Jay Z — an artist truly made in America — makes his case for an authentic rest of his life From Bun B to Styles P to T.I. — the grown men of rap are having a moment

In May, Jay-Z inked a new $200 million deal with Live Nation. Before this weekend, his last major tour was in 2014 with his wife Beyoncé for their ($100 million-grossing) On The Run excursion. Jay-Z’s return to Made In America, a music festival he founded with Budweiser in 2012, was to be the culmination of a chain of events that started with speculation, leading up to June 30 release of 4:44, about just how much Jay-Z did or didn’t have left in the creative tank.

Rap, historically, has been a young man’s game. Could Jay-Z, at 47, still shift the culture as he’s done countless times before? Could he successfully coexist in a world of Futures and Cardi Bs and Lil Yatchys and Migos — all of whom were either gracing the Made In America stage this year or in years past? Would Jay’s first major solo performance in three years be his next Michael Jordan moment?


Music fans in ponchos attend the 2017 Budweiser Made in America festival, day one on Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sept. 2 in Philadelphia.

Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch

Sunday morning. On Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street. Jay Z’s new “Meet The Parents” blasts from a black Toyota Avalon. People on the sidewalk rap along — the car’s speakers are an impromptu appetizer for what’s to come later. He can’t explain what he saw / Before his picture went blank / The old man didn’t think / He just followed his instincts,” Jay-Z rhymes at the stoplight. Six shots into his kin / Out of the gun / N—a be a father / You’re killing your sons.”

On that day — before the Labor Day holiday and Night 2 of the sixth annual Budweiser Made In America Festival — a group of friends walking down 20th Street playing cuts from 2009’s Blueprint 3 on their mobile phones. Thousands of iterations of Shawn Corey Carter stared back from T-shirts worn by the crowd that swarmed Ben Franklin Parkway.

Then, it happened. An explosion lit up an adjacent stage. Just Blaze on the turntables.

And then there was the young man working at UBIQ, a chic sneakers store on chic Walnut Street. Looking like a student from Penn, he said he planned on taking in Jay-Z’s headlining Sunday set. At least for one day at the end of summer, the City of Brotherly Love bled blue, Jigga’s favorite hue. “It’s a skate park like right across the street,” Penn Guy said as cuts from Jay-Z’s lauded 4:44 play from the store’s speakers. “I’ve never seen him live. I’m excited.”

Jay-Z’s return to rap — there’s been no new solo album since 2013’s middle of the pack Magna Carta Holy Grail — has been a summer-long process. First came the rumors of a new album watermarked by mysterious “4:44” signage that covered everything from city buses to websites all across the country. Then, at the last of June came the album itself, which was met with immediate and widespread love. A slew of “footnotes” — videos, conversations between people such as Chris Rock, Tiffany Haddish, Will Smith, Jerrod Carmichael, Chris Paul and more — followed, which detailed the album’s creation and inspirations.

From there, in mid-August, the most-talked-about music interview of the year showcased Jay-Z alongside Tidal and Rap Radar’s Elliott Wilson and Epic Records and Rap Radar’s Brian “B.Dot” Miller. The podcast left no stone unturned. In a two-part, 120-minute conversation, they peeled back layers of Jay-Z’s thought processes about music, life, love, motivation, depression and, even LaVar Ball.

On the heels of that talk, and through a Saturday of unseasonal chilly downpours, Jay-Z and Beyoncé watched a new generation of stars command muddy crowds. Family from both sides of the Carter-Knowles union cheered Solange on through her Saturday set. Was may well have been a kind of moment Jay-Z envisioned throughout the recording of 4:44. At 47, he had to wonder about his creative mortality, and if he could shift the culture as he’d done so many times before.


Bun B performs onstage at The Fader Fort presented by Converse during SXSW on March 16, 2013, in Austin, Texas.

Roger Kisby/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie point guard Lonzo Ball said it: “Y’all outdated, man. Don’t nobody listen to Nas anymore […] Real hip-hop is Migos, Future.”

On one hand, it’s difficult to fault a 19-year-old for backing the music of his youth. Younger generations of artists and fans alike have always bucked back at generations who view their contributions as destructive. Tupac Shakur openly dissed De La Soul on 1996’s seething battle record “Against All Odds:” All you old n– tryna advance/ It’s all over now take it like a man/ N– lookin’ like Larry Holmes, flabby and sick/ Tryna playa hate on my s–, eat a fat d–. And only weeks before he was murdered, The Notorious B.I.G. vowed to never rap past 30. On the other hand though? Right now is a particularly good time for a handful of statesmen who dominated hip-hop before Big Baller Brand was just a twinkle in Lavar Ball’s eye.

How generations before talked about Marvin Gaye, Prince, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, he’s hip-hop’s them.

Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike and El-P (and their soundman, Trackstar the DJ) have consistently been one of the decade’s most impactful groups. They tour the world — and, in particular, amassed a melting pot crowd of various races and ages moshing at the Sunday Made In America set. Nas’ 2012 Life Is Good is, in many ways, rap’s interpretation of Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear, and one of the great late-career albums from any MC. OutKast’s 2014 tour was weird, but Big Boi of OutKast has quietly been responsible for several stellar albums — 2010’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, 2012’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors and 2017’s Boomiverse — in this decade alone.

Jay-Z wasn’t the only artist in the pre-Lonzo Ball era displaying moments of clarity over the last few years either. A handful of hip-hop’s mature and notable names have been creating art and expressing — via conversation and on social media — everything from encounters with their own mortality to the pain and occasional beauty of survivor’s remorse.

Rice University instructor Bernard “Bun B” Freeman (currently working with Beyoncé and Scooter Braun on a telethon to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey), one half of the legendary Port Arthur, Texas, rap group UGK, sat down with Queens, New York’s own N.O.R.E. for an installment of the MC’s popular Drink Champs podcast. Per tradition, both parties swap hip-hop war stories and imbibe for the better part of two hours. The most emotional segment centered around memories of Freeman’s partner in rhyme, Pimp C, who died in 2007.

“The illest s— Pimp [C] ever said was ‘I don’t need bodyguards. I just need mighty God.’ Ever since he said that, and I never told him, I move like that,” Freeman said. A single tear streamed down the right side of his face. “If you wasn’t moving with me within God, I’ll just move by myself. That’s the way life should be.” He continued, “If you are who you say you are, and you’re honoring that in a real way, you can move anywhere in this world. Pimp and I are proof of that.”

When it comes to honoring a fallen comrade, T.I. (who was not feeling Lonzo’s comments) understands all too well. In May 2006, T.I’s best friend Philant Johnson was murdered in Cincinnati following a drive-by shooting. Phil, is inspiration behind T.I.’s massive Justin Timberlake-assisted single “Dead & Gone.” Phil had been by T.I.’s side that same evening — holding his mobile while the rapper performed. Hours later, his lifelong friend lay bleeding to death in his arms. “I told him I had him, and it was going to be all right,” T.I. told MTV in 2006. “That was what I said. And he said, ‘All right.’”

The death could be viewed as the trigger that disrupted T.I.’s massive mid-2000s success. His 2007 weapons arrest and subsequent incarceration was seen by many as a response to Johnson’s murder. T.I. contemplated quitting rap. But T.I.’s moved forward. While not at just this minute the Billboard and box office star he split time as a decade ago, the film producer, actor, and two-time Grammy winner born Clifford Harris is still a recognizable figure in rap. Particularly on his very active Instagram account.

Instagram Photo

Last month, Tip (a father to six who is who has experienced his own share of public marital ups and downs with singer-songwriter Tameka “Tiny” Harris) posted the video of him presenting Phil’s daughter with a new car. She’s now a high school senior. In a heartfelt caption, Tip used the moment as a social media therapy session. “Making straight A’s and maintaining a 3.8 GPA, all the way through school, staying away from all the things we were eyeball deep in when we was her age, & doing any & everything that’s EVER been asked since you left,” he wrote. “How can we not make sure she rides cool & in comfort her senior year? We miss you more than we can express…but we fill in for you everyday until it’s all said and done.”

He promised to send her to college. And that she’d never suffer for anything. It was more than an Instagram caption. It was remaining true to a promise to a man who died in his arms 11 years ago. “Our loyalty lives forever!”

Lastly, it’s Styles P — one-third of ’90s Bad Boy trailblazers The LOX. He and his wife, Adjua Styles, visited Power 105’s The Breakfast Club in August. Among other things, the couple discussed the benefits of healthy eating, and Charlottesville, Virginia. They also talked about their daughter’s suicide.

It’s what performances like these are masked for—regular season games for a championship run.

In June 2015, Styles P’s stepdaughter, Tai Hing, took her own life. She was 20. Styles P addressed the tragedy a month later via Instagram, detailing the difficulty he and his family faced, and would face. Hing’s death, her mother believes, could have been the boiling point of depression, issues with her biological father, and perhaps her sexuality.

Fighting back tears, Styles P was emotional about never having been able to take the place of Hing’s biological father. The dynamic bothered him deeply, but was beginning to understand as he, himself, was a product of a similar situation. “If we knew she was depressed she would’ve been home with us,” he said. “ We all deal with depression on some sort of level … You expect your child to bury you, not to bury your child.”

Honesty has always been a prerequisite for hip-hop in its most soul-piercing form. Beyond the flash, the lights and the flossing, at its core, rap was necessary to explain the fears, dreams, joys and pains of a people so often still struggling. And dealing with police brutality, poverty, misogyny, and more. So Styles P’s pain, T.I.’s memories, Bun B’s instructions from Pimp C, and Jay-Z’s vulnerability aren’t new grounds for rap. But their grief, and willingness to shred the cloak of invincibility rap often mirages is living proof of the power behind the quote a wise man said nearly a decade ago. Ain’t no shame in holding onto grief. As long as you make room for other things, too.


Music fans attend the 2017 Budweiser Made in America festival – Day 2 at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch

The weather Sunday proved to be Mr. Hyde to the Saturday’s Dr. Jekyll. The only visible fingerprint from Saturday was the mud that essentially became a graveyard for shoes. Jerseys were popular with the crowd. UNC Michael Jordan and Vince Carter. Cavaliers, Heat and St. Vincent-St. Mary LeBron. Sonics and Warriors Durant. Nuggets Jalen Rose, Sixers Ben Simmons. Lakers Kobe, and Hornets Glen Rice. UCLA Russell Westbrook, and Lonzo Ball. Arizona State James Harden, University of California Marshawn Lynch, Niners Colin Kaepernick, LSU Odell Beckham and Georgetown Allen Iverson. Obscure jerseys such as Aaliyah’s MTV Rock n’ Jock and Ray Finkle’s Dolphins jersey (from the 1994 Jim Carrey-led comedy classic Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) were sprinkled among the sea of thousands.

Afternoon sluggishly careened into evening. 21 Savage, Run The Jewels and The Chainsmokers all commanded large crowds. Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from The Wire dapped up fans. Hometown young guns Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers walked through the crowd. Festivalgoers camped near the main stage for hours in hopes of landing an ideal viewing spot for Jay-Z’s performance. To pass time, cyphers were had. Weed smoke reclined in the air. Guts from dutches and cigarillos were dumped. All to pass the time.

Months ago, many, especially on Twitter, wanted to act like Jay-Z wasn’t a headliner. No one even saw an album coming. Now here they were minutes from history. That’s what Jay-Z is in 2017. How generations before talked about Marvin Gaye, Prince, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson — Jay-Z is hip-hop’s them. He’s a throwback to the genre’s yesterday lyricism while embracing the newer generation he still attempts to impart game on and learn from.

The oversized Balloon Dog by famed sculptor Jeff Koons took the stage: It was time. “I’ve been waiting for this all summer,” one concertgoer said as he wrapped his arms around his girlfriend. “I know one thing, Jay better do the songs I wanna hear!” demanded another young woman.

So he did. Jay-Z’s set lasted nearly an hour and a half. He blended 4:44 cuts with classics from his catalog — the radio-friendly and the graphic street narratives. Jay-Z commanded of the crowd, but critiques did exist.

In his Rap Radar interview, Jay-Z mentioned that he was still toying around with the set list for his upcoming tour (slated to start in October). While it’s not a question to 4:44’s quality, Jay-Z weaving in old classics such as “Where I’m From,” “H to the Izzo,” “N—as In Paris,” “Big Pimpin’,” “Hard Knock Life,” “Run This Town,” “Empire State of Mind” and “Heart of City” captivated the crowd, cuts from his most recent album seemed to dissipate from the energy those helped muster. 4:44, after all, does not have a big radio single.

4:44 is Jay-Z’s most personal album to date. His thirteenth solo effort revolves around the complexities of his marriage, his mother’s sexuality and societal issues that continue to create systematic disadvantages for people of color. Its intimacy can get lost in an outdoor crowd of tens of thousands. For an album of that nature, it’s tough to ask even Jay-Z to plan for such.

Breath control was expected to be off-center in his first major performance in three years — though coaxing the crowd to sing Beyoncé happy birthday was a great diversion. Are these flaws that will doom his upcoming tour? No. He still has three more festivals on deck before setting sail on his own on Oct. 27. It’s what performances like these are made for — regular-season games for a championship run.

“It’s Jay, so he did all the songs I wanted,” a concertgoer told me. “But I’m greedy. I wanted more.”

Jay-Z performs at Budweiser Made in America festival on Sept. 3 in Philadelphia.

Arik McArthur/FilmMagic

Jay-Z’s catalog: a litany of hits he can employ at any time to wrap a crowd around his fingers. People filmed Instagram and Snapchat videos of themselves rapping along. People yelled to him from the back of crowd as if it were a Sunday service. And cyphers between friends sprouted everywhere. Another element Jay-Z kills with is the element of surprise. He concluded the show with a tribute to Coldplay’s Chester Bennington, who committed suicide in July: an inspired performance of his Black Album single “Encore.”

As he left the stage, crowds swarmed to the exit. Some concertgoers voiced their displeasure. Jay-Z did his thing in the 90 minutes he gave Philly. But there was still something missing. “That’s it? He didn’t even do half of the songs I wanted,” said a girl as she walked toward the exit. “It was aight, I guess. It’s Jay, so he did all the songs I wanted,” another concertgoer told me. “But I’m greedy. I wanted more.” Made In America was over.

Then, it happened. An explosion lit up an adjacent stage. Just Blaze on the turntables. Some slipped in the mud trying to get there, ruining their clothes, but those concerns were faint. Hundreds were already on the street heading back to their apartments, AirBnB’s or Ubers when Jay-Z informed Philly that the party wasn’t over yet. This set was only for his “Day Ones.”

Jay pulled his “Pump It Up Freestyle” out his back pocket. This bled into “Best of Me,” “I Know,” “Hola Hovito,” “Money Ain’t A Thing” and more. Hometown kid Meek Mill’s guest appearance gave an already frenetic crowd an HGH-sized boost of adrenaline as the rapper ran through his catalog’s zenith and most intense track, 2012’s “Dreams & Nightmares (Intro).”

As Jay-Z closed the second set with [his favorite track], “Allure,” the mood was ceremoniously serene. Michael Jordan finished with 19 points on 7-of-28 shooting in his first game back in versus Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in 1995. The 21 misses are footnotes in history. It’s a moment everyone remembers for two simple words: “I’m back.” Grown as hell, Jay-Z is too.

New Air Jordan 32s channel the swag of Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan 2s The new sneakers draw inspiration from shoes made more than 30 years ago

Nike senior designer Tate Kuerbis must’ve packed his bags, whipped out his passport and hopped into a DeLorean while crafting his latest Jordan Brand creation.

The new Air Jordan XXXIIs, which debuted on Tuesday in Turin, Italy, are the second coming of the legendary Italian-manufactured Air Jordans IIs that dropped more than 30 years ago during Michael Jordan’s third season in the NBA. Both pairs of shoes feature a similar structure, collar wings first seen in Jordan’s signature line on the IIs, and the iconic “Wings” logo on the tongue.

“Our goal with the AJ XXXII was to combine the essence of the AJ II with today’s best innovation to create a distinct design language both on and off the court,” said David Creech, Jordan Brand’s vice president of Design. That new technology is incorporated into the Kuerbis-designed XXXIIs through a “first-of-its-kind Flyknit upper,” formed by high-tenacity yarn. What does that actually mean? In layman’s terms, the XXXIIs boast components that make them the most flexible Air Jordans in history.

That means we should expect nothing less than for Jordan Brand athletes Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony to get busy on the court in the XXXIIs during the upcoming 2017-18 season. The question is, can they channel the same magic that His Airness delivered to the IIs, which he played in during the 1986-87 season.

Here are the top three performances and moments that Michael Jordan had in the Air Jordan IIs — the sneakers that served as inspiration for the latest release on his signature Air Jordan line.


1987 NBA SLAM Dunk Contest

Remember when Jordan soared through the air in his first career NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1985, with his gold chains swinging and Air Jordan Is on his feet? There was also 1988, when he threw down a dunk from the free throw line while rocking his Air Jordan IIIs. But never forget: Jordan first won the dunk contest in 1987, while rocking the Air Jordan IIs. On his final dunk of the night, Jordan connected on an acrobatic, leaning windmill from the left side of the hoop that earned him 50 points and the win over Jerome Kersey of the Portland Trail Blazers. A day later, Jordan wore the IIs in the 1987 NBA All-Star Game.

Not One, but TWO 61-point PERFORMANCes

Michael Jordan lays the ball up past Portland Trailblazers guard Clyde Drexler at Memorial Coliseum in 1987.

USA TODAY Sports

Jordan had the best scoring year of his life during the 1986-87 season, which he finished with a career-high average of 37.1 points a game and his first league scoring title. Two performances from that season especially stick out. First, on March 4, 1987, against the Detroit Pistons, Jordan scored 61 points, including 26 points in the fourth quarter that he capped off by draining a nearly impossible jumper to send the game into overtime. A month later, on April 16, 1987, Jordan put up 61 points again — while scoring 23 straight at one point in the game. The Bulls lost, but for Jordan, it was a record-setting night. He became the second player in NBA history, along with Wilt Chamberlain, to score 3,000 points in a season and the first player since Chamberlain to score 50 or more points in three consecutive games. Jordan was unstoppable in the IIs in both 61-point performances.

UNC vs. UCLA Alumni Game

Fun fact: The first player exclusives (PEs) Jordan ever received from Nike were a pair of Air Jordan IIs. After the 1986-87 NBA season, Jordan suited up for Dean Smith and his alma mater UNC in a charity alumni game against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Jordan took the court in a pair of Carolina blue-accented IIs that were specially designed for him. Earlier this year, Jordan Brand paid tribute to the classic alumni game, and His Airness’ first pair of PEs, by releasing the same IIs that Jordan wore 30 years ago.

The “Rosso Corsa” Air Jordan XXXIIs are scheduled to be released on Sept. 23 for the retail price of $185. The “Bred” Air Jordan XXXIIs, in both mid ($185) and low ($165) versions, will be released on Oct. 18.

A power ranking of Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league With team names such as Trilogy, Power and 3’s Company, this league promises fun times

This past weekend, Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league held a combine and aired its first official draft live from Las Vegas. Teams are now set, and the league tips off on June 25. The draft day itself was broadcast live on Facebook and featured host Michael Rapaport cracking jokes, Ice Cube talking trash and players gearing up for returns to the spotlight. One thing was made clear: This league is going to be fun. So without further ado, here are three major storylines coming out of the draft and the preseason power rankings. Those never go wrong.

An Unexpected Top 5

There are a lot of big names in the Big3 — Allen Iverson, Mike Bibby, etc. — but most of those guys were linked up with teams already as co-captains. So the players drafted were familiar — but light on former NBA star power. The league held a combine over the weekend, and while we don’t know exactly what happened behind those closed doors, it seems like the top five picks put on great showings. Former UNC star and Minnesota Timberwolves wing Rashad McCants, 32, was the top pick. He joins Kenyon Martin (captain), Al Harrington (co-captain), James White and Dion Glover on team Trilogy. Andre Owens, Reggie Evans and Xavier Silas were the next three picks, with former No. 1 pick and Michael Jordan whipping boy Kwame Brown picked fifth.

Stringer Bell And Avon Barksdale Split

Remember how gut-wrenching it was at the end of season three of The Wire when Avon Barksdale and his right-hand man, Stringer Bell, double-crossed each other, leading to their demise? It was an on-screen partnership we never thought we’d see end. Well, that betrayal in the annals of black friendship breakups just got topped: Cuttino Mobley, co-captain of the team Power, actually allowed his team to pick former teammate Moochie Norris over former best friend and brother from another mother Steve Francis. Mobley and Francis were inseparable as a Rockets backcourt tandem, and seeing them have a chance to reunite was a prospective highlight for the Big3 league. And Francis’ redemption story as someone who has been through legal troubles since retiring was a tale we were rooting for. Unfortunately, Francis went undrafted — the band is definitely not back together under coach Clyde Drexler.

The Return Of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was a legitimate college basketball star at LSU and a dynamic scorer with the Denver Nuggets in the early ’90s, but most people know him for sitting out the national anthem 20 years before then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did the same. As a result, Abdul-Rauf lost out on prime years of his career and was out of the media spotlight for most of the past two decades. It’ll be great to see him lace up again. Also, he’s sharing a backcourt with White Chocolate himself, Jason Williams. Pray for ankles. All of them.


And now the Big3 draft power rankings:

Rosters are in. Teams are set. That means it’s time to start placing odds and figuring out who’s going to come out with the championship.

1. Three-Headed Monster

Rashard Lewis (captain), Jason Williams (co-captain), Kwame Brown, Eddie Basden, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Gary Payton (coach) — As I mentioned before, the backcourt of Abdul-Rauf and Williams is going to create havoc. Of course, they may not both be on the court together, since this is 3-on-3 and bigs might be able to take advantage. Either way, the game is not timed and first to 60 wins, so the constant barrage of quickness might tire out any team of vets. Add in a Kwame Brown, who performed well in the combine, and Lewis and we may have a dominant force. Let’s also not forget that there are three spots for 4-point shots, and this team is as equipped as any to knock those down.

2. Power

Corey Maggette (captain), Cuttino Mobley (co-captain), Jerome Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Moochie Norris, Clyde Drexler (coach) — This team was going to get my vote as a top team no matter who they drafted for one reason: Mobley. In case you haven’t seen the videos, Mobley has been going out to the Drew League looking like the real Uncle Drew and demolishing young cats. I don’t know if there’s an MVP of this league, but if so, Mobley has to be preseason favorite.

3. Trilogy

Kenyon Martin (captain), Al Harrington (co-captain), Rashad McCants, James White, Dion Glover, Rick Mahorn (coach) — Anyone who plays 3-on-3 knows that rebounding is key. Players have to clear the boards and get the ball outside of the paint as quickly as possible. This squad, with Martin and Harrington, seems ready for that task. Also, there’s no illegal defense, so Martin camping out in the paint daring anyone to drive is going to be a deterrent. Add in top draft pick McCants and we have a sleeper squad on our hands.

4. Killer 3s

Chauncey Billups (captain), Stephen Jackson (co-captain), Reggie Evans, Larry Hughes, Brian Cook, Charles Oakley (coach) — This team might be smaller than most, with only one guy taller than 6-foot-8 (Cook). But they have shooters in Billups and Jackson and an athletic Hughes. Plus, Jackson being coached by Oakley seems like a recipe for bully ball. Ice up, kids.

5. 3’s Company

Allen Iverson (captain), DerMarr Johnson (co-captain), Andre Owens, Michael Sweetney, Ruben Patterson, Allen Iverson (coach) — This squad is going to be the most anticipated simply because it marks Iverson’s return to the court. Does he still have it? Can he score 50 points in a 60-point game? Is he going to practice?! That’s well and good, but he’s lacking another big former NBA star like the teams above him. Former Atlanta Hawk Johnson will be an athletic help, but this is going to be a one-man show. And if A.I. can pull out his magic, that’ll be all they need.

6. Ghost Ballers

Mike Bibby (captain), Ricky Davis (co-captain), Maurice Evans, Marcus Banks, Ivan Johnson, George Gervin (coach) — Bibby and Davis are going to make for an explosive backcourt. However, there’s one problem: shooting. There aren’t many 3-point specialists here, which might hurt them in trying to get to 60. But if anyone can go off for an unexpected monster game, it’s Davis.

7. Tri-State

Jermaine O’Neal (captain), Bonzi Wells (co-captain), Xavier Silas, Lee Nailon, Mike James, Julius Erving (coach) — One good thing about 3-on-3 games is spacing. Bigs get to work out in the paint and destroy guys one-on-one, so it’s possible the Tri-State squad might be dominant thanks to having the league’s best big-man scorer in O’Neal. The only problem is that if he gets double-teamed, I’m not sure if the rest of the guys can nail the 3s. They’re seventh in my ranking, but they have the best chance to move up quickly.

8. Ball Hogs

Brian Scalabrine (captain), Josh Childress (co-captain), Derrick Byars, Rasual Butler, Dominic McGuire, Rick Barry (coach) — I don’t want to be that guy, but I have to: These guys are already at a handicap with Scalabrine as their captain, expected to pile on minutes. Sorry, White Mamba. They also drafted seventh, so it’s a cocktail for a roster that has an uphill battle.

UNC symposium informs athletes on how to build wealth and share it ‘The Complexity and Comfort of Black Athlete Philanthropy’ gave insight and a chance for student-athletes to network with pros

For athletes, building wealth, securing a future after a playing career, and developing the ability to give back start with early and strategic planning. Those were just three of the big takeaways from a panel of authors, academics, former athletes and financial professionals at the Center for Sport Business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

University of Houston professor Billy Hawkins kicked off the conference on April 21 by sharing a slide noting the popular NCAA slogan that:

  • Of 480,000 student-athletes, “most of them go pro in something other than sports.”
  • Fewer “than 1 percent of the athletes generate more than 90 percent of NCAA revenues,” and “on average, 60 percent of the athletes are black males.”

“It’s a poor business model when so much of the revenue is generated by such a small percentage of workers,” said Hawkins, who is the author of The New Plantation: Black Athletes, College Sports, and Predominantly White NCAA Institutions.

“The black body is used for institutional development and capital expansion,” Hawkins said. But too often, the athlete is not getting the same wealth-building advantages out of the multibillion-dollar industries of college and professional sports.

That is the complex problem that discussions such as the one on April 21 are seeking to solve.

The discussion, titled “Investing in Futures: The Complexity and Comfort of Black Athlete Philanthropy,” often delved into strategies to drive former student-athletes to a position where they would able to give back.

The event was titled Investing In Futures: The Complexity and Comfort of Black Athlete Philanthropy.

Courtesy of Kevin Seifert

And much advice centered on solutions to prevent former athletes from becoming broke or “in financial stress” just a few years after their playing days are done.

Charles Way, who earned a civil engineering degree while playing football at the University of Virginia and who spent 14 years with the New York Giants, said that “understanding real estate and understanding the real estate development world” is one potential lucrative path after a playing career.

Way, a former vice president of NFL player engagement, has also served as the Giants’ director of player development. In those roles, he is credited with implementing an array of programs in financial literacy, leadership and career development focused on empowering athletes and their families both on and off the field.

Way and others also pointed out the “deficit” position from which many African-American athletes begin, compared with white athletes.

“Most of the time the black athlete is using his money to have fun, when white athletes are using daddy’s money to have fun,” Way said.

Panelists also agreed that too many black athletes suffer from “the lottery syndrome,” where they blow through wealth that was earned quickly and then resign themselves to going back to their regular means of living.

James Mitchell, director of football development for Duke University, said his student-athletes are introduced to financial planning shortly after they arrive on campus.

“We teach them how to spend whatever they have now,” Mitchell said. “For freshmen, we teach them how to spend food [meal plan] points.”

Attendees were urged to network with business leaders and business owners early on, create long-lasting relationships and seek out professional internships.

William Rhoden, a columnist for The Undefeated and author of Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, addressed the conference via Skype.

“I wrote Forty Million Dollar Slaves to give a history lesson, but also to call timeout,” he said.

Rhoden said the current question is: “Who are new now as black people in the 21st century?”

Rhoden also had a pointed answer for a question from the audience: What does he think about athletes who hold camps and other activities that are out of the financial range for lower- and moderate-income families?

The Impact Symposium was hosted by the UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Center for Sport Business at the Kenan Center on April 21 with Deborah Stroman, director of the center. The event was titled “Investing In Futures: The Complexity and Comfort of Black Athlete Philanthropy.”

Courtesy of Kevin Seifert

“You are either a person who will make sure these things are accessible … or you are part of the problem,” Rhoden said.

Tre Boston, a Tar Heel alum and current defensive back for the Carolina Panthers, also addressed the conference via Skype, advising the conference that “you don’t have to be a millionaire to be a millionaire. You can save like $5,000 a year, and that will add up over the years,” he said.

Unfortunately, Boston said, you don’t often see young athletes discussing wealth-building.

“Guys you see talk about financial planning for the future are seven- to eight-plus-year veterans,” he said.

Phil Ford, a consensus All-American during his playing days at UNC and one of several alums who returned to take part in the symposium, helped shed light on why some African-Americans might not give back to their universities.

“When I left North Carolina, I thought everybody loved their school the way I loved North Carolina,” he said. “But I found out that often was not the case. It comes back to how much you enjoyed yourself when you were there.”

The audience included some Tar Heel athletes, including Jake Lawler, a spring early enrollee who will be a freshman defensive end on the football team in the fall.

“It was awesome,” said Lawler, who cited learning about “the scope of resources that are available.” He and his teammates began networking with panelists during breaks and after the discussions.

“It’s good to see there are people who care about you during your career and afterwards,” Lawler added.

The Center for Sport Business, part of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business, drives discussion about economics, education and wealth management for athletics and former athletes.

Professor Deborah Stroman, director of the center and organizer of the event, said, “The purpose of the conference was to hear from academics and business leaders about a very important topic in America: black athletes and financial matters.”

For Stroman, the conference could not have gone much better.

“Today’s conference was a small but a most powerful attempt to touch lives and foster dreams,” she said. “We succeeded in connecting sport leaders — players, academics and businessmen — with an audience ready to hear the truth about the blessing and burden of money and athletic participation.

“Their insights were powerful and so inspirational,” she added. “The students left feeling connected, motivated and ready to take action on their plans for life after sport.”

The Lucas Bros. find laughter in ‘shrooms, Steph Curry and ‘white suffering’ The blipster twins are back with a new Netflix special — and plenty of fresh material

If you’ve never watched an episode of The Lucas Bros. Moving Co., the animated Fox comedy from identical twin brothers Keith and Kenny Lucas, you probably know them also as the scene-stealing twins from 2014’s 22 Jump Street.

Now the 31-year-old nerds have a new Netflix special, Lucas Brothers: On Drugs, and are working on a second. Their jokes range from riffs on feminism and Jermaine Jackson to Steph Curry and the rise of advanced analytics. There’s a very funny breakdown, complete with pie chart, of the factors that contribute to black happiness. The majority of the pie chart is taken up by “white suffering,” and there are jokes about O.J. Simpson, race and fame thrown in for good measure.

The Lucas brothers dropped out of law school to become comedians — Keith from Duke, Kenny from NYU — and their strongest material focuses on the drug war and its effects, complete with cutouts of Richard Nixon flanking the stage as a life-size boogeyman. Though the special isn’t strictly political, the brothers rock campaign buttons for Kerry/Edwards and Barry Goldwater (more on that in the interview). As with Moving Co., much of the Lucases’ humor is weed-based (they’re reformed sativa connoisseurs; now their preference is indica). It’s sharp, smart, insightful and hilarious. For fans of the Lucas brothers’ animation, the special includes a trippy short that examines a world in which the drug war never took place. The brothers are currently developing a new animated project, and they’re also working on a show imagining a wizarding school that’s also an HBCU.

The Lucas Brothers: On Drugs debuts April 18 on Netflix. I’d recommend watching the special before reading this interview, but it’s not entirely necessary.

What do you find so appealing about animation? It’s one of your trademarks at this point.

Kenny: I love animation for a number of reasons. One, it’s a very open form, so you can pretty much go wherever you allow your mind to take you, which I think is an asset when you’re trying to do comedy. The second thing is I love color. I love visuals. I love art. And I always have these vivid patterns in my mind whenever I go to sleep or if I smoke weed, and I feel like with animation you can get that out much easier. Stand-up is hard. There are some comedians who are very gifted verbally. They can paint a picture very well. I think Lil Rel [Howery] is a good example. Richard Pryor, those guys. But with us, I think our biggest asset is our mind, and with animation you can just get so much out there.

Keith: It always brings me back to my childhood when we’re able to dabble in animation. It’s just a vivid reminder of what childhood was like. Animation is playful, too. You can talk about serious issues, but when it’s in the guise of animation, it seems more playful. People seem to keep their ears and eyes open when animation’s on screen, irrespective of what that message is.

What were your favorite cartoons growing up?

Kenny: I loved Winnie the Pooh.

Keith: Ren and Stimpy.

Kenny: Looney Tunes.

Keith: Doug. South Park.

Kenny: Pinky and the Brain.

Keith: King of the Hill.

Kenny: Beavis and Butthead.

Keith: Daria.

I was wondering what you guys have learned about yourselves as a result of smoking weed?

Keith: I just don’t take myself as seriously. Before I smoked weed, I guess I worried a lot. I had a lot of anxiety. I used to just be afraid of the future and afraid of death and things like that, but as I started smoking more weed I’ve just been taking things a lot easier. I don’t know if it’s because of weed or because I’ve gotten older, but the two have coalesced together to minimize my fear about the future.

Kenny: Same. When you smoke you have an out-of-body experience where you feel like you’re traveling the universe and you sort of detach yourself from your body, from your ego, and I feel like [by] smoking weed in conjunction with therapy and meditation, you move away from your ego. That’s been a big thing for me. I’m so appreciative of weed.

I’d imagine distancing yourself from your ego is important for you guys since you work as a pair.

Keith: Absolutely. That was an early struggle. Even though we’re twins and we look exactly alike and we had a similar experience, we’re still individuals, and we held on to what we thought was the particular way to do comedy or to live life. As we got into comedy more and worked a little bit more, we started to realize that in order for this to function as a unit, we have to shed the ego.

Kenny: I think you can appreciate the distinctness and uniqueness of a person’s individual character and not necessarily be egocentric.

Speaking of weed’s anti-anxiety properties, have you found yourselves smoking more since the election?

Kenny: You know what? Absolutely. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t. It’s been a huge increase in how much weed I smoke, and I think it’s because 2016 was — even before the election — 2016 was exhausting. It was the most exhausting year I’ve ever had just because of the constant news coverage of Trump and the election. And then you’re like, Alright, it’s over. We elected a president. And then you’re like, Aw f—, Trump is president so it’s going to be even worse now. The only way I’m going to get through the next four years is if I’m stoned outta my f—ing mind. I have to literally detach myself because there’s no other way, really. I’ve looked at everything. If you’re not going to physically leave the country, you have to mentally and spiritually check out. You can protest, but come on.

Keith: You can’t protest for four years. That gets exhausting and you realize, what can we realistically do? You start to feel so small, like the universe is so much bigger than any individual and it doesn’t matter if we protest till we’re blue in the face. He has the capabilities and the power to do whatever he pleases.

Comedic duo the Lucas Bros. have a new Netflix comedy special: “Lucas Brothers: On Drugs.”

Lindsey Byrnes

Aside from the strangeness of doing ‘shrooms with someone who looks exactly like you, what else was that like?

Kenny: Awful. That was the worst. It was not a magic experience.

Keith: You go into thinking it’s going to be the dopest, like O sh—, we’re gonna be on like the sixth, seventh dimension, and you literally just start questioning everything. Like every little thought or belief you ever had, you start questioning it. And then you see your brother going through the same thing, so it’s literally like you’re watching yourself freak out. It’s out of body. If it’s not cool and flowery like the ’60s, then it’s just trippy and scary like a horror movie. It was too intense.

Kenny: I did look at this Woody Allen picture for, like, 40 minutes and he was wearing a dope shirt, so that’s good.

Keith: There you go.

Kenny: The power of positivity.

Is there anything professional that you would consider doing individually, where you don’t come as a pair?

Kenny: President of the United States. I’d definitely take that. If I was asked to host — no. (To Keith) Anything I do, I’d want to do with you.

Keith: Yeah. I don’t think there’s anything I would want to do if it didn’t involve him.

Kenny: Oh! Batman. If they asked me to be Batman I’d do it.

Keith: Oh yeah. If you were playing Batman, that’d make sense.

Kenny: If they said, ‘Kenny Lucas, we need you to play Batman in the next installment,’ I’d be like, ‘All right Keith, I’m sorry. We gotta break up.’

Keith: I would ask if I could play Robin though.

Kenny: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’d put in a strong request for you to play Robin.

What was with the Kerry/Edwards and the Goldwater buttons?

Kenny: I think what we were trying to say, is that the political parties are not really that different. Especially when it comes to the war on drugs, because Nixon started it. Carter did nothing to stop it. Reagan expanded it. Clinton expanded it. The Bushes, of course, were big fans of the drug war. Obama — it did so much damage by the time it got to Obama there was very little he could do, and I’m sure with Trump and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, they’re going to ratchet it up, so it’s like the Democrats and the Republicans are both complicit in the failed policy.

You have firsthand experience with the effects the prison-industrial complex can have on a family. When you see the things that Jeff Sessions says about going after places where weed has been legalized, does that worry you?

Kenny: It troubles me.

Keith: Being a child of a prisoner and being directly impacted, you have a sense of fear. With Trump and Sessions, it seems like they’re taking everything to the next level.

Kenny: Yeah. The mythology that surrounds marijuana, you have to break through it.

Keith: People forget there are real-world implications from locking up a person. Families are destroyed. Communities are ravaged. We’ve lost a generation of African-American men who could have done great things. Our dad was very smart. He had all the talents in the world. He made some bad choices. His whole life was destroyed because of that.

Kenny: You’re not seeing people. You’re seeing statistics. You’re not delving into the particular story of a person.

On a little bit of a lighter note, Keith, I read that you went to Duke. How do you feel about this year’s NCAA national champions?

Keith: You know, it’s an ebb and flow. Duke wins one year. UNC wins the next. I think it’s good for Tobacco Road. You can’t tell the story of Duke without UNC. You can’t tell the story of UNC without Duke. I like to see it as a symbiotic story of two programs that push each other to great heights. But that’s just the standardized, PC version of what I need to say.

I was going to say, that’s mighty gracious of you.

Keith: I hate UNC. They’re a bunch of … cheaters. But! They had a good program this year. They also had a lot of seniors and upperclassmen, so I give ’em props for that. They didn’t try to go the one-and-done route, which is pretty popular in college sports these days.

What is your favorite example of white suffering?

Keith: La La Land losing. There we go. It was amazing.

Kenny: And, of course, to lose to Moonlight. It was like thank you, universe. This is exactly what we needed in the Trump era. Especially when Trump won, I’ve never seen so many white liberals have tears. I felt terrible, but it was great!

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Rick Fox loves his yoga, his Tar Heels and the Gorillaz The actor and NBA analyst has a championship spirit about acting, the men he played with, and family

There’s of course Rick Fox the basketball player. The Rick Fox who led the UNC Tar Heels to the Final Four in 1991. The one who won three consecutive NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. He wore purple and gold for seven seasons, all while playing alongside a guy whom he calls his good friend. You may know that friend — his middle name is Bean. But there’s also post-NBA Fox: the actor/analyst/producer/esports mogul Ulrich Alexander “Rick” Fox. He began acting while still playing for the Lakers, but his career blossomed after appearances on HBO’s acclaimed and loved Oz. Fox now pops up on screens both little and big: Single Ladies, Dancing with the Stars and Dope, and he even played himself on The Game. Fox now has a recurring role on OWN’s Greenleaf. He portrays a handsome (of course) reporter assigned to cover scandals that revolve around Calvary Fellowship World Ministries. This is all besides his duties as an NBATV studio analyst. The Toronto-born renaissance man of Bahamian descent talks about his favorite apps, what he’s like during March Madness — and where he gets that hair cut.

What’s the craziest lie you ever told?

I don’t lie.

Where do you get your hair cut?

I have someone who comes to my house. Gilbert [Muniz] comes to my house whenever he’s available. He’s pretty busy. He’s been cutting my hair for about five years now, and his career has really taken off. I’m happy for him, but it makes it harder for me to have those haircuts when I need them.

Describe yourself during March Madness.

I get excited for my Tar Heels. I always want them to win.

What’s one app that you love that nobody else loves?

Well, I think everyone loves Postmates. The one app that may be gaining traction with people: MINDBODY. That connects me to all my yoga classes anywhere when I’m traveling around the U.S. Same with my Workplace app. Workplace connects me with all my employees. Those two are my favorite. Postmates I wear out, though.

What is one album you think is a classic that nobody else does?

The Gorillaz’s Demon Days.

What’s one thing about yourself that embarrasses you?

I’m sure I get embarrassed. I don’t know [laughs]. I wonder if that makes you arrogant if you don’t have many problems. Yeah, I don’t really get embarrassed about stuff. I don’t take myself too seriously.

Who is your favorite athlete of all time?

Some of my teammates were my favorite athletes because I knew them personally. I admire them as men and fathers, and then on top of that their skill sets were just off the charts, and then we went on to win championships. So I wouldn’t say any particular one of them, but every guy who I played years with and won championships with at the Lakers, I think about them. And I think about our times together and I miss them, competing with them. They’re some of my favorite people in the world, and they had amazing, historical careers.

What’s the last museum you walked through?

It was the MoMA [Museum of Modern Art] in New York with my daughter for her birthday, which was pretty cool. It was her 16th birthday. But it was awesome, a pretty fun father-daughter day.

What is the last stamp on your passport?

The last stamp on my passport would be Seoul. No, the last one would be the Bahamas. We went home. That was family; business was Seoul.

“I don’t really get embarrassed about stuff. I don’t take myself too seriously.”

Where does your courage come from?

Probably my kids. Just the desire to want to protect them and raise them, nourish them. When you become a parent, you get courage from somewhere because you want your kids to be safe in the world. And you want to be an example and live a life to teach them some clarity about how to carry themselves: getting up, and suiting up and showing up, and being professional, being a man of character and truth and authenticity. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed for people, and I have those days — we all do. But I think of them, and that gives me the courage to really say what I need to say, do what I need to do and just live an authentic life. I think about them.

Daily Dose: 4/11/17 The passenger and United Airlines are still getting dragged

I’m going to my first Major League Baseball game of the season Tuesday night. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited.

Pulitzer Day is a special one in the journalism world. It’s a day when, if you’ve done this job for any amount of time, you take a second to recognize your peers who’ve put in the work to change the world with that aspirational spirit that drives most reporters. If you’ve got a Pulitzer, people take you seriously for the rest of your life. That said, this year the winners list featured quite a few black writers, which is not usual. As a black journalist, yes, this makes me very happy.

The school shooting in San Bernardino, California, was a domestic incident. A man who was upset about his relationship with his estranged wife decided to walk into a school, her workplace, and shoot to kill her in front of children. There are multiple things worth noting here, besides the awful nature of the murder. The victim, Karen Smith, decided to leave Cedric Anderson. He then killed her. He had a history of abuse, so when you find yourself saying, “Why not just walk away?” when it comes to becoming a victim in that situation, now you know. Typically, it’s less safe.

If you get dragged off a plane by airport authorities, prepare to get your reputation dragged too. That’s exactly what’s happening to David Dao, the man you saw on TV and the internet getting pulled by his arms off a United Airlines flight Monday. As it turns out, his past in Kentucky as a doctor involves quite a few controversial incidents, including multiple felony charges for fraudulently giving out drugs. This is what we call the “no angel” defense that we’ve seen so many times before. Of course, none of this matters at all, really, because beating people up on planes isn’t cool, ever.

There’s no love lost between old ACC foes. Last week, the University of Maryland president floated a rather drastic idea when publicly discussing what should happen to the University of North Carolina regarding its academic fraud scandal. This situation is particularly awkward because it mainly involved letting kids take fake classes in African and Afro-American studies, which just does not look good at all. Wallace Loh thinks UNC deserves the death penalty. Wow.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you tell me that you were attacked by a runaway deer, the likelihood that I believe you is low. I mean, who on earth is just walking down the street when Bambi is rolling through? Well, it happened to this guy, and now there’s video to prove it.

Snack Time: Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing but bad news around these parts. Between all the outrage and injustice, here’s a story about strangers coming together to help someone find his dad’s lost friend. Cue the tears.

Dessert: If you’re in a bad mood and need cheering up, this song should help you out.

Big-time college athletes should be paid with big-time educations Before we discuss paying college athletes, let’s make sure they get a real college education

Education should be the college athlete’s greatest compensation.

Not a slice of the billions of dollars paid for TV rights for their games. Not a pay-for-play contract like their NBA and NFL brethren. The biggest crime in college sports isn’t that the system is rigged against paying college athletes, it’s that money-worshipping American culture is set up against educating them.

The clamor to pay players arose anew this week when North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams earned $925,000 in bonuses after his team won the national championship. “The players got awesome T-shirts and hats,” observed Associated Press sports writer Tim Reynolds in a viral tweet.

The NCAA collects $1.1 billion per year from CBS and Turner for broadcast rights to the basketball tournament. ESPN pays $470 million annually for the College Football Playoff. Conferences and individual colleges make additional millions during the regular season. Many have compellingly argued for years that, morally and legally, the players deserve to pocket some of that windfall.

They do. But our Money Over Everything society is minimizing or ignoring what’s currently within its grasp, which should last far longer than a six-figure revenue-sharing check.

Right now, college players receive up to six figures’ worth of higher education, plus the life-changing opportunity to elevate intellect and character. Yes, athletes are too often pushed into fake classes to keep them eligible, as in the infamous North Carolina academic scandal that threatens the Tar Heels’ championship, or hindered from serious study by the 40-hour-per-week demands of their sport. But these athletes, and generations of their descendants, would benefit more from reforming their educational experiences than from extra cash.

Let’s look at what those North Carolina ballers receive from their athletic scholarships.

Start with four years of tuition, fees, room and board that total $80,208 for in-state students and $180,536 for those from outside North Carolina. Add the benefit of a diploma from a top institution with an influential and passionate alumni network. UNC is nationally ranked the No. 5 public university and the No. 30 college overall. The name “North Carolina” on LinkedIn or a resume opens doors and gets phone calls returned — and that’s without including “2017 NCAA champion.” And for the majority of UNC players who won’t make NBA millions, lifetime earnings for college graduates are 66 percent higher than those with just a high school diploma. That can be worth more than an additional $1 million.

Then there are the intangibles.

“People ask all the time why I’m one of the youngest college presidents in the country, and one of the only African-Americans leading a private national university,” said Chris Howard, 48, who leads Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh and played football at the Air Force Academy. “I credit a big chunk of that to my experience playing college athletics. I know it sounds kind of cliché, but attention to detail, discipline, teamwork, resiliency, learning how to deal with others, deal with people that are of different backgrounds. It was just a melting pot. It was a leadership lab for me.”

After finishing college, Howard flew helicopters, served in Afghanistan and Liberia, became a Rhodes scholar and got a Harvard MBA. “All those intangibles kind of laid the path. The path was laid by playing D-I football first,” he said.

Rather than an unfair burden, Howard sees the demands placed on college athletes as a down payment on a successful future.

“You’ll be a better human being when you learn to handle that load,” he said. “You’ll be a better father, better husband, better brother, better sister. You’ll be a better professional as an engineer, a lawyer, a doctor, a business manager.”

The pay-for-play crowd loves to holler, “Intangibles don’t pay the bills.”

College athletes certainly should receive enough compensation to cover living expenses. Their families should travel free to games. Some sort of trust fund sounds fair. But the intangible value of higher education is worth more than pizza or gas money.

Martin Luther King Jr. described it while a student at Morehouse College:

“Most of the ‘brethren’ think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses,” King wrote in 1947 at age 21. “Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.”

“Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education,” King wrote.

The real problem is, too many athletes are blocked from coming within a Hail Mary of that ideal.

“I would suggest that a lot of these kids aren’t getting an education. They’re just sitting in class,” said Leonard Moore, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who is founder of the Black Student-Athlete Summit.

Moore has tutored, counseled and mentored athletes while teaching at Ohio State, Louisiana State and now Texas. He says most big-time athletes are limited to easy majors and prevented from taking advantage of many educational benefits because “revenue-generating sports are now year-round enterprises.”

“You can’t take a class after 1 o’clock. You can’t study abroad in the summer. You can’t get an internship on Wall Street or Silicon Valley,” he said. “The question then becomes how do these student-athletes take advantage of everything that a place like Texas or UCLA has to offer? I would argue that it monopolizes all their time. The only thing they can do is go to class, go to work out and then go lift, and then go to the meeting and then go to class.”

“I never understood why a football team has to practice in February when their first game of the season is in September,” Moore said.

Money is the biggest reason.

The University of Texas football team generated $121 million in revenue and a staggering $92 million profit in 2015. The business of college sports is so entrenched, Moore doesn’t believe it’s possible to make the players real students again.

“Just because you value education doesn’t mean [the athlete] values it,” he said. “If it’s basketball that got me on an airplane, that’s taken me to another state, that’s taken me out of the country, you know what I’m saying? Basketball has definitely helped me move forward in life. You say a four-year education, that doesn’t mean anything. That’s important in your value system, but it ain’t important in mine.

“Right now, it seems like they value the money and that we all value the money,” Moore continued. “That’s the athletes. That’s the university. Our society values the money, and so we say, ‘Look, they need to be paid. We need to pay them, pay them, pay them.’ Instead of saying, ‘We need to educate, educate, educate.’ ”

Efforts are being made. Over the past 15 years, graduation rates have risen from 46 to 77 percent for all black NCAA basketball players, and from 76 to 94 percent for white players. The NCAA gave Division I schools $45 million last year for academic programs and services.

But ballplayers can still get a sociology degree in three years while reading just one book. The clamor for cash still prevails. Demanding short-term gratification feels better than pursuing long-term goals.

A starting point for reform would be guaranteeing athletic scholarships for four years, instead of one, and providing free tuition, room and board for as long as it takes ex-players to graduate. Freed from the demand to produce revenue, these young athletes could finally obtain the incalculable benefits of a real college education.

Capitalism dictates that college players be paid fairly for the entertainment they provide. If money is life’s ultimate goal, the buck stops there.

Or here: “Capitalism is always in danger,” King said, “of inspiring men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.”

One-on-one with Grant Hill: Life after basketball Former NBA star talks about charity, overcoming injuries and what makes for a good marriage

Former NBA player Grant Hill had some legendary moments on the court.

There was his 1996-97 season in which he led the Detroit Pistons in nearly every statistical category, including minutes played, points, field goals, free throws, assists and steals — and missed only one regular-season game. Or look at Hill’s performance during the 1997 NBA playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, when he crossed over Hawks small forward Tyrone Corbin before going in for a nasty dunk over center Dikembe Mutombo. We can reminisce about 2009, when a showdown between the Phoenix Suns and the Chicago Bulls gave us a 36-year-old Hill teaching the young bucks what an old-school dunk looks like. We’re sorry it had to be you, Joakim Noah.

We can bring it all the way back to when a baby-faced Hill honed his playmaking skills at Duke University. Hill averaged 14.9 points and 6.0 rebounds over his collegiate career and helped his team claim back-to-back NCAA championships during his freshman and sophomore years in 1991 and 1992.

While Hill grew accustomed to playing through ankle injuries that began during the 1999-2000 season, a recurring left ankle injury threatened to end his career in 2003. He missed the entire 2003-04 season with the Orlando Magic.

“I had multiple doctors tell me that I was done, and I was able to play another 10 years. … I wasn’t the same player, but I still had a lot of fun in the game and got the most out of it,” Hill said during a TNT pregame show in 2013.

“For me, as I went through my career, I was able to still figure out, find ways to add value to a team, and as I went through injuries, as I had setbacks, I got older,” Hill told The Undefeated. “I was still able to play until I was 40, I think in large part because I continued to figure out how I could be effective out there on the court throughout my 19-year journey.”

Hill, 44, spent most of his career as an integral part of the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns before announcing his retirement in 2013 after one season with the Los Angeles Clippers. An elite defender with a varied skillset, Hill decided to end his NBA career after having played 1,027 games in which he averaged 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

It’d be easy to assume that Hill has spent his retirement relaxing, enjoying family time with his wife, six-time Grammy-nominated singer Tamia, and the couple’s two daughters, Myla Grace and Lael Rose. But life hasn’t slowed down for the seven-time All-Star.

Letting go of his tear-aways and sneakers, Hill has stepped up his tailored-suit game as a basketball analyst for CBS Sports, Turner Sports and NBA TV, where he’s been since 2015. He’s also a partial owner of the Atlanta Hawks and sits as vice chairman of the board.

In addition, Hill said, “There are some things that my wife and I are kind of exploring on the side of content creation, getting some exposure on television, but also understanding how the business of television works and how we can maximize our creativity together.

“Obviously I am building a business platform, and we’re striving to do some amazing things with our private equity business enterprise. That’s been fun, engaging, very challenging but also rewarding.”

And those are only a few of the many hats Hill wears.

Three years ago, Hill became a panelist for the Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Good Works team. As a member of the team this year, Hill, along with other players, coaches and members of the media, reviewed the profiles of 181 student-athlete nominees who are serving their communities. The 10 finalists will be honored on court during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Phoenix.

Hill appreciates the selflessness displayed by students catering to the communities around them. Hill credits the teachings of Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski for instilling a sense of purpose and leadership that remains with him today.

“I think as an athlete or, as I like to say, ‘The Classroom of K,’ sports I think teaches you discipline, it teaches you teamwork, collective responsibility, it teaches you how to handle success, how to handle failure,” Hill said. “There’s so many values and principles that one can take from sports, from team sports, and apply to life.”

As a student-athlete at Duke, what were some of the things you learned that not only prepared you to be a leader in your professional career, but for life in general?

As a student … you learn how to think. School teaches you how to challenge yourself into thinking outside of the box, it teaches you how to problem-solve and it teaches you how to endure. College was not easy, but I think those [are] qualities that you take with you and apply to life as you move on.

What’s changed about the game since you retired?

I think the game has evolved, and I’m not that far removed from it, but I think it’s even more pronounced now. I think there’s more of an emphasis on the perimeter. I think you see more guys shooting the long ball and playing from the perimeter.

What do you see less of?

There’s less of an emphasis on playing post-up, big guys having the ball down low, and that’s kind of the trend. That’s where the game is going. The needle has been moved some since I retired three years ago, and that’s OK. The game will continue to grow and continue to evolve and continue to change in a lot of ways, but the emphasis on shooting from the perimeter and the skillset and talent of players being able to shoot the ball from outside has played a large role with the change of the game over the last few years.

Which current player reminds you most of yourself?

Is it arrogant of me to pick the best player in the game? I look at a guy like LeBron [James] and I think, you know, obviously he’s bigger than me and probably more athletic than I was, but my Detroit years, handling the ball, being like a point guard, a facilitator, I do see some similarities of at least the approach to the game that we had when I was in Detroit.

What’s the best piece of advice you received from another basketball player?

I’ve had a lot of advice along the way. There’s a lot of people that help you. Early on, Joe Dumars, when I played in Detroit, pretty much emphasized to me that the key to having longevity is to continue to grow and get better as a player. Watching him as an All-Star, as an experienced veteran, continue to work on his craft really left an impact.

What are some of the habits from your playing days that are still with you?

One of the things that’s really fun but also challenging, believe it or not, for 20 years as an athlete you play at night, and I like to say that during the season you’re nocturnal. You really learn to survive on afternoon naps.

After practice I’d come home, take a nap for an hour before the kids came home from school, or on a game day I’d come home after practice, have lunch. … [My] body’s accustomed to going to sleep after lunch. When I have a meeting after lunch … I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m falling asleep.’ Sometimes I’ll get up and go to the bathroom, sometimes I’m pinching myself, like pinching my leg. I mean, I’m trying all these different things and it’s hilarious.

Your schedule is still pretty busy, and so is Tamia’s. What’s the key to making marriage last so long?

Well, the real key is that my wife listens to everything that I say. Nah, I’m joking. I guess to the folks on the outside looking in, considering the worlds we kind of work in or live in, it seems like we got it right or we are doing great or whatever the case may be. Family is a priority. Communication. You know we have a very normal life, but we try to make it normal. Our life really at this point in time revolves around our kids. But when it’s a priority, you work at it, you know, and relationships, they require effort and communication.

We will be married 18 years this summer. We’re best friends and we have a very cool relationship, so I am very fortunate I married up!

What’s next? What are some of the things you’re hoping to do in the near future?

I think one of the great things in life is you always want to try new things. Whether they are business-related, hobby-related, I think it takes you, stretches you out of your comfort zone, and that’s where the real growth opportunity occurs.

Our children as they grow and have different needs, trying to balance and juggle all that, which is sort of a never-ending challenge. And then trying new things, you know, and traveling. Who knows where life will take us? I think when you are open to new things, and open to meeting new people, opportunities that maybe weren’t even on your radar will present themselves. Both business, but also both from a hobby standpoint, so on and so forth.

I want to learn a new language. I want to learn a new instrument — I play the piano, but I’d like to learn the guitar. I don’t know how that will work because my fingers are so big, but just step outside of my comfort zone. And I feel like when I do that, when I challenge myself, that’s when I’ll have fulfilling growth opportunity ultimately.