recently announced their new social justice platform Inspire Change, and I am honored to be a part of its inaugural year."

In more recent years, Beyonce, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Natalie Cole, and many more have performed the anthem on this stage.

Alongside Knight, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), will have a performer and deaf activist by the name of Aaron Loggins sign the National Anthem and "America The Beautiful."

Super Bowl LIII will take place Feb. 3 at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The playoffs are currently underway.

Atlanta, I’m coming home! #NFL #SBLIII

— Gladys Knight (@MsGladysKnight) January 17, 2019

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