Will social, sports activism lead to systemic change?

By kneeling during a celebrated custom in America's favorite sport, Colin Kaepernick has spear-headed a modern message of social activism.

By kneeling during the singing of the National Anthem, a routine custom to tip-off sports games in America, San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spear-headed a modern method of social activism.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

One month after NFL reporter Steve Wyche brought San Francisco 49ers’ Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest to light, the conversation surrounding the motive and method of his actions continue to surge. While some are still debating whether the protest is offensive or not, many have joined the cause to highlight the disparity in the treatment of people of color, particularly unarmed black men, by the police.

After making his intentions clear, Kaepernick's profile increased enough to land him on the cover of October's Time magazine. His popularity has also grown as his soaring jersey sales clearly prove.

After making his intentions clear, Colin Kaepernick’s profile increased enough to land him on the cover of the Time magazine for the first week in October. His popularity has also grown and his g jersey sales continue to soar.

Kaepernick has been clear that the motive for his actions is to create dialogue and bring awareness to the issue of police brutality and misconduct, especially towards people of color. He also stated, “There’s a lot of people who don’t want to have this conversation. You know they’re scared they might lose their job or they might not get endorsements, they might not be treated the same way. And those are things I’m prepared to handle.”

There was no way to predict the reaction to Kaepernick’s stance, yet the amount of support he has received has to be encouraging to people who are tired of seeing people of color die at the hands of the police, who are paid to protect them. When police murder unarmed black and Latino civilians without facing any consequence they send a message that the lives that they take lack value due to their skin color.

Countless others have joined the cause to bring awareness to the unjust treatment of people of color.

Countless others have joined the cause to bring awareness to the unjust treatment of people of color.

Kaepernick has done what many who support the BlackLivesMatter movement have been trying to do for months, simplify the message with a simple, non-violent gesture of protest. His jersey has become a symbol, no longer celebrating the San Francisco 49ers and their rich NFL history, but of a person willing to face adversity to make a stand for the greater good. To date, over 50 NFL players have joined the protest by kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem. Countless athletes across other sports have also made the same gesture and the statement has been made in classrooms as well as political forums.

While the protest receives the headlines, there seems to be positive action resulting from the heightened attention. According to statistics revealed by reporters Ken Klippenstein and Paul Gottinger, “A Gallup poll conducted in July showed confidence in police is at a 22-year low.” The same publication highlights that the rate of police indictments have increased by 5 times over the last 5 plus months.

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby (left) was indicted within a week of the shooting death of Terrence Crutcher (right).

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby (left) was indicted within a week of the shooting death of Terrence Crutcher (right).

The swift indictment of Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby after she killed Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose vehicle broke down in the middle of the street last week, instead of helping him get his vehicle towed so that he could go home to his family, shows an ebbing tide away from the days of simply taking the police’s word in these tragic events.

As Kaepernick and other social activists continue to shine the light on injustice in this area, it’s possible that sustained activism will result in enough positive change that will, in turn, help to address other major social issues that plague the nation.–OnPointPress.net

Three life lessons NBA Finals 2016 taught us

An emotional LeBron James embraces teammate Kevin Love after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors to become 2016 NBA Champions.

An emotional LeBron James embraces teammate Kevin Love while J. R. Smith celebrates nearby after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors to become 2016 NBA Champions.

By Carmen Glover

It’s no secret that sports sometimes act as a metaphor for life and amid the rush of euphoria being felt by fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers who won their first NBA Championship with a decisive 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors, there are some important lessons to learn. The victory comes after a 52-year drought in professional team championship in Cleveland in any sport.

As NBA fans around the globe celebrate with the deserving Cavaliers (I was rooting for Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors because I admire his tattoo-free, wholesome image and his thrilling style of play) the lessons that can be derived from the results of the NBA Finals 2016 are worthy of emulation.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors and win the 2016 NBA Championship trophy.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors and win the 2016 NBA Championship trophy.

  1.  Never Give Up On Your Dreams

Throughout his life, James, 31, has been driven to succeed, propelled by a fierce desire to escape poverty, reach the pinnacle of basketball, while being an astute businessman, loyal friend, devoted father and exemplary team-mate. After a successful career at St Vincent-St. Mary High School, he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft

After failing to win an NBA championship, he bolted for Miami Heat in 2010 in a controversial ESPN special called “The Decision,” in which he famously announced that he was “taking my talents to South Beach.”  With the Heat, he won consecutive NBA championship titles in 2012 and 2013 before returning to Cleveland to lead his team to the ultimate victory last night, June 19, coming back from 3-1, a feat never before seen in the NBA Finals. “Cleveland,” James screamed as tears of joy streamed down his face, “This is for you.”

In his first year as head coach, Tyronn Lue, 37, leads the Cleveland Cavaliers to the team's first NBA Championship.

In his first year as head coach, Tyronn Lue, 39, leads the Cleveland Cavaliers to the team’s first NBA Championship.

In life, we all face disappointments, uncertainty, betrayals and what appears to be insurmountable odds but the key to true success is an unwavering impetus to keep on pushing and fighting until the bitter end. Curry and the Warriors failed miserably in that regard, which, though unfortunate, provided a poignant lesson to all viewers of the game

 2.  Leaders Set An Example

Throughout the NBA regular season and Finals, it was evident that James was frustrated with his teammates when they failed to perform according to what was expected. In the past, he took out his frustration by posting cryptic messages on social media and demonstrating questionable body language.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 2016 NBA Champions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 2016 NBA Champions.

But when the team was in the 3-1 Finals hole, an epiphany occurred and the Cavaliers finally understood that they were in that hole together. Every member of the team stepped up and contributed with James, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Richard Jefferson and Kevin Love providing pivotal, albeit inconsistent and spirited, performances. Banding together, the Cavaliers erased all questions about their supremacy and created NBA history by becoming the first team to come back from a 3 game deficit to win the championship.

With first- time head coach Tyronn Lue at the helm, the team responded, came together and were victorious. Conversely, the Warriors fell apart, in more ways than one, with Draymond Green missing game five due to a suspension and Curry being ejected during game six. Meanwhile, coach Steve Kerr, basking in the glory of a team assembled by former Knick Mark Jackson, disappeared along with Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston and other usually productive players.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors failed to repeat as consecutive NBA Finals Champions as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers battled valiantly to the finish and emerged victorious.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors failed to repeat as consecutive NBA Finals Champions as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers battled valiantly to the finish and emerged victorious.

3.  Achieving Goals Require Grit and Focus

The Warriors got caught up in the hype after winning their first two games on home turf and stealing one in Cavaliers territory. They became complacent and sloppy, conducting themselves with a careless aura of arrogance that was shortsighted at best and immature at worst. Amid the theatrics, they forgot one important lesson: It takes single-minded focus and grit to achieve goals and you cannot rest until you taste victory.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, were steadfast in their goal of hoisting the NBA Championship trophy. They recovered swiftly from their mistakes and remained focused on the task at hand. They played with passion and purpose. The Cleveland Cavaliers deserved to win and the lessons that their championship run taught us can be applied to every life situation. Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers! Well done and thanks for the lessons!–OnPointPress.net–

 

 

Tributes follow death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali at 74

Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali, has died.

Legendary Boxer Muhammad Ali has died and across the globe fans are united in grief.

By Carmen Glover

Tributes have been pouring out in memory of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who succumbed to a lengthy, valiant, 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, after being hospitalized on May 30. Ali, who was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, died in a Scottsdale, Arizona, hospital at the age of 74, on Friday, June 3, 2016, surrounded by his family. Ali has been hospitalized numerous times in recent years due to his illness.

In a statement announcing the passing of the legend, family spokesman Bob Gunnell said: “After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali, at the age of 74, the three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening.” Gunnell  expressed thanks of the family’s behalf, for everyone’s thoughts, prayers and support, while requesting privacy.

muhammad-ali-2

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer instructed that “flags at all Metro Government facilities be lowered at half-staff at 10:00 a.m.” In a ceremony held at the city’s Metro Hall on Saturday morning, Fischer said that flags will remain lowered until the boxing icon’s burial. In a statement Fischer said:

“The values of hard work, conviction and compassion that Muhammad Ali developed while growing up in Louisville helped him become a global icon. As a boxer, he became ‘The Greatest,’ though his most lasting victories happened outside the ring. Muhammad leveraged his fame as a platform to promote peace, justice and humanitarian efforts around the world, while always keeping strong ties to his hometown. Today, Muhammad Ali’s fellow Louisvillians join the billions whose lives he touched worldwide in mourning his passing, celebrating his legacy, and committing to continue his fight to spread love and hope.”

Muhammad Ali Center, located in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky, has seen fans arriving in droves to pay their respects to the boxing legend.

Muhammad Ali Center, located in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky, has seen fans arriving in droves to pay their respects to the boxing legend.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama issued a statement, saying, in part: “Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him…Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.”

Muhammad Ali embraces one of his daughters, Laila, who followed her father's footsteps in the boxing ring.

Muhammad Ali embraces one of his daughters, Laila, who followed her father’s footsteps in the boxing ring.

George Foreman, 67, who battled Ali in the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle, in expressing his sense of loss via Twitter said, “A part of me slipped away, the greatest piece.” In 1960, Ali won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome. Several years later, at the young age of 22, he unseated heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Center. Ali went on to defeat other opponents including Foreman and Joe Frazier during a dazzling career that was punctuated by highs and lows.

Ali, who dominated the world stage during his prime for his boxing prowess, charisma, bold boasts, joined the Nation of Islam and refused to fight in the Vietnam War due to his faith. His principled stand earned him a ban for several years until the Supreme Court upheld his position. Ali, in later years became an engaging humanitarian who was committed to the common good. He was fond of stating the he was  “The Greatest,” and popularized phrases such as “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” to describe his boxing style. His legendary boxing career was replete with excitement and catchy phrases such as the “Thrilla in Manila,” and countless others, which can fill volumes.

Muhammad Ali, accompanied by his wife, Lonnie, being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Former President George W. Bush.

Muhammad Ali, accompanied by his wife, Yolanda (Lonnie) Williams, being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Former President George W. Bush.

Ali was married several times and fathered many children. His daughter, Laila, followed his path and became an intimidating boxer as well.

Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom,by President George W. Bush, in 2005. The award is the highest honor that can be given to a U.S. civilian. His Louisville hometown also houses  the Muhammad Ali Center, which highlights his life, ideals and legacy. Fans have flocked to the center to pay their respects to an icon, who, for many, will always hold a special place in their hearts.

UNITED STATES - MARCH 02:  Cassius Marcellus Clay (Muhammad Ali) with Black Muslim leader Malcolm X at 125th St. and Seventh Ave.  (Photo by John Peodincuk/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – MARCH 02: Cassius Marcellus Clay (Muhammad Ali) with Black Muslim leader Malcolm X at 125th St. and Seventh Ave. (Photo by John Peodincuk/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Ali will be laid to rest next week, in a private ceremony on Thursday, June 9, followed by a public, inter-faith memorial on Friday, June 10, during which his body will be escorted through the city of Louisville in a procession that will go pass the center and travel down the street named after The Champ, so that fans can pay their respects. according to Gunnell.

Former President Bill Clinton, journalist Bryant Gumbel and actor Billy Crystal and former Senator Orrin Hatch, will deliver eulogies. The memorial will be led by a Muslim Iman and streamed live online via themuhammadcenter.org. In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged in honor of the center.–OnPointPress.net–

 

 

 

Expect a thrilling NBA Finals series

Golden State Warriors' leader Stephen Curry has exemplified grace under pressure.

Golden State Warriors’ leader Stephen Curry has exemplified grace under pressure.

By Carmen Glover

When the NBA Finals series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors begins on Thursday, June 2, excitement will color the mood of the players and fans from the tip-off because both teams have something to prove.

LeBron James took his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he intends to win not one, not two, but several chamionships.

LeBron James took his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he intends to win not one, not two, but several championships.

The Warriors aim to demonstrate convincingly that their impressive, 73-game, history making, regular season numbers, and back-from-the-brink second round match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder were not anomalies. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers intend to do everything possible from preventing the Warriors from defending their title as champions.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (2) and LeBron James (23) celebrate the team's victory.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (2) and LeBron James (23) celebrate one of the team’s many victories.

In every respect, the NBA Finals series will be rich with high emotions, intense plays, edge-of-the seat drama and palpable, raw, unchecked girt. This is what the playoffs are made of, a fierce battle between competitive, evenly matched teams. After several days of relaxation from their series with the Toronto Raptors, LeBron James, Kyrie  Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the Cavaliers squad are rearing to take the fight to the Warriors, especially since James made it very clear during the regular season that he was unimpressed with Stephen Curry being named the MVP.

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their trip to the NBA Finals.

Klay Thompson (11) and Draymond Green (center) joyously celebrate The Golden State Warriors’ second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

Stoic and seemingly unswayed by James’ views, the understated Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of the Warriors team have proven that they are scrappy, focused and driven to succeed. Let the games begin!–OnPointPress.net–

 

Warriors aim to repeat as NBA Champions

After a close MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear frontrunners to win the award.

James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) will continue their rivalry during the post season with game two tonight.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Golden State Warriors, toast of the NBA during the regular season, entered the post-season on a good note. The Warriors beat last season’s Western Conference opponents, the Houston Rockets, in their game opener with their star, Steph Curry, scoring 24 points before leaving the game due to a recurring ankle injury.

The Warriors started the regular season with 24 straight wins, a record in the NBA. They capped their historic season with 73 wins, setting a new record for wins in the regular season by winning one more than the Chicago Bulls in their 1990s heyday.  Anything short of an NBA title will be a major disappointment for the Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their trip to the NBA Finals.

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their trip to the NBA Finals in 2015.

Curry, last season’s regular season MVP, was better this year despite head coach Steve Kerr missing the first half of the season recovering from back surgery. Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and others are performing well. Overall, the team played all season with a heightened level of confidence earned by winning it all last season.

This year the Warriors lost only once to a team (San Antonio Spurs) that finished in the top four in their conference. They finished second to the Spurs for the best home record in the NBA with 39 wins and just 2 losses. There is no question they are the overwhelming favorite to win the title this year.

Stephen Curry and the top seeded Golden State Warriors now know their opponent in the Western Conference Finals. Now the MVP must play at a high level to get his team to the NBA Finals.

Stephen Curry and the top seeded Golden State Warriors  are focused on repeating as NBA champions this year.

Essentially, there are no excuses for the Warriors to lose in the playoffs. Curry proved on Saturday that he could deliver results despite his ankle Injury and the same dedication is expected of his team mates. Last season, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals minus two of his best teammates for a significant portion of the playoffs as Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving both endured serious injury during the playoffs.

Fatigue cannot be used as an excuse as the bulk of the Warriors team is in their physical prime. The Warriors they have rested players at various junctions throughout the season. They have defeated all competitors this season and there is no reason not to expect a dominant post-season performance from the defending champions. That is what an all-time great team is expected to do.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Kobe Bryant, the ultimate perimeter player, signs off

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Kobe Bryant played the last game of his 20-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers amid much fanfare on Wednesday, April 13. Bryant dazzled fans, scoring 60 points as the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in the season finale, capping a farewell tour for Bryant that started once he made it clear he was retiring at the end of this season.

"Penny" Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan's departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

“Penny” Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan’s departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

While not accurate, it is often said that Michael Jordan passed the proverbial torch to Bryant.

The similarities between Bryant and Jordan are easy to see. Both are similar in height, position played, disposition on the court, and team success.

However, many forget that there were two superstars who were poised to follow in Jordan’s footsteps but suffered career altering injuries: Anfernee (Penny) Hardaway, and Grant Hill. Both superstars were similar to Bryant early in their careers because they had charisma, exciting talent and marketing appeal.

On the strength of two championships at Duke university, Hill emerged quickly as a superstar leading all NBA All-Star Game players in fan voting in his rookie season and soon afterwards leading the Detroit Pistons to multiple playoff appearances. Hill was a dynamic player with excellent scoring and play-making ability.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

Hardaway also had quick success, helping to lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 with Shaquille O’neal. Hardaway and Hill had huge endorsement deals and were well positioned to be pre-eminent perimeter players in the NBA upon Jordan’s second retirement in 1999.

Other perimeter player contemporaries of Bryant who entered the NBA during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s include Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen.

All of these players helped lead their teams in different ways, while displaying entertaining and captivating styles of play. All of these players were also major faces in advertising, which assisted in bringing extra attention to the NBA internationally.

(I - r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

(I – r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

Bryant might have the highest international profile of all of the previous mentioned players, except Jordan, and his battles with those players helped pave the way for the current wave of perimeter All Stars. Bryant’s 20 year career has allowed him to compete with players already in the basketball Hall of Fame as well as number of players likely to land there as well.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James headline a long list of perimeter players that have carried the torch of exciting the fans and helping fans fill the impending the void created upon Bryant’s retirement.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

As Bryant retires, perimeter play is on the uptick in the NBA. The last several regular season and NBA Finals MVP have been perimeter players. Bryant reminded all spectators that current NBA fans enjoy seeing their perimeter stars score in bundles as he scored the most points by a player this season in his final game. A great ending to an even greater career.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Congrats to Allen Iverson on Hall of Fame induction

Allen Iverson is one of the 10 selected to the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Allen Iverson is one of the 10 selected to the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Allen Iverson (A.I.) was one of 10 people selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today. Other notables include Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes,Tom Izzo, Jerry Reinsdorf and Shaquille O’neal. All are very deserving but none captured the hearts of the masses like Iverson.

LeBron James was asked about the basketball phenomenon ahead of Iverson’s retirement ceremony in Philadelphia in 2013 and had this to say:

AI“They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all. A.I. was like my second-favorite player growing up, after [Michael Jordan] MJ.”

It is clear that Iverson is revered by fans and former colleagues. Comments from some of today’s best players confirm the respect he has earned. Dwyane Wade added these comments recently:

Iverson has received a great deal of praise from many who appreciated the way he played the game.

Iverson has received a great deal of praise from many who appreciated the way he played the game.

“My favorite moment is getting a chance to play against him for the first time in preseason, it was in Puerto Rico. I got a chance to be around him the night before and it was a cool experience for me. I got a chance to play with him in the Olympics after my rookie year. I got to be around him as well. He’s just a real cool guy, someone who came in and just loved the game of basketball, gave everything he had to it.”

Iverson was a personal favorite going back to his days as a member of the Georgetown Hoyas and has been as influential off the court as he was on the court. Iverson’s Reebok sneaker line has been one of the most successful of all time. Congratulations to all of the Hall of Fame inductees, especially Allen Iverson.–OnPointPress.net–