ESPYS opening number makes major statement
A more serious tone comes over the awards show in 2016
9:36 PMOn Wednesday night in Los Angeles, the 24th annual ESPYS opened with a powerful statement from four of the best players in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James stood in black tuxedos, shoulder to shoulder on stage, arms clasped in front of them. The crew once known for riding a banana boat on vacation instead took a leadership role in letting the country know that Black Lives Matter. Their faces were sober, their words were eloquent, their clothes were exquisite, their emotion was real.
Earlier in the night, various characters from around the world of sports and entertainment spoke on the topic. Amid the flurry of camera lights and adoring fans, it was impossible to overlook the pall on America.
“It’s been an unprecedented time, because of the exposure that it gets. I remember the era of civil unrest in the ’60s, it was all of this and some. So, it’s almost like reliving it,” Basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving, 66, said Wednesday. “You know, Watts, [California], Newark, [New Jersey], and various places and cities that got burned down. I mean, these are the type of situations that ignite riots and they also bring about change. So, I think that’s the big thing about what’s happening now. … I think there’ll be dramatic change, with us taking a look at how police handle their business. And we’ll all be better because of that.”
Hannibal Buress, the Chicago-raised comedian whose work drastically changed the way we feel about Bill Cosby, joked that personally he still isn’t sure what to do when he’s recognized by police. As a guy who went from a relative unknown to rather famous from his work on television, he said that once in a blue moon it helps him, but not really.
“Occasionally, a cop will recognize me or something. ‘Hey, big fan!’ and I always feel weird,” Buress, 33, said. “It’s just always feels weird when a cop takes a picture. I really want to say no, but I can’t say no. I do get weirded out when cops recognize me. I’m like, ‘Cops watch stand up comedy, too?’ ”
As for the rest of the country, Buress thinks that police departments policing themselves would go a long way. “I think it really starts within the police forces where they’re willing to say, ‘Hey man, that’s messed up.’ Instead of having their code of silence and knowing that something is wrong and letting it pass. And once you have police officers saying, ‘Hey this is messed up, we don’t stand for this,’ that’ll be a huge step for that situation.”
But as we saw to open the show Wednesday night, it’s not a topic that athletes want to or choose to ignore. New York Giants rookie cornerback Eli Apple is a 20-year-old who’s yet to play a down in the NFL. But he knows that what he’s seen recently is just plain not okay.
“It’s been definitely tragic for sure. It’s sad to see America be like this, just going through all this controversy and brutality. The only thing you can do is just control and have faith. That’s about it,” Apple said. “It’s talked about all the time [in the locker room]. They’re a lot of debates going on, but there’s nothing we can really do, we’ve just got to make sure what we can to make America better.”
Draymond Green arrested in Michigan
The 26-year-old NBA forward was released on bond after an altercation at a restaurant
2:55 PMNo matter where Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green goes, controversy seems to follow.
The 26-year-old was arrested Sunday for reportedly assaulting a man at a restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan.
Police described the incident as “basically an altercation between two guys” and there were no injuries. He was released on a $200 bond the same day, police said.
Green’s arraignment is scheduled for July 20 and, if convicted, he could face up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.
The Warriors released a statement to the media saying they are aware of Green’s situation and in the process of gathering more information.
“We are aware of news involving Draymond Green in Michigan over the weekend,” the team said. “At this point, we are collecting information and will have no further comment until we have a better understanding of the situation.”
Green, who played for Michigan State University in East Lansing, just completed his best season since being drafted by the Warriors in 2012. He appeared in 81 games, averaging 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists during the 2015-16 season. Green was named an NBA All-Star for the first time in 2016.
WNBA teams pay tribute to tragedies
But some teams took a different approach than others
12:57 PMAfter last week’s mayhem tore the nation apart on multiple fronts, three WNBA teams decided to pay their respects to victims in different ways during the weekend.
First up were the Minnesota Lynx, who are closest to the mourning out of the three teams, with the death of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, rocking the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul community, never mind the rest of the country. The warm-up shirt each Lynx player wore on Saturday said, “Change starts with us. Justice and accountability,” while reading on the back, “Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Black Lives Matter.” A Dallas police shield is just above the last phrase on the back of the shirt.
In New York, the Liberty took a similar tack on Sunday. Their shirts plainly read, “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#DallasFive.”
In Los Angeles, also on Sunday, the Staples Center decided to go full non-woke. Mind you, actress/singer Amber Riley (you might know her from the Fox show Glee) performed at this game, wearing a shirt that said “Selma Is Now.”
UEFA’s Euro 2016 final was blacker than ever
Which is no surprise, considering who hosted it
11:45 AMWhen Éder came on for Renato Sanches for Portugal in the 79th minute of Sunday’s match against France in Saint-Denis, it was clear: This was the blackest UEFA European Championships final we’ve ever seen. One dreadlocked brother came on for another, and the latter scored the goal that won the tournament.
Between the two sides, they fielded 18 black players, which isn’t counting Dimitri Payet — who was born on the French island of Réunion, off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. There are three reasons for this: colonialism, globalization and FIFA itself. For decades, both nations’ history as colonial powers served as a recruiting tool for sports, particularly soccer. Over the years, that fact has sparked discussion about conflicting concepts of nationalism with certain nations.
How French is France is the basic question. With people calling it the “French National Team of Africa” and various other snide monikers, other nations with less inviting immigration situations have long called the practice unfair, to an extent. Take Denmark, for example, where a far-right political party posted messages referring to Europe as “Africa’s backyard.”
Alternately, some people in France, particularly players, have used it as a rallying cry. In 2013, Nike released a version of the French away jersey with the phrase, “nos differences nous unissent,” sewn into them, which means, “our differences unite us.” Over the past 20 years, the French team has gone from looking like the main cast of the 1995 movie La Haine, starring Vincent Cassel, Said Taghmaoui and Hubert Koundé, to a far blacker, immigrant melange.
Though eight of 11 of France’s black players (again, not including Payet) were born in France, many of them are first-generation Europeans, who have parents from the vast expanse of nations and territories that France colonized over the years: Senegal, Guinea, Guadeloupe and Mali. Three players were born in the Congo, Senegal and Cameroon. France’s Samuel Umtiti actually grew up in Angola, before moving to Toulouse, France. Portugal’s roster includes two players born in Guinea-Bissau, one in Cape Verde and another in Angola. Looking back, Eusebio, arguably the best player in Portugal’s history, was born in Mozambique.
More largely, though, FIFA in the past decade has loosened rules to make this easier for most nations. One need not necessarily have a history of invading and pillaging in order to draw from a wider field to naturalize into your roster pool anymore. Now, you can play for more than one team at the youth level, and if a relative as distant as a grandparent is from the nation you wish to play for, you can.
As an example, take Belgian midfielder Adnan Januzaj. When those rules changed in 2013, he became eligible to play for Belgium, Albania, Serbia, Turkey and Croatia. He chose Belgium, where he was born, a nation that also had one of the most diverse squads at this year’s Euros with nine black players.
The wave of immigrants coming from global tragedies pouring into Western Europe has likely forever changed what the so-called traditional faces of rosters look like. It’s already infiltrated the largest soccer nations. England has long been one of the more progressive rosters, and nations like Germany and Switzerland have been steadily diversifying as well. The next phase we’ll likely see this shift in is international basketball rosters.
That aside, when the preening peacock Cristiano Ronaldo left the game in the 25th minute, it was presumed that Portugal’s Seleção was doomed against Les Bleus. Instead, a man born in Africa changed that fate in extra time with what ultimately was the game-winning goal. Portugal manager Fernando Santos said of Éder after the match, “the ugly duckling scored — he is now a beautiful swan.”
A black swan, if you will.
Daily Dose: 7/11/16
Protests continue throughout the weekend
9:41 AMThere are pretty much two things going on in America right now. One of them is extremely important. The other is Pokemon Go, an app which is clogging up Central Park and also getting people robbed in Missouri.
This country is about as tense as its been as long as I’ve been alive. It’s hard to think of a moment recently when relations between police officers and citizens nationwide were so nakedly combative for all of the world to see. Across the country, protests sprang up last weekend following last week’s violence. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a particularly iconic photo of a woman named Leshia Evans has emerged as one of the images of the year, as did another of an interim police director walking arm in arm with protestors in Memphis. ABC News reports on our tipping point.
If you wanted to see Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton, you’re too late. The man who created this Broadway musical, which combines hip-hop with American history like none other, is letting go of his baby and walking away. His last show was Saturday night. There was a star-studded cast in his last show, and he plans to pursue other projects while he’s gone. And for as much of a star as he is, I think he’s barely scratched the surface when it comes to what his stardom could really reach. ABC’s Lesley Messer has the details of the final performance.
Emojis are officially a part of my life. I use them all the time, sometimes as a joke, but mainly not. It’s pretty much just another way to talk. My personal favorite is one I’d like to think I invented, but our whole crew uses: the striker clap. 👏👏👏👏👍👍👏👉👍. Basically, it means good effort, I see you, it might not have worked out, but hopefully it will next time. It happens about once a game in soccer, if you’re not familiar. Anyway, FiveThirtyEight’s Laura Hudson has a new tool that helps you find the perfect emoji for any occasion. This thing is rather cool.
Serena Williams did it again last weekend. She won her 22nd Grand Slam title in dominating fashion, crushing Angelique Kerber in the women’s singles final on Saturday. Her ascent to the top of tennis and really all of sports has been so remarkable that people like Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey hit her up after she wins titles, and Beyoncé and Jay Z sit in the crowd. Not to mention LeBron James giving her props. She tied Steffi Graf’s record for Grand Slam title victories, and also holds the record for winning percentage against top-five opponents. She’s the best, Jerry. The best. Take a look at her legacy.
Coffee Break: With the Euros ending Sunday with Portugal as the victor, the transfer window talk is heating up. Paul Pogba, the fascinating French midfielder, who’s spent the last few seasons with Juventus in Serie A, will likely be the darling of Manchester United or Real Madrid. Either way, someone’s getting a huge boost when he decides.
Snack Time: I don’t watch bicycle racing, but if you tell me that it’s possible that llamas might be blocking a road race, you’ve definitely got me at the very least interested. You should click, if only to see a bunch of llamas in public.
gets a tribute mural in the parking lot where he died
African Skateboarding Championships
are underway in Madagascar
We’ve highlighted skate programs in Africa before, but today, the African Skateboarding Championships kick off in Madagascar. It’s part of a 10-country tour that began in June and includes Angola, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The World Skateboarding Federation (WSF) first sanctioned the tour after the International Olympic Committee announced that skateboarding will be a part of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
At the time, WSF also unveiled its plans for an elite training program called the African Skateboard Academy, designed to help develop the best young skaters in Africa. WSF will sponsor all travel and training costs.
“Last year, a record 32 participants competed in the WSF-sanctioned African Championships. Since then, we have had overwhelming interest in sanctioning National Championship programs in 10 other African countries,” WSF president Tim McFerran said in May. “In addition to WSF’s support of the first-ever Ethiopia skate park, we are looking to support three new skate parks in Africa in 2016-17. The African Skateboarding Academy was a natural concept to support other grassroots development programs and to help support Africa’s best in the hope of one day competing in the Olympics. With skateboarding’s potential of being named to the 2020 Olympics, it was the right time for us to activate the African Skateboarding Academy. We hope to further develop the growing number of elite-level skateboarders across Africa who don’t have the means to hone their skills in world class skate parks like the top U.S. skateboarders do.”
Skateboarding making it to the Olympics is one thing, as far as cultural wow moments go. But to see organizations creating grassroots level programs to make sure that the globe can compete on similar levels is rather remarkable. The continent’s history with skating isn’t entirely new. South Africa hosted the Maloof Money Cup World Championships back in 2011, which has since been replaced by the Kimberley Diamond Cup and is the biggest skate competition in Africa.
Winners of each national championship will qualify for the Skateboarding World Championships in October.
Daily Dose: 7/8/16
Heal yourself first, America
11:00 AMThis has been one of the more devastating weeks in this nation I can remember. If you’re the kind of person that considers it a “sides” issue, fine. But either way, everyone is hurting. Know that. And try to be nicer. Please.
Thursday night was another awful one in America. After a protest in Dallas, a group of people decided that they wanted to take matters into their own hands and try to kill a bunch of police officers and unfortunately succeeded in that goal. Five officers were killed, seven more were injured. If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that I can’t even deal with this. It’s not about black vs. blue, no matter what your local television may tell you. But understand that Dallas, among many other places, is suffering. ABC News has the story.
Let us not forget that just the day before, a man was shot and killed by the police in Minnesota. A woman named Diamond Reynolds managed to do something like we’ve never seen and documented the whole thing, all while her 4-year-old daughter was watching. As far as completely terrifying things that have happened in the past week go, this was absolutely up there. Nobody knew where she was for a while, but now she’s back home and talking about how the incident went. ABC’s Morgan Winsor reports.
So, let’s talk about a different country. One that’s having its own problems, on a different level. While we’re out here killing each other left and right with firearms of all types, in Great Britain, they’re passive-aggressively trying to ruin each others’ lives. There are people who believed that Brexit was legit going to make the country a better place, and there are others who, well, didn’t. The bottom line is that all this comes down to money, and how people can make it and where. FiveThirtyEight’s Anil Kashyap explains why this matters.
Rajon Rondo does not have the best reputation. The NBA point guard has gone off the chain a couple of times in his career about things that some would consider understandable, but now, he’s on a team that thinks it has a chance to contend in the Eastern Conference. The Chicago Bulls don’t, of course, because any conference with LeBron James in it is the one that The King is going to win. All that aside, James’ homey Dwyane Wade is on that Chicago team now, which is awkward, on some level. No worries, though. Rondo says it’s Jimmy Butler’s team! Yikes.
Coffee Break: There are so many drops in the business: Metro Boomin, Mike Will, DJ Mustard. You know them all. But Cookin Soul’s drop just might be my favorite. Here’s a story about him, his whole deal and how he makes beats. If you claim to care about hip-hop, you should care about the producers. It’s 2016, they matter the most again.
Snack Time: I live in a place where the concept of bringing your kids somewhere is controversial. Almost as much as where you can bring your dog. Check out this wild story about a place that says: No kids after 8 p.m. (Read the comments.)
Dessert: This is a good song. You might like it, you might not. But it helps me heal.
That can only mean one thing
France’s Antoine Griezmann breaks out the dance moves at the Euros
Monsieur Antoine Griezmann, salut, mec.
After opening the scoring in the semifinals of the 2016 UEFA European Championship with a blistering penalty kick against the best goalkeeper in the world, Germany’s Manuel Neuer, the 25-year-old Griezmann hit his full Drake, and broke out one of the many dances from the rapper’s 2015 “Hotline Bling” video. He did it again in the second half, which felt a tad gratuitous.
It isn’t the first time he’s broken it out but it’s certainly better than the last time he did, in the game against Ireland in the round of 16. Still doesn’t beat Phoenix Suns guard Devon Booker, though.
Actually, Griezmann ended up with two goals on the night for France, and the host nation has moved on to the final on Sunday in Marseille against Portugal. So yeah, Griezmann wins.
Beyonce has spoken
so you might want to tune in
In typical Queen Bey fashion, she shows up when she wants, kicks the truth, then whisks away with the towering presence that few entertainers of her stature have ever dared to reach, even if they had the power and wherewithal to do so.
As a sidebar to this message, which was posted Thursday on the homepage of the musical artist’s website Beyonce.com under a tab called “FREEDOM,” a definition of the word is offered.
“We all have the power to channel our anger and frustration into action,” it reads. “We must use our voices to contact the politicians and legislators in our districts and demand social and judicial changes.” Underneath, there are options to click to contact your local congressman or congresswoman, as well as links to protest the deaths of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
At her show in Glasgow, Scotland concert Thursday night, she displayed names of police brutality victims and held a moment of silence.
For all of you out here saying that talking on Twitter and writing essays won’t do anything, Beyoncé is giving not only her “hive” but also anyone who claims to care, an avenue to at least try to make a difference. She isn’t just out here singing about formations at the Super Bowl and making your local PTA go crazy, she’s literally trying to line people up.
Woke or Not Woke
It’s America’s favorite game show!
1:27 PMLet’s play a little game of Woke or Not Woke. *cue game show music, alert Steve Harvey*
Here’s how we play, kiddos. I show you a picture, then I tell you, if it’s woke or not. Now’s not the time to get into the discussion of whether or not that term has been fully bastardized into a mocking insult in all cases or not — two men are dead at the hands of police and celebrities are talking about it on the internet.
First contestant: Mischa Barton, star of the 2000s television series The O.C.
Next contestant: Olivia Wilde, also a star of The O.C. and many other things.
Thanks for playing, kiddos!
Daily Dose: 7/7/16
Ciara and Russell Wilson tied the knot
10:31 AMWe taped a podcast on Wednesday. Staff writer Justin Tinsley told a scary story about his night on Saturday, senior style writer Jill Hudson espoused her love for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue and I explained why there are things you just don’t wear on a basketball court. Tune in.
In two days, two black men have been killed by police. One murder was caught on camera. The other didn’t show the act, but the aftermath was captured. Both were terrifying. Both were awful. Both led to protests. Both were not unusual. Both videos will be watched. Some people will refuse to watch both. Both will infuriate people on both “sides” of the equation. Sadly, many people believe that both men who pulled those triggers will likely never see the inside of prison cell. People didn’t even have the chance to mourn Alton Sterling, before they killed Philando Castile. It is hard to bear.
On a far more uplifting note, singer Ciara and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson got married. They pulled the baller move of getting married on a weekday, which is a move I absolutely love. It’s hard not to root for this marriage. Wilson, for all the flack he gets, seems like a pretty nice dude, overall. I do sort of feel bad for his ex-wife. She was PUMPED when he got drafted. Anyway, for all the foolishness that my dude Future (Ciara’s baby father and ex-fiancé) has been pulling on social media, it’s good to see they managed to get hitched. ABC News’ Lesley Messer reports.
Every time we have an election in which two candidates are polarizing, third parties come up. In my lifetime, the only person to make any real impact as a candidate other than someone from the Democratic or Republican Party is Ross Perot. But now that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the front-runners, people are starting to believe that there might actually be another candidate to get behind. For that to be the case, it’s got to start somewhere. FiveThirtyEight’s Julia Azari explains which states might go for it. Introduce yourself to Gary Johnson, folks.
The Williams sisters are giving me life right now. These two are smoking people all over the shop at the All England Club during Wimbledon, and Serena completely dismantled some poor girl this morning. Venus is on the court as I write this, but I have no problem saying that I’m actively rooting for an all-Williams final. Serena will be in her ninth final Wimbledon, overall. I don’t want to overstate this, but black America could absolutely use a match like that as somewhat of a healing device, if you ask me.
Coffee Break: There was a time when the only way black folks could get news about other black folks, that didn’t involve something terrible, was from black newspapers. Some are still around, but for the most part, they are a rare breed. Check out this breakdown of how their circulation has dipped over the years.
Snack Time: I love Vans. I wear them every day, everywhere. This new collaboration between the sneaker company and artist Robert Williams is mega dope, kiddos. That slip-on is extra fire, too.
Dessert: If you need an uplifting song that came out just last week, here you go.
Two days, two shootings, two dead black men
This time, it was live-streamed on Facebook
8:00 AMPhilando Castile is his name. He was 32 years old.
You can add it to the list of black people in the past [insert whatever number you want] years that have been killed by the police for one reason or another, during what are supposed to be routine interactions. This time, however, the aftermath was streamed live on Facebook.
WARNING: This video contains graphic content and may be upsetting to some viewers
This is what social networking is these days: a woman videotaping her boyfriend getting killed in the driver’s seat of a car by a police officer, after being stopped for a broken taillight, while her 4-year-old daughter looks on from the backseat.
As of early Thursday morning, no one knew where to find the woman who captured the video from the passenger’s seat.
She was later found, and identified herself as Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, before speaking on the situation.
“I did it [took the video] so that the world knows that these police are not here to protect and serve us,” Reynolds said. “They are here to assassinate us. They are here to kill us because we are black …”
“Minnesota court records show only misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors on Philando Castile’s record,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s story reads, as if that has ever mattered. Castile worked as a cafeteria supervisor at a Montessori school. After he was killed Wednesday night, hundreds gathered outside Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s mansion residence in St. Paul, where they remained overnight in protest.
It was just the night before, on Tuesday, when the people of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, had been tasked with shouldering the burden of the death of Alton Sterling, who was killed in a parking lot after an altercation with police that left him on his back, dying on the asphalt. His son, understandably, couldn’t handle it.
It’s only Thursday.
Here’s Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds discussing the matter on the scene.
Less than a day ago, a woman named Nakia Jones offered a powerful soliloquy on Facebook about what it’s like to be black and be a police officer who joined the force to do the right thing. It should be noted that she’s from and works in Cleveland, where we’ve seen multiple cases of outrageous police shootings in the past five years. It’s a harrowing look at how the job affects actual humans every day.
It will not be obsolete anytime soon.