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

NAACP sues city of Flint

Group says city failed to provide safe water to citizens

6:25 PMPresident Barack Obama might have drank the water in Flint two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean the saga is over in Michigan. On Wednesday, the NAACP filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents of the city where officials allowed water contaminated with lead to taint its water supply. The class-action lawsuit is seeking damages for the actions of a state-management company and names Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, as a defendant.

“The people of Flint have been harmed through the failure of state officials to provide professional and accountable basic services mandated by federal law and expected by any person living in a major city,” Cornell Brooks, CEO of the NAACP, said in a press release. “Our organization stands with the citizens of Flint to demand a clear timeline, deadline and price tag for fixing this crisis as well as effective remedies for the harms that have already occurred and complete compensation for each and every victim of this unimaginable tragedy.”

In recent months, multiple celebrities including quite a few athletes, have been donating water and other supplies to families who’ve been affected by the crisis. Rappers Meek Mill and Big Sean (who is from Detroit) pledged money and, in January, members of the Detroit Lions gave 94,000 bottles of water to the effort.

The NAACP plans to host town hall meetings on the matter soon.

Steven Adams

learns a quick lesson in American racial politics

11:42 AMSteven Grizzly Adams is a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is from New Zealand. Monkeys are not native to that nation. So when he called the Golden State Warriors guards “quick little monkeys” after his team’s 108-102 victory Monday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, it didn’t sound great.

Calling people, specifically black people, “monkeys” is certainly a faux pas in today’s polite society, because it’s a lazy metaphor that a) makes no sense scientifically and b) is insulting. Just take a look at a soccer game happening anywhere on the globe save this continent, and you’ll find people making howling noises and throwing bananas at black players. This is not new. But there’s a history of commentators saying that word in this country, as well.

https://twitter.com/KennyDucey/status/732422649641603072?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

But Adams is a Kiwi. I’m willing to give him a pass for not understanding the true nature of his comments, even if they were insensitive. From a more basketball-oriented standpoint, they’re also inaccurate. Stephen Curry is not a tough monkey — he’s the first and only unanimous MVP of the NBA.

“It was just a poor choice of words, mate. I wasn’t thinking straight,” Adams said to USA Today. I didn’t know it was going to upset anyone, but I’m truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around. … Different words, different expressions, and stuff like that. But they obviously can be taken differently, depending on which country you’re in. I’m assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries. But I definitely overstepped them tonight.”

Fair enough. Dude showed up to the U.S. in 2011. Delving into the whole racial history of New Zealand, which isn’t great, isn’t particularly necessary, as Adams doesn’t represent his whole nation, necessarily. He was just a tired dude having trouble keeping up with the best backcourt in the league. The apology was genuine, and everyone learned something.

Daily Dose: 5/17/16

A Mississippi school district finally gets it

10:51 AMWhat’s up, kiddos. Today’s the day. This is what you’ll get every morning from me, so you don’t have to pay attention to the news if life takes you elsewhere. Newsletter life is quite the thrill, if you love unread messages in your inbox. Kidding, let’s do this.

Mississippi is making progress. On the day before the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that desegregated schools across the nation with the goal of making learning an equal opportunity situation, a district in the Magnolia State is finally catching up. We’re 60 years removed from that monumental decision from the Supreme Court, but somehow, this place missed the memo. This particular location is almost two-thirds black from a student populace standpoint. Also, take some time to think about what the term “historically white” actually means. ABC News’ Meghan Keneally reports.

Speaking of states, when was the last time you were in Pennsylvania? It’s a fine state. My personal favorite place there happens to be a place called Breezewood. When it comes to electoral politics, however, the state is hugely important this year. Particularly if you’re a Republican. With Donald Trump trying to find a way to relate to “normal America” on his way to the Oval Office, the home of the 76ers and the Penguins might be the place he kicks off the actualization of that effort. FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman explains why that’s a possibility.

Full disclosure: I already miss Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan. When it was announced that the former New York Giants defensive lineman would be leaving the program for Good Morning America, I was legit upset that the best duo on daytime television was done. It got kind of awkward, but now, Kelly is doing her thing on her own, to an extent. There will be a long line of guest hosts to determine who’s ready. If we’re being honest, nobody can really replace Strahan, but that’s another story. ABC’s Joi Marie McKenzie has details on the new show.

When it comes to individuals in the NFL, there’s Marshawn Lynch and everyone else. The man who exploded on to the scene by running all over the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game has become larger than life due to his healthy disdain for outsiders and tremendously charming persona. I don’t even love football but I still can’t believe Pete Carroll didn’t give him the ball in the Super Bowl. Anyways, the man known as “Beast Mode” is obviously a very smart guy. The Undefeated’s Lonnae O’Neal spent some time peeling back the layers in Oakland.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Mental illness is something that is chronically underreported, under discussed and under treated in communities of color. So when singer Kehlani admitted that she was struggling with said issues a while back, it was rather revelatory. This week, she showed remarkable courage by stopping to talk about it during a live show.

Snack Time: I listen to a lot of Action Bronson out of habit, but I might enjoy watching him cook and shop more than I do listening to him rap. Turns out, that just like Noreaga, he had a run in with Michael Jordan, too! Enjoy.

Dessert: By the way, we’ve got a podcast, too. Myself, Jill Hudson and Justin Tinsley are the squad. Listen up.

Welcome

to the information mixtape for your grind

4:03 AMWhen The Undefeated Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida first asked me to be a part of this project, he said he wanted something to be the “lifeblood” of the site. Although The Undefeated will deliver many big and important things from a journalism and entertainment standpoint, there still needs to be some fun.

That’s what I’m here for.

Art. Music. Life. Sports. Gear. Taste. We’ll cover it all.

You’re as likely to get a story on why rappers all suddenly have French bulldogs as you are a fashion analysis of Adidas’ new line of football cleats. Beyoncé launches a new athleisure line? On it. Vin Diesel sings “Oh Happy Day”? That works, too. President Obama and Steph Curry make a viral video for the My Brother’s Keeper program? Sure. A new documentary on the Roland TR-808 drum machine? Absolutely.

For weekends, we’ll go X Games-style and highlight athletes of color from the skate/snow/surf world for a feature we call “Board on Saturday.” Following that, we’ll take you around the world for “Street Art Sundays” in which we’ll showcase work from the graffiti/mural scene — a visual stimulant to close out your week.

Coming soon, we’ll have a daily newsletter to start your morning in case you haven’t caught up with the news yet. Politics, entertainment, random info, whatever.

And we’ll soon be launching a weekly podcast that I’ll host along with senior style writer Jill Hudson and culture and sports writer Justin Tinsley every Tuesday. We got you, fam.

See you on the internet.

Black hockey fans

some are just discovering the game others have loved for years

10:45 PMFour years ago, I found myself sitting in the downtown Washington, D.C. offices of Ted Leonsis: founder, chairman, majority owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the outfit that runs the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals. Per his request, we were there to discuss diversity in hockey. My story “I’m a black hockey fan. We do exist.” had just run, and Leonsis, who’s long supported youth programs in his local area thought that should be more well-known.

But as I explained that day and in the story, my concern was about the game-day experience. That was a separate discussion to whether or not black kids get the chance to hit the ice. But in the past month, we’ve seen how teams are reaching out via social media to get black faces in the seats.

First, there was the story of Tony X. He tweeted up a storm while watching his first game as a St. Louis Blues fan, and became an instant sensation. He ended up at a playoff game with an authentic Vladimir Tarasenko jersey on, shown on the jumbotron and then trading paint on Good Morning America with Blues legend Brett Hull.

Last week, writer Retta, who goes by @unforettable on Twitter, shared the tale of how she became a fan, and it’s beyond hilarious. The story is set a few years ago, but has gained new relevance as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue with each of the four teams left fielding a relatively prominent player of color.

Like, Tony X., she’d be given the red carpet treatment during her maiden voyage and had a blast. With deck like “how the LA Kings, a personalized jersey, and an epic Vine helped her fall in love with hockey,” you know you’ve got a great story. And if people are actively calling the Kings the “Kaaangs” in Los Angeles, I might have to move there.

There was an older black couple at the bar, and for me it wasn’t a big deal cuz this is LA. Black folks are everywhere, right? But the novelty was lost on me because I forgot where I was. I was at a hockey game, in the Chairman’s Room, where people with the baller-baller/shot-caller tickets hang out. The novelty was not lost on the older gentleman, who, upon seeing me, lit up with such excitement that I thought maybe I knew him. I didn’t. He was like, “Hey, sistuh!” A little thrown by his eagerness, I was like, “Heyyyy … sir.” And then it dawned on me. We were THREE unicorns in a basement bar. Even this unicorn couldn’t believe it. — Retta

Point is, these two tales make one thing obvious: Getting fans of color isn’t particularly difficult if you reach out to them. There’s nothing necessarily inherently divisive about the game. Many people just don’t know it’s there or realize how fun it can be to watch, a fact the NHL could easily change.

Chance The Rapper

throws Frank Ocean a serious alley-oop

10:43 PMChancelor Bennett is arguably the hottest rapper in the game right now. His new mixtape, “Coloring Book,” has taken the music world by storm, by fusing the worlds of gospel and hip-hop in a way that we haven’t seen since Kanye West’s early work. Understandably, as a 23-year-old Chicago native and protege of Yeezy, Chance is proud of his faith in Christ, aside from turning in one of the greater performances we’ve seen on a late night talk show in a long while.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZyt5dSNcFo

Meanwhile, Frank Ocean’s second album has been one of the most anticipated projects that hasn’t materialized since Dr. Dre’s “Detox,” which was eventually canceled. It’s been four years since “Channel Orange” dropped in July 2012. It has been the topic of MUCH discussion, jokes and ultimately, disappointment.

But today, along comes Lil Chano to save the Odd Future-affiliated singer. “I am good friends with Frank. His new album is amazing,” Chance told Complex. “No one is really able to find Frank when Frank goes away, literally no one, not just publications. I know he’s away making a masterpiece.”

Whoa, hold up? A masterpiece? Those are extremely high praises from the guy who can do no wrong right now. Or as the man who moonlights as a Major League Baseball hat designer in his spare time for the Chicago White Sox would say, “when the praises go up, the blessings come down.”

Chance just bought Frank another six months.

Rougned Odor

will throw hands if he has to, and always has

12:15 PMLast night, I got a text from a friend who used to cover sports in Dallas.

He was relaying a message that a former colleague of his had told him a long time ago about Venezuelan second baseman Rougned Odor. The message said, “literal scouting report: ‘don’t [expletive] with him’ … never been more accurate.”

Odor’s punch to Jose Bautista’s jaw that incited a brawl during a Rangers-Blue Jays game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday night was quickly memed, for obvious reasons.

But Odor has been about this life for a while. Back in 2011, he had no qualms taking on three dudes after an incident in a minor league game.

Sure, it was a late slide, but whatever was said became enough to trigger Odor’s now signature move: the shove that clears room for the right cross. If only Joey Bats had been studying game tape of fights of the bus leagues instead of opposing pitchers.

The relative irony here is that Odor is no stranger to late slides. Last year, his antics on the basepaths were subject to frequent scrutiny with one particular slide in a game in October that helped the Texas Rangers to the playoffs being an example. He apologized at the time, but no one forgot it when Odor decided to come to blows.

Of course, this likely has something to do with Bautista’s bat flip from last year’s American League divisional game, an event more commonly referred to in my household as “the greatest moment of the 2015 MLB season.”

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We’re not ones to promote violence, but for the sake of analysis, we will look at this scuffle frame by frame. The words of the announcer say it all (“Whoooaaa!”) , but visually, so much happened here.

To begin with, Bautista clearly presumed himself to be at an advantage as he was both wearing a helmet and had both hands available. Little did he know, this wasn’t anything close to Odor’s first rodeo (Texas joke!) and managed to get his whole face rocked to the degree that both his sunglasses and lid go flying. It’s rather remarkable. That initial shove from Odor is quite literally a veteran move and shifted the balance of the pugilists completely.

Easily the most impressive part of this punch is that he managed to land it under and around the earflap while not hitting the helmet itself. That and the fact that his chain did a full 360 on his neck while he was administering said piecing.

To be fair to Bautista, this punch didn’t knock him out, only stunned him slightly. Of course, this is all a stupid huge waste of time in baseball, as all fights are, but that was one of the better landed punches we’ve seen in the sports world in some time.

The 76ers take the plunge

and become the first NBA team to put sponsors on their jerseys

11:58 AMWe should have known it would be them. The Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA team seemingly most bereft of any type of talent or plan for the future in recent seasons, announced Monday that StubHub’s logo will appear on their game jerseys in 2016-17, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

On two levels, this is both confusing and appropriate. For one, the Sixers recently overhauled their uniforms with a bit of a retro look that was fantastic. Now, they’re adding the sponsor, which is not exactly invasive and we thought that was the whole point. If nobody can see the sponsor, why bother? At least they adjusted the color scheme to the team colors.

Oddly, this ends up being an advertisement that psychologically might work against both partners. The Sixers’ ticket prices aren’t particularly high at the Wells Fargo Center. According to Statista, the average ticket price for the 2015-16 season was $38.46. That’s 24th out of 30, which for a team that finished dead last in the Eastern Conference and barely got to double-digit wins, makes sense.

But even with those low prices, it’s not like people are showing up. The Sixers ranked 28th overall in average attendance at home. On the road, they move up to 24th, but overall their attendance percentage is lowest in the league at 81.7 percent. Back in April, Sam Hinkie stepped down as general manager, taking The Process with him. Joel Embiid has been a disaster and Jahlil Okafor still has some growing up to do. Discounted tickets from a fan share site don’t seem to matter when it comes to putting butts in the seats.

If this is new team president Bryan Colangelo’s plan to get people interested in the team again, it’s a heavy lift. Good thing the Sixers have a 25 percent chance of winning the NBA Draft Lottery.