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The Open Run | Run

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I made a mistake today.

It’s rare for me and perhaps even more difficult for you to believe, but… I did.

To be absolutely clear, I’ve never been wrong before.

Mistaken a couple times here and there? Yes.

Wrong?

Well…

I happened upon a certain rotund sports talking head’s minimizing diatribe about the racist vandalism that occurred at LeBron James’ tony Brentwood estate on the same block where Orenthal James Simpson once held sway over many if not all of his neighbors in Los Angeles.This is what generally ends up happening in these cases where guys like this spew verbal diarrhea, eschewing nuance and critical thought for arguments on binary extremes that often tangentialize in order to engage in the #EmbraceDebate sports culture so prevalent today.

HINT:  #itsATrap #ChooseWisely

I thought about bringing the hostile gospel to someone who looks like he still writes with his entire fist, but I channeled my inner Andre #3Stax and chilled.

“NAH, NAH… DON’T DO IT, ICE COLD…”

#ICECOLD

It is incumbent upon the more highly evolved carbon-based life forces on this planet to work diligently toward not succumbing to that wave.  

Whether we like it or not, in some shape, form or fashion, Race affects everything we do in this Life, particularly in the world’s propaganda headquarters, the good ol’ U.S. of A!

We didn’t make this world; we were merely born into it.

For many, having to navigate social, federal and cultural institutions designed specifically for suppression, destruction and elimination is a daily operation.

Gotta deal with it the best way we can.

Some try to ignore it; others are wantonly oblivious.

Some fight for equality, often to deleterious ends; others fight to avoid conflict and “stay in their place”.

Race.

But for what exactly are we running?

Sometimes, staring in the mirror at all of your wounds and scars, yet somehow learning how to appreciate something in them is a task unto itself.

To try and fight conditioning, all the while seeking to find Beauty in the supposed Hideousness of You…

It’s a state of being I can’t begin to fathom as many others who look like me actually live in it on a regular basis.

When I was a kid, I recall reading Ralph Ellison’s brilliant work, The Invisible Man.

Looking at the cover of the book, I really believed it was about some being no one could see… then I realized it was truth in an entirely different fashion.

The book in essence is about Black identity and that identity not being recognized or respected by society-at-large in America, primarily and probably most importantly, not recognized or respected by other Blacks.  

The 2017 NBA Finals Game One saw the explosive Golden State Warriors, led by the two men who gathered the last three NBA MVP Awards in Wardell Stephen Curry and Kevin Wayne Durant best the reigning, defending world champeen Cleveland Cavaliers, fronted by the man generally considered to be the best player on the planet and owner of four of the last five MVPs before Curry and Durant scooped the hardware in LeBron Raymone James.

Plots and subplots aplenty are at play, raising questions that were answered by some in Game One.

Others not addressed, but looking to spell themselves out over at least the next three games only heightens the electric atmosphere around this series for the fans and players alike.No matter how luminous the star power is between the two best teams in the Association meeting for the third consecutive time in another ‘never been done in the history of…’ scenario, on the eve of this NBA Finals, real life hit home for the transcendent superstar James.

Rich or poor, The GOAT or not, there are some things and some words that strike at the core of Black souls no amount of money and apology can heal.

That the effect of this heinous slur being spray painted on LeBron James’ LA home’s exterior gate was assumed and summarily discharged as a “disrespectful inconvenience” to the extremely wealthy Black athlete is… well… disrespectful.

The insolence is not limited to James and his family.

It also goes but to all those before him who endured similar fates and found ways to fight the ignorance and pave a way not to be outliers, but active participants recognized as such in the pursuit of Life, Liberty and Justice within the so-called American Dream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v91tnrL29hw

Almost fifty years ago to the day, a couple other prominent Black athletes met in Cleveland.

The gathering was not to announce summer vacation plans, take talents anywhere or celebrate, but to support the rights of another GOAT and fight the powers that be through unity and candor about their rightful position in American society.

To insinuate that somehow this flagrant, more–than-microaggression was a harmless act and should be brushed off as just a word is disingenuous and dangerous.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I actually made two mistakes today.

I dived Twitter fingers-first into the cesspool of social media comments in support of our sports television provocateur’s posturing on the racial epithet “discomfort” caused to LeBron and his family.

I did so, unsure I would be able to swim up Shit’s Creek and come out clean with a new lease on Life and human perspective like Andy Dufresne.

Sadly, I didn’t.

When acting Warriors head coach Mike Brown, who is Black, tried to laugh off Oakland Police’s treatment of him during the Western Conference Finals in the player’s parking lot at Oracle Arena, where he coaches, I didn’t laugh with him.

And when a TV sports pundit looked to dismiss the incident at LeBron’s James’ home, complete with assumption about the crime rate in the area, I cringed.

I’m not sure I’ll ever see the day where people treat people like people should be treated in America, Canada or anywhere else.

I’ve never really been the “Kumbaya / We Are The World / Let’s Hold Hands” cat.

The world can be hard, cruel and ugly… and this was but one event of many that occur more often than not.

And if I could be so bold and assumptive to relay my desire for all lives, in this particular case, Black lives, be they in possession of Malcolm and Martin Amex cards or EBT cards, to be at peace with the world and one another, I would hearken to the words of an immortal KneeGrow poet whose canon is legendary in Post-Modern Contemporary Literature:

“TRUTH AND UNDERSTANDING IS WHAT I CRAVE…

IN THE LAND OF THE THIEF, HOME OF THE SLAVE”

–Lawrence Krisna Parker

That’s all.

That’s it.

Fin.

Will, the former Division-1 student athlete and professional b-baller internationally, is a longtime sports multimedia broadcast content creator & personality from that sleepy burg of New York City. His guest/co-hosting appearances and contributions to such networks as HBO, CNN, ESPN, NBA TV Canada, Sirius/XM, The Score/SportsNet, TSN and more will pale in comparison to what he does here at PressBasketball.com.

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Year 15 | A Mini Documentary

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What’s to come for the man on top, and what got him here?

It’s Year 15 of a man’s career, but it’s also Year 15 of a legacy…

Created by Tristan Laughton | Twitter: @Ctrice

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Editorial

Something Out of Nothing

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It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.

We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.

Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.

It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.

We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.

I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.

Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.

The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).

Stay tuned, because it’s not over.

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Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers

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Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?

Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.  

Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.   

Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.  

Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting. 

These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA: 

  • 14.6 Points
  • 7.6 Assists
  • 6.0  Rebounds
  • 1.8 Steals
  • 0.8 Blocks
  • 55.1 FG%
  • 41.2 3P%

He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.  

Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.  

He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.

Year Nat. Player Pos. Team
2012 Damian Lillard (co-MVPs) PG Portland Trail Blazers
Josh Selby (co-MVPs) PG Memphis Grizzlies
2013 Jonas Valančiūnas C Toronto Raptors
2014 Glen Rice Jr. SG Washington Wizards
2015 Kyle Anderson SF San Antonio Spurs
2016 Tyus Jones PG Minnesota Timberwolves
2017 Lonzo Ball PG Los Angeles Lakers

With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.  

The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.  

Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.  

If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.

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