Don’t Forget Today is Muhammad Ali’s Birthday… Still the Greatest of All Time

MuhammadAli

Our good friend, sports writer Dave Zirin reminds us…. “On a day dominated by Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o, remember that today Muhammad Ali turns 71. Happy birthday, Champ.

Looking at these clips make you wonder when will we have another sports figure to match Ali’s wit, charm, charisma and fearlessness? He’s still the greatest of All-time

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFidzk5MWwE

In this clip, shows Muhammad Ali in 1969 is talking about his resisting the Vietnam war..He’s on point big time…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLam_GiQ2Ww

A great collection of Ali sound clips and highlights from a variety of fights..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F30t-weDqko

Great discussion where Ali explains his strategy behind fighting and beating George Forman and why he thought Rocky Marcianao as the greatest boxer ever..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4YLaiDKQV0

Here’s a great tribute to Muhammad Ali from Mos Def now known as Yasiin Bey)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFa65Zie24w

Lebron, Gilbert & Jesse.. This is Bigger than Any Hip Hop Beef-But Who Wins when Millionaires Fight?

Here’s the podcast to our July 13th Hard Knock Radio show

w/ sports columnist/author Dave Zirin and

sports broadcaster/emcee FranK Red on Lebron James and also the passing of NY Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner

http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/62541

Everyone is talking about Lebron James and the brouhaha he has with Cleveland Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert.  Adding to the mix is Jesse Jackson. Lemme just say for the record this is not Hip Hop beef. It’s a beef between 3 men who have more money and resources than most of us could ever dream for… It’s important to not this because their beef becomes are distraction as we discovered the other night when Lebron’s ‘Decision’ where to make his next millions overshadowed the ‘Decision’ to slap an out of control cop on the wrist with manslaughter for the killing of Oscar Grant.

At any given moment, a kid from the projects or a rich millionaire like Lebron could be subjected to the harsh treatment of someone with a badge and a gun..

I think Dan Gilbert reacted more as a fan than an owner with his letter, however because what he says in his position as owner is gonna hold a certain amount of weight, he had to be more mindful or at least state it plainly so there’s no confusion. I’m not alone in my opinion, the NBA went a fined ole boy 100 Gs for the outburst.

I think Jesse Jackson was right in his assessment if he looks at Gilbert from the standpoint of him being an owner and not a fan… But Jesse has got to be taken to task for ignoring the Grant case. There’s no notice on his site about Grant. I could assume that maybe he wasn’t up on it, because it didn’t get national play..but there was also no mention of the explosive torture case involving former Chicago Captain Jon Burge who was recently found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice and was responsible for torturing hundreds of Black men in Chicago over a 30 year period. This was right in Jesse’s backyard and while we give him props for the battles he does take on, like Gilbert when he speaks his words take on extra weight. A younger, more hungry Jesse Jackson would’ve made the connection to Grant when speaking about Lebron..

Here’s a list of Jesse’s recent press releases. http://www.rainbowpush.org/news

Lastly we have Lebron James.. At 25 the weight of the world shouldn’t be on his shoulders, but he’s got to be smarter and more aware or come off looking like a big spoiled cry baby. He got used by the media that went above-board to focus on him while obscuring the verdict of Oscar Grant. You know it was huge because it even obscured a lot of coverage around the riot which was in reaction to the decision. Is that Lebron’s fault.. Technically ‘No’, but ethically ‘Yes’. Because he has a lot, much is expected and you can’t run around calling yourself King and not be up on issues pertinent to your ‘subjects’.  I think the editorial written by the folks at Whatupdoe in Detroit says it all.

Lastly I’ll say this..a great basketball player is one who transcends the sport and exercises leadership both on and off the court. Lebron is a master on the court but still has a way to go to live up to the title of King…His challenge was to leverage his greatness and be in ‘partnership’ by shifting the balance of power between him and owner Dan Gilbert. That would be the ascension I’m talking about.

Can Lebron James be the next Paul Robeson?

Right now he was a paid employee and not someone who was stepping up and finding away to make it happen for his team. He’s in a sport thats unlike any other where one guy can truly make a difference. Lebron left before making that difference in terms of being a champ and he knows this no matter how many rings he gets elsewhere. He knows he has unfinished business in Cleveland.. Same way Muhammad Ali knew he had to fight Joe Frazier after he beat George Forman and was the champ.  In addition since James calls himself King, he’s gonna have to move in the direction of being ‘that guy’ who smartly weighs in on issues of the day. Failure to do that as he gets older renders him to be cartoonish…In other words at 25 it’s cute to call yourself ‘King’, after he gets older it becomes silly unless he does King like things. I say he needs to take a page from singer John Legend on the activism/education tip and strive to be more Paul Robensonisque.

Until then Lebron is someone who we will say pulled a Meg Whitman. He’s no different than Ebay chair who is trying to buy her way to the Governor’s mansion in California. Buying your way to a championship in the NBA is not being a true winner.

Davey D

Open Letter to from Dan Gilbert

http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/news/gilbert_letter_100708.html

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

Does Cleveland Owner Dan Gilbert sound like someone w/ a slave-owners Mentality?

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner
Cleveland Cavaliers

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Reacts to Dan Gilbert’s Open Letter

http://www.rainbowpush.org/news/single/rev._jesse_l._jackson_sr._reacts_to_dan_gilberts_open_letter

“Mr. Dan Gilbert’s accusations, expressed in an open letter to LeBron James after his announcement that he will play next year’s NBA season for the Miami Heat, have legal and social implications for the league, its union and the character of LeBron James. By saying that he has gotten a free pass and that people have covered for him way too long, Gilbert suggests that LeBron has done something illegal or illicit.

He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship–between business partners–and LeBron honored his contract.

He must know the Curt Flood suit, which changed plantation rules and created free agency; and the Spencer Haywood suit that changed eligibility rules.

If he believes that LeBron quit in games 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, then, why did he fire the coach? If he believes that LeBron intentionally quit, determining the outcome of those games, why did he pursue him and offer him and additional $120 million to stay in Cleveland?

These accusations endanger LeBron. His jersey is being burned in effigy, and he is being projected as a betrayer by the owner.

When players or coaches speak disrespectfully to or about referees, they are fined. If Mr. Gilbert cannot prove that LeBron changed games by quitting, he defames his character. He should have to face a challenge by the NBA and the players association. LeBron has every right to an apology.

Other players cannot just watch this as if it is LeBron’s personal problem. This is an attack upon players in general.

LeBron is not a child, nor is he bound to play on Gilbert’s plantation and be demeaned. He has been a model citizen and has inspired the children of Akron, Cleveland, the State of Ohio and the United States.

He has conducted camps for children, helped to win a gold medal for our nation and his public deportment has been excellent.

Mr. Gilbert’s statement is mean, arrogant and presumptuous.

I hope that LeBron will speak up and speak out clearly and forcefully.”

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visithttp://www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366.

Here’s a response to Jesse’s remarks…from the website Whatupdoe.com out of Detroit..

Mr. Jackson,

Let me start out by saying that I recognize your accomplishments and everything you’ve done in the past. I know you marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. I know you were there when Martin was assassinated. I’m aware that, in the 80’s, you orchestrated a huge voter registration drive that led to millions of African Americans registering to vote and that you were a huge factor in Chicago electing its first African American Mayor in 1983. I know that you helped to found the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Council. It’s amazing that in 1984, 1990, and 1999 you were able to enter Syria, Iraq, and Yugoslavia, respectively, to negotiate the release of United States soldiers and civilians during war times.

With that being said…

You’ve never let us forget you marched with Martin and were there with him when he was assassinated. In fact, you pretty much remind us just about every time you speak. Your voter registration drives were for your own selfish gain during your presidential runs in 1984 and 1988. I also know that your exact location during Martin’s assassination has been the center of controversy. You were actually suspended by the SCLC, in 1971, for using the organization for personal gain. You then resigned shortly after being suspended by the SCLC only to start Operation PUSH  to “save humanity,” and founded the National Rainbow Coalition that sought out equal rights for African Americans, women, and homosexuals. Ironically, in 2001, it was unearthed that you had an affair with a woman that led to the birth of a child. In addition to that, to keep your mistress quiet, you paid her around $36,000 in Rainbow Push Coalition funds for “moving expenses” and “contract work,” with an additional guarantee for $40,000 more for future, “contract work,” but rescinded once the affair was made public. The same funds from your “non-profit,” that are solicited donations, in most cases I’m assuming, to support the causes your organization is supposed to be supporting.

You are also the same African American activist that was heard saying, during an interview, that, in regards to President Obama, you wanted to, “cut his nuts off,” for lecturing black churches about the state of welfare? The same President Obama that has been a pillar and champion for equality even before his election into office?

The last few times I’ve seen or heard your name mentioned? The highly publicized Duke Lacrosse scandal, the highly publicized scandal of unfunny Seinfeld actor/comedian Michael Richards’ usage of the word, “nigger,” in response to African American hecklers, and the highly publicized N.A.A.C.P.’s burial of the word, “nigger,” and all variations of it.  And now you’re lashing out against Dan Gilbert for his highly publicized open letter to LeBron James with your own open letter.

Well, Mr. Jackson, this is my open letter to you.

Quite frankly, to be blunt, I don’t know the difference between you (along with Rev. Al Sharpton) and an ambulance chasing personal injury attorney. Just that, in this case, the ambulance is free publicity.

Now, I didn’t mention any of the above to point fingers or to be hurtful but to bring up a point: Everyone’s human. We all fall victim to our emotions and actions. No one is above reprieve and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt and second chances.

However, if there is one thing I am sick of, I am sick and tired of the race card. I’m sick and tired of race being made an issue. And I’m definitely sick and tired of you, your cohort Rev. Al Sharpton, and everyone using racism as a crutch for some sort of favoritism or pity. For me and my generation, slavery is no longer a valid excuse for us not improving the quality of life for us and those surrounding us.

We’re going to have to agree to disagree on Dan Gilbert’s open letter being worded in a way that, “suggests that LeBron has done something illegal or illicit.” Should Gilbert have let his emotions dictate his words? No. He’s the owner of an NBA franchise. Not only could that letter be bad for future business, but as an owner he should hold himself to a higher standard. But, with that being said, he has nothing to apologize for. Are we asking people to apologize for the way they feel? What are we doing here?

LeBron most certainly fulfilled his contractual obligations, thus being allowed to make whatever decision he felt best for himself.

But there is nothing in Gilbert’s open letter to LeBron that signifies a slave and a master relationship, nor is there anything in Gilbert’s open letter that signifies him seeing LeBron James as a, “runaway slave.” Your egregious, extremely exaggerated connections of his letter to slavery and racism is reckless. It does more to hurt race relations in our country than it does to strengthen them.

continue reading Open Letter to Jesse Jackson here...http://www.whutupdoe.com/an-open-letter-to-jesse-jackson.html


This is Beyond Sports: A Conversation w/ Chuck D & Dave Zirin on the Fight in Arizona

http://edgeofsports.com/2010-05-11-531/index.html
“This is Beyond Sports” Chuck D on the fight in Arizona

By Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin & Chuck D

Chuck D. The Hard Rhymer. The man on the mic for the most politically
explosive hip-hop group in history, Public Enemy. With albums like “It
Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” “Fear of a Black Planet,”
and anthems like “Fight the Power” and “Bring the Noise” along with
the breathtaking production of the Bomb Squad, PE created a standard
of politics and art. Perhaps their most controversial track was “By
the Time I Get to Arizona
” (1991) about seeking revenge against
Arizona political officials for refusing to recognize Dr. Martin
Luther King
’s birthday [Lyrics include: ‘Cause my money’s spent on The
goddamn rent/Neither party is mine not the Jackass or the elephant.
]
Today, in the wake of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration Senate Bill
1070
, “By the Time I Get to Arizona” has been remixed and revived by
DJ Spooky. Chuck D also recorded his own track several months before
the bill was passed called “Tear Down That Wall.”  I spoke to Chuck
about the music and the nexus between immigration politics and sports.

DZ: Why did you choose to record “Tear Down this Wall?”

Chuck D: I had done “Tear Down this Wall” four or five months ago
because I heard a professor who works with my wife here on the West
Coast speak in a speech about the multi-billion dollar dividing wall
between the U.S. and Mexico, so, therefore, I based “Tear Down that
Wall” on the policy of the United States border patrol in the states
of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. I just wanted to put a
twist of irony on it saying if Ronald Reagan back in 1988 had told Mr.
Gorbachev to tear down that wall separating the world from countries
of capitalism and communism, we have a billion dollar wall right here
in our hemisphere that exists that needs to have a bunch of questions
raised. Questions like: “What the Hell?” I wrote the song about five
months ago and I did it coincidently, with all that’s brewing in the
state of Arizona. Immigration laws and racial profiling is happening
right here and I think the border situation, not only with the U.S.
and Mexico but the U.S. and Canada, on both sides is just out of
control. It’s crazy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJKuJ_uVffU

DZ: You did “Tear Down This Wall,” we have the DJ Spooky remix of “By
the Time I Get to Arizona,” and with your wife,
Dr. Gaye Theresa
Johnson
, you wrote a syndicated column on SB 1070. What’s the response
been to you being so out front on this issue?

Chuck D: Well the response is the usual, but I make it a habit not to
look at any blogs, because I think the font of a computer gives as
much credence to ignorance as it does to somebody who makes sense. So
I try not to read those responses, because anybody can respond
quickly. Back when people had to write letters it took an effort,
especially if someone didn’t have decent penmanship and handwriting. I
try not to look at the responses. I try to do the right thing. I tell
you this much, there is a rap contingent, a hip-hop contingent from
Phoenix, who did a remake of “By the Time I Get to Arizona.” I think
that needs to be recognized because these are young people. The song
is about eight minutes long. There’s about 12 MCs on it, and they are
putting it down. They are talking about how ridiculous this law is.
They are speaking out against it and they are putting all the facts on
the table, and they need to be acknowledged and highlighted. There is
a stereotype about young people and young MCs [being apolitical]. They
break it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Web707z2oB0

DZ: It’s remarkable how the original “By the Time I Get to Arizona
has been resurrected from the early 90’s now that the struggle has
picked up. Did you hear former NBA player
Chris Webber before the
Suns/Spurs game say, “Its like PE said ‘By the Time I get to
Arizona.’”?

Chuck D: [laughs] My Dad told me about that, You know Chris Webber is
the man. I wasn’t tuned into TNT at that particular time.

DZ: He said more than that.  He said, “Public Enemy said it a long
time ago. ‘By the Time I Get to Arizona.’ I’m not surprised. They
didn’t even want there to be a
Martin Luther King Day when John McCain
was in [office.]. So if you follow history you know that this is part
of Arizona politics.’” So he brought it all together with Public Enemy
at the center of it.

Chuck D: Unfortunately when it comes to culture, the speed of
technology and news today makes things out of sight, out of mind.
While these situations [the MLK fight and the immigration fights] are
different, the politics of both things stay around like a stain….
Once again Arizona has put themselves into this mix. I don’t know what
the hell was on Gov. Jan Brewer’s mind or what contingent is behind
her, but, you know, to make a decision like this and to be told to
ignore the people who have been in this area on this earth the longest
period of time. It just kind of resonates with me as being crazy.

DZ: Do you support an athletic or artistic boycott of Arizona until
this gets settled?

Chuck D: Dave, you know I do.  Artists and musicians can say we’re
going to play Texas, El Paso, New Mexico, Albuquerque, and we gotta
play L.A. But we’ll skip Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson and the like. But
you know what this is really a challenge for: that’s Major League
Baseball. You’ve got nearly a third of the players that are Latino. If
they don’t stand up to this bill, they will actually be validating the
divide amongst Latinos [between documented and undocumented
immigrants].

At the same time they’ll also be lining themselves right
into the stereotype of what an athlete is if they don’t speak out: a
high priced slave that doesn’t say anything. And to me it’s beyond
just boycotting the All-Star game. What are those Latino players on
the Diamondbacks going to do? What are the players going to say who go
into Arizona to play against the Diamondbacks? What are they going to
say and what are they going to do? Major League Baseball has to step
up.

The NBA has very few players of Latino descent and [the Suns] are
saying something. But Major League Baseball, if they don’t say
anything, it’s crazy. The owners, the team, the league, and especially
the players, whether they come from the Dominican Republic, whether
they come from Venezuela, whether they come from Puerto Rico, they
better step up. If they don’t step up, the music industry, at least
from my area, we’re going to clown them.

For us to speak out against
this law, and basketball stepping up, and Major League Baseball not
stepping up at all?! Come on now, give me a break. And I know a lot of
the cats they live in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico or
whatever, there’s like a trillion years difference between them and
their high salaries and the average people living in the streets. They
might build themselves a castle with a militia to protect them, but
this is the time to unite yourself with the people and at least live
in the legacy that [Major League Hall of Famer] Roberto Clemente set
of uniting people just to protect against the nonsense that the other
side can come up with. They need to know that it’s going to spread if
they don’t come up and say something about it.

DZ: Any final thoughts? Perhaps about Major League Baseball pulling
the All Star Game out of Phoenix
?

Chuck D: At the end of the day man, sports is really not that
important compared to people living their everyday lives. Say you have
a Major League player, and he happens to play for another team, or he
happens to play for the Diamondbacks and he gets pulled over because
people think he’s an illegal immigrant. Then all of a sudden that’s
when the “ish” finally hits the fan? Come on. This is beyond sports.
We want athletes to speak up because they have advantages. They have
everyday coverage. They’re covered by a person that has a mic and a
camera in their face, and this is the time to step up. Major League
Baseball pulling the All-Star game out of Arizona should be the least
of it.

[Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming “Bad Sports: How Owners
are Ruining the Games we Love
” (Scribner) Receive his column every
week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at
edgeofsports@gmail.com.]