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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

Kevin Sumlin, Herm Edwards to duel in the desert

This isn’t the first time black coaches will lead rival Division I football programs

7:58 PMTwitter asked, and we answered.

Former Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin is the new coach at Arizona. Sumlin, who was fired last November after compiling a 51-26 record with the Aggies, replaces Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats dismissed Rodriguez amid a sexual harassment investigation.

Sumlin’s hiring means black coaches will lead Arizona and rival Arizona State, which hired Herm Edwards in December. But have rival Division I football programs ever had black coaches at the same time? That was the question on Twitter.

The answer is yes. With some help from Twitter and our friends at ESPN Stats & Info, we’ve determined it has happened at least five times previously in the Football Bowl Subdivision, including when Sumlin was at Texas A&M.

Twitter gave us a head start on the list:

Indeed, John Blake (Oklahoma) and Bob Simmons (Oklahoma State) were with the rival programs at the same time from 1996-98. Also making the list:

2009-11: DeWayne Walker (New Mexico State) and Mike Locksley (New Mexico)

2010-12: Joker Phillips (Kentucky) and Charlie Strong (Louisville)

2014-16: Strong (Texas) and Sumlin (Texas A&M)

2017: Willie Taggart (Oregon) and interim coach Cory Hall (Oregon State)

Strong and Sumlin did not meet during their time in Texas. The traditional rivals have not played since 2011 after Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

Sumlin brings the number of African-American coaches in the FBS to 13 out of 128 teams.

The black coaches in FBS, including Sumlin:

  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Charlie Strong, South Florida
  • Willie Taggart, Florida State
  • Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
  • Dino Babers, Syracuse
  • Lovie Smith, Illinois
  • Frank Wilson, Texas, San Antonio
  • Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina
  • Mike Jinks, Bowling Green
  • Everett Withers, Texas State
  • Herm Edwards, Arizona State
  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona

Was Rodney Hood’s cellphone slap worth $35,000?

A point-by-point investigation

4:26 PMOn Wednesday night, Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood was ejected from his team’s game against the Washington Wizards, a 107-104 Jazz victory, for accumulating two technical fouls for arguing with officials (an ongoing middle school beef currently taking over the league).

Seconds after he was sent to the showers, Hood walked by a man seated near the court who was either recording a video or taking a photo of the ejected (and very likely fed up) player. In response, Hood slapped the phone out of the fan’s hand, amusing the entire NBA community (except for said man) along the way.

Well, as they say, there comes a time when Keeping It Real Goes Wrong, and in this case, Hood was fined $35,000 by the NBA for the non-NBC slap heard around the world.

Which presents the question: Was it all worth it? Thirty-five thousand dollars is a lot to regular folks, but does the fine, along with the notoriety of being “that guy,” really matter to a millionaire? Here’s a seven-point investigation:

  • Hood is making $2,386,864 this season, which means the $35,000 fine amounts to about 1.5 percent of his annual salary. For us normies, that’s about $700 for a person making $50,000 a year. That probably stung a little.
  • Hood had been ejected for arguing with the officials, which is pretty low on the “what are you in for?” scale, so he needed to show the whole world that, like his last name, he is about that life.
  • The perpetrator, the Milton Waddams-esque gentleman who was on the receiving end of the slap, was sitting near courtside in a white dress shirt and a tie. At a sporting event. He also violated the Ron Artest Rules for Not Antagonizing Professional Athletes, thus deserving what was coming to him.
  • The slap is one of the more fluid motions ever witnessed. Hood, trying to perfect the no-look pass, never turns to look at the man as he swats the phone. And once the cellular device is in motion, it flips and flutters through the air like a skydiver who has just jumped out of the plane.
  • As Hood knocks the phone down, he keeps walking without looking back. This is like boxer Roy Jones Jr. putting one arm behind his back levels of cockiness. Hood knew, like we all did, that Milton wasn’t about to step, so Hood had no worries about turning his back on the aggrieved party.
  • At the end of the video, you can see the fan start to stand up, as if, in fact, he is about to step, but the camera pans away to Hood’s perp walk. What we all can imagine actually happened was Milton pulled up his Dockers, reached down and picked up his phone, sat down and immediately called the police.
  • Milton did actually call the police.

Looking at all the facts, while Hood lost a rent’s worth of money (by Salt Lake City standards) on a move that Ric Flair was paid millions to execute weekly, he was the talk of #NBATwitter on Wednesday even while 1) playing for the Jazz, 2) against the Wizards and 3) the same night another player scored 50 points.

Hood, who should be an All-Star captain now, may have lost some money, but he earned our (read: my) respect. Plus, with his next contract, Hood is expected to make somewhere close to $20 million a season.

Yes, it was worth it.

#BlackHogwarts has us lining up at platform 9 3/4

Black Twitter’s latest gift has got us wondering where we can register for classes

2:52 PMBlack Twitter has done it again! The latest hashtag to take off is hysterical, and we’re so here for it.

We already knew black nerds (aka blerds) were a force to be reckoned with. But black Harry Potter fans have taken it to the next level with #BlackHogwarts.

The best thing is, this hashtag has us truly thinking about what an all-black Hogwarts would really look like — and honestly, it sounds lit! Between butter beer with Hennessy, swag surfing in the Great Hall and the livest Quidditch game halftime show (because we all know halftime is game time), we’re lining up at platform 9 3/4.

We’ve collected a few of the funniest tweets below for your viewing pleasure:

 

The controversial H&M ad has been reimagined by artists and the internet

With a focus on royalty and #blackboyjoy

1:59 PMAfter the recent controversy sparked by H&M’s decision to depict a black child model in a hoodie that read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” several illustrators took it upon themselves to reimagine the image. Almost everyone stuck to a royalty theme, declaring the young boy a king and drawing crowns on top of his head.

Although the mother of the model, Terry Mango, has told people to “get over it” and doesn’t see a problem with it, the connotations of the original ad obviously struck a chord with many visual artists.

We’re not entirely sure whether turning the child into a billboard for other corporations, throwing him in Timberland shoes or adding pyramids in the background is doing the model any favors, but it is certainly interesting to see how so many different illustrators responded with images of their own.

Fixed it. @hm Inspired by @mrchrisclassic Artwork by @kyle.yearwood

A post shared by Kow (@kyle.yearwood) on

The coolest KING 👑 in the world #kingod #blackkings #akomicsart #artlife

A post shared by Kervin Andre (@akomicsart) on

Curry: ‘My frustration level is on 1,000’

Warriors guard aggravates ankle injury in shootaround

12:30 AMOAKLAND, California — One thousand.

That is the number Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry offered to describe his level of frustration with lingering ankle troubles that returned in shootaround Wednesday. The two-time NBA MVP missed the Warriors’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night with an aggravated sprained right ankle. The Warriors lost, 125-106. Curry reinjured his ankle in a “freak accident” while taking part in his usual routine at shootaround.

“I literally just slipped and it twisted doing my normal shootaround routine,” Curry told The Undefeated while resting his injured right ankle in a cold tub in the Warriors’ locker room pregame. “I don’t know how [if the floor was wet], to be honest. And I didn’t care to check after it happened. I just walked to the [training room] and kept it moving. It’s not anywhere near as bad as it was a week and a half ago, so I’ve just got to let it calm down and see.

“My frustration level is on 1,000. This was just dumb. You can get hurt in a game by falling on someone’s foot. That happens in shootaround? It’s just a freak accident.”

Curry has had a history of ankle injuries during his nine-year NBA career. He has missed 14 games this season, including 11 from Dec. 6 to Dec. 29, with a right ankle injury. The four-time NBA All-Star was arguably the hottest player in the league upon his return, averaging 35.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 32.4 minutes while shooting 53.2 percent from 3-point range. Curry scored 45 points in 29 minutes in a road win against the Clippers on Jan. 6.

The Warriors embark on a five-game road trip starting Friday that includes the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets. If all goes well, Curry hopes to be back for the first contest Friday against the Bucks.

“Knowing me, I will be back [Friday],” Curry said. “I don’t think it’s that bad. I’m just making sure it doesn’t swell up. That would set me back. That’s what slowed me down the last time.”

When told Curry could be back for Saturday’s game at Toronto, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said: “Just our luck. We will get Curry back with fresh legs.”