Over the last three Summer League games, Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has worn everything but his Big Baller Brand ZO2 shoes. Last Wednesday, Ball was spotted rocking the Nike Kobe AD.
Lonzo's ever-changing footwear of choice doesn't appear to be bothering his father LaVar one bit. “That boy can play barefoot and do the same thing. He’s just letting them know he can play in any shoe he feels like,” LaVar toldESPN. “That’s how that Big Baller Brand roll. We’ve got that independence. We don’t have to be strapped down. You know how many players want to do that?”
Prior to Sunday's Lakers game against the Dallas Mavericks, ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth pointed out his latest footwear of choice tonight and wondered if there was an ulterior motive in the works. “You're wearing the Jordan 31s tonight … are you trying to start a bidding war here?,” Hubbarth asked. “Something like that,” Ball replied.
ASAP Rocky has convinced the world that New York artists could sound like they’re from Houston, shown that rappers could dress like they stepped off a Paris runway, designed sneakers with Adidas and Jeremy Scott, and modeled for Dior. But now he's signed himself up for one of the biggest tasks of his career: making Under Armour relevant in the world that he's dominated for much of this decade.
By most mainstream measures, Under Armour already is “cool.” They've snatched up big names in sports like Steph Curry, Tom Brady, Jordan Spieth, Cam Newton, and Aaron Judge, and the brand’s on-field success has been nothing short of impeccable. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been quite enough to give the brand cultural impact that transcends beyond professional sports.
The brand is clearly hoping to change that. It was reported on July 8 that Rocky had signed a multi-year deal with the Maryland sportswear company to work on lifestyle product for its UAS range, which is directed by fashion designer Tim Coppens and focuses apparel and sneakers that don’t feature the Under Armour logo — something that's driven style-oriented people away from the brand in the past.
It’s been the butt of many Internet jokes in recent times, most notably its all-white Steph Curry sneakers, and its move to bring Rocky onboard is a clear sign that it’s trying to chase a different consumer; one that’s eschewed its shoes for Nike and Adidas. It’s already worn by suburban dads and young teens who actually play basketball, but convincing everyone else to buy into the sneakers is a different story.
It was once controversial to claim that artists and musicians are the new athletes in the footwear industry, but Kanye West and Adidas (followed by a whole host of other entertainers and companies) have proved that notion wrong. Yeezys are flying off shelves at a breakneck pace while LeBrons are collecting dust and going on sale. And Under Armour’s move of signing Rocky proves that even the most sports-focused company realizes that it needs to get younger and hipper to grab its stake in the shoe game. The company has already signed The Rock to a big deal, but it didn’t make an impact with the cool-guy demographic, an audience that it so desperately wants to resonate with. It won’t, however, be as seamless as attaching one of the biggest names in hip-hop to a sneaker brand and watching the money roll in. Rocky is going to have to work his ass off to make this partnership truly work.
If anyone thinks Rocky’s contribution, in terms of influence, is insignificant, consider this for a second: With 6.3 million instagram followers, he has nearly twice as many as Under Armour’s main account.
Let’s think of the possibilities for a second. If Rocky is able to create product that truly inspires his fan base, there’s no way that it’s not going to sell out, and it will only create a snowball effect for Under Armour. Don’t believe me? You’d be hard-pressed to find a high percentage of the Yeezy/Boost fanboys who owned a pair of sneakers with Three Stripes on them prior to Kanye and Adidas working together in 2015, but now the brand has, literally, boosted its sales and has overtaken Nike and Jordan Brand in terms of resonance with the millennial audience.
It’s not going to be easy, though. This isn’t Under Armour’s first foray into lifestyle product. It’s made luxury, off-court sneakers for Steph Curry and even launched them at leading boutique Concepts. The brand made a huge push behind its Tim Coppens line, too, and it’s just fallen flat. It even has Migos promoting the label, but they haven’t consistently worn the product in the public eye and it’s failed to make a huge impact. Rocky could change all of that. His connection as a designer/signature artist is much greater than paying him to simply wear Under Armour. People have spouted on social media that they’re already going to buy their first pair of Under Armours, but all of that will be proven when his shoes finally are available at retail.
What makes Rocky’s partnership with the brand intriguing is that he’s notorious for being someone who won’t wear or co-sign anything that he’s not truly into. It’s likely that he sees this opportunity as a chance to boost his profile as someone who’s taken seriously as a designer in the style world, and who doesn’t want their name attached to a commercially successful sneaker? Imagine if Under Armour lets him design a sneaker for Steph Curry to wear during the All-Star Game? That’s visibility that even his music, likely, won’t achieve. But these are all what-ifs. It all starts with making a good pair of shoes, and the rest will follow.
Once the clock struck 12:01 AM ET on July 1, and the NBA free agency period was underway, the Golden State Warriors didn't waste any time getting Steph Curry to come to terms on a five-year, $201 million “supermax” deal, the richest contract in league history. The “supermax,” or the designated-player exception, is a recently added provision to the NBA collective bargaining agreement. It awards a select few players even higher paying contracts as long as they can check off a number of boxes, including being named to one of the three all-NBA teams in two of the previous three seasons.
This moment is a long time coming for Curry, who has been playing for the Warriors on a discount.
$44M: What the Warriors paid Steph Curry for the last four seasons.
$40.2M: What Curry will AVERAGE in EACH of the next five seasons.
A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on Jun 30, 2017 at 9:32am PDT
Kodak Black is back on his colorism bullshit. This time, ChaneyTV caught the rapper at Master P's charity basketball game and asked him once again about his controversial comments about women. The Florida rapper said nothing we hadn’t heard already—he said prefers lighter skinned women—but he definitely added more unnecessary fuel to the already raging fire this time around.
Referencing a hypothetical other man, Kodak Black said that “if he prefers skinny women more than a chubbier or heavyset woman, if he can say that and nobody can get mad him, I just said I don’t like women with my complexion.”
He continued: “I love African American women, but I just don’t like my skin complexion. We too gutter, light-skinned women more sensitive.”
This whole mess is starting to sound like a larger psychological problem that Kodak Black has with himself and his skin color that simply won’t get solved by tweeting at him or angrily commenting on social media feeds. That said, it also doesn’t seem like the Florida rapper is at all willing to educate himself on the implications of what he’s saying over and over again.
This latest ChaneyTV interview is unfortunately only the latest failed attempt by the Florida rapper to explain the kind of women he prefers. In an Instagram Live video last week, Kodak Black answered questions from fans about which famous women he’d like to have sex with, and he eventually admitted that “I don’t really like black girls like that.”
Predictably, that revelation infuriated fans and non-fans alike, and Kodak Black took to Instagram again the next day to defend himself, stating that “I love black African American women. It's just not my forte to deal with a 'darkskin' woman.” The backlash to his defense was so strong that he eventually deleted his entire Instagram. He's since restored his account, but the post in question is gone.
Although it seems Kodak Black is only attempting to explain his (rather misguided) views, it’s not likely people will let him off easy.
Well, this one was. It's partly my own fault; I've had the album on repeat since it dropped, and being armed with knowledge of Jay's history, from actual stabbings to legendary friendships, there are some moments on 4:44 that might be getting overlooked. Or, at the very least, haven't been highlighted by many as of yet. In an effort to make those who might not have ran this one back a number of times, here's a look at some things you might have missed on your first listen through Jay Z's 4:44.
Jay recalling the stabbing of Lance “Un” Rivera
On the opening track, “Kill Jay Z,” Jay touched on his issues with Kanye West and also brought up the time he stabbed Lance “Un” Rivera at the Kit Kat Klub in New York City in December of 1999 over allegations that Rivera had been bootlegging Vol. 3.
You got a knot in your chest, imagine how a knife hurts
You stabbed Un over some records
Your excuse was “He was talkin' too reckless!”
Jay ultimately plead guilty to the assault charges he was facing, and received three years probation, but to hear Cam'ron tell it, the incident wasn't over bootlegging music: it was over Undeas Entertainment's Charlie Baltimore, to whom Jay is said to have had a thing for.
Revealing that his mother is a lesbian
For what appears to be the first time in history, Jay Z rapped about his mother's sexuality on “Smile,” which also features a spoken word outro from his mother, Gloria Carter.
Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian
Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate
Society shame and the pain was too much to take
Cried tears of joy when you fell in love
Don't matter to me if it's a him or her
I just wanna see you smile through all the hate
This isn't the first time Jay has supported the LGBTQ community; he applauded his friend President Obama's stance on same-sex marriage back in 2012.
Subtly referencing his past issues with Funkmaster Flex
Also on “Smile” was the following line that could be looked at as a reference to Hot 97's own Funkmaster Flex: “This is Hov, no flex zone, nigga, who lied to you?” While many of us will remember how hard Flex has ridden for Hov over the years, back in 2015 their relationship hit a speed bump when Flex started calling Jay's Life+Times blog “trash.” This was due to Flex's feelings about the Life+Times app, which he says was essentially taken from information he gave to them about the Flex app that apparently ended up in their app.
The radio rant sparked the now-infamous and alleged “This is HOV” text to Flex, which Flex then posted on Instagram.
A post shared by FunkFlex (@funkflex) on Jan 16, 2015 at 7:17pm PST
A month later, Flex said if Jay was past the beef, he would be past the beef, but this is also Jay's first album since Flex went on that rant. Maybe he was just saving up one line until he was good and ready to address it.
Sending shots at Al Sharpton's gym selfies
Most Jay Z theorists assume that he'd been working on what became 4:44 since late 2016, but judging by this pair of lines on “Family Feud,” he must have been working on it down to the wire, as he found a way to include Al Sharpton's viral gym selfies that hit a little over a week ago (week ago).
Al Sharpton in the mirror takin' selfies
How is him or Pill Cosby s'posed to help me?
You read that right; Hov also found a way to throw some shade at Bill Cosby by calling him “Pill,” which is a reference to the sexual assault allegations Cosby's been dealing with.
Sticking up for his friend Prince
On the Frank Ocean-assisted “Caught Their Eyes,” Jay took most of the second verse to speak out against Londell McMillain, the lawyer who was formerly handling Prince's estate.
I sat down with Prince, eye to eye
He told me his wishes before he died
Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind
They only see green from them purple eyes
These bars were more than likely a result of the lawsuit that Prince's estate filed against Tidal in November of 2016 over the streaming rights to Prince's music. Jay wasn't done there, though.
This guy had 'Slave' on his face
You think he wanted the masters with his masters?
You greedy bastards sold tickets to walk through his house
I'm surprised you ain't auction off the casket
Hov was not only referring to Prince's historic battle for his masters from Warner Bros. (who released a deluxe edition of Purple Rain with the blessing of Prince's estate just last week) and the actual tours people can buy tickets for through Prince's private estate, Paisley Park.
Oh Marcy, Marcy me
Just the way I am always gonna be
I ain't gonna change, no
Marcy, Marcy me, just the way I am
Possibly hinting at the future addition of 4:44 to Apple Music
One of 4:44's standouts is “The Story of O.J.,” which finds Hov questioning the value of a dollar, especially to artists, people of color, and anyone growing up in the hood. Essentially, Hov ties up his role in the music business right now: “I'm tryin' to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99.” Now, sure, a Tidal subscription goes for a cool $9.99, but so does one of Tidal's competitors, Apple Music. Was this Hov slyly informing the world that 4:44would be hitting non-Tidal services in the future?
Jay Z's new album 4:44 is now available on all streaming services. Just kidding. The long-awaited Magna Carta Holy Grail follow-up is the first in a series of music-related exclusives from Tidal and Sprint, meaning Tidal is the only place to legally and in good conscience stream the 10-track event.
But according to a report from Variety, so-called Jay Z fans who are absolutely hell-bent on denying themselves a Tidal subscription may not have to wait very long to be rewarded for their stubbornness. A “source” said Thursday night that 4:44 will hit Apple Music after a week of exclusivity on Tidal. A separate source went a step further, claiming that the album would hit “all major services” in a week.
Depending on your views of time and existence and whatnot, a week is either a really long—or hilariously short—amount of time. Compared with the exclusivity window of other Tidal releases, however, a week is a breeze.
Beyoncé's Lemonade, released last April, is still not available for streaming anywhere else but Tidal. As Billboardnoted, Lemonade performed on par with other massive albums (Drake's Views, for example) when looking at sales and downloads. When digging into the streaming data, however, the Tidal exclusivity starts to be noticeable. Views pulled more than 2 million in streaming equivalent album units that year, while Lemonade topped out at 214,000.
Kanye West's The Life of Pablo, which recently became the first streaming-only album to achieve platinum status, was also initially released as a Tidal exclusive. In fact, West once vowed that it would permanently remain an exclusive, before making it widely available on streaming services months after its release.
Jay Z has not officially announced any plans to bring 4:44 to other streaming services.
As last night's contest got increasingly chippy, the referees called more and more fouls, and even doled out seven technical fouls, as well as one flagrant foul on Kevin Love. After calling out the refs for losing control of the game, Mary retweeted someone who said Game 4 was “absolutely rigged for money.”
I've lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money… Or ratings im not sure which. I won't be silent . Just saw it live sry.
An interesting claim for Mary to co-sign considering Steph Curry's wife Ayesha took that same stance last year. While Draymond's mom may believe that the refs were determined to do all they could make the series go back to Golden State, the Warriors were the ones who held the slight edge in free attempts, 36-31. The refs also made a last-minute correction after Green was slapped with what was believed to be a second technical foul.
Either way, Mary isn't too upset about the Cavaliers coming away with the Game 4 win.
CLEVELAND — It started off with a crazy 49-point first quarter from the Cavs, who finished with an even crazier 86 points at halftime. That was topped by the craziest third quarter the NBA Finals has ever seen when a series worth of soap opera like drama was squeezed into 12 minutes.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals was wild, ridiculous, and absurd. We saw Cleveland go bonkers on offense in the first half, the refs call 51 fouls, the seemingly random rescinding of a technical on Draymond Green, and some extracurricular activities from superstars and role players alike that will be dissected for the next two days. When it was all said and done, the Cavs were 137-116 winners and extended the series at least one more game with a physical effort we hadn’t seen through the series' first three contests.
“We took it to them first and that was very telling for the rest of the game,” Kevin Love said.
So here we are again. The Warriors are up 3-1 and headed back to the West Coast. And while we can draw as many parallels as we want to last year’s historic NBA Finals, the Cavs extending the series only feels like we’re delaying the inevitable this time around.
But before we get to that, Cleveland should be commended for preventing the Warriors from becoming the only team in NBA history to go 16-0 in the postseason. Their chance to do that was pretty much over early Friday as the Cavs blitzed Golden State for an NBA Finals record 49 points in the first quarter and an NBA Playoffs record 86 points after two. And they kept shooting lights out the rest of the way. Cleveland finished shooting 52.9 percent from the field and made an NBA Finals record 24 3-pointers. Through the first three games of the series, Cleveland had only made 31 threes.
Quicken Loans Arena was rocking as the Cavs treated their fans to a rollicking performance led by Kyrie Irving’s 40 points. LeBron James recorded his 9th NBA Finals triple-double, surpassing Magic Johnson for the all-time mark, going for 31, 11, and 10 while Love added 23 and J.R, Smith contributed 15.
“We played a desperate team at home and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that.”
It was a feel good night for the Cavs and their fans, for sure. The crowd was hyped from the start and the Cavs, who were ripe to be blown out following Game 3’s devastating loss, fed off their energy. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said there was no special pregame speech. He liked his squad’s attitude during the morning’s shootaround. “Guys were upbeat. No hanging heads,” he said. Maybe the Warriors were too caught up in chasing history?
“I don’t think there was any thoughts or concerns about history,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We played a desperate team at home and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that.”
This one will be remembered for the truly bizarre third quarter. We had LeBron’s self-pass off the backboard for a dunk that will go down as one of the Finals’ most memorable plays. Later on, the King and Kevin Durant were jawing at each other and drew duel techs. “We weren't coming to blows, we were just talking,” Durant said. A little over a minute after that, Green was tossed for earning a second technical before he wasn’t. The refs ended up giving it to Steve Kerr instead. Finally, we saw Groingate v. 2017 when it looked like Zaza Pachulia took a swipe at Iman Shumpert’s sensitive area during a scrum for a loose ball.
NBA conspiracy theory junkies will have a field day dissecting that and all the fouls called by the refs in Cleveland's favor, especially in the first quarter. With the Finals enjoying some of their highest ratings in years, we all know the league really wants it to extend as long as possible and early on the zebras seemingly did their part. The Cavs went to the free throw line 22 times in the first 12 minutes. Somewhere in the bowels of Quicken Loans Arena, or back in New York—wherever he was—it was like commissioner Adam Silver was pulling all the right strings to at least extend the Finals to five games.
But does this really change anything? Has momentum swung back in the Cavs favor? The Cavs deserve credit for not rolling over and letting the Warriors celebrate a title on their floor. They were gritty, gutty, and grimy, playing physical for the first time all series and roughing up the Warriors. But let’s be real here: the Warriors were their own worst enemy in Game 4. Featuring a ton of isolation and practically none of their signature run and gun offense or precision ball movement, the second half saw the Warriors brick a ton threes and settle for low percentage long twos. Golden State finished shooting 28.2 percent from beyond the arc, well below their 39.6 percent average this postseason. Yes, the Cavs are the second best team in the league and getting one of the Warriors shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the Dubs were due for a dud.
“It was one of those nights where we didn’t have anything clicking,” Steph Curry said
The “Cavs in 7’ chant that broke near the end of the game was cute, an ode to the tweet JR Smith claims he didn’t send out following Game 3. But the chances the Cavs faithful see their team play again in person are slim to none. The Warriors were garbage in Game 4, a hot mess on offense, and now they’re headed home where they have lost just once in their last 16 games. They’ve been the superior team three out of four games. They were the superior team during the regular season and during their run to the Finals. They have a potential championship clinching Game 5 Monday in Oracle Arena where they trounced Cleveland in the first two games of the series and once back in January. Draymond won't be suspended for Game 5 like last year. And most importantly they still have more firepower and more superstars than the Cavs, starting with the biggest difference maker, KD.
CLEVELAND — In the middle of his answer, Kyrie Irving sighed, still shivering from a post-game trip to the cold tub. What else could he do when he was asked why the Cavs blew their chance to make the NBA Finals an actual series?
Because for a few fleeting moments it looked like we had one. After two blowouts in Oakland, the Cavs and the Warriors treated basketball fans to a Game 3 that was a riveting, dramatic, and one the Cavs and their fans are going to lose a lot of sleep analyzing how they gave it away.
The Cavs should have won Wednesday after they got another big effort from LeBron James and Irving finally arrived on the big stage with a magical performance. Quicken Loans Arena was popping. The Cleveland faithful had watched their two superstars ball out to the tune of 77 combined points and looked like they were on the verge of earning a hard fought victory over the supremely talented Warriors.
But the Cavs couldn’t execute offensively over the final few minutes, had mental lapses on defense, and watched the biggest difference maker in the series knock down a stone cold three to give the Warriors a one-point lead with 12.9 seconds to go. So instead of walking off winners and feeling like the NBA Finals was finally a competitive series, the defending NBA champions sulked off the court shell shocked, 118-113 losers, and now will have to play their hearts out just to prevent the Warriors from celebrating an NBA championship on their home floor Friday.
“It definitely hurts. I'm human, as well as my teammates, and to lay it all on the line like that, you want to come out on the winning side,” said Irving. “But we gave a great effort, and the result just didn't turn out the way we wanted to.”
Now Game 4 is setting up to be a coronation for the greatest team in NBA postseason history. The Warriors improved to 15-0 in the playoffs because they had enough firepower to overcome James's 39 points and Irving's 38 and because the biggest difference maker of the series, Kevin Durant, hit that game-changing three that was a dagger through the hearts of the Cavs.
“I just tried to stay disciplined in my shot, hold my follow through, and it went in,” Durant said. “But more importantly we got two stops after that.”
It didn’t have to be this way, of course. But the reasons the NBA Finals are basically over are obvious. The Cavaliers’ execution down the stretch was atrocious. James bore a heavy burden of the blame for not driving to the basket down the stretch despite the Cavs scoring 46 points in the paint. He too often deferred to teammates who hoisted bad shots or even crappier threes. Cleveland didn't score a point over the final 3:09. For the second straight game, the Cavs shot 27 percent from three. Overall, the Cleveland shot 44.4 percent from the field.
“I gave everything I had tonight. So win, lose, or draw, you live with the results,” James said. “Like I said, they played a really good game as well, but they made shots, they made shot down the stretch. They got stops, which they have been doing. We shot in the low 40s again. They got stops and then they made play after play down the stretch.”
Durant finished with 31 points and had 14 in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback. Klay Thompson was the unsung hero for the Warriors going for 30 on 11-of-18 shooting including 6-of-11 from three. Steph Curry added 26 and was the Warriors leading rebounder with 13.”
While the Warriors swear a perfect postseason has never been on their mind during this run, they changed their tune after Game 3.
“It is now because we took care of tonight,” Curry said. “It's not in terms of like 16-0 really just of what that means historically, it's just that's what's in front of us. We obviously know how hard it is to win a championship, what all goes into it and how important each game is. And now that you can look ahead to Friday, all our focus is on that. And just we obviously—we want 16 wins; it doesn't matter how we get there.”
The off-season appears imminent for the Cavs, which is shocking because when your two best players play that well, you shouldn't lose games. You should extend series. Except when you're playing the greatest team in NBA postseason history.
Let's get the obvious out of the way: there was a basketball game on Thursday night. It was Game 1 of the NBA finals. Some shots were taken, people ran up and down the court and stuff, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-91.
But to many people who watched (and announced, and played in) the game, the real star wasn't LeBron or Steph Curry, but rather Rihanna. The pop star was in the audience for Game 1, and was not shy about letting it be known who she was rooting for—and against.
From courtside, she apparently heckled KD during a free throw.