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Lakers And Clippers Add Key Bigs In Free Agency

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The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers have added some of the most interesting big men from this free agent class, continuing their arms race for championship contention.

What We Know:

  • The Lakers really did not have to add much this offseason. They are the reigning champs and no other team has put together a roster that you can look at and say “that team is the clear-cut favorite”.
  • That being said, they have lost some important role players to free agency and trade, and GM Rob Pelinka said the team is approaching the year with a “lack of complacency” and they want to be contenders for more than just a year or two. He made a big splash by signing Montrezl Harrell.
  • Harrell is coming off the best season of his career and he’s the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. His value dipped after a subpar playoff run with the Clippers. The Lakers were able to court him away from their LA rivals with just a two-year $19 million deal.
  • Harrell fits into Dwight Howard’s roster spot, providing athleticism and high-energy play. He’s not what Howard was on defense, but he’s a big improvement on offense as he was the Clippers’ third-leading scorer at 18.6 points per game.
  • The Clippers were shocked to see Harrell walk across the hall to the Lakers, but they recovered quickly. They signed veteran Serge Ibaka to the same two-year $19 million deal and his fit on the Clippers is promising. He brings more size at the forward/center position and much better defense and shooting. He probably won’t put up the same numbers as Harrell, but there’s no doubt Ibaka will play into his role. It’s also a plus that he’s played with Clippers star Kawhi Leonard before and they both won a championship together in Toronto.
  • Speaking of that 2019 Toronto Raptors championship team, Marc Gasol was also highly sought after by contenders. The Lakers quite literally swooped in at the last second to sign Gasol, trading away Javale McGee to clear the cap space. Both sides agreed to a two-year deal.
  • Gasol is not the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA center he was years ago, but he still provides a lot on the court. He’s an NBA Champion and made several other deep playoff runs, so he has the experience that will pay off at the end of the season. He is also a gifted passer and can extend his shot out to the three-point line. At his age, he’s definitely lost a step on defense, but he’s still smart on that end and has the size to protect the paint.
  • Gasol was originally drafted by the Lakers so this is like a homecoming for him. He was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007 for his older brother Pau. Pau Gasol cemented himself in Lakers history by winning two championships with Kobe Bryant. Marc Gasol will have his chance to win a Lakers title now.

The NBA is certainly starting to favor smaller players now, but the Lakers and Raptors have proved in the last two years that size still matters. Both LA teams added some key bigs this offseason which should help their title hopes.

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Sagar is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance and Economics. Sagar writes for Black News Alerts and the BNA Daily Podcast. He also produces the BossFM Morning Show.

Headlines

Jets Make History, Hiring Robert Saleh to Become NFL’s First Muslim Head Coach

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The New York Jets have announced their new head coach and the first Muslim coach in NFL history.

What We Know:

  • The Jets recently fired their previous coach, Adam Gase, after going 9-23 last season. Now, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has been hired by the Jets making him the first Muslim head coach in the league’s history.
  • Before signing a 5-year contract with the Jets, the 41-year-old Dearborn, Michigan native spent the last four seasons in Santa Clara, California. Here, Saleh transformed the 49ers‘ poor defense into one of football’s most elite units.
  • Prior to working with the 49ers, Saleh was a defensive assistant for the Jaguars, Seahawks, and Texans. He has had over 16 years of NFL coaching experience and was reportedly eyed by teams in Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and the Los Angeles Chargers before making a deal with the Jets.
  • Saleh’s history-making deal was acknowledged by a Muslim civil rights advocacy group known as the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR.

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said, “We welcome this development as another sign of the increasing inclusion and recognition of American Muslims in our diverse society.”

We’re interested to see if Saleh can continue to make history with the Jets.

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Headlines

New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Says He Won’t Accept Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick, declined to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday following Trump supporters’ violent ambush at the U.S. Capitol.

What We Know:

  • In a statement, Belichick announced he would not go through with receiving the award after agreeing to accept it prior to last week’s riots in D.C. Belichick said he was flattered to be offered the medal, the country’s highest civilian honor, but the “tragic events of last week occurred, and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.”
  • Having been a noted supporter of the President’s, Belichick says, “above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom, and democracy.” He also mentions to have had “conversations” and “actions” about “social justice, equality and human rights” earlier in the NFL season, which he claims were among the most rewarding in his career.
  • “Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team, and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award,” he said. The award, established in 1963, is given to people who have “made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.
  • The coach, who claims to stay out of politics, wrote a letter of support to the President in 2015, which Trump then read at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, on the night before the 2016 election. At the time, the candidate claims the letter offered “best wishes for great results” on election day and “the opportunity to make America great again.”

This decision is among the latest of political statements being made by various athletes and sports organizations. On Sunday, The Professional Golfers’ Association of America said that its 2022 championship would not be held at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

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Entertainment

Chris Webber Developing ‘Fab Five’ Limited TV Series

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A Fab Five TV series is in development with Chris Webber involved.

What We Know:

  • The Fab Five was the 1991 University of Michigan Men’s basketball team. Often considered one of the best recruiting classes in college basketball history, the team consisted of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson.
  • Webber will be working with Russel Redeaux, head of development at Cashmere Originals, to develop the series. The series will be based on Webber’s autobiography By God’s Grace, says the Grio.
  • Webber joined the Michigan Wolverines in 1991, eventually becoming NBA Rookie of the Year, a five-time NBA All-Star, and a five-time All-NBA team member. Currently, he works as an NBA analyst for TNT
  • Redeaux told The Hollywood Reporter, “There’s definitely an alignment with our vision at Cashmere Originals to tell multicultural stories of inclusion… with that alignment and me being a guy who grew up in the same era of the Fab Five, it was sort of a dream come true project to bring it into our company fold and work with Chris.”
  • Webber did not participate in the 2011 ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the Fab Five, so this will be the first time his point of view will be shared on TV. During the documentary premiere, Webber was estranged from his former teammates and former best friend, Jalen Rose. The documentary was ESPN’s highest-rated documentary at the time, seen by 2.7 million.

“What I think is different about it is I’ve never spoken about my time with the Fab Five…There’s a lot of behind the scenes that not many people know about, and it’s about so many things. Hopefully, I’ll be able to express those things, whether it’s about Detroit or the work ethic of the city and the factories — all those things that made us.” said Webber 

  • The team fell short of an NCAA championship in 1993 due to Webber calling a time-out. Webber called a time-out when the team didn’t have one, leading to North Carolina converting two shots on the technical foul. North Carolina won the championship 77-71.

Webber’s perspective in the series is sure to bring new stories. The series has yet to release a premiere date.

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