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

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

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.”

Racist basketball jerseys prompt parent to resign from school board

Father of one of the team’s players says, ‘I could have done more’

5:50 PMWell, someone has taken responsibility for the basketball team with racist names. A member of the Kings school board in suburban Cincinnati resigned Tuesday night because his son was on the “Wet Dream Team” recreation league squad. The names “Knee Grow” and “Coon” were on the back of two team jerseys.

“I could have done more. I could have said more. So to whatever degree I can help the healing, I will,” Kerry McKiernan said at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board on Jan. 9. “I’m resigning because it’s the right thing to do.”

On Jan. 7, the fourth game of the season, a parent of an opposing team member posted photos of the jerseys on Facebook. The story went viral, and the league kicked the team out. The coach issued an apology to “anyone who was offended” and went silent.

McKiernan said no one on the team meant to hurt anyone. “To whatever degree I’m responsible, I apologize on behalf of Kings to anybody that was hurt. … There’s no place for hate or prejudice anywhere.”

He defended his son as “beautiful, he’s kind, he’s loving, he’s never been in trouble, he’s never hurt anybody. He’s good to everybody. He’s a beautiful kid. Supportive to everyone.”

“He and I are guilty of association, some very bad decisions, some bad choices. We’re guilty of not saying no. But the reality that our family is associated with this is heartbreaking. It breaks my Christian heart. There aren’t any excuses or explanations, and I’m not going to try and make any. As a parent, there were reasons I didn’t say more, there were reasons I didn’t do more. … I never saw my role as anything other than a father of one of the players.

“We must learn that we are responsible all the time in every circumstance to stand up to prejudice, bigotry, stupidity, in both what we say and how we act, regardless of our age or our position. … I could have done more. I could have said more.”

It will be interesting to see what further fallout and lessons emerge, it is hoped as soon as Monday — the holiday honoring late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

“We’re not ignorant enough, or naive enough, to say that we don’t have a problem,” said school superintendent Tim Ackerman.

The Census Bureau website estimates the population of Kings Mills as 1,470 — and says that all 1,470 residents are white.

‘Black Panther’ ticket presale is breaking all of the records

It’s even beating ‘Captain America: Civil War’

4:46 PMIt’s just as lit, and just as record-breaking, as so many always knew it would be. According to Deadline: “After tickets went on sale Monday night, Black Panther is already outstripping Captain America: Civil War as Fandango’s best-selling MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] title in the first 24 hours of presales. Captain America: Civil War kicked off the opening of summer 2016 during the first weekend of May with $179M.” Oh. Yes. We are really coming down to the wire. Director Ryan Coogler is starting to talk about his Panther influences (among them 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2010’s A Prophet), and there’s the amazing Kendrick Lamar video/film trailer. Soon we’ll all know the answer to the question “You’re telling me the king of a Third World country runs around in a bulletproof catsuit?” Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis and Danai Gurira, opens Feb. 16.

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

For those with vested interest in this weekend’s NFL games, you might want to listen to Stephania

2:09 PM

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One week into 2018, the ladies have already officially taken over our airwaves. The Plug returns with NFL injury analyst Stephania Bell to chop it up about the status of key players heading into this second week of playoff action around the league. Bell also gives insight into the complexities of her job and how her background in physical therapy directly affects her career.

The squad then chops it up with Miss Quadruple-Double herself — Grambling’s own Shakyla Hill. The star guard talks about realizing the accomplishment was in reach and what she told her teammates in the moment. Her reaction to praise from LeBron James is priceless too. And you’ll never believe the role her mom played in making the historic quad-double happen.

From there, Chiney, Kayla, Tes and myself wax poetic on a variety of topics, including Serena’s pink slip at the Australian Open, LaVar Ball’s recent comments about Lakers head coach Luke Walton, what the first round of NBA All-Star Game votes mean and, yes, O.J. Simpson’s Las Vegas tailgate experience. You should know the deal by now, but tell a friend to tell a friend to subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app! Pull up on us next week!

Previously: The Plug, ‘Happy New Year’ (Episode 4): with special guest co-host Mike Golic Jr.

Serena Williams and daughter Alexis Olympia grace the cover of ‘Vogue’ magazine

The tennis icon and her baby girl have taken mommy and me to the next level

10:03 AMThe greatest of all time has done it again! Serena Williams may not be heading to the Aussie Open to win another Grand Slam title, but she has given us the gift of another amazing Vogue magazine cover — and this time baby Alexis Olympia has joined her!

The tennis star gave the magazine exclusive access to her stunning November 2017 wedding to husband Alexis Ohanian. Now the couple’s beautiful baby girl is making her debut, and she’s already got her smize game down pat!

The cover photo, which was shot by Mario Testino, shows Williams in a red dress with a simple sweetheart neckline, gold accessories and her massive engagement ring. Meanwhile, baby Alexis is serving up onesie realness.

In the accompanying article, Williams discusses motherhood, marriage and what’s next in her already phenomenal career, and she doesn’t mince words: There are more wins on the way.

“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams,” Williams says.

She also plans on teaching her daughter the secrets of black girl magic:

“Women are sometimes taught not to dream as big as men. I’m so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits.”

Besides adorable mommy and me shots, the issue contains gorgeous flicks of Williams and her husband in full marital bliss, and others of the tennis star with her family looking very pajama party chic.

Vogue magazine has started the year off strong with black women gracing the covers of both the January and February issues. Last month, actress Lupita Nyong’o kicked off 2018 with her cover.

Check out the full article and stunning photos on Vogue.com.