Dear Dwyane Wade: An Open Letter From HEAT Nation

By Rey Valdes

Dear Dwyane Wade,

I’m going to start this off with a disclaimer because no man should be this sad about another man moving to another state.

Obviously there are worse things in this world, far worse. But sport is our escape from all that, a distraction from our lives.

And you were the embodiment of sports in Miami for 13 years. You helped us forget about everything that was bothering us, for a couple hours each night, 82+ nights a year, over more than a decade.

That’s what makes us fans, the term “fanatical.” While I shouldn’t rationally feel this way, I identify myself as a Miami HEAT fanatic, and you were the HEAT. Forgive me for being a little emotional.

I went through all five stages of grief after SportsManias gave me the alert that you had signed with Chicago.

I looked for a conflicting report.

I was furious at you, at Pat Riley, at Mickey Arison, Lebron, Chris Bosh, everyone.

I offered to pay for your contract with money I don’t have, to no one that was listening.

And I’m currently between depression and acceptance.

Let me get back to the anger for a second.

Some Miami HEAT fans will be really mad at you. Some will be really mad at Pat or the HEAT or whoever else. It’s part of the process.

Both of you were using our emotions as leverage.

“You don’t want to piss off the fans,” is exactly what I could imagine you guys silently mouthing every time a “report” was “leaked” from either side. I fell for it, although I’m not sure what and how much is true at this point.

What I do know is that you felt slighted, and that there is likely a reason you decided not to continue playing here.

I won’t try to guess what it was or what took it over the edge. I’m only sorry that it happened. I’m sorry you felt the way you did. And I’m sorry that you left because of it.

However, you should know that we appreciate you. We never took you for granted. We loved it when Lebron was here and watching you guys win two titles was incredible.

But you were introduced last for a reason. You always got the most applause. You weren’t the best player on those teams, but you were (are!) our favorite.

You piqued our interest when you, Lamar Odom, and Caron Butler beat out Baron Davis and the Hornets your rookie year.

You stole our hearts when you and Shaq won in 2006 in one of the greatest finals performances of all time.

I will never forget being at Game 5, down 12 to the Mavericks with 5 minutes left, and watching you put the team on your back and lead us to one of the best comebacks of all time.

Then you worked with Pat to bring Lebron and Chris down here for an unforgettable four years.

That Mavericks game is second only to Ray Allen’s shot out of the corner in Game 6. Finally, you cemented your legacy when you, again, sacrificed for us and came back once Lebron left.

This hurts, but it will not change all the good memories we have of you.

I’ll be there when we retire your number and when we unveil the statue of your fade-away jumper outside the American Airlines Arena. We will not forget.

But we aren’t Wade groupies; we are HEAT Nation.

Forgive us for not becoming Bulls fans.

We will not make a villain out of Pat, or Mickey, or anyone associated with our team.

We need them now to help us get through this.

We will figure something out and hopefully beat the shit out of the Bulls next time we play.

We only wish you would have been on our side.

I promise we’ll give you the loudest ovation you’ve ever heard after the video on the jumbotron is over, and only boo you after our tears have dried and Hassan Whiteside has won the tip.

Now someone play Seven Nation Army!

Wish you the best of luck in Chicago Dwyane.

Thank you for everything.

Yours Truly,


RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Speculation Swirls That Dwyane Wade Could Stay In Miami As Fans Plan Sunday Rally

Sports fans are crazy people on a good day.

Full of hope and unbridled optimism.

But some Miami Heat fans are taking that old cliché to the next level by actively circulating the idea that Dwyane Wade could actually end up staying in South Beach next season.

Wade publicly announced earlier this week that he would be going to play in Chicago next season.

The Miami Heat organization has come to terms with this fact and has posted many positive memories of the franchise’s most legendary player for the past few days.

But despite all of this, many Heat fans refuse to let go.

After Wade seemed wistful and emotionally impacted in a press availability Saturday morning at a youth sports event he was sponsoring, some fans began to sense hope.

Wade did also say that he was a “Heat for life”. So there’s that too.


And then one reporter for the Palm Beach Post dropped a social media truth bomb that set #HeatNation ablaze:

Oh no.

#BringBackWade was born.

In a matter of hours, Heat fans made their rallying cry hashtag trending on Twitter and they organized an impromptu rally in front of the Jose Marti Gym (362 SW 4th ST Miami, FL 33130) for 8 AM on Sunday morning in order to convince Wade to stay. Wade will be at the venue for his youth skills camp.

So could it actually happen? Could a groundswell of love and affection convince a proud sports superstar to stay in Miami even though he would probably have to play for much less than he wants?


Weirder things have happened before.

And this is Miami after all. So who the hell knows.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

H/T: 12 Up

5 NBA Trades That Should Happen As Soon As The Season Ends

By Rey Valdes

With the NBA season drawing to a close, there are bound to be some big roster changes over the offseason.

And while most of the talk will center around free agency, there could also be some blockbuster trades. But forget about Kevin Durant!

Here are five trades that totally make sense and should happen:

Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks

Philadelphia receives: Dennis Schroeder, Mike Muscala

Atlanta receives: Nerlens Noel

Photo Credit: Bryan Horowitz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Nerlens Noel. Photo Credit: Bryan Horowitz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It’s been reported that the Hawks and Sixers have had conversations about a multi-player swap. With the Hawks set to lose Al Horford in free agency and the 76ers set to draft Ben Simmons, we really have a perfect marriage here. Philly needs to trade away a Center to acquire a PG, and ATL needs to trade away a PG to acquire a Center.

However, it has also been pretty universally reported that the PG going to Philly is actually Jeff Teague. I don’t buy it; and if I’m wrong, then Philly is making a mistake. Jeff Teague is a good PG in this league, but he’s already reached his ceiling. Is Schroeder better right now? Probably not, but for stretches of the season and playoffs, he was playing over Teague. More importantly, Schroeder has the potential to improve and grow with this Sixers team. Here, Philly get the young PG they coveted at the deadline and Atlanta gets the Center they need to replace Horford. Muscala helps the contracts fit and can actually provide floor spacing depth at the 5.

Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics

Philadelphia receives: Jonas Jerebko, Terry Rozier, James Young, and 2016 #3 overall pick

Boston receives: Jahlil Okafor and Kendall Marshall

Philadelphia is trying to trade one of Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor to make room for the arrivals of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Although they may hold on to Okafor as insurance for Embiid’s surgically repaired foot, in this scenario they trade him for another top 3 pick. Jamal Murray, who they like a lot, would be a great fit at SG for their new look roster. Boston gets the Center they covet without affecting their free agency plans. Okafor gives them an offensive centerpiece down low, and their team defense (thanks to the genius of Brad Stevens) is strong enough to hide Okafor’s deficiencies in that area.

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Let’s talk about the supposed throw-ins of this trade for a second. First of all, I don’t think Jerebko and #3 are enough for Okafor, a franchise Center. While I really like Jerebko’s fit as a backup big that can defend and shoot next to Simmons and Embiid, adding Rozier is key as it gives Philly a nice developmental PG. Moreover, Young gets to go to a perfect spot to play and improve as a scorer, an opportunity he won’t get in Boston. Finally, though an add-in money-wise, Marshall intrigues me in a Celtics uniform. If anyone can utilize Marshall’s passing ability to the fullest, it’s Stevens. His contract is unguaranteed and he’d be the 3rd or 4th PG on the team, so he’ll likely be waived, but I keep having visions of him being the Eric Snow to Isaiah Thomas’s Allen Iverson in some rotations off the bench.

Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns

Milwaukee receives: Tyson Chandler

Phoenix receives: Greg Monroe

Whereas the Bucks are just as likely to give Monroe another year and eat his contract if it continues to not work out, they could look to move him. In this scenario, Jason Kidd gets the rim protector he wants, and he just so happens to be a former teammate. Chandler will assume the role of veteran leader that this young team needs and his abilities as a defensive anchor could have them back in the top of the defensive rankings after falling way down last year.

Phoenix is not as close to competing as they thought, and Alex Len showed impressive potential after the All Star Break. So why trade a Center to acquire another one if they already have Len at the position? Well, Len also played really well at the four, in a sort of anti-small ball lineup. Furthermore, Len’s a free agent after next year, and if he continues to improve, he will be due a big pay raise. Monroe’s contract is a year shorter than Chandler’s, and because the third year is a player option, he could conceivably come off the books two years earlier, at the same time as Len. If the twin-towers lineup works this year, they could resign both big men. And if it doesn’t, they could resign whichever of the young talented Centers they like best, without worrying about having too much money tied up in one position.

Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets

Milwaukee receives: Boban Bogdanovic

Brooklyn receives: Michael Carter-Williams

Giving up a 2017 first rounder for Greivis Vasquez, signing Greg Monroe, and especially trading Brandon Knight to acquire MCW; Milwaukee has made a few costly mistakes recently that will soon be erased because of the greatness of Point God, The Greek Freak, The Alphabet, and my favorite player Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s basically the Daenarys Targaryen of the NBA, with the tough spelling, numerous nicknames, and how they’re both slowly getting more and more dangerous in some far off land. But before he becomes King of the NBA and unites the two conferences, we need to continue purging the players that are poor fits next to him in Mereen, err I mean Milwaukee.

MCW is a non-shooter, and now that Giannis has taken over the offense, his role and opportunity are greatly diminished. Although MCW is a young, cheap player with upside, he’s probably not worth much to other teams as the PG position is flooded with talent and he’s seemingly regressed. Vasquez and Jerryd Bayless are both free agents this year, so they could wait on MCW and pray he develops a jump shot in the off-season. However, they’ll likely resign one of the two and potentially draft a PG (Wade Baldwin IV would be an awesome fit), so priority number one for the Bucks is to surround Giannis with better shooting threats. Luckily they find a Brooklyn team desperate for… well, just desperate. With Jack, their only PG on the roster, still recovering from an ACL injury, they can afford to take a chance on MCW and hope for the best. Milwaukee gets a shooter they need, and one that really blossomed toward the end of last season.

Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers

Denver receives: Monta Ellis

Indiana receives: Kenneth Faried

Denver has two exciting bigs in Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic that they want to develop, and still have Joffrey Lauvergne. Mike Malone struggled to find minutes for both Faried and the youngsters last year, and they’ll welcome back talented forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari this year from injuries. With all these players in the frontcourt, Faried may have to accept an even smaller role if he wants to stay in Denver. If he doesn’t and Denver wants to facilitate a trade, there may not be a better match than Indiana. The Manimal would fit perfectly next to Myles Turner because Myles can stretch the floor offensively and protect the rim defensively, two areas where Faried struggles.

Using Paul George as a full-time PF failed, and with the Pacers likely to let one of Ian Mahinmi or Jordan Hill walk in free agency, they could use a talented frontcourt player to keep George at SF. Furthermore, Larry Bird wants more pace this year with Nate McMillan (despite that being the opposite of Nate’s style), and Kenneth Faried thrives in an up-tempo offense where he’s able to use his athleticism. Some combination of Rodney Stuckey, CJ Miles, and the enticing Joe Young can pickup most of Monta Ellis’s minutes at the 2. Meanwhile, in Denver, Monta would provide a needed 3-point threat and ball-handler that can help take some pressure off of Emmanuel Mudiay.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: KT King/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Swish: These Wharton Profs Show Us Three Business Lessons Learned From The Golden State Warriors

By Mario Moussa and Derek Newberry

On a balmy night in Oakland last October, the energy of the sell-out crowd at the Oracle Arena was flagging.

While the die-hard Golden State Warriors fans had high hopes for the season, their team had lost two of their first three pre-season games, and they were struggling to get momentum against the Houston Rockets early in the first quarter.

Trying to spark some life into his team, Steph Curry took the ball from Draymond Green at the top of the key and dribbled past four defenders on his way to what looked like an easy lay up.

At the last minute, he whipped a no-look pass to Brandon Rush for an open corner three.

It swished.

The crowd jumped to their feet. Players on the bench laughed and high-fived each other as a grinning Curry jogged up the court.

It is fitting that the play happened against the talent-rich Rockets, a team that, for many experts and insiders, represented the future of the NBA. But the Warriors may actually be the team of the future. Their current season has featured similar scenes of flawless teamwork that may well produce the best season in NBA history.

The top player passes up a good shot for a great shot, tossing the ball to a bench player with a better look, while the rest of the team cheers.

Just a few years ago, the Moneyball model of talent management seemed poised to sweep the NBA. Led by luminaries like Sam Hinkie, who instilled this approach in the Rockets before moving to the Sixers, front office executives have become increasingly focused on acquiring “undervalued assets” rather than worrying about intangibles like chemistry and character.

The Golden State Warriors are the ultimate team. Photo Credit: Golden State Warriors/ Facebook

The Golden State Warriors are the ultimate team. Photo Credit: Golden State Warriors/ Facebook

Now, as our own hometown Sixers are in the NBA basement and the Rockets are underperforming, the Warriors appear to be ushering in a new era of basketball.

The Warriors’ philosophy is deceptively simple, but it confirms what we know from our own research on collaboration at the Wharton School of Business: High-performing teams trump collections of talented individuals.

In a league driven by lone superstars and individually-focused metrics, the Warriors are succeeding by putting in place what we have found to be the three foundations common to all high-performing teams: goals, roles and norms.

Define simple, clear goals

In a recent interview, center Andrew Bogut recalls how shocked his teammates were when they started their first practice with coach Steve Kerr by doing basic passing drills that they hadn’t seen since high school: “Guys were kind of like, ‘Ugh, we don’t want to do these petty little drills,’ but after a couple of weeks I think guys understood what he was trying to relay onto us. And it was genius in a way, because it’s just instilling the little things.”

Kerr believed that an overcomplicated strategy had caused the team to lose sight of the basic fundamentals.

According to Bogut, he told them: “[if we] just turn it over four or five times less per game, we’re going to win a championship.”

The prediction proved to be true, and it came from an insight shared by all leaders of top teams:

The best goals aren’t about big, abstract visions, but small, manageable steps.

Turn the ball over a few less times. Make a few more passes.  Goals need to be clear and straightforward to be achievable, as Kerr himself has explained: “Run six or eight things really well, instead of 20 things in a mediocre fashion.” The Warriors’ success demonstrates the power of simplicity.

Define roles that work for individuals and for the team as a whole

When Kerr decided to bench Andre Iguodala and start Harrison Barnes last season, most people thought he was out of his mind.  Iguodala had been acquired by the team as a franchise player, not a $12 million a year bench warmer.

But Kerr believed Barnes had struggled after a promising rookie season because his confidence was hurt when he was moved to a reserve role in his second year.

Barnes needed the security of having a consistent role on the team, and he would improve by being forced to keep up with better players.

Iguodala would provide a solid veteran presence for the bench unit and a boost of energy later in games when starters rested.

Steph Curry is at the heart of the Golden State Warriors success. Photo Credit: Golden State Warriors/ Facebook

Steph Curry is at the heart of the Golden State Warriors success. Photo Credit: Golden State Warriors/ Facebook

As it happened, both players excelled in their roles. Barnes returned to form while Iguodala became a serious candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award, on their way to winning their first title in 40 years.

Kerr understood that team roles don’t work in isolation—their effectiveness depends on how they interconnect and this will be different for every group.

As the better player, it would normally make sense to have Iguodala in the starting role with Barnes on the bench, but given the team dynamic, Kerr had the insight to switch them.

Establish shared norms by building trusting relationships

From top to bottom, the Warriors organization has built a culture around trust and transparency, to the point where owner Joe Lacob installed glass walls throughout the team offices to reinforce his message of openness.

The trust the team has built starts with a shared set of norms that encourage everyone to voice their opinion.

For Kerr, it began with one-on-one conversations he had with the team after he was hired.  He impressed his players by visiting each one individually, even flying out to Australia for Andrew Bogut, and explaining to them how he thought they would fit into his strategy.

In fact, it was this process of sitting down face to face, being transparent, and asking for feedback that convinced Iguodala to go along with being moved to the bench.

This norm of honesty is reinforced in everything Kerr does, as Green noted in a recent interview: “Earlier this season I yelled at him during the game…[Later] he said, ‘Nah, you’re fine. I love your passion; why would I try to stop that? That makes you the player who you are.”

Transparency infuses the entire organization, as Lacob himself is known for inviting dissenting opinions from his staff, rather than running the team like a dictatorship as many owners do.  By creating shared norms, the Warriors have built a high level of trust that makes their signature style of unselfish play possible, even on a team with big egos.

Kerr once described his coaching philosophy as being 90% team environment, 10% strategy.

At a time when the dominant trend in the NBA has been about analyzing players as individual assets, the Warriors are creating a counter-revolution based on group dynamics. As Lacob told writer Bruce Schoenfeld: “It’s not just Steph Curry. It’s architecting a team, a style of play, the way they all play together.”

It starts with putting the right foundations in place for collective success.

As they head toward a historic season by multiple measures, the Warriors are bringing the team back to basketball.

Dr. Mario Moussa and Dr. Derek Newberry are the authors of Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance. They both teach at the Wharton School of Business. For more information on their work, visit,

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Dwyane Wade Cried On The Court After Finding Out That Prince Said He Was His Favorite Player

Dwyane Wade is a lot of people’s favorite player, especially in South Florida.

But it turns out that Prince was quite the fan as well and that got to the “Flash” before the start of Game 7 of the first round on Sunday.

Wade was caught by ESPN cameras shedding a tear, which prompted speculation as to why he was crying.

Well Wade cleared it all up yesterday on Twitter:

Listen to the part of this interview where Prince says that Wade is his favorite player:


H/T: Rolling Stone

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s How The Warriors Turned Steph Curry Into A Well Rested Bionic Superhuman

Before blossoming into the greatest shooter the sport has ever known, Steph Curry was defined by his fragile ankles.

Over the course of his first 3 NBA seasons, Curry missed 66 games, most of that coming after his initial operation, as he sprained his ankle five times while playing in 26 games the following year.

If his 2012 surgery failed, he was faced with the bleak prospect of inserting tendons from a cadaver into his ankle in the hopes that they would function better than the ones nature provided for him.

Luckily for Curry, the NBA, and anyone who ever wished that Steve Nash and Pete Maravich would have an And1 basketball baby, his last surgery is looking like it could be his last ankle surgery.

Steph’s problems were actually a pretty easy fix, as they were due to a mess of scar tissue, bone spurs, chips, and cartilage filling his joints “like crab meat.”

Dr. Richard Ferkel essentially vacuumed it all out, and the next face of the NBA was reborn.

“I feel like I’ve been doing nothing but rehabbing for two years. I feel like I’m never going to be able to play again. This ankle thing is not gonna be my life.”


Photo Credit: Golden State Warriors/ Facebook

Curry took advantage of as many resources as he could to fuel his 2nd chance in the NBA. Before every game now, Curry straps on his Zamst ankle braces (designed for post-sprain activity) and a pair of Under Armour sneakers created specifically for his feet.

Every team is looking for an edge somewhere in keeping players healthy and consistent. It is an accepted fact that this is the new market inefficiency in sports. But few organizations pursue this avenue with the vigor and resources of the Warriors.

They hired Australian sports science guru Lachland Penfold this offseason, and according to owner Joe Lacob, the goal is to “have like, a video game fatigue meter. A guy like Lachland will be able to go up to Bob and Steve [Kerr] and say, ‘Guys, he’s at a 77, and our threshold is 75 for Safe to Play.'”

The NBA’s new SportVU cameras that track and measure almost any movement on the court have combined with the GPS trackers the team wears in practice to give the Warriors unprecedented insight into their players’ health and its relation to their game.

The Warriors place a premium on their players’ mental acuity as well. Steve Kerr has made it a team goal to reduce personal stress, and the Warriors run complex drills to test their nervous system, as Curry described in an interview with Tech Insider:

“We overload our sensory system, nervous system, in our training with different lights. There are little beams that we have on the wall, and I’ll be doing dribble moves and reading the lights that are associated with different moves. Different colors mean to do a different move, and you have to make that decision in a split second and still have control of the ball.”

What do Steve Kerr, Chip Kelly, the Vancouver Canucks, and Jason Bourne all agree on? As the line from Robert Ludlum’s famous 1990 book goes: “Rest is a weapon.”


Photo Credit: Golden State Warriors/ Facebook

Before Kelly even arrived in Philadelphia three years ago, the Vancouver Canucks signed a deal in 2009 with Fatigue Science.

No professional squad has a more brutal travel schedule than the northwesternmost team in North America; the Canucks traveled one third of the distance to the moon en route to their 2011 Stanley Cup Finals loss, so it’s only natural that they would be interested in the effects of sleep, or the lack thereof, on the body.

A 2012 Harvard Study placed Fatigue Science’s armbands on orthopedic surgical residents and found that they averaged 5.3 hours of sleep per week, and because of this, the risk of medical error increased by 22%. Significant fatigue basically has the same effect on the body as being drunk.

Kelly has said that he believes that “an elite athlete needs between 10-12 hours [of sleep] a night.”

He was a college football pioneer in so many ways at Oregon, and he was practically the only college coach who was seriously investing in sport science.

As Chris Brown wrote for Grantland in 2014 about the basis of Kelly’s research (which was conducted on Australian-rules football):

“Many of those studies used heart rate, GPS, accelerometers, and gyroscope monitors worn by players in practice to determine how to train for peak game-day performance and how to prevent injuries. These studies also tracked the movements that players made in games so teams could mold practices and training to what players did on an individualized and position-by-position basis.”

The Eagles were 18th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost to injury metric the year before Kelly arrived.

They invested a ton of money in his programs, placed trackers on their players’ wrists in practice, and finished 1st and 2nd in his subsequent seasons. Kelly has since been fired from the Eagles and is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan used to show up for work before sunrise. But things have changed for him.

“I thought that showed dedication and work ethic. I don’t do that anymore, because I realized it is more important to be rested and ready than it is to beat everybody to work.”

Pete Carroll has long embraced the importance of sleep, and the Seahawks now schedule their travel and training schedules to maximize their players’ sleep efficiency.

Richard Sherman has become one of Carroll’s acolytes on this issue, emphasizing how the head coach’s focus on good sleep was central to their Championship season of 2014 in an open letter for Sports Illustrated.

The pace of innovation in sports is accelerating. The Moneyball Era opened the floodgates for a reevaluation of everything.

Once available only to elite athletes, this technology that monitors players’ health and performance and helps explain their inextricably linked relationship is becoming more widespread and affordable.

If these advances could help alter the course of Steph Curry’s career, and thus, the history of the NBA, imagine the possibilities they could create in neighborhoods across the country.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Why LeBron Needs To Fight For Tamir Rice: A History Of Athletes As Social Justice Warriors

Athletes play an outsized role in our society. Their exploits dominate large portions of many lives and have a dramatic impact on our emotional security. In a sense, they’re family.

LeBron James grew up in Akron, was drafted by Cleveland, left to chase titles in Miami, only to return to Ohio to try to end one of the saddest streaks in sports (the 1964 Browns were the last team to win a title for the rock n roll capital of the world).

LeBron embraces being a pillar of the community, and in recent weeks, part of the community challenged that pledge, calling for him to sit out games in order to protest a tragic case.

The Tamir Rice incident can be described by a myriad of terrible adjectives, but the case follows a familiar script: a young unarmed black man was killed by the police.

Watch: Shooting of Tamir Rice video. (CNN Report): 

What makes this version of it so horrifying is that you can replace “man” with “child” and “killed” with “assassinated.” The video shows the act in all of its ugliness, clear as day.

However, a grand jury ultimately ruled that officer Tim Lohemann was not guilty. Lohemann was described by his previous police station as someone who “could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal.”

Policing is a difficult job with plenty of shades of gray, but given the words of other police officers and the video evidence, this particular incident seemed to be much more black and white.

The community called on LeBron to fight back against a force that has been operating since the dawn of humanity, and James’ response was underwhelming to many.

“To be honest, I haven’t really been on top of this issue,” LeBron James on the Tamir Rice case.

James said that he wasn’t really paying attention to the case:

“To be honest, I haven’t really been on top of this issue. So it’s hard for me to comment. I understand that any lives that [are] lost, what we want more than anything is prayer and the best for the family, for anyone. But for me to comment on the situation, I don’t have enough knowledge about it.”

Is it his responsibility to carry this burden? What could he even do?

We are entering a new era of athletic activism with the expansion of social media. Athletes have usurped the power of journalists to distribute and shape their message. LeBron has already taken advantage of this infrastructure to show solidarity with another young, black, innocent victim.

Photo Credit: LeBron James

The 2012 Miami HEAT protest the Trayvon Martin killing. Photo Credit: LeBron James

To determine what LeBron’s responsibility might be, a look back at the last century of this issue would be instructive.

Due to America’s history with slavery and its struggle with the ensuing fallout of a botched reconstruction and the Jim Crow era that followed, much of activism in sports has been centered on the fight for racial equality.

Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Althea Gibson, and many many many others went through literal and metaphorical trials throughout the Jim Crow era, as their natural resistance to oppression served as models of what the next generation of athletes could come to expect from those in control.

Even if the power structure didn’t change, the next generation of activists increased their share of power with the expansion of TV.

The 1964 NBA All Star Game was the first to be televised, and it almost never happened. Bill Russell helped to organize a walkout unless the owners agreed to recognize the players’ union. They proved to everyone in sports that it was possible to fight back against injustice, win, and keep their job.

Tommy Smith and John Carlos painted perhaps the most famous image of athletic activism, wearing black gloves, and raising their right fist in a show of solidarity while standing on the 1968 Olympic podium.

A grafitti version of the famous "black power" salute from the 1968 Olympic Games. Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti

A grafitti version of the famous “black power” salute from the 1968 Olympic Games.
Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti

As powerful as Smith and Carlos’ gesture was, its impact on society could not compare to the ordeal of The Greatest, or as he put it:

“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”

“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”

Muhammad Ali nearly sacrificed the greatest boxing career of all time in order to protest the Vietnam War after being drafted in 1966; refusing to fight by citing his devotion to Islam and its firm stance against wars of all kind. Ali minced no words on his view of the United States government:

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slavemasters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end…I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years. “

Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title, boxing license, and his passport so he could not fight overseas, unable to box again until 1971.

His case would eventually go to the Supreme Court, and this battle against the government was the first thing that many came to learn about the Vietnam War. The man formerly known as Cassius Clay was a major influence on an era that irrevocably changed the American public’s relationship with our government.

It’s difficult to find another athlete from any era exercising their conscience at the risk of so much while having as large of an impact as he did.

The energy and frequency of high-profile protest decreased in the next era as more money flowed into sports, and everyone’s attitude could be summed up by the famous (reportedly true) Michael Jordan quote: “Republicans buy shoes too” and Charles Barkley’s line of “I am not a role model. Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

There were occasional bouts of activism, including one that serves as a cautionary tale for all players.

In 1992, Craig Hodges, Jordan’s championship teammate, wore a dashiki to the White House, presenting a letter to President George H. W. Bush pushing for the government to begin to seriously invest in the black community.

That season, Hodges shot 37.5% from deep (3.9% higher than league average), 94.1% from the free throw line, and committed just 22 turnovers in 56 games, yet he never played again as 27 teams all felt they had no room for the efficient 31-year-old shooting guard.

Fast forward to today’s conversation where people openly snicker at the thought of anyone hand writing a letter, and activism seems to be on the rise.

In this decade alone, Derrick Rose and countless other NBA players wore I Can’t Breathe shirts in the wake of the Eric Garner tragedy. The Clippers covered up their logo in protest of Donald Sterling.

The Phoenix Suns wore jerseys that said “Los Suns” in response to a draconian immigration bill passed by the state of Arizona.

The St. Louis Rams exited the pregame tunnel with their hands up in a show of solidarity with the Michael Brown protestors in Ferguson.

Andrew Hawkins wears a shirt in warm ups calling for justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford.

All of these players used the power of images and their celebrity to make a statement about the injustices they see in our society.

It’s not just symbolism that characterizes today’s protests either. Outspoken players like Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo have campaigned fervently in support of LGBT rights, the former claiming that it cost him his job in the NFL, and the latter even getting into a spat with a congressman over the topic.

All-World QB Aaron Rodgers aggressively raises awareness to try to end the decades long war in the Congo, and will even go out of his way to denounce discrimination in his home stadium.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell can see some parallels between today and Muhammad Ali’s era of activism:

“I grew up in the ’60s, where everybody was socially conscious. I believe in it. I’d be a hypocrite if I stood up here and told you any differently, because more than likely, some of those protests that Dr. King and some of the others that took a part in non-violent protests, is the reason why I’m standing here in front of you today.”

Athletes live privileged lives that are funded entirely by our adulation. Their celebrity exists only because the community deems it so.

Athletes live privileged lives that are funded entirely by our adulation. Their celebrity exists only because the community deems it so.

They have a moral obligation to give back to the rest of us, but because of the contentious nature of social change and existing power structures, activism is bad for business.

This balance is difficult to achieve, with athletes like Muhammad Ali and Craig Hodges serving as cautionary tales of how one’s career can be ripped away from them in an instant.

However, with the emergence of this new era of activism and the ability for athletes to control their own message, there is plenty of room for LeBron to advance his involvement in the Tamir Rice case, especially since so many of his contemporaries seem ready and eager to lead us into a new world.

Do you think LeBron should be more than just a player? Tell us in the comments below: 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s The Top 5 Players At Each Position Right Now In The NBA

By Jay Rumph

Out with the old, and in with the new. The NBA has been fueled by some of the best rising stars this year, which is good news for the league.

There’s a new era of basketball in the NBA.

We’re just a couple of games into 2016, but we can already see who contributes the most to their respective teams.

Evaluating players from the beginning of the season until now, these rankings are based on players’ total contribution so far this NBA season. We bring you our favorite players at each position entering the NBA’s New Year.

We live for these types of discussions. Here’s the best of the best. Let the debating begin.

Point Guard: Stephen Curry

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Curry is single handling changing the game of basketball. Leading the Golden State Warriors to the best record in the NBA at 35-2. The reigning MVP, Curry is doing everything for the Warriors. He’s playing so well this season, people are making comparisons between him, and Michael Jordan. Although I think the comparisons are coming a bit too early, we can’t help but admire his overall greatness.

He has the ability to make an impact on any game at any moment. Besides his terrific shooting ability, Curry is also a great finisher around the basket. A prolific passer, he is able to get all his teammates involved on the court.

Putting up historic numbers, Curry is averaging 31.8, 5.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. He’s doing all of that, while shooting 52.0% from the field, and 45% from the three-point line. Not only is he the best point guard in the league, there’s no doubt that he is also the best player in the NBA. The favorite to win the MVP again this year is Stephen Curry. Curry would join a list of great NBA players that has won the MVP award in consecutive years.

Shooting Guard: Jimmy Butler

Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Discussion of who the NBA’s best shooting guard has become the new topic in 2015-16 season. Klay Thompson recently said he was the best shooting guard in the league, but James Harden quickly dismissed that claim. There’s no doubt that Jimmy Butler is in the conversation. A versatile player, Butler is a lockdown defender on defense, and Jimmy “Buckets” on offense.

He’s averaging 28.5 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.5 rebounds since the beginning of 2016. The Chicago Bulls are now second in the Eastern Conference, because of Jimmy’s two-way game. Bulls’ have finally found their offense, from their best player, Jimmy Butler.

Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard, reigning Defensive Player of the Year, has become one of the best small forwards in the league. Another two-way player, Leonard can guard the opponents best player, and score on their best player. He has become the Spurs’ best player, and most important player. Let’s not forget how good the San Antonio Spurs actually are, but they are much better when he’s on the basketball court.

Leonard is averaging 20.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game this season. That’s not including what he does to opponents on the defensive end. He has the NBA’s best defensive rating at 90.2. He has proven that he is one of the NBA’s great players, this season is just another example of his humble dominance.

Power Forward: Draymond Green

Photo Credit:  Lpdrew/ Wikimedia commons

Photo Credit: Lpdrew/ Wikimedia commons

A major part of the Warriors’ success, Green is playing on another level this season. There’s nothing Green can’t do this year. This season, he is averaging 15.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. He’s the league leader in trouble doubles this season with a total of eight. Green posted triple-doubles in two of the last four games this week.

The options are unlimited when the ball is in his hands. His ability to get his teammates involved helps contribute to the Warriors play style. Yes, Green is another one of those versatile players. He can play the point forward, and then slide up to the center position, when Golden State wants to play small ball. Draymond Green’s ability to contribute in all aspects of the game is one of a kind.

Center: Demarcus Cousins

Photo Credit: Ytoyoda/ Wikimedia Commons (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Ytoyoda/ Wikimedia Commons (CC By 2.0)

Bad attitude or not, Demarcus Cousins ability on the basketball court speaks for itself. Cousins has the most talent out of all the centers in the NBA today. He can score the basketball from the inside or outside. He’s a huge threat from three-point line, currently shooting 32% from behind the arc. He ranks fifth in NBA scoring averaging 25.2 points per game. Also he is averaging 10.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.

His abilities at the center position puts him above any other player at the position. He can put the ball on the floor and create opportunities for his teammates. Improving his offensive game will only make him a major threat for opponents. Look for Cousins to continue his hot start entering the New Year. There’s still a lot of basketball games left, but hopefully Cousins and Rajon Rondo can lead the Sacramento Kings into the NBA playoffs.

These players make our list as the top players at their position. Do you agree or Disagree? Who’s in your top 5? Let us know in the comments below.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Are the Philadelphia 76ers the Worst NBA Team of All-Time?

For fans of the Philadelphia 76ers (such as myself), the 2015-2016 season has been a continuous nightmare.

Currently, the boys from the City of Brotherly Love have a record of 2-31, and with the exception of the equally-listless Lakers on New Year’s Day, the possibilities for wins are are few and far between.

The stats alone spell out a lot of woes. The team is last in PPG (92.0), last in point differential (-12.4), and 24th in points allowed (104.4).

On top of that, they have the youngest roster in the NBA at 22.9 years of age. They have only played one man over 30 (Carl Landry) and their leading scorer is a 20-year-old rookie.

I highly doubt any team could win boasting those figures.

But it’s not enough for the Sixers to just be seasonally bad. They are historically bad.

The phrase “worst team” is, admittedly, subjective. However, if you look at history, the case for the current iteration of the Sixers to hold that dubious title is strong.

The worst team in NBA history by winning percentage was the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats (.106). However, that was in a strike-shortened season. For a full 82-game season, the record low is held by the 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers (.110).

Those Sixers won a paltry nine games. The current roster is projected to win fewer than five contests, which for the record would be a winning percentage of .061.

That sound you just heard was a collective groan coming from the vicinity of Constitution Hall.

I believe it is safe to say that the argument for the 2015-2016 76ers being the worst team of all time is cemented.

With that in mind, let’s take a minute to talk about the franchise as a whole.

General Manager Sam Hinkie is in the running for worst GM of all time in any sport. The news site FiveThirtyEight, summed this up pretty nicely.

And when other owners are petitioning the league to step in, you know you’re in trouble.

Hiring Jerry Colangelo as Chairman of Basketball Operations? Excellent.

Hiring Mike D’Antoni as an Associate Coach and sort-of Offensive Coordinator? The fanbase collectively facepalms.

Long story short, unless Colangelo takes over the GM duties, this team will go nowhere this season. And while theoretically they could only go up from here, that’s what was said at the end of last season too.

Cover Photo Credit: Doug Kerr/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Previewing The Warriors/Cavs Finals Rematch On Christmas Day

By Nick Hickman

Once again it seems that the NBA has assumed the roll of Ol’ Saint Nick this holiday season. The league is scheduled to deliver five premier matchups split between ESPN and ABC. Highlighting the showcase this year will be the game at Oakland’s Oracle Arena in which LeBron James and his finally healthy squad seek revenge.

The game at 5 p.m. ET on ABC is the first rematch of the Cavaliers and Warriors since last year’s NBA Finals, a series that ended in a 4-2 Warriors victory.

WATCH: A recap of the 2015 NBA finals

It was also a series heavily plagued with injuries. The ‘Big 3’ that was formed only months earlier first lost Kevin Love in a series against the Celtics and then Kyrie Irving in Game 1 of the Finals. The blows only served to heighten the workload for LeBron James, a factor that became increasingly apparent as the series wore on. LeBron averaged 35.8 points and 8.8 assists but it wasn’t enough against the high-powered and fast paced Golden State Warriors.

This year’s matchup promises dynamics far different. While Kevin Love has steadily averaged 23 points per game this season, last Sunday marked the highly anticipated return of Kyrie Irving in a 108-86 win against the 76ers- which is nothing really to boast about. Still, it would appear that the Cavalier machine that we’ve all been waiting for is finally back, oiled up and ready to go.

Eagerly awaiting them at Oracle Arena will be the team that hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy last year, the Golden State Warriors, a 26-1 team who also wields the leagues reigning MVP in Steph Curry. While the Cavaliers have been focused on getting healthy and restoring their roster, Curry hasn’t missed a beat.

Instead, the sharp shooter is making an enticing argument for this year’s MVP while leading the league in scoring at 31.8 per game. Additionally, the Warriors have watched as forward Draymond Green has propelled himself into the conversations of the league’s elite. Green is averaging a near triple double this season with 14.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game.

However, while Cleveland has illustrated the types of struggles associated with injuries, this time around it may actually be Golden State who is burdened by the injury bug. Warriors forward Harrison Barnes has been out with a sprained ankle since November 27 and will not play on Christmas.

Golden State will miss Barnes who up until his injury had been averaging 13.4 points and 5 rebounds a game. More importantly, however, is the reality that Barnes averaged 30.1 minuets for the Warriors and was a key staple on the defensive side of the floor. The injury will force Golden State to make adjustments, in turn exposing potential opportunities to the Cavaliers.

Regardless of whatever circumstances are at play, the Warriors and Cavaliers are sure to offer up a Christmas treat. Despite injuries, the Warriors have eleven players that have played in at least twenty games already this season and will have no problem with mixing and matching to find the right formula.

On the other side sits James and a Cavalier team that wants nothing more than to assert their dominance on the hottest team in sports. The result will be a showdown appropriate for next year’s wish list.

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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