U.S. Women Win 4×400, And Allyson Felix Becomes The Most Decorated U.S. Track Athlete

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The gold medal for U.S. star Allyson Felix brings her Olympic medal total up to 11, making her the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in history.

By , NPR

TOKYO — It wasn’t even close.

The U.S. women’s 4×400 meter relay team won gold, beating the closest competition, Poland, by more than three and a half seconds.

The gold medal for U.S. star Allyson Felix brings her Olympic medal total up to 11, making her the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in history. With this medal, she surpassed the record of U.S. track legend Carl Lewis. Tokyo is her fifth Olympics.

“For me, I just came out really at peace and wanting to soak it all in,” Felix said. “I think this is a really special team because we’re not 400-meter runners — I don’t consider myself a 400-meter specialist. We all do different things, and it was really cool to come together to get to close out the Olympic Games and for me, my Olympic career in this way.”

The U.S. was in the lead the entire race, starting out fast with 400-meter hurdles world record holder Sydney McLaughlin. Felix followed, maintaining the lead. Hurdles silver medalist Dalilah Muhammad opened it up, and 800-meter gold medalist Athing Mu closed out the race.

Muhammed said she has been inspired by Felix her entire career. “I’m truly just honored to be part of this team with her, on her last Olympics. We’re going to look back at this and think about how special this moment really was.”

Poland took silver and Jamaica won bronze.

Felix has been an outspoken advocate for better support for athletes who are moms.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Shaq is retiring from celebrity status: ‘Out of their mind’

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Shaquille O'Neal smiling wearing a suit

By , NY Post

Don’t call Shaquille O’Neal a “celebrity.”

Although the Lakers legend has a stacked NBA resume and booming broadcast career (including countless commercials and brand deals), O’Neal wants to be remembered for his kindness before anything else.

“These celebrities are going freaking crazy and I don’t want to be one. I denounce my celebrity-ness today. I’m done with it,” O’Neal told The Post, while discussing his new campaign with Kellogg’s.

“I don’t want to be in that category. Celebrities are crazy, they really are. Don’t call me that anymore. These people are out of their freaking mind with how they treat people, what they do, what they say. That’s never been me. I never want to be looked at like that.”

The four-time champion has found a different way into the spotlight with his random acts of kindness, which he said he tries to do at least twice per week.

Since retiring from the NBA in 2011, he’s become known for helping others with grand gestures that have included paying for a stranger’s engagement ring — and more recently, funding one of his favorite Atlanta restaurants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All my life, everyone probably gets stereotyped, but us celebrities, we get stereotyped because most of these celebrities are out of their mind. I don’t do that. I’m a regular person that listened, followed his dreams and made it,” he said.

It’s easy to hone in on O’Neal’s life from the start of his NBA career to the present day, but things were much different before the 1992 NBA Draft — when the 7-foot-1 LSU product was selected first overall by the Orlando Magic.

O’Neal grew up poor in Newark, New Jersey, and has credited the Boys & Girls Club of America for helping to keep him off the streets and out of trouble.

“I came from nothing,” he said. “But, just because I made it doesn’t mean I’m bigger than you, smarter than you — just because I have more money doesn’t mean I’m better than you. I’ve never been that way and I never will be that way. So I don’t want to be in that category of people.

“When they talk about Shaq, what do you say? ‘He’s a nice guy.’ Because what else can you be? You’re either nice or you’re the A-word, and I definitely won’t be looked at as the A-word,” he said.

“I want people to say, ‘Bro, he’s nice. He didn’t have an entourage. His people didn’t take my phone because I took a picture and threw it.’”

Another good deed O’Neal is focused on, is helping kids play sports.

Click here to read the full article on the NY Post.

Michael Jordan, Jordan Brand donating $1M to help diversify newsrooms

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Basketball legend Michael Jordan announced that he will donate $1 million to the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting to help diversify newsrooms.

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN, The Hill

Basketball legend Michael Jordan announced that he will donate $1 million to the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting to help diversify newsrooms.

The Jordan Brand grant will enable the society to expand its college internship program, create a summer journalism program at a historically black college or university in North Carolina, and launch a high school journalism project with a majority Black and Latino school in the state.

The Ida B. Wells Society, created in 2016 to help train and support minority investigative journalists, is housed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Media.

“Investigative reporting is the most important reporting in our democracy,” society co-founder and 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones said in a statement.

“It’s the reporting that holds power accountable, that unearths the way it’s wielded, that tells the stories that people don’t want told. Our democracy is in crisis as politicians are advancing a wave of voter suppression laws across the country and journalists must step up to be the firewall for our democracy,” she added. “That makes the work we do as a Society and the substantial support of Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand so critical in this moment.”

Jordan, who was the main subject of the Netflix documentary series “The Last Dance,” pledged in 2020 to donate $100 million to organizations that are dedicated to racial equality, social justice and education access over the next decade, Black Enterprise reported.

Click here to read the full article on The Hill.

Michael B. Jordan-Backed HBCU Basketball Showcase Partners With Turner Sports and Invesco

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Michael B. Jordan smiling at camera

By Angelique Jackson, Yahoo! Entertainment

Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming college basketball showcase, spotlighting men’s teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) added Turner Sports and Invesco QQQ as partners.

The newly named Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic will take place on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. TNT will televise the doubleheader competition between Hampton University and North Carolina Central University, plus Howard University versus North Carolina A&T University.

The event — presented with WME Sports (the sports division of WME, an Endeavor company), Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and Scout Sports and Entertainment (a division of Horizon Media) — was previously announced as the Hoop Dreams Classic.

“I am thrilled to finally announce the four HBCUs that will be competing in the inaugural Legacy Classic,” Jordan said, announcing the latest updates.

“Invesco QQQ and Turner Sports have been amazing partners in helping bring this experience to life,” he continued. “I grew up watching basketball games on TNT, so I am confident they will deliver this set of games to a true audience of basketball fans and their families in an exciting way.”

In addition to the basketball game, the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic is also set to feature an immersive cultural experience that highlights elements of HBCU life and culture, including a band showcase, a live musical performance, college and career opportunities and more.

“We are excited for this partnership with Michael B. Jordan and all of the event organizers as we present the inaugural Legacy Classic,” Tina Shah, Turner Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, added. “We’re looking forward to having this unique opportunity to showcase these four college basketball programs, while highlighting HBCUs both leading up to and during the event.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment

Black women are finally shattering the glass ceiling in dance

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Dionne Figgins, artistic director of Ballet Tech, is one of several Black women named recently to leadership posts in dance. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

By Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell knows how it feels to be the only Black dancer in the dressing room.

“Everyone was friendly, but it was a lonely feeling that nobody looked like me,” says the former star of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recalling her first dance job 30 years ago, with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“So when it came to styling my hair, I couldn’t rely on anyone to help advise me. There were so many little things like that.”

Throughout the concert-dance world, dancers of color have often shared that sense of isolation and difference. But in recent months, some significant appointments offer hope of change. In March, Fisher-Harrell began leading the company where she once felt so alone. As the new artistic director of Hubbard Street, a widely respected contemporary troupe founded by Broadway dancer Lou Conte, she is one of very few Black women heading traditionally White-led dance organizations.

Fisher-Harrell, who most recently had been teaching at Towson University and the Baltimore School for the Arts, made changes quickly at Hubbard Street. She hired four dancers of color, bringing the total at the 14-member company to six dancers.

Three more Black women have recently assumed dance leadership roles, in front-office moves that are rare in the dance world. Each has led a distinguished performance career in premiere companies on international stages followed by years as dance educators.

Endalyn Taylor is the new dean of the dance school at the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. A former leading ballerina of Dance Theatre of Harlem, an original cast member of “The Lion King” and “Aida” on Broadway, and a dance professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Taylor succeeds former American Ballet Theatre principal Susan Jaffe.

Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.

Olympic gold medalist shares USA pride following historic win

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gold medalist holding up the american flag in wrestling uniform

By Gabrielle Fonrouge, New York Post

US wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock could barely contain her pride in country after her historic gold medal win in the women’s 68-kilogram freestyle division — winning a new legion of fans for her unabashed patriotism.

“I love representing the USA. I love living there. I love it, and I’m so happy I get to represent USA!” said the exuberant 28-year-old Texas raised grappler, who is the first black woman and the second woman ever to claim a wrestling gold for the US after her win Tuesday over Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu.

“It feels amazing,” Mensah-Stock, wearing an American flag draped around her shoulders, told reporters following the match, curling her hands into a heart shape.

Fans cheered Mensah-Stock’s win — and her joyous celebration of the Red, White and Blue — which came after US hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned her back on the National Anthem during Olympic trials and Raven Saunders made a symbol of protest after winning silver in the shot put.

“Wrestles like a badass, but has a heart as gold as that medal! Her enthusiasm & joy for life are infectious,” Amy Burchard wrote.

“Who is cutting onions around me,” added Eric Nhilnwe.

“Finally some authentic response from a real human being for once,” another tweeted.

Mensah-Stock has been wrestling since she was in the 10th grade and told reporters she always “knew” she “could do it.”

“When I first started wrestling I felt like I could be an olympic champ and I kept going,” the wrestler sobbed as she answered the question.

The athlete was asked about her father and how he died when she was in high school and she broke down a bit further, saying he “would’ve been the loudest one here.”

“He would be so happy,” Mensah-Stock said of her Ghana-born dad.

Click here to read the full article on New York Post.

WNBA’s Candace Parker will be first female basketball player on cover of NBA 2K

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Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker will be the first female basketball player to grace the cover of the newest edition of popular video game NBA 2K

By Joseph Guzman, The Hill

Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker will be the first female basketball player to grace the cover of the newest edition of popular video game NBA 2K when it hits shelves Sept. 10, the company announced Wednesday.

The six-time All-Star will be featured on a special edition of NBA 2K22 — in honor of the WNBA’s 25th season — that will be sold exclusively at video game retailer GameStop.

The cover shows the Chicago Sky star shooting a layup over a background of her team’s colors.

“The cover of NBA 2K is such a pivotal platform to inspire young ballers, and I wanted future WNBA stars to know that they can be cover athletes too,” Parker said in a statement.

“Representation matters, so this is a special moment of progress for the sport and the series. To be part of this historic cover is a testament to the growth and rising popularity of the women’s game, and I’m proud to be the first female cover athlete to be the face of NBA 2K,” she added.

Parker, 35, has played in the WNBA since 2008 and is currently in her first season with the Chicago Sky after spending most of her career with the Los Angeles Sparks, where she won a championship in 2016.

Click here to read the full article on The Hill.

Zendaya Responds to Space Jam 2 Lola Bunny Redesign Controversy

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Zendaya, shares her thoughts on the unexpected controversy surrounding the redesign of her character, Lola Bunny

BY Michelle Mehrtens, Screen Rant

Space Jam: A New Legacy star, Zendaya, shares her thoughts on the unexpected controversy surrounding the redesign of her character, Lola Bunny. The original 1996 comedy was a live-action/animated hybrid that starred basketball icon, Michael Jordan. In the film, he joins a basketball team led by the Looney Tunes in order to help them win a game against a group of nefarious aliens. It was a blockbuster hit, earning over $250 million worldwide and spawning a beloved following that has endured since its initial release. The highly anticipated upcoming sequel follows basketball champion, LeBron James, as he tries to save his son, Dom (Cedric Joe), from the Warner 3000 Server-Verse. To do this, he teams up with Looney Tunes favorites, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Lola Bunny, who has become a member of the Amazons.

During production of Space Jam 2, director Malcolm D. Lee decided to rework the character design of Lola Bunny after finalizing the ensemble cast. In prior interviews, he shared his surprise when he first watched Space Jam, explaining his unease when he witnessed the sexual objectification of Lola Bunny. As a result, Lee focused on adding greater depth to her character by emphasizing her skills as an athlete and leader. He also sought to remove any type of unnecessary sexualization when it came to her animation design. However, when EW released its first look cover of the Space Jam 2 cast a few months ago, many online commenters reacted negatively to the change in Lola Bunny’s appearance.

While speaking to EW, Zendaya responded to the online disputes regarding Lola Bunny’s redesign. Acknowledging her personal admiration of the character, she recognized the ways in which Lola has left her mark on the Space Jam universe. Read what Zendaya said below:

“I didn’t know that was going to happen either! I definitely know we love her, but I didn’t know it was going to be as much of a focus as it was. But I understand, because she’s a lovable character. She’s very important, so I get it.”

In his own interview with EW, Lee described his disbelief when he saw the online fervor about Lola Bunny. He added, “I had no idea that people would be that up in arms about a bunny not having boobs.” As Lee noted, it was important for him that Space Jam 2 highlighted Lola’s personal and professional evolution without reducing her to an object. He explained that he hoped young female viewers would admire Lola and her abilities as a basketball player. Moreover, the director reached out to Zendaya for the role because he respected her business acumen and confidence, which he believed were similar attributes embodied by Lola.

Click here to read the full article on Screen Rant.

Tennis-Wimbledon ends in tears for injured Serena

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Tennis- Wimbledon ends in tears for injured Serena as she is cheered on by the crowd

By Alan Baldwin, Yahoo! Sports

Tennis great Serena Williams limped out of Wimbledon in tears on Tuesday after her latest bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles crown ended in injury. The American sixth seed and seven-times Wimbledon winner was clearly in pain on a slippery Centre Court and sought treatment while 3-2 up in her first-round match against unseeded Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Williams returned after a lengthy break but the distress was evident. She grimaced and wiped away tears before preparing to serve at 3-3 after Sasnovich had pulled back from 3-1 down. The 39-year-old, who had started the match with strapping on her right thigh, then let out a shriek and sank kneeling to the grass sobbing, before being helped off the court.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on – and off – the court meant the world to me.”

GREAT CHAMPION

Sasnovich, who practised her serve while Williams was getting treatment, commiserated with an opponent who had never gone out in the first round at Wimbledon in her previous 19 visits.

“I’m so sad for Serena, she’s a great champion,” said the world number 100. “It happens sometimes.”

Eight-times men’s singles champion Roger Federer expressed shock at Williams’ departure and voiced concern about the surface, with the roof closed on Centre Court on a rainy afternoon.

His first-round opponent Adrian Mannarino of France also retired with a knee injury after a slip in the match immediately before Williams’.

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof. I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down,” Federer said.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Sports.

Gabby Thomas wins women’s 200 meters at U.S. Olympic trials with second-fastest time ever, Allyson Felix fails to qualify

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Gabby Thomas running before the olympics

By Tyler Dragon, USA TODAY

Gabby Thomas ran a world-leading 21.94 seconds in the semifinals of the women’s 200 meters on Friday — and her momentum carried over to Saturday. Thomas eclipsed her previous career-best as she crossed the finish line in 21.61 to win the women’s 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials. Her time is the second-fastest in the history of the women’s 200 meters and puts her in illustrious company. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world-record 21.34 seconds from 1988 is faster. “I’ve been working so hard,” Thomas said. “I moved to Austin, Texas to train for this. I still just cannot believe it. I’m so, so happy. I’ve been working so hard. I’m really grateful.” Jenna Prandini ran a personal-best 21.89 to finish second, and Anavia Battle crossed the line in 21.95 to finish third.

Thomas, a Harvard graduate, has propelled herself to a serious gold-medal contender in Tokyo after speeding through the preliminary rounds and running one of the best times ever. “Since coming here my expectations for myself have gotten even higher,” Thomas said. “Now when I step on the track, I do expect to run sub-22, which is something I love for myself and I’m really excited about.”

Thomas has valid reasons to be excited after her performance in Eugene. She ran sub-22 seconds in the opening round, semifinal and final of the 200 meters. Leading up to the trials, though, Thomas had a harrowing experience. After winning the 200 meters at the Golden Games on May 9, Thomas underwent an MRI to diagnose what had seemed to be a nagging hamstring injury. The results of the MRI revealed a tumor on her liver.

“The more and more I spoke to people, the more the word ‘cancer’ was used. I was scared,” Thomas said on social media on June 7.

Thankfully, though, Thomas received news from doctors that the tumor is benign and won’t need to be operated on.

“I am so excited to compete – feeling much lighter with this weight off of my shoulders! One of the greatest gifts in life is our health,” Thomas said prior to the trials on social media.

“I remember telling God, ‘If I am healthy, I’m gonna go out and win trials,’ ” she said.

Thomas did in emphatic fashion. Now she is off to Tokyo healthy and running better than she ever has.

Click here to read the full article on USA Today.

Sha’Carri Richardson dominates 100 meters in style to clinch trip to Tokyo Olympics

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The first sprint secured Sha'Carri Richardson's place at the Tokyo Olympics.

By Tom Schad, USA TODAY

The first sprint secured Sha’Carri Richardson’s place at the Tokyo Olympics. The second one might have been even sweeter. After winning the 100-meter final at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials Saturday with a time of 10.86 seconds, yelling in celebration as she crossed the finish line, Richardson took off into the stands. She scaled the concrete steps at Hayward Field and rounded the corner to Section 119, where her grandmother, Betty Harp, was waiting and smiling.

Then Richardson, one of the fastest American women ever, celebrated in the only way that felt right to her in the moment. She gave her grandmother a hug. “My grandmother is my heart. My grandmother is my superwoman,” Richardson said.”Honestly, that was one of my biggest goals in life – to have her see me compete in one of the highest levels, and be successful.”

Richardson, 21, said Harp has been a constant presence in her life, from her childhood in Dallas to her brief college stint at LSU, when she won a national title. The sprinter has fond memories of the time they spent cooking together, or just watching TV shows. She was always there, Richardson said.

“From Day 1 up until now,” she explained, “always being in my corner, no matter what I did, no matter if it was good, no matter if it was bad.”

Earlier, in a post-race interview with NBC, Richardson said that her family “has kept me grounded.” She also revealed that her biological mother recently died. She declined to go into details about their relationship with reporters in a news conference.

“That’s not anything I want to talk about, so I’m not going to get too much into details,” she said. “… But what I will say is I am grateful for her giving me life, bringing me into this world.”

Click here to read the full article on USA Today.

Michael Jordan will make an appearance in ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy,’ Don Cheadle says

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Bill Murray, Micheal Jordan, and bugs bunny featured in space jam

By , CBS Sports

Michael Jordan is coming out of retirement again. Movie retirement, that is. MJ will make an appearance in “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” according to actor Don Cheadle, who is also in the movie. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Cheadle, who plays a rogue artificial intelligence named Al-G Rhythm in the film, said that Jordan will be on screen at some point in the movie. However, Cheadle did say that Jordan has a role but, “not in the way you’d expect it.”

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is slated to be released in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16. It’s the long-anticipated sequel to the original “Space Jam,” which was released back in 1996 with Jordan as the main star. This time around, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is stepping in to team up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes. The trailer for “Space Jam: A New Legacy” was released last month and the film is expected to feature cameos from other NBA stars, such as Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and Klay Thompson, as well as WNBA legend Diana Taurasi and more.

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

Simone Biles wins record-breaking seventh U.S. all-around title ahead of Tokyo Olympics

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Simone Biles holding a bouquet of flowers after a gymnastics competition while waving at fans

By , CBS Sport

Yet again, Simone Biles has done something that no female gymnast has ever done before. Yet again, Biles is going to be representing U.S. Gymnastics in the Olympics. Yet again, Simone Biles is a winner.

On Sunday, Biles claimed her seventh U.S. all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, setting a new record for the most all-around titles ever for an American woman. According to Olympics.com, Biles breaks a tie she had held with Clara Schroth Lombady, who won six titles in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and is now tied with Alfred Jochim for the most overall titles by a U.S. gymnast.

Biles topped the podium with a two-day total of 119.650, followed by Suni Lee (114.950) and Jordan Chiles (114.450). Biles totaled 60.100 points in the all-around on Sunday, never scoring less than 14.700 in any event. In addition to the all-around title, Biles also took top honors in the vault, balance beam, and floor exercises.

While Biles’ place on the U.S. Olympic team is seemingly assured, there is still a great deal of competition to see who will be joining her at the Tokyo Olympics later this summer. Suni Lee and Jordan Chiles both staked their claims towards that distinction. Lee’s path towards qualifying for the Olympics has been a difficult one, as this weekend marked the first time she has competed on all four apparatus as she’s dealt with an Achilles injury. Meanwhile, Chiles followed up strong performances at the Winter Cup and U.S. Classic with another score of over 57 points in the all-around.

Lee and Chiles appear to be favorites to join Biles on the four-woman Olympic team, but the last spot on the team remains up for grabs. Among those competing for that spot include Leanne Wong, Skye Blakely, and Riley McCusker, with Emma Malabuyo entering the picture with a fourth-place finish on Sunday.

Click here to read the full article on CBS Sports.

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