your life changed the game
1:20 PMWhen the images of Michael Brown’s dead body lying in the summer Missouri heat began to circulate the Internet in August 2014, the world was introduced to the town of Ferguson.
Today would have been Brown’s 20th birthday had he not been shot and killed by Darren Wilson, an officer with the Ferguson Police Department.
He'll never know how much of an impact he made. Happy birthday Michael Brown. Rest in Power. 👼🏿
— . (@___JustBrandon) May 20, 2016
In my mind, the images are still haunting. The fallout and unrest in that town and in many other American cities after Wilson was not charged by a grand jury made global headlines and laid bare the grim reality that in the United States of America, when in doubt, shoot first, ask questions later is not just an idiom, but actual state-sponsored policy.
Black Lives Matter. Hands Up, Don’t Shoot. Deray and Netta. For all of the movements, characters and symbolism that came out of that fateful summer, there is still the memory of a young man who had his life cut short.
Brown’s death didn’t just impact the law enforcement, social justice and political spheres. The circumstances of the case were so poignant that many athletes were compelled to chime in with their thoughts.
— Kenny Smith (@TheJetOnTNT) November 25, 2014
Wow. Just wow. Shameful. What will it take???
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 25, 2014
America lost its innocence before it was ever technically created as a nation, but the word “Ferguson” will hold as much import on U.S. history as Selma or Watts. The days of standoffs between military-grade police forces and protestors brought rise to a new frontier of technology with Twitter and live-webcasting that democratized how we shared information with each other.
Brown’s life and celebrating his birthday is so important to people because he was exactly who so many of us are at that age: just kids trying to figure it out.
Earlier this month, the town of Ferguson hired its first permanent black police chief. But that won’t be enough to erase the memory of that summer in Missouri — for anyone, anytime soon.
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.
got his swagger back in the Europa League final
HT: Liverpool 1-0 Sevilla
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 18, 2016
Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge hit a bananas outside of the boot strike to put his team up in the first half of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Sevilla. Seriously, that hit was nuts.
There’s no question he has rhythm. Over the past few seasons in the Barclay’s Premier League, we’ve been privy to see him show it off after he scores goals. Some people hate it. We love it. But the English footballer also has a passion for music and fashion. And apparently, he’s also got beats (Gotta wonder what his drop would be.)
— Ben Jata (@Ben_Jata) May 18, 2016
He’s been photographed with stars of all types and dope sneakers of many varieties recently, but he opened up to Highsnobiety last month to talk about this off-field interests. Check out the Q&A here, but for some real comedy, watch him face off against LFC teammate Jordan Ibe in a hip-hop quiz.
Listening to a Brit say “you gon’ learn today” will never get old.
has the greatest squad of all time
2:02 PMA million dollars isn’t cool, we learned in 2010. A billion dollars is cool. You know what’s cooler than a billion dollars? More than a billion dollars, and apparently, that’s what Nike’s investing in LeBron James. That detail was revealed in GQ’s interview with Maverick Carter, the man who pulls the strings in the King’s empire.
Back when news broke that Nike signed a lifetime endorsement contract with James, it was the confirmation of the ultimate squad flex that was LeBron deciding that his boys were a better business decision going forward than the establishment. But let’s think about this. Is it possible that a billion-dollar deal is in fact, a bargain?
Think about it. According to many sites, the Akron native’s net worth is $300M. If a billion is a thousand millions, and the company is going so far as to endorse him for the rest of his life, then getting to a billion will not be difficult once a fully constructed lifestyle brand is established. Of course, this is why it’s smart for both sides. Nobody says no to a billion dollars, ever. And it only really makes sense for Nike if they can make a billion off of it, as well.
This might be one for the squad at FiveThirtyEight. Stay tuned.
can apparently code-switch with the best of them
12:18 PM“Baby Got Back” is not remotely close to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s best song, but its cultural impact is inarguably off the charts. The track that gave ultimate praise to large posteriors was named as the best one-hit wonder of the ’90s by VH1 and even got a symphony to turn up. The song has been co-opted in many ways over the years, and Blake Lively is the latest to do it.
“Oh. My. God. Becky. Look. At. Her. Butt” — that sentence starts the song and set the precedent for whom we now refer to rather casually as “Beckys.” Ask Beyonce. “Even white boys got to shout” is a lyric that will forever be screamed on wedding reception dance floors. There are still people getting their lives changed by Mix, even through random chance.
But there’s one part of the song that is not a lyric, not a sketch, but rather a random portion of a hook, that is extremely important.
“LA face with an Oakland booty” means one thing: pretty face, big butt. Why are those two things somehow considered mutually exclusive? Well, you can blame that one on our old friend, traditional standards of beauty. Los Angeles, well-manicured and sculpted with Hollywood flair, represents one thing. Oakland, home of E-40, Marshawn Lynch and (ahem) the Black Panthers, represents something entirely blacker and in the face of what we consider refinement, a more raw aesthetic. Or in short, black women.
The phrase alludes to sort of Kardashian-style “best of both worlds” construct of “beauty” that is both enjoyable and confounding. If you don’t really get that line, it’s a fun one to say. Shouts to Cali! Yatta yatta. But if you do understand it, there’s some internal conflict. Why am I buying into why this even makes sense? Why can’t “Oakland face” be a thing? There’s a lot to unpack in that DJ scratch. There are even T-shirts if you want one.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the best Sir Mix-A-Lot jam of all time is this one. It’s not even close.
Daily Dose: 5/18/16
The Sixers have a shot at respectability
9:55 AMSince we’re here, just want to give appreciation to everyone who read, watched, shared, or otherwise tuned in Tuesday for our launch. It was an exhilarating day on many levels, so, very plainly: THANK YOU. We outchea.
Pardon my ignorance, but if Hillary Clinton is elected, will it be Ms. or Mrs. President? If we really think about it, there’s a conundrum there because — from my rudimentary understanding of the English language — Mrs. is used to describe a woman who has taken another’s name. In her case, it’s not a name but a title, and the other person actually was president, too. Ugh. Long story short, last night two states that are diametrically opposite culture-wise went to the polls to decide who’s going to the Oval Office in January. Clinton declared victory in Kentucky while Bernie Sanders took Oregon. ABC News’ Julia Jacobo has the details.
I happen to be from a city where the HIV/AIDS problem is extreme. Washington, D.C., if you aren’t familiar, has infection rates that are on par with West-African countries in terms of percentages. As a matter of public health, paying attention to this fact nationwide is a matter of interest. But a new research map that was presented Tuesday by researchers at Atlanta’s Emory University shows that the large majority of risk for contracting the virus lies with gay and bisexual men in the American South. That is a direct result of the quality of the health care systems in that region. ABC News’ Michael Nedelman explains.
When I saw Captain America: Civil War, I was very excited about the number of black superheroes that would be populating the big screen. Not one, not two, but three! In all seriousness though, the act of integrating characters of color into films based on comic books is an unsurprisingly complicated topic on many levels. Sidebar: There’s one INCREDIBLE scene in that film in which the words “you will be moved” are uttered, which had me falling out in the theater. Anyways, the man who is the lone black producer in Marvel’s film division has an incredible history. If you’re smart, you’ll let The Undefeated’s Kelley L. Carter tell you how the story goes at FiveThirtyEight.
The Philadelphia 76ers are in a world of hurt. Their team is garbage. They’re putting random sponsors on their uniforms. No one shows up for their games, and they’re clinging to a legacy that isn’t coming back anytime soon. Seriously, the Sixers are one of the top five most important franchises to black America as far as the NBA is concerned, and they’ve been floundering for the better part of a decade when it comes to relevance on the court. That said, they won the draft lottery Tuesday night. Yay! Hold your horses, though. Allen Iverson isn’t walking through that door. ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reports.
Coffee Break: What do you do when you go to bed? Read a book, a magazine or, gasp, a newspaper? I read my phone. But there’s a new thing out that sort of forces one away from the latter. It’s a lamp that only works if your cellular device (I like that term because only airplane people use it) is off. I’m outfitting my whole crib with these.
Snack Time: Chance The Rapper isn’t the only one doing work in these late night music streets. Alicia Keys and Common performed on SNL last weekend and it was fun!
Dessert: I’ve been playing with this computer keyboard synthesizer toy all week. You should, too.
learns a quick lesson in American racial politics
11:42 AMSteven Grizzly Adams is a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is from New Zealand. Monkeys are not native to that nation. So when he called the Golden State Warriors guards “quick little monkeys” after his team’s 108-102 victory Monday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, it didn’t sound great.
Calling people, specifically black people, “monkeys” is certainly a faux pas in today’s polite society, because it’s a lazy metaphor that a) makes no sense scientifically and b) is insulting. Just take a look at a soccer game happening anywhere on the globe save this continent, and you’ll find people making howling noises and throwing bananas at black players. This is not new. But there’s a history of commentators saying that word in this country, as well.
But Adams is a Kiwi. I’m willing to give him a pass for not understanding the true nature of his comments, even if they were insensitive. From a more basketball-oriented standpoint, they’re also inaccurate. Stephen Curry is not a tough monkey — he’s the first and only unanimous MVP of the NBA.
“It was just a poor choice of words, mate. I wasn’t thinking straight,” Adams said to USA Today. I didn’t know it was going to upset anyone, but I’m truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around. … Different words, different expressions, and stuff like that. But they obviously can be taken differently, depending on which country you’re in. I’m assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries. But I definitely overstepped them tonight.”
Fair enough. Dude showed up to the U.S. in 2011. Delving into the whole racial history of New Zealand, which isn’t great, isn’t particularly necessary, as Adams doesn’t represent his whole nation, necessarily. He was just a tired dude having trouble keeping up with the best backcourt in the league. The apology was genuine, and everyone learned something.
Daily Dose: 5/17/16
A Mississippi school district finally gets it
10:51 AMWhat’s up, kiddos. Today’s the day. This is what you’ll get every morning from me, so you don’t have to pay attention to the news if life takes you elsewhere. Newsletter life is quite the thrill, if you love unread messages in your inbox. Kidding, let’s do this.
Mississippi is making progress. On the day before the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that desegregated schools across the nation with the goal of making learning an equal opportunity situation, a district in the Magnolia State is finally catching up. We’re 60 years removed from that monumental decision from the Supreme Court, but somehow, this place missed the memo. This particular location is almost two-thirds black from a student populace standpoint. Also, take some time to think about what the term “historically white” actually means. ABC News’ Meghan Keneally reports.
Speaking of states, when was the last time you were in Pennsylvania? It’s a fine state. My personal favorite place there happens to be a place called Breezewood. When it comes to electoral politics, however, the state is hugely important this year. Particularly if you’re a Republican. With Donald Trump trying to find a way to relate to “normal America” on his way to the Oval Office, the home of the 76ers and the Penguins might be the place he kicks off the actualization of that effort. FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman explains why that’s a possibility.
Full disclosure: I already miss Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan. When it was announced that the former New York Giants defensive lineman would be leaving the program for Good Morning America, I was legit upset that the best duo on daytime television was done. It got kind of awkward, but now, Kelly is doing her thing on her own, to an extent. There will be a long line of guest hosts to determine who’s ready. If we’re being honest, nobody can really replace Strahan, but that’s another story. ABC’s Joi Marie McKenzie has details on the new show.
When it comes to individuals in the NFL, there’s Marshawn Lynch and everyone else. The man who exploded on to the scene by running all over the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game has become larger than life due to his healthy disdain for outsiders and tremendously charming persona. I don’t even love football but I still can’t believe Pete Carroll didn’t give him the ball in the Super Bowl. Anyways, the man known as “Beast Mode” is obviously a very smart guy. The Undefeated’s Lonnae O’Neal spent some time peeling back the layers in Oakland.
Coffee Break: Mental illness is something that is chronically underreported, under discussed and under treated in communities of color. So when singer Kehlani admitted that she was struggling with said issues a while back, it was rather revelatory. This week, she showed remarkable courage by stopping to talk about it during a live show.
Snack Time: I listen to a lot of Action Bronson out of habit, but I might enjoy watching him cook and shop more than I do listening to him rap. Turns out, that just like Noreaga, he had a run in with Michael Jordan, too! Enjoy.
to the information mixtape for your grind
4:03 AMWhen The Undefeated Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida first asked me to be a part of this project, he said he wanted something to be the “lifeblood” of the site. Although The Undefeated will deliver many big and important things from a journalism and entertainment standpoint, there still needs to be some fun.
That’s what I’m here for.
Art. Music. Life. Sports. Gear. Taste. We’ll cover it all.
You’re as likely to get a story on why rappers all suddenly have French bulldogs as you are a fashion analysis of Adidas’ new line of football cleats. Beyoncé launches a new athleisure line? On it. Vin Diesel sings “Oh Happy Day”? That works, too. President Obama and Steph Curry make a viral video for the My Brother’s Keeper program? Sure. A new documentary on the Roland TR-808 drum machine? Absolutely.
For weekends, we’ll go X Games-style and highlight athletes of color from the skate/snow/surf world for a feature we call “Board on Saturday.” Following that, we’ll take you around the world for “Street Art Sundays” in which we’ll showcase work from the graffiti/mural scene — a visual stimulant to close out your week.
Coming soon, we’ll have a daily newsletter to start your morning in case you haven’t caught up with the news yet. Politics, entertainment, random info, whatever.
And we’ll soon be launching a weekly podcast that I’ll host along with senior style writer Jill Hudson and culture and sports writer Justin Tinsley every Tuesday. We got you, fam.
See you on the internet.
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.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 28, 2016
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.
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.
I think it's time that we all just accept the fact that Frank Ocean didn't actually have an album.
— ghost (@maia_cee) May 16, 2016
Frank Ocean's about to drop Detox
— meach (@mvrkmvrkmvrk) May 16, 2016
Did Frank Ocean drop something and I missed it? Or are we all just giving up on him…
— Caveman (@TylerGutierrezJ) May 16, 2016
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.
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.
blah, blah, something about glass houses… pic.twitter.com/Tdekg2c2Kq
— Brandon Morrow (@2Morrow23) May 16, 2016
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.