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The Super Bowl parties were very hot in ice-cold Minneapolis

J-Lo, Cardi B, Jamie Foxx and Shaq were among the guests and performers

9:56 AMMINNEAPOLIS — Despite freezing weather, football fans crisscrossed the Twin Cities for some spectacular nightlife. There were some dynamic and exclusive events, parties and concerts before what ended up being the Philadelphia Eagles upsetting the New England Patriots 41-33. If you were in the right places, you could catch Jamie Foxx playing waiter and Shaquille O’Neal doing his DJ thing. Justin Timberlake ended up drawing mixed reviews for his official halftime show, but Minneapolis, on the nights before the big game? Jennifer Lopez and Pink lit up the same venue, albeit it on different nights. And new superstar Cardi B graced the Super Bowl festivities. So much to do. Not enough time to do it all. I have no idea how my colleague and friend Kelley L. Carter maintains this pace. A quick look at some of what went down in these parts.


Leigh Steinberg’s 31st annual Super Bowl party – The longtime NFL agent who served as the model for Tom Cruise’s fictional character in Jerry Maguire was at it again, delivering one of the week’s best parties. Steinberg uses his platform to honor NFL professionals for their charitable work, as well as to introduce his upcoming draft class, which includes University of Southern California running back Ronald Jones II. The elusive runner could be a high pick. Rookie Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was in attendance. With the trade of veteran quarterback Alex Smith from Kansas City to the Washington Redskins last week, Mahomes will begin his second NFL season as Kansas City’s first-string passer. NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson was in the packed house as well.

EA Sports Bowl – The most interactive event of the week. Guests waited turns in front of massive screens to play the hottest games. It was a great way to get pumped before Imagine Dragons took the stage.

The 2018 Maxim party – Is there any performer on the planet hotter than Belcalis Almanzar? Just hearing that Cardi B is scheduled to perform is enough to get most people to jump into an Uber. Shoot, it was enough for me.

Pink – The lady is a trouper. Although battling the flu, Pink put on a good show earlier in the week and delivered a strong, efficient rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before kickoff. Props.

J. Lo – Lopez always has high-energy shows. Last week was no exception.

Bootsy Bellows Big Game Pop Up — Presented by American Airlines and Casper, the daylong festivities began with a luncheon and Q&A session about, among other topics, life in the sports media game. Hosted by ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Samantha Ponder, the session also included Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis (a member of the 2018 Hall of Fame class) and Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Adam Thielen. Much later, after a dinner, Foxx jumped onstage and went to work. The Academy Award and Grammy winner handed out late-night snacks and drinks. Then O’Neal, the 15-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA champion, showed off his DJing skills.

Tiki Barber and Drew Rosenhaus – Barber, the former New York Giants Pro Bowl running back, teamed with Rosenhaus, among the NFL’s most successful agents, to throw a well-attended bash. Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden, Kansas City Chiefs star wideout Tyreek Hill and former NFL passer Charlie Batch were among those who joined in the fun.

 

Super Bowl LII

Eagles fans, you might spot Kyle Lowry at the Super Bowl

The Raptors guard has a game that afternoon but he seems set on making it to Minneapolis

1:16 PMIf you’re a Philly sports fan, you probably know that Raptors guard and North Philly native Kyle Lowry is an Eagles superfan. And he’s clearly shown his excitement and support for the Birds all month.

In fact, don’t be surprised if you spot him inside U.S. Bank Stadium come Sunday cheering on his home team. Asked about his Super Bowl plans, Lowry said he’s trying to make sure he gets to Minneapolis. A scheduling note: The Raptors play the Memphis Grizzlies in Toronto at 12 p.m. EST, and Super Bowl LII is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m., so Lowry will have approximately three to four hours door-to-door to make it.

And his Super Bowl prediction? Eagles 27, Patriots 21.

The Plug, ‘Super Bowl Time: Who Ya Got?’ (Episode 8): Super Bowl Sunday is upon us

Can Brady go for six? Can the Eagles grab their first Super Bowl?

4:54 PM

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You can’t talk sports this week without talking about Super Bowl LII: the New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles. So what’d we do with that? We introduced a “Faceoff” segment. An Eagles fan and a Pats diehard each try to convince us why their squad will hoist the Lombardi trophy on Sunday night. After that, it’s a blast from Washington’s football past as Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green and fellow Super Bowl XXVI champion Tim Johnson give us insights on what it’s like preparing for the biggest football game of your life. Green also focuses on the controversy surrounding the team’s “Redskins” name and what it means that the Cleveland Indians are removing their Chief Wahoo logo in 2019.

The crew also breaks down the Blake Griffin trade, and what injuries to DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall mean not only to LeBron James’ All-Star team but also to each player’s future. Finally: We also chop it up about my weekend in New York covering the Grammys. Keep the support churning, my people. Continue to tell your circle to subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app! Pull up on us next week!

Previously: The Plug, ‘Awards Season: Jemele Hill’ (Episode 7): Who’s the Best of the Best?

Who is up next to join Golden State?

Anthony Davis, Kyle O’Quinn or maybe even Hologram Tupac

1:33 PMWith trade rumors and other teams unloading their superstars to prepare for free agency, the Golden State Warriors are on the lookout for their next addition to what is shaping up to be the equivalent of Death Row Records in the ’90s. Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans is one that Golden State has a good chance of landing in the offseason, as well as Kyle O’Quinn of the New York Knicks, who could find his way to “The Town” before the trade deadline. So we decided to look at what other superstars have the chance of joining Suge Knight, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. I mean Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. I will let you all fight over who is who.

Could Happen

Anthony Davis

Enes Kanter

Kyle O’Quinn

Should Happen

Erik Killmonger as played by Michael B. Jordan

The trailer alone looks like he can put numbers on the board. I mean, would you defend him?

Marvel Studios

Tupac Hologram

Trying to get the assist would suck, but the introductions would be on point.

Dave Chappelle as Prince

That jumper would fit in perfectly with the Splash Brothers.

Comedy Central

Riley Freeman

I mean, a better question is “Why not?”

Malcolm X

The height alone will allow him to block your shots “By Any Means Necessary.”

Getty Images

Ta-Nehisi Coates

We don’t have a reason. Just thought it would throw you off too.

Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Shaft

He is one bad/SHUT YOUR MOUTH!/I was just going to say badgering defender.

John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images

Definitely Will not Happen

LeBron James

White tennis player suspended after saying, ‘At least I know my dad’ to his N.C. A&T opponent

Aggies’ John Wilson IV says he’s heard these kinds of comments before

4:20 PMNorth Carolina A&T senior tennis player John Wilson IV took to Twitter this week to detail a racist encounter he had while playing tennis against an Appalachian State player on Jan. 28.

Wilson says Spencer Brown, a freshman App State tennis player, directed the remark toward him, saying, “At least I know my dad.” Wilson said the Appalachian State tennis coach responded to those comments saying that “… we have a black guy on our team.”

Appalachian State swiftly took action and suspended Brown indefinitely after his comments.

Wilson, a senior from Red Oak, Texas, later quoted his own tweet, explaining how the situation was handled and how he has been forced to deal with racial tension growing up as a black tennis player.

Wilson is declining all interview requests, while the Appalachian State sports department issued this statement about the Sunday incident but has declined to comment further:

“After yesterday’s men’s tennis match, an Appalachian State student-athlete engaged in behavior that was derogatory and offensive,” Appalachian State said in a release. “This student-athlete has been suspended indefinitely from the team, effective immediately, for violating the student-athlete discipline policy.”

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Brown won the match 6-1, 6-1 against Wilson and Appalachian State beat N.C. A&T 7-0. Appalachian State’s next match is Friday, when it will host North Carolina Central, another historically black university.

Simeon Booker’s life and legacy cannot be overstated

‘Every black journalist working today should pause for a moment and thank Simeon Booker’

9:52 AMThe life of Simeon Booker was celebrated Monday at Washington National Cathedral, a beautiful memorial service for an extraordinary journalist. Mr. Booker — and I feel compelled to call him mister — was a capital pioneer, admired by everyone who knew that he played a role in helping to better this nation.

In 1952, he became the first black reporter to work at The Washington Post. “He integrated a whole industry,” said Don Graham, former publisher of the Post whose dad, Philip, was the only white newspaper leader in America who would give Mr. Booker a chance. But that was just one milestone. Simeon Booker went on to brilliantly chronicle the civil rights movement as a reporter for Jet and Ebony magazines, covering protests and murders and otherwise bringing bright light to the struggle for freedom and equality. He smoked Kent cigarettes and wore bow ties. He became famous for his reporting on Emmett Till’s 1955 murder and trial, and it was Mr. Booker’s Jet that published the provocative photos of the 14-year-old’s mutilated body in an open casket.

Every black journalist working today should pause for a moment and thank Simeon Booker. Thank him as an exemplar of the brave black journalists who confronted danger and evaded it while unearthing essential stories in the segregated Deep South of the 1950s and ’60s. A bunch of us came to the National Cathedral just to be there for him, to salute what he meant and to hug each other. Jeff Ballou, Bryan Monroe, Mike Fletcher, Wes Lowery, Courtland Milloy, Paul Delaney, Sarah Glover, Betty Anne Williams, Fred Sweets, Bernie Shaw, Reggie Stuart. Just to name a few. We all owe him something.

Congressman John Lewis, who knows too much about danger, said of Mr. Booker at the memorial service: “He never shied away, ran away from a story.” Lewis saw him during the 1961 Freedom Rides. Saw him in Selma, Alabama. Saw him everywhere. “He did the hard, necessary work to get the story,” Lewis said, noting that without Simeon Booker “the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings.”

Back in Mr. Booker’s heyday, Lewis noted, black reporters could be beaten just for holding a camera and a pen. They sometimes wore disguises, dressed as sharecroppers to blend in. They were intrepid and fearless. Today, we have journalists enraged just because they were trolled on Twitter. Mr. Booker died at age 99, cheered for the magnificent life he led and the example he set. I don’t think he was worried about trolls.

The Hollywood ‘Black Panther’ premiere brings out black film glitterati in full force

To rousing cheers and standing ovations from glamorous stars, the long-awaited film arrives

9:15 AMHOLLYWOOD, California — Director Ryan Coogler stood onstage next to Marvel film executives, microphone in hand, and introduced his cast of Black Panther one by one. He could barely get his first welcoming words out before audience members leaped to their feet to give him a standing ovation — the first of several throughout the night at the film’s world premiere at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre — an event almost unheard of, even at a place designed to celebrate such an accomplishment.

No one knew as he was bringing out his cast whether this film was any good. What they did know was that this was a moment. When Sterling K. Brown stood onstage after his introduction, he raised one fist in the air with the kind of conviction that Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos did on the Olympic podium in Mexico City almost 50 years ago. It was yet another moment when the crowd erupted into applause, and again, the first credit had yet to roll for the film. But this was a celebration. And most of black Hollywood, along with notable Hollywood dignitaries, was there to witness.

Last time a Hollywood theater was this jam-packed, there was surely a lightsaber involved.

There was no bad seat in the Dolby Theatre. On the main floor, people such as Jamie Foxx, Donald Glover, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monáe, Reggie Hudlin, Lena Waithe, Usher, Yara Shahidi, Elizabeth Banks and George Lucas sat among the film’s stars, who included Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.

Lupita Nyong’o attends the Los Angeles premiere of Black Panther at Dolby Theatre on Jan. 29 in Hollywood, California.

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Up in the mezzanine sat notables such as director Ava DuVernay and actors such as Tessa Thompson, Issa Rae, David Oyelowo, and many, many others who all gathered to watch the film they’d been waiting years for.


A Black Panther feature film was announced more than three years ago, on Oct. 28, 2014, and since then an ever-growing fan base has been waiting with bated breath for the world premiere. The film’s arrival has been the subject of hilarious memes, Twitter polls and Facebook status updates, all backed up by impressive presales from Fandango. Deadline reported that “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.”

Finally, that day is here — for the lucky ones. Fans crowded the red carpet before the Dolby Theatre on Monday night just to get a glimpse of the cast (and their famous admirers) as they posed and did celebratory victory laps. As per usual, with a film of this magnitude, mobile phones were bagged and placed into security bags before anyone was allowed inside. Last time a Hollywood theater was this jam-packed, there was surely a lightsaber involved. This crowd, of course, is most certainly the blackest premiere crowd for a film of this magnitude.

A rousing cheer went up in the theater just as the lights were dimmed, and by the time Coogler’s epic story of the Black Panther’s homeland, the fictional African country of Wakanda, was done, the applause and cheers were even greater. It’s a moment, and it’s a moment that was witnessed by some of the biggest giants in the industry.

We’re not allowed to offer up plot points or spoilers — fans wouldn’t want that anyway! — until an official review embargo is lifted: It’s set for Feb. 6 at noon EST, but we can tell you that the film is quite magical. And very authentically black — both in nuanced ways, and overtly — and, importantly, it’s very, very good. It falls right in line with what we’ve come to expect from Marvel productions.

And as the even luckier ones who attended the screening poured into the Hollywood Roosevelt across the street, wrists draped in hot pink bands signaling they had entrance into the intimate after-party, the celebration continued. Directors F. Gary Gray and John Singleton and producer Kenya Barris were among the crowd feasting on turkey meatballs, mac ’n’ cheese and sweet potato fries as tunes by Mary J. Blige, Chubb Rock, Bobby Brown and Bruno Mars soundtracked the night.

A long line of well-wishers greeted Coogler — most of his family from his hometown of Oakland, California, were there — and Nyong’o at one point entertained a crowd under a tent while bopping to Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow.”

By the time Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go” dropped, the party felt every bit of a backyard boogie. Folks such as Meagan Good and her studio executive husband DeVon Franklin were among the last to trickle out as the after-party came to a close around 1:30 a.m. And even then, no one really wanted to go home and end the night.

The film will finally be released on Feb. 16, in the thick of Black History Month, and just about everyone in attendance is eager to see how well the film will be received by a large, general-interest viewing audience. But if Monday night’s premiere was any indication? Well, in the words of a Kendrick Lamar song that felt every bit a theme of the night’s festivities, “we gon be alright.”