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Daily Dose: 5/19/17

Basquiat is still selling and breaking records

1:18 PMThis has been one of the longest weeks in Washington I can think of in a really long time. Here’s hoping that we make it through the weekend with our democracy intact.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more precarious at the White House, the president takes off on a foreign trip. Obviously, people are a bit worried about how this might go, considering President Donald Trump’s proclivities for bluster and hyperbole, which may play well here with his base, but are a different matter overseas. He’s representing not only himself but also the nation. A misspeak or errant tweet is not going to fly with a foreign audience when you’re on their turf. Let’s hope his aides are armed with what they need to make this go smoothly.

I love dogs as much as the next person, but let’s be clear — they are not human. So when it comes to lives being taken unfairly, I’m pretty much always going to consider those of actual people more important than those of pets. But if you want to get an idea of where we are in America, a woman just walked free for killing a black man while in the line of duty in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, a guy who shot and didn’t even kill a police dog gets 19 years in prison. That is seriously messed up.

Jean-Michel Basquiat is a legend in the game. The street artist turned megastar died in 1988, but his influence on how galleries and subculture began to meld together to create a mainstream genre is still felt today. His work still sells, in some cases for amounts so astronomical that it makes you sad he’s not around to enjoy that money. But his latest is really off the charts. One of his works just sold for $110.5 million, making it only the 11th piece ever to break the $100M mark. I can’t even remotely contemplate paying that much for something.

Under Armour just scored a big league deal. The athletic apparel company will be supplying uniforms to Major League Baseball in 2019, taking over for Majestic and Nike. It feels like those two have been there forever; it’s 1982 for the former, to be exact. It’s a massive score for the Baltimore-based Under Armour, which has been growing consistently since it started in 1996. Now it’s one of the big boys for sure. I do wonder if it’ll do anything drastic to the usually staid, traditional style of MLB, but I doubt it. Why mess with greatness?

Free Food

Coffee Break: As if you don’t have enough things to worry about when buying a house, you can now add “gigantic terrifying honeycomb” to that list. That’s what happened in Georgia, where a woman discovered she had more than 100,000 bees inside her house. That is terrifying.

Snack Time: In this business of show, creativity is required but not always easy to find. So don’t ask me how or why we need a movie about the life of Bubbles, Michael Jackson’s monkey.

Dessert: You know what is good news, though? Lin-Manuel Miranda being involved in a DuckTales reboot. YES.

Daily Dose: 5/17/17

Happy anniversary to us!

11:56 AMA year ago Thursday this website was launched, starting a new era in journalism, entertainment and content for the ESPN family. I’m grateful as heck to be here and extremely proud to have built something with my colleagues. Congrats!

Your man James Comey has the receipts. After all this madness surrounding the former FBI director’s firing by the president, it turns out that he kept notes of everything, meaning the threat of recordings from the Oval Office to prove him wrong about whether President Donald Trump asked him to end the Russia investigation takes on new relevance. This is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a complete mess in the White House, and the lack of direction is downright staggering. The Dems say that they need those notes, badly.

There’s been a great new entry in the men’s summer fashion world: rompers. Yep, there’s a Kickstarter effort to make romphims a thing, which, as far as I’m concerned, is great news. The possibility of such a tremendous piece of clothing becoming a popular bit is extremely exciting for your boy. I’d rock a dashiki romper in a second in these streets. And the jokes Wednesday on Twitter about it were full-blown hilarious, as they mocked the constant nonsense that women have to deal with when it comes to their clothing and street harassment. Fun!

I couldn’t live without the internet. It’s where my job is; it’s where my fun is; it’s how I communicate with everyone. And at this point, thinking of the world without it is almost bizarre. There are also times when I think, am I too connected to this plastic/glass rectangle in my pocket? Is this thing actually making me crazy? There are people in the world who live their whole lives nowadays without constant access to it, and I imagine they’re pretty happy people. That’s why in some places, not going online is the new going online.

LaVar Ball really wants his son Lonzo to play for the Lakers. He’s talking about it all the time, says it’d be a perfect fit and claims he can speak it into existence. He just might be right, too. Now that the Lakers have the second pick in the NBA draft, that fantasy can become a reality. Say what you want about LaVar and his antics, but he’s got his kid in a great position to succeed. Now, apparently they’re so dead set on staying in the Los Angeles area that he’s not even going to work out for any other team. Mini-wow, but not really.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Holidays are big driving days, as people head out across the country to see friends and family. Which means a whole lot of traffic all over the place. What it also means is more accidents. Turns out, Memorial Day is the most crash-prone of all holidays. Be careful.

Snack Time: When it comes to traditional images of God and his disciples, etc., the people involved are almost always white. Then a woman painted The Creation of Adam with black women, and people went nuts.

Dessert: Dudes. Don’t be like this guy. At all.

Baltimore kid stunts on chess tournament in Nike slides

Cahree Myrick is a gawd for this

2:25 PM

When I grow up, I want to be like Cahree Myrick.

I didn’t know who he was until this morning when this crossed my desk. I have no context for this photo other than what’s tweeted. Alec Ross, by the way, is running for governor in Maryland. But his political career aside, let’s talk about the sport.

Chess, for years, was the purview of dudes on park benches and European dudes who took things extremely seriously. Over the past decade, it’s grown quite a bit in the black community, with after-school programs being the primary vehicle. Here’s a story about one in Ferguson, Missouri, for example. As a concept though, the effect of teaching black kids to play chess is such a marvel that it’s been the subject of pretty serious academic study, too. You might be familiar with Maurice Ashley, the first black chess grandmaster, who’s been at the forefront of this movement.

But let’s talk about this kid. I have a kid brother in middle school. He dresses exactly like this every day possible. When I was his age, I dressed exactly like this, every day possible. It was my outfit for walking to the gas station to get snacks, maybe hitting the mall with a friend or lounging at my cousin’s house. This young man decided to rock it to a chess championship. And he won.

I have no clue what any of his competitors wore, but I like to imagine that they wore the kind of stuff your parents forced you to wear to Sunday school — you know, just in case someone took a picture. My man Cahree rolled up in some slides, banged a couple of checkmates and walked away with a trophy.

This is black boy joy.

New Beats By Dre ad features 4 NBA stars

Pro athletes head to arena in latest ad

12:42 PM

If I only watched the commercials, I’d assume that Beats By Dre was worn only by professional athletes warming up for games or trying to ignore the public. The company, started by rap mogul Dr. Dre, became popular with players a while back, but the company does not seem to have branched out from that marketing tactic since it took hold.

Back in 2014, as part of the “Hear What You Want” campaign, we got ads with LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Colin Kaepernick doing just that. In the latest commercial, we get more of the same, to an extent. This time, to the tune of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” we get focused dudes headed to the arena, ready to show their support. But you’ll notice, they’re not actually wearing the headphones while driving — but they are when the power walk starts.

Good to see that Beats is promoting safety first, as distracted driving is a real threat. Ask Gregg Popovich.

Daily Dose: 5/16/17

Dave Chappelle regrets his kind words for Donald Trump

12:21 PMI don’t know how you feel about avocados. On Monday, they became a very intense topic of conversation when some rich guy decided that they and millennials were to blame for everyone’s housing problems. So, I had to write about it.

So, let’s review how things went down when Russian officials came to the White House. Openly mocking the media because the head of the FBI had been fired the day before, President Donald Trump then decided to let Russian media into the Oval Office unfettered while he didn’t allow American media in at the same time. Then he rolled out Henry Kissinger, of all people, for U.S. media, a troll job of epic proportions. Now, in a major bombshell, it turns out that Trump actually shared intelligence with those officials. Wowzers.

Speaking of the president, remember when Dave Chappelle defended him? It was a strange moment in pop culture when a guy who spent a reasonable amount of time mocking other commanders in chief suddenly decided that the guy he wanted people to remain open-minded about was, of all people, Donald J. Trump. On Saturday Night Live, no less. At the time I was seriously shocked but thought, when you’re that rich, you can be lenient with people. Well, how’d that turn out? Now, Dave is saying he regrets making those comments.

There are a few shows that are watchable no matter when or where you see them. These days, programming fits such specific spaces in our lives that not many programs are easy to just flip on and enjoy. But one show that definitely fits that mold is Shark Tank, for my money one of the best things we’ve got going in this medium. I love it. A few people I know have been on it, with a modicum of success, which is part of what makes it so cool. It feels pretty accessible, in general. Anywhom, guess who’s joining as a judge next season? Alex Rodriguez.

Is James Harden a goon? I don’t mean that in a jokey way that folks use now for people who operate in a shady manner and uphold an otherwise good standing in the community. I’m talking about an actual goon who’s willing to hurt someone physically for embarrassing him in public. Moses Malone Jr. is accusing Harden of having some associates jump him after he posted on Facebook about how the Rockets star was charging a lot of money for his basketball camp. If this is true, not a good look for the bearded one.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you know me, you know that I love to collect vinyl. Whenever I go on a road trip, I make sure to seek out a record store to at least look, if not certainly to buy something. It’s a fun way to explore places and build my collection. Here’s a TED talk about the culture of record digging. Great idea.

Snack Time: When Travis Scott drops new music, people pay attention. Here are three new tracks from the guy who was recently arrested for inciting a riot at an Arkansas concert.

Dessert: We’ll just leave you with this.

In defense of avocado toast

Is it a fruit? A berry? Does anyone really care?

3:42 PMA hilarious convo erupted on the internet Monday afternoon surrounding an interesting food item: avocado toast. It was all sparked by a Time magazine story with the headline “Millionaire to Millennials: Stop Buying Avocado Toast If You Want to Buy a Home.” In short: lol.

The basic premise here is that stupid, shortsighted and pound-foolish millennials are too busy eating quasi-luxury items like avocado toast instead of giving their money to old white men on Wall Street who might decide that they either want to steal it or gamble it away in a Ponzi scheme. Because that’s what we’ve always done, and what with the ChapSnats and the Venmobook ruining The Way We Used To Do Things, the economy is all upside down and everyone is renting microapartments and Ubering to work in the gig economy instead of living like the Jetsons.

To which I say: Whatever.

The more important conversation here is about avocado toast as a luxury item, and where it stands in the food hierarchy. Once one of those things that was best enjoyed as a breakfast life hack in one’s own home for quasi-creatives in the kitchen, it has now moved onto restaurant menus to be enjoyed by brunch monkeys across the nation. Back when I was into this bit, a great life hack if a place had avocado on the menu was to just describe how to make it and ask for it. That typically landed you with a fun, creative dish from a chef who got to branch out without too much effort.

But a $22 avocado toast? That’s insane. For a couple of different reasons. No. 1, avocados just aren’t that good. Cut one open, throw on some sea salt, perhaps, and a dash of hot sauce? Delish. Maybe mix in some bread, a runny egg yolk and, if you want to get crazy ambitious, some … wait for it … sesame oil (just a dash). You’ve got yourself an A+ snack. But by no means is avocado toast supposed to be the centerpiece of anything. Ever. We’re not talking guacamole, here, which is a whole other discussion.

I don’t know what happened to avocado. It was like the friend in middle school who had cool sleepovers, actually called you during the summer to hang out and didn’t act like he didn’t know you once everyone got to high school. Avocado was cool, and you were glad you knew Avocado. Then, something happened.

Avocado, which now just goes by Cado, did a semester abroad in Prague and suddenly has an English accent for whatever reason. Cado is talking about popping bottles at the club when you’re trying to figure out how to get a free 30-pack out of the guy who works at the beer store. Cado, whom you and your other friends now actually call Avo, has people you don’t even know obsessing about him online, and it’s weird.

But Avocado is still the friend who let you crash at his house when you were too wasted to go home, and his parents didn’t rat you out. Avocado might have let you drive his car when you didn’t have a license. And when Avocado’s date had a friend, you got invited. You couldn’t turn your back on Avocado.

So, fast-forward 15 years and avocado is an argument among people who think it was a luxury item all along. No. Avocado was messy, not for novices and, frankly, kind of bland unless you knew how to dress it up properly. That’s right, it was YOU who taught avocado how to buy clothes when he was still shopping at the Gap in ninth grade. Anyways, it’s all very confusing now.

Then, avocado got married to the mainstream. Places like Chipotle existed solely off its existence, you thought. It was in Subway now, and there was no turning back. Next thing you know, you look up and someone is scolding you about your old friend because you live in an apartment with a roommate instead of a two-story house with a garage. But in the end, you can never really blame avocado.

Why? Because if you were avocado, you would have done the same thing.

Dejounte Murray has the best tattoo in the NBA

and the simplistic line drawing is perfection

12:03 PM

Dejounte Murray is a 20-year-old kid from Seattle who plays for the San Antonio Spurs. Don’t kick yourself if you didn’t know who he was until Sunday, when his team faced off against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. He’s averaged less than 10 minutes per game in his NBA career, and he played only one year in college at the University of Washington before becoming a late first-round draft pick. He’s done multiple stints in the D-League.

But he’s got an amazing tattoo.

In the NBA these days, it’s not uncommon to see fully sleeved guys or even, in extreme cases, neck tats going up to one’s face. I’m not sure when we’ll have our first face tat player in the league, but that’s a discussion for another day. The typical NBA tattoo guy looks more like LeBron James or J.R. Smith: most of the upper torso done, including arms. Not Murray, however. In a sea of flourishing fades and extensive line work, he is a trailblazer, an outlier in said world.

He’s got a singular image on his right shoulder that looks like something he drew on his arm in art class in fifth grade that never came off. And it’s glorious. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about me disliking the way Isaiah Thomas’ arms look. I am completely here for one’s entire skin being covered in ink, as a general matter, if that’s one’s choice. But in the case of the league, it’s pretty much old hat.

Murray’s got just one. It’s kind of cute, to be honest. Like a kid riding a big wheel alongside a caravan of Harley-Davidsons, he’s doing just fine pedaling on the sidewalk. Also, it appeals grandly to my childhood. It looks like a Madball.

Like so many toys from the 1980s and ’90s, I knew what this was but had forgotten the name until reminded of it. But that imagery of a baseball designed to look like monsters never left me. As a kid obsessed with baseball and cartoons at the time, this product was so directly in my wheelhouse it wasn’t even funny. I LOVED Madballs. And in typical form for the time, it was far more than just a toy line — it was an entire brand, complete with an animated series, comic books and a video game.

I had no idea how well-imprinted Madballs were on my brain until Twitter exploded over Murray’s adorable ink. Of course, at his age, there’s no way that his connection to that image is really about his childhood, unless his parents had the older hand-me-down toys of all time. But who cares, HE HAS A TATTOO THAT LOOKS LIKE MADBALLS.

The kid had a solid game to close out the series against the Rockets, and for his age he is having a solid playoff run. If you know me, you know that I irrationally hate the Spurs because they’re like your perfect cousin as a kid, whom your parents point to as the example you should be but know you never will be. Don’t get crazy, though. Murray is not about to suddenly make the Spurs likable to me; however, I don’t mind rooting for him, personally.

Of course, Twitter is going to let these jokes fly. If you don’t know, it’s not his only tat. He just has them spread out in a far more willy-nilly fashion than the usual star in the league. And for that, we salute him.

Please, Dejounte, never change.

Daily Dose: 5/15/17

New Miss USA Kara McCullough shares thoughts on health care and feminism

11:17 AMThe Morning Roast was down a member Sunday, but Domonique Foxworth and I carried on anyway, and if you were listening live you got to hear a story about me wearing a T-shirt on my head. Which, apparently, is crazy.

Charlottesville, Virginia, is the home of UVA. You know, the University of Virginia, that esteemed institution that was started by noted slave owner and founding father Thomas Jefferson. So when a group of white supremacists turned out to protest the removal of a Confederate statue with torches in tow, we can’t say we were particularly surprised. What isn’t helping their cause is that self-proclaimed neo-Nazi Richard Spencer was among them. The mayor of the town called the act horrific, but now you know why these monuments have to go.

The Miss USA Pageant had some highs and lows Sunday night. The high point was four women of color making the top five finalists. Then, when Miss District of Columbia won, she got on stage and decided to make some rather interesting comments. She expressed her views that health care should be a privilege in this country, which is wild because she’s a scientist working for the government. She also said that too many people are overplaying what feminism should be. All righty then. Kara McCullough joined Good Morning America to discuss her win.

Uber Pool can be quite the experience. Personally, I run just a little too hot to be dealing with people I don’t know in such a private space when I ride. I’d rather ride the bus or the train. And a recent situation in Washington shows exactly how things can get VERY awkward. Let’s be clear. If we’re in the back seat of a car and a white person starts dropping N-bombs while singing a song, one of us is getting out. And it’s not going to be me. That’s exactly what happened in one case, and it was the driver who put the offending parties out. Good for him.

We’re finally to that point where NBA jerseys are going to have more than just team logos on them. I don’t particularly mind this, but in American sporting culture it is not the norm, so the first few teams who get on board with this are probably going to deal with a fair amount of backlash. That team will be the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ll be sporting the Goodyear tires logo somewhere on their tops, which is cool because the company was started in Akron, Ohio, the hometown of LeBron James, the greatest basketball player of all time. The history is cool too.

Free Food

Coffee Break: When it was first announced that Ta-Nehisi Coates would be penning a Black Panther comic book series, many black comic fans rejoiced. Coates’ touch on a famous brand felt like a perfect mix that was a long time coming. Alas, it’s now coming to an end, apparently because of poor sales figures. Bummer.

Snack Time: If you don’t want to get caught up in the nonsense that is marriage to another person, why bother? You can have your ceremony and eat it too, with a little something called “sologamy.” Don’t invite me, though.

Dessert: I’ll be hosting #TheRightTime for Bomani Jones on Monday from 4-7 p.m. EST. Make sure to tune in!