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

Your spades game needs an upgrade

The 1998 Deck are the cards to get you there

2:04 PMWhen I learned to play spades, I was just a kid. It was in Laura Spelman Hall in Atlanta, where my older sister went to college. That was back in the early ’90s, when posters of Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas were on her and her roommates’ wall, and long before we knew rap was about to hit a heyday like nothing we’d seen before. It was just me keeping score while sitting on footlockers and changing tapes when the side needed to be switched, all while watching the game.

Spades is obviously the game of choice for most of us, until you graduate into these bid whist streets (it’s the game, but with a kitty!) later in life. Which deck you use, though, typically isn’t a huge deal. Some folks play where the deuce of diamonds is the highest spade, others use jokers in different ways, whatever works. But show up to the cookout or kickback with Khia Jackson’s new 1998 Deck, and you will be very much putting on for the culture.

Jackson’s cards feature hip-hop legends from the ’90s as the face cards, which is brilliant. For all the nostalgia nonsense we have floating around these days, these are genuinely dope without feeling like you’re stuck in a bygone era. The faces on playing cards are old as the hills anyways, so might as well give them an update. By the way, if you want a deck, you can buy them here. Or, if you just want to support the cause, you can check out her Kickstarter here. There’s even a mixtape to go with it.

I can just see the old dad rap heads now yelling about running bostons while yelling out their favorite lyrics from college and high school. Check out this interview that Mass Appeal did with Jackson, who’s been a prolific creative for some time now.

Daily Dose: 8/31/17

Georgia officer says police only shoot black people

1:50 PMAlthough The Morning Roast is coming to a close, it doesn’t mean you’ll get any less of Mina Kimes and Domonique Foxworth. The two are launching a football podcast called Nickel Package, which is guaranteed to rock.

Things are getting scarier in Houston. Now that we’re in the phase of just basically dealing with all the damage the flooding has done after the storm, certain things and buildings are proving to be unsustainable. One such situation unfolded at a chemical plant where there was an explosion, leading to a rise of black smoke. Apparently, what shot into the sky this time is supposed to be relatively harmless, but that doesn’t mean the next time it will be. That’s a terrifying prospect on many levels, but officials are doing everything they can.

It’s a known fact that when it comes to black folks, police behave differently. Over the past five years, we’ve seen a light shined on officers shooting and killing innocent black people, to the point that the basic concept of a traffic stop ending up with someone dead is now burned in our brains so intensely. But what we don’t usually hear is an officer straight-out admitting that when it comes to lethal force, that’s only reserved for us. Welp, one cop in Georgia said that out loud, to an actual person, in real life. Seriously? Wow.

Thursday is the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. I don’t exactly remember it like it was yesterday, but I do recall how it shocked the globe and sent many into a world of obsession with the English monarchy. Diana was with her lover Dodi Fayed at the time of the car crash that took her life. It was a bombshell news event that changed the way we viewed the concept of paparazzi and how they did their jobs. Take a look back at who she was on the day of her death, two decades later.

You might not remember Zina Garrison. But back before the Williams sisters came along, she was one of the most prominent black women on the tennis tour. My dad was a huge fan of hers. It almost seems weird to think seeing black women succeed in tennis was rare back then, but it’s true. She also happens to be from Houston. Like most people, her life has been completely flipped upside down by Hurricane Harvey, and this story about how she’s managing it all is really eye-opening.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you know anything about the Ball family, you know that the kid whose demeanor is most like father LaVar’s is LaMelo. He’s got the swag, the hair and, in general, the look that will absolutely make him a star in the future. Well, now he’s the first high school kid with his own shoe.

Snack Time: GIFs are pretty easy to make as is, but this Polaroid-like camera that makes them for you also looks like a really fun toy for parties.

Dessert: If this is true, it might be the greatest glo-up of all time. Wow.

‘Ball In The Family’ launches Thursday on Facebook

The basketball family’s reality show will offer behind-the-scenes look at life

12:51 PMWe all knew this was coming, but it’s finally here. The Ball family has its own reality show. It was announced a while back that the show would be appearing on Facebook, and we’ve now got our first look at what the basketball clan is like behind the scenes, when it’s just them and the cameras.

I’ve explained to everyone my thoughts on the Balls taking the Kardashian route to entertainment fame: I’m completely here for it. I, in fact, want the two families to merge through love or business, on some level, creating what I’ve been calling “The Balldashians” since Day 1.

On a basic level, this show looks very fun. The Balls, if nothing else, know how to have a good time, and it shows. Beyond their ability to play basketball are their relationships with each other. It goes through summer league, where Lonzo balled out. It covers mom Tina Ball’s health situation and, in general, looks full-blown interesting.

You can say what you want about LaVar Ball trying to exploit his children for this that and a third, but I’m never going to hate on a dad who just wants to create every single opportunity for his family that he can while keeping them together and focused.

“We are thrilled to work with the Ball family to share their remarkable story at a pivotal moment in their lives,” Gil Goldschein, chairman and CEO of Bunim/Murray Productions, said in a press release. “For fans, it will be a front-row seat to how the family deals with the sky-high expectations heaped upon it. For Bunim/Murray, participating in the launch of Facebook’s new Watch platform and contributing to its video ecosystem is exciting because it fits with our long history of pioneering new formats and using our programs to help launch platforms.”

You might remember that company for another reality show franchise it launched that transformed small-screen entertainment: MTV’s The Real World. It also is behind quite a few actual Kardashian productions. The docuseries premieres Thursday on Facebook’s new Watch platform.

“We wanted to give our fans an unfiltered look into our lives and show them a side of us that isn’t typically seen,” LaVar Ball said.

Something tells me this is going to work.

Daily Dose: 8/30/17

Black tennis umpire wins EEOC fight with USTA

12:34 PMI met up with an old high school friend who lives in Argentina Tuesday who doesn’t use Facebook. I hadn’t seen him since then. Do you know how hard it is to catch up with someone who isn’t on social media? It was a looong talk, LOL.

The rain has mainly stopped in Texas, but the hardest part is yet to come. Officials think that up to 40,000 homes might have been destroyed. Port Arthur, specifically, is completely underwater, according to its mayor. You might know that place as the hometown of the rap group UGK. Beyond that, Houston has imposed a curfew and there are concerns that price gouging will become a problem in the area. As far as better news is concerned, a local mogul nicknamed Mattress Mack has opened his warehouse doors as a shelter.

President Donald Trump wants to ban transgender people from the military. However, that won’t be as easy as making a declaration. Mainly because the armed forces don’t particularly want that to happen. Not just because it’s wrong, but also because it will hurt numbers in a major way. To be clear, telling people who are willing to serve that they cannot in a volunteer-based force is not only really hateful, but also really dumb. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says nothing will change for at least six months.

Kevin Durant is taking those cupcakes and flipping them. The Golden State Warriors star, D.C.-area native and NBA Finals MVP is no stranger to using his personal life to create themes for his sneaker line, and he’s doing the same this week. His new colorway for his signature shoe will be called “Red Velvet,” which is brilliant. In case you forgot, Oklahoma City fans called Durant that all last season, after he left the Thunder to join the Dubs. I wonder how many of those fans are still gonna buy these shoes. I’m guessing a lot.

The US Open is underway in NYC. This is continent’s only Grand Slam tournament and the bright lights of the Big Apple have been known to create some big moments in the tennis world. But the tournament is run by the U.S. Tennis Association, which like many organizations across the nation, has its problems. Such as, you guessed it: racism. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sided with a black chair umpire, who lodged discrimination complaints back in 2015. It’s a fascinating story of a black man who was used for his image.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Do you like Brockhampton? I fell in love with them when they released their All-American Trash album, and the crew from Texas has a lot going on. Since then, they’ve released both Saturation and Saturation II, which if you don’t know about, you need to check out. Some people think they’re the future.

Snack Time: I don’t love the term Becky, but it is quite funny. Every once in a while, someone breaks down the evolution of a term that’s so perfect, so funny, and so true that you just have to stand and salute. Behold.

Dessert: If you don’t know what your relationship is called, you might be in a “situationship.”

The spectacle of black pain

CNN interview reveals the difficulty of covering natural disasters

4:23 PMFrom a media perspective, natural disasters are a difficult beast when it comes to ethical standards of coverage. While you want your audience to be informed, there is also the very difficult balance of doing your job, hurting any humanitarian efforts and, very plainly, exploiting your subjects.

Tuesday afternoon on CNN, viewers were treated to a live interaction that served as an incredible lesson in media ethics. To be clear, this criticism is not about the network itself necessarily. I’ve appeared on CNN multiple times in my career, and I haven’t been monitoring various outlets for the purposes of fair criticism. I just turned this on and saw what was leading up to and was instantly uncomfortable.

From what I recall, the question was basically about how she saved her children. But honestly, that didn’t really matter. She was going to say whatever she wanted to say. And good for her. A temporary shelter is not the place to start interviewing people like they are coaches coming off the field before halftime of a game. Sunday on NPR, I heard a teenage girl talking about the state of her family in a flooded house in which everyone was hanging out in the kitchen because that was the only room with a light.

Point is, as a business, we are all trafficking in this. The interview was just a particularly egregious example of how a shortsighted attempt at shedding light on something can in fact be harmful. It’s an EXTREMELY tricky balance for anyone who’s ever covered anything in real time that involves live broadcasting.

It’s hard to believe that they would have put a nonblack person in this situation. Over the past five years, images of black suffering have become en vogue, from movies about slavery winning Oscars to the constant images of our young men getting shot and killed looping on cable news networks across the nation. Is there value to exposing that to people, to understand what happened? Of course, that’s what this business is about. But there are diminishing returns, and for black folks in particular, it contributes to collective generational post-traumatic stress disorder, which is real.

And if you don’t believe me on that, you can click here, here, here or here.

Natural disaster coverage has no handbook. Of course, airing many of these stories is the connection it takes to make some people feel the need to give. But that doesn’t mean that the so-called greater good is always a fruitful endeavor. There is common sense, the drive to be first, the desire to help and everything in between. How that’s handled sticks with more than just media companies; it’s been known to ruin presidential reputations as well. Just ask Kanye West.

Daily Dose: 8/29/17

Chicago officer convicted of unreasonable force

1:18 PMIt’s official, I’m playing fantasy football this season. Not with my friends, since they kicked me out of the league, but with my office, since, yanno, I signed up. My squad name is “DONT @ ME PLEIGHBOI,” so take heed. Can’t wait.

A police officer is going to jail for unreasonable force. In Chicago, no less. I, for one, am shocked. In most places in the United States, because of the way our justice system is structured, never mind institutionalized racism — both of which overlap — law enforcement officials are almost never convicted of such acts. Rarely are they even charged, for that matter. But this case was so egregious because the offending officer tried to say that he was hoping to save one teen’s life by shooting at him in a car full of others. Yeah, nah. That makes no sense.

Maybe Tuesday will be another big ratings win for President Donald Trump. After he made that awful quip Monday, while Texas was being pummeled by Tropical Storm Harvey, regarding why he decided to pardon Joe Arpaio, Trump’s headed to Texas on Tuesday. Lucky for him, he’s got another crisis on hand to try to capitalize on. North Korea has apparently launched a missile, which flew over Japan. Trump says that as far as retaliation, all options are on the table. Whatever that means.

Ed Skrein has a perpetual invite to the cookout. He was supposed to be playing a role in a new Hellboy reboot that was initially written as a person of Asian descent. But when he learned that, instead of adding to Hollywood’s huge issue and basically core value of whitewashing everything, he pulled out. Like, legit said, “Nah, I’m good, this isn’t right and I don’t want to contribute to this problem.” So don’t tell me that it’s impossible to switch things up to make them right when you realize something is wrong in casting.

Tropical Storm Harvey is clearly creating problems across multiple fronts. Obviously, the flooding and destruction are devastating. As a result, the sports world is certainly being affected. Most pro sports teams in Texas have had to relocate games, and it’s affecting historically black colleges and universities as well. The Labor Day Classic between Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M has now been moved to Thanksgiving, which means the whole weekend of festivities surrounding that event has unfortunately been canceled as well.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Speaking of Houston, that’s where Joel Osteen works and worships from. You know that guy with the crazy televangelist following and huge church? Well, he apparently doesn’t want to open his doors to help folks. Of note: Most mosques in Houston have.

Snack Time: Remember when Kathy Griffin took those pictures that featured what some people thought was a beheaded Trump? Well, a new profile shows how off-the-charts reactions were to that. Pretty big wow, here.

Dessert: Frank Ocean dropped a couple of new tracks this week. The better one’s called “Provider.

The Morning Roast: 8/27/17

All good things must come to an end

11:33 AMSome of you might not know, but the show is coming to a close. Once football season starts, things change on the ESPN Radio calendar, so Sept. 3 is our last show. And this week was Domonique Foxworth’s last.

Hour 1

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Of course, the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight was the night before, and magically all three of the hosts actually watched the fight. Clinton Yates was thoroughly entertained and thought that McGregor did pretty well for himself, considering. Mina Kimes, however, thoroughly believes that this whole fight was nothing but a big setup for a rematch. Perhaps. Also, Yates displayed his tremendous knowledge of side gigs and how much they pay. For whatever reason, Mr. Union Foxworth seems to believe that negotiations don’t favor ring girls in boxing matches. Turns out, Yates was right on that.

Later, we got to talking about Julian Edelman and his injury and what that means for the New England Patriots from a personnel standpoint. Domonique and Mina got talking football, which means that it was time for the music to start back up, because we are officially gearing up for the gridiron.

The hour ended with talk about Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas potentially not being traded for one another because of injury issues with Thomas, the former Celtics point guard. Who would be better off if the trade were rescinded? It’s an interesting question.

Hour 2

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Bernardo Osuna, ESPN Deportes boxing reporter and host of Nacion ESPN on ESPN2, joined us to talk Mayweather-McGregor. He found the fight to be rather entertaining but also rather predictable, considering McGregor’s previous experience from a stamina standpoint. We also got a fun update from Osuna about what his daughter texted him, and he explained why McGregor said, “I turned him into a Mexican.” Spoiler alert: Osuna thought it was funny.

Then, after reviewing Teddy Atlas and Stephen A. Smith’s argument about how the fight is analogous to turning a gourmet chef into a short-order cook, things went off the rails. Yates, a former short-order cook himself, took offense to that notion. Also, Kimes is not a fan of burgers outside of fast-food joints. The segment ended with Foxworth ready to show the world that he’s got the best dance moves on the show.

To close the hour, we discussed what the football is going to be like in a post-Charlottesville world. You might recall that many of the Cleveland Browns took a knee during the first preseason game, which sparked a wave of reactions from people. Seth DeValve became the first white player to do this in the league, and his wife provided a very necessary perspective.

Hour 3

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In reviewing the fight, Foxworth told a story about going to see a teammate fight in Vegas, which quickly transitioned into a talk about how defensive backs would be the best boxers in the NFL. Of course, Kimes thought the best boxer in the league would be a Seattle Seahawk. But most importantly, we did our best job of looking back on the show, which was Foxworth’s last. Also, Yates couldn’t decide whether he wants to get the NFL Ticket and Foxworth is looking to destroy his house by playing virtual reality football in his basement.

Following, we had a long talk about whether the NFL should eliminate the preseason altogether, which we all felt was maybe too far. Foxworth says more practices between teams and fewer actual games would help. He also broke down to extreme detail exactly why Julian Edelman would not have been injured on that specific play if it had happened at practice versus in a game.

Of course, we all had a blast in What Did We Learn, but it was sad because it was our last show together as three. Sad bear.


Daily Dose: 8/28/17

Texas tries to battle Hurricane Harvey

1:36 PMHey, gang, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: The Morning Roast is coming to an end. Football season is upon us, and programming is changing, alas. Good news: There’s one more show left. Check out this week.

All prayers go to Texas. In a storm the likes of which no one alive has ever seen before, Hurricane Harvey has basically destroyed large parts of the state with both rain and wind and the subsequent flooding. And it’s not getting any better anytime soon. They say that recovering from this will take years, and don’t forget: Quite a few people who survived Hurricane Katrina back in the day had permanently relocated to Houston. This is a nightmare all over again for them. The police chief’s advice? Hunker down, they’re trying. This is such a sad situation, overall.

Might be time to get that Amazon Prime account, if you’d been holding out. The official sale of Whole Foods to the megaretailer became official on Monday, and word is that prices will be dropping at the high-end grocer rather soon as a result. This means that Jeff Bezos owns one of the country’s most prominent media companies, as well as a massive online sales operation, besides a monster food chain. Dude is doing a lot. How this will affect any of those businesses overall, who knows? Here are the details.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t watch the MTV Video Music Awards. Typically, it’s my favorite of all the award shows. This year, I just didn’t have it in me as a result of the fight on Saturday draining all my desire to watch long, live programming for the rest of the weekend. But Katy Perry was the host, and from what my Twitter feed says, there were a decent number of solid performances. It’ll likely air 23 more times in the next five days, but if you just want to catch up on what you missed, you can do that too.

By many accounts, Vontaze Burfict is a dirty player. He’s had that reputation for a while in Cincinnati, and now the league is suspending him for five games as a result of a hit he put on a Chiefs player this preseason. Look, I don’t know what his deal is or why he can’t seem to stay out of trouble regarding his on-the-field play, but this dude needs to get it together. The NFL allows a lot of reasonable leeway when it comes to the basic concept of knocking the crap out of people, and the fact that he can’t seem to get it right is troubling. He plans to appeal the decision.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Russell Wilson seems like a nice guy. He and Ciara make a lovely couple, and generally he is a pretty decently liked person. But whatever he had in mind for his outfit at the Mayweather-McGregor fight is beyond me. I mean, look at this outfit. Dude looks like Carlton from that episode of Fresh Prince when they go to Compton, California.

Snack Time: In the 21st season of the WNBA, not a single player has a sneaker line of her own. Seems like that’s a problem that needs to change.

Dessert: Shoutout to Katherine Johnson — you know, the NASA genius — who just celebrated her 99th birthday.