NBA Toasts To Multi-Year Partnership With Hennessy

Hennessy: For The Culture Launches At Somerset House

Source: David M. Benett / Getty


As the NBA preps for All-Star weekend –one of the league’s most exciting events– a new spirits partner has been announced.

That means Hennessy x NBA is officially a thing.

“Hennessy, the world’s best-selling Cognac, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced a multiyear partnership that makes Hennessy the Official Spirit of the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and USA Basketball. For more than 250 years, Hennessy has celebrated those who push the limits of potential through it’s ‘Never stop. Never settle.’ ethos and will continue this tradition by celebrating the spirit of the NBA,” states a press release.

The two powerhouses plan to kick off the partnership during the 2020 NBA All-Star game in Chicago, where the famous cognac will serve as an “associate partner” of the NBA Celebrity Game.

“Our partnership with Hennessy provides an exciting opportunity to reach and engage with a broader segment of basketball fans around the NBA’s marquee moments. As the iconic brand continues to expand its business in sports marketing, we look forward to creating elevated experiences and unique initiatives that celebrate the game of basketball, ”said Dan Rossomondo, NBA Senior Vice President, Media and Business Development on his excitement of the partnership.

NBA Hennessy Partnership

Source: Courtesy Of Hennessy / Hennessy


As the highest vote-getters in their respective conferences, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James have been named team captains for the second year in a row. This marks James’ 16th All-Star selection, the only players with more are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 19 and Kobe Bryant‘s 18.

NBA fans are already critiquing the teams Giannis and LeBron have put together, because the King’s squad looks straight-up dangerous as it includes Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard.  The Greek Freak’s starting five includes Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker, Trae Young.

The All-Star events kick off February 14, so in just a few days we’ll see who earns bragging rights and watch the fruitful partnership between Hennessy and the NBA begin.

 

Say Word? : Jay Electronica Says His Debut Album Is Done & Will Arrive In March

Jay Electronica Says His Debut Album Is Finally Done & Drops In "40 Days"

Source: Johnny Nunez / Getty


He’s either trolling, or he’s dead serious, Hip-Hop fans are hoping the latter. Jay Electronica, who has been teasing us for what seems like forever with his debut album, finally gave us an update on his project, and it’s coming sooner than later.

The “Exhibit C” rapper took to Twitter to drop the Hip-Hop equivalent of “Woj Bombs,” revealing that his long-awaited album arrives next month. In a series of Tweets posted on Thursday (Feb.6), the New Orleans native posted that his “album is done” and that he “Recorded over 40 days and 40 nights, starting from Dec 26.”

https://twitter.com/JayElectronica/status/1225645387681107968?s=20

https://twitter.com/JayElectronica/status/1225645886702665728?s=20

He further hyped the masses by tweeting “A Written Testimony,” which could possibly be the name of this “complete album.” He even teased that it will have a JAY-Z feature stating, “…my debut album featuring Hov man this is highway robbery.”

https://twitter.com/JayElectronica/status/1225646246666223618?s=20

https://twitter.com/JayElectronica/status/1225645641268785155?s=20

As expected, fans were finding it hard to believe what was coming from his thumbs because they have been waiting for this project for over a decade. But if they need any reassurance that Electronica is really dropping this project, there were cosigns from Just Blaze and Young Guru. Hov, who barely tweets, even opened up his Twitter account and liked every single one of Jay Electronica’s tweets.

https://twitter.com/Young_Guru/status/1225648165216370690?s=20

We’re gonna toss our hats in the skeptical bin for now, but hey crazier things have happened. This is the closest we have ever been to having an actual Jay Electronica album. We have gotten samples here and there thanks to his features on other artists’ tracks, but to finally have a full body of work from Electronica would be amazing.  Keep your fingers crossed on this one.

Photo: Johnny Nunez / Getty

Hilarious Fashion Banter Between NBA Stars Serge Ibaka & OG Anunoby Sparks “Scarf Off” Battle

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers

Source: Jason Miller / Getty


NBA players are not only fierce competitors on the court but off the court as well, particularly when it comes to their drip.

 

Case in point, Serge Ibaka, who is no slouch when it comes to fashion and his fellow Raptors’ teammate OG Anunoby. During a recent episode of  Uninterrupted’s show AVEC CLASSE, Ibaka and Anunoby hilariously went back and forth after the third-year player had the cojones to say he influenced Serge’s style.

In the clip which has gone viral, the 22-year-old Anunoby runs down different fashion trends he claims he put 30-year-old Ibaka onto. Of course, Serge swatted every notion like an attempt at the rim during an NBA game leading OG to shift the focus on one last garment… scarves.

The back and forth between the two Raptors teammates is absolutely legendary in which we were gifted with a quotable that will live forever from Ibaka, “I don’t dress, OG. I do art, bro!”

If you thought the discussion about scarves would stop there, you were mistaken. The debate sparked a pre-game battle between the two fashionistas. Ahead of their game with the Indiana Pacers, OG showed up with a Burberry scarf wrapped around his head, thinking he shut the discussion down.

Cute. Serge Ibaka took it to another level, basically rocking a scarf equivalent to a hand-knitted blanket, and he wore it quite well might we add.

Well played Serge, well played. Ibaka definitely won the #Scaroff battle between himself and OG, but we all know who is the real king of scarves and might have something to say about this competition, and that person is Lenny Kravitz. #Neverforget

We sincerely hope this fashion competition between Serge & OG is a thing all season long because it’s highly entertaining. The Toronto Raptors are currently on a 12-game winning streak, a franchise-best. You can watch Annoby challenge Ibaka for the fashion crown in its entirety below.

Photo: Jason Miller / Getty

Dwight Howard Reveals Kobe Bryant Was Going To Join Him At This Year’s Slam Dunk Contest

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

Source: Harry How / Getty


It’s been 8 days since the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers, and there are still players opening up about the Lakers legend. Dwight Howard is the latest to speak on the death of the 41-year-old five-time NBA champion.

Howard will be one of the players participating in this year’s slam dunk contest when NBA All-Star Weekend returns to Chicago. Speaking with the media following the Lakers 129-102 victory over the Spurs, Dwight Howard revealed that Kobe Bryant was going to join him on the court in some fashion during the contest ESPN’s NBA reporter shared in a tweet.

“Dwight Howard says prior to the accident he got word that Kobe Bryant was indeed going to come to Chicago to join him in the dunk contest to help him on a dunk. Dwight says it’s “heartbreaking” that he never got the chance to tell him how much he appreciated him.”

Howard further revealed  that it (Bryant’s death) “still hurts,” and there were nights he “cries himself to sleep.” Howard added that he regrets he didn’t get a chance to tell how “appreciative” he was of their time together.

Howard and Bryant were teammates during Dwight’s first stint with the Lakers during the 2012-13 NBA season. A 38-year-old Steve Nash was also on that squad who, on paper, were favorites to win the NBA championship that year. But the experiment failed almost immediately. Nash was a shell of his former MVP self and never recovered from an injury he suffered in the second game. Dwight was just coming off back surgery and was not the dominant force he once was and eventually ended up leaving and signing with the Houston Rockets.

It was no secret Kobe didn’t think highly of Howard and infamously called the Rockets center at the time “soft” and daring the center by telling him, “try me.”

It’s clear that a conversation between the two did take place with them probably squashing their “beef.” But based on Howard’s statement, they didn’t talk a lot, being that he still has some regrets, and now we are left wondering what could have been.

Howard is currently enjoying a resurgent career during his second run with these current Los Angeles Lakers and is one of the team’s vital bench players. You can watch Dwight try to reclaim his crown when  NBA All-Star Weekend returns and will run from Friday, Feb. 14, to Sunday, Feb. 16, at Chicago’s United Center. Bryant will be honored during the weekend, primarily during the All-Star game.

Photo: Harry How / Getty

Pay It Forward: Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Nnadi Pays Adoption Fees For More Than 100 Dogs After Super Bowl Win

Kansas City Chiefs' Derrick Nnadi Pays Over 100 Dogs Adoption Fees

Source: Icon Sportswire / Getty


Second-year player Derrick Nnadi is not only a champion in the eyes of Kansas City Chiefs fans, but also more than 100 dogs as well. After the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV, Nnadi announced he would pay the fees for the canines giving them the chance to land in a caring home.

Following making confetti angels, Nnadi broke the news to CNN that he paid off the adoption fees at a local Kansas City, Missouri (someone should show that to Trump on a map) shelter, KC Pet Project. This isn’t the first time he has helped out the shelter either; in fact, he has been doing it all season long. For each of the Chiefs 15 victories this past season, he paid a dog’s roughly $150 adoption fee through his Derrick Nnadi foundation.

Thanks to his tremendous generosity, any pooch at the shelter that became available for February 2 will qualify to have their fee waived.

Speaking with CNN, the 23-year-old spoke on his Super Bowl win stating, “I’ve never been a champion before. All the years of me playing football, that first time honestly feels like the best day of my life.” He also revealed that he wasn’t able to have pets growing up as a child.

“When I first got him, he was very timid,” Nnadi said. “It made me think of how other animals, whether they’re owned or in a shelter, are feeling scared and alone.”

Speaking on Nnadi’s donation which he described as “incredible,” KC Pet Project’s chief communications officer, Tori Fugate added:

“More than 100 available dogs in our care will have their adoption fees sponsored starting today.” 

Well done, Derrick, well done.

Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty

LeBron James & The Los Angeles Lakers Pay Homage To Kobe Bryant In Touching Tribute: “Live On, Brother”

Lebron James Speaks On Kobe Bryant

Source: (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) / (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


For the first time since Kobe Bryant‘s death, the Los Angeles Lakers took the court at Staples Center with heavy hearts.

Before the game and any tribute began, the arena was overwhelmed with the sound of Bryant’s voice backed “Hallelujah” intrumentals.

“Once upon a time, there was a young basketball player who had dreams of becoming one of the greatest basketball players of all time,” Bryant said at the beginning of a moving montage of his words, and ended things with those famous two words he uttered at the end of his last game: ‘Mamba out!’”

The tribute began with the Lakers 24.2-second silence to honor Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, known as “Gigi,” and seven others who died when the helicopter he had chartered that crashed Sunday. The length of the silence represented one of Bryant’s two Lakers uniform number, 24, and Gigi’s youth basketball number, 2.

The homage continued as Carmelo Anthony, who’s on the opposing Trailblazers decided to sit out, reportedly still too emotional after the legend’s death. Usher even took to the court to perform “Amazing Grace” as a light was dimly lit on Kobe’s two retired numbers in the rafters.

But the gravity of the moment really hit when the current leader of the Lakers, LeBron James, took to the floor to speak his piece, tossing away the prepped notes he had in hand.

“I’m going to go straight from the heart,” he said to applause. “We’re all grieving, we’re all hurt, we’re all heartbroken.”

“Everybody that’s here this is really truly, truly a family, and I know Kobe and Gianna and Vanessa and everybody thanks you guys from the bottom of their heart as Kobe said,” James told the crowd. “Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years, man.”

“So, in the words of Kobe Bryant: ‘Mamba Out,’ but in the words of us: ‘Not forgotten.’ Live on, brother.”

The Lakers would go on to lose the contest 127-119 to the Trail Blazers, but as we all the know, the night had a much bigger purpose.

Antonio Brown’s Redemption Tour Begins As He Opens Up About His Mistakes: “I Think I Owe The Whole NFL An Apology”

Antonio Brown As A Raider

Source: Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images / Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images


We’re less than a day away from Super Bowl LIV, and one of the season’s most interesting narratives has nothing to do with San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs— but it’s got a lot to do with Antonio Brown.

The disgraced wide receiver had ups and plenty downs this season and decided to speak with ESPN‘s Josina Anderson in an attempt to open up about what he’s been going through.

Anderson began by asking Brown if he feels like he owes anyone in the league an apology and he answered honestly.

“I think I owe the whole NFL an apology and my past behavior,” Brown said. “I think I could have done a lot of things better.”

A narrative that may explain his recent behavior is his mental health, which is something else that he addressed.

“We all need mental help,” Brown said, via ESPN. “From our friends, from the people we hang around, from the people we consult with every day. Yeah, we need mental help.

“I’m like an animal in a cage. Everyone just talks about me. I can’t go out my house in the private. Everything I do is in the face of people, face of someone talking, someone making an assumption about me.”

CTE has also been a huge narrative in the league as of late, especially with the airing of Netflix’s Aaron Hernandez doc that blames a huge part of his actions on the brain disease. But Brown doesn’t thing he’s got brain disease that’s destroyed some of the NFL’s best.

“Nah,” he told Anderson in the video by ESPN, “if I had CTE I wouldn’t be able to have this beautiful gym, I wouldn’t be able to be creative. I wouldn’t be able to communicate.”

“I’m perfectly fine. I didn’t take that many big hits. I had like one big hit in 10 years,” he added. Anybody who plays this game, they’re going to get hit hard.

“He didn’t hit me that hard. You know, I got up and walked off the field. We won the game. I was all right. You play the game long enough, everyone get hit hard.”

Brown is also facing several sexual misconduct allegations, all of which he denied to Anderson, adding  he “can’t speak on it” and the courts will handle it.

Watch the rest of Antonio Brown’s 34-minute interview up top.

Moving On?: Tom Brady’s Cryptic Instagram Post Has Everyone Freaking Out

Tom Brady's Cryptic Instagram Post Has NFL Fans Freaking Out

Source: Maddie Meyer / Getty


Super Bowl LIV is literally two days away, but instead of NFL fans focusing on the big game, they are talking about Tom Brady.

 

Brady’s future is currently up in limbo following the team who seemed to be in the big game every year getting ran over by Derrick Henry in the Tennessee Titans in the NFL’s AFC Wild Card playoff game. All season long, rumors have been swirling that this run as a member of the Patriots could have been Brady’s last. Now a recent Instagram post has fans freaking out and wondering if indeed Brady is done in New England.

In the photo shared to his 7.1 million followers, it’s a silhouette of the Brady at the end of tunnel walking out or into Gillette Stadium. There is no caption for the post, so everyone is assuming what could TB possibly be hinting at.

In the comments we see Michael Strahan saying “Do you my man! Your life to live and your decisions to live with! 🙌🏾👍🏾,” that could give some fans the impression that Brady is thinking about calling it a career. But we all know that isn’t the case cause Tom Terrific hinted at playing well into his 40s.

If you hit Twitter and type Tom Brady in the search bar you will see nothing but speculation with fans trying to decipher what Brady was trying to accomplish with the cryptic post. Here are two different interpretations:

One fan did some serious detective work.

Shannon Sharpe believes Brady is just being selfish and is “hijacking a moment.”

Could he be walking out of Gillette Stadium for good and on his way to Miami?

ESPN’s NFL insider, Adam Schefter is reporting the picture has nothing to do with Brady’s future at all, but he is enjoying the speculation that has come from it.

Well, it looks like we are going to have to wait and see, it could just be Tom posting a cool photo of himself, and we are just doing the most. One thing is sure, New England Patriots are definitely on edge waiting to learn TB 12’s playing future.

Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty

Mamba Mentality: LeBron James Gets New Tattoo In Honor Of Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers

Source: Diamond Images / Getty


The news of Kobe Bryant’s death has put the NBA in a bit of a haze, with touching tributes and changed All-Star rules.

But now, after the league decided to cancel the Los Angeles Lakers vs Los Angeles Clippers game a few days ago, the Lakers are finally getting back to it as the team is hosting the Portland Trailblazers tonight. But as the team was practicing in recent days, it looks like LeBron James got some new ink in honor of the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant. Bron later revealed on Instagram that he hit up California-based tattoo artist Vanessa Aurelia for some new ink on his left thigh, by posting a video.

 

Though it’s tough to see, the fresh ink appears to be a Black Mamba with a crown on it with text under it that reads “Mamba 4 Life.” The snake is, of course, Bryant’s logo and the crown is synonymous with King James’ brand.

James still hasn’t made a public statement to the media, other than the heartfelt message he recently posted on Instagram saying, “I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!”

Bryant’s death has come amid an exciting time for the Lakers, who have missed a franchise-record six playoffs in the row. But now, with LeBron at the helm and Anthony Davis playing some of his best basketball in years, the duo look to take the Lakers back to their glorious heights that Kobe was once responsible for.

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NBA Announces Major Change To 2020 All-Star Game To Honor Kobe Bryant

NBA All-Star Game 2013

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty


Today the NBA announced there will be a new format for this year’s All-Star Game. The changes are hoping to increase the competition and add incentives for all involved through the entirety of the game. It also aims to add incentives via charitable donations, provide a little extra excitement at the end of the fourth quarter, and honor Kobe Bryant.

Both All-Star teams will choose various Chicago-based community organizations as selected by team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The different community organizations selected will receive $100,000 if their team wins the quarter, this will be the case for each of the first three quarters.

The fourth quarter is going to be a little different.

The winner of the All-Star game will be determined by taking the cumulative score of the first three-quarters of the highest-scoring team, adding 24 and playing to that final score. The number 24 has been chosen because it Kobe Bryant’s number, who tragically passed away after the helicopter he was taking to a basketball game crashed in Calabasas.

The NBA provided the following example: if the cumulative score at the end of the first three quarters is 100-95 the Final Target Score will be set at 124 points. To win the game the team with 100 points would need to score 24 points to get to 124 and the team with 95 points will need to score 29 points to get to 124. The first team there, wins.

The team that wins the game will receive $200,000 towards the organization of their choosing.

This NBA All-Star weekend will see more than $1 million donated to local non-profit organizations in the Chicago area through NBA Cares outreach efforts.

The NBA said there will be multiple tributes to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and the seven others who lost their lives in Sunday’s helicopter crash throughout All-Star weekend.

“We spent a lot of time considering the right target number to use for the fourth quarter,” said Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president for league operations. “Through the events of this week it became clear to us that the only appropriate number for this season’s All-Star game is 24.”

The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, February 16 at the United Center in Chicago and will start at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

 

Lakers Owner Jeanie Buss Break Silence On Kobe Bryant Death: “My father loved you like a son”

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game

Source: Allen Berezovsky / Getty


Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, who was close to Kobe Bryant during his illustrious career in LA, has publicly reacted to the superstar’s tragic death.

Buss took to Instagram with a heartfelt message, alongside a picture of the entire family smiling with Buss in the background, calling him a member of the family and how her father looked at Bryant as if he was his own son.

“Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers. My father loved you like a son, which makes us family. When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men. At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality—and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing—what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often and it makes me smile and it makes me strong. I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage.

Buss went on to discuss the other huge lose in the Bryant family– Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter who was also in the helicopter when it crashed in Calabasas early Sunday.

“For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination.

A few days ago news broke that Buss and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka traveled to the Bryant’s Orange County home to be with Kobe’s wife Vanessa. So in her Instagram caption, Buss made sure to take time to tell Vanessa that she’ll always be around if needed.

“Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri—I am so sorry for your loss. We are grateful to have you in our lives and we will always be here for you. To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you. Laker Nation—we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly. We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you.”

Marcus Morris Apologizes For “Female Tendencies” Comment After Knicks-Grizzlies Fight

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

Source: Scott Taetsch / Getty


The New York Knicks have had a terrible season that’s led to head coach David Fizdale‘s firing, and now things are getting worse because of comments Marcus Morris made in the heat of the moment.

It all started January 29 in Madison Square Garden– the world’s most famous arena– when the Knicks were down 18  points with less than a minute left in regulation time.  After the Memphis Grizzlies made a three, the Knicks were inbounding the ball when Jae Crowder stole the pass and ran behind the arc to take a three and upon landing Elfrid Payton shoved him to the ground, because of the unwritten rule to not run up the score when a winner has already been decided.

That led to players from both teams running from their respective benches to see what the altercation was about and to support their teammates. Amid the tussle, Knick tough guy Marcus Morris shoved Ja Morrant who decided not to engage.

After the game, Morris addressed the issue, taking aim at Crowder’s decision to steal the ball and take a three.

“He play the game in a different way. He’s got a lot of female tendencies on the court, flopping and throwing his head back. It’s a man’s game and you just get tired of it,” Morris said of Crowder. “At the end that was very unprofessional. They’re winning the game, that’s a good team. You know, he does stuff like that. It’s soft. His game is soft. He’s soft. It’s how he carries himself, it’s just very woman-like.”

Morris’ “female tendencies” comment angered Twitter and prompted him to tweet out an apology.

“I apologize for using the term ‘female tendencies’ I have the upmost respect for women and everything they mean to us,” he tweeted. “It was a heat of the moment response and I never intended for any women to feel as though in anyway I’m disrespecting them. Again I apologize with my comments,” he wrote.

Ara Zobayan, Pilot For Kobe Bryant, Also Flew For Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard leaving the court

Source: (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) / (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)


Ara Zobayan was the pilot of the helicopter that Kobe Bryant, his daughter and six others were in when it crashed into the side of a hill, taking all nine lives.

We are starting to learn more about Zobayan, he was a very experienced pilot with over 8,000 hours of flight time and he was also a pilot for Kawhi Leonard whenever he would take helicopters. So Kobe had all the reason in the world to trust Ara and his flight expertise.

Chris Hayes of Yahoo Sports is the one who reported it.

“Kawhi Leonard actually had the same pilot as Kobe Bryant. Ara Zobayan. That was Kawhi Leonard’s pilot as well.”

Along with flying Kobe and Kawhi, Ara Zobayan has been linked to flying other high-profile celebrities like Kylie Jenner.

Yesterday, it was reported that the LA Coroner has officially confirmed the deaths of Kobe Bryant, along with three of the other passengers on the plane, John Altobelli, Sarah Chester and the pilot Ara Zobayan.

The other bodies on the helicopter have all been recovered and are currently working to be identified.

The National Transportation Safety Board also released a statement yesterday confirming that the helicopter was in once piece as it impacted the terrain. NTSB  is currently investigating the crash and will be releasing details as they become apparent.

Beyond Ballin’: Dallas Cowboy Jaylon Smith Talks Football, Overcoming Injuries, & His Minority Entrepreneurship Institute

Jaylon Smith

Source: Courtesy Of Aaron Zack, Revolving Mind Media / Courtesy of Revolving Mind Media


Football is a tough sport.

But figuring out what you’d like to do after your body can no longer keep up with the passion, is arguably even more mind-boggling. Some players lose their sports identity after retirement and are bewildered on the next steps, others enjoy the riches they earned, and some plant the seeds for the next phase while still playing. Enter Jaylon Smith. The 24-year-old football player was drafted out of Notre Dame in 2016 by the Dallas Cowboys with their 34th pick in the second round. Since being drafted nearly 5 years ago, he’s proved to be a great addition to the defensive line– so much so that he was selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl. And beyond the turf, he’s doing big things too. In 2018 he founded the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute which aims to “connecting impact investors to quality & meaningful minority-owned investment opportunities.” CASSIUS got a chance to chop it up with Smith about his ambitions off the field and how he knew what his second chapter would shape up to be.

Welcome to Beyond Ballin’.

Jaylon Smith

Source: Courtesy Of Aaron Zack, Revolving Mind Media / Courtesy of Revolving Mind Media


CASSIUS: When did you realize you wanted to be a football player?

Jaylon Smith: I have always aspired to be a football player from the time I was little.

C: Though you’re only a few years into your career have you had that moment where you realized there is a life after football?

JS: Yes, it is important to understand that football is not going to last forever. That’s why it is important to create generational wealth and have an entrepreneurial mindset.

C: Were there any athletes who inspired you to evolve into having interests outside of football? Inspiration like what Forbes8 is doing with its on-demand content for entrepreneurs?

JS: LeBron James. I’d love to see more entrepreneurial resources, like Forbes8, for those who want to build their skillset and learn from those who have “been there, done that.”

C: Did you deal with any self-doubt in stepping outside of the football world?

JS: With my Clear Eye View I have been able to find my passions and what my strengths are off the football field, which has given me an edge to be successful in that realm.

C: Tell us about the Minority Entrepreneurship Institution? What led to you founding it?

JS: My passion to always want to be an entrepreneur. I recognize the economical and educational gap between white America and minorities. They are lacking access to become successful entrepreneurs, so I started MEI to close the gap. 

Jaylon Smith

Source: Courtesy Of Aaron Zack, Revolving Mind Media / Courtesy of Revolving Mind Media


C: It’s one thing to get the money, it’s another trying to keep it and grow your wealth. Is financial literacy a part of the institution?

JS: We provide them with the financial funding, mentorship and strategic planning. It is hard for minorities to go out and get a loan from the bank and then pay the interest back on these loans. Lacking the access and the business experience to really know how to run a company, so with MEI we have put in place committee and experts to help field their guidelines and their needs. The mentorship is huge to help them understand how to run a company and how to build their infrastructure. From a financial funding statement, allowing them to get a loan and get capital funds to take it to the next level.  

C: Is this a sneak peek at what you plan on doing after you retire?

JS: Yes, as mentioned, I am an entrepreneur at heart, and closing the economical and educational gap is a passion for me.

Jaylon Smith

Source: Courtesy Of Aaron Zack, Revolving Mind Media / Courtesy of Revolving Mind Media


C: How do you see the agency growing over the next decade?

JS: This is only the beginning, we have so much to look forward to. The possibilities are endless!

C: As a film and television major at Notre Dame, have you given any thought to tackling that after football? And why was it so important for you to go back and get your degree?

JS: Getting my degree was so important because there are many things that I want to accomplish after my football career is over, and having my degree will definitely help get me there.

C: What would you say to another young Black kid trying to enter the NFL despite setbacks, like you did when tearing your ACL and MCL?

JS: Find your Clear Eye View. Focused vision, determined belief and earned dreams. It really helps me see clearly and know what I want to accomplish to walk in the path that God has created for me. Earned Dreams is putting in that work and labor to get to where I want to go. Live by his Clear Eye View every day and everyone should have their own Clear Eye View.

Kanye West Honors Kobe Bryant At Midnight Sunday Service Alongside Kirk Franklin

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game

Source: Noel Vasquez / Getty


Rappers and athletes are often synonymous with each other. Both often come up from hard times and achieve insane amounts of success at very young ages and spend many of their formative years trying to adjust.

So it makes sense that the death of Kobe Bryant has hit rapper Kanye West pretty hard. West has taken a break from his usual raps and has been expressing himself through his Sunday Service’s as of late, so he decided to dedicate one to the Laker Legend by holding a Midnight Sunday Service on Sunday evening.

Snippets of the event have since hit social media and revealed that West spoke about the moment he found out about Bryant’s death.

“When I was driving home, they was pinning your jersey on the freeway and I just broke down,” West sings.

The event took place in Burbank, California with Chance The Rapper and Kirk Franklin also in attendance. Franklin spoke of loss and confusion.

“Why do bad things happen to good people?” mused Franklin at one point while Chance The Rapper rapped his “Ultralight Beam” verse.

Ye even took to Instagram to reveal how distraught he was alongside an old photo of the two in the studio when he was recording his hit song “Power.”

“Kobe, We love you brother,” West wrote in a post dedicated to Bryant. “We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspiration you gave.”

 

On Sunday, January 26 the world learned that while on the way to a basketball game, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were killed after the helicopter they were riding in crashed in Calabasas.  Bryant is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Mamba, Out: Remembering Kobe Bryant’s Poignant Last NBA Game

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

Source: Harry How / Getty


Back on April 13th, 2016, I was a young faced 21-year-old college student. I was preparing to watch Kobe Bryant‘s final game in the NBA. I was totally unprepared, like many, for what I was about to witness.

Kobe proceeded to drop 60 points in his final NBA game, his final game in a Los Angeles Laker uniform and his final time playing in the Staples Center.

As a kid from Philly and a Kobe stan, I was moved to emotions that night. I was motivated to write about what I had seen and how I was feeling about my favorite player going out the way he did– like a King.

It was a night basketball fans could only dream of. A night that will live on in basketball history forever. A night where one of the most meaningful, yet meaningless games ever took place and stole the attention from a record-breaking game that is unlikely to be duplicated again for a long time. A day nationally recognized by individuals all over as Mamba Day.

April 13, 2016.

It was glorified on Snapchat and even had its own filter. Kobe Bean Bryant’s last game in the NBA. Some will remember that day as the day we saw one of the greatest basketball players to grace this earth finish his historic career in a way only he could– scoring 60 points and willing his team to a 101-96 victory, but in the process throwing up a staggering 50 shots; but that’s not the point.

Honestly, if Kobe would have shot the ball 100 times there is not one single person that filled the seats of the Staples Center or watched on TV that would have complained. In a career where oftentimes people brutally critiqued Kobe for not passing, here we were on this night begging Kobe not to pass, begging to see Kobe put up shot after shot, hoping that one of the greatest would go out on top and that’s exactly what he did. As the game got closer to the end and the Lakers hung around it seemed destined to happen. Kobe would return to vintage Kobe, #8 KobeKobe with the afro, or Kobe that scored 81 or Kobe that faced a 3-2 deficit against the Celtics on his way to his 5th title. The Kobe that poured every ounce of his being into the game of basketball, Kobe that literally played the game until his body literally could go no longer. Kobe is one of those players in sports you simply either, love or hate, maybe even one you love to hate, as signified by his “Conductor” commercial that comically pays homage to the Black Mamba, by all those who have fell victim to his wrath.

But on this night I don’t think there was one person Kobe fan, or Kobe hater, or anyone who was indifferent who was not hoping that the three he took off-balance from the left-wing with his team trailing by 2 didn’t go in. Watching this game, I found myself going absolutely crazy in the closing seconds. Kobe scored 7 straight points to give his team the victory in his final game. The atmosphere of this game was not that of two teams who were disqualified from playoff contention. This was an atmosphere of game seven of a Western Conference finals. This was an atmosphere only one of the greats in basketball history could replicate. Watching what happened on this night was so surreal. It probably has not hit a lot of people that Kobe Bean Bryant, a player who has revolutionized basketball and made so many spectacular plays over the last 20 seasons had played his last game in the NBA, and in his last game he scores over 50 points– just 21 short of his career-high 81.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

Source: Harry How / Getty


He scored 60 points in his final game of what is by far his worst season ever. A season so tumultuous and filled with the emotions of his “Farewell Tour” that it’s the only reason you can actually believe it happened. Because it wasn’t supposed to happen… That has essentially defined his whole career, doing things that shouldn’t be done. Nobody is supposed to score 81 points in a game. Nobody is supposed to be willing to give every ounce of their body to a sport. Nobody is supposed to tear their Achilles, roll it back down their leg, hit two free throws, THEN walk off the court under their own power. Nobody should be able to do what Kobe does. Nobody should be able to take the spotlight from a guy who just hit a mind-boggling 400 three-pointers in a season, nobody should be able to take the spotlight from a team that just won 73 games in 82 tries. Nobody should take 49 shots in a game, yet still have teammates, coaches, media, and everybody else beg to see you take number 50. But doing what people should not be able to do is what made Kobe Bean Bryant one of the greatest basketball players to ever play. It’s what will undoubtedly make him a Hall of Famer. It’s what people will always remember.

Rest In Paradise, Kobe Bean Bryant.