The Undefeated does 2017
The highs, the lows and the must-reads
Here at The Undefeated, we spent a trying 2017 attempting to cover the world through your eyes. We had the Colin Kaepernick saga on lock, the NFL protests covered. We learned from Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng that “the biggest misconception is people thinking Muslims are terrorists.” We reveled at Whitley Gilbert’s wardrobe and watched Tarik Cohen shine at North Carolina A&T before he was a rookie standout with the Chicago Bears. We showed you chic street style at Afropunk, brought back Drumline and demonstrated that love knows no color. 2017 was a tough year, but TU brought it to you, warts and all.
Hey, 2017, we’d hate to miss you but love to watch you leave.
The Undefeated 44 most influential black Americans in history A collection of dreamers and doers, noisy geniuses and quiet innovators, record-breakers and symbols of pride and aspiration.
- 50 Greatest Black Athletes – The people spoke, and the results sparked some serious debate.
- UNC vs. Villanova: 13.5 seconds oral history – “Jenkins, for the championship!”
- Drumline oral history – “In order for me to get the additional $5 million, I had to create a white character.”
- New Edition oral history – “That’s when I said, ‘I don’t know why Johnny’s here.’ ”
- The NFL’s racial divide – “I have a chip on my shoulder at all times. I’m constantly trying to prove myself.”
- The NBA rookie style quiz – Forget your jump shots, newbie. It’s time to get your design game on.
- CulturePlay 50 – From Cardi B to Samuel L. Jackson (and 48 more), we throw odd questions to the talented and famous every week.
- Seahawks’ Michael Bennett is an activist disguised as a football player – “Every day, a white quarterback throws the ball to a black receiver, but when it comes to Black Lives Matter issues, they won’t step up and be like, ‘There is an issue.’ ”
- Professional wrestler Booker T’s raw life – “It’s funny, you know, they love to say how wrestling is so fake and made-up. And the irony of the whole thing is, the best thing about my brother is his honesty.”
- The gentrification of college hoops – Most athletic scholarships are going to middle-class kids with college-educated parents, not to kids from poor families who need a scholarship to get anywhere close to a university campus.
- Frank Dowsing, Mississippi State’s first black football player, is almost unknown today – A state struggles to remember a racial pioneer — is it partly because of his sexuality?
- Deconstructing J.R. Smith – “He still teaches me so much stuff that I don’t know. His horizons are so broad and he’s so well-rounded in so many areas that I still learn so much from him when it comes to basketball or life in general or fatherhood.”
- How Colin Kaepernick became a cause for activists and civil rights group – “He’s a modern-day Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali all in one.”
- Nick Blakely came so close to playing Division I football – then tragedy struck – “I’m not much of a traveler, but I would sure love to go to heaven one day.”
- Chargers’ Brandon Mebane: ‘You could just tell they didn’t want us there.’ – “They were probably surprised that we were African-Americans, and they bought into all the negative stereotypes.”
- Being Muslim in the NBA – “The biggest misconception was people thinking Muslims are terrorists. That’s the way they see me nowadays.”
- The Marsalis brothers jazzed up a basketball conversation with Thunder coach Billy Donovan and GM Sam Presti –“In a jazz band, it’s very similar to basketball because you can have musicians who can really play their instrument really well. But they don’t have an understanding of what their function is to make the group succeed.”
- Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry carries brother’s memory into second NBA season – “It was evident from the very beginning that that wasn’t DeAndre’s brother. That was DeAndre’s best friend.”
- Best NBA throwbacks of all time – The very best throwback jerseys for all 30 NBA teams
- Are we entering the end times for the NFL? – Professional basketball offers the NFL a blueprint for success: embrace the black culture of the majority of your players
- Why Floyd Mayweather can still box after beating women – “I don’t support men putting their hands on women. … I believe he put his hands on you once, he gonna do it again. And again and again and again and after.”
- Derrick Rose hates fame but still hopes to be an NBA champion – “I picked the profession I’m in, so there’s no way I could whine about it.”
- The NBA’s 50 greatest players list: The remix – “You know, those guys were all sons of b—-es to deal with on the court. I can’t believe you took some of them off.”
- Lonzo Ball wouldn’t make the NBA All-Rookie team the way he’s playing now – If the vote for the NBA All-Rookie first team were taken today, Ball might not be on it. Indeed, Ball has not been the best rookie on his team.
Whitley’s World “You can’t unsee A Different World. You’ve seen it, it’s kind of engraved in your psyche.”
- The color of love – Dirk Nowitzki opens up on his interracial marriage
- Jamie Foxx is the best to ever do it – Foxx — not Will Smith, not Dave Chappelle, not even Beyoncé — is the supreme entertainer of our era, and it’s time to recognize him as such.
- Jay-Z is dead – Love, betrayal, shame, survival: Jay-Z hits the ball out of the park with intensely personal album
- The night Biggie was murdered – We catch up with a few of the 1996–97 Los Angeles Lakers — Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Van Exel and Corie Blount — as well as L.A.’s own Baron Davis and Marcellus Wiley to discuss what it was like living in Los Angeles at the time of Biggie Smalls’ murder.
- Dave Chappelle’s ‘Juke Joint’ – An impromptu Chance the Rapper set, and a Snapchat-free zone made it a golden ticket
- A veteran black police officer teaches police how not to kill people – “I was born black. I’m going to die black. I’m a black man before I’m anything else. The fact that I’m a police officer is a job that I do. It’s an oath that I took.”
- Ibram Kendi, one of the nation’s leading scholars of racism, says education and love are not the answer – “Black neighborhoods are not more dangerous than white neighborhoods and neither are black people.”
- Serena Williams, with or without a baby, has always been a ‘real woman’ – For as long as she’s been in the public eye, Williams has been asserting her femininity because for just as long, it’s been under attack.
- If you truly knew what the N-word meant to our ancestors, you’d NEVER use it – The decision for black people to include it in their vocabulary, nonetheless, remains personal, and I reject the criticism of black folk who continue to wield it.
- The message to NFL players: Dance for us, but don’t kneel – You can Milly Rock, Juju on that Beat or fake play pingpong in the end zone. But we can’t abide you kneeling on the sidelines. Dance to your heart’s content, but you best not raise a fist in protest.
- The NFL protests got white people to argue with white people – I credit the NFL protests for nudging this sort of healthy intraracial dialogue among white folk.
Alabama State Honey Beez bring positive plus-size attitude to HBCU dance scene “Where one of us lacks, the other one will pick up. We’re plus-size girls and we still go through bullying in college. But we’re more confident now, so it’s not as bad. But we have a real sisterhood, and this is our home away from home. The Honey Beez took me all the way out of my shell, and I love it.”
- Caylin Newton with Jay Walker: A convo with two Howard QBs – There’s a Bison stampede going on in Washington, D.C., and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s little brother is the main reason.
- For Tarik Cohen, his NFL dream has begun – “I’m going to get there. I’m telling you, I’m going to play.”
- We got the beat: HBCU Band Rankings, Undefeated style – Bands strive to put on their best performance every game, just like the football team.
- Female presidents are playing critical roles in the survival of HBCUs – “I was the bearer of bad news, but I provided the vision and strategy to move forward,” said Cynthia Warrick. “Some people even thanked me for being so transparent.”
NBA standout Serge Ibaka is a standout single father too “Since I was young I always dreamed of myself traveling, envisioned at least three, four kids, five. And then, I’m living my dream right now and something I always love to do, and it’s fun. It’s really changed my life. It’s changed everything about me. The way I think and the way I live my life. It changed everything.”
- Ray Allen talks about his passion for teaching others about the Holocaust – “For many years, it was almost like our country wouldn’t accept the bad things it did to black people. The oppression, the racism, just all the negative issues that we’ve dealt with as people, we’re still recovering.”
- Troy Mullins is long drive golf champion but she’s striving for the LPGA – “Black athletes and having to be the best in their sport just to be recognized, just to be out there. There’s something about us having to be No. 1 to be put in the spotlight, that we can’t be too mediocre. I’m working really hard to do my best in this sport. It’s tough.”
- Nazr Mohammed isn’t retired, just prepared for his next phase in life – “At the end of the day, knowing that you’re in a position that you can help others and you can give and the smiles that you put on people’s faces and the happiness that you bring to others — it makes me feel good.”
Leon Bridges sings his rendition of the national anthem The critically acclaimed soul singer explores the themes of the anthem, creating a beautiful rendition that feels like both a hymn and a benediction
- Eagles’ Torrey Smith on fatherhood and his dancing, Instagram-famous sons – The best thing about being a father, he says, is the responsibility he’s taken on to mold two little boys into “great young men.”
- Santana Moss on CTE fears – “I’m not ready to go.”
- Draft profile: De’Aaron Fox and his love for video games – “I really stay away from basketball games.”
- Dwyane Wade’s All-Star spades party – “My earliest memory of playing spades probably goes back to playing with my brothers, my dad, my stepmom, just sitting at the kitchen table, as a family, and they’re talking all kinds of junk.”
- NOLA Gotta Shine: Inside Jordan Brand’s space at All-Star Weekend – NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans was the place to see and be seen, and there’s no better place for sneakerheads than the Jordan Brand pop-up shop.
- The business behind Echo Fox, Rick Fox’s esports team – Vision Venture Partners Team, the private equity firm behind Echo Fox, is quietly reshaping esports.
- From ‘Moana’ to ‘Hamilton’ to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ winner: The rise of Jordan Fisher – Get a peek into a day in the life of this rising star.
Inside Afropunk “They’re just the ‘standard of beauty’ and here you can be what you want and THAT’S beauty.”
- Fred Whitfield and the Black Cowboys of Rodeo – The cowboy is an iconic American figure and in popular mythology almost always a white one.
- Star Wright and the Philadelphia Phantomz make a place for hard-hitting women – “We’re trying to say that women can do anything.”
- Howard Homecoming – in GIFs – It was lit
- At the Celebration Bowl, the drum majors led the way – For both Grambling and N.C. A&T, it was all about preparation, practice and precision.
The Plug It’s the debut of The Plug, hosted by Chiney Ogwumike, Kayla Johnson, Justin Tinsley and Tesfaye Negussie. In episode 1, the crew dives into current events, discuss LaVar Ball’s latest news, NFL social activism and more. Plus, hip-hop icons Jadakiss and Fabolous join.
- All Day – The Undefeated Podcast: Clinton Yates spent a day in New York profiling various parts of the culture, when news broke that a legend had died. After spending the morning with the creators of Jopwell, a startup helping students of color in the tech industry, the the afternoon with Nike for a new shoe release, he ends up in Queens to talk with a family friend and musician about the life and influence of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy.
- America’s Black History Museum: 9/20/16 – Jill Hudson, Justin Tinsley and Clinton Yates talk about the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the 86th Emmy Awards. Plus, Mike Wise discusses his story about Joe Paterno.
- Morning Roast – The gang is all together, talking national anthem protests, possible NFL players strike, potential renaming of Yawkey Way and latest Bachelor in Paradise drama.
- The Morning Roast & Live at NABJ – Clinton Yates is in for Bomani, and in hour three he is joined by Marc Spears and Myron Medcalf to discuss all the happenings at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.
- Rhoden Fellows: HBCU 468: 5/11/17 – Stephen A. Smith praised Isaiah Thomas’ compelling effort in the playoffs and explained Kevin Durant’s impact on Golden State. He also talked about attending a historically black university.
- O.J.: Made in America: 6/11/16 – Domonique Foxworth is joined by guests Jason Reid, Raina Kelley, Ezra Edelman, Sarah Spain and Carl Douglas as they take a look at O.J.: Made in America.