Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rajon Rondo — Worst Free-Throw Shooter Of All-Times?

Rajon Rondo at the free-throw line. He has hit 19 of 61 attempts this
season (31.1 percent). “I don’t have a clue, really,” Rondo said.
Credit Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE, via Getty Images

Free Throws Haunt Rajon Rondo

Illustrating just how bad Rajon Rondo has been from the free-throw line this season can prove difficult. His struggle to get along with Coach Rick Carlisle after a midseason trade to the Dallas Mavericks gets most of the attention, but when a former All-Star is missing nearly 70 percent of his shots from a spot on the floor known as the charity stripe, a closer look is in order.

Rajon Rondo — Worst free-throw shooter of all-times?

It would be an understatement to say Rondo has been bad. Connecting on just 19 of his 61 free-throw attempts (31.1 percent), Rondo would be on pace for the worst season ever if he had enough attempts to qualify. Never a good free-throw shooter — his career mark coming into the season was 62.1 percent — Rondo has begun to make Shaquille O’Neal look like Mark Price. And it seems to be getting worse.

Shaquille O'Neal's career FT% = .527

There were signs early on that something was amiss. After a November loss in which he missed two free throws with a little more than a minute to play in a tie game, contributing to a loss for the Celtics, Rondo was at a loss to explain his struggles.

“I don’t have a clue, really — still trying to figure it out,” he said. “I continue to work on my game, and especially get some more free throws up.”

Less than a month later, with his free-throw percentage at 33.3 percent, he was traded to Dallas, and things have somehow gotten even worse. Since the trade, he is 7 for 25 (28 percent) from the line.

Chris Dudley, who set the record for free-throw futility by shooting 31.9 percent in 1989-90, will not be challenged, as it will be nearly impossible for Rondo to get enough attempts to qualify. But Olden Polynice, who holds the record for players with 80 or more attempts, may be getting nervous. In 1998-99, Polynice hit 30.9 percent of his shots, which is a depth Rondo could sink to if his shooting continues to deteriorate. Polynice, amusingly enough, shot 31.1 percent from the line the next season, giving him a brutal two-season mark of 31 percent (57 for 184).

What makes Rondo’s struggles unique, however, is that he is a guard. Big men like Dudley, Polynice, O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell have often struggled from the line, but their smaller counterparts have rarely had as much trouble.

Only six guards have ever attempted 80 free throws in a season and made fewer than 50 percent of them, and only one of those players, Johnny High of the 1982-83 Phoenix Suns, did it in the past 40 years. The record low for a guard was set by Alfred McGuire of the Knicks, who hit 43.6 percent (58 for 133) in 1953-54, a full 12.5 percentage points better than Rondo this season.

With so many percentages now a part of the league’s vernacular — field goal, 3-point, true shooting, effective field goal — it is easy to lose perspective on what qualifies as bad. Perhaps the best way to illustrate how awful Rondo’s shooting has been is to compare him with DeAndre Jordan, the Los Angeles Clippers center widely regarded as one of the worst free-throw shooters in N.B.A. history.

Jordan, whose career mark of 42.2 percent is far below O’Neal’s relatively productive 52.7 percent, is up to his old tricks this season, shooting just 40.9 percent from the line through Friday. But if he were to miss his next 89 free throws in a row, he would still have the edge over Rondo, 31.2 to 31.1. — Benjamin Hoffman | New York Times

Enter Bol Bol, 6-Foot-10 Son Of NBA Fan Favorite Manute Bol

Slowly Learning to Fill Big Shoes
CreditAmy Stroth for The New York Times

Emerging From a Father’s 7-Foot-6 Shadow

Bol Bol, 6-Foot-10 Son of Manute, Adjusts to High School Basketball

ROELAND PARK, Kan. — It is not by happenstance that toy basketball hoops are scattered about the house of 15-year-old Bol Bol, or that his bedroom in the basement is home to about 40 pairs of basketball shoes. His love for the game was passed down by his father, Manute Bol, the 7-foot-6 shot blocker whose impossibly long arms and lighthouse smile made him a fan favorite for 10 N.B.A. seasons before he died in 2010.

But Manute Bol’s on-court fame paled in comparison with the humanitarian work he did on behalf of his native Sudan, raising money and awareness for a country bloodied by civil war.

They are big shoes to fill in every way, and Bol Bol is struggling to do so.

Bol Bol, 15, son of the former N.B.A. player Manute Bol, is attending Bishop Miege
High School in Roeland Park, Kan. His father died in 2010.
Credit Steve Hebert for The New York Times
“Everyone thinks that I’m probably going to be the one, so everything’s on me,” Bol said. “I want to finish what he didn’t do.”

Like his father, Bol is unnaturally tall: He is 6-10 as a high school freshman, and growing. He has the usual teenager preoccupations: regular hangouts at a nearby mall, a popular Instagram account and a devotion to the video game “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.” He is popular with students and teachers here at Bishop Miege High School, but he is still adjusting to wearing a uniform that does not really hang well on his splinter of a frame.

Bol also shoulders his share of teenage angst, the kind that comes when you have an outsize skill set and a famous last name and have become an online phenomenon and a scouting prognosticator’s dream.

His coach, Rick Zych, has had to speak with him about his commitment to his team after Bol has either been late to practice or missed it entirely. Though he recently became eligible for Miege’s varsity — Bol transferred to Miege after starting the year at Blue Valley Northwest and had to sit out because of transfer rules — he has not earned playing time yet. At a recent game, he refused to join his junior varsity teammates on the court when Zych cleared the bench toward the end of a big varsity victory.

“He has opportunity,” Zych said. “You can control attitude and effort, and he struggles with those areas. He’s a freshman, understanding team play and attitude with the team.”

Bol Bol was born in Sudan, the first child from Manute’s second marriage, to Ajok, a daughter of an officer in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The couple came to suburban Kansas City more than a decade ago and set about raising Bol, Madut, now 8, and Garang, 6. Ajok has another child, Mariak, 2.

Manute Bol in 1993 playing against the Knicks' Patrick Ewing.
Bol was involved with Sudan Sunrise, a humanitarian
group that promotes reconciliation in Sudan.
Credit Jim Sulley/Associated Press
In 2010, however, Manute Bol died of kidney disease and complications of a rare skin disorder known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. He was 47, and his funeral in Washington brought out United States senators and diplomats as well as basketball players.

Manute, by reputation, would give anything to support his struggling countrymen, but often gave too much, regularly putting the family in a tough financial position. One of Manute’s older sons, the 6-8 Madut (he had two sons named Madut), played basketball at Southern University but never reached the pros. Another son, Chris, tried out for an A.B.A. team. Manute’s distance alienated his older sons, who now live in New Jersey.

“I used to wonder where he was earlier in my life, why he wasn’t there then,” Chris told The Philadelphia Inquirer last year.

Bol, however, has a different memory of his father.

“He would always travel a lot for the N.B.A. and for meetings,” Bol said. “But sometimes I’d go with him. He taught me a lot of stuff when I was little.”

Bol often accompanied his father to the N.B.A. All-Star Game, where Manute was always a spectator but one admired by his colleagues. One year, Bol Bol got to step on the playing court. Another year, he shook hands with Michael Jordan. Once, LeBron James signed a pair of shoes for him.

But his first basketball memory is receiving a toy hoop when he was 5 years old, part of his father’s mission to get him to play a sport he had resisted.

“At first I didn’t like it because my dad was always pushing me to play,” Bol said.

Bol Bol dunking during a junior varsity game for Bishop Miege
High School in Roeland Park, Kan., on Tuesday.
Credit Amy Stroth for The New York Times
Earlier this winter, an eye-popping highlight video of Bol caught the eye of longtime N.B.A. fans who saw something familiar in the galloping strides of a long-limbed Bol. Though Bol had received plenty of attention in recruiting circles — his first dunk came in sixth grade — the video made him a national name.

A virtual clone of his father, save for a cluster of braids and bright Under Armour socks, Bol unleashed an array of soft floaters in the post and sweeping two-handed blocks against smaller, less-skilled opponents. It vaulted him to the top of the rankings for players in his age group.

“His skill set, the ball handling and shooting, is excellent for a kid his size,” said Zych, who has won two state titles at Bishop Miege. “When you look down the road, that’s what makes him so intriguing.”

Now, however, Bol is a work that needs a lot of progress. He is a natural gym rat who is just starting to build a work ethic. He is also headstrong and defiant, and he believes he is as good as online scouting reports say he is.

“Sometimes kids see themselves, Hey, I’m a three man at the next level,” Zych said. “High school coaches, their job is to put the best high school team out there. To be competitive at our level, our job is that we’re really trying to make him a quality post player and to utilize his size and agility. Sometimes, when kids have accolades, like it’s going to be handed to him.”

Bol’s A.A.U. team, KC Run GMC, which is based in Olathe, Kan., allows him more freedom to play how he wants: more long jumpers and slashing drives to the basket.

Bol, who is 6-feet-10-inches, stands a head above most of his teammates.
Bol came to America from Sudan when he was 2.
Credit Steve Hebert for The New York Times
“You see his size and skill set and think he would not be as agile as he is, but he’s pretty gifted in that regard,” said Run GMC Coach L. J. Goolsby. “We had no idea that he was that good of a shooter. There’s work to be done, and he has a long ways to go. He actually does have a good post game when he uses it.”

Still, Bol struggles to find his place in basketball, the game his father wanted him to play but the son first pushed away. In practice, Zych’s most frequent commands to his would-be star are “Sprint!” and “Keep working!”

Bol does, sort of.

“He’s not his dad,” Zych said. “He’s Bol Bol. He’s this piece of clay. How this piece of clay ends up being a statue is up to him. We’re just some of the people that are going to help mold this person.”

Bol’s immediate goal is to get out of Zych’s doghouse and into the varsity rotation. He also has talked to his mother about attending a more basketball-focused prep school next year. In the meantime, Bol counts the days to summer when he returns to the A.A.U. circuit, with its bigger cities and better players.

He is a boy, after all, one who often looks at a photograph he posted on Instagram. He is with his father in the hospital. He misses him.

“Pray every day to be with this man in heaven,” it reads. — Corbin Goble | New York Times

Straight Outta Compton (2015) Movie Trailer — N.W.A.'s Biopic Directed by F. Gary Gray

Straight Outta Compton (2015) -starring- Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Aldis Hodge & Neil Brown, Jr. | Directed by F. Gary Gray

SYNOPSIS: In the mid-1980s, the streets of Compton, California, were some of the most dangerous in the country. When five young men translated their experiences growing up into brutally honest music that rebelled against abusive authority, they gave an explosive voice to a silenced generation.
Straight Outta Compton (2015) is a biopic film that revolves around the rise and fall of the
Compton rap group N.W.A. — set for theatrical release on August 14th, 2015
Following the meteoric rise and fall of N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton tells the story of how these youngsters revolutionized music and pop culture forever the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood and ignited a cultural war.
N.W.A. is a revolutionary rap group comprised of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren & DJ Yella — the film's name is borrowed from the title of N.W.A's mercurial 1988 debut studio album.

The Last Orangutan Eden

The Last Orangutan Eden
Ecologist Chris Morgan visits endangered orangutans in Northern Sumatra. (53:10)
Ecologist Chris Morgan travels to the jungles of Northern Sumatra to document the work being done to save its population of wild orangutans. Asia’s most intelligent ape once roamed across the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java, but today, fewer than 7,000 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. The film cites rapid deforestation — clearing the land for vast palm oil plantations — as the chief reason for the species’ declining population.

But as Morgan shows, conservationists are trying to reverse that trend by teaching orphaned orangs the survival skills they’ll need for release back into the jungle. He also accompanies researchers deep into a remote and protected peat swamp forest to study wild orangutans up close to learn about their culture and behavior.

Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: February 27th, 2015

Here are your top 10 plays from Friday night's action around the NBA.

R.I.P. — Anthony Mason (December 14th, 1966 – February 28th, 2015) — R.I.P.

Anthony Mason (December 14th, 1966 – February 28th, 2015)

Former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason dead at 48

Former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason died Saturday morning at the age of 48, a Knicks spokesperson confirmed.

Mason, a 2001 All-Star with the Miami Heat, played for six NBA teams over 13 seasons including five years with the Knicks. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure earlier this month .

Mason had four surgeries following his heart attack and his three sons — Anthony Jr., Antoine and Armon — were at his side.

Mason was the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 1995 while with the Knicks and was selected to the NBA's All-Defensive team in 1997. The Tennessee State alum was drafted by Portland in 1988, but was cut before the season began. He played a season in Turkey before joining the New Jersey Nets in 1989. After a year with the Savannah Spirits of the Continental Basketball Association, Mason played three games with the Denver Nuggets before going to the Knicks in 1991.

Known as a tenacious defender and "the enforcer" for the Knicks, Mason even served as security for rapper LL Cool J.

In New York, Mason helped the Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals for the first time since 1973, but lost to Houston. Despite leading the league in minutes played in the 1995-96 season, Mason was traded to Charlotte. He spent three seasons with the Hornets and the 1996-97 season was the best of Mason's career. He averaged more than 16 points that season with 76 blocks and 33 steals. The 6-7 forward bested those numbers in 2001 with 80 blocks to go with his 16-point average.

Mason spent his final two NBA seasons in Milwaukee. For his career, Mason averaged 11 points per game. He averaged more than three assists per game and finished his career with 648 steals and 244 blocked shots.

Photo of Anthony Mason R.I.P. taken at M2: ULTRA LOUNGE in 2009

Away from basketball, Mason appeared in television shows and movies, sometimes playing himself. He also appeared in several music videos, including the Beastie Boys' "Root Down".

Anthony Jr. played in the NBA Developmental League. Antoine plays at Auburn after transferring from Niagara University. Armon plays basketball for his middle school and on YMCA and AAU teams. — Sporting News

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shocking True Story — Rapper Future's DJ Esco Jailed In Dubai

The Terrifying True Story Of How Future’s DJ Got Stuck In A Dubai Jail For 56 Days

DJ Esco's Amsterdam birthday celebration ended with an IRL nightmare. Here's what it's like to get locked up in the UAE.

On January 13, Future's affable DJ Esco (real name: William Moore) returned to his mother's home cooking after an unexpectedly long stay in the United Arab Emirates. He'd traveled there to perform with Future at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a swanky weekend also attended by Kim Kardashian, Prince Harry, and the Spice Girls. Future would later call his experience in Dubai "priceless" and something he would "never forget."

Esco will also never forget his experience in Dubai, which began when he was arrested at the airport for marijuana possession. He ended up spending 56 long days in a prison where few others spoke English. As he tells it, during his stay he met a Taliban legend, learned about Islam, and befriended a warden who would ultimately help facilitate his release. "I wasn't pissed that I was the one that got caught," he said, recalling his experience for The FADER a week after he got home. "I was more focused on how to get out then how I got in." Here, in his own words, is his crazy, terrifying, and totally riveting story.

DJ ESCO: We had been on the European tour for a month and our last show was supposed to be in Amsterdam. My birthday was around that same time, so I was like, I'll wait to celebrate my birthday in Amsterdam. I had never been to Amsterdam, so wanted to go to a cafe and the red light district. Just typical tourist shit, you know?

Then we got asked to do an extra show in Abu Dhabi. Once we left from Europe, we were gonna do this one show in Abu Dhabi, then go back to America. At the time, I wasn't really aware of the whole geographics, where everything was at. We're at the end of the Europe tour, and it's my birthday, and we're in Amsterdam, so we're gonna celebrate! I got the weed.

But I'm not trying to walk around around with all this weed, you feel me? I was not intentionally trying to bring weed to Abu Dhabi. And if I would have known the rules and laws they got over there, I would have quadruple checked my bag and made sure there wasn't a piece of weed. I swear I would have.

So we land in Abu Dhabi and I'm just walkin' through the airport and I got everybody's bags. Probably, like, 20 or 30 bags. It's a whole buncha bags that we pushin'. And I didn't realize at the time that discrimination might be an issue, so I'm just walking around and thinking everything's normal.
Photography Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Our cameraman starts filming me walking in the airport, but apparently there's no cameras allowed in the airport. This is how this whole thing started—now we're causing a scene. I'm on my way out the door and a police officer stops the cameraman first. They're real mean. He's like, "No cameras in the airport! Delete the pictures!" He made our cameraman delete all the pictures right there on the spot. After he did that, I was like, Damn, he's gonna do something. Like, Shit, man, we got him riled up.

We keep walking, but the officer ran to catch up to us. He stopped me and he's like, "Who are you?" Because the camera was on me. I tell him I do music and that I just came here to do a show at the Grand Prix. He's like, Lemme see your passport. Then he wants to see everyone's, but it's just me and and my manager. Everyone else had went ahead.

Then he was like, "I wanna check all these bags. Who these bags with? You? I wanna check every single one." There's no point of separating them, because now you're searching six people instead of just one person. So I said, "Yeah, they're my bags." But I'm thinking, like, this man really wanna check these? He really wants to hand check 40 bags? He crazy!

So he's checking the bags so long, his coworkers are coming over like, "Man, would you leave these people alone, because you had this man standing here for an hour and you still haven't found anything. Why don't you just wrap it up and let it go." Meanwhile, it's like when you in high school and you going to the principal's office and you trying to think, like, Did I do anything in class? And eventually I'm like, I should be cool, he's just turnt up.

So, okay. He finally found like, this fairy dust particle of weed in my backpack. They're trying to get like a magnifying glass and—I'm for real—they're like, arguing if it's green or brown. They're tearing the luggage apart like I got kilos of cocaine or something, ripping the bags apart looking for extra compartments and shit. The officer gets down to the last two bags, and that's when he finds a bag with some weed in it. It was a good little amount, probably 15 grams or something like that.

Photography Haider Shah / AFP / Getty Images
At this point I'm thinking, first of all, What the fuck? I didn't know the weed was there. And second, I didn't know what the hell they was gonna do. Cause once they seen some weed they went crazy. You would have thought I had a bomb and there was ten seconds left and the world is about to end if they didn't get every officer up there. But I'm not scared yet, because I'm still thinking that worst case scenario, they're just gonna send me back on the plane. Okay, I can't come. It's the last show anyways, and I don't really want to go through all these interrogations. Do what you want to do with the weed, and send me back next flight. So I'm still relaxed at this point. Little did I know, I was gonna be in that motherfucker for 56 days.

They don't tell you you're not going home. They're trying to see if I've been to Dubai, to see if I'm trying to sell this. I don't know nobody in no Dubai. I'm like, "It's for me! It's for nobody else. We do music, I didn't come to Dubai to sell weed." This is when I'm learning, okay they have zero tolerance for this. Period. They're really acting like this is the biggest drug in the world. And that's when I was like, Okay, this might be serious. 

"There's no judge, no jury. They assign you to a prosecutor, and the prosecutor can just do what he wants."
They take me to a police station. No English is going down at this point. When they arrest me at the airport, nobody speaks English. Your only hope is this translator, and you don't know what the hell he's translating. His ear isn't even trained to capture my English. So you're saying shit and he's repeating it back in Arabic, and the officer is looking at you, and you don't know what they're talking about. Then they give you a paper, the paper is in Arabic, nothing in English—I didn't even know they read from right to left, it took me a long time to figure this out—and they tell you to sign it and then you can go home. But I didn't know what the paper said! They're translating what I'm saying—I'm saying I don't know what's going on. I never been here, I don't know nobody here, I came here for a music show—but I don't know what they're translating, if he was saying what I was saying. You just don't know. And it's discrimination—I had my hair down and I got dreadlocks, I got tattoos.

This is Thursday, November 19. Everybody had gone, because I'd already said I'll take care of this and see you later. We're American, so we think you're gonna get up the next day and get bailed out. But it don't work like that in Abu Dhabi.

They say, "Grab some extra clothes because you're gonna be here for a couple of days." So I was like, "A couple of days? I thought y'all was takin' me home right now!" Then they take me to the jail cell and I never came back out.

When you first get in there, you don't know what's going on. First of all, I'm the only American. It's Pakistanis, Saudis, Afghans, Kuwaitis, Iranians. And then you got some Africans, like Somalians, Nigerian, Egyptians. All these people was the people in jail. So when I come in, the first thing I'm seeing is like, How am I going to communicate with these people? I don't know what to do.

One of the guys who could speak a little bit of English, he was saying, "U.S. Embassy, call the U.S. Embassy." But I don't know how to get my U.S. Embassy's number, how to get a calling card to call them, what kind of money they use. I don't know nothing. I'm just in here.

The next day you go see a prosecutor. There's no rights. When they arrest you, they don't have to say you have a right to this, you have a right to an attorney, you have a right to remain silent. There's no judge, no jury. They assign you to a prosecutor, and the prosecutor can just do what he wants with you. They don't have to tell you anything. They don't even have to explain what the charge is.

You get a piece of paper, and the paper is in Arabic. I still don't know exactly what it said to this day. But I would go find somebody who could read Arabic and knew a little bit of English. It said something like: You gotta go to court on such and such date and you've been charged with drugs. It could've been cocaine, it could have been heroin, it could have been marijuana, they treat it all the same over there. So I'm in there with people who had 10, 12, 20 kilos of cocaine from Brazil. There's an old man in there right now, 67 years old, he stole a box of candy from the airport, and he still in there. He's still in there right now because his paper just said he stole something and now he's in the same category as the people who stole 850,000 Dirhams. So there's an old man in there right now, I can see his face, and he's going crazy over a chocolate bar!

So they give you this paper that tells you in seven days you gotta go to court, but then you only get to say one word. They ask you, did you bring a drug into this country? You don't get to explain. You just get to say yes or no, and you have to say yes because if you say no, then there's a whole 'nother case going on. So you say yes, and then they give you another paper for 14 days. Then you get thrown in Dubai jail. I don't care what you did, how minor it was, you can't do anything for the first 21 days, no matter what.
Photography Karim Sahib / Getty Images
It took three days to get the U.S. embassy's number because the guards wouldn't give it to me, because there's a language barrier and they really ain't trying to help you like that. I found out the third day that you had to hit 1-3-3 on the prison phone and then they give you embassy numbers. So I called the U.S. Embassy, and I'm like, "Yo! I'm American and I'm in Abu Dhabi prison, get me out of here!" And they were like, "Aight, we gonna send somebody down. Visit days are Tuesday, we're gonna have somebody down there no later than Tuesday."

So now I'm like, Okay, Tuesday it's going down. My U.S. Embassy, they coming, and I'm getting out of here. People was like, "He's American! He's American! He's gonna be outta here in three days." Everyone keeps saying this because they've never seen an American here. It's like I'm a fucking unicorn, for real. They've never seen an American where they can walk up and touch him. It's like I'm an extraterrestrial.

Tuesday the Embassy comes. Two people show up, and—first of all, I almost broke down because I'm just happy I see an American that's talking English. I'm sitting there like, "You guys came to get me right? So, what's the fastest I can get out of here?" And I'm thinking they're gonna tell me, like, now. But then they're like, "Well, with cases like this it's probably gonna take eight weeks."

I'm like, Hold up. Eight weeks? You can't tell me nothing better than this?! I think I blacked out. My whole body went numb and I was just thinking my life is gonna be over. There's no way I can survive eight weeks in here, mentally. I cuss out both people from the U.S. Embassy, and then I walked back devastated 'cause that's when it hit me—I'm not getting out of here. Every night I was having dreams that I was doing something else, then I would wake up back in jail. Waking up used to be the worse.

In the jail it's two sides. There's the Arabic side and the other side is predominantly African. and it's like a war between both sides. But I could go on both sides 'cause I wasn't neither. When I first moved in, both sides were tryna see who was gonna get the American. And I'm like, I know I'm gonna be cool with them Africans over there, but I need to make sure I'm cool with the Arabic side too. We had one dude in there who'd been in the Taliban, and he was celebrated. He got caught because he fell asleep when he was supposed to be detonating a tank. He was waiting so long that he fell asleep, and the U.S. found him with this bomb in his hand and he said he got tortured by the CIA for 40-something days. With no clothes on, in the cold. And he never gave no names, so the U.S. let him go. This was his little legend.

Photography Instagram @escomoecity
All of the people there were so far from what I've ever known. People carrying kilos of coke in their stomach. Stuff I wouldn't even imagine doing, these people are doing to try to make it. These folks was living crazy, but I learned from them. Like, there's a difference between North and South Pakistan. I didn't know that in Cameroon they speak French. You learn about Islam. In prison they pray five times a day. They just put me on. I talked to everyone about their government and their language. Like, while I'm here, I got to figure it out.

The only thing you could really do is try to make yourself exercise, like on some Rocky shit. You gotta do push-ups, sit-ups off the cell bars. People were making dumbbells out of six liter water bottles. I wanted some books, something to get my mind off the situation. But the embassy couldn't even get my books in. I stopped talking to the embassy. They were always two steps behind.

I used a whole lot of money on phone cards, I was talking to my mom all the time. Otherwise I didn't want to talk to anyone else from America. It makes you think about what you miss. You think of the food you was missing, you think of the club, the drinks. And it just really makes it worse.
"For that moment everyone was just on the same level. Everyone was the same. Everyone was just happy to see me walk out."
To make a long story short, the warden blessed me. He took a liking to me, taught me some things about Islam and we ended up growing our own relationship. He's the one who ended up helping me when my lawyer told me it might be six months, a year, or four years. I was sitting there in a daze after my lawyer left, thinking bout what I'm gonna do for the next year or whatever in here, and the warden came in and he was like, "It's not in my job description and I really don't care about your case, but I've come to like you as a person. I'm not suppose to do this, but I'm going to call your prosecutor." I couldn't even get the U.S. Embassy to call the prosecutor!

The warden said, "Gimme 10 minutes and I'll let you know." He called me and was like, "Hey I just talked to your prosecutor, I think you might be going home in a week." I just gave him this big ass hug. And the inmates, they not even used to seeing that. That can't see an inmate giving the warden a hug. I called my mom and I was like, "Mom, I think I might have good news. The warden just did me a whole favor." And she was like, "I knew it! I knew it! Everybody been praying." We'd been on an up and down roller coaster—I was supposed to be there for Thanksgiving, and then we thought I was gonna be there for Christmas.

When I left it was real dope. Everybody from the African and the Arabic side came out of their cell and walked me to the door. Everybody was like "America! Going home, America!" Everyone from both sides was clapping. That shit was dope, 'cause for that moment everyone was just on the same level. Everyone was the same. Everyone was just happy to see me walk out.

The first thing I did was walk into the airport paranoid. I bought some headphones, because after no music for all those days—and they don't know nothing about hip-hop—I wanted to listen to music so bad. So I bought some headphones, then I went up to the escalators and bought some ice cream and some cookies and I was like, I can't believe this. Like, What just happened?

Top 10 NBA Plays of the Night: February 25th, 2015

Check out the Top 10 plays from tonight's 12-games.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marlon Wayans Auditions For Richard Pryor's Biopic by Lee Daniels

Precious and The Butler director Lee Daniels revealed that he was making a Richard Pryor biopic, he found himself looking to cast a role that many actors would fight tooth and nail for.

Read More: Watch Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape |
Precious and The Butler director Lee Daniels revealed that he was making a Richard Pryor biopic, he found himself looking to cast a role that many actors would fight tooth and nail for.

Read More: Watch Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape |
recious and The Butler director Lee Daniels revealed that he was making a Richard Pryor biopic, he found himself looking to cast a role that many actors would fight tooth and nail for

Read More: Watch Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape |

Watch: Marlon Wayans’ Audition Tape for Richard Pryor Biopic

The newly leaked tape gives a glimpse into what could have been if the comedian had been cast as Richard Pryor.

The Hollywood gossip around town was who will be taking on the role of Richard Pryor in a Lee Daniels-directed biopic —  the Precious (2009) and The Butler (2013) director Lee Daniels revealed that he was making a Richard Pryor biopic, he found himself looking to cast a role that many actors would fightw/ every ounce of acting blood for the once-in-a-lifetime role of the legendary comedian.

In what many thought Marlon Wayans & Nick Cannon were the front-runners but — [SPOILER ALERT: Mike Epps has been chosen] in a recent interview, Richard Pryor’s ex-wife, Jennifer, stated why Epps was chosen.

“I think Mike has a rawness about him that is very similar to Richard’s rawness. You know what I mean? Nick is a delightful person; I think he’s a very nice guy and I think the same of Marlon, but I don’t feel their rawness. That’s not an insult, it’s just a fact. Some people look kind of shattered when they walk into a room, and Mike’s got that vulnerability, and you can identify that. Marlon doesn’t have that; nor does Nick,”
Pryor stated.

Wudda-Cudda-Shudda fans now have their chance — a glimpse into whether Marlon Wayans (of the talented comedic-family tree 'Wayans-bloodline' possessed that “rawness” she spoke of in this "exclusive" audition tape that was leaked.

In the underground/industry clip, Wayans touches on Pryor’s drug usage along w/ the relationship w/ his ex-wife. [NOTE: The video also includes Omar Epps as his psychiatrist.] — The Roots

Christina Aguilera Impersonates Cher, Britney Spears & Shakira On Jimmy Fallon

Watch Christina Aguilera Imitate Britney Spears, Shakira on ‘Jimmy Fallon’
‘Tonight Show’ host takes on David Bowie, Michael McDonald in new round of ‘Musical Impressions’

Jimmy Fallon's ability to imitate musicians from across the pop spectrum has been a part of his arsenal since his Saturday Night Live days, but The Tonight Show host may have met his match Monday when he and Christina Aguilera went head to head in a game of "Wheel of Musical Impressions."

Christina Aguilera Is 'One Of The Greatest Vocalists Of Our Time'
— Axl Rose

The bit got off to an auspicious start with Aguilera's rendition of the "Folgers Coffee" jingle in the style of Cher, and Fallon's performance of "Grand Old Flag" as David Bowie. But Aguilera stole the show next with a pristine impression of her former Nineties pop rival, Britney Spears, singing "This Little Piggy" as the Roots jammed out the melody of "…Baby One More Time."

The performance earned a standing ovation from Fallon, but Aguilera wasn't done yet. She closed out the segment singing a personal favorite, the Golden Girls theme song, in the style of Shakira, tossing in a few "lole lole" ad libs for good measure. Fallon even lent the pop star an assist, jumping in as Michael McDonald to bring the theme to a rousing, surreal close.

Aguilera also returned to her post as a judge on NBC's singing competition The Voice on Monday after taking several seasons off to record a new album and welcome her second child, a daughter born last summer. The singer also recently signed on for a multi-episode arc on ABC's Nashville, where she'll play a pop star who moves to Music City and tries to reinvent herself as a country singer. — Jon Blistein | RollingStone

Top 10 NBA Plays of the Night: February 24th, 2015

Here are your top 10 plays from Tuesday night's action around the NBA.

The Gunman (2015) -starring- Sean Penn, Idris Elba & Javier Bardem | Directed by Pierre Morel


The Gunman (2015) -starring- Sean Penn, Idris Elba & Javier Bardem | Directed by Pierre Morel

SYNOPSIS: An international spy must clear his name in order to save himself from the organization that he used to work for.

A former Special Forces soldier and military contractor suffering from PTSD tries to reconnect with his long time love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name.

THE GUNMAN, the new action thriller from Pierre Morel, the director of Taken, stars Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and Mark Rylance. (C) Open Road

Alex Rodriguez's Handwritten Apology Letter

Alex Rodriguez's Handwritten Apology Letter


Tracy McGrady — The Game Does Not Leave Gently

The Game Does Not Leave Gently

I. A Long Goodbye

SUGAR LAND, Texas — The game does not leave gently. And so on a fall afternoon, with sunlight streaming through the windows of his home basketball gymnasium, Tracy McGrady practices hard for an NBA comeback he will never make.

His face sparkles with sweat. A gray T-shirt clings to his chest. He has been shooting three-pointers for more than an hour in a routine he has performed every day since completing a childhood dream of playing professional baseball. He must hit 500 of these three-pointers before he can stop. Music thumps from a nearby speaker. A silent tally builds…455…456…457.

He already knows the futility of his quest. It's a few days before he left on a month long trip to China during which he hit the winning shot in a basketball exhibition, posed for hours of photographs and perhaps made millions in endorsements and future business.

The China trip had been booked since January, so even if an NBA team had called on the phone he has left on a nearby bench, he would not have been able to attend its training camp. He won't sign unless he goes through camp. That wouldn't be doing it right. If there's going to be a comeback—and it doesn't seem there is—he is going to do it right.

Still McGrady pushes through these workouts, because after 15 months away from the NBA there is something in these jump shots. His body feels young again.

The back spasms that sabotaged his prime seasons are gone. The left knee pain that took away his speed has disappeared. He is fresh. He is certain if he works extra hard and gets into what he calls "tip-top" shape, he can matter for a team again.

"I'm better than half the damn league, anyway," he will later grumble.

He is 35 now and richer than any kid who never went to college could ever dream of being. His net worth has been estimated at $80 million, according to Wealth-X, an ultra high net-worth intelligence and prospecting firm.

He is 35 now and richer than any kid who never went to college could ever dream of being. 

For months businessmen have pilgrimaged here to discuss a plan that could dwarf his athletic legacy by changing the way people live, rebuilding the structure of our cities and recasting the fate of thousands of professional athletes destined to go broke.

"Unfortunately injuries robbed him of that greatness prematurely." - Jeff Van Gundy

There was a time in his life when McGrady aspired to be like Magic Johnson, who has molded a new legacy, bringing economic revival to blighted neighborhoods. Now he wonders if maybe he can be bigger than Magic, making more money, helping more people.

II. T-Mac Time

Early this century, before the back ached and the knee went, Tracy McGrady could do almost anything on the basketball court. He was "T-Mac," an exotic blend of power and grace, a shooting guard in a power forward's body—gliding for layups and pile-driving dunks.

T-Mac could pass. T-Mac could rebound. T-Mac could guard the other team's best scorer. 
T-Mac at his healthiest was complete in a way few have ever been complete.

And when the baskets came, they poured from his hands in a flurry of astonishing highlights, each bequeathed with its own title: the 13 points in 35 seconds, the 62 points against Washington, the dunk on Shawn Bradley.

"People forget how incredible a talent he was," says Orlando Magic vice president Pat Williams.

Those days don't feel that far gone.

Since walking away after the 2013 NBA Finals, he has worked hard to be Tracy McGrady, suburban father of four, husband and businessman, wearing suits to meetings and burying himself in financial prospectuses.

But then come these moments like today when 35 feels young, when he can hear the words of Kobe Bryant on that television interview calling him"the guy who actually gave me the most problems," and the pride swells up. And Tracy turns into T-Mac.

T-Mac at his healthiest was complete in a way few have ever been complete. 
"The thing is, I can still go, man," T-Mac says. He is driving from lunch to his daughter Layla's junior high school volleyball game, but the workout is still on his mind.

"My body is still in shape. I can go. It's about opportunity, though. … I want no limits on who I am and what I can do, not stand in the corner and shoot jump shots," he says. "I want to be involved, that's not saying 10 to 15 shots, I want to be involved. I don't want to stand in the corner and shoot threes. That's not me."

The ideal team, T-Mac says, would be the Lakers. The Lakers are inexperienced. The Lakers need players. He could be the second star the Lakers must have to go with Bryant.

"This Kobe," he says. "I could play with him."

If only T-Mac could find a team that agrees with him. Even Williams, who fondly remembers the back-to-back NBA scoring titles McGrady had for his Magic a decade ago, sighs softly when asked about the comeback.

"Tracy has milked every bit of basketball talent out of his body," Williams says. "There's nothing left."


Two former NBA head coaches who were asked about the possibility of a McGrady comeback deem it highly unlikely. "You're talking about one of the most competitive businesses in the world," one says. "He was a great player, but he's been gone for a year. It would be almost impossible."

Still T-Mac nods as he gazes over the steering wheel. These days he views the NBA as nothing but a bunch of kids happy with jump shots and highlight moves, oblivious to the work it takes to be great. He says they might be faster than him, but they don't have the range to their game. They are not complete.

"The league is so young and they have no skills," he says. "They have athleticism but no skills. Half these guys wouldn't be able to play in the league when I first came into it. There's only a handful I enjoy watching anyway. When Kevin Durant and LeBron are gone, who is going to carry the league? There's no LeBron or Kevin Durant in the next batch."

His words hang for a moment inside the car. Then T-Mac disappears. Tracy pulls into the school parking lot and walks toward the gym, just another dad in town watching his girl play sports in a life after basketball.

III. The Bucket List and Baseball

In many ways, McGrady's brief baseball career this year was more Tracy than T-Mac. Baseball was his first love, a passion he shared with his much older cousin C.J. back home in central Florida. It was C.J. who taught McGrady how to pitch, building a makeshift strike zone from couch pillows as they watched Yankees and Braves games on television. Basketball forced him to abandon baseball in high school, but he never lost his fascination with the game.

Years later, after McGrady was in the NBA and C.J. had died, he vowed that if he ever had the chance to play professional baseball, he would seize it. With the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League here in town and Tracy still in shape, it made sense he would find his way to their mound.
"How many people get to live out two dreams?" his wife, CleRenda, says.

IV. What's Next?

Here is how Tracy McGrady is going to change the world.

He is going to teach athletes to take control of their money. He is going to make them understand what he has come to learn in the last four years, when the injuries piled up and the games played went down: that it is easy to grasp investing once you know the language. And once they have this knowledge, he will help to launch a revolution among players who have been told they are too dumb to ask the right questions.

He is going to teach athletes to take control of their money.
He has a plan to make this happen. It was a plan designed by a friend, Rodney Woods, who first approached him about the idea a few years ago and has been pushing him to study and visit factories and meet executives ever since.

In this plan athletes and entertainers—suddenly wealthy people like himself—will learn about minority-owned manufacturers and then invest in those companies, bringing capital and jobs to the very neighborhoods where they grew up.

The plan is more complicated, of course. It will include education and support for the athletes. It will help link those small minority-owned manufacturers with big companies, connecting, say, a carpet company in Memphis to a car company in need of floor mats. It has already involved hundreds of people in its development and will bring in thousands more when it goes fully live in December.

"I don't know of anyone putting something together like this on this scale."- Robert Pagliarini

"I don't know of anyone putting something together like this on this scale," says Robert Pagliarini, a California wealth management expert who has represented athletes but is not affiliated with McGrady and Woods.

If the plan works as it should and athletes invest and the minority companies thrive, Tracy should become bigger than T-Mac ever was. He will have an empire not unlike that of Magic Johnson, who bought into neighborhoods no one would touch, building hope with his own brand of Starbucks and movie theaters. Tracy is convinced his will be bigger.

He can become, as David Martin, a Virginia trade and patent expert who is a key adviser to Woods, says, "The first NBA player who is a half-a-billion-dollar industrialist."

"How many athletes is [Magic] saving?" Woods asked in his first pitch to McGrady. "What has Magic ever done for you? Did he show the athletes how to be successful? You have to show the athlete how it's done."

Tracy wants to show them. He wants to tell them how naive they are when they blindly hand their future to advisers without knowing where their money goes. He wants them to see how he has managed to keep his wealth intact by not spending foolishly and how when he did—like the time he bought his own plane—he extracted himself from those mistakes.

He can become "the first nba player who is a half-a-billion-dollar industrialist."- David Martin
He wants them to hear the words of CleRenda, who told him back when his career was falling apart, "Think about the end before the beginning."

He does not need to be T-Mac even as T-Mac beckons him to the court, tempting him with a taste of what he has missed and a final chance at reclaiming those games lost to the aching back and throbbing knee.

"It's like walking away from somebody you love," CleRenda says.

Only now he has a new love.


V. A Player in a New Game

The plan is the ideal replacement for basketball, the drive that can fuel the T-Mac in Tracy. One of the things Van Gundy loved most about McGrady was that he was different than the other players who never wanted to live beyond the game. McGrady went to Darfur, he went to China, he learned things, he had opinions. He was never going to be that player who sat on the couch when basketball was done. He was too smart for that.

McGrady smiles. Afternoon has turned to evening, and he is back in his home gym, but the basketballs are put away. He and Woods sit on a bench on the side watching his two youngest sons race toy cars across the court. The cars skitter over the wood, then crack against the cinder-block wall.

"If we're not competing against nobody it's no fun. you want competition." - Tracy Mcgrady
"This is always going to be about competition, man," he says. "I have the drive. It's a challenge. It's another challenge in my life. If we're not competing against nobody it's no fun. You want competition."

He waves his hand across the gym.

"This is what I know, this is my world," McGrady says. "I'm not going to have somebody in the business world come in and tell me how to shoot a jumper or how to do my moves out there on the basketball court. When I step into the business world, I'm all ears. I'm going to be humble. I'm not going to bring that T-Mac s--t into the business world. Listen man, I'm a rookie. Teach me."

McGrady is silent once more. In a few days he will be in China. In China he is forever T-Mac. In China they adored him as they adore a select few American stars who live on the highlight clips they watch on their computers. They slept in his hotel stairwells, crammed into the lobby and required the service of security men in yellow jackets just to walk him through airports.

In China they will always remember him for enduring the winter of 2012-13 when he played for the Qingdao Eagles, scoring 25 points a game for a team that finished in last place. They will buy his T-Mac 2 and T-Mac 3 shoes, which have just been released in China despite the fact they are models that were wildly popular in the U.S. in 2002 and 2003. They will buy the T-Mac name as if they are buying a piece of the man himself.

"I have the drive. it's a challenge." - Tracy Mcgrady

The only thing they asked in return was that he acknowledge their affection, that he not act like an American athlete too important to be loved. And so he smiled, he sat at the table they set up in the lobby of each hotel in which he stayed.

It has been a long year already. A year like none of the others... the year t-mac became tracy again.
"They can be overly aggressive people without knowing it, but it's good times," he says. "They're good people."

He closes his eyes. It has been a long year already. A year like none of the others. The year of change. The year T-Mac became Tracy again. Outside, the chatter continues, a portrait painted o
f the player who can't let go. What they don't realize is that he has already moved on.
"Soon they will find out," he says.

And sitting here in his home gym, this site of his basketball redemption, where his jump shots fly true, he seems less like an aging athlete fumbling for relevance and more like a young man ready for a legacy he has yet to make.
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