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Frank Vogel, Roy Hibbert, and LeBron James: Who Is To Blame For Pacers Loss?

LeBron James submitted an MVP effort last night in Miami, hitting a game-winning layup in overtime to overcome a very tough Pacers team and protect home court advantage. James finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for yet another playoff triple-double, the ninth of his career. Among active players, that puts him just one behindRajon Rondo and Jason Kidd. But the final two of his 30 points were the most crucial, and they came with Indiana big man and shot blocker extraordinaire Roy Hibbert sitting on the bench. Pacers coach Frank Vogel elected to bench Hibbert to counter Miami's small lineup, and when James slashed to the hoop for the uncontested game winner, the camera cut to a defeated Hibbert, hanging his head and smirking. ESPN's Bill Simmons may have said it best.

It's silly to second guess coaches after the fact, but it's also incredibly satisfying. Most people, put in that position, would keep Hibbert in the game. Of course, most people would not be able to get within 100 feet of an NBA bench unless someone hooked them up with courtside seats. Coaching is incredibly difficult as it is, and magnifying small decisions like this can drive coaches crazy. The thing is, most coaches place way too much value on their own ability. Yankees coach Joe Girardi famously manages from a binder filled with matchup breakdowns and statistics. Patriots coach Bill Belicheck goes for it on fourth down and fails. Even legendary Lakers/Bulls coach Phil Jackson stubbornly runs his Triangle offense, sometimes irrespective of the personnel on his team. To ascend to a high position, you need to have confidence in yourself and your abilities. But just because someone has put you in charge of a team doesn't make you a genius. A real genius recognizes that they can only affect a situation so much, and that over thinking is the first step toward a mistake. Take Vogel's counterpart last night, Erik Spoelstra. He's done a fantastic job of coaching the Miami Heat because he was able to convince superstars to play defense and rely on ball movement. It's a testament to his coaching ability that he was able to identify the assets of his players and exploit them. Vogel was trying to play chess on the last play, and got cute. Taking Hibbert out was a mistake, but the best player in the league also completely punked one of the best defenders in the league, Paul George, simply by virtue of how scary he is to defend. George overplayed James completely, and his momentum was so away from the basket he could barely catch up to the freight train that is LeBron driving to the hoop.

Is George to blame? Is Vogel? Should Hibbert have demanded to stay in the game, like he said afterwards? When you're going against LeBron James, it's no one's fault. Lex Luther probably doesn't fret too much when he gets defeated by Superman time and again, because... well, it's freakin' Superman. No amount of coaching or planning can stop that. Maybe Vogel has some kryptonite handy? That might be a better coaching move in Game 2. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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NFL Will Reportedly Play Black National Anthem When Season Kicks Off

The NFL is reportedly adding “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to its playlist. The Black national anthem will be played (and possibly performed) during week 1 of the upcoming season, ESPN reported on Thursday (July 2).

The song will reportedly play ahead of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” during pregame festivities.

The move, which comes four years after Colin Kaepernick began his on-the-field protest against police brutality, reflects the latest shift in the league’s ever-changing stance on the Black Lives Matter movement. After previously banning players from protesting during the National Anthem, and quietly settling collusion lawsuits brought on by Kaepernick and Eric Reid, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted last month that the league was wrong for essentially silencing players and ignoring issues of police brutality, racial injustice, and systematic oppression.

“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people, Goodell said in a video statement. “We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans are expected to kick off the 2020-2021 NFL season on Sept. 10.

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Bubba Wallace Noose Incident Was Not A Hate Crime, FBI Says

An FBI investigation into a noose found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage door at the Talladega Superspeedway had been their since last October. After a “thorough review of the facts and evidence,” the bureau determined that Wallace, the only Black full-time NASCAR driver, was not the victim of a hate crime.

“Fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway.  After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said in a joint statement on Tuesday (June 23).

Although the noose was found in Garage 4, “nobody could have known” that Wallace would be assigned that garage number.

NASCAR released a similar statement confirming that “photographic evidence” concluded that the garage pull “roped fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since last fall.”

“We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” NASCAR's statement continued. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.” The incident came two weeks after NASCAR banned the Confederate Flag.


— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 23, 2020

After the noose was found Wallace stated in part that the “despicable act of racism and hatred leave me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society.” Later that day, Wallace was joined by all 39 NASCAR drivers and their crews as they pushed his car down the pit road in a show of solidarity.

The 26-year-old Alabama native has said that the murder of Ahmaud Arbery inspired him to become more vocal  about the Black Lives Matter Movement.


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A post shared by bubbawallace (@bubbawallace) on Jun 7, 2020 at 1:58pm PDT

Despite a small number of Black drivers to join NASCAR the sport remains notoriously segregated but recent event have brought on more Black fans. “Supporting and thanking the pre-existing fans, and encouraging the new ones,” Wallace captioned an Instagram photo of him greeting fans. “For all of those new to the sport, we welcome you with open arms.”


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Supporting and thanking the pre-existing fans, and encouraging the new ones. For all of those new to the sport, we welcome you with open arms.

A post shared by bubbawallace (@bubbawallace) on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:42am PDT

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Colin Kaepernick on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University on October 11, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Colin Kaepernick Partners With Black Verticals, ‘Level’ and ‘Momentum,’ Joins Medium Board Of Directors

Months after Colin Kaepernick revealed his plans to release a memoir, he and his publishing company—Kaepernick Publishing—are joining forces with Medium.

Aside from having a seat on Medium's board of directors, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback will be conducting a series of Q&A interviews on the topics of race, prison reform, and more. Content from Kaepernick's tentatively titled series "Conversations with Colin" will be published on Medium's Level, where he'll also consult on a series of feature articles on the Black men-focused vertical led by former VIBE editor-in-chief, Jermaine Hall.

“Colin is one of our social justice leaders,” Hall said to The Washington Post. “I think he’s leading the charge and it’s based on what’s going on in the country right now. And because he’s no longer in the NFL and we’ve lost his talent on the field — hopefully he gets back there — but we’ve gained an incredibly powerful voice for the black community who can actually affect social change.”

Kaepernick will also be collaborating with Level's Black news focused vertical, Momentum, and "sharing his thoughts on anti-racism in our society" and "co-publish thought-provoking feature stories from diverse writers of color," according to the statement released by Medium's CEO Ev Williams.

Kaepernick Publishing and its founder released the following statement on Twitter:

We’re excited to announce our founder, @kaepernick7, will be the newest Board Member @medium. In addition to this, #KaepernickPublishing partners with Medium to further our mission uplifting voices of our communities. pic.twitter.com/FQYYNdTQcP

— Kaepernick Publishing (@KaepernickPub) June 18, 2020

"Throughout history, our stories have been manipulated, destroyed, and erased," says Kaepernick in the video reel on his publishing company's official website. "Our culture has been colonized, our genius exploited, and our creativity co-opted.

"We've had to fight for our humanity, representation, and control. Control of our narratives is crucial to decolonize knowledge, stories, cultures, and minds. We must take control of our narratives. The kind of control that can liberate us from seeing ourselves through the gaze of others. The kind of control that can change the way we see the world and how the world sees us."

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