Instead of preparing for a playoff run, LeBron James is mostly spending the spring playing hoops with his teenage sons and enjoying tea time with his young daughter. And when he isn't binge-watching “Tiger King” with his wife, he is scanning the news for information on whether the coronavirus pandemic will allow the Los Angeles Lakers to finish their impressive season chasing an NBA championship. James is still optimistic about the Lakers' future, but he also knows safety comes first. “I don’t think I’ll be able to have any closure if we do not have an opportunity to finish this season,” James said from his home Wednesday on a conference call with Lakers beat reporters. The Lakers were cruising toward their first playoff berth since 2013 when the NBA season was suspended March 11. They have the Western Conference’s best record at 49-14, leading the second-place Clippers (44-20) by 5 1/2 games and trailing only Milwaukee (53-12) in the overall league standings. The Lakers did it following a thorough roster turnover last summer headlined by the arrival of Anthony Davis. They also persevered through a stressful preseason trip to China, followed by the death of franchise icon Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash in January. James' 17th NBA season is obviously unique for many reasons, but he is uncommonly proud of what the Lakers have accomplished so far. “I can have some satisfaction on what our team has been able to do this year (with) a first-year coach, first-year system, a whole new coaching staff, bringing on so many new pieces to our team this year,” James said. “I honestly didn’t think that we would be able to come together as fast as we did, just having so many new pieces (and) bringing in Anthony. He spent seven years in New Orleans, so he was coming into a new system, playing along with myself, and how we would be able to come together? I thought it would take us a lot longer than it did, but I was wrong. I was very wrong about that.” And then all that good work abruptly stopped four weeks ago. Two unidentified Lakers players subsequently tested positive for coronavirus, but the Lakers say James and his teammates are all healthy after they completed their 14-day isolation. James will be deeply disappointed if the Lakers don't get a chance to test themselves during a playoff run, yet he realizes what's most important in the upcoming weeks and months. James initially expressed reluctance about playing games in empty arenas, or the possibility of NBA teams gathering in the same city to complete the season in a form of sports quarantine. The 16-time All-Star selection now says he is up for anything that's safe and smart. “If it’s in one single, isolated destination, if it’s Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe, not only on the floor but also off the floor as well, then those conversations will be had,” James said. “Once this thing gets a good handle on it and the people in the higher ranks understand it, if they know we are safe, then we can make the next step. But the safety is always the most important, and then we go from there.” James isn't yet back at work with Mike Mancias, his personal trainer. Instead, he says he is training with his wife, Savannah, and playing plenty of hoops with Bronny James, their 15-year-old son, at a thoroughly sterilized court owned by a friend. He also shoots hoops outside at his own home with the whole family. James is doing weekly meditation, but says his mental state is outstanding thanks to his family. He has frequently spoken about missing time with loved ones during the grind of the NBA season, so he is enjoying this intensive togetherness with his kids. “They wake up every day in a positive mind frame,” James said with a laugh. “Maybe one reason is they’re not actually in school, so I know they get to sleep in a lot more now. But also they’re just so appreciative of life. ... Just being able to see my kids wake up with that positive attitude helps. For me, I wake up, I’m able to get a nice breakfast, and then I train. And when I’m training, I’m always in a very positive state of mind.” ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Former Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton has been indicted on a felony charge of injury to a child after his teenage daughter accused him of beating her. A Tarrant County grand jury indicted the 38-year-old Hamilton on Monday. He remains free on $30,000 bond after he turned himself in to authorities on Oct. 30. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of two to 10 years in prison. Hamilton's attorneys say the Texas Rangers Hall of Famer is innocent of the charge. His 14-year-old daughter told her mother, Hamilton’s ex-wife, that her father struck her after he became enraged by a comment from her. According to an affidavit by a Keller Police Department detective, Hamilton’s daughter told police that he went on a rampage Sept. 30. She says she made a comment to Hamilton that upset him, so he threw a full water bottle overhand at her, hitting her in the chest, then cursed and shouted at her. He pulled away the chair on which she rested her feet and threw it, breaking the chair, she told detectives. It didn’t hit her, but he then grabbed her by the shoulders and lifted her from the chair on which she sat. She fell to the floor, and he lifted her up, threw her over his shoulder and carried her to her bedroom. The girl said at this point she was telling Hamilton, “I’m sorry.” Upon reaching her bedroom door, he tossed the teen onto her bed, pressed her face onto the mattress and began hitting her legs with an open hand and closed fist. She said that after he finished striking her, he told her, “I hope you go in front of the f---ing judge and tell him what a terrible dad I am so I don’t have to see you anymore and you don’t have to come to my house again.” As he left the room, Hamilton's daughter said he told her to gather her things for school. When she replied that she had already put them in the car, he responded, “Well, aren’t you just the perfect child.” After Hamilton was the first overall pick out of high school in the 1999 amateur draft by Tampa Bay, his career was nearly destroyed by cocaine and alcohol addiction. He returned to baseball with Cincinnati and made his big league debut in 2007, when he hit 19 homers in 90 games before being traded to the Rangers. He was part of their only two World Series teams (2010 and 2011) and was an All-Star five seasons in a row. An awe-inspiring display in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium in 2008 was a highlight of his career, when the first-time All-Star led the American League with 130 RBI while hitting .304 with 32 homers in his first full season. He hit four homers in the 2010 AL Championship Series and had a four-homer game at Baltimore in 2012. Hamilton left the Rangers in free agency, signing a $125 million, five-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels before the 2013 season. He was recovering from shoulder surgery when the Angels traded him back to Texas in 2015 after his two injury-plagued seasons with Los Angeles. He played 50 games for Texas in 2015 but never again after he underwent surgery at least three times afterward.
Kobe Bryant is back atop the best-seller lists, days after the late Los Angeles Lakers superstar was selected to the Hall of Fame. The latest release from Bryant’s Granity Studios, “The Wizenard Series: Season One” will debut at No. 1 on The New York Times’ middle-grade hardcover list that will be published April 19. Earlier this week, it had already hit No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for children’s basketball books. Bryant and daughter Gianna were among nine who died in a helicopter crash in late January Season One, the latest installment of Bryant’s Wizenard story line that follows the progress of a young basketball player dealing with various trials and tribulations, was released last week. Bryant’s company describes it as “a story of strain and sacrifice, supernatural breakthroughs, and supreme dedication to the game.” Bryant was the series creator and envisioned the story lines. Other books created by Bryant’s content company soared in popularity in the days following the basketball legend’s death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. Those other books from Granity to make best-seller lists earlier this year include “Epoca: The Tree Of Ecrof,” “Legacy And The Queen” and “The Wizenard: Training Camp” — the prequel to this best-seller. Bryant’s 2018 book “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” was also a best-seller and has been on Amazon’s top lists for much of this year as well. Much of Granity's work has continued after Bryant's death, including installments of the “Detail” sports analysis series of programs on ESPN. Granity, after Bryant's death, said it would continue his mission of “using creative education to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves.” Bryant won five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, retiring in 2016 to spend his full-time focus on Granity and his passion for content and storytelling. The two-time Olympic gold medalist also was an Academy Award winner in 2018, and this past weekend was announced as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. ___ More AP coverage of the life and death of Kobe Bryant: https://apnews.com/KobeBryant ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports