The former NBA first overall pick Kwame Brown, often known for being outspoken and his public rants about life, society and what’s wrong with culture and sports, joins The Pivot today for an in-depth conversation about who he truly is as a man and what he stands for.
Ryan, Channing and Fred sit down with Kwame to peel back the layers of this once basketball great and find out if it’s anger or frustration that fuel his words.
Selected as the first overall pick at age of 19 in 2001, Kwame talks about his experience as a child and rough upbringing to making it out to discover a life as not just a professional basketball player, but one of the best in the country at his young age.
Kwame talks about playing with Michael Jordan, the misconceptions of his rookie year and why he was labeled a problem player and later known as a bust. He shares his experience of playing with Kobe Bryant and being on the court for the legend’s historic 81 point performances and also how Kobe shaped him as a better player and man.
Sharing his truth regarding past issues and incidents between his ongoing battle with Stephen A Smith, the use of the word bust and former players speaking out on him- Kwame is not holding back and using his voice as an open book through his platform.
Working now to help today’s youth and provide an outlet and teach through his experiences, Kwame is focused on bringing reality to young men in the community and helping them evolve into better people with hope through opportunities.
With the Winter Olympics in full swing in Beijing, two athletes, skier Eileen Gu, and figure skater Zhu Yi, have been trending in two different social media spheres.
Both Californian-born athletes have been receiving intense backlash for changing their nationalities to compete for China.
Gu, an 18-year-old first-year Stanford student and San Francisco native, made history as the youngest-ever Olympic freestyle ski champion. Most Americans have been celebrating online, but conservative commentators are in an uproar over her decision to “switch sides” and win the gold for China.
“It’s ungrateful for her to turn her back on the country that not just raised her, but turned her into a world-class skier,” a right-wing podcaster said in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “I hope Eileen Gu likes living in China, what a traitor. Born in San Francisco, CA snd competes for Chinese money. Get out!” wrote someone on Twitter.
Gu’s response to the haters? “Cry ab it,” she wrote on TikTok after a commenter asked why she didn’t compete for the US.
Zhu Yi, also known as Beverly Zhu, is a 19-year-old Angeleno who also gave up her US citizenship to compete.
“so so so honored to be representing Team China at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics ✨,” she wrote on Instagram on Jan. 28. “Especially after having a couple rough years, I’m so grateful for those who helped me push past the negative thoughts and injuries; helping me grow throughout this journey.”
“Is she really patriotic?” one commented. “How is one person’s dream bigger than the country? It’s ass backward.” The criticisms came from all sides, with someone commenting on her TikTok this week: “Enjoy China. The bastion of freedom, right? Turncoat.”
Then when Zhu fell during competition, #ZhuYiMistake, #ShameOnZhuYi and #ZhuYiFellDown began trending on Weibo.
The social media reaction to the athletes changing nationalities surprised William Tran, vice president of the Pasadena Figure Skating Club and a figure skating judge.
“It’s completely within the rules, and something many sports are used to,” he told BuzzFeed News. “The United States has had incredible athletes from other countries represent our team, and many athletes have found success representing others.”
Zhu and Gu aren’t the only foreign-born Olympians representing China. Jake Chelios, the white son of National Hockey League star Chris Chelios, will be playing as Jie Ke Kai Liao Si on the Chinese men’s hockey team. Chelios, who is from Illinois and played hockey for a few years in China, told the Associated Press that his new name was “cool” and part of the experience of playing abroad.
“Since I’ve been over here, everything’s kind of new for me, and that’s the exciting part about playing overseas,” he said. “I know two or three words [in Chinese], but I took six years of Spanish in high school. I couldn’t even learn that, so I didn’t even try.”
Former NHL goaltender Jeremy Smith, a white man from Michigan, (competing as Jie Rui Mi Shi Mi Si) will also be competing for China. Most of the roster for China’s women’s hockey team shares heritage in the country, but have been imported from Canada and the United States.
But none of them have had the backlash experienced by Gu and Zhu.
Nationality changes have been occurring since the 1970s, Tran said, allowing athletes to compete on a world stage with more international opportunity that they may not otherwise have. “It’s not always that you’re giving up one citizenship for the other,” he said. “Some nations don’t allow for dual citizenship, but many do.”
One Chinese American user wrote on Twitter, “We’ll always be accepted as a fellow compatriot by Chinese people as long as we maintain cultural ties, while Yanks will never see us as true Americans. Haters are simply proving us right.”
I find this to be the most honest part of the discourse. “As long as we maintain cultural ties” is part of the largest criticism against Zhu, whose ability to speak Mandarin fluently has been hotly contested, while people on social media have stayed fairly quiet about a player like Chelios’s open disinterest in learning the language because he has no Chinese heritage.
But maintaining cultural ties for children of naturalized citizens in the US is not always a matter of choice. Holidays such as Lunar New Year are not yet federally recognized, meaning most states do not implement school holidays or time off work. Generational poverty and difficult living conditions for some families mean paying for language school and having regular cultural education is both a financial and time-scarce burden. And after all of that, choosing to maintain cultural ties can be dangerous, resulting in hate or violence. Fully embracing one’s own identity hinges on conditions people cannot always meet — not by desire, but circumstance.
Of course, there are other factors. Gu achieved a historic win, while Zhu did not. Skating has long been the most-followed sport at the Winter Olympics, so its athletes will tend to draw more buzz (Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu may not have won any medals but his outfits won TikTok). And the long-brewing tension between the US and China makes nationality change a more politically sensitive issue than, for example, one skier’s adjustment from Britain to Jamaica.
The jump to criticize Zhu’s and Gu’s individual patriotism toward either the US or China feels like it was never about nationality change. Instead, the online chatter seems like an opportunity to use young women’s actions to tell others who can and can’t claim identities they were born into, and to brand certain nationalities by a set of baseless rules that only further a particularly hateful perspective.
There is intense pressure on these athletes to win. Figure skating costs anywhere between $35,000 to $50,000 per year, while alpine skiing can cost up to $30,000. “Most of these sports gain most media and fan attention during the Olympics. It’s a once in a four year opportunity to be showcased,” said Tran. “If you keep that in mind, you might understand why someone might make sacrifices in order to compete there.”
Are we really going to bully young women for wanting to do well? If I were an overachieving teen desperate to compete, I’d consider changing my nationality too.
Once the Bel-Air teaser dropped, fans seemed to be intrigued to learn more about the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot. The show definitely looks like it’s going to have a different vibe, as the teaser’s underwater scene is proof enough of that. But when it comes to a reboot of a beloved show, the cast must try to fill tremendous shoes, which is especially true for drama’s lead star. And the drama’s lead actor, Jabari Banks, had to fill the shoes of Hollywood superstar Will Smith. Banks was fully aware of this, and he recently explained how and why his approach will differ from the King Richard star’s.
On the surface, the Emancipation alum’s involvement in the show seemed to signal that the final product would be closer to the 90s sitcom. But that’s far from the case. Just like many of us, Banks grew up watching the original series, but it won’t really inform his version.. The up-and-coming star opened up to Entertainment Weekly about giving the beloved character an appropriately fresh take:
I remember watching The Fresh Prince and realizing what TV was for the first time. Like, ‘Oh, this is entertainment!’ … The show molded me. And growing up, people always told me I resembled Will and his energy… When I got the call, they said, ‘This isn’t Will Smith, superstar.’ They weren’t going for that. And so when they chose me, it took me a couple of weeks to realize that they chose me for me — for what I do.
Thankfully, the producers wanted Jabari Banks to give his interpretation of the iconic character. Emulating Will Smith could yield some mixed results, which is what the creatives likely knew. The team’s words surely eased the pressure on the theater grad, which should allow him to bring his own skills and experiences to the already established character. Given the reboot’s dramatic take, Banks’ Smith will likely be much more than the funny playboy of the classic sitcom.
Of course, there were questions as to whether he could handle being the series’ lead actor, given his minimal acting experience. The unsureness was eased once the pilot was filmed, though. While speaking with EW, producer T.J. Brady called the performer “a star” based on the episode’s first cut.
Once the show got the green light, things seemed to move quite quickly for the Fresh Prince revamp. When the Bel-Air fan film initially went viral back in 2019, it had devoted fans quickly pushing for a revival. But things didn’t really pick up until Will Smith got involved to help get the show made. Fast forward to two years later, and the first season is in the works with a two-season order, despite some shakeups. Additionally, Smith is on board as a producer, which should help to maintain some creative continuity. But of course, it’ll be great to see a new spin on the premise, and Jabari Banks has the tools to make a serious splash.
In the latest clip, Vivica A. Fox reflected on being cast in The Wayans Brothers’ “Don’t Be Menace.” While speaking about projects she was excited about but failed to really react, she said she felt good about the film because the Wayans were behind it and had a good budget to work with. She later talked about her appearance in “Independence Day” and said she was told she didn’t have a big enough name for the role before one of the producers’ wives suggested her. To hear her explain how she landed the career-changing role, check out the above clip.
Responding to what officials called increased acts of hate in recent years, most notably against Asian-Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County on Wednesday announced a campaign aimed at encouraging reporting of such incidents and responding to them.
The “L.A. vs Hate” campaign is a three-pronged effort that will include a marketing outreach campaign encouraging people to report acts of hate, improved resources for residents to report such acts through the county’s 211 hotline and a network of agencies to assist victims and develop prevention strategies.
“L.A. County is one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant communities in the world,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “Despite our diversity, these past few years have seen a steady rise in reported hate acts in our county. We also know that as a result of COVID-19, there has been an ugly backlash toward our Asian-Pacific Islander community. Spikes in calls to the 211 hotline reflect that racism.”
Kert Lin of Seattle said he wrote the Facebook post to shed light on the incident he said started in the driveway to The Home Depot at 2701 Utah Ave South, and continued to the front door of the store.
Lin said he was cut off by a driver on the way into the store. When the two arrived in the parking lot, the driver who had cut him off said a racial slur against people of Asian descent, Lin said, followed by, “Open your eyes, go back to China.” Lin said the driver then goaded him to get out of his car as Lin called 911.
Next, Lin said, a Seattle police officer arrived and instructed him that, because he had not been physically threatened, no crime had occurred.
“He said nope, uh-uh, there’s nothing,” Lin said. The officer took no report, Lin said, and left.