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Ohio sites potentially in the running to host NCAA championship after pull from North Carolina

Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, could contend for NCAA championship events that were pulled from North Carolina this week because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.

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Officials from the University of Dayton and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission told the Dayton Daily News they have interest in hosting the events, which include first- and second-round men's basketball tournament games in March as well as the Women's College Cup soccer tournament in December.

"We have let them know we are available and would be happy to help them out," University of Dayton athletics spokesman Doug Hauschild said in an email. "We believe their intention is to relocate to sites as close as they can to the original ones for fans who have already purchased tickets."

The University of Dayton Arena is already set to host the First Four to open the basketball tournament, as it has done every year since 2001.

Ohio State and the city of Columbus have also become frequent hosts of various NCAA events and could add to their impressive docket in the coming years.

"We have viewed the information provided by the NCAA today regarding the process by which replacement sites will be selected for 2016-17 championships and are determining, with our partners, if we have the availability to host any of these championships," Greater Columbus Sports Commission director of marketing and communications Bruce Wimbish said in an email. "There will be a two-week time frame to submit new bids with the decisions to be made in early October."

Ohio State is already set to host multiple NCAA events this academic year, including the Division I women's volleyball championship in December and the men's volleyball championship in March.

The women's basketball Final Four will be hosted in Columbus in the spring of 2018.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced that he sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert about Ohio's potential to host the orphaned events.

"Ohio has been a consistent partner in hosting NCAA sporting events," Brown wrote. "As you weigh options for relocation, I urge you to give Ohio's cities your full consideration. Your organization would be hard-pressed to find a better partner, and I know Ohioans would embrace these events with open arms."

NBA's Jrue Holiday to miss games to care for pregnant wife with brain tumor

New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday will miss an indefinite amount of the basketball season while he cares for his wife, who will have brain surgery later this year to remove a benign tumor, The Times-Picayune reported. 

 >> Read more trending stories 

Doctors discovered the tumor near Lauren Holiday's orbital socket on the right side of her brain. According to The Times, she had been experiencing painful headaches, which forced her to undergo an MRI in June, when doctors discovered the tumor. Jrue Holiday said the news was "devastating."

"My family comes before basketball," Jrue Holiday told The Times. "I'm obviously blessed to play this game and be in the position I am in, but my wife is the most important thing in the world to me. She comes before anything else."

Because I miss him...#tbt A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:23pm PST

Doctors told the family that the tumor is operable but that they do not want to operate until after Lauren has given birth to the couple's unborn daughter. 

"Obviously, we were and are still very excited about the birth of our first child, but our focus shifted from having this magnificent blessing to making sure everything is going to be OK with Lauren and the child," Jrue said. "Our priorities right now are being able to manage Lauren's symptoms and still have a fairly healthy pregnancy." 

Best 3 years of my life. I love you. A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Jul 7, 2016 at 11:34am PDT

The couple's daughter was originally due in mid-October, but the couple hopes to induce birth early.

Lauren's the tumor won't be operated on until six weeks after her delivery.

The diagnosis is no threat to the couple's child, and doctors said that Lauren is expected to make a full recovery once she's undergone surgery, Deadspin reported.

"Lauren has her good days and her bad days; some are better than others," The Times quoted Jrue as saying. "She's obviously a fighter, the toughest woman I know. That's the reason why I married her."

Lauren Holiday, 28, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. women's national soccer team. She retired last year at the peak of her career after winning the World Cup to start a family with Jrue.

2x Olympic Gold 2x NWSL Champs 2015 WorldCup Champs!!! The Greatest Women's Soccer player just happens to be my wife. She has served her country, her family and most of all, she has served the Lord to the fullest. Congrats on an AMAZING career!!! A photo posted by Jrue Holiday (@jrue_holiday11) on Oct 25, 2015 at 10:22am PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script> 

Jrue and Lauren met while in college at UCLA, where the two competed on athletic teams. Jrue was a star player on the basketball team, and Lauren shined on the soccer team.

Holiday, 26, was drafted in the first round in 2009 by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was traded to the Pelicans in 2013.

The couple married in July 2013, the same month Jrue was traded to the Pelicans.

Happy Anniversary to the best man I know. One year went so fast! "My beloved is mine and I am his" - Songs 2:16 #7.7.13 A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Jul 7, 2014 at 8:34am PDT

"The most important thing for Jrue to do right now is be with his wife and family," Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said in a statement. "Every one of our coaches and players understands what Lauren and Jrue are going through, and they know we're behind them 100 percent. We'll continue to do everything we can to support them and help them get through these hard times."

"We encourage Jrue to take as much time as he needs to be with his wife and family before returning to the Pelicans," Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said in a statement. "We understand that Jrue will miss some games, and his teammates are prepared to step up in his absence. We will welcome Jrue back with open arms when he is ready to return to the team."

"The Pelicans have been great," Jrue said." There wasn't any pressure to be with the team or to choose between my team and my wife. They told me to be a husband first. I don't think they know how much their support means to me and my family."

The Pelicans training camp begins Sept. 24, and the season opener is Oct. 26.

Jrue asked fans for prayers saying, "Really pray for my family. We can take all the prayers that we can get."

Notable athletes were among those that reached out to the family with positive messages. 

Read more at The Times-Picayune.

NBA offers 2017 All-Star Game to Louisiana

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game will be played in New Orleans, bringing some much-needed good news to the state of Louisiana.

In July, the league announced it was removing the game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's HB2. The bill, which was signed into law, requires transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding to their sex at birth.

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Opponents saw the bill as discriminatory, and the NBA agreed. Its statement said, in part, "We do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2."

New Orleans was considered the leading contender to host the game after the NBA pulled the plug on Charlotte. The league decided to stick with the Big Easy despite flooding that's causing massive damage in Louisiana.

More than a dozen people have been killed, and tens of thousands of homes have been damaged. 

To help the flooding victims, the NBA is partnering with the New Orleans Pelicans and New Orleans Saints to help rebuild damaged homes and collect food and water for affected residents. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards said, "I want to thank the NBA for the vote of confidence in our state to host this event and their support of the relief efforts currently underway."

The All-Star Game itself should be a big boost for the state's economy. The game and its surrounding festivities are expected to bring in around $100 million. The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for February 19.

Michael Jordan fan who went viral for dressing as NBA legend gets surprise from his hero

A man who went viral this summer for dressing as Michael Jordan during a pickup basketball game in Idaho has received a special surprise from the NBA legend.

According to KREM, 33-year-old Jeffrey Harrison, a Washington state man with autism, has been wearing Jordan's full uniform when he plays basketball since 2010. On July 4, a video and photos of Harrison playing in Coeur D'Alene circulated on social media, making headlines and inspiring memes.

>> Click here to watch the original news report from KREM

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When Jordan heard about Harrison from his manager, he decided to do something special for his No. 1 fan. Last week, Harrison received gear – including shoes – and a letter from the star that said, "Continue to believe in yourself, play hard and always remember to enjoy the game."

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Jordan also called Harrison.

"It kind of brought me to tears after I got off the phone so I figured this is really going to be nice," Harrison told KREM. "The fact that Michael Jordan took the time to call and put all this together. I love it – even the cologne, even the sweats. I love it."

Read more here.

>> Watch the full news report here

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'I can no longer stay silent': Michael Jordan pledges $2M to foster community, police relations

Michael Jordan announced he will donate $2 million to two organizations that strive to improve community and police relations, according to ESPN's sports and culture website The Undefeated.

Jordan released a letter to the sports news site saying that he would donate $1 million to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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Jordan wrote that he can "no longer stay silent" in light of recent racial tension and violence between citizens and law enforcement officers. 

He called for new policies to ensure that citizens of color are treated fairly and that police officers receive respect and support. 

Both groups were informed of the donations Sunday night.

"We're surprised and shocked, but obviously thrilled," said Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director of the Legal Defense Fund. "We've been working on these issues for some many years, and it's great to hear that Michael Jordan and his people are aware of our work and are willing to make a contribution."

"What an opportunity for Michael Jordan to do this and help raise the discussion between police and the members of the communities they serve," said Terrence Cunningham, the IACP president and chief of the Wellesley, Massachusetts, police department. "The IACP aims to provide a toolbox for departments and communities to come together to discuss implicit bias and police legitimacy, and this is an opportunity to help that along."

"I applaud Michael Jordan for these donations," NBA commissioner Adam Silver told The Undefeated Monday. "His championing of important social issues including fundamental civil and human rights carries enormous impact in communities everywhere."

Here is Jordan's full statement:

"As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well. "I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers -- who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported. "Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change. "To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference. "We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country -- a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities."

Read more at The Undefeated

NBA pulls 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte

The NBA decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte with the hope of rescheduling for 2019, due to the controversial HB2 law.

Officially known as The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, the state law which went into effect earlier this year restricts public restroom use to the sex listed on an individual's birth certificate. Critics claim the law discriminates against transgendered people. Supporters say it is about privacy and safety.

The game was expected to have an economic impact upwards of $100 million, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last month that the league is looking at other venues for the event.

The NBA released a statement addressing their decision to move the game Thursday afternoon.

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Losing the All-Star Game is another blow to Charlotte, which lost hundreds of jobs when PayPal halted plans for expansion into the city.

Technology executives from companies such as Google, PayPal and Pinterest sent a letter to Silver earlier this month urging him to move the game if the HB2 law isn't changed.

Gov. Pat McCrory didn't express concern earlier this month for losing the game. 

"I respect people's opinions on both sides of this issue. It's a complex issue which is going to be resolved in the courts," McCrory said.

Hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues are bracing for a loss of some much anticipated revenue. Sid Smith with the Charlotte Area Hotel Association told WSOC losing the game could put hotels in a pinch.

"We have to hold the rooms, so who knows what might be sellable or who knows, the All-Star game might be here," he said. "If they pull out, then we just have less time to try to fill those openings."

NBA legend Nate Thurmond dies at 74

Nate Thurmond, the Golden State Warriors center who was voted one of the 50 best players in NBA history had died at the age of 75.

According to the NBA, Thurmond died after a short battle with leukemia.

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Known as "Big Nate," Thurmond was a seven-time NBA All-Star and considered to be one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

NBA legend Nate Thurmond dies at 74

Nate Thurmond, the Golden State Warriors center who was voted one of the 50 best players in NBA history had died at the age of 75.

According to the NBA, Thurmond died after a short battle with leukemia.

>> Read more trending stories 

Known as "Big Nate," Thurmond was a seven-time NBA All-Star and considered to be one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Police working WNBA game quit over team's Black Lives Matter shirts

Four off-duty Minneapolis police officers working a Minnesota Lynx WNBA game reportedly walked off the job after the team wore warm-up shirts supporting Black Lives Matter. 

>> Click here to watch the video from Newsy

"When we look at the facts, it's hard to deny there's a real problem in our society," Lynx player Rebekkah Brunson said during a press conference. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the four officers were working security for the game on Saturday but left prematurely and took their names off the list for working future Lynx events. 

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, commended the officers' actions. He told the outlet, "If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there." 

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The Lynx wore the shirts prior to their game against Dallas. 

The shirts featured the shield for the Dallas Police Department, the name of Alton Sterling and the name of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by police in nearby Falcon Heights. 

Castile's death has sparked several protests in the Minneapolis area. 

Over the weekend, protesters shut down a major highway in St. Paul for several hours. More than 100 protesters were arrested after police say the gathering got out of hand. 

The Lynx reportedly still had private security at the game after the officers' walkout. 

This video includes images from the Minnesota Lynx and Getty Images.

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