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

Nick ‘Swaggy P’ Young: ‘Just to have a pair of Pharrells … and I have a pair of Kobes, signed. That’s something I do.’

The Warriors guard on playing in Pharrell x Adidas Crazy BYW X during the playoffs

10:52 PMOAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — During media day on the eve of the 2018 NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors shooting guard Nick Young’s face lit up when asked about his most important style decision of the playoffs. “That was,” he said with a smile, “legendary.”

The moment occurred during the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets. Before Game 6, Young showed up to Oracle Arena holding a fresh new pair of Adidas’ “Gratitude/Empathy” Crazy BYW Xs — a collaboration with superproducer Pharrell Williams. In late April, Pharrell — who signed with Adidas in 2014, and has since inspired some of the brand’s most coveted lifestyle shoeswore the BYWs for the first time during a press tour in China for another one of his signature collections. But the sneakers hadn’t made their debut on 94 feet of hardwood until Young began warming up in them before the Warriors’ 115-86 blowout win over the Rockets on May 26.

Unbeknownst to Young, the player commonly referred to in both basketball and fashion circles as “Swaggy P” — Pharrell would be sitting courtside for Game 6 with the shoes on his feet. “When they told me he was showing up,” Young said, “I was like, ‘Man … please, coach, lemme play a little bit!’ That’s Pharrell — somebody I look up to, fashionwise, and how cool he is.” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr obliged, throwing his backup sharpshooter into the win-or-go-home matchup for 16 minutes, during which Young dropped five points while rocking the kicks.

After the game, the hooper and his idol shared a moment. “Skateboard P and Swaggy P,” said Young, who joined Adidas in 2015 after Nike failed to match the deal. Pharrell even broke out a pen and signed the shoes: “To the clutch, Swaggy P!

“Something to keep in my collection. Just to have those, a pair of Pharrells … and I have a pair of Kobes signed,” Young said. “That’s something I do.” As for whether we’ll see Young in the multicolored, Pharrell-inspired basketball shoes during the Finals? “Nah … ” he said. “I ain’t playing in them again.”

Congratulations! This HBCU won its eighth NCAA outdoor track and field title

Lincoln University’s women’s team cruises to championship

12:25 PMCHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Lincoln University women’s track and field team and coach Victor “Poppy” Thomas had grown sick and tired of near misses in NCAA Division II national championships.

Thomas said the team has missed out on at least three national outdoor and indoor titles by a total of five points.

Thomas and the Blue Tigers left nothing to chance Saturday, building up an insurmountable lead and cruising to the team’s eighth national outdoor championship at Johnson C. Smith’s Irwin Belk Complex.

Lincoln was led by the quick feet of sophomore Rene Medley, who won the 200-meter dash, finished second in the 100-meter dash and teamed with Diana Cauldwell, Christine Moss and Shaian Vandenburg to win the 4×100 relay in 44.51 seconds.

Medley said she had extra incentive in the 200 meters because she wanted revenge on the runner who finished ahead of her in the semifinals.

“It was a great race,” Medley said. “In the prelims I came in second place and I got lane 3, and the girl who beat me got lane 4. So that really motivated me to just run her down, and I did just that.

“It’s a great feeling to win the national championship with these great ladies. We came in third indoor in the nationals with just three girls, so this feels great.”

Cauldwell, a senior, also won the triple jump and was second in the long jump to help the Blue Tigers build a nearly insurmountable lead by midday.

“I just came out here to deliver, and do what my coach said I should do,” Caldwell said. “This is amazing; it is so amazing to win a national championship.”

Moss also helped pick up a third-place finish in the 4X400 relay, for which she teamed with Renea Ambersley, Segale Brown and Shanice Clarke.

“I think the girls did excellent,” said Thomas, Lincoln’s head track and field coach for 15 years. “We have three superstars, along with a supporting cast who did the job that they were supposed to do, and we were able to pull it off quite comfortably.”

Lincoln is a historically black university with an enrollment of 3,000-plus students in Jefferson City, Missouri. The Blue Tigers finished the meet with 60 points, followed by runners-up St. Augustine’s, which in typical fashion, climbed from 19th at the start of the day to second place at the end.

In fact, St. Augustine’s, whose men’s and women’s teams failed to achieve a 40th national championship for coach George Williams, was racing for second place in the final event and secured it when the Falcons’ Shannon Kalawan passed a Lincoln runner on the backstretch and cruised to the finish line for St. Aug’s victory in the 4X400 meter relay.

The Falcons finished with 48.5 points.

But Medley, Caldwell and Lincoln teammates had already been fitted for the crown.

Before that final event, Lincoln already had 54 points — 11.5 more than the next-closest competitor.

Angelo State (42.5 points), Grand Valley State (40.5) and Adams State (39) rounded out the top five.

For Lincoln, it was the school’s eighth national outdoor women’s championship to go with five indoor titles.

The Blue Tigers won five straight, from 2003 to 2007, and again in 2009 and 2014. Their national indoor titles came in 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2016.

For Williams, it’s back on the recruiting trail and back to trying to cajole St. Augustine’s administrators for more scholarship funds.

“We only had five girls, and Lincoln had quite a contingent,” Williams said. “We put up a good fight, we just ran out of bodies. Until we can be able to find scholarships to get some more student-athletes, that’s about the best we can do.”

The irony of Trump’s Jack Johnson pardon

He freed the memory of one black man while his attorney general revives policies that lead to mass incarceration

4:20 PMIt took a white president to pardon Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, for having sex with white women.

Barack Obama wouldn’t touch it, to the dismay and puzzlement of many. Perhaps Johnson’s history was too messy. After winning the world title in 1908, Johnson flaunted his lust for money, clothes, cars, jewelry — and especially white women. In an America where black men could be lynched for a stray glance or remark, Johnson viciously beat at least one of his white girlfriends. Even though Johnson was wrongfully imprisoned under a Jim Crow law designed to police interracial sex, the first black president ignored pleas to exonerate the long-dead boxer. Instead, Obama focused his pardon power on living people unjustly imprisoned by the racially biased policies of mass incarceration.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump pardoned Johnson, who died in a car crash in 1946. “We righted a wrong,” Trump said in a ceremony attended by Johnson’s descendants, current heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder, former champ Lennox Lewis and Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone, who brought Johnson’s case to Trump’s attention.

There are many ironies in Trump’s decision, starting with the president being elected despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and assault. Add that Obama was handcuffed, to some extent, by a double standard that holds African-Americans accountable for all black sins while allowing whites to be judged as individuals. And Johnson’s gaudy lifestyle bears more similarities to Trump’s than to Obama’s.

But the saddest point is that while Obama used his pardons to free those victimized by mass incarceration, Trump’s Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is reviving policies on criminal charges that disastrously and disproportionately packed American prisons with blacks and Latinos.

Trump just freed the memory of one black man who died 72 years ago. How many living black men are now headed to the place where Jack Johnson never should have been?