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Column: Reggie Bullock spends part of his All-Star break visiting with LGBTQ youth

Reggie Bullock was planning to take a vacation during NBA All-Star weekend.

One week after being traded to the Lakers from the Detroit Pistons, and with just 25 games left in the season, Bullock was hoping to take his mind off basketball before he realized where the NBA All-Star game was taking place.

“I’m from North Carolina,” the 6-foot-7 guard said as he stood in the hallway of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Charlotte. “It’s good to be back here. I wanted to come back to my home state this weekend and try to have a positive impact.”

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Bullock, who grew up in Kinston, N.C., met and spoke with 25 LGBTQ youth and allies from Time Out Youth Center, a safe space for LGBTQ youth in the Charlotte area. Bullock has been an advocate in the LGBTQ community since 2014, when his transgender sister, Mia Henderson — whom he knew as his older brother, Kevin Long, when they were growing up — was stabbed to death.

“It was good for me to be able to be here with them and talk to them and hear their stories,” Bullock, 27, said. “They weren’t holding back on anything. It opened up my eyes to what they have to go through on a daily basis, because when you randomly walk past someone, you never what they’re going through. I’m trying to educate myself every day as a straight man on this community that I stand up for and support.”

Bullock’s first home game as a Laker will be Thursday night. While the season is almost over and he will become a free agent this summer, he hopes to make an impact in the LGBTQ community in Los Angeles.

“I’m definitely going to try to do some stuff in the community,” said Bullock, who’s in his sixth NBA season. “I would love to be a leader in the LGBT community in Los Angeles and be able to use my voice and platform to stand up for them.”

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Bullock didn’t know much about the LGBTQ community when Mia was alive. He continued to call her Kevin until her dying day. She never got to see him play college basketball at North Carolina because Bullock didn’t know what his teammates and other people would think, and she didn’t want to make things uncomfortable for him. He smiles when he thinks of what she would say about his involvement in the community now.

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“I know she would be proud of what I’m doing,” Bullock said. “It would probably bring tears to her eyes. I know she’s looking down on me and smiling, knowing that her brother is doing the right things to keep her name alive and know that she’s not forgotten. She can’t be here with me physically, but she’s with me spiritually on an everyday basis, leading me and guiding me.”

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It hasn’t been a wise bet recently to wager against LeBron James missing the NBA Finals, and it has been a downright foolish gamble to put money on him missing the playoffs, but for the first time since his second season, Las Vegas is not favoring James — now with the Lakers — to make the playoffs. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has a prop bet on the Lakers making the playoffs. The “yes” and “no” were at equal -110 odds as of Saturday.

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Pelicans star and Lakers target Anthony Davis did himself no favors in the court of public opinion with his dumpster fire performance at Saturday’s NBA All-Star media gathering when he essentially said every team except for New Orleans is on his list of teams for a trade destination. That should make Pelicans fans feel great. Davis, however, hasn’t completely forgotten about the team’s faithful. “I will always have love for the city of New Orleans,” Davis said. “Obviously when that time comes, I am going to definitely have a heartwarming message for them and put it out there on Instagram like everybody else do.” At least they have that to look forward to.

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The biggest offseason acquisition for the Dodgers will end up being Corey Seager, who missed all but 26 games last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May and an arthroscopic procedure on his hip in August. The 2016 NL rookie of the year took ground balls with the infielders this past week and could be back on the field by opening day. If he is and he’s the same player who was an All-Star in 2016 and 2017, the Dodgers will be back in the World Series for a third consecutive season.

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From being a judge at Saturday’s slam dunk contest to providing insightful commentary as an analyst on NBA TV during All-Star weekend, Candace Parker once again showed why she’s going to have a long television career after her playing days with the Sparks are over.

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Michael Jordan is the host of NBA All-Star weekend, and the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets celebrated his 56th birthday two days early Friday night with an exclusive party in his hometown featuring a performance by singer Travis Scott. Jordan watched Scott perform as he greeted an extensive guest list that included Davis, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Spike Lee, Charles Oakley and Rob Pelinka, among others.

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Congratulations are in order to longtime Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler, who will join the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a winner of its Curt Gowdy Media Award. Lawler is in his 40th and final season as the voice of the Clippers. Much like the team for which he has broadcast, Lawler has often gotten lost in the mix among Los Angeles legends Chick Hearn, Vin Scully and Bob Miller, but he belongs with them as an all-time great in L.A. and deserves all the accolades that are coming his way during his final season.


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