The one. The first. The blueprint. When people think of Los Angeles, California, many different things come to mind. The beautiful beaches, Hollywood, celebrities galore and the Los Angeles Dodgers all have a permanent place in the city of Los Angeles. The most iconic and symbolic representation of the City of Angeles is the Los Angeles Lakers. Originally founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Lakers franchise moved to California in 1960. The one-way ticket to Los Angeles for the franchise brought the most important player to ever wear the purple and gold (royal blue and white initially) to Los Angeles; #22 Elgin Gay Baylor. Baylor, a product of Washington D.C. transcended the game of basketball with not only his natural on-court talent but his creativity and his ability to be great EVERYTIME he stepped on the hardwood. Drafted to the Lakers out of Seattle University in the post-George Mikan era, Baylor was able to fill a void in the franchise created by Mikan’s retirement. Baylor’s first year in the National Basketball Association would see him win not only the NBA Rookie Of the Year, but he would also be named Co-MVP of the All-Star Game while also being named to the ALL NBA First Team. His rookie season would be a preview to the future of unmatched exploits that he would display on the hardwood wearing a Lakers uniform in both in the cities of Minneapolis and Los Angeles. April 10, 2018, Elgin released his personal memoir “Hang Time: My Life In Basketball” to the world. This memoir gives the reader a true glimpse into what made Elgin Baylor a great basketball player and how life experiences from a society rooted in racism didn’t hinder him from achieving his goals but pushed him to excel beyond the limits created by segregation and limited opportunity. Reading Baylor’s words about his days as a youth in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., his recounting of acts of racism against his sister and father show not only the effect it had on him individually but it also put into perspective how awful racism was for black people in an area of the country that was not one of the Confederate states.
“Integration has become law, but how do you legislate against hate?” – Elgin Baylor
That quote from Elgin Baylor may be the most powerful words written in his memoir. One, this quote shows how hate outweighed legislative laws created to create a land of equality. Two, these words are still relevant sixty plus years later as hate is still existent in many places where laws would indicate otherwise.
“I am a human being.” – Elgin Baylor, 1959
1968 would see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr come to Memphis, TN leading a strike with sanitation workers of the city that demanded equal treatment to their white co-workers and to be treated as a human being. The adopted mantra for this march by King and the sanitation workers was “I Am A Man.” In 1959 Elgin Baylor made the decision to not play in an NBA game after being refused accommodations at a hotel in Charleston, West Virginia. Before Muhammad Ali, Baylor made the ultimate statement on the highest platform as an athlete, understanding that being treated as a human being was worth more than any NBA paycheck he would receive. Baylor made this stand at a time when the NBA operated on an unwritten “quota” system that limited the number of black players on teams. Despite the ignorance and hate-filled actions of that night and many other instances in his life, Baylor achieved in ways that had not been seen before in the NBA.
The greatness of Baylor as a Laker was validated by the one who had a courtside seat to every game from the teams initial move to Los Angeles; the late great Chick Hearn. Hearn the play-by-play announcer for the Lakers saw every legend to wear the purple and gold uniform; Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkers and the list to continue, but the greatest of them all according to Hearn was Elgin Baylor. The number of honors Baylor finished his career with are outstanding and one would need a scroll to read them in totality.
Elgin Baylor Career Accomplishments
11 Time NBA All-Star (1959–1965, 1967–1970)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (1959)
10 Time All-NBA First Team (1959–1965, 1967–1969)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1959)
NBA 35th Anniversary Team
NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
Jersey retired by Los Angeles Lakers (22)
NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1958)
Helms Foundation Player of the Year (1958)
Consensus First-Team All-American (1958)
Consensus Second-Team All-American (1957)
Led NCAA in rebounding (1957)
Jersey retired by Seattle University (22)
NBA Finals Record 61 points (single-game scoring record)
The pinnacle of Laker greatness has been defined by the ultimate honor from the organization; being immortalized in statue form forever. April 6, 2018, the statue of Elgin Baylor was revealed to the world in front of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. With Laker royalty and Laker fans on hand to pay homage to the living legend that carried the franchise on his back from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, Baylor’s day was a live memoir for those on hand of the journey he took in life in becoming a man and a basketball legend.
“Hang Time” shows how the combination of God-given ability, humility, perseverance and hard work created the first and most important Laker legend Elgin Baylor. The statue of Elgin Baylor immortalizes his on-court greatness and the accomplishments and statistical records he amassed show the completeness of his game. Los Angeles wouldn’t be Los Angeles without the Lakers and the Lakers wouldn’t be in Los Angeles without Elgin Baylor. Simple math. #EB22
It was summer. 1993. I was 7 years old living in Hoover Alabama, a suburb of the most segregated city in America in 1963, “Bombingham” as it was called. My mother subscribed me to the Scholastic Book club when she realized I enjoyed going to the local public library. As I scanned for a book to read, she suggested that I get a book on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I knew who he was. I knew there was a holiday observed in his honor. I knew he had a dream. In my hometown of Memphis Tennessee, I knew there was a museum built at the hotel that some white man shot and killed him. She told me that he helped change the world. I agreed with my mother’s suggestion. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. by David Adler arrived a few weeks later. As I had done previously with my other books, I ran back to the room I shared with my two brothers. While they were playing our Super Nintendo, I began reading about this young Baptist minister who engaged in protests during the times of when my parents were my age. I recall words I didn’t understand; civil disobedience, nonviolent resistance, Nobel Peace Prize, and then assassination. Although I had visited the National Civil Rights Museum two years earlier and now the place of my employment, it was the page towards the back of the book that I became numb and devastated. After sitting on my bed developing tears in my eyes, I ran into the kitchen where my parents were preparing dinner and wrapped my arms around my mother. As I dropped the book on the floor, I cried and continued to ask her “Why did that man shoot Dr. King? Why?” She sat me on her lap and told me “Ryan, Dr. King was a good man. He and others fought and gave their lives so America could be a better place for all of its people. But, there are some people who didn’t like Dr. King because of the color of his skin.” I understood but I didn’t. As I got older, living in the south and learning the true narrative of people of color, a narrative that has not always been taught in the most considerate and respectful way, it began to mold me into who I am today. One of my teachers in the 4th grade forced me and my other classmates to build a Southern plantation for a project and be tested on “Gone with the Wind”. The first impressions to an innocent mind can have an everlasting effect. These reflections I share with you on the commemoration of one of the greatest tragedies in our history is personal and a spiritual journey.
Once I realized I wasn’t going to be the next Stephen Curry or DJ Jazzy Jeff, I really began to become fascinated with Dr. King, his writings, his speeches, his personal life, and of course his mysterious assassination. From Montgomery to Selma, from Letter from a Birmingham Jail to when he publicly opposed the Vietnam War. It wasn’t until I took an upper division history course at the University of Tennessee-Martin in 2007 by one of my most influential professors and mentors Dr. David Barber, I learned that Dr. King was not the “I Have a Dream” man that we observe every third Monday in January. Reading the Fire Next Time, Soul On Ice, and The Souls of Black Folks all in one semester, I again began to evolve. I began to learn the differences between printed history and researched history. Fact vs. Myth. Dr. King indeed was a radical just as Malcolm, Stokely, Huey, and Fred Hampton had been. After Selma, his life would become exhausting, riddled with stress, and somewhat pressured by the new Black Power movement led by young and hungry Black militants who were no longer willing to use nonviolent resistance. The world was changing. David Ruffin and the Temptations took the process conks out of their hair and wore it natural. Muhammad Ali formed the seed that Colin Kaepernick would flourish from on Sunday mornings. Dr. King left the vitriol racism in the Jim Crow South and attempted to apply his tactics in the north such as Chicago. It was there he realized racial discrimination was not a southern thing, it was an American thing. He was bewildered at how the overwhelming amounts of poverty affected Americans across the country. He was perplexed at the reality of the United States government spending billions of dollars on military defense when the citizens of this country were well below the poverty line. As he had done for jobs and freedom during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, he planned a Poor People’s Campaign for the nation’s capital as well. Only this time, he planned to have 500,000 Americans build tents and force the government to close tax loopholes and helps its citizens domestically. This, unfortunately, is what likely cost him his life. Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were in the middle of planning the Poor People’s Campaign, when two unsung men were killed in the back of a garbage truck on a rainy afternoon in the city I was born, on the banks of the Mississippi, the city in which the “Dream” would be killed.
A few weeks after I cried at the assassination photograph in my Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. children’s book, my father took my brother’s and me to Blockbuster Video. While my brothers each picked the video game of their choice and I chose Burt Reynolds Cop and a Half, my dad chose a documentary titled At the River I Stand. He suggested that I watch this film with him once we got home. This documentary told the story of why Dr. King came to Memphis and eventually lost his life at the Lorraine Motel. It was a specific yet grisly story that still horrifies me to this current day. Thursday, February 1, 1968. The day of the spark in which Dr. King would come to Memphis and senselessly lose his life two months later. In East Memphis, two men, Robert Walker Jr. and Echol Cole had been Memphis sanitation workers for a few months. That Thursday was a steady hard rain in Memphis. As the crew began to return to their dump headquarters on Shelby Drive, Walker and Cole got into the back of the truck to shelter themselves. After a malfunction in the wiring, the trash compactor triggered by accident. Mr. Cole was further in the truck than Robert Walker and stuck out his hand to be pulled out. Robert Walker likely could have escaped but both men locked hands with each other and Walker was pulled in and both were crushed to death. While the Memphis press all but ignored the tragic accident, it welcomed the birth of Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie into the world. Because of the men’s death, Memphis sanitation workers formally went on strike against the city. The Reverend James Lawson would invite Dr. King to give a speech on behalf of the strikers. He would come and receive a warm and open reception from Memphis on March 18, 1968. So much that he volunteered to return to Memphis ten days later to march. When he arrived back on the 28th, there was a restless crowd awaiting him to join the marchers at the front. When the march turned on Main Street, there was looting at the back of the march. As the violence got worse, Dr. King was forced to leave the march that he had not organized, but would later be blamed for. This was critical for him because he was due in Washington in the next few weeks for the Poor People’s Campaign. The national media asserted that Dr. King had lost his magic. That if he couldn’t be successful in Memphis Tennessee, then how would he thrive in Washington D.C.? An hour after the march, another unsung martyr would lose his life. Sixteen-year-old Larry Payne, a junior at Mitchell High School marched with Dr. King that morning. After returning home briefly, he and some of his other classmates were caught in the middle of the looting. Memphis Police officer Leslie Dean Jones found Larry hiding in the South Memphis housing projects Fowler Homes and demanded he come out. According to a dozen witnesses, Larry appeared with his hands above his head. L.D. Jones shoved his shotgun into Larry’s stomach and fired point blank range. Larry’s mother, Mrs. Lizzie Payne tried to approach her son lying in a pool of blood, only to be met by her son’s murderer. Jones stuck his shotgun into her stomach, telling her to “Get back, Nigger.” Larry died on the way to the hospital. Officer Jones stated that Larry ran at him with a knife, an accusation that the same dozen witnesses disagreed with. Nevertheless, L.D. Jones was not indicted or even arrested. The next day, Dr. King vowed to return to Memphis to assure that he could still lead a nonviolent campaign, as he had done in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. He would return on April 3, 1968.
Since 2011, I’ve had the privilege of working at the National Civil Rights Museum, the site of Dr. King’s assassination. Working at this empowering institution has given me the humble opportunity to speak to all walks of life that our exhibitions interpret. While I’ve met some incredible activists, athletes, and other celebrities, the most challenging was when Dr. King’s youngest child, the Reverend Dr. Bernice King entered the museum. I always had a great admiration for her and her parents and how she has preserved her father’s legacy. But I questioned myself on telling her a history that she already knew… AT the place of her father’s tragic death. It was by far my most humbling experience of my life standing in the spot on the second floor of the balcony of the Lorraine Motel with her gazing across the street into the area a loud rifle shot was fired from. I felt grief, anger, and sorrow. I began to tell her of the moment Dr. King arrived back in Memphis on April 3, 1968 on flight 381 on Eastern Airlines. Before arriving however, there was a bomb threat that delayed him by an hour. After arriving in Memphis, he was transported to the Lorraine Motel, a black-owned and prestigious hotel that catered to legends such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Robinson, Aretha Franklin, and Lena Horne. The Lorraine was owned by power couple Walter and Loree Bailey, who renovated the hotel and motel several times during the peaking years of the Civil Rights Movement. For $13 a night, African-Americans could relax and feel safe at the Lorraine. Of course, Dr. King, on his three visits to the Lorraine, would never be charged for his stay. As he met with his staff and local Memphis leaders including a young Black Power splinter group The Invaders, King began to feel ill. He suffered from laryngitis and developed flu-like symptoms. There was also tornado warnings in the great Memphis area which he felt would affect the attendance at that night’s rally at the Mason Temple. He requested that Reverend Ralph Abernathy, later UN Ambassador Andrew Young and a young Reverend Jesse Jackson attend in his place. He would catch up on some rest. When the three men arrived, they were stunned to see 3,000 people standing up as they walked in. Then the ovation grew quiet as they noticed Dr. King was not with them. Abernathy leaned to Andrew Young and laughed “this is Martin’s crowd. We have to get him here immediately.” He rushed to the nearest phone and called room 306 at the Lorraine Motel and urged Dr. King to get to the Temple quick. “The news cameras are all here. This will be shown nationally.” Dr. King arrived in 25 minutes. Abernathy delivered an unusually long biography of his oldest friend before Dr. King reached the podium. He had no notes. In an ode to Hip Hop, he planned to “freestyle” his remarks for the next forty minutes. He spoke of the strike. He spoke his commitment of leading a nonviolent march in Memphis. He spoke of his determination to reach Washington. He then spoke of various events during his 12-year tenure in the Civil Rights Movement. The afternoon he was stabbed by a deranged woman in Harlem. The Sit-ins. Bull Connor and Birmingham. Bloody Sunday and Selma. And then it happened. As the shutters of the church were slamming because of the tornado winds, he gazed into his audience and said “I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” He collapsed into the arms of his staff. The time was 10:30 PM. Dr. King had just delivered his final address to the world.
Every morning as I begin my day, I walk through the museum to remind myself that not only is this is my job. But this my life and purpose. The men, women, and children. Black and White. The courage and sacrifices. So that people like myself and others can keep this rich history alive. That the future generations know that we are not makers of history, but that we are made by history.
And as I approach the room that Dr. King was taken from us, I remember that he was one man. A son, father, husband, who was full of vulnerability like all of us. The day after he delivered the most emotional, yet inspiring speech in my life, Dr. King was in the most joyous mood that he had been in weeks. When Andrew Young returned from Federal court to have an injunction lifted, he threw him onto a bed in Room 202 of the Lorraine and began child-like pillow fight. After wrestling themselves into an appetite, Dr. King went upstairs around 5:30 PM to his room to get dressed for a soul food dinner at Memphis minister’s home Samuel “Billy” Kyles. Dr. King reappeared on the balcony at 5:55 PM. He spoke to Jesse Jackson, whom he scolded the weekend before at an SCLC meeting in Atlanta. He told Jesse he wanted him to come to dinner with him and that he needed to put on a necktie. Jesse called back up to say “Doc, a prerequisite for dinner is an appetite and I have that.” The men laughed. Jesse introduced Dr. King to Ben Branch, a saxophonist who was going to play that night after dinner. Dr. King knew him already. He personally requested Mr. Branch to play “Precious Lord”, his favorite spiritual. “Play it real pretty.” Dr. King’s chauffeur called up and told him to grab his topcoat. Before Dr. King could reply, he was lifted upward off the ground and thrown back violently to the floor on the balcony. Everyone who was in the courtyard thought it was a car backfiring. Then they looked and saw Dr. King’s shoes dangling on the balcony and rushed to his aide. There was a large and mortal wound in the right side of his lower jaw and neck. Ralph Abernathy thought Dr. King recognized him for a few seconds, but he never spoke a word. Almost immediately, the Memphis Police Department was running toward the Lorraine balcony. In that instant, South African photographer Joseph Louw took the photo of Dr. King’s aides pointing west in the direction of where they felt the shot came from. After being taken from the balcony to St. Joseph’s Hospital, now St. Jude, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was pronounced dead at 7:05 PM central standard time. His death wasn’t the only to haunt the Lorraine. Mrs. Loree Bailey, the co-owner of the motel began shaking when she saw Dr. King lying on the balcony. Hours later, a blood vessel popped in her brain and she would fall into a coma before dying five days later, the day Dr. King was eulogized in Atlanta.
Riots and urban uprisings burned across the United States. The apostle of nonviolence was gone. Who could have done such a thing? James Earl Ray, a petty criminal with a 2nd-grade education and at best a poor shot with a rifle, with a scope that still has never been sighted? From a window where no eyewitness picked him out of a lineup? Could James Earl Ray changed Dr. King’s room at the Lorraine Motel on April 3? Could he have ordered the Memphis Public Works have obscuring bushes and grass removed in the middle of the night after the assassination, where several eyewitnesses saw gun smoke and a man moving rather quickly when the shot was fired? Could Ray have successfully removed three African-American officers from their post at the Memphis Fire Station adjacent to the Lorraine Motel? Could James Earl Ray conveniently left his bundle with the alleged murder weapon just 300 feet from the scene of the crime and leave Memphis undetected and arrive in Atlanta, Toronto, and London, with 5 separate aliases of men that looked almost identical to him? 50 years later, these lingering questions still remain. 50 years later, we still don’t have concise answers. While I believe the extensive plot to kill Dr. King goes much further and complex than the likes of James Earl Ray, we must still consider the fear and threat Dr. King caused at the time of his death. Just two months later, Senator Robert F. Kennedy suffered the same fate. The very same principles that Dr. King stood for, men and women are still being ridiculed today. Racism. Poverty. Militarism. Those who hide their prejudiced ways for their patriotism and those who don’t have a decent living wage to take care of their families. Is that why he was murdered? Dr. King died the most hated man on the planet. Today, he is one of the most glorified. Did it take him to be shot down on a balcony of a hotel in Memphis so African-American sanitation workers could live better lives? Is that a dream or a nightmare?
A Celebration of Basketball. That’s what NBA All-Star Weekend has always been called. A celebration of the games greatest players, both past, and present coming together to celebrate everything great about the NBA. The 67th annual NBA All-Star game took place in Los Angeles, California, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. As much as the weekend is about the events taking place on the court throughout, the essence of All-Star weekend lies in the history of the game. The great players which have graced the NBA courts that have elevated the game, the contributions of these players off the court and the natural ability of these individuals to be ambassadors of the league worldwide were on display for the entire weekend. Of the numerous legends present for NBA All-Star Weekend 2018, one great stood out head and shoulders amongst his Hall of Fame Peers; Isiah Lord Thomas III. Businessman, Top 50 NBA Player of All Time, Hall Of Famer, NCAA Champion, and two-time NBA Champion, Thomas left an indelible mark on All-Star Weekend 2018 with his success and knowledge as a businessman. The CEO and Chairman of Isiah Thomas International LLC, Thomas had the perfect platform to introduce his imported champagne, Cheurlin Champagne to the entire NBA family and its sponsors. Partnering with the National Basketball Retired Players Association, Cheurlin Champagne was the drink of choice for everybody that attended any of the Legends events during NBA All-Star Weekend. The NBRPA Legends Welcome Reception on Friday signified the official beginning of NBA All-Star Weekend with the presence of numerous NBA Legends and Hall of Famers. Held at the LA Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, one could look in any direction in the ballroom and their vision would instantly be filled with excellence. From Elgin Baylor to Spencer Haywood, Bo Kimble, Dave Cowens, Jamaal Wilkes just to name a few, legends from all eras of NBA basketball were present in the room. Speaking during the reception, Thomas spoke of his life, his inspirations and how many of the legends present in the room, as well as those not present influenced and inspired him to achieve in all areas of his life. “Players Only” was the theme for the day and it was only fitting that the reception ended with a toast of his bottled perfection, Cheurlin. One of the priceless moments for a person being at the reception, whether an NBA Alum or not, was being able to witness the NBA brotherhood in its purest form. NBA Legends which were formidable adversaries at certain points in their careers showered love and praise upon each other throughout the entire evening. Speaking to each other with love, these legends also spoke with the same love and respect for their NBA brothers which are no longer here, (specifically JoJo White, who passed on January 16, 2018). A room full of NBA Legends and their families enjoying Cheurlin Champagne was the perfect start to an amazing weekend of love, and inspiration.
The ever-evolving relationship between the NBA and technology was the platform for Saturday’s event which took place at The London Hotel in West Hollywood. The NBPA, Base Ventures & Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown held court on the rooftop of The London Hotel with “Tech Hustle.” This event featured some of the brightest minds and innovators in the world of tech, music, media, and entertainment. Scheduled speakers included Troy Carter, Jaylen Brown, Erik Moore, Ethan Brown, Too Short, Isiah Thomas, Bozoma Saint John, Ghazi Shami, Dominique Wilkins, Ameer Hasan Loggins, Morgan Debaun and David Krane, each of whom had unique experiences that not only educated and enlightened everybody on how technology had influenced their lives, but also how technology will continue to be a major player in the world in all avenues. Musician, entrepreneur, and innovator Chamillionaire also spoke about how tech has played an instrumental part in his entrepreneurial endeavors and ventures. Chamillionaire (whose real name is Hakeen Seriki) has founded and invested in multiple startups over the years and in constantly seeking and creating new pathways for growth in the world of tech. Many notables were present for the duration of the event. 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Champion and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, Golden State Warriors forward JaVale McGee (2017 NBA Champion) were present. Angela Benton, Founder & CEO of NewME Accelerator was on hand as well as many entrepreneurs and innovators engaged and connected with each other. Speaking at this event, Thomas spoke about his different business endeavors over the years and how each entity played a role in where he is at today in with his portfolio in the world of business. As with his own court career, Isiah was the first to do many things off the court, most notably the streaming of professional sports via the world wide web. A visionary, his grasp of how the internet and sports could work together for the advancement of both is evident in all sports with many games, leagues, and events being streamed online in 2018. Speaking from his experiences as not only a businessman but as a black man, Isiah showed how the combination of hard work, vision and faith can spearhead one to success, no matter where one may start. Similar to a stutter step, through the legs crossover whooing the crowd, Isiah wowed the audience when he brought eight-time Grammy Award-winning artist Lauryn Hill on the stage to speak. Hill spoke about not only technology and it’s place in the world, but she also passionately spoke about how everybody of this worlds holds a key to changing this world for the better. Having traveled the world numerous times, Hill was able to speak from a place of great insight as to how people can ultimately be the change needed to not only make the world a better place but to end many of the problems which plague many places, most specifically poverty and homelessness. The words of Hill touched the audience similar to the way her lyrics in any of her songs did but on a different level of intimacy. The sparkling energy from all of those gathered at The London Hotel was matched by the sparkling Cheurlin which was freely flowing throughout “Tech Hustle.”
Thomas’s engagement with all guests and participants throughout the entire weekend signified the one thing that comes to define his life; being a leader and getting all to see the ultimate goal. As a basketball player, Thomas won numerous awards and championships on each level through the remnants of hard work, determination and unmatched leadership. Always a businessman, Thomas has used the same attributes that enabled him to excel and become an NBA Legend to propel him to the top in the world of business. Possessing an extremely vast and diverse portfolio, this weekend allowed Isiah to not only be an inspiration to those that have known him but also to those that may not have known about the successful business ventures which he has created, founded or been a part of through his life. ESHE Magazine raises its glass of Cheurlin and toasts to an NBA All-Star weekend of excellence, education, and inspiration. #YouEarnedIt
The journey of life is something that a person can either deny, try to change or embrace. Everybody’s journey is different but the final destination is what will ultimately define the person. Stephon Xavier Marbury has had the ultimate journey as not only a basketball player but as a person. Stephon, a Native of Coney Island, New York was born into his destiny. The “Next” in the line of basketball greatness in the Marbury family and the New York lineage of great point guards, Stephon climbed through the ranks of New York City basketball as a phenom at Abraham Lincoln High School (yes the same Lincoln with Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee’s 1998 film “He Got Game”) where he would win Mr. Basketball for the state of New York after his senior season and was named a McDonald’s All American (1995). Taking his talents to Georgia Tech in the fall of 1995, Stephon electrified the college basketball world as a freshman, leading the Yellow Jackets to the 1996 NCAA Tournament and winning multiple individual awards including being named third team All American. For Stephon, the next step in his journey was the league, a.k.a. the NBA. A lottery pick in the illustrious 1996 NBA Draft Class (considered by many to be the greatest draft class of all time) Stephon embarked upon a thirteen year NBA career in which he would win All Rookie honors, All NBA honors, be named an NBA All Star and become an Olympian. As with any journey, ups and downs are present but with the appearance of downs, the only way to catapult is upward. Stephon began his international playing career in China in 2010 and has enjoyed the fruits of faith, patience and hard work as he has changed not only the basketball climate in China, but the entire culture. Spreading love and being love is what Stephon has done and China has reciprocated the love in many actions. A movie, a museum, a musical, a postage stamp, being named an ambassador and even a statue have all been given to China as a show of love for him as a not only a player, but a person. ESHE Magazine recently spoke with Stephon in Los Angeles during his preparation for his final season of professional basketball. Stephon discussed his life journey, his career, his newly released movie “My Other Home” and the relaunch of his Starbury Brand and the new partnership with Citi Trends.
David Jordan Jr: You’re entering your 20th season of professional basketball; talk about this journey from coming up in a basketball family as a little kid with dreams of playing basketball on the biggest stage and accomplishing your goals and achieving tremendous success at each level. In high school at Lincoln, collegiately at Georgia Tech, in the NBA, in the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) and on the Olympic level?
Stephon X. Marbury: It’s been an amazing journey. For me to come from a basketball family, three older brothers and a younger brother, I had an advantage that a lot of others kids didn’t have because of coming from a basketball family. I knew other things that other players didn’t know. This is how longevity and being able to play for so long has lasted. The physical part of the game goes but so far; the knowledge always continues to increase. Leaving going to play basketball in China, playing in the NBA, It’s all the ball, it’s the globe. Me being able to find success in China was a part of the journey; all I had to experience playing basketball in America. The NBA was my learning curve. I got an opportunity to go through so many different challenges before I won one championship that I never stopped going for what I wanted and that was to win a championship and seeking and searching to do that and the NBA was the best teacher, the greatest platform that any player can have the experience to learn and everything has been a learning process. A lot of people witnessed and watched and had their opinions and their views on what they feel, what you should do and what you shouldn’t do, how you should play and how you shouldn’t play but through my beliefs and my trust and beliefs in my ability as a basketball I got an opportunity to go through so many different challenges before I won one championship that I never stopped going for what I wanted and that was to win a championship and seeking and searching to do that and the NBA was the best teacher, the greatest platform that any player can have the experience to learn and everything has been a learning process. I stayed consistent in believing in what I knew I was and that was a CHAMPION. For me to look at all the different steps in high school, high school to college, college to NBA and the NBA to China, it’s all a journey.
David Jordan Jr: Besides having the amazing natural GOD given talent, I think being from New York and going to what my friends and I call Point Guard U, Georgia Tech University has had a tremendous effect on you being such a great point guard. Your older brothers Eric, Donnie, Jou Jou, younger brother Zack, Pearl Washington, Mark Jackson Kenny Anderson, great guards from New York before you and coach Bobby Cremins and the great guards he had at Georgia Tech before you, how did these factors influence your career?
Stephon X. Marbury: Growing up in New York and playing basketball in Coney Island, you always knew who was who. You knew the guards, you knew the nice players, but I never really thought about it. I always thought of me as being one of the guards coming from New York because all of the guards are different. I took a lot of all of their games and put that in my game. I did a lot of that, and being able to know the heritage of all of those guards it pushed you to be better and to really go for it. That was my motivation. I knew a lot of the guards from New York couldn’t jump. It was not really that many that could jump. I jump higher than all of them. It was already go for it. That was my motivation. I knew a lot of the guards from New York couldn’t jump. It was not really that many that could jump. I jump higher than all of them. It was already instilled and taught to me as a little kid to be a little guy that could fly. That separates you on the court from all of the other guards. That’s what separates Westbrook, he can dunk, he’s 6’5 though. I’m 6’1, A.I. is six-foot. It’s no science. I can’t dunk like the way I used to and have no desire to. I have so much respect for Derrick Rose because that guy, he messed his knees up bad playing and came right back. That takes an unbelievable type of will to come back from the injuries that he had. A lot of it is freak, accident, a lot of it is how he’s been training. But for myself when I see these type of guards and I know these guards exist, I look at it and say wow here we have these kids who are super talented, amazing abilities but they don’t play like how we played back then. We came in playing against players like Jordan and Oakley, real bruisers, real different players. The guys that can play, you know those guys right away; like Westbrook. I don’t agree when you say Lebron couldn’t play with the big boys; I’m a Kobe guy but Lebron can play with any generation.
David Jordan Jr: You’re a part of the 1996 Draft Class, which I consider to be the best draft class of all time. Coming into the NBA after your freshmen year of college, what was the most important piece of advice you got your rookie year that has helped you throughout your career and who was it from?
Stephon X. Marbury: I got so much advice from everybody. I was a sponge. I was just trying to be the best that I could be. Flip Saunders was the person that taught me the NBA game. You can make the NBA but not everybody can play the NBA game; they can play basketball but the playing the game is not as easy as people think. It’s not just getting on the court and playing. In order to score 20 points every night for 10 years straight, that takes a lot of work to do that, to play like that, to have that style.
David Jordan Jr: Consistency is so underrated. You have people that will get awestruck when one person has one big game but it’s really about being able to do it every night.
Stephon X. Marbury: If you’re not able to do it every night, you’re not doing anything. You knew when you watched NBA games back in the day, you knew who was going to come off the bench and play the same way every night. The nice players are the nice players. If you watched the game and saw the ball swing, you already knew whoever was taking that corner shot it was going in because they were wide open. Guys miss wide open shots and nobody is there. Why can’t he make that shot and he’s playing in the NBA making that much money? The truth is a lot of these kids don’t have the same attitude that we had. When we played we knew we were going to make money. You got some dudes that get the money and seem to quit working. They don’t even play consistent anymore. You don’t have a great year, sign a contract, comeback as healthy as an ox and you don’t play games? You can have a bad two, three games, but you can’t have a bad month! (Laughs) You ain’t shooting the ball good but by games 4 or 5 you should be making adjustments in the gym, shooting more, a lot of different things should have been happening to get your game on track. It’s a job, it’s a J.O.B. and it pays. You’re supposed to go hard no matter what. If you’re going to get on the court, even if you’re playing pickup you have to play hard. I see dudes not playing hard. I’d rather get beat than reach and everybody get penalized on defense. IF you get beat, you get beat. I see dudes not getting back on D’ but then want the ball when the ball is advanced.
David Jordan Jr: During your NBA career you had the opportunity to play for two of the most legendary teams in the league, the Boston Celtics and your hometown New York Knicks. When playing for the Celtics did you feel the Boston “Mystique” that everybody speaks of?
Stephon X. Marbury: INSTANTLY. When you walk in there and see all of those championships, the culture and pride is winning championships there and when they don’t win championships they are mad and gear up for another year. The authenticity of the Boston fans, who they are speaks volumes. From baseball, basketball, hockey it’s all of that inside the city. You get an opportunity to see that, feel that, hear it, embrace it. I told somebody the other day that Boston helped me win championships. That was the final piece of what I needed to win a championship. I was in such a bad place when in New York and when I went to Boston it was like, amazing. I got a chance to be on a team that had just won a championship and they believed that I had the ability to help them. That was one thing that helped me revitalize and get jumped started. I got to Boston, New York froze me out all the way until the deadline. I didn’t get my timing back until the playoffs and we lost to the Magic. That’s when I had finally got my legs back but by then we weren’t playing as well and Orlando was playing really good and went to the finals that year. We didn’t have enough but I felt myself coming on and when I was there having that experience and knowing what championship play felt like on the court and being in that arena, it propelled me in China like crazy.
David Jordan Jr: How did it feel to put on a Knicks jersey and play at the Garden? You played at The Garden in high school and also when you were at Georgia Tech but how did it feel to play at The Garden as a Knick?
Stephon X. Marbury: Nothing like it. When I first came to New York IT WAS ON. I TURNED NEW YORK OUT! But you gotta win in New York. You don’t win, it’s coming. I had different things that went on and made things worse, the ups and downs and losing, it was a lot. I learned a lot from New York. The experience of being in a situation where you don’t get the opportunity to play in your hometown. That was a blow. I didn’t want to leave New York, but they wanted to go in another direction which was fine.
David Jordan Jr: You began your international playing career in China in 2010. In seven years of playing and living in China, you’ve not only had success on the court, but you’ve had such a tremendous influence on the culture. GOD allows adversity into our lives, yet he blesses us with double and that is what he has done for you in China. From championships to individual awards, being on a postage stamp, being made an ambassador to Beijing and being immortalized with a statue in from of the Arena in which you won a championship, how has the success you’ve received playing in China coupled with the pure love you’ve received from the fans affected your life? Does it seem like a dream at times?
Stephon X. Marbury: It’s all GOD’s plan. It’s all his doing. I don’t have anything to do with it to be honest. When I look at all what has been done and I see it, it was a part of what was supposed to happen. I was supposed to go through everything I went through. A reporter asked me do I have any regrets and I said “No I Don’t.” What has been going on in my life has been amazing. What’s been going on in my life has been part of my journey, part of what’s going to happen and when I look at China, I look at China as this is what the Lord wanted everybody to see. This wasn’t what I planned. I didn’t plan that; being my China is not what I thought I would be doing. I ain’t have no clue of what was going on when it was going on. I was just riding the wave, I wasn’t getting up off of it. They tried to get me to come back play in the NBA after the first championship but I was like I’m GOOD. I’m going to stay here and keep trying to win some more championships because I like statues outside the arena and I know ain’t no statues going up in America, maybe in Coney Island but no statues going up outside no arena no matter how many championships you win. How it happened was even crazier. It was all a part of his doing. I don’t really take any credit for it. I Look at it how you look at it. I’m living and these things are happening. The type of things that go on, it’s amazing to be able to share that experience.
David Jordan Jr: Your Biopic “My Other Home” debuted this August. Before that, you starred in your own musical “I Am Marbury.” Talk about how it was to have a film created about your life and how was it recreating different moments of your life and seeing them on the big screen.
Stephon X. Marbury: That’s a good question. It was difficult doing the role because I couldn’t play myself; I was playing a character and that part was a little confusing to me because it is me, it’s about me but this is what you have to learn. After we finished shooting that movie we created a genre in China that nobody has ever done before. Doing it was crazy because I had to do a crying scene where I had to basically read my lines and speak and talk about my father dying and that part was the best part. People ask me what was the best part of the movie and I say that was the best part. That was the realest part period. To do it, to act it out, to be able to stay focused and staying in tune with the craft of acting, it was really difficult. I had to go into a dark place for two days to prepare for it and I shot the crying scene in one take. Nobody knew that I could act. I knew I could do it. I didn’t think it would be hard to learn, but it’s harder than you think. The acting part is not the hard part, it’s remember the lines and those long ass monologues. Those monologues drive you crazy. I HAD A GREAT ACTING COACH, which was the number one ever doing that and being able to do that gave me great confidence. As time went on after I did the crying scene the movie went so smooth after that. People will see the movie in America.
David Jordan Jr: People are talking and asking when will the movie come to the states.
Stephon X. Marbury: It’s going to come. The best part about it is that is in Chinese and English so that both audiences are satisfied. English subtitles for the Chinese parts and Chinese subtitles for the English parts.
David Jordan Jr: I want to congratulate you on the relaunching of the Starbury Brand. In recent years so many people in sports and entertainment have begun launching their own brands, but you were the first having started Starbury in 2006. You did it with a pure motive of creating style, comfort and affordability for fans, sneakerheads and families. Talk about the beginnings and how you’ve been able to relaunch on an international level, something that many companies aspire to, yet you’re starting as a global product and how the new partnership with Citi Trends has all played a part into where the brand is now.
Stephon X. Marbury: As you said it’s purely motivated on trying to allow people to have access. Access for all is our motto. That’s what we’re doing and what we’ve been trying to do, which has been very difficult and hard. A lot of people are asking us why are you in here or why this, why that and I’m like Trust me I want to be in Walmart, I want to be in Kohl’s, I want to be in all of the outlets. But trying to get in it was so trying and challenging but Citi Trends gave us a shot and allowed us to get back into the game. Citi Trends has 500 stores, Steve & Barry’s had 150 stores at the time so we tried to put ourselves in a position where we were able to just continue to allow people to buy something at an affordable price and being able to create stuff that looks good, feels good and stuff that people would feel good about buying. That’s numeral uno. That’s what it’s about. It’s simple. We just trying to keep building it. We have other products that are coming out. We’re going to start selling electronics. We’re able to create these items for people to buy at an affordable price and being that I live in China and have access to all of the factories it just makes sense. People will support you if you create an affordable product. We’re just trying to become a part of people’s lives. It’s like my mother says “It’s one thing when you want something Stephon, but it’s another thing when you need it. When you need it, It’s different. We want a lot of stuff but we need water, we need shoes, we need clothes to be on our backside to walk on the earth and we’re able to create something that they can buy an affordable price and they like it and it’s cool. It should be in these stores.
David Jordan Jr: How has social media and being able to interact with your fans all over the world played a major part in everything. You’re one of the few celebrities that always engages with people and I think that creates and fosters relationships with people because you make yourself accessible. How has social media influenced everything that you are continuing to do?
Stephon X. Marbury: Social media has been my marketing. It’s so easy now. Not only is it easy but it’s so many platforms. The platforms give you that opportunity. You don’t have to 80 million people following. I mean it’s nice, but if you have the right people following you, 80 million people will get the message. Social media is a business. You can buy a million followers but the real organic fans are the people that push your message. I use social media for what it is; as a platform to engage, think, talk, share. It’s not about making a lot of people follow us. If somebody wants something that you’re selling, they’re going to go buy it. If it’s hot, they’re going to talk about it, they’re going to share it, it’s organic. You can’t beat it. Real is going to always pop out.
David Jordan Jr: With this being your last season of playing professional basketball what will be two things you miss the most about playing?
Stephon X. Marbury: The fans and winning. Being on the court playing and winning. For me they’re like “you got three championships why are you still playing?” I’m still able to do something that a lot of people can’t do at my age; I’M WINNING. I’m 40 years old and I’m still busting young dudes ass. Like killing them, like cannot check me nowhere on the court and I know it, and he know it. Why would I stop doing that if I can still do that. People ask me about the Big 3; I’m not opposed to playing in it. It’s going to the Olympics. For me I’m looking at it like I’m retiring from playing professionally but I did my thing 21 years last one of the draft class, ’96 THE BEST CLASS EVER. It’s an honor to play with some of the greatest player to play basketball. Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash.Its’ like three dudes that got four MVPs in that group. It’s sick. Everybody had it all the way through. Everybody hooped. Peja Stojaković, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Samaki Walker, John Wallace, Vitaly Potapenko, Lorenzen Wright, Derek Fisher.
David Jordan Jr: Word Association. Tell me the 1st thing that comes to your mind.
David Jordan Jr: Basketball
Stephon X. Marbury: LOVE
David Jordan Jr: GOD
Stephon X. Marbury: LOVE
David Jordan Jr: STARBURY
Stephon X. Marbury: LOVE
David Jordan Jr: Allen Iverson
Stephon X. Marbury: The best player under 6’0 EVER.
LOVE JONES. Have you had one? Are you needing one? Do you dream of one?
The desires of our heart are many times developed by not only what we hear but by what we see.
Twenty years ago today Theodore Witcher’s first feature film “Love Jones” was released to the world.
We all know the story; two seemingly different people have a chance encounter that leads to first dating, next level dating, separation and then getting back together and realizing love. The setting for the “Love Jones” film seem to be be to perfect in essence as we reflect back on the time period of the release. The 1990’s was a time period where the purity of black love was being taken to another level. The soulful and pure expressions of of relationships between men and women in music and film from the 1970s and 1980s reached a pinnacle in the mid 1990s. The R&B music of the 90’s is something that has over the years, developed it’s own genre and a world following. Love Jones was a film that flowed as effortlessly with the story as the musical soundtrack that accompanied the movie. “Neo-Soul” was beginning to engulf the ears of listeners across the world; lyrics, instrumentation and a vibe of simplistic flow is is Neo-Soul. Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, XScape, John Coltrane, Cassandra Wilson, Kenny Lattimore, Trina Broussard and a host of others sound tracked the story of love perfectly.
How ironic is it that the movie starts off in a spoken word spot where everything is essentially created in the moment? The interaction between Darius Lovehall and Nina Mosely was simply coincidental but the connection was deeper than a moment, it was forever. The greatness of the movie was the way in which it showed the various levels to dating, fronting, playing and loving when a man and woman have an interest in each other. Although the film was released twenty years ago, a new generation of fans have truly been able to identify with each and every character in the film for different reasons. We all have either been or know somebody that was a character in the film. The power of art is its innate ability to imitate life. How many times have we all been out somewhere and seen a fine man or woman that we simply feel that we must have and have by any means necessary? Don’t we all have that one friend (male or female) that will advise us on our love life, yet we still may make the wrong decision? Have you come across that one person in the crew that broke the code (see Hollywood)? Darius provided men the blueprint for going after a woman , extreme as his actions were, his persistence is what helped him achieve his goal. Nina showed women that is okay to give the “Brother To The Night” the chance he deeply desired to make her his. From the first meeting, to the first date to the first break up, the love story between Darius and Nina flowed like a poem at an open mic. Infatuation followed by a situation followed by confusion; it was these things that allowed the movie to register on a deeper level not only with the viewing audience in 1997 but also with the new generation of viewers in 2017. The time period after the initial infatuation is what can propel or hinder a relationship. The film showed us how this time period could both propel and hinder the continuing relationship; propelling the relationship by allowing emotions to foster feelings that would soon cause confusion leading to a brief hindrance in the relationship. Was Nina wrong for listening to her homegirl telling her to how to see where Darius’s head was really at? Was Darius wrong for not expressing his complete feelings when the first opportunity to do so presented itself for him to do so? Twenty years later these questions are still asked by those that saw the movie when it was released in addition to those seeing it for the first time in their lives today. The beauty of life, love and relationships is that when everything is pure and simple it just flows.
“You said it was bad timing. And I figured if I asked again, you’d say yes. If not that time, maybe the next time; until the next time became the right time.”
Timing can create perfect situations or in perfect situations. Nina and Darius initially met each other at a time when both were not collectively on the same page to develop a long term relationship. Through Nina returning to her ex, dating Hollywood and through Darius raking his mind through times of loneliness and random dating both were able to benefit from the positive effect of future timing. The love which existed for each other subconsciously was able to surface through their time apart, thus creating the ultimate love at the perfect time .
“You always want what you want when you want it. Why is everything so urgent with you?”
“Let me tell you somethin’. This here, right now, at this very moment, is all that matters to me. I love you. That’s urgent like a motherfucker.”
Music is one thing that in many ways impacts us all in our daily lives in some capacity. Our senses that enable us to see, touch, smell and hear give us as human beings an innate ability to tie anything that touches us into not only a memory but a life pillar. Whether its the smell of a particular fragrance that reminds you of a lost love, the sight of an old picture that takes you back to a certain moment in time or a specific song that says what you can’t say, we are able to lengthen certain moments of our life with certain senses. The ears we have enable a listener to grab sounds that personify our life; voices, the bouncing of a ball or lyrics from your favorite singer are forever etched into our minds. Terrell Sass (Producer/Musician/Entrepreneur) has blessed the world with his ability to cultivate his passion of creating music into an art form that has touched all ears of the world. Talent that is in his DNA (both of his parents were musicians) was discovered first as a child by playing around in the churches his parents performed in and then again in his primary school years by teachers that seemingly foresaw his future life. Terrell’s career as a producer and a musician has seen him travel the world and make musical magic with the likes of Tyler Perry, T.I., Ludacris, Nelly, Pharrell, T-Pain, Rick Ross, DJ Drama, The Clipse, Lyfe Jennings, Mario, The Game, Danny Gokey, Jennifer Holliday, Adrian Marcel, Donnell Jones, K’Jon, Joe, Mya, and Rich Homie Quan to name a few and he has also created masterpieces for many television shows and movies. ESHE Magazine spoke with Terrell about his career, his creative process, his inspiration in making music and his upcoming projects.
“I TOLD YOU WE GON’ SHOCK THE WORLD!” – Juwan Howard
Fall is here; the crisp air refreshing the days, summer leaves turning vibrant colors and the Saturdays of college football occupy college campuses and sports enthusiasts all across the United States Of America. Fall is the signifying of change; days changing from long to short, seasons changing and in many instances significant life changes. Basketball players and fans see fall as the ultimate beginning; a new hoop season. Football teams grind it out on the fields everywhere while basketball players are in the midst of their preseason conditioning, getting ready for a new season. The world of college sports affords campuses the opportunity to geek their fans with football while steadily building the anticipation for the forthcoming basketball season. Twenty five years ago Ann Arbor, Michigan was the stage where five guys came together to change not only the game of basketball, but the culture of basketball and these five men showed how talent trumps tradition. `1991 was a magnetic year for the University Of Michigan. Desmond Howard electrified the world of college football in route to winning one of the most coveted individual award in sports; The Heisman.
The exploits taking place in the Big House where a prelude to the magic which would soon take the world of college basketball by storm. The Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team were two years removed from a National Championship in the fall in 1991, yet the next groundbreaking move to be made by head coach Steve Fisher would prove to define the University’s legacy in men’s basketball.
Freshmen on college basketball teams have essentially always had to earn their way to play through the ranks of seniority, not necessarily because of talent. The fall of 1991 saw five freshmen come together in Ann Arbor to hoop but it was their individuality collectively that allowed them to become not only winners; they became basketball icons. Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Chris Webber solidified a recruiting class that made the University Of Michigan Men’s basketball team instantly better on paper before the start of the 1991-1992 season. Considered at the time to be greatest recruiting class ever, The Fab Five began their iconic legacy with the Midnight Madness in Chrysler Arena and essentially NEVER looked back. Setting the stage with their talent, enthusiasm, confidence and originality, J-Rose, Jimmy, Nookie, C-Webb and Ray Dawg were not only able to make noise by their play on the court; they captivated the world in they way which they played the game of basketball. The previous basketball season saw the end of the one of the most dominant reigns ever in college basketball with the 1990 NCAA Champion UNLV Runnin’ Rebels losing in the 1991 NCAA Final Four to the eventual NCAA Champion Duke Blue Devils. It was these Rebels from Vegas with which so many hoopers across the United States of America identified with; dominant, stylish, in your face and taking names was how the Rebs played the game. The greatness and dominance of the Rebs brought as many haters as it brought lovers but their greatness was forever engraved not only in the NCAA record books but in the minds and hearts of those who witnessed them play. The Fab Five were Freshmen, yet their games were grown. Traditionally freshmen came on campus quietly and their games reflected that trait. Michigan’s freshmen hit the wood with game for days and an attitude that solidified their game. The eventual success that the University of Michigan’s men’s basketball team would achieve in not only that season but in their sophomore campaign can be attributed to the talent of the five freshmen and also the mental makeup of the five celebrated freshmen. Coming to play, not coming in to sit, changes the atmosphere of an entire basketball program. Expectancy breeds competition and competition creates an atmosphere for success where failure is not an option. Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard and Chris Webber all came from winning basketball programs and were all highly successful individually.
These facts created positive air for the program which eventually proved to be contagious and invigorating. Upperclassmen being pushed to the extreme by freshmen created the ultimate climate for success; the irony is that this could have caused a total division which could have destroyed the entire team dynamic.
The natural joy with which the Fab Five played the game matched their talent, leading to some of the most exciting basketball ever to be played on the collegiate level. Behind the back passes, crazy alley oops, laughing at opponents and beautiful trash talk refreshed the game of basketball. The style brought to the world from Ann Arbor is forever present in the game of basketball. To quote Deion Sanders, “If you look good, you feel good, if you feel good, you play good” and you know the rest of Prime Time’s quote and this was exemplified by Ray, Jimmy, Jalen, Juwan and Chris. The baggy shorts, the black socks and the bald heads provided a flair to the game of college basketball which had never been seen before on a nightly basis. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebel teams of the early 1990’s scratched the surface of being uniquely fashionable with the Nike sponsorship with which they had, but the Fab Five took it to another galaxy. Kids everywhere made it a point to buy the black Nike socks and the gold Nike Michigan shorts whether they were a hooper or not. The Fab Five made the way you look as a hooper just as important as how talented you are as a hooper. Each game presented the Fab Five the platform to unknowingly influence the future generations of basketball players to come after them.
The five freshmen teamed together (eventually all becoming starters) to lead the team from a twentieth ranking in the Top 25 AP Poll (at the beginning of the season) to a final ranking of number seven in the country and a National Runner-Up finish in the 1992 NCAA Final Four. Any team making it to the ultimate game of NCAA Division I basketball is momentous, but to do it as freshmen in the style which Jimmy, Jalen, Juwan, Ray and Chris did was forever groundbreaking and game changing. The arrival of the Fab Five on campus in Ann Arbor created the present day embracement of the freshmen sensation. The arrival of talented freshmen basketball players on campus is totally celebrated today, even if it is more hype than actual skill but the Fab Five’s legacy as the first to be successful collectively as a group is what makes them forever the greatest. All the kids loved the Fab Five; the majority of the adults hated them but as with any iconic movement, the hate didn’t stop their greatness. The greatness of the Fab Five was enhanced by the hate which they received and twenty five years later totally embraced by all that did and did not see them play.
By David Jordan Jr
With the changing of the seasons, it’s only appropriate that the Wave GOD (Chris Douglas-Roberts) blesses the world with the releases of his much anticipated fashion collection, DCTG Sportswear.
“Don’t Cheat The Grind” is not only something you wear; it’s a way of life, a way of living and maximizing one’s self to the highest level. Sportswear that is composed of not only fabric, but experiences has enabled CDR to connect with the world on a unique level. The life he has lived has cultivated his perspective, which is clearly visible in the pieces in the collection. Simplicity and heart are what stand out when it comes to connecting with people. Style is something that you create and with each unique piece from the DCTG collection, one is able to create their own dynamic style. DCTG Sportswear is unique in the fact that it enables us all to be apart of the something bigger than a label. We are all grinding through life for a purpose. Some people know their purpose early, others realize their purpose in the midst of their grind, but one thing is forever true; the grind reveals who we are as people.
Chris Douglas Roberts on the DCTG Sportswear Fall 2016 Collection –
As far as the mood: I’m creating a world. That’s what iconic street brands do. Create worlds that the people live in. Invested in. That’s how they become loyal supporters. I don’t like calling them customers. It’s a cool laid back world they can be themselves and feel comfortable in. A free world. DCTG™ Sportswear is a confidence too. No boundaries just positive vibes, love and acceptance.
As far as the personal gratification: I put my heart in it. I’m happy with it and that’s all that matters. I know the product is tight. I know the world I’m creating. I feel I’m a lot more advanced than a lot of “rookie” designers at this point. I’ve only been in fashion for a year. This is my very first collection. I’m late with this release since its already considered Fall, but I’m going to get better. Like I said in a previous interview, my shit will be one of the hottest brands on the streets. And we aren’t going anywhere. I’m not chasing any trends. I’m not whoring the brand out by sending it to my famous friends. I can go through my Rolodex and ask for favors. Ask my famous friends to take pictures in my shit and post it, but fuck that; thats lame to me. I’m building this from the ground up. I want you to wear it because you like it. I’m going to stay true to DCTG™ Sportswear. I’m going to make shit I like, that I’ll wear, that’s stylish. The stylish people will find us.
WHO: DCTG™ Sportswear fashioned by Mason and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
The power of words, the power of a vision. When Tupac Shakur made that statement during a photo shoot for his then forthcoming album “All Eyez On Me,” the world did not know that his physical presences on this earth would only be for a few more months. What the world did know was that 2Pac, recently released from a 11 and a half month prison bid for a sexual abuse conviction, was a free man ready to immerse himself back into his budding music and theatrical career. During the time he was incarcerated, his album “Me Against The World” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The songs and videos released in correlation with the “Me Against The World” album and his being locked up pushed his status as an artist to a mythical level. An attempt on his life while he was in trial and the eventual guilty verdict were all things that could have completely dissolved not only Tupac Shakur the artist, but Tupac the living, breathing human. Despite all of those negative occurrences, he rose to see another day. The last part of his life, the year 1996 was a year that in one way defined how Tupac became eternal forever. The music he created in such a short time, the films he was apart of and the everlasting words he left us in each of his interviews have allowed us to furthermore see his vision for what he wanted in the world; he enabled us to think deeper about possibilities in life and he made us take notice to the world and those in the world around us.
ALL EYEZ ON ME
Suge Knight (the CEO Of Death Row Records) bailing 2Pac out of prison led to the creation of “All Eyez On Me.” Fresh out of prison 2Pac headed straight to the studio and began recording songs. Many of the songs he recorded would be forever immortalized on the “All Eyez On Me” Album. Recorded at a feverish pace, the album which he began recording on October 13 1995 was finished on October 27, 1995. The album was pure and authentic; a collection of words from the mind of a man that had experienced so much confusion, distrust, disloyalty and yet was more determined than ever to achieve more and make those that had wronged him realize that their acts would in the end hurt them more than they would hurt him. In the twenty years since its release (All Eyez On Me was released on February 13, 1996) the album has reached the level of a godly status and has amassed so many numbers historically. When the album was released in 1996 it was an album of many firsts ( in hip hop) that would be a trendsetter for future hip hop artist. “All Eyez On Me” was the first double length hip-hop solo studio album. An album of that length promised a great deal of music; the beauty in the plethora of material was the variety in not only the producers, but in the assortment of artists that were apart of this masterpiece from 2Pac. Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Daz and the late Johnny J are four of the most notable producers on the album. Including 2Pac himself, there were thirteen producers that contributed to the making of “All Eyez On Me.” The variety in the production is equaled by the number of features from various artists. Label mates, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, Jewell, Danny Boy, Dr. Dre and Michel’le gave the album the “Death Row” stamp, yet it was the features with other artists outside of the label that generated some of the most memorable songs.The formal introduction of 2Pac’s group The Outlawz was another landmark of the album.
Some of the artists featured were legends of creation in their on right; George Clinton, the father of P-Funk was featured on “Can’t C Me.” George Clinton’s tracks had been sampled many times by other artists but him being featured on the “All Eyez On Me” album proved to be groundbreaking in the aspect of him joining forces with the then top rapper in the game and collaborating to make a hit. “California Love,” another Dr. Dre produced hit introduced another generation to the genius of Roger Troutman and the “Talk-Box.” Troutman’s genius coupled with Dre’s masterful production led to the creation of a West Coast anthem that is still blasted worldwide twenty years later. Jodeci, then one of the hottest R&B groups in the world, joined forces with 2Pac to make “How Do u Want It.” This song not only memorable in sound, was also memorable in content as it had two videos, one for TV and one not for TV, thus achieving an even greater appeal and bigger listening base. (See Video Below)
Irony also finds itself in songs that were recorded for All Eyez On Me. Considering the eventual media creation of an “East Coast vs West Coast” war it was rather ironic to see songs that had features from two of the most prominent East Coast artist at the time Method Man and Redman of the Wu-Tang Clan. This fact further reiterates how the media played a role in the fictitious East Coast vs West Coast rivalry that was brought to the world unknowingly to the actual artists that were said to have been apart of the beef. “Wonda Why They Call U Bitch” (Book 2) was originally laced with vocals from Faith Evans (the wife of Christopher Wallace a.k.a The Notorious B.I.G.) but her vocals for this track were eventually replaced on the released version. A formula for good music, yet this formula played out into the hands of controversy.
Ambitionz Az A Ridah. The piano cords. The base drops. Not the title track of the album, but to many this song defines “All Eyez On Me.” Menacing in instrumentation, 2Pac’s lyrics hold nothing back in any way, shape or form. A Daz production, this song gets you hype, determined and focused on the outcome, not the obstacles. The greatest impact of this song can be seen in the fact that Mike Tyson’s ring walk was sound-tracked by a specially written version of this song by 2Pac. “Ambition Az A Fighta” was written by Pac specifically for Iron Mike. One of two songs 2Pac wrote for Tyson (“Road 2 Glory” was also written for Mike Tyson), this songs holds it’s on place in the vast collection of 2Pac material. Two men of different professions that contained the same fighting spirit, this track on wax forever immortalized their relationship with each other. When your hear “Ambitionz Az A Ridah,” you will not only think of 2Pac, but you will think of Mike Tyson.
As of today, “All Eyez On Me” has reached diamond status, yet the significance of this album being the last album released while 2Pac was alive has driven this album to an even bigger space. During the last year of his life, 2Pac performed many of the songs from the album in different venues, most notably at The House Of Blues in Los Angeles, California. A performance which can be seen til this day offers the viewer a true glimpse into the ferocity and vigor with which he not only recorded the songs for this album, but for the way in which he performed songs on this album.
I Ain’t Mad At Cha. Never before has a song and video been so telling of a life event as 2Pac’s video for “I Ain’t Mad At Cha.” Released two days after his death on September 15, 1996. The eerie video, which was filmed in May of 1996 seemingly allowed art to predict life as 2Pac was with a friend when the two of them were ambushed and he was shot in the process. The release of the song two days after he died played into the preoccupation which 2Pac seemed to have about his own death, his own demise. Prior to being shot in 1994, 2Pac said that he never believed he would be killed by the hands of a black man. The events prior to the release of the video in real life and the depiction of death in the video evoked the contrary of his beliefs and how his life did indeed end.
Makaveli – “The realest shit I ever wrote.”
Makaveli, “The Don Killuminat: The 7 Day Theory” was the first album to be released after his death. Makaveli engulfed the listeners ears to another side of Tupac, the last part of his last year of life in 1996. This album was a full fledged public service announcement of truths, exposing the events and circumstances which had manifested in his life to that point and an open letter to all of his enemies, friends and foes. The same energy which 2Pac put into songs which did the aforementioned things, he made songs that spread a message of black upliftment, black knowledge and self pride. Speaking not only about betrayal and distrust, “Makaveli” spoke about religion, he referenced black revolutionaries and he made the listener aware of the world which we all lived in and how corrupt our society actually was at that time. One aspect of the album that holds weight twenty years later is the actual naming of people in his songs; many of today’s artist will have a beef with other rappers yet won’t say a specific name. Makaveli called out everybody which he thought played a role in the war against him, even notating that something would happen to him (premonition of 2Pac again) in “Against All Odds” when he said “Probably be murdered for the shit I said.” As dark as the imagery was that surrounded the album and its release ( the album art contained a depiction of Makaveli on a cross being crucified as Jesus was) the songs and lyrics were authentic in the fact that is was an open letter from 2Pac to the world. Makaveli was his last album recorded for Death Row Records and it seemed to be the final say of what happened to him, why it happened to him and where his life was headed before his untimely death. September 7, 1996
The final night in Las Vegas where two giants would both be on top of their professions on this earth was September 7, 1996. Mike Tyson would defeat Bruce Seldon on this night at the MGM Grand in one of the shortest Heavyweight Championship bouts in history, winning with a first round knock out in 1:49. Tupac was in attendance for this fight as he and Tyson had developed a friendship which was pure in love, respect and admiration for each other. Unbeknownst to each other, that night would be the last time both of them would be mythically the best. Tyson would go on to lose his following bouts against Evander Holyfield for the WBA championship and Tupac would be shot after leaving the fight and eventually die from his injuries on September 13 (Friday The 13th) 1996. Las Vegas, the place where anything can happen, kept its word with the seed it planted in the events which would eventually take place in the lives of both 2Pac and Mike Tyson. 2016
Twenty years after his death, 2Pac’s legacy has been cemented not only in his music and films, but in his inspiration for so many other rappers that would say he inspired them to make music. Courses in universities have been devoted to studying his life and music across the world and there have been various foundations created in his name that seek to uplift communities and inspire kids to seek more in their lives. The force behind his legacy was his mother Afeni Shakur. A Black Panther, Afeni had the foundation for change and truly understood how to go forward to make change. Her efforts allowed his legacy to not only grow, but to also be shared and instilled into a new generation of fans. Afeni’s life as a Black Panther was a beautiful bonus that made her words and perspective even more valuable in the education of others about 2Pac’s short time on this earth. A sad irony is that nearly twenty years after the death of her son, Afeni Shakur died in May of 2016. Her death signified not only the passing of another link to 2Pac, but a link to the Black Panther movement. Her works in regard to her son’s life and her life are forever immortalized in her writings, her son’s songs and in the hearts of those that loved them both.
The legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur is filled with so much; good, bad, love, hate and most importantly art. The art is forever. Art is what grabs people and intrigues the mind. The complete body of work from 2Pac’s career seems to get overshadowed by the tumultuous last year of his life. The beefs, the signing with Death Row Records and his death are what so many talk about in regard to 2Pac’s life but his life encompassed so much more than that last year of 1996. As with any person, growth enables change and had he lived, the growth would have been evident in 2Pac’s life. The cloud of confusion which seemed to be prevalent during his days on Death Row would have potentially ceased as he may have found his own path with the launching of Euthanasia Records and his aim to change the world. We make 2Pac’s legacy important and we carry 2Pac’s legacy forward with not only our actions but in how we use his life as a tool. Totality is what defines an individual and making 2Pac “forever, eternal” means embracing Tupac a.k.a. Makaveli for the total man that he was in his short twenty five years on this earth. #2PacForever
The beauty of a Goddess, the voice of an angel, and the passion of a soulmate. This is Adina Howard. It is extremely rare that words that define an individuals career can also define their life. Authentic, real, true, passionate and beautiful are words used by fans to describe the music of Adina Howard (Adina Howard Jordan); these same words can be used to describe Adina Howard the person. The multi-platinum soulstress is a woman of many depths, something that in turn has allowed her to develop a loyal fan base of not only longtime fans but also new fans. Since emphatically bursting onto the world stage with her debut album “Do Ya Wanna Ride” in 1995, Adina has done the most important thing that any artist can do for one’s self; remain true to themselves. Her talent as a singer is unmatched; her beauty physically will make you lose your thoughts for a few seconds, yet it is her mental beauty that will intrigue you and draw you in like a bee to honey.
A career that has in totality experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows has proved to if not anything else provide Adina Howard the balance and wisdom necessary to become the woman that she is today. As human beings we determine if life’s experiences will either shape us or break us and Howard has allowed her life experiences to further develop not only her character but her other GOD given talents which she knew that she had but didn’t completely explore until LIFE happened. ESHE Magazine recently spoke to Adina Howard about her career, her life experiences and how they’ve not only shaped her career but her life as a woman, becoming a Le Cordon Bleu Chef and her forthcoming album “Resurrection.”