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Daily Dose: 6/29/16

Might LeBron James be leaving Cleveland again?

9:26 AMLook, let’s get something straight. I’ve been listening to Cher.

The attacks in Istanbul are devastating. I’ve never been there, but for a long time, I used to make an idiotic joke in which every time someone brought up the city, I’d ask them if they knew how to spell Constantinople, and refer to the location as such for the rest of the conversation. That bit ends today. A terrorist blast killed 41 people (the count as of now) and the images of the scene are terrifying. We won’t get into the political situation in Turkey and that whole history, but mass murder is never cool. ABC News has the story on the ground, and a first-person view.

I met someone yesterday who told me that I can’t afford to not watch Game of Thrones. It was the most compelling argument I’d heard for not being a fan in a long time. I don’t do dragons and trees (sorry, Lord of the Rings) but I do enjoy robots and lasers. I also don’t like sweet things, but I do like salty treats. However, Game of Thrones is something that I feel like a loser about. Don’t email me about this, please, I get it. It’s a great show, that was never in question. I just don’t watch it. Anyway, there will be two more seasons, TWO, according to the showrunners.

With the Olympics coming up, there’s a discussion we need to have. It’s about the mouth-breathers who can’t seem to understand the concept of gender as a relatively fluid matter and will inevitably freak out about something regarding an athlete, in the name of the “sanctity” of a competition. Caitlyn Jenner is an example of how that malleable framework can create issues for people who live in a world of hard regulations. Yet, the details of the scenario of who can compete and when are important to those who care. FiveThirtyEight’s Christie Aschwanden explains.

Now that Cleveland has its identity-changing championship, let’s talk about LeBron James. Technically, if he wants to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers again, he can. As in, his contract allows for such. And according to his agent, he declined his player option, which would have earned him a couple dozen million bucks. You never know, he might just peace out and create Team Banana Boat, just to make a complete mockery of the NBA, which would be glorious. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, now is the time to start worrying. ESPN’s Chris Broussard has the details.

Free Food

Coffee Break: It’s worth pointing out that the movie Coming to America was released 28 years ago today. There’s a pretty solid argument that it’s the best comedy in movie history. Actor Eddie Murphy has done a ton of brilliant things, but that one was his magnum opus, as I see it. ESPN’s His & Hers paid tribute a while back.

Snack Time: The story of Zurlon Tipton is about as sad as it gets. In a situation that is so uniquely American, he accidentally shot himself and died, while trying to buy a car. He used to play for the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL.

Dessert: Newish Future, newer Curren$y and good day to you, too.

Banana boat life

is now a part of Snapchat

2:23 PM

You know you’re balling when you have your own Snapchat filter. If you don’t recall, the legendary banana boat situation that unfolded last summer with NBA stars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union, Wade’s wife, in the Bahamas created huge drama in the NBA rumor streets, and much comedy in black media. It was a light-hearted moment that the social-networking site has finally adapted, now that they’re back on a similar trip.

We have a couple problems with this, though. Number one, the actual characters in the picture that went viral a) were not in this order and b) didn’t include New York Knick Carmelo Anthony. Apparently, Union tried to convince Anthony to get on the boat, but he wouldn’t. This gives us an opportunity to gratuitously drop in one of the greatest memes of all time that DOES include Anthony.

Anyway, the banana boat filter is side foul for not including Union, but all the way funny for keeping a headband on Anthony in the image. And those oh so stylish vests are giving us life.


$15 kicks

You can clown them all you want, but Stephon Marbury was trying

10:14 AMStephon Marbury is a real one.

The Coney Island native, who not only made it out of the Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood but made it to heights that most jokers who claim to like basketball will never respect, is the subject of the latest in Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints series. $15 Kicks, directed by Jenn Shaw, takes a look at how the former NBA point guard tried to revolutionize the shoe game that NBA legend Michael Jordan so dictatorially wrecked for generations. Full disclosure: I love Steph. And if you’ve never heard writer Frank Isola’s story about him, you need to.

“He was a superstar NBA point guard, but wanted to try to do something different and change the game,” Howard Schacter, former chief executive officer of Steve & Barry’s, the retail clothing chain that launched the shoe, said in the film. “He just didn’t believe that the price tag that kids, particularly in the inner city, were paying for shoes was fair.”

If you’re not familiar with the scorn the Starbury shoes garnered, or how this product completely realigned how people looked at Marbury on a certain level, this movie cuts right to it. When it came down to it, Marbury made people happy. I know plenty people who wouldn’t be caught dead in these shoes, but still respect why he did it. If you think income inequality in America isn’t a real thing, just ask them if they’ve ever considered buying a pair of Starburys.

The short film takes a look at all of that from a style, economics and basketball standpoint. You also get a lot of fun throwbacks, like vintage looks at ESPN sportscasters Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt with hair. Not to mention it barely scratches the surface of Marbury’s downright god-like status in China, which could be a whole series unto itself. The next time you get a statue built of you in any country is the first time you should make fun of Marbury.

Also, make sure you stay for the credits.

Daily Dose: 6/28/16

One of the best coaches of our generation is no longer with us

9:35 AMLegendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt died Tuesday at the age of 64. Watching her teams play was a real joy and it’s not even close when it comes to the question of who’s the best to ever do it — she’s at the top.

A poster from the Red Cross about swimming pool safety is making serious waves. The promotional image, which showed various do’s and dont’s about how to act when you’re swimming, featured people of various races, except there was one problem. The only people doing anything wrong in the image were black people. I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to find that gambling is going on in here. (Sidebar, I just saw Casablanca for the first time in my life, like six months ago.) Anyways, it appears to be the closest version of an “honest” mistake there is, ABC News reports.

Brexit is a complete mess. Basically, the actual act that needs to happen for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union is something that no one really wants to be responsible for doing. So, as a result, the referendum, which technically is nonbinding, doesn’t mean much for Parliament unless it REALLY wants to make itself look stupid. Short version: former Prime Minister David Cameron checkmated the hell out of his opponents on this one, and now they’re stuck. Now, the EU is pressing them to make an actual decision. Yikes.

I went to college with a lot of Republicans. It was always an interesting question to tackle when you’d be in the gamble spot, because you had to make an instant decision as to whether that was going to affect the actions of the night. Typically, it didn’t. But, sometimes it did. Some were really into the whole bit, but at that age, ultimately, getting along meant more than who you planned to vote for. Alas, it is still an intriguing question. Could you marry across the aisle? FiveThirtyEight’s Eitan Hersh examines how many people actually do.

Sticking with the hack jokes, England is out of Europe, again. Look, Brexit is serious, and football is just soccer, but England’s exit from the Euros is nothing short of shocking. Why? Because the country lost to the Land of Ice, which is playing in its first major international tournament. And the English didn’t just lose, they got banged out. The game wasn’t particularly close, even though the Three Lions scored first on a well-deserved penalty. Anyway, Iceland is in the quarterfinals and it’s awesome. Listen to an Icelandic broadcaster lose his mind — againafter the win.

Free Food

Coffee Break: I could not possibly care less about Star Trek, but I do appreciate historical artifacts. And an 11-foot-long model of the U.S.S. Enterprise is a pretty cool thing. It almost, ALMOST, fell apart until someone at the Smithsonian decided that was simply unacceptable. I love this story in more ways than one, so check it out.

Snack Time: This is a great selection from the “they don’t want you to succeed” menu. Shouts to DJ Khaled. Seriously, the assumption that all people who need help are on drugs is one of the most screwed up things, ever.

Dessert: Protip — if you’re looking for that fresh 4th of July haircut, today is the day to go to the barber sans stress.

Shaq descends on Cuba

to teach kids to play basketball

3:26 PM[protected-iframe id=”48a6762509adb253e99e75ee80254abe-84028368-105107678″ info=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” class=”twitter-video”]

When President Barack Obama announced the beginning of normalized relations with Cuba just before Christmas of 2014, it was referred to as a thaw. Soon enough, tourists were showing up on the shores of Havana, and Major League Baseball was playing games there. Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of State sent our grandest human export to the communist nation as a sports envoy: NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.

“The Diesel” was joined by Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Kaleb Canales, the first Mexican-American coach to ever lead a team in the NBA, when he served as the head coach of the Portland Trailblazers for 23 games in 2012. According to the State Department, the mission of the trip was to “demonstrate how sports can serve as a means of developing academic, leadership and teamwork skills,” as well as to “highlight the importance of social inclusion and respect for diversity.”

Photographs from the island nation of the 7-footer are tremendous. He’s not only lifting kids up to dunk, he’s also taking photos with random people. Imagine waiting effectively your whole life to see a country that’s been effectively isolated from an entire world for decades and running into O’Neal there. You’d take a picture, too.

“We just want to come over here and extend our friendly hand and just start smoothing things out,” O’Neal told The Associated Press. “It was great for [President Obama] to reopen the door, regain a better relationship with this beautiful island.” The plan is for O’Neal to do more than just shoot hoops. He’ll also be visiting historical sites and spreading his trademark cheer.

I guess we’ll have to call him “The Big Diplomatic” from here on out.

Everything else from the BET Awards

that you might not have caught if you weren’t watching live

9:59 AMBeyonce, Jesse Williams and Prince were clearly the most important three things that happened at Sunday night’s BET Awards in Los Angeles. But they were far from the only fun topics to talk about it. In no particular order, here were some other highlights, none of which involve who won what.


• Chloe x Halle. The two actual sisters, and Beyonce’s proteges, wowed the audience with a performance of their song Drop. They’ve been on the come up since singing covers on YouTube, and have signed with Beyonce’s Parkwood Entertainment label for a six-album deal. Their album, Sugar Symphony, is out now, if you want to cop.

• Desiigner. Panda is obviously the song of the year in hip-hop to this point, so it was clear he was going to perform. But if you’ve never seen the 19-year-old Brooklyn, New York, native perform, you were in for a surprise. Just ask rapper Fabolous. He had a stare on his face so blank, you just had to assume he did not know that this was potentially the future of the game. Personally, I’d love to see Desiigner and DJ Esco in a dance off.


• Birdman. He might have been sitting next to his boo, Toni Braxton, but when he was on stage he brought Jacquees with him to do the nominations, in a silent role. If you are a serious Cash Money Records fan, you might be familiar with his work in such songs as Come Thru. Either way, his nearly identical appearance to, ahem, Lil Wayne was obvious for everyone to see. Awkward.

• Scott Disick. The Kardashian man was in the crowd Sunday night, chewing gum and apparently having a not-so-great time. Alas, they didn’t pan the camera his way when his homeboy French Montana was ripping the stage with Fat Joe and Remy Ma, who was rocking the best outfit of the night, by the way.

Daily Dose: 6/27/16

Jesse Williams is the wokest of them all in Hollywood

9:16 AMBefore we get to the BET Awards, we need to point out that it aired on a couple different Viacom networks, which included Nickelodeon. That must have easily been the realest program ever on that network.

The United Kingdom is borderline embarrassing itself at this point. Following the Brexit vote, in which tons of people voted to leave the European Union — while not even understanding what they were voting for — there are now reports of xenophobic attacks on foreigners taking place across England, because, of course. The financial markets across the globe have taken a decent hit as well, which means that the U.K. will be hard pressed to prove that it can stand on its own, without panicking. ABC News’ Brian McBride has the details.

If you missed the BET Awards Sunday night, you missed quite a bit. Singer Beyonce opened the show with a surprise appearance from rapper Kendrick Lamar. She then promptly got on a plane to London for a show and had her mom accept her awards. There were the Prince tributes, as well. My personal favorite was crooner Maxwell, although Jennifer Hudson got up there and took us to church with her rendition of Purple Rain. The moment of the night, however, came from actor/activist Jesse Williams. Here’s the full speech. ABC’s Candice Williams recaps the rest.

I don’t love pizza and I don’t particularly like puzzles. But there is something sort of intriguing about puzzles about pizza. The history of pizza cutting is a funny one. No. 1: Who decided to first make it in a circle? And why when making a pizza in a square do most people then cut it into squares? Some of life’s mysteries we’ll never get an answer to, but thanks to FiveThirtyEight’s The Riddler, here’s one question that will get solved. If a robot cut your pizza by picking two chords along the circumference and making three cuts, what is the expected number of pieces?

The best soccer player on the globe will no longer be playing for his country. In a somewhat surprising moment of emotion Sunday night, Lionel Messi, who’s never won a major international tournament playing with Argentina, said he was done with the national team after it lost in penalty kicks to Chile in the Copa America final. He’s only 29, but this loss was particularly painful because he took the opening penalty, and missed it. It’ll be a shame to never see Messi in the Albiceleste again, but it’s his life. ESPN FC reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Because of where I’m from and the nature of the jobs I’ve held, discussing politics is something that comes second nature. But in the sports world, things are a tad different. The two things quite obviously overlap all the time. But for reporters, how appropriate is it to have those convos in public? Here’s a discussion on the matter.

Snack Time: Former pro running back Herschel Walker thinks he can still play in the NFL. Why he would want to, or why he feels the need to say this every three years, who knows? But Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe is definitely not here for any of that talk.

Dessert: Singer Miguel’s new song is a good one for walking home on a summer night after happy hour.

Street Art Sundays

Desmond Mason

is one of the most well-rounded guys the NBA has ever seen

4:58 PMYou might remember Desmond Mason from the NBA. A high-flyer who came out of Oklahoma State and won a dunk title with the Seattle SuperSonics, he was a fun player to watch for a good few seasons. Now, he’s a full-time artist, who’s created works for the likes of actor George Clooney and former league commissioner David Stern. It’s not a remotely new venture for the 6-foot-5 Texas native, though. He majored in studio art in college.

Now, he’s done an interview with Just Not Sports — a podcast that describes itself as sports talk with any talk about sports. It’s a fun listen, with Mason discussing how he got into graffiti and where he draws his inspiration from. He really is a fascinating, multi-faceted guy. He describes himself as an “abstract expressionist.”

They talk about the worlds of street vs. gallery art and what it means to hone your craft at the highest level in multiple disciplines. Also, in case you didn’t know, Mason has bars, too. Back in 2007, he made a song called We Dem Hornets about his team at the time. As far as music either by or about basketball players, or both, it’s pretty solid. It’s no You Da Man, but then again, nothing is.

“I always say, you evolve or you dissolve,” Mason said at one point on the podcast, regarding his approach to life. Pretty good advice from a guy who’s found his place and really understands that, for some people, ball is not life.

Go Skateboarding Day

was a fun one. Here are some highlights.

7:00 AMIf you don’t know what Go Skateboarding Day is, it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s a quasi-holiday in which people from around the globe celebrate their love for the sport, law enforcement be damned. Here are some highlights from the day, which was Tuesday.

Here’s what it looked like in Munich.

And Barcelona, Spain.

And Tampa Bay, Florida.

And lastly, Surabaya, Indonesia.


Go skate, kiddos.


invited M.I.A. to perform, a decision disappointing many

3:10 PMAfropunk, what are you doing?

The festival started in 2005 in Brooklyn, New York, and featured black acts that didn’t necessarily fit the mold of “urban,” but were certainly popular enough to draw large crowds. The event held a special place in the black community as a haven for weird, in a certain sense, without all of the pejorative stigmas that come with that word.

So, when M.I.A. was announced as the headliner of the inaugural show in London, things went sideways. If you don’t recall, M.I.A., who very much considers herself a part of the hip-hop community, decided to take what many have called an anti-black stance regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, specifically regarding Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime show.

“It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter … Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters? That’s a more interesting question,” she said.

So, having her headlining Afropunk is obviously a problem. People reacted accordingly, and then the festival brass got weird. They defended her.

OK, well, actually … no.

In an awkward about-face, M.I.A. then said that she won’t be performing there after all, because according to her, she’s been told to stay in her lane. Then, Azealia Banks defended her as well.


Bottom line: None of this is a good look. This year’s show is scheduled for Aug. 27-28.

Black skin matters

and the Cleveland Cavaliers had plenty on display

2:34 PMIt started with J.R. Smith, then it spread to Kyrie Irving. Next thing we knew, Iman Shumpert was showing off, too. Mo Williams then jumped in on the fun. As the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated with their hometown fans in downtown Cleveland on Wednesday, the hyperbole was flying about the rebirth of the city, pride and any number of other forms of motivation that Northeast Ohio natives gained from the title. But the strongest message was sent in its purest form: black skin.

Thursday night at the NBA draft, the newest basketball bodies showed themselves off to the world, dressed in their greatest outfits, in full “look at me” mode, as they should be. When you present yourself to the world for the first time, it’s a big deal.

But Cleveland was on a different level. The city has been outwardly showing its pride for years, as losers, to be frank. This is the same NBA. The association where people regularly complain that they don’t see enough white American bodies for their taste. The same league where former commissioner David Stern felt the need to implement a dress code, because the way that the very players that were making him money were clothing themselves in a manner that he deemed unfit.

The Cavaliers parade was as close as we’ll get to the NBA’s full capitulation to the black body. In a city where a 12-year-old named Tamir Rice was gunned down by a police officer for carrying a toy gun, with no repercussions, grown men who won a basketball title were parading around with their shirts off, displaying their truest selves, with no qualms.


On Tuesday, a columnist named Joe Soucheray from Minnesota’s St. Paul Pioneer Press was beside himself that Smith dared to present himself to the world without a shirt. As if the shirt won the NBA title. He could barely understand the notion that kids might actually *prefer* self-expression, rather than clutch their nonexistent pearls.

“Am I asking too much that when you get off the airplane for the photo opportunity that you at least wear a shirt?” Soucheray wrote. “I wonder what impact it might have had on kids all across the country to see the Cavs get off their airplane dressed to the nines. I would think it might give a kid pause. Wow, look at those guys. I have to get a tie like that.”

Let’s be clear about the impact it had on many young black men across America. The statement was obvious: My skin is not a threat. This might strike some people as a revelation, or even inflammatory. But think about how empowered one must feel in order to show themselves off in such a way. It’s a privilege that few can enjoy safely. Ask any woman.

Sure, President Barack Obama might have joked about it. But there were thousands of kids and adults in that crowd, who for once might have gotten to respect the athletes they cheered for, for more than just the name on the front of their shirts. They were looking at the actual humans they rooted for.

More importantly, they had little choice but to like it. Now, let me go find my shirt.

Daily Dose: 6/24/16

The UK is on its way out of the EU

10:07 AMSo, how about that NBA draft? Guys in suits walking across the stage, yeah? In all seriousness though, the Phoenix Suns are like Kentucky West now, which is cool if you care about that sort of thing. I’m just over here crying for my Washington Wizards.

It actually happened. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a decision that is completely shocking if you want to do the math on how this will affect the rest of the puzzle pieces on that continent. Don’t get it twisted, this is nothing short of a super wow, on many levels. It was an extremely close vote, too, comparatively — and it’s a referendum that everyone over 21 will be talking about for the rest of their lives. But, whatever, I’m not British, but you know who is? Prime Minister David Cameron. Oh, guess what? He’s stepping down. ABC News reports.

In a complete stunner, slash not at all, your boy Donald Trump loves Brexit. In that way that dudes of a certain age do, he’s all concerned about taking things back, as if they ever “owned” them in the first place, and as if that matters anyway. “It’s one of the big votes in the history of Europe and Scotland and everywhere.” That’s what he said. Think about that quote. Let’s be clear about something: the referendum was bad news for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, and he knows it. Check out what he had to say, while he was in Scotland. Katherine Faulders and Veronica Stracqualursi have the details.

Internet commenters. Let’s talk about them. In my life as a person who writes his opinion onto your computer screen, I’ve dealt with quite a bit of these people. Here’s how it goes: HI, I HATE YOU, LET ME SPIT SOME VITRIOLIC FOOLISHNESS THAT SOUNDS GOOD SAYING IT TO MYSELF IN THE MIRROR. Reply: Hey, thanks for reading/listening/watching, much appreciated. I don’t understand why you feel that way, considering [devastating minor point they overlooked.] Commenter: Oh, well, hey, sorry, I didn’t realize you’d reply and were a real person. FiveThirtyEight’s Christie Aschwanden wants to know why you comment.

Back to the NBA draft. Do I love basketball? Absolutely. Do I care about who plays for which team? Yes, no, maybe so? For me, the draft is really all about watching how guys hug their families and rep their sets. It’s also about how disappointing it can be when you go from guaranteed money to having to actually play to get that cash. But most importantly, it’s about fashion. If you had one big coming-out party in front of the world, what would you wear? Me, I’d go with jeans, a T-shirt and Vans. But pro hoopsters don’t do that. Check out what they did do Thursday night.

Free Food

Coffee Break: There should be a National Sweatpants Day. Like, for real. Not one of these bunk cosmetic days that don’t count, I mean a national day in which we honor the glory of sweatpants. You know who loves sweatpants? The Hungarian men’s national team goalkeeper, that’s who. And he has no shame in his game about it. Salute.

Snack Time: If you didn’t read Bomani Jones’ interview with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates from Paris, you should. If you did, good for you. Now read this — the interview about the interview.

Dessert: Rapper Gucci Mane put a new song out for the weekend and for the culture. YOU. ARE. WELCOME.