Guest Mauro Ranallo Talks LeBron Beasting in Another L, New Michael Jordan Doc | Out of Bounds

On today’s episode of #OutofBounds, sports announcer and commentator Mauro Ranallo joins Gilbert Arenas, Adam Caparell, and Pierce Simpson to discuss the Celtics beating the Cavs despite a monster game from LeBron James to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. With King James clearly giving his all — returning from a scary head shot to post a 42-point triple-double — the panel points fingers at the teammates who need to step their game up.

One player who would be excused if he were underperforming is Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who revealed that his mom is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for bone marrow cancer but wants him to remain focused on basketball. Mauro — who had to do a broadcast after losing a close family member — and Gil talk about trying to perform at your best when you’re enduring a personal tragedy.

Looking ahead to tonight’s Game 2 between Houston and Golden State, OOB asks if the Rockets can “withstand” Kevin Durant going off, as head coach Mike D’Antoni said they could after he torched them for 37 points in Game 1. Are the Rockets capable of shutting down one or more of the Dubs’ other stars? Plus, the panel makes their picks for the game.

Then, with the NBA Draft Lottery over and the Suns now in possession of the first overall pick, the crew debates whom Phoenix should draft at No. 1. Also, Gil explains why the NBA’s new draft lottery format designed to eliminate tanking won’t actually stop the league’s annual race to the bottom.

After ESPN Films and Netflix announced Tuesday that they will be releasing a 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan in 2019, the guys ask if it will reveal anything we don’t know about MJ or just show younger generations why he is the GOAT over LeBron and Kobe. Plus, Gil lets Mauro know why Jordan’s return to play for the Wizards wasn’t the typical case of an athlete being unwilling to move on from their playing career.

With his own documentary, Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller, premiering next Friday, May 25, on Showtime, Mauro explains the motivation behind the project, which candidly discusses his mental health issues. Plus, Gil opens up about his battle with depression and how he learned to be himself. 

Finally, with philanthropic hedge fund manager and outspoken Trump critic David Tepper expected to buy the Panthers for a record-setting $2.2 billion, OOB asks if he is precisely the kind of owner the NFL needs now. Does politics even matter when it comes to the bottom-line business of NFL ownership?

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LeBron James Surpassed Michael Jordan’s Double-Digit Scoring Record

Friday night, LeBron James further etched his name in the GOAT conversation. James drove left past New Orleans Pelicans forward Solomon Hill with approximately 6:01 remaining in the first quarter for a two-handed dunk to notch 11 points in the game. That gave LeBron his 867th consecutive game scoring at least 10 or more points, breaking Michael Jordan’s previous record, which James tied on March 28.

Officials briefly stopped the game and honored James’ accomplishment.

“It’s not like I set out to say that I want to be the No. 1 in scoring 10 points, double digits or consecutive games or whatever that and whatnot, but anytime, like, a statistical category comes up and I’m able to accomplish something like that, I mean, it's pretty incredible,” James said, in pregame comments obtained by ESPN. “I think it’s been like 11 years that I’ve been able to accomplish this feat, so I’ve been able to take care of my body, that’s one, and I’ve been around some great teammates and coaches and two organizations that have allowed me to be who I am, so that’s two, and just going out and playing for the joy of the game.”

James and the Cavs ultimately beat the Pelicans 107-102, as James finished just shy of a triple-double with 27 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists.

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Kobe Wins an Oscar; Does Kawhi Deserve a Signature Shoe? | Out of Bounds

Black Mamba strikes again! Last night, at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Kobe added to his impressive trophy collection when he won the “Best Animated Short” Oscar for “Dear Basketball.” Gilbert Arenas and the #OutofBounds crew rank the win among his many accomplishments and debate if it changes the GOAT conversation between him and Michael Jordan. Next, Gil and the guys discuss whether the NFL Scouting Combine — where some prospects have performed poorly — is important or total BS, considering teams have actual game footage to help determine if players are any good. Then, following reports that extension talks have broken down between Jordan Brand and Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, Gil keeps it all the way real in “Secure the Bag” and determines Kawhi’s market value, whether or not he deserves a signature shoe, and where he’s most likely to sign his next shoe deal. Finally, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. telling TMZ he’s developing a boxing video game, the OOB boys say what they want to see in his game before getting into heavyweight star Deontay Wilder’s latest win. See why Wilder blows Gil’s mind, and not in a good way.

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Baron Davis on NBA Dynasties, Clippers Curse, and NBA rumors | Out Of Bounds

On today’s episode of #OutOfBounds, Baron Davis sits down to discuss wether Dynasties are good for the NBA, and breaks down how inappropriate Donald Sterling really was.

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Is Drake Really Over His Beef with Puff Daddy?

Is Drake really putting his long-standing, on-and-off beef with Diddy behind him? On Sunday, Drizzy promoted Puff's recently released doc, Can't Stop, Won't Stop, on Instagram while reminiscing about the time was rocking his ski goggles to the side while watching from the third row at the No Way Out Tour in Toronto.

Based on fan reaction, it seems like Drake and Puffy are officially cool now, supporting previously reported stories that they’ve become friends. Back in 2015, both guys decided to make amends over the phone following a physical altercation outside of Miami's club Liv. Last year, Puff showed his support at Drake and Future's Summer Sixteen tour in North Carolina, and even accepted his VMA award for Best Hip-Hop Video (“Hotline Bling”) on his behalf.

But you could also see it as an obligatory promotional post, as per Drake’s Apple Music partnership, to get the word out that you can purchase the documentary on iTunes now.

In addition, Drizzy's comments during his acceptance speech at the Billboard Awards after winning the award for Top Billboard 200 Album for Views seem to suggest that the rapper is trying to get past all of his previous beefs. “We're all here on Earth for a limited amount of time,” he explained. “We gotta show love while we're here.”

Drake and Puffy have an interesting relationship that dates back to their Club Liv incident and accusations of stealing the “0-100” beat. As long as they can keep the peace, they can move on to what’s important: making music.

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What Makes a Classic Rap Album?

For as long as hip-hop has existed, it's spawned arguments. For decades now, fans of rap have been staking out ground, hills to die on, each concerned with one question: Who is the best? And the debate for the GOAT has a long-running spinoff, one of the primary criteria for being the greatest of all time—has that rapper made a classic?

What a classic actually is, outside of just being a very good album, is up for debate. Which is partly why the argument is so fun to have—everyone is working from a different rubric. Some people are concerned with the quality of the rapping, others the popular response, others still need it to have shifted the culture significantly. On an episode of last week's Everyday Struggle, Joe Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska Alexis brought up the ever-present debate: What makes a classic?

Complex staffers weighed in below, with their definitions of what makes for a classic and three picks for hip-hop classics made in the last decade. 

  • Ross Scarano

    There’s a lot of baggage around the word classic in the world of hip-hop, something that doesn’t feel analogous to other mediums and genres. (I lurk on film and literary twitter, and there isn’t so much consternation and incredulity around entering the canon. For instance, Magic Mike XXL—just two years old—already earned its spot and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that. Not from my vantage, anyway.)

    Music, by virtue of how it’s consumed, is typically more accessible than a movie or a novel, and because of that we often want the best stuff to reach the widest audience possible; or we insist that, if it is the best, it will reach that audience. There’s evidence for this—see Lemonade and Damn. These battles about quality and audience aren’t monitored so closely in other mediums. If a movie is perfectly realized but doesn’t make noise at the box office, it won’t be held against it by critics and fans. But this can become a demerit in the conversation around the rap canon.

    I didn’t make up these rules, it’s my inheritance and so I won’t rail against it. A classic, then, should be of high quality; must impact the genre in a way where you can read the ripple effects, like rings on a cut tree; and it should dominate. True, some albums take time to find their rightful place, like Reasonable Doubt. And others, though they're dominant in their moment and impactful across the years, don't age so well, like Graduation. But time roots it all out.

    I’m of the opinion that we don’t need to sit and wonder about the status of the three following albums:

    Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Drake, Take Care
    Jay Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne

  • Brendan Klinkenberg

    Left to my own devices, the term “classic” isn’t part of my listening experience. When I listen to a great album no part of me thinks about in those terms. I don’t think you do either. Rather, I’m thinking about what I like, or don’t like, or love—the word “classic” only comes into play when imagining the coming arguments with friends, whether in person or online, about how good the album is.

    “Classic” is a word that’s used exclusively to talk to other fans; it’s a term for creating consensus, not assigning value. Whether or not something is a classic isn’t really about whether it’s good, and it certainly doesn’t have much to do with a personal favorite. Instead, it’s a way for us to talk about the albums that everyone loves, the ones that genuinely connected people. It’s a decided-upon battlefield that can’t be won by strategy or trickery, only outnumbering the other side.

    Yeezus is a better album than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Damn is better than Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. Neither are classics (yet). Young Thug may well be the best rapper alive, but he hasn’t made a classic (yet). While I find Yeezus, Damn, and Thugger unimpeachable, their classic status is moot, simply because not enough people agree with me. A classic album is a classic when (almost) everyone decides, together, that it is. Proclaiming a classic on your own is like calling yourself the king of the world—all it will get you is weird looks on the subway.

    If an album means that much to you, don’t worry about declaring it a classic. Just live with the knowledge that it’s your favorite. That means more.

    Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
    Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

  • Nora-Grayce Orosz

    When it comes down to it, every interpretation of music is subjective. Even the act of delineating a body of work as a “classic” can have different parameters for each person. Maybe a classic has to do big numbers and chart for a million consecutive weeks. Maybe a classic has to push the boundaries of artistry and floor listeners and take ~edgy~ experimental risks. Maybe a classic just has to have fire production and lyrical mastery. These are all valid factors to consider, and are often what leads to the passionate debates that are at the core of hip-hop culture.

    Personally, I think the two most important factors to ponder when debating a classic are: First,how the album makes you feel, and second, its lasting influence on the landscape of music. If you find yourself coming back to an album year after year, well after the initial novelty has faded, that’s a sure indicator of a classic. If you’re sitting on the train on the way to your 9-5 bumping an album and it transports you to a different setting, era or mood, then to you, it’s a classic. Personal preference is an absolutely valid element in defining a classic.

    Alternatively, if an album comes along and makes waves, and subsequent projects in the genre start mimicking that wave, it’s likely a classic. This breed of classics are the albums new artists cite as their inspiration for the debuts they've been preparing for their entire lives. That kind of classic are the magnum opuses of the genre, they are the pioneers of a unique sound.

    Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
    Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book

  • Alex Gale

    I'm pretty sure The Source and its once bible-like “mic” rating review system are to blame for embedding the word “classic” so firmly into hip-hop's vocabulary and psyche. Albums were assessed on a scale of zero to five mics—five out of five was labeled a “classic,” and for a while The Source pretty much batted 1.000 when doling that rating out. Back then, hip-hop was a small enough village, so dominated by New York and LA and a handful of labels and acts and tastemakers, that it was pretty easy to figure out what a classic was. Did you all the sudden hear it from every car on Fulton Street or Crenshaw? Classic. There weren't a million different subgenres, scenes, and Soundcloud rabbit-holes to keep track of—when you first heard The Chronic, or Illmatic, you knew rap had never sounded like that before. You knew you were witnessing the culture leap forward in real time right before you. And those golden-era innovations stood the test time—they sounded like classics in the moment, and they still sound that way now.

    Now, it's harder to tell. Rap is splintered, into a million different sounds and social-media feeds. Some of the most impactful albums of recent memory were the most polarizing—Kanye's 808s and Heartbreaks is arguably his most divisive record, but it changed the sound of rap more than any other. Does that make it a certified classic? I say no. I like to think that albums can be both foundational and five-out-of-five-mics flawless.

    I think that there are only two undisputed rap classic albums, ones that are both near perfect and changed the game, from last 10 years:

    Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.d City
    Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    Everything else? Up for debate.

  • Anslem Rocque

    In my book, what makes an album classic is twofold. On one hand, the music has to be able to stand the test of time—to a certain extent, be eternal. Not just a few songs on the project, but the entire body of work. You have to be able to turn the album on today and be moved by the music the same way you were when you first heard it with minimal skipping, if any at all. For the record, skits don't count in this definition. So while I rarely re-listen to Kanye's interludes on his first three releases, those albums still warrant classic ratings in my book.

    On the secondhand, an album can be considered classic based on its overall impact on the culture. Some albums change styles, language and grow the culture to another level. Das Efx's Dead Serious comes to mind, which ushered in the whole iggity synonym to the hip-hop lexicon, but rap moves in trends and sometimes certain album don't age as well as (siggity sorry). There's also a nostalgia factor, as music often plays as the soundtrack to key moments in our lives. The album that you used to play during road trips with a friend who is no longer in your life may hold more classic weight for you than it would for someone else. At the end of the day a classic album can be a personal experience.

    Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Lil Wayne, The Carter III
    Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

  • Russ Bengtson

    There is a famous quote about pornography that was first uttered by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, dating back to a case in 1964. Justice Stewart was not able to succinctly define obscenity, but said “I know it when I see it.” Change “see” to “hear,” and it’s a fine starting point when talking about classic hip-hop albums.

    I’m not sure whether I could give a short, precise definition of what qualifies as a classic album. Is it an album that has no skippable tracks? If so, that eliminates OutKast’s Aquemini (I haven’t willingly listened to “Mamacita” in years), which is absurd. Is it an album that defines an era? Well, sure, that should be part of it. Is it an album that defines an artist? Yeah, that should be part of it too. But there are so many things to consider, each of which gets weighed differently depending on who you’re talking to, to the point where there can be no easily defined set of standards.

    Then there’s the time factor. It seems—to me, anyway—that the term “instant classic” is an oxymoron. “Classic” is something that by its very definition requires time. Think of cars. A new design can’t be considered a classic. We can predict, but that’s about all. But what’s enough? A year? Two years? Five? Is it like the Hall of Fame, with a mandatory waiting period? Damn. I don’t know. What is a classic rap album? Honestly I’m not sure. But I’ll tell you this much. I know it when I hear it.

    Kanye West, Yeezus
    Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.d City
    Young Thug, Jeffery

  • Frazier Tharpe

    Masterful execution of theme and vision. A replay value that holds up 1, 2, 5 years later and still evokes awe-inspiring emotions with most, if not all, of the same potency it had on the first listen. And impact. We can bandy on about this being personal opinion all day long, but if your choice didn't resonate throughout both the rap game and the rap culture, then we don't believe you and you know the rest. (It's why I'll refrain from being a hyperbolic and dickhead and listing ASAP Rocky's A.L.L.A., an A+ project it is nonetheless).

    These are rote answers, but the standards for what it takes to be a classic shouldn't leave many options to choose from if we're implementing them correctly—like how we all agree on Jay Z's three objective classics (and I'd argue has 3 more but I digress). So, if we're talking the past decade, I don't see how you couldn't salute Watch the Throne, the gargantuan event album that overcame twin-sized ego and forum fanfic to more than meet expectations —no rapper, not even Jay and Kanye themselves, has articulated the daily glories, anxieties and loneliness of being a Forbes Cash King as beautifully and masterfully since. The gauntlet was thrown down so forcefully it inspired their de facto successor Drake to distill all his weirdo insecurities and sonic influences into his most ambitious project to date, on the waves of which the rap game rode into the new decade, with imitators still surfing.

    And if we're only choosing three here—a fourth pick would've gone to Good Kid, fifth to Live.Love.ASAP or Yeezus—I don't know how anyone claiming sanity doesn't consider My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as the reigning classic of the last 10 years. Narrative defines classics too. Illmatic got a hard-won 5 mics, Blueprint validated bold claims of kingship after the most savage Summer Jam performance ever seen. And Kanye West returned after an exile (only partly self-imposed) and an album that confused and alienated some of his fanbase with a backhanded apology scored to the most beautiful sounds he's ever curated and the best bars he's ever laid to wax. Yeezy has never been in his bag as thoroughly as he was in 2010, and he might never get there again. Pay respect.

    Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Jay Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne
    Drake, Take Care

  • Angel Diaz

    What makes a classic to me? If the record either influenced the genre in one way or another, or if said record goes today as if it were released yesterday.

    Some albums need time to ferment, others are instant. Thriller didn’t need time for people to get it like Reasonable Doubt did. Thriller banged the day it came out the same way it still bangs today. I can go with the usual suspects like My Beautiful Twisted Fantasy, Good Kid M.A.A.D. city, or To Pimp a Butterfly, but I considered those classics in my book after a single listen. Aquemini, on the other hand, went over my head. I was in high school running the streets and all me and my friends wanted to hear was Cash Money, Ruff Ryders, Queensbridge shit, or Rocafella music. We were disgusted with the Source’s five mic rating. “They giving out five mics to this weird shit?” We asked each other over blunts and Henny. Years later, it’s one of my favorite Outkast records.

    For me, a classic rap album serves as water to a thirsty game. I base classic rap on whether or not I get chills when I hear it, or a feeling of spirituality. I can hit play and listen all the way through for the most part. The usual suspects I mentioned above do that to me. But I’m gonna go with three records that I feel don’t get the respect they deserve:

    Roc Marciano, Marcberg
    Retch and Thelonious Martin, Polo Sporting Goods
    Bankroll Fresh, Life of A Hot Boy

  • Edwin Ortiz

    I don’t think there will ever be a satisfying explanation for or perfect method in deciding what’s a classic album. There are, though, a handful of core attributes to help define one: quality, impact, replay value, along with other characteristics to balance the decision-making.

    That’s not a cop-out, but a realization that the argument and evidence for (or against) a classic album has shifted over the years. The '90s had the Source’s once-coveted five mics; XXL had its own definitive take for part of the aughts. Now, it’s a combination of critical and fan acclaim. And the process has been accelerated thanks to the internet. I don’t need five years to know Kendrick Lamar’s Damn is a classic album; I knew that two weeks after its release.

    Below are three albums I consider to be classic from the last 10 years.

    Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
    Kendrick Lamar, Damn

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‘Damn’ Cements Kendrick’s Status as One of Rap’s Greatest MCs

Kendrick Lamar knew something the rest of us didn’t when he released “The Heart Part 4” in March. “My spot is solidified if you ask me,” he raps, with unshakeable confidence behind his words. The loosie didn’t mark the first time the Compton lyricist—who hasn’t even reached his 30th birthday—has called himself the greatest rapper alive, or inserted himself into the pantheon of hip-hop icons like André 3000 and Eminem. But the sentiment becomes even more credible with the release of Damn, his brilliant and bumping fourth studio album that cements Kendrick as one of rap’s GOATs.

This isn’t a case of hyper-reactive millennial conclusion leaping. There are still many think pieces to be written, lyrics to be deconstructed, hot takes to be shelled out, and theories to be debated. But it’s immediately apparent that Kendrick has blessed hip-hop with another high-quality release by going beyond rehashing past masterpieces. Where To Pimp A Butterfly and Untitled Unmastered are avant-garde, steeped in the black music of yesteryear (particularly jazz and blues), Damn finds Kendrick rapping his ass off to today’s trunk-rattling trap 808s (for instance, “Element”). There are songs here with true smash potential, even more so than past albums. Mike Will Made-It’s platinum touch already helped “Humble” become Kendrick’s highest-charting solo song, debuting at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100—he also laced the explosive “DNA.” “Loyalty,” with Rihanna, has even more pop promise, while “Love” similarly helps establish Kendrick as more than just a God MC. Just like the greats before him, Kendrick is a hitmaker in his own right.

Still, Kendrick’s bars are 24 karat. He torches the American flag alongside U2(!) on the contemplative “XXX” and delves into past anxieties via the autobiographical (and formally exacting) epic “Fear.” On the mind-fuck of an outro, “Duckworth,” K-Dot spins a narrative that details how a two-decades-old run-in between his father and TDE CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith almost derailed his career long before it began. And “Feel” finds him insisting upon his living legend status: “I feel like debated on who the greatest can stop it/I am legend, I feel like all of y'all is peasants.” He's wrestling with big ideas about sin and chance and how to live, while also making some of the best, most streamlined music of his career.

The sentiment may feel premature, but Kendrick’s catalog stacks up favorably against other hall-of-fame rappers’ primes. He followed the impressive Section.80 with the undisputed classic Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, an Illmatic for his generation. His verse on 2013’s “Control” is a truly culture-shifting moment that positioned the Compton rapper as lyrical rap’s alpha dog in the years that have followed. The overwhelmingly dope and challenging To Pimp a Butterfly may go down as one of the most unapologetically black-and-proud albums ever; it’s got six Grammys to boast. And Damn only fortifies that already sturdy discography.

Where were other rap greats at similar points, six years and four studio albums in? After scorching-hot starts, both Nas and Eminem dropped their first duds by album four with Nastradamus and Encore, respectively. 2Pac’s full career exists in this

He's wrestling with big ideas about sin and chance and how to live, while also making some of the best, most streamlined music of his career.

timescale, while the Notorious B.I.G.’s musical legacy is abbreviated by a couple of years. Jay Z was nearing his first fake retirement six years after his debut, but already had two classics under his belt (Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint). Lil Wayne hadn’t yet morphed into a rap goblin when he dropped Tha Carter, while T.I. had crowned himself King of the South (and backed it up) by his own six-year mark (T.I. vs. T.I.P.). Kanye West pushed music toward the future with each of his first four full-length projects; Drake did the same, albeit being labeled a waverider in the process.

You could eternally argue about whether Kendrick Lamar’s recordings exceed those of the preceding (and unmentioned) greats—take that to Twitter—but it’s certainly defensible to say that they’re in the same league. Sure, K-Dot could fall off in the future, like many dope rappers before him. But that typically happens to those unwilling or unable to reinvent themselves, a talent Kendrick has proven on each of his LPs, Damn included. Plus his lyrical sword shows no signs of dulling.

As hip-hop approaches its half-century mark, the criteria for GOAT status becomes increasingly complex—the artform’s evolving sounds, parameters, and even distribution vehicles make it difficult to compare icons across eras. If nothing else though, Damn is more evidence proving that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most important voices of this generation—something we’ve known for quite some time now.

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