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

Live from Sundance: Tonya Lewis Lee on why she created a ‘Monster’ 

The producer — and wife of the iconic Spike Lee — has the hottest film the nation’s largest film festival

6:34 PMPARK CITY, UTAH — Tomorrow is a big day for Tonya Lewis Lee and her team: the January 22 premiere of Monster happens at the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s one of the most anticipated films in Park City. That makes her nervous — “It’s like [people] haven’t seen the movie yet! How do [they] know?!” — but it most certainly also makes her feel good.

Monster is a film that she’s been hoping to get made for a dozen years. There have been a bunch of starts and stops and finally, here we are. The cast is stellar: Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, A$AP Rocky, Nas and Kelvin Harrison Jr. are all part of the film, and it’s helmed by Anthony Mandler in his directorial debut. Mandler is best known for his frequent video collaborations with with Rihanna, and has also collaborated on video projects with Jay Z, Beyoncé, Usher, and Lana Del Ray, among many others. The script is based on the novel of the same name by Walter Dean Myers, and was written for the screen by by Hampton University’s own Cole C. Wiley and award-winning playwright Janece Shaffer.

And the film’s concept feels very ripped from today’s headlines.

“Maybe we can change the way kids are locked up. Maybe we can change the over-sentencing of juveniles. We had to stay with it and make it happen.”

“It’s about a 17-year-old black boy who makes one bad decision and is looking at, potentially, his life being thrown away forever,” Lewis Lee says, while sitting in a Park City gallery, one of the many spaces brands have taken over for the duration of the festival. “For me, I have children and I have a boy and when I read the book I was so moved. It’s so creatively written … I fell in love with it.” This was a chance to tell a story that we don’t often see on film.

Monster is an opportunity to contribute a dramatic story about a brown boy coming of age that could impact not only the way people look at brown boys, but potentially our criminal justice system,” says Lee. “Maybe we can change the way kids are locked up. Maybe we can change the over-sentencing of juveniles. We had to stay with it and make it happen.”

This project — her Tonik Productions teamed with John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. and Bron Studios to produce this drama — is in line with the mission-driven work she adores. “And I’m unapologetic about that,” Lewis Lee says. “I am blessed to be in a position to create content and media. I feel a real responsibility to create something that moves the human condition forward in a positive way. I hope in the work that I do, it’s entertaining, but that we’re getting messages out there to impact our world and make it better.”


Toward the back of the gallery space is a makeshift photo studio, and people like director Anthony Hemingway are coming in for portraits. This year, the festival has a record 39 projects that either feature black people as the first, second or third lead, has a black director, black producers or black writers. This is a moment and everyone here is buzzing about it.

“When Spike started making movies…he was like if I’m getting through the door, I’m bringing a whole lot of people with me. And he’s done that. And those people have brought people.”

Lewis Lee, who is married to iconic director Spike Lee, is happy that there’s much to celebrate in Black Hollywood these days. But, she cautions, there’s still so much more work to do. “When Spike started making movies, there weren’t that many people out there doing it. To his credit, he was like if I’m getting through the door, I’m bringing a whole lot of people with me,” she says. “And he’s done that. And those people have brought people. So here we are now in a moment where young people can look to my husband and his colleagues and say, Oh My God! If they can do that, I can do that.” She says that people are seeing now that there is a path.

“I look at people like Issa Rae … going back to Spike, Issa will tell you the ’90s formed who she is…to how she can be here. I look at Justin Simien (creator of Dear White People) — that’s a direct line. In terms of women and black people, we have come a long way. We have a long way to go, but it’s exciting to get our voices out there and tell our stories.”

And the stories are robust. Many of the black projects being shown at Sundance this season tap into racism — however nuanced or overt — and the current political climate. “I think we’re trying to grapple with the issues of our time,” says Lewis Lee, who next is working on a film about the Fisk Jubilee Singers. “John Legend said, ‘preparation meets opportunity.’ And we are prepared. And we’re getting a chance to talk about the issues of our time in a really wonderful way.”

With new songs, Drake says his ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ is all in ‘God’s Plan’

Drake’s sabbatical appears to be officially over

11:58 PM

2010 was when I lost my halo/ 2017, I lost a J-Lo / A-Rod a damn trip, had me on front page though/ I had to lay low.

Drake, “Diplomatic Immunity”

Call Drake a man of his word. The final lyrics on 2017’s More Life set the stage for this very moment. Maybe getting back to my regular life will humble me, Drake rhymes on “Do Not Disturb.” I’ll be back 2018 to give you the summary … More Life.

And that’s exactly what happened. With the pre-midnight drop of two new songs, “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity,” Drake’s musical sabbatical is coming to a close. The two-song project is dubbed Scary Hours, and the records are, in fact, his first official solo releases since last year’s Life. The lone exception is “Signs,” which even then was a record created specifically for Louis Vuitton’s Spring-Summer ’18 collection.

What these records signify, only Drake and the OVO conglomerate truly know. But in the near decade since his third mixtape, So Far Gone, made him a household name, one reality has always remained steady: The guy does nothing without a purpose. And with the Grammys set for next weekend in New York City, best believe the timing isn’t a coincidence. Drake’s been musically quiet for a while now — it could be that he wants his spot back.

Allen Greene to serve as Auburn’s first black athletic director

The former Buffalo AD will be the third black AD in SEC history

3:31 PMAuburn on Friday introduced Allen Greene as the university’s 15th athletic director, making him the first African-American AD in school history and the third ever in the Southeastern Conference.

Greene, 40, served in the same role at the University at Buffalo since 2015 and worked in the athletic department at Ole Miss from 2009-12. He joins Vanderbilt’s David Williams II and former Georgia athletic director Damon Evans as the only black ADs in SEC history.

This hiring brings the number of black athletic directors in the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) to 12, including 11 men and one woman:

  • Boston College: Martin Jarmond
  • Florida State: Stan Wilcox
  • Virginia: Carla Williams (the lone black woman)
  • Maryland: Damon Evans (interim)
  • Michigan: Warde Manuel
  • Ohio State: Gene Smith
  • Arizona State: Ray Anderson
  • California: H. Michael Williams
  • USC: Lynn Swann
  • Stanford: Bernard Muir
  • Auburn: Allen Greene
  • Vanderbilt: David Williams II

Outside of the Big 12, which has zero, each Power 5 conference has at least two black athletic directors. These 12 men and women represent 18.4 percent of the 65 athletic director jobs in the Power 5.

The numbers are not set in stone. California’s H. Michael Williams plans to step down from his position in May. Evans, serving on an interim basis at Maryland since October, may replace an outgoing black athletic director (Kevin Anderson), much like Carla Williams did at Virginia (Craig Littlepage).

Auburn president Steven Leath said Greene had “the right combination of leadership, enthusiasm, experience and management to lead Auburn Athletics to success well into the future.”

N.C. A&T football team didn’t get White House invitation

so there’s nothing to decline, according to the school

11:33 AMContrary to what the internet said in a Thursday night Instagram post, the North Carolina A&T football team didn’t turn down an invitation to visit the White House.

The school and the team never got an invitation to turn down in the first place.

“I am not aware of an official invite from the White House to the football team,” according to N.C. A&T sports information director Brian Holloway.

Just-retired football coach Rod Broadway also told The Undefeated that he knows nothing of an invitation and has nothing further to say on the matter.

S0me folks might have thought an invitation was issued after the undefeated Aggies’ 12-0 season and Celebration Bowl win over Grambling State in December.

In November, 18 different NCAA championship teams visited the White House. Both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball champions, the North Carolina men’s team and South Carolina’s women’s squad, declined.

Ready for a ‘Swaecation’? Rae Sremmurd star Swae Lee confirms solo debut

Fresh off the duo’s gig narrating the NFL Playoffs, Swae preps a spring soundtrack

9:26 AMSwae Lee, one half of the award-winning duo Rae Sremmurd, let the cat out the bag on Twitter shortly after midnight. His solo album, Swaecation, is on the way and will be arriving very soon.

Swae Lee’s announcement winds up a very productive 2017 for both him and his partner-in-rhyme, Slim Jxmmi. They are currently the official narrators of the NFL playoffs, with 12 different ads airing nationally on TV and the web. Swae continues to reap the benefits of well-placed musical drops too. His standout appearance on Jhene Aiko’s “Sativa” only whet fans’ appetites for more. His definitive moment came with a feature on French Montana’s international hit “Unforgettable“—undeniably one of last year’s best songs, with over half a billion YouTube views.

With a catalog that includes his own hit records and songs he’s written for other artists — like Beyoncé’s “Formation,” for example — this is a hugely anticipated project. But Swaecation doesn’t spell the end of Rae Sremmurd. SremmLife3 is in production, as Swae confirms. He’s releasing his album just ahead of festival season, though, and with Migos’ Culture II on the way, fests, day parties, cookouts and kickbacks are already heating up.

‘Grown-ish’ gets early renewal for expanded second season of 20 episodes

Yara Shahidi got the news Thursday night in Los Angeles

6:35 AMIt’s back-to-school time already. After only four episodes, the Grown-ish cast and crew finds out that next semester, so to speak, is a done deal. Grown-ish creator Kenya Barris surprised Yara Shahidi with the news at the Freeform Summit in Los Angeles. And the second season? Twenty episodes, up from its freshman 13. Per The Hollywood Reporter, “the show’s Jan. 3 … premiere ranked as the younger-skewing cable network’s best comedy launch in five and a half years.”

NBA

NBA All-Stars will have plenty in reserve

We project how the rosters will fill out

7:03 PMNow that you know the NBA All-Star starters, who else will be joining them in Los Angeles?

There are seven reserve roster spots each in the Western and Eastern Conference, which include three frontcourt players, two guards and two wild cards. The NBA head coaches will vote for the reserves in their respective conferences next week.

The reserves will be announced on Jan. 23 to applause and criticism. It’s inevitable, especially in the deep-in-talent West, that some deserving players won’t make the cut.

For the first time in NBA All-Star Game history, the leading fan vote-getters from each conference (Cleveland’s LeBron James in the East and Golden State’s Stephen Curry in the West) will serve as captains and draft players for their teams, regardless of conference. Each captain’s first four selections must come from the pool of remaining starters. As the top overall finisher in fan voting, James will make the first pick, then Curry. The All-Star Game takes place Feb. 18 at Staples Center.

The West starters announced Thursday: Curry and his Golden State teammate Kevin Durant, Houston’s James Harden, and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

The East starters: James, Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

This is how we project the coaches, who have a history of leaning toward winning teams, will fill out the reserves:

Western Conference

Forward: DrayMOND GREEN, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Draymond Green’s excited outbursts have drawn two technical fouls this season.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Stats: 11.1 points per game, 7.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks

Comment: The 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is still playing at a top level. Green does much more than score for the team with the NBA’s best record.

Forward: Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder

Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against the Golden State Warriors during the game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Nov. 22, 2017, in Oklahoma City.

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Stats: 20.4 points per game, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists

Comment: George’s scoring numbers have taken a dip playing alongside feared scorers Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook. But P.G. is widely regarded as one of the NBA’s top players, so he’ll make it.

Forward: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Stats: 20.1 points per game, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks

Comment: Towns lands the first All-Star selection of his career in his third season. The 7-footer’s versatile game is too much to deny now.

GUARD: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks at Houston fans after making a 3-point shot during Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on April 25, 2017, at Toyota Center in Houston.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Stats: 24.8 points per game, 9.7 rebounds, 9.9 assists

Comment: A little surprising that the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player doesn’t get voted in as a starter. Perhaps it’s market. Here’s to hoping that Westbrook and his former teammate Kevin Durant play against each other under the new All-Star format.

Guard: Jimmy Butler, Minnesota TimberwolveS

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Stats: 21.6 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists

Comment: Butler has played on an MVP level in his first season with the Wolves. Kudos to Butler for landing a hard-to-get West All-Star guard spot in his first season in the conference.

Wild card: Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors, guard

Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors in action against the Houston Rockets at ORACLE Arena on Oct. 17, 2017, in Oakland, California.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Stats: 20.9 points per game, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists

Comment: Thompson may be quiet, but he also is the most feared shooter in the game behind his teammate Stephen Curry. The Warriors get four All-Stars for the second straight year.

Wild card: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs, forward

LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball during the game against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 17 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Stats: 22.7 points per game, 8.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks

Comment: Aldridge is the main reason why the Spurs had one of the NBA’s top records in the first half of the season with star Kawhi Leonard primarily sidelined.

Snubs include Damian Lillard, DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Blake Griffin, C.J. McCollum and Marc Gasol.

Eastern Conference

FORWARD: Kristaps Porzingis, New York KnickS

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 23.6 points per game, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks

Comment: Porzingis gets the first All-Star nod of his young career and gives the New York market a representative. The Latvian is the lone European in the All-Star Game.

FORWARD: Al horford, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics’ Jonas Jerebko celebrates with teammate Al Horford during the second half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on May 21, 2017, in Cleveland. The Celtics won 111-108.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Stats: 13.4 points per game, 7.9 rebounds, 1.0 blocks

Comment: Horford beats out Cleveland forward Kevin Love based on Boston’s record. This would be Gordon Hayward’s spot if he were healthy.

Forward: Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons looks downcourt during a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Little Caesars Arena on Jan. 15 in Detroit.

Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Stats: 14.0 points per game, 15 rebounds, 1.2 blocks

Comment: Drummond lands his second All-Star nod after being snubbed last year. It would be fun to see East center rivals Drummond and Embiid playing against each other.

Guard: John Wall, Washington Wizards

John Wall of the Washington Wizards waits to defend against the Boston Celtics in the second half of their game on April 16, 2014, at TD Garden in Boston.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Stats: 19.6 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, 9.3 assists

Comment: Wall’s biggest challenge appears to be staying healthy. While the Wizards are disappointing, he is a top-15 NBA player.

Guard: Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers

Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers brings the ball upcourt during a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Jan. 15 in Salt Lake City. The Indiana Pacers won 109-94.

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Stats: 24.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists

Comment: Oladipo has been singing well off the court and on it. This will be his first All-Star nod.

Wild card: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors, guard

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors warms up before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 30, 2017, at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Stats: 16.2 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists

Comment: Lowry’s statistics aren’t gaudy, but they’re respectable and the Raptors are winning. He will make his fourth All-Star appearance.

Wild card: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, guard

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards looks on in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 25, 2016, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Stats: 23.7 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists

Comment: Beal lands his first All-Star nod with the last East spot, but does disappointing Washington deserve two?

Snubs include Dwight Howard, Ben Simmons, Kevin Love, Tobias Harris, Jaylen Brown, Goran Dragic and Kemba Walker.

Broccoli City Festival 2018 to feature the Migos, Cardi B, Miguel, Daniel Caesar, H.E.R., Nipsey Hussle

Start looking for Airbnbs and plane tickets now

12:18 PMMaking this as clear, and as concise, as possible. The Undefeated will be there. We hope you will too.

A Storm is coming — in Ava DuVernay’s ‘Wrinkle in Time’

‘Essence’ cover features the director and her superstar cast

11:37 AMSoon, we’ll all get to see 13-year-old Storm Reid in Ava DuVernay’s upcoming A Wrinkle In Time. And she’ll be glorious — word to the icon that is Oprah Winfrey. Reid, Winfrey and DuVernay all cover Essence’s February issue, where they talk about the power of imagination.

One big dream DuVernay dared to imagine when she was first taking meetings about directing the film? Seeing a brown girl as the protagonist in this epic, fanciful story, which hits theaters March 9. “Sometimes I’d be watching her on set and would really tear up at her performance because she will become for this generation what Judy Garland’s Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was for previous generations,” Winfrey shares in the Essence story. “She gets to be that. This little Stormy, our little Stormy, gets to carry that on for generations to come. She gets to be that light for girls like herself …”

Damian Lillard ends strict vegan diet

Trail Blazers guard says he was losing too much weight

10:47 AM

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Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is no longer on a strict vegan diet after it became counterproductive.

Lillard, a guest on the ESPN Hoop Collective’s RUN A.M.C. podcast recorded Wednesday, said his five-month run as a vegan has ended because he was losing too much weight. Lillard announced on his Instagram account on Sept. 5 that he had become a vegan with hopes of “getting my life right.” The two-time NBA All-Star reached his goal of getting back to his rookie weight of 190 pounds, but Lillard ended his vegan diet about a month ago because he lost 17 pounds.

“I did it, but I started to lose a little bit too much weight with all the games and practices and all that,” Lillard said on the podcast. “I had to balance it out, so now I’ve been mixing it up a little bit more, having vegan meals, still mixing it up with other stuff.”

Lillard told OregonLive Sports on Sept. 25 that he had been vegan for a month and it allowed him to eat cleaner, create better habits, take more weight off his feet and feel much better. Portland-based newspaper/website Willamette Week also tweeted on Sept. 25 that Lillard loved vegan sloppy Joes and missed eating at Wendy’s fast food restaurants. After the 27-year-old struggled with his shooting the first six games this season, he dismissed a question from Comcast Sports Northwest in late October about whether his vegan diet was affecting his play.

The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year said he has added beef and chicken back into his diet. Lillard said he has stayed away from Wendy’s and he still eats vegan meals regularly. Other NBA players who have professed being vegan include Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter, JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler and Jahlil Okafor.

“I did it to lose some weight and be easier on my feet, knees and ankles,” said Lillard, who is averaging 25 points, 6.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds this season. “I had a few injuries, so I was trying to get lighter and trying to get healthier and put better stuff in my body. It helped a lot as far as my energy and how I felt.”

National Association of Black Journalists receives huge grant for jobs, mission

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s bipartisan Democracy Fund donates $200,000

6:21 PMOn the day Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “We cannot allow this regimen of fake news, and alternative facts … to diminish our commitment to the basic constitutional protection of freedom of the press … it is essential to the future of our democracy,” the Democracy Fund awarded $200,000 to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). The two-year restricted grant is to be utilized for staffing, and it allows NABJ to continue the execution of its mission to support journalists of color. The association’s priorities include jobs for journalists of color, professional development, social justice and advocacy. NABJ’s current strategic plan can be seen here.

“It’s a true honor to be partnering with the Democracy Fund,” NABJ president Sarah Glover said Wednesday. “The media industry faces threats, [and] organizations like NABJ are needed to give a voice to black journalists and minority communities too often overlooked. This … grant … helps NABJ meet challenges head-on, empowers our work, and strengthens our organizational capacity and trajectory for growth.”

The Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. It exists to “invest in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.”

The Plug, ‘Fight Night: Francis Ngannou’ (Episode 6): The UFC star opens up

UFC’s No. 1 Contender talks all things Stipe Miocic, Trump and the love for his people

3:17 PM

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How do you prepare for a fight with a man who broke the world record for the hardest punch ever thrown just last month? Thankfully, The Plug doesn’t have to find out first hand from Francis Ngannou. That’s for his opponent—UFC champion Stipe Miocic. The two square off in the highly anticipated UFC 220 this weekend in Boston.

Ngannou is one of the fastest rising names in mixed martial arts and a win over Miocic would make him the first Cameroonian and African to lift the UFC title. But he’s far more than just a guy with one helluva punch. Ngannou opens up to The Plug about his journey to present day fame and President Donald Trump’s recent comments about “sh*thole countries.” From leaving his native Cameroon to pursue a life he knew was possible—a huge risk given the way of life and lines of thought there—to being homeless in Paris and how fighting became not only his life story, but now his life’s work, no stone is left unturned.

From there, the Squad discuss last weekend’s “Minnesota Miracle,” the future of Saints rookie Marcus Williams who missed the tackle, the NBA on MLK Day, and more. Tell everyone you know to subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app!

Previously: The Plug, ‘To All The Ladies In The Place’ (Episode 5): Shakyla Hill and Stephania Bell get right at home

Colin Kaepernick to donate $100,000 over next 10 days

The former NFL quarterback will give away $10,000 a day to social justice organizations

3:12 PMFormer NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced on Wednesday that over the next 10 days, until Jan. 26, he will donate the final $100,000 of his initial $1 million pledge to 10 organizations that are working to combat racial and social injustice across the country.

Dubbed the “Million Dollar Pledge” in October 2016, Kaepernick has donated $900,000 of his own funds over the past year to 31 organizations “working in oppressed communities” and will end his financial commitment next week by giving away $10,000 a day to the remaining 10 groups. Some famous friends will match his daily donations.

Kaepernick kicked off his “#10 for 10” on Wednesday. He teamed up with Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant to give a combined $20,000 ($10,000 each) to Silicon Valley De-Bug, a “community organizing, advocacy, and a multimedia storytelling organization” committed to criminal justice reform and “community-based justice work.”

The Undefeated will keep a running list of the final organizations to which Kaepernick decides to donate to complete his Million Dollar Pledge.


Day 1

Organization: Silicon Valley De-Bug
Celebrity: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors forward

Day 2

Organization: Advancement Project
Celebrity: Jesse Williams, actor

Day 3

Organization: United Playaz
Celebrity: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors guard

Locker room feuds: When athletes try to run up on other athletes

Ten instances when professional locker rooms were under the threat of being breached

4:41 PMAfter the Los Angeles Clippers’ 113-102 home win over the Houston Rockets on Monday, a game in which many a technical foul was called or missed, Rockets guard Chris Paul led a Suicide Squad bunch of teammates to their opponent’s locker room to, in theory, engage in fisticuffs.

As is always the case, barring Kobe Bryant-Chris Childs and Serge Ibaka-James Johnson, the players had no intention of actually fighting (a witness told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the fight was “classic NBA” and that “none of these guys were going to fight”).

In any event, the Ocean’s Eleven-style mission got us to thinking of other times professional athletes have attempted to run up on their opponent while in the sanctity of the room in which they shower. Here are 10 instances when professional locker rooms were under the threat of being breached.


1922: Babe Ruth vs. Johnny Rawlings

During the 1922 World Series between Babe Ruth’s New York Yankees and Johnny Rawlings’ New York Giants, the “Sultan of Swat” grew tired of Rawlings’ bench jockeying, so he and teammate Bob Meusel “invaded” the Giants’ locker room hoping to scrap. No hands were thrown, but the Giants technically won the non-fight, as they won the series 4-0-1 and held Ruth to just two hits and zero home runs.

2012: Zach Randolph vs. Kendrick Perkins

Zach Randolph and Kendrick Perkins were ejected in the fourth quarter of the Memphis Grizzlies’ 107-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder for arguing with each other (Randolph apparently yelled, “I’ll beat your a–” at Perkins), but the drama didn’t end there. The two reportedly tried to continue the altercation in the back hallways, with Randolph crossing over to the Thunder’s side of the building, earning him a $25,000 fine from the NBA. All’s well that ends well, as the two immediately squashed the beef.

2012: Lance Stephenson vs. Miami Heat players

Lance Stephenson, then in his first stint with the Indiana Pacers, had become a thorn in the side of the Miami Heat long before he blew into the ear of LeBron James during the 2014 playoffs. Stephenson and Heat center Juwan Howard, much like the respective teams they played for, had been feuding all season, and after an on-court confrontation during the second round of the 2012 playoffs, Howard, full of old-man strength, walked over to the Pacers’ locker room to try to find Stephenson. He failed in his search, but the Heat won the series in six games and eliminated the Pacers from the playoffs the next two seasons as well.

2013: Drake vs. Miami Heat security

Longtime Heat (and Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors and Kentucky and Texas A&M) fan Drake, after the Heat’s Finals victory over the San Antonio Spurs in 2013, attempted to sneak into Miami’s locker room with credentialed media to celebrate with LeBron & Co. While not an act of an athlete attempting to barge into a locker room, the most famous musician in the world’s failure to even make it through the doors merits a spot on this list.

2013: Carmelo Anthony vs. Kevin Garnett

It was reported at the time of this incident that Kevin Garnett, who has lost all benefit of the doubt for the things he’s said over the years, said Carmelo Anthony’s wife, La La, tasted like “Honey Nut Cheerios” (La La Anthony has since denied it.) Well, Anthony did not take too kindly to another man saying his spouse tasted like a nutritional breakfast, so he headed straight to the Boston Celtics’ locker room area (and team bus) to have a “one-on-one conversation” with Garnett. Anthony was suspended by the NBA for one game.

2014: John Tortorella vs. Calgary Flames

Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella, best known outside of the world of hockey for threatening to bench Team USA players if they sat for the national anthem, attempted to enter the Calgary Flames’ locker room to confront his counterpart, Bob Hartley, in response to the two teams brawling at the start of the game. In essence, Tortorella wanted to fight the other team because his players fought the other team. Hartley was fined $25,000 by the NHL.

2014: Stephen Curry vs. Los Angeles Clippers

A year before his first of back-to-back NBA MVP awards, Stephen Curry was in the midst of just his third career playoff series when he and fellow guard Steve Blake rolled up on some Los Angeles Clippers ball boys for a comment that a Clippers assistant coach made after Los Angeles eliminated the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. That led to players from both teams convening in the hallway between the two locker rooms, and, according to former Clippers guard Jared Dudley, Curry barging into the Clippers’ training room.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Staples Center security were dispatched, but the incident calmed down from there.

2016: Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks

It appears this wasn’t the Rockets’ first — pardon the pun — rodeo. Just 13 months before Monday’s kerfuffle, a contingent of Houston players, led by habitual line-steppers Trevor Ariza and James Harden, waited outside the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room for center Salah Mejri, who allegedly insulted Ariza’s family (Mejri denied this.) Ariza, supposedly the “first one through the door” during the Clippers incident, was accompanied to the Mavs’ locker room by two security guards like he was Bill Goldberg, but the altercation ended in neither blows nor fines/suspensions.

2017: Jalen Ramsey vs. A.J. Green

What started as an on-field “fight” — if you can call one man (Jalen Ramsey) being German suplexed by the other (A.J. Green) a “fight” — transitioned to the bowels of EverBank Field, as Ramsey, the loudmouthed Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback, had to be restrained from entering the Cincinnati Bengals’ locker room after both players had been ejected. He never made it inside, but Ramsey later told the media that Green is both “weak” and “soft.”

2017: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Kevin Durant

As appears to be the trend in these almost scuffles, New Orleans Pelicans power forward DeMarcus Cousins went after Kevin Durant after both players were ejected from the Golden State Warriors’ 125-115 win at the Smoothie King Center. An amazing photo by a New York Times photographer captures the exact moment Cousins was ready to scrap. Per Times reporter Scott Cacciola: “Cousins was storming down the hallway in search of Durant, who was making his way off the court after his ejection and toward the locker room. Security officers, aware that trouble was brewing, quickly diverted Durant to a small corridor as several others slowed Cousins’ progress.” Surprisingly, Cousins wasn’t fined or suspended for this incident.

Will Kanye’s new daughter influence his future art?

Kanye and Kim expand the Kardashian family empire — and welcome a baby girl

3:44 PMWell, it’s official. The West-Kardashian clan has its own starting five. Kim Kardashian West announced the news on her website in early hours of Jan. 15. Kardashian and her husband, superstar Kanye West, welcomed their third child, a healthy 7-pound, 6-ounce baby girl. “We are incredibly grateful to our surrogate who made our dreams come true with the greatest gift one could give, and to our wonderful doctors and nurses for their special care,” Kardashian West said. “North and Saint are especially thrilled to welcome their baby sister.”

West and Kardashian West are two of the most famous people in the world, as a couple and individually. But the image of them as parents appears to be very private — as much as one can be in a Kardashian world. And, whether by design or destiny, West’s been unusually silent for nearly a year. Of course, with West, cameras are always around, but the “Famous” producer, designer and rapper hasn’t made many headlines since his brief moment with then-new President Donald Trump and an onstage rant that became fodder for Jay-Z’s Grammy-nominated 4:44. Maybe West needed to fall back for a minute?

He is listed as an executive producer on Damon Dash’s new film Honor Up (set for select theaters and OnDemand Feb. 16). But musically, even if West has been privately active, he’s been publicly dormant, a strategic move that may play in his favor if, in fact, he’s been in a creative musical cave. And it’ll be interesting to see whether the birth of his third child influences his music in the ways North and Saint did. But: Until concrete evidence is provided, talk of a new Kanye project will remain just that — talk. Then again, he’s got more important duties to take care of at the moment. New babies are everything.

Lakers legend Elgin Baylor will get his very own statue at L.A.’s Staples Center

The Hall of Famer’s unveiling ceremony will take place in April

3:40 PMThirty-five years after his No. 22 jersey was retired, Los Angeles Lakers great Elgin Baylor is being honored with his very own statue for his contributions to the team.

The Hall of Famer’s statue will join the likes of former Lakers players Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson and Lakers broadcaster Francis “Chick” Hearn in Star Plaza at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. An outdoor unveiling ceremony will be held April 6 shortly before the Lakers’ tipoff against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It’s something people have been talking to me about for some time,” Baylor told the Southern California News Group. “I don’t know how I’m going to react or anything once I see it because nothing like that has ever happened before. But I’m sure that I will enjoy it.”

Baylor entered the NBA after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958, and he averaged 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 846 games during the course of his 14-year career. He earned his spot as a first-team All-NBA player 10 times and appeared in 11 All-Star games.

Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, six years after announcing his retirement, and was the Los Angeles Clippers’ general manager for 22 years.

After being present for the unveiling ceremonies of O’Neal, West, Abdul-Jabbar and Hearn, Baylor being honored with his own statue is only right.

“I am thrilled that 60 years after the Minneapolis Lakers drafted Elgin, we are able to celebrate and honor him with a statue,” said Lakers CEO and controlling owner Jeanie Buss. “Not only is Elgin a part of the Lakers family, his contributions to the game of basketball earned him a place in the Hall of Fame. His list of accomplishments are unparalleled, and I can’t wait to see his statue at Star Plaza alongside the other Lakers legends.”

Memphis Grizzlies players and coaches share sentiments about playing on MLK Day

An event-filled weekend and win over Lakers gives team an edge going into MLK50

10:58 AMWhen NBA players live and work in a city where Martin Luther King Jr. made such an impact, they find themselves faced with a duty to defend their home court. The Memphis Grizzlies maneuvered their way to a 123-114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday at the FedEx Forum in the 16th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration.

The day consisted of many festivities including the honoring of WNBA and NBA players during the 13th Annual National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award. This year’s recipients were Penny Hardaway, Sam Perkins, James Worthy and WNBA All-Star Swin Cash. The award recognizes dedicated contributions to civil and human rights and laying foundations for future leaders through their career in sports in the spirit of King.

(From left to right) Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Penny Hardaway, Sam Perkins, Bernie Bickerstaff, Swin Cash and James Worthy tour the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

The weekend was filled with events that included a discussion at the National Civil Rights Museum (“MLK50: Where Do We Go From Here”) with Cash, Grizzlies guard Mike Conley and Lakers center Brook Lopez. Before tipoff on Monday, the honorees participated in the Earl Lloyd Sports Legacy Symposium.

Sports teams often visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, which houses the location where King was shot. Check out what players had to say about playing in Memphis on MLK Day while the city prepares for MLK50, the 50th year commemorating King’s death.


“When you have this opportunity to pay that respect, you do this job with the best of your ability. You give everything that you’ve got in honor of those who had to fight those fights for you and the sacrifices that they made for you. … Understanding how the organization, the city, and the community fought to get the game back on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was an eye-opening thing. It was an awareness of just how important this game is and how much it means to be played today.” – Grizzlies interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff

“This is my second time that I remember being part of MLK Day. It’s a special game, special moment for a person that did a lot for not only African-Americans but for us as a society. It’s always good to come out here and celebrate him.” – Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers

“It means a lot [to play in Memphis]. It brings a lot of my passion out and makes me want to play harder for the organization and for the Memphis fans. It’s my first MLK Day playing. It felt great. I’ve visited [the National Civil Rights Museum] twice. I learned so much about history. Coming from Canada, you don’t really know a lot because it’s very multicultural. I figured out a lot of things, like how to appreciate my culture more.” – Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks

“Coming out here every night and playing for Memphis means so much to me because the fans are great. I’ve got a lot of fan base from when I was in school. I can put up two jerseys: one for college and one for the NBA. Martin Luther King gave us a chance to chase our dreams, so I’m happy to play on this day.” – Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans

“It’s an absolute honor to play on this holiday, I think. For where we are as a world and where we’re trying to go, Martin Luther King Jr. stood up for what was right. But what really separates him is he really emphasized doing it through a peaceful manner, and all he wanted is what everyone should want and that’s equality. To be able to play on this day, especially with a sport where you get so many people from different backgrounds and different places across the world, it’s an honor.” – Lakers head coach Luke Walton

The NBA celebrates MLK Day

A game-by-game look at how teams chose to honor the civil rights icon

6:37 PMTo celebrate the life and accomplishments of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the NBA offered an 11-game slate for fans on MLK Day on Monday. Outside of the live action, the 22 teams in action chose to honor King in their own distinctive ways.

The Undefeated will keep a running list of the teams’ various acts of appreciation, starting with the Charlotte Hornets vs. Detroit Pistons opening game all the way to the Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers nightcap.


Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons

Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers

Milwaukee Bucks at Washington Wizards

The Wizards held their annual “We are Dreamers” panel discussion, this year involving Washington, D.C.-area male leaders and 60 young men talking about the life and career aspirations of the young males and what it will take to achieve those goals. Before tipoff, Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. addressed the Capital One Arena crowd, celebrating King, who “preached positivity and love over hate.” That was followed by the singing of the national anthem by gospel singer Annisse Murillo. At halftime, the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir took the arena to church, singing “America the Beautiful.”

After the game, Wizards All-Star guard John Wall spoke with reporters about playing on MLK Day: “I’m striving to be a better African-American athlete, and just as a person first of all. I think that’s the most important thing.”

San Antonio Spurs at Atlanta Hawks

New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets

Miami Heat at Chicago BullS

Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies debuted their “I Am A Man” city edition uniforms that The Undefeated’s Aaron Dodson exclusively reported on in December. The team also visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel on Sunday.

Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder

Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers