Game 7 Preview: Are The Heat Imploding?

A week ago, it was a foregone conclusion that the Heat would beat the Pacers and advance to the NBA Finals.

Last Sunday, the Heat rebounded from a tough loss and ran away with Game 3, and it seemed like the train was right back on the tracks. Since then, the Pacers have taken two of three and now SportsCenter is asking the question: should the Heat dump Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, even if they win tonight?

It's a common refrain. There was 'break up the Heat' talk after they stumbled in 2011, and even a little bit over last summer after Bosh struggled and was hurt during the 2012 title run. With Wade's struggles and injuries this season, the talk cropped up again. After both sidekicks no-showed the last few games, it's gotten louder. LeBron James made a reference to his "Cleveland days," with the implication being he was the only one on the court worth a damn and that he was carrying the team himself.

He was sort of right, of course. Wade and Bosh have been invisible at times, and we already know from past experience that LeBron can only drag a team so far by himself. He's shouldered an incredible burden at various times in his career, and Bron tends to feel sorry for himself and vent more than you'd expect from a superduperstar. But if the Heat lose tonight, and I very much doubt they will, it won't be Wade's fault or Bosh's or Bron's or Erik Spoelstra's or Pat Riley's or anyone in the Heat organization.

Because the Pacers are good. Damn good. We knew that last year, when they gave the Heat a run, but this year with Paul George making the leap to star and resurgent runs from David West and Roy Hibbert, this is a team designed to give the Heat problems. Coach Frank Vogel seems content to let LeBron get his and have the team play excellent defense otherwise. He can do that with George playing Bruce Bowen-caliber perimeter D, and with Hibbert locking down the paint like this was 1999 and big men still mattered.

The Heat have no answer for Hibbert, and certainly none for David West, who has a giant X tattooed on his massive bicep (for Xavier, but also for 'X marks where I am going to bury you on this court, Chris Bosh') and has been abusing whoever he wants.

The Heat are... well, kind of a wimpy team. They're easy to punk - several teams, including the Knicks, have gone hard after them with physical play and preening and fired-up home crowds and the Heat have several times simply walked off the court, either literally or figuratively, as time ticked away. I don't think it's a collective character flaw in the Heat's psyche - I think it's a function of having a giant target on your back, and having every single team for 100+ games play them as if it were Game 7 of the Finals. It can be exhausting to get an opponent's A+ game night after night, but that's what happens when you're the defending champion super squad.

The Heat will probably win tonight, because they're at home and they are veterans and and they have the best player in the world and they have guys like Ray Allen and Shane Battier who are adept at going off in these types of situations. Allen in particular can swing a game single-handedly with his shooting. Chris Anderson returns to give the Heat some shot blocking, attitude, and neck tattoos. Plus, the Heat lost only four times at home in the regular season - twice to the Knicks. They dropped one to the Bulls last round at home, and once to the Pacers this round despite 36 from LeBron, thanks to a huge game from Indiana's Hibbert.

So the math says, the Heat will win. Logic backs that up. Common sense too. But if the Pacers win, it's going to be because they are a better team right now than Miami. Maybe not on paper, maybe not with as many All-Stars, but in terms of matchups, and coaching, and that stupid "heart" concept, yeah - they might be better.

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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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