âAfter six years, she's stepping down as executive director of NBA's Players Union, but this Black woman is still making history in more ways than one.
âLong before she became executive director of the National Basketball Players Association [NBPA], Michele Roberts was a girl growing up in New York City. She knew as a young child that she wanted to be a lawyer, but not just any kind of lawyer. She knew she wanted to be a âgood lawyer.â
Roberts was raised in the South Bronx, where she and her mother, oddly enough, would spend time watching trials at the local courthouse. She recalls the profound impact of one particular arraignment.
âOne of the people that got brought before the judge was a friend of my brother's... Iâm sure I didnât understand what was going on. But he was given a bail that he couldnât afford, and he went back into custody and I was mortified,â she told BET.
âI remember thinking and saying to my mom, âI donât think his lawyer fought really hard for him. Why did he pick that lawyer?ââ
Roberts received a response from her mother that so many poor Black and Brown children have heard before and will unfortunately continue to hear. When youâre of limited means, there is no picking or choosing. âIf youâre poor you get whatever the city gives you.â
It was at that moment Roberts decided she was going to be a lawyer. Not only that, but someone committed to helping out the underdogs, the underprivileged, and those who had the misfortune of being unlucky in life.
By the early 2000s and with an intense self-belief, Roberts had garnered a national reputation as an outstanding trial attorney, feared by her opponents, revered by her clients, and loved by judges. Washingtonian Magazine called her the âfinest pure trial lawyer in Washington.â Quite the honor for a poor Black girl from the South Bronx in an overwhelmingly white male-dominated field.
In 2013, Roberts was preparing to try a case that she anticipated would last for months. But the parties ended up settling before ever reaching trial and Roberts found herself with a lot of free time on her hands.
âI had time to read a newspaper! I found out Billy Hunter, then head of the NBPA, was just fired. I was kind of aware there was a union for players, but not really. I remember thinking, âwow itâll take 10 minutes to fill that job because it must be a cool job.ââ
Another year passed, another case settled and Roberts learned the NBPA still hadn't found a successor.
ââSo, I did a little more digging. At this point it was just out of curiosity. I wanted to find out what the deal was.â
âThe NBPA had hired a search firm, and she inquired with the headhunter about the responsibilities tied to the position. She received a call from the head of the firm, and despite Robertsâ transparency that she wasnât seriously considering the position, they met for coffee in D.C.
âHeâs now a friend, but I didnât like him at the time,â she admits.
âI thought he was a little condescending and he said âLook, I donât want to waste my time. Weâve done a little due diligence on you, if youâre really interested we can go further.â I said, âI donât know, Iâm happy where I am.â He said, âyou need to tell me in a week.â Then I really disliked him. I remember thinking, âIâm not even going to talk to this guy again.â But I couldnât get it out of my mind, so I called him in a week and said âletâs move forward.ââ
Over the next several months, Roberts conducted painstaking research on the NBPA, its history, and interactions with the league. The more she learned, the more she thought she could do the job and the more she thought, the more she realized that no one could do this better than her.
Blood, Sweat, and A Little Bit of Luck
Becoming the head of a professional sports union is obviously no easy feat, particularly for a Black woman, and someone without a background in sports. Yet, Robertsâ talent for winning arguments in front of juries made her uniquely qualified for the toughest part: winning over the players in the interview process.
âI always believed that [the players] were smart, I didnât know the depths of that intelligence. Those were some of the toughest interviews Iâd ever gone through. They were laser focused. Chris Paul was the President, Steph [Curry], Andre [Iguodola], Anthony Tolliver, Roger Mason, Willie Green, and Kyle Korverwere all on the executive committee,â said Roberts.
âIt was in the middle of the season so I had to fly all over the place. We had great conversations but I still never thought they were going to hire a woman. They had been clearly told not to say anything about the fact that Iâm a woman. They never brought it up and I wasnât going to.â
Depending on roster size, there are only between 450-490 players in the NBA at any point during a season. Given the amount of people who play basketball worldwide, this proves youâve got to be one of the absolute best to be in the league. Weâre talking .0001% good. She understood that in a way that very few could, even without ever playing professionally herself.
âOne of reasons I especially love my players, and have always admired them even before I became involved in the game, was because I appreciated what absolute talent, and some modicum of luck, but certainly hard work it took for them to become one of the members of this very exclusive club.
ââI kind of feel the same way. Thereâs obviously more than 450 lawyers in the world but as a Black woman coming from the projects, the odds of my succeeding were fairly poor. And I knew what it took to get to where I got.â
The Road Ahead
In July 2014, Roberts became the head of the NBPA, and she left victorious after her very first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations on behalf of the players. They received a salary increase and the basketball related income (BRI) split was 51% to 49% in favor of the players. Health benefits were upgraded for current and retired players, pensions increased, and working conditions improved, including fewer back-to-back scheduled games.
If this is the era of âplayer empowerment,â Roberts is leading the revolution. She has made the players aware of all of additional income opportunities, including group licensing and content creation. She has overseen a massive overhaul of the NBPA and has done it under a âplayerâs firstâ edict.
Now, the NBPA has announced that after six years, she is stepping down and the careful search for her successor has commenced.
As she completes the second round of a four year term as executive director, Roberts will continue the hard work necessary to ensure that the league is in good hands. Sheâs not going anywhere anytime soon. Remember, it took nearly two years to fill the role with her.
âFor the past six years, I have greatly enjoyed and continue to enjoy leading the NBPA and am proud of all we have been able to accomplish,â said Roberts in a prepared statement.
âWhen I agreed to a second contract as Executive Director, I made clear that I would not be seeking a third. The Executive Committee and I are committed to making certain my successor is thoroughly prepared to assume the position upon my departure from the NBPA and continue its sustained path for growth."
When she started, the NBPA had a staff of 23 people who worked out of a townhouse in Harlem. She now has a staff of almost 90 people who are housed in a state-of-the-art facility in midtown Manhattan.
When visiting teams are in New York City, players can come and check in at the office with ease given its central location. And to make them feel even more at home, thereâs a regulation practice court, high performance workout rooms, pools with built-in treadmills -- everything a high level professional athlete needs, and more.
All of this is part of her legacy, but Roberts will also forever be known for focusing on increased programs and benefits for the players.
âI wanted to grow the programming available to the players. I wanted to do something about the absence of any mental health services for our players. I wanted to do something about the absence of any transition for our players. Every single one of our players is going to be a retired player,â she said.
ââThatâs a very difficult reality for our players and there was no transition assistance being provided. Most of our players donât finish school. Our best players do one year of college and then theyâre in the league. I want there to be tuition assistance for those players who want to return to school.
âWe knew we wanted higher pensions, but I wanted more. We now have health care for life for our retired players. Weâve overhauled our career development program. Not every player can be a coach and not every player wants to be a coach, but thatâs all we were offering. Now we have real estate, entrepreneurial programs, entertainment, franchising, the business of giving and establishing foundations.â
A Not So Distant Future
Roberts doesnât live in fantasy land. She knows everything isnât perfect, nor will it ever be. For instance, there are issues related to race and representation in the ownership suite and front offices.
âAs much as we want to believe that sports transcends race, it doesnât. Nothing does,â she explains.
âThe very fact that we have one Black Governor [Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan], and most of the front offices are predominantly white [25 of the 30 general managers], and the only people who arenât [white] are the players. Nobody can deny that. My job is when I see it and I can do something to impact it, then I call it out.â
âRoberts has been a critical part of the NBPAâs overall success for the last six years. She won't be easily replaced. As the only woman to ever be in this position, her shoes are incredibly hard to fill. The next executive director will at the very least have to embody a similar sense of tenacity, vision, and passion for advocacy, just like the kind that was engrained in that little girl sitting in the courtroom so many years ago.
NHL’s ‘Hockey Is For Everyone’ Campaign And Black Hockey History Shoots at Inclusiveness GoalRead Now
The league wants to introduce the sport to a more diverse fanbase.
A decade ago, Renee Hess was a self-described “non-sports” person. But somehow, she started listening to hockey games on the radio in Pittsburgh and fell in love with the description and the fast paced nature of the sport.
“When I discovered hockey I was intrigued by it. But I didn’t know how to gain access or what my entry point would be,” Hess, who did not attend her first game until 2016, told BET.com. “Anyone I told I was interested in hockey would say, ‘Black people don’t do hockey.’”
Undeterred and committed to learning more, she dove deep into the sport through research, reading, and consuming anything she could about this game that captivated her consciousness. In 2018 that resulted in Hess starting The Black Girl Hockey Club (BGHC).
Initially it began as a way for her to connect with other hockey fans of color, but in less than two years it has grown into something much more. Hess now serves as executive director of the nonprofit BGHC, which has a dedicated group of women who travel all across the country to attend NHL games and unite Black women and players within the hockey community through education and representation initiatives.
Hockey in North America, and the world, has been a predominantly white sport. But there have been nonwhite players since its inception. The sport has always been diverse, but not always inclusive, and the NHL wants to change that.
Through the NHL and NHL Players’ Association’s, “Hockey Is For Everyone” campaign, the league and various partners and stakeholders (like BGHC) are working not only to make the demographics of the sport more in line with the world, but also to make the spaces in and around the sport more welcoming.
The campaign is 24/7, 365 and called “Hockey Is For Everyone,” It targets people of color, among other communities, to increase diversity and inclusion. With February being Black History Month, one of the ways the league is generating interest among Black youth is through its NHL Black Hockey History Tour, presented by American Legacy.
It’s a mobile museum that started last season and travels around the country to various NHL cities and celebrates Black achievement in hockey. From the “Coloured Hockey League” in the 1890s across Canada’s Maritimes, to NHL legend Willie O’Ree who broke the league’s color barrier in 1958.
Also featured in the museum are Edmonton Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr, who became the first Black player to win the Stanley Cup in 1984, and former Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla, who in 2012 became the first Black player to score 500 goals in the NHL, along with current superstars like New Jersey Devils’ defenseman, P.K. Subban, the first Black player to win the Norris Trophy.
Kwame Mason, a former hockey player and the museum’s curator, believes spreading the message of Black history in hockey will go a long way in improving diversity and inclusion.
“It’s about representation. For our [Black] community it’s important that we see the history and the impact we have had on this great game. We’ve been playing this game since the 1800s. The first organized sports league for Blacks in North America was hockey.”
The mobile museum was in Newark, New Jersey earlier this month at the Prudential Center, the home of the New Jersey Devils. Students from a nearby elementary school were in attendance and had the opportunity to learn about the game.
While the kids, predominantly of color, didn’t know much about the sport. By the time they left the museum a definite curiosity was sparked.
Representation matters so much that the mother of a youth hockey player in New York City, took her son out of school because it was important he see the museum and have a chance to connect with Subban and his Devils teammate Wayne Simmonds.
“It was important for my son to have the opportunity to see, not just what I’ve told him, but the entire history of Black people in hockey,” Joycelyn McGeachy-Kuls, whose son Jackson plays for the NYC Cyclones where she is also the team manager, told BET.com
Kuhls and her son like many Black people engaged in the sport understand the importance of inclusion all too well. Jackson shared a story that is not uncommon where he was called a n***** by an opposing player’s parent. Like so many players before him, he blocked it out and focused on the game and helped his team to a victory.
Given that incident, and ones like it that take place at all levels within the sport, it’s no surprise that people of color don’t find the hockey community very welcoming.
“Diversity without inclusion is a form of violence,” said Hess.
Simmonds, in his 12th season in the NHL, was on hand earlier in February to tour the museum and for a Black man from Scarborough, Ontario to see a history he knows like the back of his hand meant a lot. But it also brought back painful memories of the challenges of being the “only one.”
“It was really hard when I was younger. You don’t see a lot of faces like yourself. You walk into a rink and you’re the only one, or there’s one other kid,” Simmonds told BET.com.
He remembered a particular incident when he was on the Toronto Aces as a kid, and an opponent called him a n*****. “My best friend on the team comes flying in and knocks the kid out. It was crazy. But it felt good. I had other people, who weren’t Black, sticking up for me.”
Having allies is critical if the NHL wants to affect change in hockey all the way down through the youth level. There are roughly 30 players in the league that identify as Black and that isn’t nearly enough.
Devils’ star defenseman Subban knows this and during his tour of the museum he stressed the importance of working together and building bridges to achieve a goal that benefits everyone.
“Players in the league that aren’t Black feel very comfortable coming up to me and asking about the various initiatives, and I inform them in a way where they don’t feel uncomfortable,” said Subban. “People can be tentative or standoffish when there are things being talked about that they don’t understand. It’s our job to not only hold people accountable, but also to educate. People don’t walk in your shoes, or in mine. They walk in their own.”
As Hockey is For Everyone, the focus on Black History in the sport, and other initiatives spearheaded by Kim Davis, the NHL’s Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs continue to take shape, the league’s other players will need to be active and willing participants. Diversity and inclusion isn’t a five or ten year plan. It’s a complete culture and attitude shift.
Accessibility and the socioeconomic barriers are critical. They matter and will continue to be a point of emphasis, but a focus on cultural availability is Davis’ primary focus. In short, speaking in languages that can be heard across the varied demographics of the world.
“Hockey is a very tribal sport,” Davis told BET.com. “Being tribal is a very positive trait, if you allow the tribe to get larger.”
Team LeBron Won The NBA All-Star Game But The Game’s Highest Award Will Now And Forever Honor Kobe BryantRead Now
âThe All-Star Game MVP trophy is now named the âKobe Bryant MVP Trophy.â
Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 157-155 in the 69th NBA All-Star game on Sunday (February 16) and Kawhi Leonard was named the Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced on Saturday (February 15th) that the award is now permanently named after the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
âKobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,â said Silver. âHe always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world.â
Reigning league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo said Bryant was the player he admired the most growing up, and the two shared a close personal relationship.
âA guy that mentored me in the last few years of my career, a guy that was always there for me,â Antetokounmpo said. âIn the regular season, the playoffs, a guy that told me that whenever I need something, I could just reach out to him, and he was literally always there. If I needed something, he would text me back, call meâ¦.There was a quote that said that talent is worthless if you're not willing to share it, right? And he was one of those guys that was sharing his talent with us, and he's going to be definitely missed.â
Bryant was the youngest ever player to appear in an All-Star game at 19 (1998). He was an 18-time All-Star selection, second most in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19). Bryant holds the NBA record for consecutive All-Star selections as he was honored 18 straight times from 1998-2016, and is tied for the most All-Star game MVPs (4).
His spirit was very much alive and well all weekend in Chicago. From the various tributes from players past and present, fans, jerseys, and his posthumous Naismith Hall of Fame finalist selection.
âFor us to be able to honor Kobe Bryant and his legacy, itâs a beautiful time,â said LeBron James during media day. âEven in a loss, itâs a beautiful time. We know that heâs watching over us.â
Itâs fitting that Kawhi Leonard was the first to win the Kobe Bryant MVP. He embodies the âMamba Mentalityâ, the ethos that drove Bryant to rarefied heights in sports and life.
Leonard eschews all of the frills and fame that being a player of his caliber yields and is completely dedicated to his craft. He works tirelessly to be the best version of himself and win.
Following the game, he talked about his relationship with Bryant and his commitment to winning.
âWords canât explain how happy I am for it. To be able to put that trophy in my trophy room, and just to be able to see Kobeâs name on there,â Leonard said. âIt just means a lot to me. Heâs a big inspiration in my life. He did a lot for me.â
âFollowing the game several players reflected on the significance of the award being named after Bryant, beginning with Ben Simmons.
Pascal Siakam talked about the respect his generation of players have for Bryant. â
February 17, 2020
Joel Embiid said, âit was probably the best All-Star game ever.â Maybe it was, maybe it wasnât. But the spirit of Kobe Bryant was undeniable throughout.
USA Women’s National Basketball Team Talks Kobe And Gigi Bryant’s ImpactRead Now
Nneka Ogwumike and Diana Turasi reflect on the late NBA legend and his daughter.
The NBA shared the stage with the WNBA this weekend in Chicago for All-Star Weekend.
It’s an Olympic year and Team USA is the six-time defending champion, chances are good they’ll add a seventh in Tokyo. But right now what’s on their minds is a loss the entire basketball world is continuing to feel, particularly now.
Following an open practice at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena a couple of the players reflected on the legacy of Kobe Bryant and the promise of his daughter Gigi.
Kobe was a champion of the women’s game at all levels. He and daughter Gigi would often be seen courtside at high school, college, and professional games. Kobe was a true master craftsman, and that love of learning the game was apparent in Gigi.
Everyone remembers the viral clip from last December when the two were in Brooklyn, New York watching the Nets play the Hawks. A proud dad was teaching his eager daughter.
The majority of the fans on hand Saturday (February 15) to watch the women’s team practice were young girls, and that mattered to national team member Nneka Ogwumike, who plays forward for the L.A. Sparks.
“Representation matters, and we are always about that,” Ogwumike told BET.com. “Being an advocate for women’s sports and women’s empowerment is in right now, and we want it to stay in. We’ve been about that life for a while.”
Kobe was also about that life, as Gigi was the heir to his basketball legacy. Kobe famously recalled a story where a fan told him he needed to have a son to carry on his legacy, and Gigi said, “you don’t need a son, I got this.”
“We saw glimpses of her skillset,” Ogwumike continued. “Her aura and maturity were so impressive. She was ready, more than ready, to fill her father’s footsteps. It was really exciting to see what could have been.”
Gigi was just 13 years old at the time of her death, and the women’s basketball community, many of its members who had relationships with both, felt this tragedy so deeply and personally.
“Anyone who knew Kobe, knew whatever he said he meant,” Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi told BET.com. “The passion that he and Gigi shared for the game was so great. So it was a natural progression for him to show love to basketball players at all levels and that’s what set him apart.”
Taurasi believes Gigi would have been a star.
“Gigi was doing things that I couldn’t do at 25,” Taurasi said. “She was getting tootelage from the best and you could tell her appetite for the game was just getting started, you could see it.”
Bucks And Hornets Were First Teams To Play A Regular Season Game In Paris, And Won't Be The LastRead Now
The NBA Paris game is a glimpse into where the league is developing its next generation of fans.
In the Bercy neighborhood of the 12th arrondissement in Paris sits the AccorHotels Arena. A 20,000 seat capacity venue that houses ATP tennis championships, concerts, gymnastics and Euroleague basketball.
On a cold 1°C (34°F) Friday night (January 24), fans were lined up four hours before tipoff for the first-ever NBA regular season game played in France.
La Ville Lumière (The City of Light) played host to the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets as part of the NBA’s continued edict to grow the game globally.
The Bucks won the game 116-103. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 16 rebounds in the win for Milwaukee. A standard night for the reigning MVP. Malik Monk had 31 points in the loss for Charlotte.
While the sellout crowd “oohed” and “aahed” at what they were witnessing on the court, Commissioner Adam Silver and his brain trust witnessed another step in what they believe will ultimately be a big win for the business of the NBA.
The NBA has been playing regular season games in Europe since 2011, so far all in-season games have taken place in London. But don’t expect this year’s France edition to be an outlier. Silver, in his press conference before the game, said the NBA will host a regular season game in Paris next year as well.
Europe, and France in particular, is seen as a growth market for the league. Several French players have had long, successful NBA careers. Retired superstar Tony Parker, a native of France, was honored before the game along with Ronny Turiaf. Current players Nicolas Batum (Hornets), Evan Fournier (Magic) and Rudy Gobert (Jazz) all hail from France, so it makes sense for the league to invest resources here.
“France is one of the best basketball markets in the world. I think they are disproportionately represented based on their population in the NBA,” said Silver. “We have 10 or 11 players, depending how you count our players in our G League right now, who play in the NBA, and as you all know, we have some of our very best players who are from France.”
The French love basketball. In an informal poll of fans lined up outside the arena and French media in attendance, basketball is undoubtedly the country’s second most popular sport behind soccer.
Basketball’s increased popularity overseas can be traced back to the 1992 United States “Dream Team.” Likely the greatest collection of basketball talent ever assembled, Michael Jordan and company went on a barnstorming tour during that summer in Barcelona, and their electric play inspired a whole generation of coaches and players overseas.
Speaking of Jordan, the Hornets’ chairman was one of the other main attractions Friday night. Whenever he was shown sitting in his suite in the arena on the jumbotron, the crowd erupted. The greatest of all time’s connection to Paris isn’t just limited to basketball. His Jordan Brand company has a sponsorship deal with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), the number-one club soccer team in France. Jordan Brand outfits their entire player kit and additional paraphernalia. PSG stars Neymar and Mbappé were sitting courtside at the game.
“Actually, they came to do a partnership, and Neymar was a big Jordan fan, so the transition was much easier,” said Jordan before the game. “Plus in terms of the market, Paris is all about fashion, and we see Jordan Brand as a leisure wear lifestyle brand. So the relationship was very easy.”
Between playing regular season games in Europe, the league’s partnership with Asia and India, and the new NBA Africa league, this is a global brand.
More and more superstar players (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and Joel Embiid) are hailing from overseas, and that doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Investment in expanding growth markets makes sense, and the league has tent poles on all the aforementioned continents.
“We're going to continue to invest in basketball in Europe, work with the local federations and clubs, and continue to bring teams over,” said Silver. “The only real limitation is the way the current schedule is structured, and even as Marc and Michael know, one of the projects the league continues to focus on is what should a regular season look like in five years and 10 years from now? Maybe ultimately we'll be building in more windows to allow for more travel during the regular season.”
As globalization continues and the power of technology reduces barriers, the connection between the NBA and the world will only grow. In an era where the competition for mindshare is at an all-time high, and the saturation of the U.S. market, the league has to be forward thinking in grooming its next generation of fans.
Earlier this season, the league announced it is considering the implementation of a midseason tournament as a way to increase interest. While that has its issues and was met with mixed feelings by the media, players, and fans. It’s clear to see what the league might be looking to do down the line, with more games played overseas.
First and foremost it is to grow the game, and grow the business around the game. That can only happen in expanding markets.
Following the game, Bucks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer was asked if he could envision a world where the NBA playing more overseas games during the regular season was more than just a one off.
“You know it’s like, that answer is above my paygrade,” joked Budenholzer. “I think all the coaches and players, we put our faith in the NBA offices and Adam Silver and what he’s done to grow our sport and expand it and bring it to France this year for this game. Managing our schedule before and after the game, the travel here, the NBA does everything they can to make sure your team is well taken care of. And hopefully put on a great game, and a great opportunity for fans all over the world, to keep enjoying our sport. I’m sure the league will continue to do it. But that’s Adam’s territory.”
If Adam Silver has it his way, the NBA will be in territories all across the globe.
Nets’ Garrett Temple Hosts Screening Of Just Mercy For Kids In BrooklynRead Now
“It’s important that the kids know what has happened in the past.”
Brooklyn Nets’ forward Garrett Temple was just six years old when Walter “Johnny D.” McMillan was exonerated in the death of Ronda Morrison in 1993.
McMillan, a Black business owner, was arrested in June of 1987 for the murder of Ronda Morrison, a white dry cleaning clerk. Immediately upon his arrest McMillan was sent, illegally, to Alabama's Death Row, in Holman State Prison, Atmore, to await his trial.
In a series of twisted events, police, prosecutors and judges obstructed justice, coerced testimony, and concealed evidence all in the name of convicting McMillan.
It wasn’t until Harvard Law educated Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Alabama, took an interest in the case that justice was eventually served.
Stevenson’s story and his work with McMillan and the EJI are the focal points of his book Just Mercy, which has been adapted into a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson, and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx as McMillan.
A movie theater in the Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, on a cold Friday afternoon (January 17) is where I find Temple. He had seen the movie three weeks prior, but it really resonated with him. So much so that he connected with Bryan Stevenson to hear more of his story.
If you know anything about Temple, a story like Stevenson’s and McMillan’s hits different.
Temple is the son of Collis Temple Jr., the first Black player to integrate Louisiana State University’s basketball team in 1971.
He is the grandson of Collis Temple Sr., who was rejected by LSU’s Masters program in 1955 because of his race. The only way the elder Temple was able to obtain an advanced degree was because of a class action suit filed by, then executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Thurgood Marshall.
If you grow up on stories like that, it’s impossible for miscarriages of justice to not make you feel a certain type of way.
After a special screening of the movie and conversation with local high school students affiliated with My Brother’s Keeper, The Boys and Girls Club, and the NYPD Foundation, Temple talked about the importance of shedding light on issues that have plagued the Black community for centuries.
“I saw the movie three weeks ago,” Temple told BET. “The situation happened in the early '90s, and that was 20-30 years ago. It’s important that the kids know what has happened in the past. But at the same time, hearing them talk, you know and they know a lot of that same stuff is happening today. Whether it’s Black History Month coming up or not. It’s a movie that needs to be seen by the younger generation so we can remember and honestly understand. Get that awareness of the judicial system and the flaws that are there.”
This isn’t Temple’s first foray into the community to address systemic issues that negatively impact Black people.
When he was a member of the Sacramento Kings (2016-2018), the local community was rocked by the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Black man Stephon Clark by two Sacramento Police Department officers on March 18, 2018
Temple, already active with the local high school, was instrumental in having the Kings partner with Black Lives Matter Sacramento. He also facilitated formal town halls with law-enforcement officers and the Black community.
More of a consensus builder than radical, Temple is prone to look at root causes when dealing with complex issues.
“You have to have laws. I’m not an anarchist. But I think back to the foundation of our country and the things that have happened,” he continued. “When you think back to where police came from, they were slave catchers. They were there to protect your property. Who and what were property back then? It’s tough to get away from the foundation of a country unless you make big, radical changes. Some change has been made. But a lot more still needs to be done. When I finish playing, maybe I can help with that change.”
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1973, more than 165 people who had been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in the U.S. have been exonerated. The rate of error in death penalty convictions is alarming, if not surprisingly high. For every nine people executed in this country, one innocent person has been exonerated.
Changing a monolith like the criminal justice system and its roots in racism is daunting, to say the least. But it's not trying and hopelessness that is the enemy. It’s cliché, but if everyone does their part, things can and often do change.
For his part, Garrett Temple knows he can and wants to do more with the platform he has been given. The LSU alumnus is in his 10th NBA season and has made approximately $30 million in career earnings. That type of financial security, “God willing,'' he says might allow him to work on change from the inside. He’s seriously considering going to law school when his playing career is over.
“I don’t know what type of law I would practice, if I were to practice law,” he said. “Sometimes I think, maybe just get the degree to acquire the knowledge. Maybe become a prosecutor, because of the power they have to influence and shape lives. Or become a defense attorney for that same reason. Taking care of the money that I’ve made playing, I wouldn’t have the same constraints as other lawyers. That would allow me to do this for the right reasons.”
Like the film Just Mercy, Garrett Temple’s efforts are a reminder in a time when hopelessness threatens to derail human existence, that the work can and must continue for all of us.
âSerena Williams, Simone Biles, Coco-mania and more!
2019 was quite a year in sports, and Black women athletes shined throughout.
From the worlds of boxing, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, tennis, marathon running, and more Black Girl Magic was on full display.
âAs the year comes to a close, itâs time to look back at some of our brightest stars inspiring little girls around the world.
Sasha Banks is part of the new and more diverse face of World Wrestling Entertainment and sheâs arguably, one of their biggest stars.
She and partner Bayley won the inaugural WWE Womenâs Tag Team Championship in February during a six team Elimination Chamber match.
They would end up losing the title at Wrestlemania 35, but Banks was part of the first team ever to win the new womenâs title.
2019 was Taylor Townsendâs best year in terms of performance at the grand slam tournaments.
Highlighted by her run to the fourth round of the US Open which included an upset victory over Wimbledon champ and the #4 seed, Simona Halep. It was Townsendâs first victory over a top 10 player in her career.
Townsendâs serve and volley style is a throwback in todayâs power baseline game. She used that style to push eventual US Open champion, Bianca Andreescu, to three tough sets before bowing out.
âWhat made Townsendâs run into the round of 16 so impressive was she did it as a qualifier. She had to win three matches just to make the main draw at the Open. Two of those matches went three sets.
Townsendâs road from world #1 junior in 2012 to the 2019 US Open wasnât a smooth journey.
The United States Tennis Association had concerns that Townsendâs fitness was not where it needed to be to compete at the highest levels going forward, and in an unprecedented move, player-development executives including then-general manager Patrick McEnroe withheld funding for her to travel to major competitions like the U18 nationals and US Open.
âTownsendâs run at the 2019 US Open, a renewed confidence, and a sense of self has her poised to reach once imagined heights.
The goal scoring forward earned her second World Cup gold medal as a member of the 2019 US Women's National Team.
Press was one of four U.S. players to play in all seven World Cup games.
Her memorable moment came in the semifinals against England, USWNT star player Megan Rapinoe was out with an injury and Press stepped up and delivered. Scoring the first goal in a 2-1 victory for the U.S.
She lifted her arms and gazed to the heavens after the goal.
This was a bittersweet moment for Press who lost her mother Stacy earlier this year after the elder Press suffered a brain aneurysm.
Christen honored her mother by wearing Nike boots during the World Cup bearing the numbers 01.23.19âthe day Stacy passed.
Of her celebration, Press said, âI was thinking of my mom.â
The national team mainstay scored her 50th international goal this season, only the 12th player in USWNT history to do so.
Press finished 2019 with 5 goals and 12 assists. Her 12 assists lead the team, she was also the only member of the USWNT to appear in all 24 games in 2019.
Along with her teammates on the US Womenâs National Team, Press is also an advocate for gender equality. And as a âproud Black womanâ she has spoken out on issues of racism within the sport.
The 25-year-old Kenyan marathon runner won the Chicago Marathon in a new womenâs world record time of 2 hours 14 minutes 4 seconds. She shattered the previous mark by 81 seconds.
Kosgei also won the London Marathon earlier this year (April).
Kosgei started on an unreal pace in her first first five kilometers, running a time of 15:28, a pace of 4 minutes 58 seconds per mile. She ran an average of 5:06 per mile the rest of the way.
Her last mile of the grueling 26.2 trek was 5:10, her slowest of the day.
Think about that for a minute.
The last mile in a 26.2 mile race was 5 minutes and 10 seconds. Can the majority of us run one mile in 5:10?
That is incredible. But Kosgei believes she can go even faster.
ââI think 2:10 is possible for a lady,â she said. âI am focused on reducing my time again.â
CORI âCOCOâ GAUFF
At 15 years of age, she is the youngest player ranked in the WTA top 100. Sheâs #68.
She burst onto the scene at this yearâs Wimbledon Championships, defeating five-time champ Venus Williams en route to the 4th round.
The upset victory and increased interest in Gauff pushed tournament officials to move her third round match to Centre Court, an honor reserved for champions and top seeds.
All four of her matches were the most-watched matches on ESPN on their respective days.
She continued to play well throughout the summer and advanced to the third round of the US Open, where she lost to Naomi Osaka.
Gauff ended the year with her first WTA singles title at the Linz Open. She upset top seed Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals for her first top ten victory. She defeated JeÄ¼ena Ostapenko in the final to become the youngest WTA player to win a singles title since 2004.
âThe future of American womenâs tennis looks to be in great hands.
CLARESSA âT-REXâ SHIELDS
At just 24 years old she is already, arguably, the greatest female boxer in history. Let her tell it, and sheâs the âgreatest woman of all time.â
On April 13th, she became the undisputed female middleweight champion of the world defeating Christina Hammer by unanimous decision.
Shields unified the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO middleweight titles, along with The Ring magazine's inaugural middleweight belt, becoming one of only seven boxers in history, female or male, to hold all four major world titles in boxingâWBA, WBC, IBF and WBOâsimultaneously.
But sheâs done it faster than anyone ever, in just nine fights.
"There's not a woman in this world that can beat me if we put on a pair of gloves and we fight. I've accomplished so much," Shields, who also won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, said in an April interview.
"I'm just the undisputed champion -- I am great as I think I am and I've been able to prove it by taking on these big challenges and beating these girls who they say cannot be beaten."
âItâs pretty hard to argue with that.
Strange to say this but we have gone two calendar years without the âGOAT âwinning a tennis tournament.
Her last win was her 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open when she was eight weeks pregnant with daughter Olympia.
Since then Williams had a near brush with death after the birth of her daughter due to complications from a pulmonary embolism
But Williams returned to the court in 2018 and in the seven grand slams sheâs played since returning, sheâs made the finals four times.
Thatâs a career for some of the best tennis players ever, itâs a reality the majority that play professional tennis will never reach.
But Serena isnât just one of the best or an ordinary player. Sheâs widely considered the best to have ever picked up a racquet.
In 2019 she failed to tie Margaret Courtâs Grand Slam record of 24, but she made the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open.
Williams is 38 years-old and her contemporaries have long since retired. She is playing against the generation that grew up idolizing her.
âFor being able to make the finals of Grand Slams against women 15 years or more her junior is quite the accomplishment.
2019 was an interesting year for Osaka.
She started the year on a high note, backing up her 2018 US Open championship with a win in Australia. Her second grand slam and back-to-back.
The last woman to win consecutive slams was the aforementioned Williams.
Things kind of went south for a bit after that.
She failed to make it into the second week of the French Open or Wimbledon Championships, and she lost in the 4th round of the US Open.
âBut she rebounded nicely to end the year, winning the Pan Pacific and China Open. Thatâs three titles and a year-end rank of #3 in the world.
At this yearâs Fina World Swimming Championships, Manuel became the first American to sweep the 50 and 100 meter sprint freestyle events.
An impressive feat considering the depth of talent in sprint freestyle and Americaâs dominant history in swimming.
Manuel became a star at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She stunned the swimming world by winning gold in the 100 meter freestyle and following it up with a silver in the 50 meter freestyle.
Since 2016, Manuel has finished no worse than third in the two sprint freestyle events at any major national or international competition.
She capped off the year being named USA Swimmingâs Female Athlete Of The Year at the Golden Goggle Awards.
âManuel will be one month shy of her 24th birthday when the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo take place. If she continues to perform at this level, sheâll be one of the household names of Team USA.
In 2019 Simone Biles completely embodied #BlackGirlMagic.
The Olympic Champion became the most decorated gymnast in World Championship history in 2019. She surpassed Belarusian Vitaly Scherboâs mark of 23 medals, and set the new all-time record at 25.
Of Bilesâ record 25 world championship medals, 19 are gold.
She is rewriting the history books in the sport of gymnastics, changing the way competitions are judged, and stretching the limits of what is possible.
Biles has four original moves named after her and they are among the most difficult elements in the sport.
âWhat she continues to do is mindblowing. She is the Greatest Gymnast Of All Time and the definition of excellence.
âEach kid received a minimum of $500 and were flown out on the Patriots team plane to Gillette Stadium to meet Tom Brady.
âIf youâre forced to fall or if you fell, you should be able to get up regardless and move forward in life.â
Those were the words from the ubiquitous DJ Khaled, who was on hand at the NBA Store in New York City Saturday morning (December 21) along with the REFORM Alliance founding members Michael Rubin, Meek Mill, and Clara Wu Tsai.
Rubin and the REFORM Alliance leadership, along with Khaled and Brooklyn Netsâ star Caris LeVert, were part of a delegation spreading holiday cheer for several dozen children who have been adversely affected by an unjust probation system.
The REFORM Alliance started with the unjust re-imprisonment of Meek Mill due to minor technical probation violations. At the time, the Philly rapper received a startling two-to-four year sentence. The shocking sentence started the international #FreeMeek movement, which led to his release on bail in April 2018.
Being a high profile celebrity with power and powerful friends, Meek was able to fight and win his case. Coming from humble beginnings he knew that wasnât the reality for almost everyone else caught up in an unjust criminal justice system. â
Together with Rubin, who is also a Philadelphia 76ers Partner, Meek wanted to do more, and became committed to changing mass supervision laws (probation and parole policies).
The REFORM Alliance boasts some of the biggest leaders and names in business, government, entertainment, sports, technology, art, and culture. Including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and hip hop mogul Jay-Z.
But Saturday wasnât about celebrity status, it was about making kids smile and bringing some joy to their lives during this holiday season.
Children who currently have a parent in prison or on parole for a technicality, or who previously had a parent in the probation and parole system were brought in from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania for the event.
According to the event organizers, a single child was given a gift card of $500. A family received a gift card of $1,000, and larger families received a higher amount. These gift cards could be used to purchase anything in the NBAâs flagship consumer store.
Throughout the morning kids and parents alike were buzzing with excitement deciding which jersey of their favorite NBA superstar to purchase or team paraphernalia. It was an early Christmas for these families in need.
Following the shopping spree at the NBA Store, the kids and their families were flown up to Gillette Stadium on the New England Patriots team plane to meet Kraft, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and watch the game against the Buffalo Bills that evening.
âWe want to make a really special day for all of you,â Rubin said in his remarks that began the day. âWe want you to have a great time. Have a shopping spree. Enjoy meeting everyone. Get a chance to fly on the Patriots team plane, and meet Robert Kraft. See a Patriots game and spend some time on the field.â
The probation and parole laws obviously impact the parolee and person on probation, but it has an undue burden on their families as well. Not only financially, but emotionally.
âI watched Meek go through the holiday season without his family when he was locked up. It was awful for him to live through and it was awful for me to watch,â Rubin told BET.
âWe want to make sure that all these kids that are here that have parents that are currently incarcerated or previously incarcerated for technical violations. Again, they didnât commit a crime. We want to make sure we give them one of the best days of their lives,â Rubin added.
For Meek, the man who spurred a revolution, it was a surreal moment. As he was about to take the microphone from Rubin and address the attendees, a kid said, âMeek Mill, you are my rap idol!â
BET asked Meek, what it meant to hear those words from a child.
âItâs a blessing to have a little kid from where I come from say he looks up to me and what I stand for,â he explained.
Meek and Rubin seem like an unlikely pair of friends, but their friendship is born from a genuine curiosity both men share. Through their friendship, hours of conversation and debate, Rubin finally came to understand the concept of âtwo Americasâ.
âToday, was Mikeâs idea,â Meek said. âI inform Mike of everything from âthe other side of America.â What we go through, and things I went through coming up and my upbringing.â
It was an especially busy, but rewarding day for Meek as he pulled double duty. Hanging with the kids at the NBA Store for the REFORM Alliance, and then immediately whisking down to his hometown of Philadelphia where he hosted a toy giveaway a few hours later.
For the REFORM Alliance, Saturdayâs event with the kids and their families was a highlight in the painstaking marathon of enacting change to an archaic and racist criminal justice system. After the kids and their families enjoy this day, the work continues.
âRight now in Pennsylvania we have a House Bill and Senate Bill we hope to get done by the end of January (2020),â Rubin said. âThat will change thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of peoplesâ familiesâ lives...we want to fix the overall problem.â
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 6.6 million people are currently in the criminal justice system in the United States and 4.5 million of those are currently on parole or probation. As a nation, the United States spends more than $80 billion dollars annually on corrections, more than any other country by a wide margin.
So often when looking at fixing the injustices and problems that exist within a society, cosmetic fixes are usually the end result. Changing systems and infrastructures is intensive and quite frankly, met with resistance.
But it appears that REFORM is in it for the long term. Founding member Clara Wu Tsai, wife of billionaire businessman and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, sees the challenge in making change but knows it can be done.
âIâve been interested in economic mobility for most of my life,â Tsai told BET. âWe canât talk about economic mobility without talking about criminal justice reform. Itâs a long-term game. Itâs trying to change laws and policy. We know thatâs not easy. So at the same time we are also trying to change the narrative. We are trying to change hearts and minds, so that people are aware of these issues and thatâs partly why we are doing this today. We want more people to know about the injustices, especially around imprisonment for technical, non-criminal violations.â
Those words undoubtedly resonated with the families in attendance.
A man who identified himself to BET as James White of Newark, New Jersey was at the event with two of his children and he recanted a story of how he was caught up in the system.
White told BET he was on probation for a year on a drug possession charge. He received a letter in the mail saying he violated his probation and he was due to appear in court. Not believing it was anything serious he opted not to wear a suit, and showed up to court in an Edgerrin James (retired NFL player) throwback jersey.
The presiding judge told White he failed to pay a fine. White said, âI thought I paid all my fines. But I have the money now and can pay.â
According to White the judge said, âI see you are wearing a jersey. Those are pretty expensive. I can tell that you have money because of what youâre wearing. But I donât want your money. I want your time..â The judge gave White another year of probation and doubled the fine.
In this instance White was one of the lucky ones and he knows it.
âIn that situation I was more fortunate than a lot of other people,â he said. âA lot of people get sent to prison to finish their parole.â
âItâs not just the judges or probation system. Itâs the continuous harassment. Itâs the system itself that allows for harassment and racism. Because Iâll be honest, I did run into a judge that was fair. But they only exist in the cracks,â White concluded.
The REFORM Alliance and its members through their efforts believe that as a collective they can enact true change at the policy level, and end the revolving door that is probation and parole.
âIf only for a brief moment, the joy experienced by the kids on Saturday is a reminder of why this fight is so necessary and ultimately worth it.
There are just a few weeks remaining in 2019, and you know what that means?
Itâs time to pull out all the stops on definitive lists and rankings of the year that was.
We are going to take a look back at some of the best NBA and NFL feuds that stood the test of time this year and created the biggest baller âbeefsâ of 2019.
Who won? Who lost? Weâll declare an overall âwinnerâ and holder of the 2019 Social Media Smackdown Championship Belt for âBest Social Media Sports Feud.â
Thatâs a long title. Weâll continue to workshop that.
In any event, letâs take a look at some of the best feuds from this year.
âDRAYMOND GREEN VS. TONY DURANT
Yes. Tony Durant, brother of Drayâs former teammate Kevin Durant.
âLetâs start at the beginning.
âThis feud goes back to 2018 when KD and Dray had that infamous âblow upâ in Los Angeles during a game. Here is a look back, video courtesy of NBC Sports Bay Area.
âImmediately following the incident, Tony took to Instagram Stories to share his thoughts on Dray.
KD has since left the Warriors via free agency in July and is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
But this summer Tony posted a picture on Instagram of his mother, and KD holding Tonyâs newborn child.
Dray, never one to let anything slide, had to hop in the comments and say something.
âHe did congratulate Tony, sort of...
Dray plays the game with an edge and lives his truth by always saying whatâs on his mind.
For better and for worse.
Any slight or perceived insult is fuel and motivation for him. Heâs not unlike many other athletes in that way.
It also is hard for him to let things go. So he couldnât resist a parting shot at Tony.
Winner: Draymond Green, for sheer pettiness if nothing else.
âKEVIN DURANT VS. CHRIS BROUSSARD
This one could literally be KD vs. just about anybody on social media.
The seven foot basketball genius loves to clapback on any and all social media platforms.
Earlier this year, while KD was still a member of the Warriors and got injured in the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets, Fox Sportsâ Chris Broussard was on television saying if the Warriors win without KD it would be Durantâs âworst nightmare.â
âKD responded in kind and it set off a firestorm. Fans and media alike were reacting to KDâs reaction.
Broussard continued to assert his claim and KD refuted him again.
âBroussard doubled down hard.
âKD was asked by Warriors beat reporter, Connor Letourneau, why he responds to critics on social media.
Another classic case of he said, he said.
KD is undeniably one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. Two-time champ, two-time Finals MVP. 10-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA, and a league MVP.
It bothers some people that a person of his stature and accomplishment chooses to engage in social media beef. For that reason alone, people would easily give him an âLâ on any social media interaction.
Weâre going a different route.
Winner: Everyone. These interactions provide content and fodder for posts, podcasts, and tv show segments. This is entertainment. Are you not entertained?!
BAKER MAYFIELD VS. TONY GROSSI
The Cleveland Browns quarterback does not like the ESPN Browns beat reporter and local on-air host.
Their beef goes back to information Grossi wrote about Mayfieldâs âdemandsâ when visiting the Browns prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, according to ProFootballTalk.
âGrossi and Mayfield have a history: Grossi reported before the 2018 NFL draft that Mayfield had demanded first-class airfare when making pre-draft visits and suggested that made Mayfield a prima donna, something people close to Mayfield took issue with. Grossi said today that Mayfieldâs issue with him stems from that.â
Their interactions since then have always been, curt.
In October, following a loss, things heated up between the two in Mayfieldâs postgame media availability.
â*Video courtesy of cleveland.com
âAfter that exchange, Mayfield took to Twitter to vent more.
âI think it goes back to the pre-draft conversations we had, things I said, things I wrote. OK, fine, but you have to move along,â Grossi said. âI tried to talk to him twice, alone, but he just wants no part of that. If heâs not going to do that I have to do my job as best as I can.â
Mayfield, much like Draymond Green, plays with an edge and uses slights as motivation.
Draymond gets leeway because he has backed up his edge with success and accomplishments. Mayfield has yet to do so. Also of note, Draymond doesnât really spar with the media.
Grossi has rubbed more than one athlete the wrong way. But, that is part and parcel with the gig. No matter how much it might be wrong.
Going after a player for his performance is all fair game in media. Going after a player personally or being particularly critical because of personal issues is not.
Has Grossi been somewhat unfair? Yes. Has Mayfield been a little petulant and churlish? Yes.
âWinner: Push. Neither party looks good here.
âODELL BECKHAM JR. VS. THE NEW YORK GIANTS
The current Cleveland Browns wide receiver started his career with the Giants. In his five seasons in New York, OBJ had 390 receptions for 5,476 receiving yards, and 44 touchdowns. He made routine highlight plays and was the lone bright spot on a mediocre franchise.
But, the Giants thought he was too much of a âdistraction.â
In a sport that preaches and trumpets the virtues of conformity, OBJ was too much of an individual.
After extending his contract, 5-years/$96 million with $65 million in guarantees in 2018, the Giants traded him to the Browns this summer.
OBJ did a wide-ranging interview with GQ, after the trade.
"My initial reaction was not disappointmentâ¦ I felt disrespected," Beckham said about the moment he found out he was traded to the Browns -- adding that he didn't care what the Giants got back. "Like, after everything I've done for them. This is me being honest..."
The Giantsâ general manager, Dave Gettleman, was matter of fact in his response to the situation, stating that trading OBJ was in the teamâs best interest.
In his new home in Cleveland, OBJ is still being himself.
Heâs made spectacular catches. Heâs been fined for wearing âJokerâ inspired cleats. He rocked a $2 million Richard Mille watch on the field.
OBJâs numbers are down, but so are his targets. Thatâs something he canât control. The Browns coaching staff and quarterback need to figure out how to get their most dynamic player the ball more often.
The Browns are 5-6 and still âaliveâ in the playoff hunt. The Giants are 2-9 and headed towards a top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
âWinner: OBJ. Heâs exciting, fun, and a personality. Oh, and heâs pretty good at that football thing too!
âLEBRON JAMES VS. #WASHEDKING CRITICS
Bron is averaging 25 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds per game for the 14-2 Los Angeles Lakers.
âIn early November, after posting his third straight triple-double in a win, Bron took to social media to address his critics.
Funny thing about those âcritics.â Who are they?
If you do a cursory search you donât find anyone who says Bron is washed. What you will find are several NBA analysts and media people who ask the question, after 17 seasons in the NBA with a historic minutes load, will this be the year Bron slows down?
Thatâs a far cry from washed. Itâs also a reasonable question to ask.
How long can he keep this up?
The saying goes, father time is undefeated. Time eventually catches up to everyone, even the great ones.
But, for now, it seems as though Bron is keeping time at bay.
âWinner: Bron. If for no other reason than, we donât know who these critics are. A certain talking head on Fox doesnât count.
âHOUSTON ROCKETS VS. THE NBA
âThe Rockets and people affiliated with the team have a propensity to say things that annoy the NBA and fans of the league at large.
No, weâre not talking about the Hong Kong situation that was ignited by general manager Daryl Morey.
âFor example, the aforementioned Morey said that Rocketsâ MVP James Harden is âfactually a better scorer than Michael Jordan.â
After their gut wrenching loss in the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors in 2018, the Rockets sent a memo to the league, charting how the referees cost them the game, and the title.
During the 2019 playoffs, where they again lost to the Warriors, they used the same methodology to dispute a game 1 loss.
Both the Athletic and ESPN uncovered the news earlier this year.
Finally, in the ultimate display of pettiness, the Rocketsâ official Twitter account sent out a tweet ârespectfully disagreeingâ with the NBA naming Milwaukee Bucksâ forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as the league MVP in 2019.
In a series of, since deleted tweets, the Rockets highlight all of Hardenâs accomplishments as reasons he should have won.
Loser: The Rockets. Just poor form all around from a team that shouldnât have to resort to this level of shenanigans.
STEPH CURRY VS. THE MEDIA
The two-time league MVP is getting a reminder on what life is like at the bottom of the mountain.
For the better part of five seasons, the Warriors and Steph have been the toast of the NBA. Going to five consecutive Finals, and winning three titles.
They made few friends, and shimmied and gloated as they dominated the competition. Rightfully so.
The KD and Steph 2017 Warriors might be the greatest team of all time. But nothing lasts forever.
KD is gone, Steph is hurt and out indefinitely and the Warriors are the worst team in the NBA.
Yes, they are worse than the Knicks.
Before Steph got injured and the Warriors won their first game of the season, Steph had a message for those piling on the Warriors.
"Everybody loves to label you when you're down or when you're losing," Curry said to ESPN. "That's easy. It's easy to get on TV and say whatever you want. It's easy to just throw darts at a team that's trying to figure it out based on how much success we've had. I hope people can start to see through that and understand what we're about as a team and what we're going to build toward. That's basically it. If you want to get on and say whatever you want to say, and fill that 24-hour news cycle, that's cool with us. We're still going to hoop and just play basketball."
Yes Steph, thatâs what we are going to do. You are correct, the 24-hour news cycle needs to be filled. When the Warriors were winning and dominating you and the team had no issues with everyone lavashing the completely deserved praise upon you.
Welcome to the other side.
âWinner: The fan bases of all the other NBA teams, and those that thrive on schadenfreude.