TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce angered many sports media pundits and viewers Wednesday when she appeared to break the news of the death of Erin Popovich, wife of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, to Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
Among those initially angered by the question was LaForce’s colleague, NBA on TNT host and former Sixers great Charles Barkley, who said he “blew a gasket” when he first saw LaForce’s question.
“I said, ‘What the (expletive) was that? That was so rude and inappropriate,’ ” Barkley told USA TODAY’s Josh Peter. “And they said, ‘Hold on, let me tell you what happened.’ ”
During halftime of the next game, NBA on TNT host Ernie Johnson clarified that LaForce first informed James of Popovich’s death off camera, and asked if it was okay to bring it up. James later defended LaForce in a video shared on Uninterrupted, his new digital media company, telling critics to “get off her back.”
Barkley said that learning LaForce had checked in with James first changed his perspective on the incident. But, he suggested he still didn’t necessarily agree with LaForce’s decision to ask the question in the first place.
LaForce broke her silence about the incident Thursday night, thanking James for confirming she informed him of Popovich’s death first.
“Wasn’t an easy question to ask, OR answer for LeBron,” LaForce wrote. “He was a class act.”
Wanted to take a quick moment to thank @KingJames for making sure people knew the truth about our conversation before going live, & my fellow reporters & co-workers for having my back. Wasn’t an easy question to ask, OR answer for LeBron. He was a class act. On to GM 3! @cavs
— Allie LaForce (@ALaForce) April 20, 2018
Kevin Hart takes to the skies to troll Dwyane Wade
Kevin Hart didn’t show up at American Airlines Arena in Miami Thursday night to watch a masked Joel Embiid lead the Sixers to a convincing 128-108 win over the Heat in Game 3 of their first round playoff series. But that didn’t stop the popular comedian and Philadelphia native from trolling Dwyane Wade.
About an hour and a half before tip-off, an aerial message sent by Hart appeared over American Airlines Arena with the message “Kevin Hart was here. #TTP.”
Wade credited his strong performance in Game 2 to Hart’s presence, noting the comedian was talking trash from the sidelines throughout most of the game. Some of the jawing between Hart and Wade was captured during the game’s television broadcast.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 17, 2018
According to Sun Sentinel reporter Ira Winderman, Hart and Wade are actually friends, a relationship that goes back to the comedian’s participation in former NBA star Alonzo Mourning’s celebrity basketball game. Winderman also noted that Hart was a frequent visitor to the Heat locker room during the season.
But prior to Thursday’s game, Wade made it clear he’s taking a break from his friendship with Hart, at least during the playoffs.
“We’re not friends right now,” Wade said, according to my colleague Sarah Todd. “We made it very clear we’re not friends now. We will be friends after the playoffs are over with. We’re not friends, I don’t like him.”
ESPN seems to agree with the Inquirer about the Eagles’ next season
The NFL on Thursday released the full schedule for the 2018 season. For the Eagles, the schedule includes five primetime games, and a trip to London on Oct. 28 to play the Jaguars at 9:30 a.m. They’ll also kick off the season with a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 6.
My colleagues Les Bowen, Jeff McLane, Zach Berman and Paul Domowitch went through the entire schedule, and came away thinking the Eagles would win no fewer than 11 games next season.
ESPN also analyzed the Eagles full schedule, and predicted the Birds would win 11 games next season, despite a tough schedule, facing seven teams that made the playoffs last year.
More interesting, as Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith pointed out, was that ESPN’s NFL writers seemed to be particularly optimistic about the teams they cover. The worst finish predicted for any team was for the Cleveland Brown. ESPN’s Pat McManamon, who covers the team, thinks the Browns will manage to go 5-11, more games than they’ve won over the last three seasons combined.
For what it’s worth, there’s never been an NFL season in the Super Bowl era where the worst team in the league notched five wins or more. In 2003, four teams won only four games, tying for the worst record that season.