Tessa Ferrer to Star in Apple TV+’s New Basketball-Themed Drama Series “Swagger”

Tessa Ferrer’s got some serious swagger

The 34-year-old part-Puerto Rican actress and former Grey’s Anatomy star has joined the ensemble cast of Apple TV+’s new basketball-themed drama series Swagger.

Tessa Ferrer

The project, which hails from NBA superstar Kevin Durant and Imagine’s Brian Grazer, stars O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis.

Ferrer will be a series regulars alongside Isaiah Hill, Shinelle Azoroh, 32-year-old part-Afro-Dominican actor Tristan Mack WildsCaleel Harris, Latino actor/producer Jason Rivera, Solomon Irama, Ozie Nzeribe and James Bingham.

Written and directed by Bythewood, who also serves as showrunner, Swagger is inspired by Durant’s youth basketball experiences. It explores the world of youth basketball, and the players, their families and coaches who walk the fine line between dreams and ambition, and opportunism and corruption. Off the court, the show reveals what it’s like to grow up in America.

Wilds will portray Alonzo Powers, the grassroots division leader at a major shoe company.

Ferrer will portray Meg Bailey, a former basketball player and coach for the rival team.

Rivera will play Nick, a player from Puerto Rico with the drive to become the best player in the country.

The drama is co-produced by Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios.

Jennifer Lopez to Appear as Part of YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” Global Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Jennifer Lopez is ready to motivate this year’s graduates…

YouTube has added several speakers and musical performances to Dear Class of 2020its global virtual commencement ceremony set for June 6, including the 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar.

Jennifer Lopez

In addition to Lopez, others joining Barack and Michelle ObamaLady Gaga and more as part of the special event are Beyoncé Knowles-Carter— who will deliver an inspirational message to the graduates — La La AnthonyAndy CohenLana CondorMisty Copeland,Kevin DurantFINNEASBill & Melinda GatesJoseph Gordon-LevittDemi LovatoHasan MinhajJanelle Monáe,Antoni PorowskiBilly PorterPhoebe RobinsonYara ShahidiMichael StrahanTaylor SwiftCiaraRussell Wilson, the casts of Euphoria and RiverdaleToday’s Jenna Bush Hager and Natalie Morales, and YouTub ecreators Emma Chamberlain, John GreenNikkieTutorials, and Mark Rober.

The multi-hour event premieres on Saturday, June 6 on YouTube. Other speakers and performers include BTSAlicia KeysKelly Rowland, Kerry WashingtonChloe x Halle and Zendaya, among others.

Barack and Michelle Obama each will deliver commencement speeches – as well as a joint heartfelt message – to this year’s high school and college seniors who are missing graduation celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, Michelle Obama’s Higher Reach Initiative will host a full hour of content to kick off the celebration.

“Graduation is a tradition that students and families look forward to and with the current state of the world, YouTube is lending some inspiration in the form of a virtual commencement,” said Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Content for YouTube. “We hope bringing together noteworthy, influential speakers along with performances from some of their favorite artists will provide encouragement for the students who have worked so hard to get here.”

In “Dear Class of 2020,” people from around the world will join the class of 2020 as a singular community to celebrate their resilience, and the endless possibilities of their future, says YouTube. 

“The festival-style line up combines classic commencement day themes with a diverse array of entertainment that will capture all of the emotions of graduation including pride, hope, optimism, and camaraderie.”

YouTube is working in partnership with Higher Reach, Born This Way FoundationMalala FundTODAY, and Ideas United to showcase student stories and feature graduates around the world, including a crowd-sourced commencement speech. The special will be produced by Done + Dusted.

“Dear Class of 2020” can be streamed on the YouTube Originals channel and the Learn@Home site. 

The full schedule of commencement events is available on the Learn@Home site.

Anthony Named to USA Basketball’s Team for 2016 Olympic Games

It’s official… Carmelo Anthony is headed to his fourth Olympics.

USA Basketball‘s 12-man roster has been announced for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with the 32-year-old half-Puerto Rican basketball star making the grade.

Carmelo Anthony

While a few of the game’s best won’t be in action this summer, plenty of superstar talent will make the trip in head coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s push for a third and final Olympic gold medal.

The New York Knicks star is the only Latino player named to the team.

Here’s a look at the players who will be donning the red, white and blue.

Carmelo Anthony
Team: New York Knicks
Position: Forward
Age: 32
Olympics appearance: 4th
Team USA experience: Olympics (2012-Gold, 2008-Gold, 2004-Bronze); FIBA World Championship (2006-Bronze), FIBA Americas (2007-Gold); Named a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team on Jan. 23, 2014.

Kevin Durant
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Position: Forward
Age: 27
Olympics appearance: 2nd
Team USA experience: Olympics (2012-Gold), FIBA World Championship (2010-Gold); Named a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team on Jan. 23, 2014.

Paul George
Team: Indiana Pacers
Position: Forward
Age: 26
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: Named a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team on Jan. 23, 2014 (injured leg during scrimmage ahead of 2014 FIBA World Cup)

Draymond Green
Team: Golden State Warriors
Position: Forward
Age: 26
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: Named to the 2015-16 USA Basketball National Team on Aug. 6, 2015.

Klay Thompson
Team: Golden State Warriors
Position: Guard
Age: 26
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: FIBA World Cup (2014-Gold); FIBA U19 World Championship (2009-Gold); Named a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team on Jan. 23, 2014.

Kyrie Irving
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Position: Guard
Age: 24
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: FIBA World Cup (2014-Gold); FIBA Americas U18 Championship (2010-Gold); Named a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team on Jan. 23, 2014.

Jimmy Butler
Team: Chicago Bulls
Position: Guard
Age: 26
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: Named to the 2015-16 USA Basketball National Team on Aug. 6, 2015.

DeMarcus Cousins
Team: Sacramento Kings
Position: Center
Age: 25
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: FIBA World Cup (2014-Gold); Named a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team on Jan. 23, 2014.

DeAndre Jordan
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Position: Center
Age: 27
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: FIBA U19 World Championship (2007-Silver); Named to the 2015-16 USA Basketball National Team on Aug. 6, 2015.

Kyle Lowry
Team: Toronto Raptors
Position: Guard
Age: 30
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: None

DeMar DeRozan
Team: Toronto Raptors
Position: Guard
Age: 26
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: FIBA World Cup (2014-Gold); Named a member of the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team on July 14, 2014.

Harrison Barnes
Team: Golden State Warriors
Position: Forward
Age: 24
Olympics appearance: 1st
Team USA experience: Named to the 2015-16 USA Basketball National Team on Aug. 6, 2015.

Gasol Reportedly Inching Closer to Deal with the Chicago Bulls

Pau Gasol may be dealing with plenty of bull in the near future…

The 34-year-old Spanish professional basketball player is reportedly thisclose to joining the Chicago Bulls, according to the Spanish newspaper Marca and other media reports.

Pau Gasol

The paper first reported late Friday that the Bulls are closing in on a deal with Gasol despite the absence of a sign-and-trade agreement with his most recent team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com late Friday that a sign-and-trade arrangement had not been struck, with the Lakers still looking for draft compensation — as they received in Friday’s earlier trade with the Houston Rockets to take back the contract of Jeremy Lin — as the primary return for Gasol.

ESPN.com reported earlier Friday that the Bulls and San Antonio Spurs had emerged as the two leading candidates to land Gasol, with San Antonio poised to land the Spaniard if the Bulls and Lakers could not finalize a sign-and-trade deal.

Sources told ESPN.com late Friday that the Bulls were prioritizing their pursuit of Gasol even ahead of their long-running efforts to sign Carmelo Anthony, fearing that Anthony remains likely to stay with the New York Knicks.

The Lakers appear resigned to seeing Gasol exit after a successful six seasons together. Prior to Friday, the Lakers offered Gasol two deals: two years worth $23 million, and three years worth $29 million, a National Basketball League source told ESPNLosAngeles.com. Gasol turned down both offers, according to the source.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been pursuing Gasol as hard as anyone, but sources indicated Friday that the Spurs have joined the Bulls ahead of the Thunder in Gasol’s pecking order.

The Thunder had a $6.5 million trade exception that expired Friday night at 11:59 p.m. ET that they had hoped to use in their own sign-and-trade with L.A.

Making hard runs at free agents is not something seen often from the Thunder, but Gasol had been lobbied face to face by OKC stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as well as coach Scott Brooks and general manager Sam Presti since free agency began.

The Knicks, meanwhile, had been trying to trade Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani in hopes of clearing sufficient salary-cap space to convince Gasol to come to New York to play alongside a re-signed Anthony. But sources said Friday night that the Knicks, like the Lakers and Thunder, appeared to be out of contention.

Anthony to Appear in NBA-Themed Special on Disney XD

It’s game on for Carmelo Anthony and his upcoming Disney project…

The 28-year-old half-Puerto Rican professional basketball player who currently plays for the New York Knicks will be appearing in a Disney XD special entitled My Life as an NBA Rookie.

Carmelo Anthony

The special, created in partnership with the NBA, will give viewers an inside look at some of the biggest basketball stars in their first year in the league.

Hosted by Billy Unger of Disney XD’s Lab Rats, the special will feature exclusive footage of New Orleans Hornets power forward and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis practicing for the 2012 Summer Olympics with the USA Basketball Men’s National Team.

It also will take fans behind the scenes at the NBA Draft Combine and NBA Draft, show how players mentally and physically prepare for training camp and opening night, reveal entertaining rookie duties and show how they sometimes get pranked by returning players — like having their entire car filled with popcorn or being forced to carry around a pink girly knapsack.

Along with Anthony and Davis, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James of the Miami Heat, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks, Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder will appear in the special.

The program will premiere at on October 29 at 7:00 pm as part of Disney XD’s sports-themed Nothing But Net Marathon, which also will include episodes of Kickin’ It, Lab Rats and Crash & Bernstein starting at 5:00 p.m.

Sanchez Performs National Anthem at Game One of the NBA Finals

She may not have taken home the American Idol crown… But Jessica Sanchez is still singing to the rafters and impressing audiences with her dynamic voice.

Less than three weeks after delivering two memorable Memorial Day performances on national television, the 16-year-old half-Mexican singer wowed the crowd before game one of the NBA Finals.

Jessica Sanchez at the NBA Finals

Before the start of the game between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, Sanchez performed an inspired rendition of the National Anthem that results in massive cheers from the crowd.

Before singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the pint-sized singer from San Diego was asked by one of her followers on Twitter who she was cheering for. Her response? “im all about thunder tonight! ;)”

And the Thunder rolled in Game One… Teaming up with Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant took over the game and outscored LeBron James‘ team in the second half to beat the Heat 105-94.

The crowd even chanted “MVP” as Durant sealed the victory with two foul shots in the final 12 seconds of the game.