LeBron James says his 10th appearance in the NBA Finals "don't mean s***" unless he leads the Los Angeles Lakers to championship glory.

James scored 38 points and tallied 16 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers saw off the Denver Nuggets 117-107 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals to clinch the series.

The four-time MVP is attempting to win his fourth NBA title, having won two with the Miami Heat and another with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Having tasted the disappointment of Finals defeat six times in his career, James knows the conference title will have little value if the Lakers fail to claim a first NBA crown since 2010.

"Right now, it don't mean s*** unless I get it done," James said to ESPN of reaching the Finals for the 10th time. "I got to get it done.

"We understand we have bigger fish to fry. We understand there's a bigger goal, but we can't take this for granted because this doesn't happen every year to anybody."

James and the Lakers have had to deal with extremely trying circumstances in his second season with the team.

The NBA world was shaken by the tragic death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in January before the campaign was stopped for four and a half months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've been fuelled all year," James added. "All year. Even during the shutdown. I was still training."

James has the chance to become the first player to win Finals MVP with three different franchises having claimed the award with the Heat in 2012 and 2013 and the Cavs in 2016.

"I just want to travel my own journey, because it is my journey. I've appreciated everything that's happened along the way. I mean, throughout -- the ups, the downs, the ups on the court, the downs on the court, the wins and losses," said James.

"But I've been able to, I guess as Frank Sinatra would say, 'I did it my way.'"

Conor McGregor slammed the UFC for holding him back from fighting in the octagon as the former champion switches to boxing and prepares for a showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

McGregor and boxing legend Pacquiao are set to go head-to-head in the ring in 2021 – a huge portion of the earnings to be donated to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the latter's aide Jayke Joson said on Saturday.

Irishman McGregor announced his decision to retire in June, having returned to the UFC in January after a 15-month absence and knocked out Donald Cerrone at welterweight in just 40 seconds.

McGregor has not fought since – the former featherweight and lightweight champion had been planning to fight three times in 2020, but the COVID-19 crisis scuppered that strategy.

UFC president Dana White has previously hinted at a possible comeback next year after revealing he is working on some "fun stuff" for McGregor, however, the 32-year-old hit out via Instagram.

"The very first shot of the fight," McGregor wrote as he discussed his 2017 defeat to unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. "Right on the button through the guard. I didn't even put anything into that shot. Just placed it. It was hard for me not to dwell on the full 12 rounds that were potentially ahead of me and hold back my shots early.

"Still tho [sic] right on the absolute button. The first punch thrown. Remember the experts saying I wouldn't land even one lol. I landed more than them all. The picture above is the very first punch of the fight thrown, and landed, and inside the very first second of the fight. Bums all of them 'experts'. Listen to none of them! Really I should have just sat right thru that shot and took his head off and f*** the distance. If it didn't work out just give him a good boot into the neck and get DQ'd [disqualified] and fined and who'd give a f***. I'm upset I fully followed the rules for that fight to be honest. Floyd deserved a volley at the least. A shoulder even, break the face.

"Manny not so much tho [sic] I don't think, but I will see how the build-up goes and wait to hear what bitter old Freddie Roach has to say and then make a decision. My Whiskeys at half a b and climbing I could take a fine. I'd rather fight MMA anyway not sure why I've been held back like this, it's borderline criminal at this stage.

"The biggest number generator in the game asking for four fights since February this year and getting left on seen. It's pretty f***** up when I keep thinking of it. I've been right here this whole time. Bob Chapek, do you copy! I repeat, Bob Chapek - Do You Copy!

"Anyways boxing it is for now and I'm up for this! I hope no bottling takes place here. I'm already agreeing to these limited rules and holding back my full array of weapons. Let's get it going guys. Much love, the champ champ."

Bam Adebayo took the blame for the Miami Heat's Game 5 defeat to the Boston Celtics on Friday, though Jimmy Butler did not agree with his assessment.

The Heat failed to close out the Eastern Conference finals as they blew a 12-point lead to lose 121-108, meaning their series advantage was cut to 3-2 ahead of Game 6 on Sunday.

Adebayo, who played with a sleeve on his left arm after supposedly suffering an injury late in Game 4, contributed 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting, eight rebounds and eight assists but felt he lacked intensity on the defensive end.

"I played like s***. Bottom line. I put that game on me. It's not my team-mates' fault, it's not my coaches' fault, it's me. I missed too many shots I should have made. Put that one on me," said Adebayo.

"I wasn't being the defensive anchor that I should have been. I don't think I was communicating fast enough. I feel like I was a step behind today.

"I got to be better. That's the bottom line. That's it. There's no excuses to this ... this game is on me. I played terrible and that can't happen."

Butler insisted the defeat was "on everybody" and said he would attempt to lift Adebayo's spirits ahead of Game 6. 

"It's not [on Adebayo]. It's on everybody. He does so much for us that it could feel like that at times, but it's definitely not on him. It's on us as a whole," said Butler. 

"We all understand that because nobody was playing the way we're supposed to play, the way we have to play in order for us to win. Nobody. And for him to say that, I respect it, I love him for it. But he can't do it by himself – we've got to be there with him. 

"I will [speak to him] but I think he knows you can't get stuck on this game now. We learn from it, it's something of the past. But we're going to need him to be who he is on Sunday. 

"We need everybody to be that way. We're gonna watch film, we're gonna learn from it, not saying we already don't know what went wrong, but we'll be ready to go. We will fix it." 

Israel Adesanya has promised to make his fight with Paulo Costa "look easy" when the pair clash in UFC 253 this weekend.

Adesanya – who is nicknamed "The Last Stylebender" – is the defending UFC middleweight champion and goes up against Costa on "Fight Island".

Both fighters are undefeated heading into what has been billed as the fight of 2020, but Adesanya was adamant Costa will prove no match for him.

"I think the muscles fool everyone. The muscles and the whole flurries and fighting punching bags fool everyone," Adesanya said of Costa at media day.

"Everyone thinks, wow this is a big fight. I'm like, no, I've already had the fight of the middleweight division, which was Kelvin Gastelum.

"I've already had the biggest fight in the middleweight division crowd-wise, which was Robert Whittaker. I'm gonna make it look easy. A lot of people are gonna be shocked by that."

Adesanya and Costa enjoyed a civil meeting in Abu Dhabi, with the duo trading compliments.

Costa acknowledged his surprise at Adesanya's change in demeanour during the meeting.

"I don't know what happened, he changed his personality a lot, his persona," Costa told MMA Mania. 

"The Adesanya that I saw on the video conference was a very disrespectful guy, he showed his fingers a lot to me. But when I met him upstairs, he was very kind, very gentle."

However, neither fighter held back in their verbal insults during media day, with Adesanya going as far as to tell Costa: "Shut the f*** up before I become your stepdad."

It is Monday September 28, 1992, and Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is the location of a media circus rarely seen before or since in the stadium. Bavarian giants Bayern Munich are in town for a hastily arranged friendly.

Aside from the two teams' meeting in the UEFA Super Cup on Thursday and a Champions League quarter-final tie in 2018, this friendly 28 years ago is the only previous occasion in which Sevilla faced their illustrious German visitors.

Yet, Bayern were not the focus of the media attention. No, they were there for the first game of Diego Maradona's return to Spain.

The world's most renowned footballer - formerly of Barcelona - was barely given enough space to take part in the coin toss such was the scrum around him, with microphones and cameras shoved towards his face with little regard by voracious reporters.

 

STILL THE BEST

Maradona, wearing the captain's armband, was making his comeback from a 15-month ban for cocaine use which ultimately ended his love affair with Napoli.

From midfield, the 31-year-old dictated the tempo and stretched Bayern's defence with his imaginative passing. He, Diego Simeone and Rafa Paz combined excellently in the middle, while an understanding with a young Davor Suker showed evidence of promise.

Maradona forced goalkeeper Raimond Aumann into a smart early save before hitting the crossbar with an audacious free-kick from near the corner flag.

Out of shape, unfit and without competitive football in over a year, Maradona was still the best player on the pitch, setting up Suker before also playing a key role in one of Monchu's goals. Sevilla won 3-1.

His weight was mocked by a banner depicting a Maradona caricature whose belly could not be contained by his jersey, but, his "cosmic barrel" physique aside, this was the same player who had astonished with Napoli and Argentina.

 

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD

His move to Andalusia meant a reunion with Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning coach – and close friend – Carlos Bilardo.

Bilardo called the signing a "gift", while Maradona said his "happiness is complete" upon arrival at Seville's San Pablo airport in a striking cerise suit – "I looked a treat," he concluded about his fashion sense.

Having lost Ivan Zamorano to Real Madrid, Sevilla president Luis Cuervas and vice-president Jose Maria del Nido will have been looking on, certain they had pulled off a masterstroke by getting Maradona in as a replacement, reportedly boosting season ticket subscriptions from 26,000 to 40,000.

His performances continued to excite in competitive games and he enjoyed what many consider to be his best display in Spain during an ill-tempered 2-0 win over Real Madrid on December 19.

Madrid, complete with the likes of Manolo Sanchis, Fernando Hierro, Michel and Luis Enrique, simply had no answer as Maradona ran the show. Everything was going as well as it could have, until things – somewhat inevitably – turned ugly in the second half of the season.

 

THE FALLOUT

A dispute over El Diego's juggling of international and club commitments saw the two parties at loggerheads, but things got out of control late in the campaign.

After being given painkilling injections against his will for a persistent injury caused by receiving a kick from an angry Venezuela fan in 1985, Maradona was withdrawn by Bilardo early in the second half of a 1-1 draw with Real Burgos and he blew his top.

"Bilardo, you m***********," he claimed to yell in his coach's direction, with the pair coming to blows a day later, as detailed in the troubled star's autobiography.

What made the situation worse for Maradona was Sevilla's chiefs revealed to him just a few days earlier their plan to offer him a player-coach role after ditching Bilardo. They received a stern refusal in reply, with El Diego not about to betray his friend, but he ultimately felt as though such loyalty was not reciprocated.

Everyone wanted out of the marriage, and Del Nido's public comments about Maradona's fitness proved the final straw.

"That's probably why that w***** Del Nido dared to say I wasn't even fit enough to play table tennis; to make me leave," Maradona wrote in his autobiography. "He knew I wouldn't put up with that kind of stuff. And that's how it happened, that was how my story with Sevilla ended. Badly."

Maradona then missed out on £625,000 worth of unpaid wages as Sevilla withheld payment because he had "not met obligations to the club", bringing a bitter close to a chapter which had promised so much on a thrilling evening against Bayern.

LeBron James hailed Anthony Davis' belief and was glad his Los Angeles Lakers team-mate got his moment against the Denver Nuggets.

Davis hit an incredible buzzer-beating three as the top-seeded Lakers edged the Nuggets 105-103 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

The forward missed a similar shot in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in March, but he delivered in a big way against the Nuggets.

James said Davis' belief was key as the 27-year-old hit the biggest shot of his career in the NBA playoffs.

"It's not about making a shot. It's about having a belief of just taking it, for one, and living with the result," he told reporters.

"I think right back to our game right before COVID hit. We played Brooklyn at home and he had a similar shot right on that left wing in front of their bench to win the game and he missed it. He was down on himself, but at the end of the day, I told him, if you're open, and I was able to drive that particular game and find him wide open and he just missed it.

"But it's just the confidence to take the shot. You're not going to make them all, but the belief to just take it and live with the results is what it's all about.

"Tonight was his moment. Tonight was his moment to find a space, hunt the ball down and one of our top-10 assists leaders, [Rajon] Rondo, found him and he knocked it down. A big-time play."

Davis finished with 31 points and nine rebounds, while James posted a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds.

After arriving from the New Orleans Pelicans last year, Davis has embraced the pressure for the Lakers and James said he would be the first to remind the seven-time All-Star of just how good he was.

"It's about the work that you put in and the belief in yourself. It's not about the doubters or the naysayers or the people who are going to try to talk to you and slander you and bring you down every single day. It's not about them because they have never been in the arena. They don't understand," James said.

"AD, he knows how special he is and when he doesn't, I'll be the first one to tell him how special he is. He wanted to be here. I'm happy he wanted to be here, because if he didn't, we wouldn't have a moment like tonight. That's what it's all about.

"You put that pressure on yourself when you don't really care what other people think, because what other people think doesn't really matter because they don't understand. Anybody can talk from outside, but if they got into the ring or they got into the arena, probably 10 times out of 10, they s*** their pants."

LeBron James made his frustration clear over another MVP near-miss after helping the Los Angeles Lakers take a 1-0 lead in their Western Conference finals showdown with the Denver Nuggets.

Double-doubles from James and Anthony Davies inspired the top-seeded Lakers to a 126-114 victory in Game 1 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Speaking after the match, James made little attempt to hide his contempt for the MVP vote that saw Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo named the NBA's best player for a second consecutive season

"It p****** me off. That's my true answer," said four-time MVP James, who came in second behind Steve Nash in 2005-06, Kevin Durant in 2013-14 and James Harden in 2017-18.

"It p****** me off because out of 101 votes I got 16 first-placed votes. That's what pissed me off more than anything.

"I'm not saying that the winner wasn't worthy of the MVP but that p****** me off.

"I've finished second a lot in my career, either in a championship or now four times as an MVP.

"I never came into this league saying I wanted to be an MVP or a champion. I've always just said I want to get better and better every single day and those things will take care of themselves.

"There are some things out of my hands and some things you can't control. But it p****** me off."

Davis had no doubt his team-mate deserved greater recognition in the poll

"He deserves it," he said. "What he's been able to do for our team, the things he's been doing individually, on a consistent basis, night-in, night-out, just it's not even a question who deserves it."

James was keen to point out he was still happy with the bigger picture the Lakers have mapped out for themselves and ready to toast victory.

"I mean, I'm fine. Don't get it twisted," he added. "I'm perfectly fine. We're 1-0 in the Western Conference Finals. I'm absolutely fine.

"I'm absolutely great now. I'm going to go back to my room, drink some wine and sleep very well.

"I'm great. It's just the voting scale is a little weird to me sometimes."

Andre Villas-Boas has expressed alarm that Alvaro Gonzalez and his family received abuse including death threats after Marseille's win at Paris Saint-Germain.

Spanish defender Alvaro was involved in the stormy ending to Sunday's Classique, with Neymar sent off for striking him on the back of the head as five players were red-carded in stoppage time.

Neymar explained the incident by alleging he was subjected to a racial slur, saying on Twitter that his only regret was not hitting his opponent in the face.

Marseille are standing by their player, insisting he is not racist and stressing he has the support of team-mates. Alvaro denies making such a slur.

The south-coast club announced on Monday that the leaking of private telephone numbers belonging to Alvaro and his relatives led to "constant harassment, consisting in particular of death threats".

Speaking in a news conference on Tuesday, head coach Villas-Boas said: "The death threats are true. We told the police about them.

"These are the consequences of the accusations. I hope it will end soon."

The pair exchanged messages on Twitter after the game, with Neymar telling Alvaro he has no respect for him.

Villas-Boas appears to want Neymar to retract his accusation, which may be unlikely given how strongly the Brazilian expressed his views initially and has since stood by them.

The Marseille boss urged Neymar considering the consequences of his allegations towards Alvaro.

"We are sure that Alvaro is not racist," Villas-Boas said, according to L'Equipe.

"OM represents multiculturality. I think that we will all help to seek the truth.

"It is not good for Alvaro. It is a sensitive subject. OM and PSG are there to help seek the truth."

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel stressed there is no place for racism in football but said he did not hear any comment aimed at Neymar, who accused Marseille defender Alvaro of abusing him.

Brazil superstar Neymar was one of five players sent off amid an ugly fracas at the end of Sunday's Classique, which Marseille won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes.

A VAR check showed Neymar striking Alvaro on the back of the head and he later posted on Twitter to say his only regret was not hitting his opponent in the face after alleging he was subjected to a racial slur.

Alvaro denied the claims with his own post on social media and Tuchel was asked about the incident at a post-match news conference.

"What I heard? He [Neymar] told me that it was some racist insult, but I did not hear anything on the pitch," Tuchel said.

When made aware of Neymar's social media post, Tuchel replied: "I think that everyone has the same opinion that racism in all the society, in sports or in our lives can't exist. It's obvious.

"But I did not hear that today, neither [did] the referee so I can't answer this question."

Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas earlier said he too was unaware of the incident, while also speaking about Alvaro's claim he was spat at by PSG's Angel Di Maria.

"I don't know. I hope not, there is no place for racism in football," Villas-Boas said in an interview with Telefoot.

"It's a serious fault if it happened but I don't think so. Before that, we had a situation with a spit from Di Maria.

"These are things to avoid in the world of football. I hope it won't be a black spot in this historic performance."

PSG have started their Ligue 1 campaign with back-to-back 1-0 defeats, with their domestic season have been delayed due to their run to the Champions League final.

Andre Villas-Boas took aim at Thomas Tuchel and poked fun at Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League failure after Marseille's win.

Florian Thauvin's first-half goal was enough for Marseille to end a 20-game winless run against PSG in a fiery Le Classique in Paris on Sunday.

Five players, including PSG star Neymar, were sent off in additional time at the Parc des Princes.

Marseille head coach Villas-Boas said he exchanged words with PSG boss Tuchel, who has overseen back-to-back losses to begin the 2020-21 Ligue 1 season.

"Normal insults – you're a s***, no, you are a s*** yourself," Villas-Boas told a news conference.

"He told me I played lottery tonight, I told him he played lottery too against Atalanta [in last season's Champions League quarter-finals].

"Fair enough. I have a huge respect for him, I appreciate what he does."

PSG needed two late goals to beat Atalanta in August before they fell to Bayern Munich in the decider.

Villas-Boas said the pressure was on Tuchel to deliver a Champions League title to PSG.

"Obviously PSG wait for a cup, the Champions League, you can't invest $1.5billion and not win the Champions League," he said.

"[Carlo] Ancelotti was here, now he is coaching Everton. [Unai] Emery was here, now he is coaching Villarreal. It's hard. They wait [for] the Champions League.

"I appreciate him. They play well, defend well and aggressively. I told him, 'Unfortunately I can't play like you'. But I really like him."

Marseille defender Alvaro said there was "no place for racism" as he denied accusations aimed at him by Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

Neymar was sent off for hitting Alvaro in additional time in PSG's 1-0 loss to Marseille in a fiery Le Classique in Paris on Sunday.

The Brazil star later wrote on Twitter he regretted not hitting Alvaro in the face, and followed up by saying he had been called a "monkey motherf*****".

But Alvaro dismissed allegations of racism in a post of his own on Twitter.

"There is no place for racism," he wrote.

"Clean race and with many colleagues and friends on a daily basis. Sometimes you have to learn to lose and take it on the field.

"Incredible three points today."

Leandro Paredes, Layvin Kurzawa, Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto were also sent off in additional time.

Florian Thauvin's goal was enough for Marseille to win 1-0, condemning PSG to a second defeat to begin the Ligue 1 season.

Neymar said his only regret was not hitting Alvaro in the face after being sent off in Paris Saint-Germain's loss to Marseille.

The Brazilian star was one of five players red-carded in additional time in a chaotic finish to Le Classique at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Neymar seemingly accused Alvaro of racism when speaking to the fourth official as he left the field, replays showing him to have struck the defender in the back of the head.

After the game, Neymar posted on Twitter, writing he should have struck the Marseille man the face.

"The only regret I have is that I didn't hit this a****** in the face," he wrote.

Leandro Paredes, Layvin Kurzawa, Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto were also sent off in additional time.

Florian Thauvin's goal was enough for Marseille to win 1-0, condemning PSG to a second defeat to begin the Ligue 1 season.

Andre Villas-Boas insisted there is no room for racism in football but does not believe Marseille defender Alvaro racially abused Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

PSG's talisman was one of five players to see red in stoppage time of a frantic Classique clash at Parce des Princes on Sunday, with Marseille coming out 1-0 victors.

Neymar, along with team-mates Leandro Parades and Layvin Kurzawa, was one of the players to receive his marching orders, with Marseille duo Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto also sent off.

Brazil superstar Neymar was sent off after referee Jerome Brisard consulted the pitchside monitor – with the replays showing the forward had punched Alvaro on the back of the head.

While storming off, Neymar seemed to suggest he had been racially abused by the centre-back, and the 28-year-old then used his Twitter account to post: "The only regret I have is for not being in the face of this a******," seemingly in relation to the incident.

However, Villas-Boas does not think Alvaro – who earlier accused Angel Di Maria of spitting at him – would have committed such an offence, though he insisted if any abuse did occur then it was a serious problem.

"I don't know. I hope not, there is no place for racism in football," Villas-Boas said in an interview with Telefoot.

"It's a serious fault if it happened but I don't think so. Before that, we had a situation with a spit from Di Maria. 

"These are things to avoid in the world of football. I hope it won't be a black spot in this historic performance."

Florian Thauvin's goal ultimately proved decisive for Marseille, with Di Maria seeing a goal ruled out for offside.

Benedetto also had a goal disallowed, with a marginal offside call upheld by VAR despite the replays suggesting Thauvin had stayed onside in the build-up.

Despite the torrid finale, Villas-Boas was left to reflect on a hard-fought triumph which ended a 20-game winless streak against PSG.

"Yes it's an important and historic victory, it's a tough and difficult victory as always," Villas-Boas said. 

"It's a great victory. We improved little by little with a little more control. We were disciplined defensively. It should finish 2-0, but I don't know why the referee didn't give the second goal.

"Di Maria and Neymar were incredible. I congratulate them because it's hard after COVID-19 to present yourself like this. They did well and fought for 90 minutes. It was the moment for us. We were confident."

Valtteri Bottas says he was "was not at all to blame" for the crash that caused a red flag during the early stages of the Tuscan Grand Prix.

The incident-packed race was halted on lap nine following a multi-car collision that forced Carlos Sainz Jr, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi to retire.

With the safety car already out following a chaotic first lap, Mercedes driver Bottas bunched up the field and was seen to weave slowly down the pit straight.

A number of drivers accelerated and slowed in an attempt to second-guess Bottas, leading to the crash, with Romain Grosjean hitting out at the "f****** stupid" decision making.

However, the 31-year-old insisted he stuck to the rules and instead questioned the safety of the current restart laws.

"We're all allowed to race from the control line, which has been there for a while I think," Bottas said.

"It's just the decision this year has been that [on] the safety car they are putting the lights off quite late so you can only build the gap pretty late on.

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