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.

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.”

[mlbvideo id=”515660383?topic_id=6479266″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

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.