James Harden’s new Meek Mill-themed shoes
NBA players continue to bring the jailed rapper’s plight to light
3:15 PMAs the leading scorer in the NBA, one of the many faces of adidas and en route to perhaps his first MVP trophy, Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is used to having all eyes on him. Come Thursday, though, special attention will be paid to his feet as Harden will be rocking custom-made “Free Meek” shoes. The message, of course, is a homage to rapper Meek Mill who currently sits in the State Correctional Institution in Chester, Pa., following a probation violation from a 2008 gun and drug case. Last month, the Philadelphia MC was sentenced to two-to-four years for after popping wheelies on his dirt bike and an altercation at a St. Louis airport early this year.
The decision immediately sparked outrage not only for Meek’s continuous battles with his own legal entanglement, but the disparities in the criminal justice system as a whole. Hip-hop, through names like Jay Z, Diddy, Nipsey Hussle, Rick Ross and even friend-turned-foe Drake, have come to Meek’s defense expressing their support. But it’s Meek’s draw in the sports world that has been intriguing to watch unfold. Exiled quarterback Colin Kaepernick—whose protest have become the defining sports story of his generation—spoke with Meek days before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the NBA has made no secret of its affinity towards the 30 year old rapper.
Harden visited Meek in prison on Tuesday, confirming his “spirits were high” and that he hoped the MC would be home by February. If, in fact, Meek is released in time for All Star Weekend in Los Angeles (Feb. 16-18, 2018), he could thank the league personally. Throughout his career, Meek has recorded with ball players. He played an involuntary supporting role in the odd melodrama between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. And he’s name dropped countless superstars in his music from James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson—the latter of whom he saw as a role model growing up in Philly. “A.I. had the style, he had the charisma, the braids, everything,” he told Complex earlier this year. “He was doing what he wanted on the court. That’s what we live by in Philly: do whatcha want, never let the game change you to the point where you’re not even yourself.”
Praying for @meekmill and his family!!! Crazy how bad the system is SMH
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) November 7, 2017
Harden’s showing of support is only the latest in the NBA’s very vocal support of the imprisoned MC. His hometown Philadelphia 76ers have led the charge. Sixers icon Julius Erving was one of many athletes who attended a rally in the rapper’s name last month. The team’s two superstars-in-training Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons recently posted up at Jay Z’s 4:44 tour stop in Philadelphia donning “Stand With Meek Mill” t-shirts. The move wasn’t just a photo opp either. Simmons frequently makes Meek’s music part of his daily routine through his Instagram Stories. Embiid visited Meek Mill in prison—an experience he succinctly summed up as “scary”—with 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin. Yet, it’s Rubin’s relationship with Meek that is the most documented. They’re a pop culture “odd couple.”
Rubin and Meek met a few years back when both were sitting courtside at an NBA game. The billionaire owner was seated next to his daughter and Meek was with ex-girlfriend Nicki Minaj. “Once he figured out I was one of the owners of the Sixers and some other pretty big, internet companies he started asking me 1,000 business questions,” Rubin said of how their friendship sprouted. “I liked him. I would’ve had the stereotypical view, this guy is a hardcore rapper … I didn’t know who he was or what he did. But once he started telling me about his career I thought he would have an interesting business.”
Since his sentencing, Rubin has made frequent visits to visit Meek in prison. The two have largely talked legal strategy. For Rubin, Meek’s situation is personal. He considers the “Dreams & Nightmares” rapper one of his “closest 10-20 guy friends…someone I really care about.” He hoped Meek would be home for Christmas so he could spend the holiday with his family, but now the hope is that Meek can spend the bulk of 2018 in a recording booth as opposed to a jail cell.
Flight attendant makes a blanket statement about G League players
Memphis Hustle players booted from plane after theft accusation, ensuing argument
8:10 AMTwo G League basketball players had a Christmas Eve they will never forget after being kicked off a plane over a blanket.
The incident took place after Memphis Hustle guard Marquis Teague and forward Trahson Burrell boarded American Airlines Flight 3756 operated by Envoy from Dallas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Sunday. Two first-class passengers gave Teague, a former NBA player, and Burrell their blankets as a kind gesture as they headed to their seats. When Teague and Burrell arrived in coach, a flight attendant accused them of stealing the blankets, a source said, which led to an argument.
The flight attendant said he wouldn’t fly unless Teague and Burrell were off the plane after Burrell offered some threatening words. To keep the flight from being delayed, Teague and Burrell were asked to get off the plane. American Airlines ended up putting Teague, Burrell and a Hustle assistant coach on a later flight to Sioux Falls (first class), but they missed a team holiday dinner.
An American Airlines spokesman said an official apologized to the players after the incident and the company plans to apologize again. The team and the airline also plan to investigate the incident further.
“We apologize for what occurred on this flight,” American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed told The Undefeated. “We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down. Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened and will be reaching out to [the two players and the assistant coach].”
Hustle head coach Glynn Cyprien and assistant coach Darnell Lazare expressed their frustration on Twitter. Lazare tweeted that the players were African-American. The flight attendant also appeared to be African-American, the source said.
“American Airlines needs sensitivity training [for] attendants on flights dealing with humans and blankets,” Cyprien wrote.
Lazare wrote: “It’s 2017 and a flight attendant sees two young black athletes with blankets from first class. His first comments is ‘did you steal them.’ How about you teach people the facts first before jumping to conclusions. #beingblackinamerican.”
The Hustle beat Sioux Falls, 131-115, on Monday to end a three-game losing streak.
“We are obviously disappointed the incident occurred and the way American Airlines chose to handle the situation,” Cyprien said. “Today our focus is on the players affected and our Christmas Day game. I am honored to stand by my players and compete on this special day.”
Domonique Foxworth isn’t mad at Brian Bowen’s dad for taking the money. He’s mad more people don’t
Hear him out!
4:01 PMFriday, the news broke that former Louisville recruit Brian Bowen said he was kept in the dark about the alleged payments his father accepted from Adidas and the school to steer him to Louisville. But it doesn’t matter: According to Domonique Foxworth, if his father accepted the money, it was certainly illegal, but not necessarily wrong.
Click the tweet. Watch the video.
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) December 22, 2017
Cardi B, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and more dropped a slew of new music in one night
Hip-hop must’ve caught the holiday spirit
2:15 PMMaybe it’s because Friday is the last business day before Christmas. Or maybe it’s simply hip-hop caught the holiday spirit. Whatever the reason, Thursday night/Friday morning saw a slew of drops from a who’s who kick-started by Quavo and Travis Scott’s joint project “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho.” But that was only the tip of the iceberg.
The long-awaited Cardi B second single. If there was any question following the overwhelming success of arguably the single of the year in Cardi’s “Bodak Yellow,” the wait is now over. Featuring 21 Savage, Cardi B returns with the next look into her forthcoming solo album. Complete with Offset mentions galore and a Migos-like flow, expect to hear this at any New Year’s Eve party where hip-hop is played. So, like, 95 percent of them.
A new Gucci Mane album. 2017 was the year Gucci became the pop culture star he seemed destined to be when 2009’s “Wasted” dominated airwaves. “This has been the best year of my life,” he told Zane Lowe earlier this year. And while it may have been for reasons far more than music (a book, new $10 million deal with Atlantic Records and a high-profile wedding), Gucci stayed true to the reason for his season. Guwop and his Tupacian work ethic dropped his third album of ’17 with El Gato: The Human Glacier. Happy holidays, from The Wops, indeed.
Nipsey’s next leg of his “Victory Lap.” If there’s one song I’m anticipating listening to in the whip this weekend, it’s Nipsey Hussle and Swizz Beatz’s new cut, “Been Down.” The Crenshaw OG’s new album, Victory Lap, drops Feb. 16, which coincides with the star of NBA All-Star Weekend in his hometown of Los Angeles.
Lil Wayne’s Dedication 6 preview. Set to drop Christmas Day, Weezy dropped off two sneak peeks last night over Jay-Z’s “Story of OJ.” and 21 Savage’s “Bank Account.” Both are strong offerings from the man who for years had a legit claim to “The Best Rapper Alive,” but it’s the latter where Lil Wayne really flexes. It’s one of the better tracks he’s dropped in quite some time. Maybe 2018 is the year when Tha Carter 5 is released from Cash Money purgatory. Maybe.