Figure it out, Kyle
the game and series aren’t over
4:20 PMKyle Lowry leaving the bench and walking to the locker room to “decompress” in Game 2 shouldn’t be the Toronto Raptors lone Eastern Conference finals highlight. But alas, here we are. The 9-year guard out of Villanova has been getting roasted all morning — as he should — but the issue is two-fold. Lowry is wrong, but so are the Raptors.
Toronto, perhaps inadvertently, threw Lowry under the bus. Sometimes a franchise has to save a player from himself. Say he had a hamstring tweak, bruised elbow, stomach ailment. Something, anything, that doesn’t scream “abandonment.” Chances are you’re going to get dump-trucked by the Cavs anyway, so make that the headline. The moment it was announced Lowry essentially walked off the court because he wanted to throw a pity party for himself is when this non-story became a story.
But ultimately, the mistake falls on Lowry. Who knows what’s going on in his life outside of basketball, if anything. But leaving your teammates in the middle of a game you absolutely had to win because you’re feeling bad about yourself isn’t the route to go. The All-Star point guard has played terribly in long stretches in the playoffs, shooting 35.7 percent from the field. Not a soul is going to feel bad for Lowry because he is cooking himself (get it, like Lawry’s Salt). And not to quote Jay Z, but “cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it.” For what it’s worth, too, the “decompress” session didn’t do much good. Lowry finished 4-for-14 from the field for an earth-shattering 10 points and five turnovers.
Reputations are everything in sports, and no one wants to be known as the guy who abandoned his team with a trip to the Finals on the line. However unlikely that is to happen.
is not here for teenagers rapping the N-word
Barry Bonds has been a controversial figure throughout his baseball career, but now he’s taking a stand against the school his daughter attends in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The best hitter in MLB history wants the students in the video suspended. A group called Brentwood Students Against Racism (BSAR) has posted a petition on Change.org that had reached 600 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.
“A group of almost exclusively white students had a party on a boat and decided to sing the n-word multiple times,” the petition reads. “Brentwood has done nothing other than offer to “talk to them” If these kids weren’t in their socioeconomic position, of their racial heritage, or considered ‘assets’ to the community (based on social status and/or their parents wealth), consequences would be different. Brentwood claims to value diversity and acceptance, but their lack of action demonstrates otherwise. This is just another example of their white favoritism.”
The video depicting kids singing the ASAP Ferg song “Dump Dump.” Bonds’ ex-wife, Elizabeth Bonds, also checked in on the matter regarding where her daughter attends. “Is this what $40k worth of private education gets you? I am extremely embarrassed that my daughter is a current junior at this school and has been here since kindergarten,” she wrote. “I can’t even speak. I blame the parents of these children. SMH.”
Are we mad at the kids at Barry Bonds' daughter school for singing the N-Word in a rap song? I'm not.
— The Extraordinary Xilla (@BlogXilla) May 19, 2016
The issue of white kids/people using the N-word in music is not a new dispute in the world of hip-hop, but certainly an evolving one. If you’ve been to a concert in the last 10 years, you’ve heard it happen. The line of demarcation is somewhat generational. Ja Rule, who hasn’t made a song of consequence in forever, thinks that we’re just going to have to live with a world in which this is the case. But Rich Homie Quan says he enjoys it when his white fans say the word, as it demonstrates a higher crossover appeal.
Travis Scott went so far as to basically force a fan to say it as part of a lyric, and then said it was an emotionally positive experience for him personally.
If you’re going to freak out every time you see a college kid in black face or hear a high-schooler drop an N-bomb, you’d probably never make it out of bed. But you do have to wonder if the vitriol around the most electric word in the English language for Americans will ever truly be removed from its usage. Perhaps more intriguingly is the notion that hip-hop would be the vehicle through which that happened. Are we that woke as a society yet?
In California, it doesn’t appear so. BSAR declined to comment on the story, citing concerns about potential backlash or legal action against them.
RGIII claps back
with tweets that say he still doesn’t care
5:13 PMBob just can’t help himself.
In the story “The Puzzling Plummet of RGIII,” The Undefeated’s Jason Reid analyzes why the once extremely promising star in the NFL found himself run out of town in Washington by a team that wasn’t particularly excellent either way. It painted a picture of a young man who was concerned about far too many things other than winning football games at best and completely self-absorbed at worst.
On Wednesday, Robert Griffin III posted a message on Twitter that could be considered a comeback of sorts to Reid’s opus. Berea, Ohio, is 358 miles from Ashburn, Va., but not so far that a critical piece might not still sting the man who won rookie of the year in 2012 as Dan Snyder’s prodigal son.
How does a man hit a target he can not see? The better question is how does a man hit a target he does not have? #FoodForThought
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 18, 2016
How? Easy. The Internet. It’s 2016. As for this line — “How does a man hit a target he does not have?” — that’s an interesting question coming from a guy who, after demanding to become more of a pocket passer, had trouble hitting his downfield… actually, nevermind.
Is the pressure on Griffin extreme? Sure. This is the bed he made and it went extremely awry at one of the most toxic franchises in the history of the league. But the longer he chooses to keep trying to portray a larger-than-life social-media presence, his persona as a diva is not going to go away. Especially not with his former coach Mike Shanahan jumping at every single chance to throw dirt on him. It’s like an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch with these two.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 19, 2016
Ooh, this we like. Sort of an artsy, Instagram filter feel here with the Polaroid setup? Nice. But it’s awkward because there’s a grammatical error and the capitalization on said word sort of makes it seem like he’s referring to himself as a king, which is also just a tad grandiose for a quarterback who might not even be starting come Week 1.
It was nice to see him actually running around, doing drills and playing football. As a fan of his former team, I’d gotten so used to just seeing him standing on the sideline in pads. When Griffin completes his first touchdown pass in Cleveland, it’ll probably be a familiar feeling.
Then he’ll remember that he’s in Cleveland.
to discuss O.J.: Made in America 30 for 30 film
2:47 PMOn Thursday night in New York City, writer and director of the ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 O.J.: Made In America will discuss the film with New York Magazine’s Rembert Browne at the Museum of the Moving Image. The five-part film that delves into the history of not just the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman and the subsequent trial of O.J. Simpson, it also shows the racial and economic climate of Los Angeles and the United States that led up to the incident.
The film goes into tremendous detail about Simpson’s past, his career at the University of Southern California from a social standpoint and the world in which his celebrity rose in such a unique manner. The first episode airs Saturday, June 11 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC. The following episodes will air on ESPN on Tuesday, June 14, then on June 15, 17 and 18.
Last weekend on ESPN Radio’s The Undefeated special, The Undefeated style writer Jill Hudson, staff writer Justin Tinsley and I sat down with Edelman to discuss what it was like to make the definitive documentary about the fallen NFL star and what happened in his life after he was acquitted.
Have a listen to the full 20-minute conversation here.
Lil Yachty is living his best life
as a model for a new fashion line collaboration
If you’re not familiar with Lil Yachty’s work, you will be soon. The 18-year-old Atlanta rapper is part of the newest generation of talent coming out of the city that’s changing what’s considered Internet success in the music industry. His song “1Night,” produced by Burberry Perry, is a classic tale chronicling the current psychology of “hookup culture.”
He’s moonlighted as a model for Kanye West and, now, he’s taking that career path even further. Yachty stars alongside an actual black puma in the new ad for a collaboration between Puma and Pink+Dolphin, the fashion line that lives in brick-and-mortar form in Los Angeles’ popular Fairfax Drive fashion district, which is also home to brands like Supreme and Diamond Supply Clothing. The Suede Classic shoe collection featured drops on May 21, after originally being announced in February.
First off, this line looks extremely dope. The suede low-tops with the two-tone gum soles is a perfect summer look and those socks, showing off the Dolphin wave logo, are fire. Also, it’s pretty hard not to look good in a matte navy Ferrari. There also appears to be a sort of modified soccer jersey he’s sporting, and with Puma sponsoring five teams in this year’s UEFA European Championship, expect that to be a popular look.
Overall, it beats making tracks with Kylie Jenner.
has a new Beats ad and it’s all Oakland
How much Oakland can you pack into one 30-second commercial? A whole lot if you’re Beats By Dre. Their newest ad, featuring the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, is a mini-love letter to the Bay Area. Also starring in the ad is E-40 and his now decade-old song “Tell Me When To Go,” a banger that opened the country’s eyes to the hyphy scene.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 18, 2016
Remember that? It was awesome. Ghost riding the whip, dreads flying, tons of fun. The commercial also mimics the visual vocabulary of the original video. We had almost forgotten how much a heat rock this track really was. Anyways, the best part of the ad comes in a barbershop scene in which both Gary Payton and Brian Shaw (Oaktown natives) are sitting in the chair.
No word yet on whether or not the headphones stay on your head when actually do the “go dumb” dance.
Daily Dose: 5/19/16
Cam Newton is riding custom clean
9:46 AMWednesday night’s season finale of Empire wasn’t exactly awful, but for the second season in a row, they ended with a dud. It feels like the writers can’t decide who they actually want the real star of the show to be.
The American incarceration system can really break your spirit. The war on drugs filled U.S. prisons with reckless abandon and, in some facilities, made life for not just the inmates but the guards extremely trying. There is violence, health risks and potential psychological trauma that comes with being the one responsible for making sure that people locked in cages don’t harm themselves or others. One place that’s particularly known for its brutality is Rikers Island in New York City. ABC News in a special report takes a look at what a day in the life of an officer there is like.
Dudes are often the worst. And when it comes to nearly anything in entertainment — gaming, movies, TV shows, sports — aimed at women, there’s always some guy around to explain why such a thing is problematic or boring, lest it affect their fragile male psyche. But because mainly television programs are judged based on the success of not just ratings, but online reviews too, the noxious words of the men watching them have very real effects on what gets done. FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey analyzes how men are sabotaging shows that are not aimed at them.
“Not perfect grammar, always perfect timing” was a lyric boasted by the Beastie Boys’ Mike D on the 1989 song “3-Minute Rule.” It’s a pretty decent life strategy, if you ask me. But when it comes to the world of media, for some, it’s not good enough. Not all players use the best language syntax when talking to reporters. Some don’t speak English as their first language. As a result, there’s sort of an unwritten rule about quoting players in which it’s understood that you don’t embarrass an athlete for how he talks. Recently, in Houston, the opposite happened. ESPN’s J.A. Adande delves into why this practice exists.
If nothing else, Cam Newton’s stunt game is next level. The best player in the NFL isn’t just a force on the field, but he’s a stylish guy whose career after he leaves the league will probably be stellar. Remember those $900 Versace pants he wore to travel to the Super Bowl last season? Those were mega fresh. Now, he’s got a new shiny toy, in the form of a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 Cutlass, a classic American muscle car. Only Cam’s is souped up to the max, including all sorts of actual bling in the paint and fabric of the interior. ESPN’s David Newton has the details of his ride.
Coffee Break: What if I told you that Cypress Hill, Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine were joining forces to bring back political rap? Well, it might be happening. Reports say that B-Real, Chuck D and Rage sans Zach De La Rocha could be making this supergroup happen. The name? Prophets of Rage.
Snack Time: What do you get when a black family adopts a white baby? Well, for one, a hilarious premise for a movie and, secondly, one involving Lucien Jean-Baptiste, which is awesome. This should be funny.
Dessert: I love a good office prank and this battle taking over Canal Street is truly next level. More, please.
NAACP sues city of Flint
Group says city failed to provide safe water to citizens
6:25 PMPresident Barack Obama might have drank the water in Flint two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean the saga is over in Michigan. On Wednesday, the NAACP filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents of the city where officials allowed water contaminated with lead to taint its water supply. The class-action lawsuit is seeking damages for the actions of a state-management company and names Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, as a defendant.
“The people of Flint have been harmed through the failure of state officials to provide professional and accountable basic services mandated by federal law and expected by any person living in a major city,” Cornell Brooks, CEO of the NAACP, said in a press release. “Our organization stands with the citizens of Flint to demand a clear timeline, deadline and price tag for fixing this crisis as well as effective remedies for the harms that have already occurred and complete compensation for each and every victim of this unimaginable tragedy.”
In recent months, multiple celebrities including quite a few athletes, have been donating water and other supplies to families who’ve been affected by the crisis. Rappers Meek Mill and Big Sean (who is from Detroit) pledged money and, in January, members of the Detroit Lions gave 94,000 bottles of water to the effort.
The NAACP plans to host town hall meetings on the matter soon.
got his swagger back in the Europa League final
HT: Liverpool 1-0 Sevilla
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 18, 2016
Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge hit a bananas outside of the boot strike to put his team up in the first half of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Sevilla. Seriously, that hit was nuts.
There’s no question he has rhythm. Over the past few seasons in the Barclay’s Premier League, we’ve been privy to see him show it off after he scores goals. Some people hate it. We love it. But the English footballer also has a passion for music and fashion. And apparently, he’s also got beats (Gotta wonder what his drop would be.)
— Ben Jata (@Ben_Jata) May 18, 2016
He’s been photographed with stars of all types and dope sneakers of many varieties recently, but he opened up to Highsnobiety last month to talk about this off-field interests. Check out the Q&A here, but for some real comedy, watch him face off against LFC teammate Jordan Ibe in a hip-hop quiz.
Listening to a Brit say “you gon’ learn today” will never get old.
has the greatest squad of all time
2:02 PMA million dollars isn’t cool, we learned in 2010. A billion dollars is cool. You know what’s cooler than a billion dollars? More than a billion dollars, and apparently, that’s what Nike’s investing in LeBron James. That detail was revealed in GQ’s interview with Maverick Carter, the man who pulls the strings in the King’s empire.
Back when news broke that Nike signed a lifetime endorsement contract with James, it was the confirmation of the ultimate squad flex that was LeBron deciding that his boys were a better business decision going forward than the establishment. But let’s think about this. Is it possible that a billion-dollar deal is in fact, a bargain?
Think about it. According to many sites, the Akron native’s net worth is $300M. If a billion is a thousand millions, and the company is going so far as to endorse him for the rest of his life, then getting to a billion will not be difficult once a fully constructed lifestyle brand is established. Of course, this is why it’s smart for both sides. Nobody says no to a billion dollars, ever. And it only really makes sense for Nike if they can make a billion off of it, as well.
This might be one for the squad at FiveThirtyEight. Stay tuned.
can apparently code-switch with the best of them
12:18 PM“Baby Got Back” is not remotely close to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s best song, but its cultural impact is inarguably off the charts. The track that gave ultimate praise to large posteriors was named as the best one-hit wonder of the ’90s by VH1 and even got a symphony to turn up. The song has been co-opted in many ways over the years, and Blake Lively is the latest to do it.
“Oh. My. God. Becky. Look. At. Her. Butt” — that sentence starts the song and set the precedent for whom we now refer to rather casually as “Beckys.” Ask Beyonce. “Even white boys got to shout” is a lyric that will forever be screamed on wedding reception dance floors. There are still people getting their lives changed by Mix, even through random chance.
But there’s one part of the song that is not a lyric, not a sketch, but rather a random portion of a hook, that is extremely important.
“LA face with an Oakland booty” means one thing: pretty face, big butt. Why are those two things somehow considered mutually exclusive? Well, you can blame that one on our old friend, traditional standards of beauty. Los Angeles, well-manicured and sculpted with Hollywood flair, represents one thing. Oakland, home of E-40, Marshawn Lynch and (ahem) the Black Panthers, represents something entirely blacker and in the face of what we consider refinement, a more raw aesthetic. Or in short, black women.
The phrase alludes to sort of Kardashian-style “best of both worlds” construct of “beauty” that is both enjoyable and confounding. If you don’t really get that line, it’s a fun one to say. Shouts to Cali! Yatta yatta. But if you do understand it, there’s some internal conflict. Why am I buying into why this even makes sense? Why can’t “Oakland face” be a thing? There’s a lot to unpack in that DJ scratch. There are even T-shirts if you want one.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the best Sir Mix-A-Lot jam of all time is this one. It’s not even close.
Daily Dose: 5/18/16
The Sixers have a shot at respectability
9:55 AMSince we’re here, just want to give appreciation to everyone who read, watched, shared, or otherwise tuned in Tuesday for our launch. It was an exhilarating day on many levels, so, very plainly: THANK YOU. We outchea.
Pardon my ignorance, but if Hillary Clinton is elected, will it be Ms. or Mrs. President? If we really think about it, there’s a conundrum there because — from my rudimentary understanding of the English language — Mrs. is used to describe a woman who has taken another’s name. In her case, it’s not a name but a title, and the other person actually was president, too. Ugh. Long story short, last night two states that are diametrically opposite culture-wise went to the polls to decide who’s going to the Oval Office in January. Clinton declared victory in Kentucky while Bernie Sanders took Oregon. ABC News’ Julia Jacobo has the details.
I happen to be from a city where the HIV/AIDS problem is extreme. Washington, D.C., if you aren’t familiar, has infection rates that are on par with West-African countries in terms of percentages. As a matter of public health, paying attention to this fact nationwide is a matter of interest. But a new research map that was presented Tuesday by researchers at Atlanta’s Emory University shows that the large majority of risk for contracting the virus lies with gay and bisexual men in the American South. That is a direct result of the quality of the health care systems in that region. ABC News’ Michael Nedelman explains.
When I saw Captain America: Civil War, I was very excited about the number of black superheroes that would be populating the big screen. Not one, not two, but three! In all seriousness though, the act of integrating characters of color into films based on comic books is an unsurprisingly complicated topic on many levels. Sidebar: There’s one INCREDIBLE scene in that film in which the words “you will be moved” are uttered, which had me falling out in the theater. Anyways, the man who is the lone black producer in Marvel’s film division has an incredible history. If you’re smart, you’ll let The Undefeated’s Kelley L. Carter tell you how the story goes at FiveThirtyEight.
The Philadelphia 76ers are in a world of hurt. Their team is garbage. They’re putting random sponsors on their uniforms. No one shows up for their games, and they’re clinging to a legacy that isn’t coming back anytime soon. Seriously, the Sixers are one of the top five most important franchises to black America as far as the NBA is concerned, and they’ve been floundering for the better part of a decade when it comes to relevance on the court. That said, they won the draft lottery Tuesday night. Yay! Hold your horses, though. Allen Iverson isn’t walking through that door. ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reports.
Coffee Break: What do you do when you go to bed? Read a book, a magazine or, gasp, a newspaper? I read my phone. But there’s a new thing out that sort of forces one away from the latter. It’s a lamp that only works if your cellular device (I like that term because only airplane people use it) is off. I’m outfitting my whole crib with these.
Snack Time: Chance The Rapper isn’t the only one doing work in these late night music streets. Alicia Keys and Common performed on SNL last weekend and it was fun!
Dessert: I’ve been playing with this computer keyboard synthesizer toy all week. You should, too.
learns a quick lesson in American racial politics
11:42 AMSteven Grizzly Adams is a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is from New Zealand. Monkeys are not native to that nation. So when he called the Golden State Warriors guards “quick little monkeys” after his team’s 108-102 victory Monday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, it didn’t sound great.
Calling people, specifically black people, “monkeys” is certainly a faux pas in today’s polite society, because it’s a lazy metaphor that a) makes no sense scientifically and b) is insulting. Just take a look at a soccer game happening anywhere on the globe save this continent, and you’ll find people making howling noises and throwing bananas at black players. This is not new. But there’s a history of commentators saying that word in this country, as well.
But Adams is a Kiwi. I’m willing to give him a pass for not understanding the true nature of his comments, even if they were insensitive. From a more basketball-oriented standpoint, they’re also inaccurate. Stephen Curry is not a tough monkey — he’s the first and only unanimous MVP of the NBA.
“It was just a poor choice of words, mate. I wasn’t thinking straight,” Adams said to USA Today. I didn’t know it was going to upset anyone, but I’m truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around. … Different words, different expressions, and stuff like that. But they obviously can be taken differently, depending on which country you’re in. I’m assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries. But I definitely overstepped them tonight.”
Fair enough. Dude showed up to the U.S. in 2011. Delving into the whole racial history of New Zealand, which isn’t great, isn’t particularly necessary, as Adams doesn’t represent his whole nation, necessarily. He was just a tired dude having trouble keeping up with the best backcourt in the league. The apology was genuine, and everyone learned something.
Daily Dose: 5/17/16
A Mississippi school district finally gets it
10:51 AMWhat’s up, kiddos. Today’s the day. This is what you’ll get every morning from me, so you don’t have to pay attention to the news if life takes you elsewhere. Newsletter life is quite the thrill, if you love unread messages in your inbox. Kidding, let’s do this.
Mississippi is making progress. On the day before the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that desegregated schools across the nation with the goal of making learning an equal opportunity situation, a district in the Magnolia State is finally catching up. We’re 60 years removed from that monumental decision from the Supreme Court, but somehow, this place missed the memo. This particular location is almost two-thirds black from a student populace standpoint. Also, take some time to think about what the term “historically white” actually means. ABC News’ Meghan Keneally reports.
Speaking of states, when was the last time you were in Pennsylvania? It’s a fine state. My personal favorite place there happens to be a place called Breezewood. When it comes to electoral politics, however, the state is hugely important this year. Particularly if you’re a Republican. With Donald Trump trying to find a way to relate to “normal America” on his way to the Oval Office, the home of the 76ers and the Penguins might be the place he kicks off the actualization of that effort. FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman explains why that’s a possibility.
Full disclosure: I already miss Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan. When it was announced that the former New York Giants defensive lineman would be leaving the program for Good Morning America, I was legit upset that the best duo on daytime television was done. It got kind of awkward, but now, Kelly is doing her thing on her own, to an extent. There will be a long line of guest hosts to determine who’s ready. If we’re being honest, nobody can really replace Strahan, but that’s another story. ABC’s Joi Marie McKenzie has details on the new show.
When it comes to individuals in the NFL, there’s Marshawn Lynch and everyone else. The man who exploded on to the scene by running all over the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game has become larger than life due to his healthy disdain for outsiders and tremendously charming persona. I don’t even love football but I still can’t believe Pete Carroll didn’t give him the ball in the Super Bowl. Anyways, the man known as “Beast Mode” is obviously a very smart guy. The Undefeated’s Lonnae O’Neal spent some time peeling back the layers in Oakland.
Coffee Break: Mental illness is something that is chronically underreported, under discussed and under treated in communities of color. So when singer Kehlani admitted that she was struggling with said issues a while back, it was rather revelatory. This week, she showed remarkable courage by stopping to talk about it during a live show.
Snack Time: I listen to a lot of Action Bronson out of habit, but I might enjoy watching him cook and shop more than I do listening to him rap. Turns out, that just like Noreaga, he had a run in with Michael Jordan, too! Enjoy.
to the information mixtape for your grind
4:03 AMWhen The Undefeated Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida first asked me to be a part of this project, he said he wanted something to be the “lifeblood” of the site. Although The Undefeated will deliver many big and important things from a journalism and entertainment standpoint, there still needs to be some fun.
That’s what I’m here for.
Art. Music. Life. Sports. Gear. Taste. We’ll cover it all.
You’re as likely to get a story on why rappers all suddenly have French bulldogs as you are a fashion analysis of Adidas’ new line of football cleats. Beyoncé launches a new athleisure line? On it. Vin Diesel sings “Oh Happy Day”? That works, too. President Obama and Steph Curry make a viral video for the My Brother’s Keeper program? Sure. A new documentary on the Roland TR-808 drum machine? Absolutely.
For weekends, we’ll go X Games-style and highlight athletes of color from the skate/snow/surf world for a feature we call “Board on Saturday.” Following that, we’ll take you around the world for “Street Art Sundays” in which we’ll showcase work from the graffiti/mural scene — a visual stimulant to close out your week.
Coming soon, we’ll have a daily newsletter to start your morning in case you haven’t caught up with the news yet. Politics, entertainment, random info, whatever.
And we’ll soon be launching a weekly podcast that I’ll host along with senior style writer Jill Hudson and culture and sports writer Justin Tinsley every Tuesday. We got you, fam.
See you on the internet.
Black hockey fans
some are just discovering the game others have loved for years
10:45 PMFour years ago, I found myself sitting in the downtown Washington, D.C. offices of Ted Leonsis: founder, chairman, majority owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the outfit that runs the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals. Per his request, we were there to discuss diversity in hockey. My story “I’m a black hockey fan. We do exist.” had just run, and Leonsis, who’s long supported youth programs in his local area thought that should be more well-known.
But as I explained that day and in the story, my concern was about the game-day experience. That was a separate discussion to whether or not black kids get the chance to hit the ice. But in the past month, we’ve seen how teams are reaching out via social media to get black faces in the seats.
First, there was the story of Tony X. He tweeted up a storm while watching his first game as a St. Louis Blues fan, and became an instant sensation. He ended up at a playoff game with an authentic Vladimir Tarasenko jersey on, shown on the jumbotron and then trading paint on Good Morning America with Blues legend Brett Hull.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 28, 2016
Last week, writer Retta, who goes by @unforettable on Twitter, shared the tale of how she became a fan, and it’s beyond hilarious. The story is set a few years ago, but has gained new relevance as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue with each of the four teams left fielding a relatively prominent player of color.
Like, Tony X., she’d be given the red carpet treatment during her maiden voyage and had a blast. With deck like “how the LA Kings, a personalized jersey, and an epic Vine helped her fall in love with hockey,” you know you’ve got a great story. And if people are actively calling the Kings the “Kaaangs” in Los Angeles, I might have to move there.
There was an older black couple at the bar, and for me it wasn’t a big deal cuz this is LA. Black folks are everywhere, right? But the novelty was lost on me because I forgot where I was. I was at a hockey game, in the Chairman’s Room, where people with the baller-baller/shot-caller tickets hang out. The novelty was not lost on the older gentleman, who, upon seeing me, lit up with such excitement that I thought maybe I knew him. I didn’t. He was like, “Hey, sistuh!” A little thrown by his eagerness, I was like, “Heyyyy … sir.” And then it dawned on me. We were THREE unicorns in a basement bar. Even this unicorn couldn’t believe it. — Retta
Point is, these two tales make one thing obvious: Getting fans of color isn’t particularly difficult if you reach out to them. There’s nothing necessarily inherently divisive about the game. Many people just don’t know it’s there or realize how fun it can be to watch, a fact the NHL could easily change.
Chance The Rapper
throws Frank Ocean a serious alley-oop
10:43 PMChancelor Bennett is arguably the hottest rapper in the game right now. His new mixtape, “Coloring Book,” has taken the music world by storm, by fusing the worlds of gospel and hip-hop in a way that we haven’t seen since Kanye West’s early work. Understandably, as a 23-year-old Chicago native and protege of Yeezy, Chance is proud of his faith in Christ, aside from turning in one of the greater performances we’ve seen on a late night talk show in a long while.
Meanwhile, Frank Ocean’s second album has been one of the most anticipated projects that hasn’t materialized since Dr. Dre’s “Detox,” which was eventually canceled. It’s been four years since “Channel Orange” dropped in July 2012. It has been the topic of MUCH discussion, jokes and ultimately, disappointment.
I think it's time that we all just accept the fact that Frank Ocean didn't actually have an album.
— ghost (@maia_cee) May 16, 2016
Frank Ocean's about to drop Detox
— meach (@mvrkmvrkmvrk) May 16, 2016
Did Frank Ocean drop something and I missed it? Or are we all just giving up on him…
— Caveman (@TylerGutierrezJ) May 16, 2016
But today, along comes Lil Chano to save the Odd Future-affiliated singer. “I am good friends with Frank. His new album is amazing,” Chance told Complex. “No one is really able to find Frank when Frank goes away, literally no one, not just publications. I know he’s away making a masterpiece.”
Whoa, hold up? A masterpiece? Those are extremely high praises from the guy who can do no wrong right now. Or as the man who moonlights as a Major League Baseball hat designer in his spare time for the Chicago White Sox would say, “when the praises go up, the blessings come down.”
Chance just bought Frank another six months.
will throw hands if he has to, and always has
12:15 PMLast night, I got a text from a friend who used to cover sports in Dallas.
He was relaying a message that a former colleague of his had told him a long time ago about Venezuelan second baseman Rougned Odor. The message said, “literal scouting report: ‘don’t [expletive] with him’ … never been more accurate.”
Odor’s punch to Jose Bautista’s jaw that incited a brawl during a Rangers-Blue Jays game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday night was quickly memed, for obvious reasons.
But Odor has been about this life for a while. Back in 2011, he had no qualms taking on three dudes after an incident in a minor league game.
Sure, it was a late slide, but whatever was said became enough to trigger Odor’s now signature move: the shove that clears room for the right cross. If only Joey Bats had been studying game tape of fights of the bus leagues instead of opposing pitchers.
The relative irony here is that Odor is no stranger to late slides. Last year, his antics on the basepaths were subject to frequent scrutiny with one particular slide in a game in October that helped the Texas Rangers to the playoffs being an example. He apologized at the time, but no one forgot it when Odor decided to come to blows.
blah, blah, something about glass houses… pic.twitter.com/Tdekg2c2Kq
— Brandon Morrow (@2Morrow23) May 16, 2016
Of course, this likely has something to do with Bautista’s bat flip from last year’s American League divisional game, an event more commonly referred to in my household as “the greatest moment of the 2015 MLB season.”
[mlbvideo id=”515660383?topic_id=6479266″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
We’re not ones to promote violence, but for the sake of analysis, we will look at this scuffle frame by frame. The words of the announcer say it all (“Whoooaaa!”) , but visually, so much happened here.
To begin with, Bautista clearly presumed himself to be at an advantage as he was both wearing a helmet and had both hands available. Little did he know, this wasn’t anything close to Odor’s first rodeo (Texas joke!) and managed to get his whole face rocked to the degree that both his sunglasses and lid go flying. It’s rather remarkable. That initial shove from Odor is quite literally a veteran move and shifted the balance of the pugilists completely.
Easily the most impressive part of this punch is that he managed to land it under and around the earflap while not hitting the helmet itself. That and the fact that his chain did a full 360 on his neck while he was administering said piecing.
To be fair to Bautista, this punch didn’t knock him out, only stunned him slightly. Of course, this is all a stupid huge waste of time in baseball, as all fights are, but that was one of the better landed punches we’ve seen in the sports world in some time.
The 76ers take the plunge
and become the first NBA team to put sponsors on their jerseys
11:58 AMWe should have known it would be them. The Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA team seemingly most bereft of any type of talent or plan for the future in recent seasons, announced Monday that StubHub’s logo will appear on their game jerseys in 2016-17, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
On two levels, this is both confusing and appropriate. For one, the Sixers recently overhauled their uniforms with a bit of a retro look that was fantastic. Now, they’re adding the sponsor, which is not exactly invasive and we thought that was the whole point. If nobody can see the sponsor, why bother? At least they adjusted the color scheme to the team colors.
Oddly, this ends up being an advertisement that psychologically might work against both partners. The Sixers’ ticket prices aren’t particularly high at the Wells Fargo Center. According to Statista, the average ticket price for the 2015-16 season was $38.46. That’s 24th out of 30, which for a team that finished dead last in the Eastern Conference and barely got to double-digit wins, makes sense.
But even with those low prices, it’s not like people are showing up. The Sixers ranked 28th overall in average attendance at home. On the road, they move up to 24th, but overall their attendance percentage is lowest in the league at 81.7 percent. Back in April, Sam Hinkie stepped down as general manager, taking The Process with him. Joel Embiid has been a disaster and Jahlil Okafor still has some growing up to do. Discounted tickets from a fan share site don’t seem to matter when it comes to putting butts in the seats.
If this is new team president Bryan Colangelo’s plan to get people interested in the team again, it’s a heavy lift. Good thing the Sixers have a 25 percent chance of winning the NBA Draft Lottery.