Tag Archives: NBA

FORMER LOS ANGELES LAKERS GUARD SMUSH PARKER HOSTS ELITE BASKETBALL CLINIC AT VENICE BEACH

By David Jordan Jr

A ball and a dream. That’s how it starts out for many young basketball players. The roundball and the dream of making it to the NBA. For Smush Parker this was a dream that became a reality. Through endless hours of hard work, perseverance, dedication and personal belief, Parkers was able to carve out a six-year NBA career while embarking on a successful career internationally despite not being drafted by an NBA team when he declared for the 2002 NBA draft. Parker returned to Los Angeles to host an Elite Basketball Clinic for kids at world famous Venice Beach. Free to attendees, this clinic focused on the fundamentals of the game while also emphasizing the importance of dedication, commitment and hard work to attaining goals.

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After today’s clinic, Parker spoke with ESHE Magazine Editor In Chief David Jordan Jr about the clinic and the importance of kids working hard to achieve their dreams.

Elgin Baylor | The Most Important Laker Legend

By David Jordan Jr

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

Former NBA And International Basketball Star Darwin Cook Named California Pacific Coach Of The Year

By David Jordan Jr

Former NBA and international basketball star Darwin Cook was named the California Pacific Conference Coach Of The Year. This was Darwin’s first year as a head coach on the collegiate level, as he took the reigns of the men’s basketball program at the University of Antelope Valley in spring 2017.  Bringing a wealth of  knowledge and experience from a successful nine year NBA career, Cook looked forward to not only teaching the game, but also winning. Cook’s first season as head coach would see him win not only Coach of the Year, but he would also lead the university to it’s first men’s regular season conference basketball title. Cook was very proud of his team and honored to be voted as coach of the year. “I am very honored to be selected as Coach of the Year and very proud of my team for believing in what my Associate Head Coach Jordan Mast and I preached; to always believe and work hard.” The continuance of success was also seen in his players as he had five players named to different all conference teams and the California Pacific Conference Most Valuable Player, played under Coach Cook as well. The continued success of Coach Cook on the hardwood is a true testament to his commitment to the game of basketball. Congrats Coach Cook.

The Journey Of Fulfillment: A Conversation With Stephon Marbury

By David Jordan Jr

Cover Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ @Mooncricket

 

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.

Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ (Twitter @Mooncricket)

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?

Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ (Twitter @Mooncricket)

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.

David Jordan Jr: China

Stephon X. Marbury: HOME

Photo Shot By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez http://www.mooncricketfilms.com/ (Twitter @Mooncricket)

 

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Big Baller Brand INC

By David Jordan Jr
Big Baller Brand. BBB. The Ball Brothers. The Ball Family. There is an old adage that says in order to do big things you have to first visualize yourself doing big things. The path always taken is not always the right path. There are many different ways to get to an intended destination. Lavar Ball has had a vision for his sons every since they were old enough to hold a basketball and understand that the game of basketball is something that they wanted to do with their lives. Love Mr. Ball or hate him, you must respect him for number one, his love and belief in his sons ability to play the game of basketball and number two his frame of mind to own rather than be owned.
Lavar’s three sons Lonzo, LaMelo and LiAngelo have all made waves in recent years through their on court exploits in Chino Hills, California. Through the AAU circuit playing ball for their father and by also playing collectively at Chino Hills High School, each Ball brother has created their unique intrigue for the media, analysts and fans to become enamored and consumed with in today’s world of basketball. Lavar Ball has not only sought to making sure his kids are in a position to be successful on the basketball court; he has fully embraced the opportunity to create a platform for success off the court with the creation and launching of the Big Baller Brand. Lonzo Ball, the oldest of the Ball brothers recently completed his one and only season of collegiate basketball at UCLA before deciding to take his talents to the NBA.   A sure lottery pick, the opportunity to turn pro is essentially what Lonzo has worked for his entire life and what Lavar has primed him for as not only a coach, but a father. Anytime a player declares for the draft, particularly the NBA Draft, a multitude of opportunities comes his way. Endorsement opportunities from all walks of life present themselves to the next potential NBA superstar. The one constant in recent years has been the signature shoe deal for NBA Draftees. The shoes companies which have consistently been involved with professional basketball over the years (Nike, Reebok, Converse, Adidas and most recently Under Armour) have had a stranglehold over the top talents which have entered the Association. The magic of Lavar Ball is that he totally understood the value which his son(s) not only would have to one of the aforementioned shoe companies but he also understood the value each of them could potentially have to themselves. Enter Big Baller Brand. NEVER has there been a player in any sport that entered the professional ranks with their own brand of athletic shoes and athletic apparel. The greatest athletes of all time which have had their own signature shoe had the rights of their shoe owned by a corporation which dictated essentially everything pertaining to the shoe. Sure some input was allowed from the athlete but in most cases a design team was put in place to put together  the shoe, the marketing plan for the shoe and most importantly the price of the shoe. Lavar Ball has to be celebrated for the fact that he understands the dynamics which factor into the shoe game and how corporations marginalize the person which has the signature shoe while maximizing the profit that comes from that same shoe.The Ball brothers and their father Lavar have been the victims of extreme ridicule and hate for being visionaries and game changers with ambitions as they have launched their own athletic brand. There are no rules which says a person has to follow the norm; conformity is what hinders not only people but ideas and in the world of business ideas and growth it is what creates dollars and cents.
Lonzo Ball is a potential top three pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and with that stamp shoe companies began clamoring after his signature once he declared for the draft. The genius of Lavar coupled with the design of the “ZO2” by Lonzo shook the entire shoe world; this happened because many looked at them as “How dare they create something on their own and not do what everybody else is doing” and then the price tag of $495.00 also created other discussions amongst people. So many people have been quick to say “he hasn’t proven himself” and that the price is “ridiculous” but the real question is who are these people to make these statements? So many people in the world (particularly the United States of America) get so caught up in labels and what everybody else is buying, wearing and driving that they are easily influenced and see nothing else. The fact that a black man has the mind and ability to go his own route in an industry as crazed as the athletic shoe industry has infuriated so many individuals. There have been countless journalists and reporters in the media that have not simply made judgements and remarks about Lavar’s Big Baller Brand, but have made personal attacks on Lavar, his family and how he parents his kids. The personal attacks on Lavar are totally unfair, yet they are not uncommon when it comes to black parents which have played a major role in their child’s development as an athlete. Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams encountered much of the same resentment and backlash nearly twenty years ago for being a vocal father and having such a strong belief in his daughters and their athletic abilities.

Richard Williams with his daughter Venus and Serena Williams

Lavar has taken things a step farther with the creation of an athletic line, totally disregarding what other think he should do by pursing and financing his own corporation. The investment in one’s self will determine the potential return; Nike invested $90 Million dollars in Lebron before he stepped foot on a NBA court and in the years since he signed with them has made billions of dollars in profit off of his signature to endorse the Nike brand. The money invested by the Ball family into themselves has the potential for endless financial returns.

I applaud Lavar Ball for being a trendsetter within an industry which has had total control over the athletes which have propelled it to astronomical levels with not only notoriety, but also financially. The price tag of the ZO2 is what many claim to be dissatisfied about but the anger and resentment is deeper; the majority of people are upset that the Ball Family has chosen their own “LANE” to achieve success.

IV.

By David Jordan Jr

2016 is quickly coming to a close and with the exiting of this year, the basketball world saw the departure of four of the games greatest players. Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan each retired from the NBA, nearly closing a gap of the era of active basketball players that were apart of the spectrum which actually played against Michael Jordan (Bulls Era) and Magic Johnson. Stephon Marbury (another link to this era and Class of 1996) has been continuing his professional basketball career abroad in China and has continued to achieve greatness on and off the basketball court. ESHE has put together a photo essay of unique images from the careers of Duncan, Garnett, Bryant and Allen.

New Air

By David Jordan Jr

The 2016 NBA Off Season brought about many changes to rosters of many teams in the league. Franchise cornerstones, superstars and the once heralded “next big things” have all found themselves making new NBA arenas their full time homes while adorning jerseys that upon first glance make them look extremely odd to their die hard fans. When you think of certain players in the NBA, as it has always been, you affix certain players with certain cities. When one thinks of Los Angeles, Magic Johnson pops in the mind; 452e1dbe53bd8ca6bfa3d3a7aca3edf5 Chicago brings Michael Jordan to mind, Boston brings Larry Bird to mind. In recent years new NBA stars have become connected with their cities. The recently retired Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are forever identified with Los Angeles, Minnesota and San Antonio respectively.garnett-kobe-duncan The evolving structure of the NBA, shorter contracts with more money and the lack of loyalty has created an atmosphere of “Right Now” being one of the most important factors in a player’s NBA career. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade will all be calling a different NBA city home for the 2016-2017 season. These three superstars have each been the cornerstones of their former teams and have been extremely successful individually as well as their teams. Now these superstars have taken their talents either by choice via free agency or force (trade) to new teams in hopes of using their greatness to be playing in June for a NBA Championship.
Wade County is no more. Dwayne Wade, three time NBA Champion, All NBA performer, 2006 Finals MVP and twelve time NBA All Star left the Miami Heat this summer to sign with the Chicago Bulls.wade7_300_060620 The dollars didn’t make sense in the end, which led to Wade returning back home to Chi-City in hopes of bringing a world championship to the team which he grew up idolizing as a child.

Chi-City has another hand in the ground shaking roster moves which took place in the NBA in the summer of 2016. Chicago native Derrick Rose was drafted by his hometown Chicago Bulls after an outstanding freshman season at the University of Memphis. Drafted by the Bulls in 2008, Rose’s impact was immediate, winning Rookie Of The Year and giving the city of Chicago something to see on a nightly basis, something that hadn’t happened since the retirement of Michael Jordan from the Bulls in 1999. 9310310224ac8bb4e6397d84147aae04Injuries hindered some of the growth of not only Derrick Rose as a player, but the Bulls as a team despite him winning Rookie of The Year (2009), NBA MVP in 2011 and being named to the NBA All Star Game. This summer the Bulls decided to trade Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks, a move which gives Rose an opportunity to rejuvenate his career with the guidance and influence of Knicks team president and former Bulls coach Phil Jackson.knicks-camp-basketball Championship guidance in the Mecca will provide the perfect foundation for D. Rose to tap into even more greatness.

KD. OKC. The aforementioned phrases have gone hand in hand since Kevin Durant’s arrival in the NBA. Playing his first NBA season in Seattle before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant began his career with a bang winning the 2008 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, the first of many individual NBA awards. During his time as a member of the OKC Thunder Durant won four scoring titles, made seven All Star Games, was named the league MVP in 2014, made six All NBA Teams and won two Olympic Gold Medals.aaqx068 Reaching the NBA Finals in 2012, the Thunder lost to the Miami Heat (led by Dwayne Wade and Lebron James) in five games. Deep playoff runs in the following seasons never produced a ring for Kevin Durant and the 3-1 collapse of the OKC Thunder in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Playoffs proved to be the final straw as Kevin Durant a free agent signed with his conference rival (Golden State Warriors) during the summer free agency.
The 2016-2017 NBA season is finally upon us and the surprises of this past off season could prove to be prelude to what this year on the hardwood will provide the fans. These three players will be seeking to validate their greatness in new cities not only by individual play, but by the ultimate measure of greatness; team success.

1st Down, Years To Go | My Letter To Coach Dabo Swinney

By David Jordan Jr
San Francisco 49ers star quarterback Colin Kaepernick has recently been the subject of disapproval by “Patriotic” Americans due to his stance on the United States Of America national anthem and his protest of the treatment and oppression of black Americans in this country. A silent protest of simply not standing during the playing/singing of the national anthem before the start of his games has caused the loudest and most obscure reactions by so many Americans that claim to be for justice and righteous of all people in this country. Colin’s stance is deeper than football, deeper than unjustified killings of blacks by police officers in America; Kaepernick’s stance is to reiterate the fact that the liberties and things celebrated in the national anthem were not originally written with the interest of black people’s inclusion in this nation.kaepernick1 Black people were considered three fifths of a person in this country at the time the Star Spangled Banner was written; not a complete human being that mattered for anything else besides picking cotton and tobacco. The people (both black and white) that consider Kaepernick’s stand to be unpatriotic must acknowledge the facts in his protest; all of the statistics in regard to black Americans in this country are pretty accurate and in the grand scheme of things, living conditions for the majority of black Americans in this country are below average. An examination of economics and the judicial system points out the obvious and biased flaws that populate the day to day lives of black Americans. Many people feel that Kaepernick should just shut up and play football or in other words “Run Nigger Run and be grateful for the millions you make playing a game.” Critics say that there is a different way for him to protest and that the football field is not the place for him to protest. My question to those critics is where is the right place for him to protest and how should he protest? Considering his 1st Amendment right, he has the liberty to protest and express his views. The Klu Klux Klan, an organization that is based strictly on hate and has a explosive history of terrorizing and murdering blacks in this country, doesn’t receive the same criticism; they are readily accepted.
Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney is the most recent person to chastise Mr. Kaepernick and his decision to not honor an anthem that does not address him.ar-al758_colleg_fr_20160107111529 As with any citizen in this country, Swinney has the right to express his opinion, but his opinion is very well misinformed and uneducated. In his criticizing of the 49ers quarterback, Swinney used the card that a lot of white people tend to use when it comes to addressing racism and how racism should be addressed in this country; he pulled the MLK card. During his speaking to the press, Swinney quoted Martin Luther King Jr and stated how he was such a great man of non violence and how he changed the world. What Swinney did not acknowledge was the fact that MLK was the most hated man in America when he was alive and that MLK was killed by the America which in 2016 celebrates his life. MLK stood for nonviolence, yet it was violence that stemmed from hate of him being a strong black man fighting for civil and human rights as a black man in a racist country that ended his life in Memphis,TN. Swinney along with many others tend to use MLK as the poster boy for how black people should go about seeking racial equality and justice, neglecting the fact that he was not the only person to seek justice and human rights for black citizens in the United States of America.article-2087691-0f7ebb8300000578-417_468x286  Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers are just a few of the many other black people and organizations that have sought equality for blacks in a variety of ways, yet were all met with violence in their peaceful demonstrations and resourceful endeavors. The aforementioned people were alive in this country a little over fifty short years ago, speaking about the same lack of liberties and injustices plaguing black people that still exist today. This fact is why there is a supreme value in Kaepernick’s stance. In 1996, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf took a similar stance in regard to the national Anthem as he opted to not be present (and then eventually praying through the anthem) during it’s singing/playing because the practices of the country and acts of violence and injustices did not align with his Islamic faith and his practices of peace.2016-09-16_114822 Abdul-Rauf was vilified for his beliefs and heavily criticized, being called unpatriotic among nicer things.
As Swinney continued his rant on why Kaepernick was wrong, he began speaking about the advancements of black people; he spoke of there being a black president, black quarterbacks and black coaches in the NFL, black CEOs and black NBA owners. Yes there are blacks that hold those positions in those respective fields Coach Swinney, but the number of them can be counted on all of our fingers and toes. Racism is just as prominent as it’s ever been in America Coach Swinney. If you can point to certain blacks holding certain positions and can count them that is not advancement; that is simply INCLUSION. The fact that you have to put your race on a job application negates any statement about equality and advancement in race relations in America. Why should I have to tell my potential employer that I am a black man/woman to be considered for a job if I have the needed education, experience and job qualifications for the position? I can’t count the number of white owners in professional sports in America but I can count the number of black owners in professional sports. Is this advancement? Rewind a few months ago to the Super Bowl and Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton was lynched by the media for celebrating on field success in the same media that has publicly lynched Colin Kaepernick for speaking his mind on the treatment of blacks. Why would Kaepernick hold a press conference so that his words can be reduced into sound bites that cater to a bigger agenda and cause even greater division that you say his protest is creating? Coach Swinney, you speak of a two term African American President being a dream for Martin Luther King Jr, but do you think MLK would be applauding the fact that President Barack Obama is the most disrepected President in the history of the United States? Coach Swinney you are correct in acknowledging the things that have transpired in this country over the years, but your viewpoint is extremely shallow in the fact that you are seemingly ignoring the problems which still exist in so many areas for black people in this country.colin-kaepernick-hair Colin Kaepernick’s stand may be dividing in your eyes, but nonetheless his stance is creating another discussion that may one day create an avenue for change.

From Newport News to Springfield

By David Jordan Jr

Today the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame will immortalize Allen Iverson forever with his induction into the greatest basketball fraternity ever. “The Answer” played every game like it was his last and played the game his way. All out, full of confidence and overflowing with passion and enthusiasm, Allen Iverson transcended the game of basketball not only with his talent, but with his aura. His approach to the game was simple; KILL. Each time Iverson stepped on the court, it was understood that his opponent was in for a long night and was subject to become a highlight on SportsCenter.LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 19:  Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during an NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19, 1996 at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images) The God given talent was visible to anybody that had the privilege to watch him play, yet it was his passion for the game which truly connected us all to him. “The Answer” is 6’0 ( and that’s a stretch) and played between 160 and 165lbs, yet it was his exploits at this size that showed the world that anything is possible. Bethel High School provided the launching pad for greatness. It was at Bethel High where Allen first burst onto the national scene not only as a basketball prodigy but also as a phenomenal quarterback for Bethel’s football team, leading both the football and basketball team’s to state championships in the same year. We all know the events which took place during his high school years which could have derailed his life or permanently silenced Allen Iverson to the world, but his triumph over adversity is what makes his success inspiring. In an interview Iverson a few years ago said the things he encountered were because “God said go through it” and that he never questioned the things God allowed to happen in his life.88904377 God often gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers and through everything Allen Iverson has proven to be one of the toughest soldiers on earth.
Georgetown University and Men’s basketball coach John Thompson provided the perfect (and only) opportunity for Iverson to fully blossom on the court and to develop as a man. Thompson realized not only the enormous talent which Iverson possessed, but he also understood all of the things both good and bad that would be before Allen on the court and off the court and he prepared him for those things during his two years at Georgetown. Upon entering the NBA, his way of playing was not embraced by all of his peers and critics alike. The labels given to him not only for his on court play early in his career and his off court persona were unfairly given to him, yet it was his not conforming to what other people thought he should be that enabled Allen to connect with the world on a massive level. The braids, the tatts, the ice and the authenticity were things that in the late 90s and early 2000s were not embraced by many; fast forward to 2016 and each of the aforementioned things you see in the game of basketball across the world. Before Allen Iverson’s arrival into the NBA you couldn’t create a player on a video game with corn rows or tattoos and you definitely did not see a player in any sport tatted up as the poster boy for a video game series (Shout out to NBA 2K for making Allen Iverson their cover guy for the first five installments of their video game series). AllenIVerson2K
Authenticity in A.I. could also be seen in one of the greatest sneaker commercials ever; “The A5” was brought to the world with Jadakiss and trackmasters in a hip hop inspired Rebook shoe commercial that shook up the world and connected hip and basketball on another level.tumbm9qzzqhufh1qkeg17o1_500 Basketball and hip hop have always been intertwined with each other, but the best player in the world joining forces with one of the top lyricists in the world proved to be the perfect combo. Interviews with Allen Iverson over the years contain the same authenticity and sincerity; true words, real feelings and a sense of self are consistent in all of his interactions with the world. The things which some people did not like or couldn’t accept about Allen Iverson are the very things which enabled him to transcend the game of basketball on the court and the way many people carry themselves and live their lives off of the court. Twenty years ago a person with tattoos and cornrows would standout as being totally different from the norm, yet today you will find people from all walks of life in all professions and of all ethnicicites sporting corn rows with bodies adorned in tattoos.2015Äê5ÔÂ22ÈÕ£¬°¬¸¥É­¾Ü¾ø³öϯÎ÷°²»î¶¯£¬ÏÖ³¡ÇòÃÔʧÍûÍ´¿Þ¡£ Iverson wore braids because he wanted to and got tattoos because he wanted to; the world followed suit beacuse he showed us all that there is nothing wrong with being yourself. The Allen Iverson effect is much bigger than basketball; basketball provided a stage for him to perform and it also gave the world a window into the man he is and how it is essentially priceless to be true to oneself. Congratulations on the enshrinement A.I. #TheAnswerekP6ZQ

Cleveland Cavaliers Bring A NBA Championship Back To “The Land”

By David Jordan Jr

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals 93-89 to win its first NBA Championship in franchise history. The NBA title is the first major sports championship to be won in the city of Cleveland since 1964. A historic run in the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers exacted revenge on a Golden State Warriors team that beat these Cavaliers in 5 games in the 2015 NBA Finals. This time the Cavaliers competed with a full team, the biggest difference maker being Kyrie Irving. Irving’s backcourt play was instrumental in Cleveland having a balanced attack aginst the Warriors, something that was missing in last year’s finals as Irving fractured his knee cap in Game One. Surgery ended his season last year and Kyrie Irving did not return to Cleveland’s lineup until midseason this year, thus setting a path for a return trip to the finals. The quest to this championship began once Lebron left the Miami Heat as a free agent in 2014 to return home and begin his mission to bring a championship to Cleveland. Two years later the Cavaliers are celebrating a NBA Championship. Lebron James filled the stat sheets with amazing numbers during the finals averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks en route to winning his third NBA Finals MVP. The championship win came in historic fashion for the Cleveland Cavaliers as the not only defeated the team with the best regular season record in NBA history (73-9) but the Cavs also came back from a 3-1 series deficit, becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA Championship. “The Land” is finally able to enjoy the scent of freshly popped champagne and can now hang a championship banner inside The Q.

Enjoy The 2016 NBA Finals Gallery Recap Below: