What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Bill Lester: the first black driver to win a Grand Am race

He left his day job to pursue racing full time

7:02 AMBill Lester is the first black driver to win a Grand Am race.

Born: Feb. 6, 1961

His story: Lester was born in Washington, D.C. and moved with his family to the San Francisco, California area. His parents took him to a race track when he was 8 years old, and from there he was hooked on auto racing. He later enrolled in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) driving school. Lester, after getting his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley, worked at Hewlett-Packard for 16 years while racing on the weekends. He competed in SCCA races, winning regional rookie of the year in 1985. He continued as a weekend racer until 1998, when he took a leave of absence from his job to pursue the sport full time. In 1999, Lester became the first black driver to compete in NASCAR’s Busch series, now the Xfinity Series. He also competed in NASCAR’s truck series and took part in the Champ Car African-American driver development program. Lester joined Wendell Scott as the only black drivers to win a pole position for a major NASCAR race when he finished first in qualifying for the 2003 Hardee’s 200 truck race. He raced twice in NASCAR’s top division, the former Nextel Cup Series, in 2006. He returned to the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2008, and three years laster he won at Virginia International Raceway to become the first black driver to finish first in a Grand Am division race.

Fast fact: Lester is the first black driver and first truck series driver to appear on a cereal box (Honey Nut Cheerios in 2003).

Quotable: Lester’s father earned a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from Catholic University. “I can definitely lay credit to my role model being my father, “Lester told the African Americans in Motor Sports website. “He’s a very strong man, a very strong African-American, and a very accomplished man at the same time.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Wendell Scott: the first black driver in NASCAR

He also was the first to win a Grand National race

1:28 PMWendell Scott was the first black driver in NASCAR and the first to win a race at its highest level.

Born: Aug. 29, 1921

Died: Dec. 23, 1990

His story: Scott was born in Danville, Virginia. He learned to be an auto mechanic from his father and opened a shop after serving in the Army during World War II. He started racing on the Dixie Circuit because blacks were not allowed to race in NASCAR. He won his first race in Lynchburg, Virginia, and would compete up to five times a week. He persuaded Mike Poston, a NASCAR steward, to grant him a NASCAR license during an event at Richmond Speedway in 1953. He spent almost nine years at the regional level before moving up to the Grand National division in 1961. He debuted in the Spartanburg 200 and two years later won the Jacksonville 200 to become the first black driver to win a race in NASCAR’s top division. But Scott, who faced racism throughout his career, was not initially declared the winner, as second-place finisher Bud Baker received the checkered flag. Scott was later given the victory after officials sorted through an alleged clerical error. Scott competed in 495 Grand National races, with 147 top-10 finishes, before he retired after an accident in 1973. Smith did not live to see his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015. He died of cancer in 1990.

Fast fact: Richard Pryor starred in Greased Lightning, a 1977 movie about Scott’s life.

Quotable: Scott’s son, Frank, told NPR that one of his father’s favorite sayings was: “When it’s too tough for everybody else, it’s just right for me.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

It’s all about the women at Kendrick Lamar’s NBA All-Star 2018 Nike concert

Kamaiyah, Sabrina Claudio and H.E.R. open for Lamar at Makers of the Game concert

1:03 PMWhile Adidas flexed its muscle on All-Star Saturday night, mustering a rare public appearance out of Kanye West, who joined Kid Cudi on stage, Nike held court with its own full-fledged concert headlined by Kendrick Lamar in its Makers of the Game weekend series.

The event, though, was about far more than just Lamar. Rapper Kamaiyah and singers Sabrina Claudio and H.E.R. all performed. This all-female bill was intentional. Earlier that day Lamar released a sneaker, the Nike Cortez Jenny II, aimed at a very underserved female sneaker consumer. All of the performers captivated the intimate crowd, in particular H.E.R., who ran through a string of hits, such as her Daniel Caesar collaboration “Best Part,” as well as “Focus” and “Jungle.”

Kendrick Lamar arrives at the Nike Makers H.Q.’s where he talks about his collaboration with the shoe company and the launch of the Kendrick-inspired Nike Cortez sneaker.

The 1point8 for The Undefeated

“Some of the greatest artists, period. I don’t even like to say women or female,” Lamar said hours earlier in a Makers conversation with Emily Oberg of Tidal’s Groupchat podcast. “They’re just great, period … Everybody just doing they thing.”

And the man of the hour, himself, did not disappoint. Kamaiyah, Sabrina Claudio and H.E.R. all heat the stage up for Lamar to burn it down. Holding the crowd in the palm of his hand, his set was as much an intense choir rehearsal as an incredible live performance. Fan favorites “LOYALTY.,” “HUMBLE.,” “LOVE.,” “Swimming Pools,” “Money Trees,” “Levitate,” the soul-cleansing “Alright” and countless more records had the floor shaking, joints sparking and friends rapping to each other for the better part of 45 minutes.

From performing at the college football national championship, winning multiple Grammys, scoring the soundtrack for what will be the biggest movie of the year (and one of the most successful ever) in Black Panther to now this invite-only event in his hometown of Los Angeles, Kendrick Lamar is as powerful as he’s ever been.

Dwyane Wade unveils new shoe — inspired by fans — at private All-Star event

A 12-time NBA All-Star is always an All-Star

12:17 PMDwyane Wade made quite an entrance through a small, intimate crowd of fans — set to the track of Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares.” He stood on the stage and accepted the fanfare that some of his biggest fans — many in Miami jerseys bearing his name, some in Chicago jerseys — gave him at an event designed to unveil his limited edition All-Star WOW6 shoe, Moments.

There was a raffle to see who would be taking home the new limited edition shoe, one of only 30 created — which, quite appropriately was inspired by his intense fan base — and the first winner was an enthusiastic little girl who couldn’t have been much older than 3. “It’s like an out-of-body kind of thing,” the three-time NBA champion and 2010 All-Star MVP told The Undefeated after a shootaround at the Los Angeles Athletic Club with some lucky fans. “You don’t wake up knowing that people feel that way about you, right? It’s so cool when the moments happen and when you feel that people have appreciated the work you’ve done … The energy is great. And everyone wants to feel appreciated.”

The private reception and playing event was billed as Wade’s All-Star Open-Run and was held with Li-Ning. Participants could work on skill drills with NBA trainer Tyler Relph. The shoe unveiling was the exclamation point on the event. “We always did an All-Star shoe,” said Wade. “One year we only did 50 pair. We’ve always kept it limited.” He says he wanted to do this — even not being an All-Star this year — because his fans continue to vote for him to be in the All-Star game and want to see him play, after all these years, “so we decided to change the name of the All-Star shoe to Moments,” Wade said. “This was a big moment for me to see my fans’ support, and still want to see me in the game.”

2018 NBA All-Star Game

LeBron James: ‘We will definitely not shut up and dribble’

He thanks talk show host for helping him create more awareness

7:40 PMLOS ANGELES – As LeBron James settled into his chair for Saturday’s media session after Team LeBron’s practice, the first questions thrown at him could have been about his new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, his 14th All-Star appearance or the new All-Star team format.

Instead, James was immediately asked about conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, who blasted him this week about being “barely intelligible,” and suggested he stick to dribbling a basketball rather than speak out on politics and social issues.

“First of all, I had no idea who she is or what she does,” James said, getting warmed up as he tossed shade grenades in her direction. “I would have had a little more respect for her if she actually wrote those words. She probably said it right off the teleprompter.”

If Ingraham thought James would cower from her commentary, she was mistaken.

“We will definitely not shut up and dribble because I mean too much to society,” James said. “I mean too much to the youth, I mean too much to so many kids who feel like they won’t have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation that they’re in.”

As James spoke, his two sons and their best friend sat on some steps at his side soaking in his words.

“I mean too much to my two boys here, their best friend here, my daughter at home, my wife, my family and all these other kids that look up to me for inspiration and try to find a way out,” James said, adding he wanted to help those people find out “how great they can be and find out how they can make those dreams become a reality.”

He even went as far as to thank the talk show host.

“The best thing she did was help me create more awareness,” James said. “To sit here at NBA All-Star Weekend, the best weekend of the NBA, and talk about social injustice, equality.

“I want to help change kids not only in America but Brazil, England, Mexico and all over. So, thank you.”

Leonard W. Miller: founder of the Black American Racers Association

He also formed Miller Racing Group with his son

4:30 PMLeonard W. Miller is the founder of the Black American Racers Association.

Born: 1934

His story: Miller grew up in suburban Philadelphia, where his mother worked as a housekeeper. His love for cars developed through conversations he heard on those estates. He secretly worked on his parents’ car when he was a youth.

He formed the Black American Racers Association in 1972 with Wendell Scott, Ron Hines and Malcolm Durham. Scott, the first black driver to compete in NASCAR, was an honorary chairman. The group promoted black driver development and also honored black drivers, mechanics and others in auto racing. BARA grew to 5,000 members.

Miller also was part of Vanguard Racing Inc. and became the first black owner to enter a car in the Indianapolis 500 in 1972. Miller wanted Benny Scott to drive the car, but blacks were denied entry into the Indy 500, so John Mahler, a white driver whom Miller tapped to work with Scott, ended up driving the car. A year later, Vanguard morphed into Black American Racers Inc., with Benny Scott as the primary driver. BAR qualified for the inaugural Long Beach Grand Prix in 1975 as one of the top 60 race teams in the world. Benny Scott finished 11th in the race.

Miller later founded Miller Racing Group with his son, Leonard T. Miller. They became the first African-American team owners to win a track championship in NASCAR history when they won the stock car title at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia, in 2005.

Fast fact: Miller wrote the book Silent Thunder: Breaking Through Cultural, Racial, and Class Barriers in Motorsports, which details his life in auto racing, in 2004.

Quotable: “Living on those estates when I was real young, they talked about race cars and race horses,” Miller told Smithsonian magazine. “All of these rich, white families had all these rare cars that were beautiful and sounded good. So, I said that was for me. And that’s what started me off to a lifetime of races.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Kenny Smith’s annual NBA All-Star party rocked — on a Hollywood studio lot

Chris Webber, Lisa Leslie and Kenyon Martn were in the house

4:00 PMPer usual, the party went until the wee hours of the morning at Kenny Smith’s annual NBA All-Star jam.

Model and TV personality Nicole Murphy

Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

The Friday night party took place on the lot of Hollywood’s Paramount Studios — yep, the place where movies and TV shows are made — giving the annual party that authentic Hollywood feel. And what’s a party in Hollywood without famous faces?

Actor Bill Bellamy (L) and his wife Kristen Bellamy (R).

Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Mingling in the crowd were people like Tracy Morgan, Bill Bellamy, Nicole Murphy, Kim Porter, Too Short, Claudia Jordan and go-to Hollywood TV journalist Shaun Robinson.

Too Short

Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

They partied to pop and hip-hop hits alongside former NBA players like Kenyon Martin and Chris Webber. Guests feasted on mini grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers and sweet pastries, crowded in on the white dance floor space and snapped selfies until after 2 in the morning.

Tristan Thompson: ‘Vince Carter was our Michael Jordan’

‘The Carter Effect’ proves that without ‘Vinsanity’ there’s no Toronto basketball and no Drake

1:54 PMMany of us remember the high-flying, 6-foot-6 phenom who took the NBA by a storm that could only be known as “Vinsanity.” From his jaw-dropping dunks to his captivating energy, Vince Carter’s journey is one of epic proportions. And so much of it is captured in The Carter Effect.

The documentary, directed by Sean Menard and executive produced by LeBron James, catapults viewers back in time to explore how the eight-time NBA All-Star played a major role in solidifying the Toronto Raptors’ notoriety in the NBA and creating a basketball culture that put the city on the map.

Friday night, Uninterrupted teamed up with Beats by Dre for a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion featuring Menard and executive producers Maverick Carter, Future The Prince and Tristan Thompson. Cleveland Cavaliers forward and Toronto native Thompson explained just how influential Carter was for both him and his city growing up.

“Vince was our Michael Jordan,” he said.

The film, which features Tracy McGrady, Thompson, Carter and Toronto native and rapper Drake (who is also one of the film’s executive producers), captures the intoxicating thrill Carter’s arrival brought to a hockey town whose basketball team was seen as a joke amid a league of popular teams in American cities.

Throughout the film, Carter discusses his arrival in Toronto, his legendary win in the 2000 slam dunk contest, his role in making the city a destination for athletes and celebrities and his heartbreaking departure. All of it is placed in the context of Toronto’s contributions to music, art and culture. The lesson: Carter is a large part of the reason that we take the city seriously today. Future The Prince truly drove that point home, telling the audience there might not be a Drake if Carter hadn’t come first.

“If you had told me 20 years ago that a half-white Jewish kid from Toronto who sings and raps would be as big as he is today,” he said. “I would say there’s no way.”

Snoop Dogg’s West Team beats 2 Chainz’s East in Adidas Celebrity Game

‘We all think we supposed to be in the league … just like all #NBA players think they supposed to be rappers.’

12:27 PMLOS ANGELES — At the intersection of hoops and hip-hop, one thing has always been the case. “We all think we supposed to be in the league,” the legendary MC Snoop Dogg professes, “just like all NBA players think they supposed to be rappers.”

So the godfather of West Coast rap approached Adidas about creating a special event for 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend. And at #747WarehouseSt — the brand’s two-day All-Star experience, which mixes fashion, sport and music — his vision came to life, via the first annual East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop celebrity game. The two teams featured only artists, and were coached by none other than Snoop and Atlanta hip-hop star 2 Chainz.

“My roster was based sheerly off the way artists walked. If you’re onstage going back and forth, there’s a sort of athleticism to it.”

“What happened was, I was sitting back at home watching the [official] celebrity game, trying to figure out a way to put something together … where we could have a good time, and it was only rappers,” said Snoop at news conference before Friday’s game — which he pulled up to an hour late with his fellow coach 2 Chainz, who came with a lit blunt in hand as well as his 4-year-old French Bulldog, Trappy Doo. “So I hit my nephew 2 Chainz up, and told him what I was thinking. He came in with a few ideas, and we matched these ideas together.”

Snoop’s roster boasted the likes of David Banner, Chris Brown, K Camp, Chevy Woods, and himself, of course, while 2 Chainz rolled with a squad that included Trinidad James, Young M.A., Wale and Lil Dicky. Originally listed as a player for the East squad, Quavo of the Migos pulled out at the last minute to take his talents to the NBA’s official Celebrity All-Star Game, during which he dazzled the crowd with an MVP performance.

“My roster was based sheerly off the way artists walked. If you’re onstage going back and forth, there’s a sort of athleticism to it,” said 2 Chainz, who served as strictly the coach of the East, having broke his leg last July. Snoop’s general manager skills followed a more traditional scouting approach. “A lot of the people on my team, I played with him, or I’ve played against them, in [other] celebrity games,” he said. “I’m just a fan of rappers that love the ball.”

The rappers-turned-hoopers took to the multicolored court, named after Pharrell, in custom Adidas jerseys that all appropriately featured the word “Rapper” on the back. Actor/comedian Michael Rapaport and rapper Fat Joe served as the AND1 Mixtape-inspired on-court commentators of the contest, from which Snoop’s West team emerged victorious. New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. even made an appearance on the court. He’s a Nike-endorsed athlete, but on this afternoon, he couldn’t resist experiencing this cultural moment, brought to the people by Adidas.

Jaylen Brown on not sticking to sports

Celtics guard is tired of the stereotypical remarks

8:37 PMWhen Jaylen Brown came out of college, an unnamed NBA executive shared with our Marc J. Spears that the former Cal student might be “too smart” for the league.

When LeBron James and Kevin Durant spoke out against President Donald Trump, a conservative talk show host this week called their remarks “barely intelligible.”

Brown, a second-year guard with the Boston Celtics, has had enough with the stereotypical remarks.

“That’s the narrative that — I don’t know who’s painting it — it’s been there for a long time and it’s time to move on from it,” Brown said during Team USA media availability before Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge. “I think it’s time to move to a new generation where not only can you have a job and do your job well, but you can have other interests outside of that and that be OK. You don’t get backlash from it.”

Brown’s interests outside of basketball include technology, which has led him to host a “Tech Hustle” technology and networking lunch on Saturday during All-Star Weekend.

Brown was irritated by the remarks from Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who accused James and Durant of making “unintelligible” remarks that were actually clear and coherent.

“The recent comments that have been brought up with KD and what LeBron chimed in on, I think that was a narrative that’s been set for a long time now,” Brown said. “It’s on us as fans, as media, as players, to change that narrative and make that OK.”

Sushi and sake for NBA All-Star royalty

The stars align at L.A. Live’s Katsuya

8:13 PMSome of the best former and current NBA players are noshing on some of the best sushi in Los Angeles — right now. Verizon took over longtime L.A. hot spot Katsuya Friday afternoon so fans could mingle with ballers like brand-new Cleveland Cavalier Larry Nance Jr., Baron Davis, Boston Celtics champion/analyst Brian Scalabrine and more. A jovial crowd enjoyed yellowtail with jalepeños, veggie tempura, rock shrimp, beef sliders — and an open bar. Even ESPN host Stephen A. Smith stopped by the Verizon Up event, which will be taking place all weekend. It’s a smart hangout spot: Close to Staples Center, and it puts fans just a spicy tuna roll away from All-Stars.

For more NBA All-Star 2018 news, follow The Undefeated at Instagram.

Dillon Brooks does not hold back in praising 2017 draft class

Grizzlies rookie ranks it ahead of LeBron James’ 2003 class

7:52 PMAt least give Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks credit for not coming out and saying that his 2017 draft class was the best in NBA history.

But to say that his class was better than the 2003 class that produced LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — that’s a big statement to make from a guy who hasn’t even completed his rookie season.

The floor is yours, Dillon:

“I think it’s better than LeBron James, Melo and D Wade’s class from top to bottom,” said Brooks, who played at Oregon. “You haven’t seen Markelle Fultz play — I played against him in the Pac-12 and he’s an amazing talent.

“You got Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma coming out – guys who want to prove themselves every day,” Brooks added. “It’s a hungry class from top to bottom, from round one to round two. All these guys from this class are going to do big things.”

Brooks, who is averaging 9 points and 3.1 rebounds, was selected in the second round with the 45th overall pick.

“Forty-five is too low for me,” Brooks said. “It makes me hungrier.”

Brooks, who’s from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, is playing with the World Team in the Rising Stars game. So it’s no surprise that his early influence in basketball played for the Toronto Raptors.

“I watched Vince Carter. He had the lobs he had in Toronto when everyone was wearing the purple Toronto jerseys,” Brooks said. “He made me want to watch basketball.”

Joel Embiid: ‘I kept pushing. Now I’m here’

Sixers star has busy All-Star weekend on tap

6:41 PMAt Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid’s lowest point, he wanted to quit basketball. He was tired of the public criticism, sick of the people in basketball circles who doubted him and annoyed by the headlines that described him as a bust similar to Greg Oden, the top pick of the 2007 NBA draft whose career came to an end due to knee injuries.

“You guys criticized me when I missed those first two years,” Embiid said Friday just hours before the NBA Rising Stars game. “It was hard, but I kept pushing. Now I’m here.”

The native of Cameroon is suiting up for the Rising Stars World team on Friday night, will participate in the Skills Challenge on Saturday, and will start on Team Stephen during Sunday’s All-Star game.

“I wanted to participate in the 3-point contest,” Embiid said. “Maybe next year.”

Embiid’s got a pretty busy schedule, which isn’t bad for a guy who missed two full NBA seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16) and has had limitations on his play since making his NBA debut last season due to multiple surgeries on his right foot.

Don’t expect anything from Embiid during the Rising Stars game other than waving his hand during introductions — and that has nothing to do with his knee. “My knee feels good,” he said. “There’s no point in my playing [Rising Star]. I’m just going to step out of the way and let the guys do their thing.”

Embiid says the weekend is more special for him with all that he endured during his early career. But being a central part of All-Star weekend is a place he knew he would be after last season.

“Coming into the league I showed a lot of flashes, but I didn’t think I was good enough at the time,” Embiid said. “Last year I only played in 31 games, but I figured I was one of the best players in the league.”

After starting at rock bottom, how does Embiid feel now that he’s finally here on center stage?

“It’s sweeter being an All-Star starter,” Embiid said. “I’m excited this being my first time, and I’m going to have fun.”

At Jordan Brand’s NBA All-Star pop-up? A working Interscope recording studio

The space opens Friday and is laser-focused on the new youth culture

1:54 PMLOS ANGELES — If you want to cop some kicks, or lay down a hot 16-bar verse, then the Jordan Brand pop-up, called Studio 23, is the place to be during NBA All-Star Weekend 2018. Located just outside of downtown L.A. in Little Tokyo, the two-level space houses the freshest new Jordan products, as well as a music studio experience co-created with Interscope Records.

“M.J. [Michael Jordan] transcended the game of basketball into culture, into art, into music. That’s what this space is really about,” said Sarah Mensah, general manager of Jordan Brand North America. “As we look to set the higher standard of greatness, it’s about that intersection between that culture of the game of basketball and the culture of, in this case, L.A.”

The pop-up opens to the public on Friday, but Jordan has a few requirements to get in. Folks who RSVP’d through the app commonly used for the brand’s events can only enter with a valid middle school, high school or college ID. So don’t expect anybody’s moms or pops to be navigating the venue. This weekend, Jordan is dedicated to catering to the youth and embracing a new generation of the brand’s athletes, apparel and consumers.

Don’t expect anybody’s moms or pops to be navigating the venue.

In the entryway of the space hangs the official black-and-white All-Star Game jerseys, which, for the first time in NBA history — and since Nike officially launched Jordan Brand in 1997 — feature the Jumpman logo. The next room is home to a retail space, where creative customization is not only welcome but encouraged. On-site tailors and local artists are around to help tinker with the apparel: bomber jackets, hoodies, fanny packs and more.

It’s also hard to miss the “Recording In Session” sign that leads upstairs, where you’re greeted by the Jumpman logo next to the iconic Interscope “i” on the wall of an area that appears to be taken straight from the record label’s headquarters. Multiplatinum plaques, from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic to the Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, are mounted around two studios, where real live producers are there, and ready, to work on tracks for anyone bold enough to enter with a pad and pen.

Oh, and don’t forget about the sneakers. Jordan’s latest releases are on display and available for purchase, including Drake’s Air Jordan 8 OVOs (in two colorways, black and white), as well as both the “Black Cement” and “Free Throw Line” Air Jordan 3s.

“It was 30 years ago that MJ did that iconic dunk from the free-throw line. There’s that group of folks that understand what the ‘Free Throw Line 3’ is all about. But this space is not just about that,” Mensah said. “This space is about the current Jordan athletes we have. Folks like Russell Westbrook, the reigning MVP, Kemba Walker, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jimmy Butler. That’s the future generation, and it’s really on us to look to those guys to really lead the future and see the new standard for greatness.”

NBA

8 great quotes from Kobe Bryant’s All-Star sit-down with Jalen Rose

‘I couldn’t feel my legs, it felt like it was that last lap on the track for me … I just continued to run’

10:14 AMLOS ANGELES — “MAM-BA! MAM-BA! MAM-BA!” The massive crowd at Nike’s Makers Headquarters — the site of the brand’s activation during 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend — willed Kobe Bryant to spend 20 minutes chatting about his 20-year NBA career, his newfound love for filmmaking, and what he means to culture as a “maker of the game.” After loud and continuous chants, the Black Mamba, aka the now-retired Kobe Bryant, emerged onto the hardwood, 673 days after his final game in the purple and gold, and 59 days after both jerseys he wore in his career, No. 8 and No. 24, rose to the rafters at the Staples Center — the host arena of this year’s All-Star Game.

Wearing all-black, and a pair of his camouflage UNDEFEATED x Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Protros, Bryant took a seat next to ESPN’s Jalen Rose, who led the Q&A. These are the best moments from Thursday’s conversation:


1. On his 2016 60-point performance in the final game of his career:

I was tired as heck. It’s one of those things. When you know it’s the last game, you have to literally leave it all out there. It’s a familiar position to be in for me, because when you’re running a track, when you’re working out and doing these things — I had like my last lap to run … You feel like you don’t have the legs anymore, like you literally can’t move anymore, but you do. You keep going. And you finish it, and you realize, you’re OK. So I drew from that. Because during that game, I couldn’t feel my legs, and it I felt like it was that last lap on the track for me. I just continued to run.

2. On his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006:

That Toronto game, there was a calmness to it. Like a stillness. Nothing mattered to me other than what was right in front of me. It wasn’t anybody in the crowd, or what an opponent may say or do. It was just about the play right in front of me, and I was able to … maintain that throughout.

3. On his who’s the greatest — him or LeBron James:

That’s a question? .. is that a question? Listen, everybody has their own way of measuring things, you know what I’m saying? My mentality is I never waste my time arguing things that I definitively cannot win. So I don’t waste my time even debating that kind of stuff. Because for every argument somebody makes for me being the best, there’s always somebody who makes an argument for LeBron being the best, or Jordan, or whoever. So I tend to focus on things that I can win definitively. If I can’t win definitively, I’m not gonna waste my energy on it.

4. On dunking on Steve Nash in

Well, I never really thought that was a big deal, because Steve’s like 5-10 … You’ve got players now who are jumping over 7-footers. I was able to catch Steve … but it meant a lot, though, because it felt good to win in Phoenix … we hated those guys. We felt like they were so arrogant. It was always like, ‘We could beat you guys any time we want.’ That sort of thing … but Steve is a nice guy. When we started playing together, I said, ‘Steve, you’re genuinely a nice guy.’

“… for every argument somebody makes for me being the best, there’s always somebody who makes an argument for LeBron being the best, or Jordan, or whoever.”

5. On his Oscar-nominated short film Dear Basketball:

Just like in sports, where you have an opportunity to play with great teammates … working with Glen Keane, working with John Williams — one of the greatest animators of all time, one of the greatest composers of all time — enhances things. It’s just all about the team, the group that you have working together. We really believed in the project. We believed in the core of the story, and wound up creating something that the academy deemed worthy for a nomination.

6. On the love and passion he has for production:

That’s the trick … finding something that you truly love … because there’s gonna be times where things are really, really hard. Physically, mentally, it takes its toll. If you don’t truly love it, you won’t get up that day and work. You’ll roll over and go back to sleep. You have to find something that you truly love, and if you find that thing, you don’t have to convince yourself to work hard. You just do it, because you’d rather be there than any place else. And I was fortunate enough to find that in basketball, and fortunate enough to find that in storytelling, and writing, and directing, and producing. That’s the key.

7. On how it feels to be a rookie in the 2018 class of Oscar nominees:

It feels wonderful. Being at the Oscar luncheon, and having a chance to sit with Steven Spielberg, and Octavia Spencer, and Meryl Streep … all those beautiful minds that I’ve admired for so many years is awesome … it’s a great experience.

8. On shaping the culture:

First is always finding things that you love to do — and focusing on that thing. When you focus on that one thing, it tends to have ripple effects outward. Whether you’re a painter, or a writer or a basketball player or a musician … having to focus on that creates ripple effects across culture. But it always starts with the craft.

Charlie Wiggins: the ‘Negro Speed King’

Colored Speedway Association driver also was a skilled mechanic

4:01 AMCharlie Wiggins, the “Negro Speed King,” was a driver and mechanic who fought segregation in auto racing in the early 20th century.

Born: July 15, 1897

Died: March 11, 1979

His story: Wiggins, born in Evansville, Indiana, competed in the segregated Midwest. He also was a top mechanic in Evansville before moving to Indianapolis and opening a repair shop. He built his own race car, the Wiggins Special, from parts from the junkyard. Denied entry into the Indianapolis 500, Wiggins and other black drivers in 1924 formed the Colored Speedway Association. The association’s championship race was the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, a 100-mile race on the dirt track at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds. Wiggins won the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes three times. In 1936, Wiggins lost a leg and an eye after a 13-car crash in the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes and had to retire from racing. He made himself a wooden leg and continued to build and fix cars. He fought for black participation in auto racing until his death at age 82.

Fast fact: IndyCar pilot Bill Cummings hired Wiggins in 1934 to tune up his race car for the Indianapolis 500. Wiggins pretended to be a janitor to bypass Jim Crow laws. He swept floors during the day and worked as a mechanic at night.

Quotable: “On Oct. 2, 1927, Wiggins won a race in Quakertown, Pennsylvania on a one-mile dirt track at an average speed of 81.6 miles per hour. One week earlier, IndyCar pilot Frank Lockhart, driving a top of the line racing car, had set the one-mile dirt track record at 82.826. Wiggins had come within 1.2 seconds of eclipsing Lockhart’s world record, in a homemade car!” For Gold & Glory author Todd Gould told roadandtrack.com.

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Nike’s Makers Headquarters makes everyone a sneaker designer at NBA All-Star 2018

The new Kobe 1 sneaker is hot, but customization is the wave

6:42 PMLOS ANGELES — Tucked away in the Arts District of the City of Angels during NBA All-Star Weekend is a place of creativity, where Nike dares all sneakerheads to be themselves. It’s called Makers Headquarters — a vast warehouse that features a full-size basketball court as well as retail space stocked with shoes and apparel that will revolve every day during the weekend’s festivities. The hottest item for sale? The white and gum-bottomed UNDEFEATED x Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Protro, which officially releases on Friday. “This is the shoe of the year,” said Nike media relations director Josh Benedek on Thursday morning, when Nike welcomed a small group of tastemakers — writers, YouTube channel hosts, social media influencers — to preview the space before it opened to the public later in the day.

Most attendees were enthusiastic about Makerspace, where sneaker lovers can customize Nike’s newest products. White pairs of Air Force 1s, Air More Moneys, Huaraches, Vandal High Supremes and even Nike slides become canvases for the sneaker designer inside everyone. Hyrdo Drip, dip-dye and airbrush processes allow for colorization, while swooshes in every color imaginable are available for stitching — in case folks want to get their Virgil Abloh on. Sneaker lovers were soon lined up all the way down Mateo and around the corner of Palmetto Street.

Besides his ‘Cold Balls,’ Kevin Hart is set to pitch for Mountain Dew

The global supercomedian announces partnership at NBA All-Star 2018

5:27 PMKevin Hart is adding another credit to his already growing empire. Besides his hilarious new Cold Balls interview series …

The Jumanji star announced Thursday that he’s a new pitchman for Mountain Dew’s Kickstart drink. The campaign’s first video is a zany take on NBA courtside etiquette:

Hart told The Undefeated that he signed with the soft drink after receiving a co-sign from Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. “I’ve always been heavily involved with the NBA,” he said, “and I know what their involvement has been, and about the relationships they have with the other athletes. After … seeing how happy they were … and Russell said nothing but good things. It went a long way with me.”

Russell Wilson and Ciara’s baby girl Sienna makes her debut

The princess is here!

4:38 PMSienna Princess, the daughter of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and songstress Ciara has officially made her debut, and she is a stunner!

The world has been waiting to see the dynamic duo’s 9-month-old daughter for quite some time, and it was certainly worth the wait. Ciara tweeted photos on Twitter and Instagram announcing the princess’ debut on the TraceMe app. The app, which was founded by the Seahawks quarterback, aims to give fans a closer look at their favorite celebs.

Sienna is already serving up chic looks like her mom along with a full side of chubby cheeks and a winning smile. And if you weren’t already impressed that her proud papa is taking on the tech industry when he’s off the field, you will be when you find out who shot the photos. That’s right: Papa Russ.

https://twitter.com/mefeater/status/964186516267458560

Wilson and Ciara have become quite the power couple, and their family — along with 3-year-old Future Zahir, whose father is rapper Future — has stolen the hearts of music lovers and sports fans. Throughout the NFL season, Ciara and her son were in the stands rooting Wilson on. And Wilson exercised his photography skills on his wife before turning the camera to baby girl Sienna.

We’re hoping there are more pictures of the family to come!

It’s 25 years old: Tupac’s ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ is hip-hop’s definitive ode to black women

‘Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care …’

3:35 PMTupac Shakur’s 1993 sophomore album, Strictly 4 My N.-.-.-.A.Z., was his last “pure” album. The project predates the cultural controversies, his sexual assault case, his incarceration, the 1994 Quad Studio shooting and the Death Row era that became his life’s final chapter. Released Feb. 16, 1993, S4MN is a fluid, aggressive, emotional and erratic project immortalized mainly for three singles: the rebellious “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” the joy-in-promiscuity classic “I Get Around” and the evergreen “Keep Ya Head Up.” Grounded by a sample from The Five Stairsteps’ 1970 “O-o-h Child,” ‘Shakur’s sentimental remake — things are gonna get easier — remains rap’s hallmark ode to black women.

Raised by women, Shakur’s soul found solace in his mother, Afeni Shakur, and close friend Jada Pinkett. “Keep Ya Head Up,” written when he was 21, not only spoke to black women, it defended them from within a genre that was and still very much is a man’s game. As his legal troubles mounted, and his demeanor toward women came under fire, Shakur’s devotion to the song never wavered. “I think the s— that I say, no one else says,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “Who was writing about black women before ‘Keep Ya Head Up?’ Now everybody got a song about black women.”

Shakur was a classic Gemini — it’s no surprise “I Get Around” and “Keep Ya Head Up” are on the same album. But the latter resonates on a far deeper level. It’s a record made for black men to inherit, hence the dedication of the song to his “godson, Elijah.” Black women are so often stereotyped, and scapegoated in hip-hop and in pop culture in general, but Shakur embraced the strength and importance of black women. Strong women fueled him. He also dedicated “Keep Ya Head Up” to a “little girl name Corin” — the daughter of Salt-N-Pepa’s Cheryl “Salt” James.

“He had this long conversation with her and, I don’t know, I guess she just struck him somehow,” James said last year. “He called me this one time and said, ‘By the way, I dedicated a song to Corin’. I never really understood why.”

“Pac had a liking and admiration for us as women, as artists,” said James’ group mate, Sandra “Pepa” Denton.

Shakur’s life ended three years after the release of “Keep Ya Head Up.” And one of those years was spent in prison for a crime he was convicted of having committed against a black woman. He denied the charges until the day he died. “I have no patience for anybody that doubts me. None at all. It’s too hard out here,” he said in a 1994 interview. “If my people don’t stand up for me, who is? I understand these white folks looking at me like that because they don’t know me. They didn’t hear ‘Keep Ya Head Up.’ That ain’t no fluke. ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ ain’t no god damn come-up. I didn’t do that for m—–f—–s to be smiling in my face to say, ‘Oh, he’s cool.’ I did that from my heart, so if they do try to put a rape charge on me my sisters can say, ‘He ain’t ’bout that.’ Now if my sisters can’t say that, you won’t hear another m—–f—ing ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ out my mouth.” Chaos in the midst of unyielding love. There are many ways to describe Tupac Amaru Shakur. But those are definitely two of them.

Willy T. Ribbs: first black driver to qualify for Indy 500

He also was first to test a Formula One car

10:55 AMWilly T. Ribbs is the first African-American race car driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 and the first to drive a Formula One car.

Born: Jan. 3, 1955

His story: Ribbs was born in San Jose, California. His father, William Ribbs Sr., was an amateur sports car racer. The younger Ribbs would drive his car at high speeds in the California mountains before moving to Europe after high school in 1975. He competed in the Formula Ford Series in England, winning the Dunlop Championship. In 1978, he came back to the United States and competed in the Formula Atlantic open-wheel series. He won the pole for the Formula Atlantic race in Long Beach, California, in 1982. He moved to the Trans-Am Series the next year and was named Pro Rookie of the Year after winning five races. He made his first attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1985 but ended up pulling out of the competition. He competed in three NASCAR races in 1986 and that same year became the first black racer to drive a Formula One car, testing for the Brabham team in Portugal. He joined the Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) series in 1990 in a car partially funded by comedian Bill Cosby. In 1991, he finally qualified for the Indy 500. Ribbs continued to race in CART, the Indy Racing League and Trans-Am series until retirement. Ribbs was criticized during his career for his strong personality and speaking out about his NASCAR experience, often referring to NASCAR as “neckcar.”

Fast fact: Ribbs was seriously injured when he was 8 years old after an out-of-control car hit him at a racetrack.

Quotable: “I feel the same way about them that they do about me,” Ribbs once said when asked why he hates NASCAR.

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Tech, music, film + pure partying: 2018 NBA All-Star events *really* get started Thursday

As of now, the city of Los Angeles is NBA central

10:37 AMTech, music, film: There’s a bunch of stuff happening Thursday in Los Angeles. As the city gets set for NBA All-Star Weekend 2018, some events are for players and media only. Some are for everyone. Off top there’s a Q&A with Kobe Bryant brought to the world by Nike x Jordan Brand’s Global T32 Nike Summit, and also a TNT roundtable discussion about sports and society featuring Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. Apple Music is screening Before Anything: The Cash Money Story. The NBA’s Technology Summit Tip-Off Reception is Thursday evening, and there’s a Nipsey Hussle concert at the Hollywood Palladium. And it’s a busy day for Wade, as he’s also hosting a documentary screening and panel conversation about Chicago basketball, family and inequity in communities. Wade executive produced the doc, Shot In the Dark, with Chance the Rapper. We’re hearing about what’s going to be an amazing Allen Iverson “Experience,” and about a big bowling party at L.A. Live. The wave, though? Thursday night is The Uninterrupted’s dinner and drinks evening soiree.

 

New York Fashion Week: Why your athlete and rapper faves are wearing Musika Frère

You’ll see their bespoke suits at All-Star weekend

8:14 PMNEW YORK — If you’re a hockey player with thighs the width of your waist, a broad-shouldered linebacker, or a 7-foot-2 basketball star, shopping off-the-rack can be a pain. Especially if you want something that won’t leave you swimming in fabric.

Plenty of menswear labels such as Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford or Brioni provide services for hard-to-fit upscale clients. Musika Frère, a bespoke menswear line started in 2014 by Aleks Musika and Davidson Petit-Frère, is quietly trying to upend the business.

They liken their suits to Ferraris: all-bespoke everything, in fine fabrics featuring traditional tailoring. But Musika Frère aspires to the upstart disruptive qualities of Harry’s Shave Club combined with the style and swagger of Ozwald Boateng. The company was born on Instagram, where Musika and Petit-Frère showcased custom dinner jackets on themselves. Interest in their designs grew through word of mouth, and into a business with an atelier in Manhattan. They’re young and hungry, offering the same services as their competitors, but with quicker turnaround and less markup. You can get a bespoke suit, made in Italy, from Musika Frère in four weeks, compared with the usual six to eight. Plenty of athletes and celebrities have noticed. Jay-Z wore Musika Frère to Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammys dinner.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Chadwick Boseman, Sterling K. Brown, Omari Hardwick, Kevin Hart, and Alex Rodriguez have all sported their wares.

Musika and Petit-Frère like playing with color, shape, and scale and they encourage their clients to experiment. They recently dressed Nick Jonas in a windowpane check suit for the premiere of Jumanji, and they tend to push more shawl collars and broader lapels than most menswear labels. Their signature contrasting waistband has appeared in their designs from the beginning.

“The days of navy, black, and grey suits on the red carpet are kind of ancient,” Petit-Frère said. “Now it’s, ‘How can I outdo myself?’ ”

The past few years in red carpet menswear have been a parade of tiny suits and skinny lapels, popularized by stars such as Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne. But the style doesn’t work well for athletes.

“If you’re 5-8 and 120 pounds, that looks good,” Musika said. “But we make suits, especially for our bespoke clients, in proportion to their shoulder width. And the fit is not skinny. It’s made for them. It doesn’t matter how big you are. If you’re a football player that plays offensive line, we’re making a suit around your body. Stuff that’s fitted always looks better. It doesn’t matter how big you are.”

This weekend the duo is headed to Los Angeles for NBA All-Star Weekend as they work on raising their profile. They’ll be tending to clients including Russell Wilson and Travis Scott. The goal is for Musika Frère to blossom into a full-on luxury lifestyle brand, and Musika and Petit-Frère say they’re interested in bringing their model of bespoke suiting to women’s wear, too. Perhaps, one day, we’ll see Brittney Griner in one of their suits.

But for now, they’d love to dress a former president. They recalled the flak and endless memes Barack Obama got when he stepped out in a tan suit.

“He looked great!” Petit-Frère said.

“Yeah,” Musika chimed in. “We’re gonna put him in a red one.”

‘The Plug’ podcast: The Eagles are here, Stephen A. Smith is too (Episode 10)

We’re closing out the NFL season while ready to turn up with the NBA

5:03 PM

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed

It’s All-Star Weekend … Week. It’s Black Panther Week. In other words, it’s a big week in The Undefeated’s neighborhood, so we had to bring in the big guests. The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are in the building and they’re still on cloud nine. And by the sound of things, don’t expect them to come down either. We also have the one and only Stephen A. Smith on board talking all things NBA. Stay long enough too, and he’ll dish out some Valentine’s Day advice for all the lovers out there.

We’re off to Los Angeles this weekend, so be ready to pull up on us next week for all of the All-Star Weekend juice. It should be common knowledge by now, but for those new to the party — subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app!

Previously: ‘The Plug’ podcast: ‘Black Panther’ details — plus ‘GLOW’s’ Sydelle Noel (Episode 9)

Debi Thomas: the first black athlete to win a medal in the Winter Olympics

Figure skater earned bronze in 1988

4:51 PMDebi Thomas became the first African-American athlete to earn a medal in the Winter Olympics when she took the bronze in women’s figure skating in 1988.

Born: March 25, 1967

Her story: Thomas was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and started skating at age 5. She won her first competition at age 9. In 1986, while representing the Los Angeles Skating Club and studying engineering at Stanford, Thomas won the senior title at U.S. Nationals after finishing second in 1985. She also won the 1986 world championship. She led all skaters heading into the long program at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, but Thomas missed on some jumps during her routine and finished third behind East Germany’s Katarina Witt and Canada’s Elizabeth Manley. She also took bronze at the 1988 World Championships. She later performed with Stars on Ice and was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000.

Fast fact: Thomas graduated from Northwestern Medical School and became an orthopedic surgeon. Financial troubles forced her to sell her practice, and she ended up broke and living in a trailer.

Quotable: “My mother introduced me to many different things, and figure skating was one of them,” Thomas told ABC Sports. “I just thought that it was magical having to glide across the ice. I begged my mom to let me start skating.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Antiracist center at American University to establish the Frederick Douglass 200 awards

Program will honor people who work for equality and justice

1:24 PMValentine’s Day marks the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass, and to show the famed abolitionist and statesman some love, the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University announced today a partnership with the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives for “The FD200.” The effort will recognize one person for each year since Douglass’ birth who labors in the Douglass tradition for equality and justice.

“We cannot think of a better way to honor one of humanity’s greatest ancestors, one of America’s greatest ancestors, one of African-America’s greatest ancestors than by honoring 200 people whose modern-day work best reflects the living and loving legacy of Frederick Douglass,” said Ibram Kendi, founding director of the center, which launched last fall.

Kendi recounted Douglass’ work as an abolitionist, writer, entrepreneur, feminist, politician, educator and diplomat, and said the 200 honorees will fall into those seven categories.

Nominees will be solicited starting in March and will be honored, two a day, beginning on Juneteenth and culminating with an October gala and awards ceremony.

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiative, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent human trafficking, is pursuing a separate effort to distribute a million hardcover copies of the bicentennial edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave to schoolchildren.

Nettie Washington Douglass, a great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, was on hand at American University to sign books. She believes her famed great-great grandfather has a hand in moving his legacy into modern times.

“In my heart, I do believe we’re being directed by Frederick Douglass,” she said. She keeps a replica of the Douglass statue that sits in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on her nightstand. “I have a very spiritual connection with Frederick Douglass, I can’t explain it any other way. And when I ask a question, the answers will come to me.”

Jordan Greenway is first African-American to play and score for Team USA hockey at Winter Olympics

Historic goal comes with 7:30 left in the second period

1:23 PMSlovenian goaltender Gasper Kroselj robbed Jordan Greenway, not once but twice, of making history within the first six minutes of Team USA’s opening-round hockey game.

The Boston University product is the first African-American to make the U.S. Olympic hockey team, breaking a 98-year color barrier, and Wednesday he became the first to play for the team when he took the ice. But when would he become the first to score?

Well, thanks to Kroselj’s saves of Greenway’s point-blank shots, it appeared the American’s first puck in the back of the net might not come Wednesday morning. But Greenway had other plans.

The play worked out the same as when a basketball player shoots an air ball into the hands of a teammate who’s under the basket and lays it up. Bobby Sanguinetti fired a shot on goal that he figured would result in a rebound and a chance for one of his teammates to score. Sanguinetti’s attempt hit Kroselj in his left shoulder pad, and during the scramble to find the puck, Brian O’Neill inadvertently kicked it past the defender and back to Greenway, who easily laid it in goal. See?

You can watch his historic goal here.

The goal gave Team USA a 2-0 lead with 7:30 left in the second period. Greenway’s historic outing would come in a loss, though, as the Americans allowed a goal almost six minutes into the final period and the equalizer with 1:37 remaining. Slovenia nabbed the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime.

The United States will play Slovakia on Thursday (10:10 p.m. EST).

‘Black Panther’ magazine covers are missing black photographers

Why that matters and 11 who should be considered

1:01 PMThe decision by Essence to publish three different covers in honor of the release of Black Panther took the internet by storm over the past 24 hours. That means five major magazines — Time, Essence, Variety, Allure and British GQ — have published cover stories on the highly anticipated film in the past few days. And all five elected not to use a black photographer to handle the representation of the all-black starring cast of Black Panther. Instead, five white men, one white woman and one Asian woman were tasked with creating the pictures, which have immediately gone viral, especially on Black Twitter. (Kwaku Alston did shoot a Black Panther cover for Entertainment Weekly last fall.)

From the Time cover shot of Chadwick Boseman, along with the supplementary photo of him and director Ryan Coogler, which were photographed by the duo Williams+Hirakawa to the Essence covers, which were all photographed by Dennis Leupold, one wonders whether anyone took a hint from Barack and Michelle Obama. The first African-American president and first lady had their images immortalized in the halls of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery by African-American artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, the first African-American artists to create presidential portraits for the gallery. In the case of the Obamas, the message behind who created the picture can be just as powerful as who is in them.

Unfortunately, this is far from the first time that magazines have missed an opportunity to make a statement with who they hire to shoot their covers. When Colin Kaepernick graced the cover of GQ magazine in December with photos inside echoing the famous photos of Muhammad Ali shot by African-American Howard Bingham, the work was done by Martin Schoeller, a white man. When you look at three of the largest magazines that write about and reflect African-American culture — Essence, Ebony and GQ — you see the lack of African-American photographers is nothing new. In 2017, between the three magazines, just 4.25 covers were made by a black photographer, and three of them were done by the same person. (The .25 comes about because a photographer shot one photo in a series for a cover image.)

At The Undefeated, we are here to throw you some options of amazing black photographers who could have been the Kehinde to Barack when it came to making a cover image for Black Panther.

Kwaku Alston

Wayne Lawrence

View this post on Instagram

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to photograph these sensational beauties, @ajak_deng @aamito_lagum @mari_agory @nykhor @nurhellman for a piece entitled Red Hook Poetic Justice to be published in L'OFFICIEL magazine's special Africana extravaganza issue, coming to newsstands Aug. 24th. My brother @lejenke, it was an honor and a gift to collaborate with you and your team on this, my first fashion editorial. Hopefully it's the first of many. Big up to everyone who had a hand in making this happen, to @daleknows, @joimperio for the assist and to @souhi_ and @robertmeffordhair for adding some of your flavor to the pot. @lofficielparis @jedroot #blackbeauty #melanin #loveisthemessage #fashion #art #onlocation #staytuned #waynelawrence

A post shared by Wayne Lawrence (@waynelawrence) on

Marcus Smith

Itaysha Jordan

Jeffery Salter

View this post on Instagram

This week I will be sharing some of my fine art work in a series called Sublime explorations. The brilliant and talented actor @shein___ who appears in the Black Lightning television series gave me just the right of amount of quiet intensity. I appreciate the collaboration and her patience on what turned out to be a very long night. The images were inspired by a simple gold framed renaissance still life painting of some apples and a stainless steel antique teapot that was hanging on a wall in a tiny and dark cafe in the city of Old San Juan. I kept staring at the painting done by some long deceased artist, while enjoying a plate of mofongo on a red checker tablecloth with my friend Herminio Rodriguez. This was many years ago, hopefully after the horrific hurricane Maria pounded, that little restaurant survived the storm, has electrical power and that surreal painting is still up. Thanks to: Make-up Artist: @mcmakeup Crew: @beality @alishawasnthere location: @yeelengallery and creative support @monsterparty Retouch by Warren Mantooth @wdig805 Photographed with: @phaseonephoto

A post shared by Jeffery Salter (@jefferysalter) on

Andre D. Wagner

View this post on Instagram

@mahershalaali for @nytimes & @jolieruben

A post shared by Andre D. Wagner (@photodre) on

Kareem Black

Carrie Mae Weems

G L Askew II

Jabari Jacobs

View this post on Instagram

🌴😎✨ @plies for @atlanticrecords

A post shared by Jabari Jacobs (@jabarijacobs) on

Shaniqwa Jarvis