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
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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!
N.C. A&T football coach Rod Broadway expected to retire Tuesday
Legendary coach won his second Celebration Bowl, and third national title, in December
5:30 PMI can count on one hand the number of times over the past year and a half when I’ve asked North Carolina A&T football coach Rod Broadway if retirement was on the horizon. And each time the man who has brought Aggie Pride to the sidelines at Aggie Stadium for seven years had answered the question, without flinching: “We’ll see what the future brings. … I’m just an old ball coach, thinking about the next game.”
After securing his second Celebration Bowl championship last month, Broadway is reportedly hanging up his clipboard. An 11 a.m. news conference to announce his retirement is set for Tuesday.
Broadway is walking away in Undefeated fashion, having finished last season 12-0 to give the Aggies their second black college national title in three seasons. Broadway, 62, coached the Aggies to a 59-22 record and retires as the only coach to win a black college football national championship at three different schools, including North Carolina Central and Grambling State. N.C. A&T was the only unbeaten team in the FCS this season.
Always a straight shooter, Broadway has been candid, sharing his thoughts with The Undefeated on player activism as well as the extra responsibility black coaches have as father figures at historically black colleges.
“When that time does come,” Broadway told me, “you can find me in Jamaica, where I like to go on vacation, with my feet up, doing some fishing.”
Well played, coach.
#Oprah2020 misses the point of her epic Golden Globes speech
The media mogul’s speech wasn’t about her at all
4:58 PMShortly after Oprah Winfrey delivered a galvanizing, inspiring speech about visibility and accountability while accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, the internet started gushing over how presidential she sounded. “Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” NBC (not NBC News) tweeted before deleting. Then people started speculating about whether she actually would run for president and arguing about her competence for the office.
But this conjecture unfortunately takes away from the power of Oprah’s speech as its own self-contained, and completely necessary, call to action. Her speech wasn’t about her at all, which is what made it so impactful. She, instead, used her platform and visibility to draw attention to exactly the kind of women who are often shunned and ignored in our society. The most vulnerable among us. The ones who can’t say #MeToo and #TimesUp and speak their truth without experiencing devastating consequences. She lifted those women up in her speech Sunday night, and she also asked men to take an active role in shutting down the cycle of abuse that happens in Hollywood, in media, in academia, in factories, in just about every part of society one can think of.
Before we breathlessly move on to The Next Big Thing in our news cycle, let’s make sure we take a moment to internalize what Oprah told us Sunday night and appreciate the moment for what it was: not the start of a run for the presidency but a night when a black woman, while being honored with a prestigious award, used her platform to tell vulnerable communities that they are seen.
H&M’s ‘coolest monkey’ hoodie and how racism wastes our precious time
As Toni Morrison taught us, the ongoing cycle of ignorance keeps us from our work
2:09 PMWhen I first saw the now-infamous H&M ad of a beautiful black child wearing a hoodie that reads “The Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” my initial reaction was rage. Here we are, almost two full decades into the 21st century, and we are still seeing images that equate black people with monkeys, an ugly trope that has existed for hundreds of years. However, my rage was quickly followed by a deep weariness. I was reminded of the words of Toni Morrison when she addressed racism during a 1975 lecture on race and politics:
“[K]now the function, the very serious function of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary.”
Racism, and specifically anti-blackness, manifests itself in a myriad of ugly ways. We seem to be in an endless cycle of:
- Person/company says/does something horribly offensive
- Offers a half-baked apology
- Waits for the outrage to die down
- And then it starts up again.
H&M issued an apology today: “We sincerely apologize for this image. It has been now removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the United States.” Sadly, it isn’t the first company to release images with racist connotations and it won’t be the last. Nivea recently published an ad stating, I kid you not, “White is purity” and pulled it after white supremacists started sharing the image as a rallying cry. Dove came under fire a few months ago for an ad that showed an image of a black woman taking off a brown shirt to reveal a white woman underneath, as if blackness is something dirty and needs to be scrubbed off. And who could forget the recent Pepsi gaffe that treated the last few years of protests against police brutality, led primarily by black women, like a carefree day at Coachella?
What makes all of this so insidious to me, as someone who analyzes images for a living, is knowing the lasting impact that images can have on the psyches of people who consume them. Despite the apologies offered and the insistence by these companies of how much they believe in diversity and inclusion, the images are out there and the damage is done. And what I am also intimately familiar with is the energy and time wasted in fighting against this kind of messaging. What is lost when, instead of focusing that energy on ourselves, on elevating and lifting each other up, we are instead mired in a fight against the kind of messaging that tells us we’re not human.
Do I think everyone at H&M is a racist? Well, that is hard to say. But what I can tell you, as someone who has often been the only black woman in a room full of decision-makers, is that there probably aren’t enough people of color in their chain of command. There aren’t enough people in the room who have been on the receiving end of callous and insensitive remarks about their race or ethnicity. There aren’t enough people in the room who have believed they had to constantly prove their humanity time and time again. There aren’t enough people in the room who don’t have the privilege to feign ignorance about racist tropes that have existed for generations.
Jaguars’ Yannick Ngakoue: #Iaintjonathanmartin!
Defensive end accuses Bills guard Richie Incognito of racial slurs
9:20 AMJACKSONVILLE, Florida — Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito, suspended previously for his role in a bullying scandal, has been accused of making racial slurs during the team’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
After the Jaguars’ 10-3 AFC wild-card round victory here, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue tweeted:
Incognito wears No. 64. Ngakoue did not respond to a message seeking comment, but he spoke to reporters here Monday. He stopped short of saying Incognito used the N-word.
“No, I don’t remember, but, you know, he said what he said,” Ngakoue said. “He knows what he said. I don’t have to repeat it.”
Attempts to contact Incognito’s agent, David Dunn, were unsuccessful.
Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins, who lines up next to Incognito, came to his teammate’s defense:
Just for the world to know, everyone always tryna put some bad thing on @68INCOGNITO i was next to my guy the entire game and the entire season and believe me, if he was saying some racist stuff I would have been the first to let him know that was out of line. Cut The BS
— Dion Dawkins (@DDawkins66) January 8, 2018
In 2013, the Miami Dolphins suspended Incognito for the final eight games of the season after it was determined he was a central figure in the bullying of former NFL offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Ngakoue used the hashtag #Iaintjonathanmartin!
In a 2014 report on the Dolphins bullying scandal, Ted Wells, the NFL’s lead investigator, detailed “a pattern of harassment” against Martin by Incognito and other Dolphins players that included racial slurs. According to Incognito’s attorney, the report was “replete with errors.”
Incognito, 34, has revived his career with Buffalo after sitting out the 2014 season. In each of his three seasons since signing with the Bills in 2015, the 13-year veteran has been selected for the Pro Bowl.
In only his second season, Ngakoue, 22, has emerged as one of the NFL’s best edge rushers. He led the league with six forced fumbles and tied for eighth with 12 sacks. Ngakoue’s father is from Cameroon.
“I’ve been playing this game since I was a little kid. You hear all types of stuff,” Ngakoue said. “Stuff’s not going to bother you, but somebody says something about your ethnicity, that’s really kind of taking it a little bit too far.
“I’m all with trash talk. It’s part of the game, but you can’t say certain things.”
Erin Jackson makes history qualifying for U.S. Olympic team in long-track speedskating
First black woman to make long-track team, second ever on Team USA
12:06 PMErin Jackson, who took up speedskating just four months ago, qualified for an Olympic roster spot on Friday, becoming the first black woman on Team USA in long-track speedskating and the second ever to make an Olympic speedskating team.
Jackson, 25, came in third in the 500 meters at the U.S. speedskating trials in 39.04 seconds, a personal best. She finished behind veteran Olympians Brittany Bowe (38.18) and Heather Bergsma (38.42).
The Ocala, Florida, native was an inline skater for 15 years and started speedskating in March 2017, but she’s consistently trained on ice only since September. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Jackson will join 17-year-old Maame Biney, who in December became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. speedskating team when she won the 500 meters at the short-track trials.
Four-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist Shani Davis qualified for the U.S. men’s team on Wednesday after he finished second in the 1,000-meter race at trials.
“I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can,” Jackson told reporters Friday. “I still don’t even know.”
Chef and entrepreneur Ayesha Curry says she won’t ever call herself an NBA wife
‘I don’t think my husband would call himself ‘chef’s wife’ ‘
12:16 PMAuthor, restaurant owner and Food Network personality Ayesha Curry holds many titles. But one she says she will not use is “NBA wife.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever call myself that,” she told Nightline co-anchor Juju Chang during an interview that aired on Wednesday. “I mean, I don’t think my husband would call himself ‘chef’s wife.’ ”
She’s married to Golden State Warriors star and two-time NBA champion Stephen Curry. She just opened her flagship restaurant International Smoke in San Francisco, her third location with chef Michael Mina.
The 28-year-old’s show Ayesha’s Home Kitchen was launched in July 2017, and she was also a co-host of ABC’s The Great American Baking Show. She’s an author and one of the new faces of CoverGirl, has a cookware line and a home cooking service and is the mother of two daughters, Riley and Ryan.
“Obviously, mom and wife first,” Curry said of the many titles she juggles. “Those are the two most important titles.”
Their courtship began in 2002 as a church friendship when they were 14. Curry’s family joined the Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina. Retired NBA player Dell Curry and his wife, Sonya, along with their three young children, Stephen, Seth and Sydel, were members of the church as well. The couple wed in 2011.
“One thing that my mom always told me was to never lose yourself inside of your marriage. I’m happy that I’ve been able to find that so-called balance and be able to pursue my passions and take care of my family,” Curry said during the Nightline interview.
“My family values are really, really important. When you’re a little more traditional, it’s almost shunned upon. Like, if you’re doing something wrong — and I feel really strongly about immigration because my mom is … from Jamaica. She still has a green card here,” Curry continued. “I just think about all the families that could be affected by these, you know, ill decisions that are being made, and it breaks my heart.”
According to ABC News, Mina says Curry is “really humble.” “Everything that she wants to get out of this industry, it’s all about this idea of how you continue to create just great food for your family, for your guests,” he told Nightline.
Aaron Maybin brings attention to Baltimore children in frigid schools
Former NFL linebacker posted video, helps raise money and collects winter gear
1:53 AMAs an African-American explorer in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Matthew Henson donned warm coats with fur collars while braving frigid temperatures during his journeys through the Arctic to the North Pole.
Many students in Baltimore’s Matthew Henson Elementary School are donning similar cold weather gear while attending class in 2018.
We know about the dilemma of those students thanks to former NFL linebacker Aaron Maybin, who teaches at the school through his work with Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center. Maybin’s video of the frigid conditions experienced by students went viral after he posted it Wednesday. One of the students told Maybin that “yesterday I had frostbite” while sitting in a classroom with no heat, leaving the students wearing winter coats while attempting to learn in near-freezing temperatures.
— Aaron Maybin (@AaronMMaybin) January 3, 2018
That led Maybin to endorse a GoFundMe campaign that began with a goal of raising $20,000 to purchase 600 space heaters and outerwear for students. As of early Friday, that campaign, led by Coppin State University senior Samierra Jones, had raised more than $41,000 from more than 1,100 donors. Another group is raising money to provide Mylar blankets to students.
While outsiders make efforts to help the students, Baltimore officials and school administrators are pointing fingers about who is to blame for the burst pipes and broken boilers that have plagued the school system since students returned from break this week. Students got some relief on Thursday: Schools were closed because of the dusting of snow that hit the city.
“I’m angry at a lot of people,” Maybin wrote on his Twitter page on Thursday. “But one cannot simply blame the mayor and do nothing to help. While we sit back and blame others OUR kids are freezing NOW. Someone has to fight for them.”
Serena: ‘I will need a little more time’
Williams won’t defend her title at the Australian Open
12:03 AMSerena Williams announced on Thursday that she’ll skip the 2018 Australian Open, just a year after she won the 2017 event while eight weeks pregnant.
And for tennis fans who expect dominance from the best women’s tennis player, that’s probably a good thing.
Based on Williams’ play during a three-set loss to Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi last week, it was clear that she wasn’t ready to compete for a major title, and Williams admitted as much in a statement she released via the Australian Open:
“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be. My coach and team said ‘only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ I can compete — but I don’t want to just compete. I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time.”
A loss to Ostapenko shouldn’t be a complete disappointment — the 20-year-old native of Latvia won the 2017 French Open and was ranked as high as No. 7 in the world last year. Williams looked a little sluggish as she played her first competitive match in nearly a year. She gave birth in September 2017 to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
“I don’t think I’m going to rate my performance,” the 36-year-old Williams said after the match last week. “I have plenty of comebacks, from injuries, from surgeries, but I’ve never had a comeback after actually giving birth to a human being.”
It would have been an incredible story for Williams to defend her Aussie championship just one year after winning it while pregnant. Williams said she spent part of the exhibition match against Ostapenko worried about her 4-month-old daughter.
“I was a little worried out there, and looked at my camp and I was like, ‘Is Olympia OK?’ But it’s really good,” Williams said during her postmatch interview.
There was already a sign that Williams might not play in Melbourne: It was announced in December 2017 that she was booked to be the closing keynote speaker at a conference in Florida on Jan. 23. That event is happening during the Australian Open quarterfinals.
The absence of Williams leaves yet another Grand Slam event wide-open. After Williams took a leave after winning the 2017 Australian Open, three women won the next three Grand Slam events, capped by Sloane Stephens winning the U.S. Open in September, her first major title.
Williams now gets to spend more time with her daughter and husband, Alexis, whom she married last November.
Her likely return: sometime before the French Open in May. Williams would be seeking her 24th career Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros.
Giannis Antetokounmpo leads all players in first returns of All-Star fan vote
Bucks forward is ahead of LeBron by 7,336 votes
9:40 PMIn the words of Tarlaysia Hatch, the daughter of hip-hop artist Lil Boosie: I told y’all.
On Thursday evening, the NBA released the first returns of fan voting for the 2018 All-Star Game, and lo and behold, who was the No. 1 vote-getter?
The Milwaukee Bucks forward, who is second in the league in points per game (29.1), received 863,416 votes during the first 12 days that fan ballots were open. That total is 7,336 votes higher than the closest player, Cleveland Cavaliers forward and four-time MVP LeBron James (856,080) and 96,014 votes higher than the Western Conference leader, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (767,402), a regular-season and Finals MVP.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry (735,115), a two-time MVP (and the first unanimous selection in league history), Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (438,469), last season’s MVP after averaging a triple-double, and Houston Rockets guard James Harden (602,040), this season’s MVP favorite, all received fewer votes than Antetokounmpo.
Which is to say the 23-year-old, backed by American and Greek voters (and possibly those from Nigeria, the birthplace of Antetokounmpo’s parents), is quite possibly the most popular player in the NBA. Who would have thought?
But to remain objective (still read The Undefeated’s season-long series on Antetokounmpo’s MVP candidacy), other players also received votes:
The #NBAAllStar Voting First Returns for Western Conference players!
— 2018 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) January 4, 2018
The #NBAAllStar Voting First Returns for Eastern Conference players!
— 2018 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) January 4, 2018
For this year’s All-Star Game, the top vote-getter from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference will each serve as a captain and choose from a pool of the other players voted in for each team. As was the case last year, fan voting accounts for 50 percent, while current players and media members account for 25 percent each.
Starters and captains will be revealed on Jan. 18, with reserves announced on Jan. 23. Two days later, on Jan. 25, rosters will be revealed, leading up to the All-Star Game on Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.
The Plug, ‘Happy New Year’ (Episode 4): with special guest co-host Mike Golic Jr.
Isaiah Thomas’ comeback on deck and the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl recaps
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After taking time off for the holidays, it’s back to business for The Undefeated’s newest podcast, The Plug. Our country cousin Mike Golic Jr. fills in for me this week after being officially reported in the box score as “DNP — SUNBURNS” while having a tad too much fun in Colombia on vacation.
Regardless, as they say in the industry, “the show must go on,” and it absolutely did. The quartet chopped it up on a multitude of topics, including Isaiah Thomas’ long-awaited comeback, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, one of the most provocative stories in sports right now — UCF’s undefeated season (no pun), and should they have been in the College Football Playoff — this weekend’s slate of opening-round NFL playoff games and the NBA All-Star Game rules changes.
As always, subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app! See you all next week!
Oklahoma’s Trae Young is having one of the best seasons in college basketball history
Point guard is averaging 29.4 points and 10.6 assists per game
12:17 PMOn Wednesday night, Oklahoma’s phenomenal freshman Trae Young scored 27 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed nine rebounds en route to a 109-89 victory over Oklahoma State. Even though the 6-foot-2 guard came up one rebound shy of a triple-double, which would’ve been just the fourth triple-double in school history, Young has been putting on a clinic all season for the seventh-ranked Sooners despite being the No. 23-ranked freshman in the nation coming into the season.
His mix of creativity at the rim, crazy handles and I-don’t-care attitude behind the 3-point line makes him a natural comparison to two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, who lit up the nation during the 2008 NCAA tournament. But Young, through just 13 career games (three against Top 25 teams), is doing things even Curry couldn’t.
Young is averaging 29.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, since the 1983-84 season, the first year individual assists were tallied, only six players have averaged at least 10 assists a game. Of those six players, three (Southern’s Avery Johnson, Bradley’s Anthony Manuel and LIU Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman) also averaged better than 10 points a game. Manuel, whose 12 assists per game in 1987-88 were the second-highest total in NCAA history, averaged just 12.1 points per game that season (nearly 18 points fewer than Young), the most of the three.
Young is having one of the best seasons ever for not only a point guard (The Ringer’s Mark Titus illustrates how he has surpassed every other point guard who has won the Wooden Award) but for any player in the past two decades.
Over the past 20 seasons of college basketball data, here’s how the rest of Young’s numbers stack up (data courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information):
- His 10 assists in five straight games are tied for the longest streak (Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, 2012-13) within a season by a major conference player
- His combined 43.9 points, assists and rebounds per game are the most for any player
- His 12 consecutive games with at least 20 points are the most in Oklahoma history
- His 27 points and 10 assists versus Oklahoma State on Wednesday was his sixth 25-point, 10-assist career game, the most by a major conference player
- His 22 assists against Northwestern State are tied for the most in Division I history
- His 32 points and 10 assists against North Texas on Nov. 30 made him just the second player in Big 12 history to finish with at least 30 points and 10 assists. Young’s done it twice since.
And just for fun, only three NBA players — Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson (five times) and James Harden — have averaged at least 29 points, 10 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game in a season. So, in short, the 19-year-old Young may be the best college basketball player we’ve seen in decades, and we may not have not seen anything yet.
Shakyla Hill gets first quadruple-double in women’s D-I hoops in almost 25 years
The Grambling State point guard is first HBCU player to finish with the stat line
2:06 AMIn the waning moments of Grambling State’s 93-71 win over Alabama State on Wednesday night, the Tigers’ Shakyla Hill solidified her place in NCAA women’s basketball history.
With Hill’s assist to Monisha Neal for a 3-pointer, Hill became the first player to finish with a quadruple-double in almost 25 years, as well as the first player (male or female) from a historically black university and the fourth woman overall to complete the feat. The junior guard finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals.
Hill helped push the Tigers’ (5-8, 2-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference) 40-33 halftime lead to double digits against the Hornets (2-11, 0-2) with her 11 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals after the break.
Arkansas State’s Sonja Tate was the last woman to record a quadruple-double when she amassed 29 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals against Mississippi Valley State on Jan. 27, 1993. On Jan. 14, 1991, Lamar’s Ramona Jones had a quadruple-double — 10-10-10 and 12 steals — against Central Florida.
Two years earlier, on Jan. 14, 1989, Veronica Pettry of Loyola Chicago finished with the first official quadruple-double in women’s Division I history with her 12 points, 10 rebounds, 22 assists and 11 steals.
And unofficially, Louisville’s Jackie Spencer finished with the very first quadruple-double in Division I NCAA history with her 12 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists and 10 steals against Cincinnati on Feb. 2, 1985. It would take two more years for steals to be considered an official NCAA stat.