Lebron James and Dak Prescott Set out to Raise their Impact in the Game and Voice off the Field

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Social Commentary – Common Reasoning

The dust might have settled on news that Lebron James is leaving Cleveland and going to LA. But long before announcing that move, ground was broken for the building of a new school. With the arrival of opening day for the I Promise public school, James hasn’t forgotten that he’s just a kid from Akron.

While NBA basketball is in its off-season NFL football is in its pre-season. The rookies get their feet wet and work thru the early jitters while veterans like Dak Prescott work thru some of the normal drills. Pros like James and Prescott are always looking to raise their impact in the game and voice off the field.

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So it’s not surprising that both would sound-off on matters of social injustice. Prescott’s take on the NFL player protests seems to line-up with those who see it as a distraction where the kneeling has been over-played. He feels it’s time to move-on with the business of scoring touchdowns and winning games.

James says he has become more outspoken since the Trayvon Martin tragedy. This hit close to home because he has two boys. But he’s even more disturbed by how Sports has been used recently by some as a divisive force. He prefers it to be a way to unite and celebrate as a positive force.

One way to look at this ongoing challenge is whether we’re dealing with ‘America Turned-up or America Turned-out.’ The things that James is doing to support and empower his community represent America turned-up. The excitement about his move to the Lakers is certainly going to have fans turned-up.

There’s another side to America we’re seeing lately that feels like America turned-out. Consider the news story of a neighbor calling police on actor Ving Rhames saying he’s an intruder when Rhames was in his own house. It’s a reminder of the cultural perception of ‘white is always right and black is always whack.’

On a deeper level, it’s a hint of what could be happening when we see a mound of dirt around a tree that’s not growing or appears to be dying. At first it might look like a big ants nest. However upon closer inspection by turning over the soil, there’s a whole bunch of insects and worms crawling underneath.

That kind of ‘America turned-out’ might be revealing an underside that’s been underground and has been tuned-over in a divisive social climate. As someone on social media put it, it’s like calling 911 has become customer service for people’s fear, hatred and bigotry. That’s the stuff that’s crawling underneath socially.

James, Prescott and others in pro sports set out to be not just players in the game but also impact players off the field. For them it’s about giving youth the chance to realize their full potential. It’s about helping folks stay on the straight and narrow as opposed to getting caught-up in the crazy of tomorrow.

There’ve been so many stories across the country of people being reported to police for strange reasons. From college campuses to gated communities the social insects & worms have been turned-out. So when we say ‘This is America’ do you see it as America turned-up or America turned-out? It’s a no brainer!

Tracks: DJ Khaled ft Justin Bieber, Quavo & Chance the Rapper – No Brainer – https://youtu.be/kxloC1MKTpg

Rudimental & Major Lazer – Let me Live – https://youtu.be/L08uxunfLi4

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Shannon Sharpe & Angela Rye Share Some ‘Bread & Butter’ on Staying Woke and Being Real With Folk – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– ‘Diddy’ Combs, Rap Mogul & Game-Changer

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Lebron James, Pro Player & Philanthropist

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#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

It’s been an interesting few weeks in sports, business, politics and culture. You could count those ‘shaking your head’ moments. There was enough to make it to the SNL highlight reel. But Shannon Sharpe and Angela Rye choose to share some ‘bread & butter’ on staying woke and being real with folk.

Sharpe had a few thoughts on the American Dream as a response to Dez Bryant’s social media comments. Rye had some thoughts on public policy as a response to another TV guest. It wasn’t the first time they’ve had to tackle a hot-button issue. They take pride in getting the word out on such matters.

There were also those who made news for making comparisons to Dr. King’s legacy and Rosa Parks’ advocacy. It was an interesting line of reasoning to link King’s social tactics with current political antics. The other tried to compare the United Airlines debacle with Rosa Parks’ action on justice for a people.

If there were ever a time to put things in a Community 3.0 perspective it’s now when we’re not sure if people are serious or making a joke. After the dust settles on these recent events there’ll likely be a new order of things from making sense of what happened. The role pop culture will increasingly play is to:

  1. Export clips in entertainment and import nuggets in enlightenment.
  2. Engage progress in system accountability and explain the process of self accountability.
  3. Experience more fun in the groove and put more hustle in the grind.
  4. Elevate ideas that clear-up confusion and express emotions that send a good vibration.

The Fast & Furious movie franchise took over the box office lead in its eighth release. It ranked #1 setting records in weekend-opening revenue. The movie saw the return of the regular cast of characters with a few new additions. Where it made big waves was with an international audience pulling most of its sales.

An ongoing ‘balancing act’ with pop culture involves ways to export clips in entertainment and import nuggets in enlightenment. Nowadays, people are paying more attention to getting jiggy and staying woke. It’s not enough to laugh out loud without making sense of the new order of things happening around us.

In the early days of America’s beginnings much time was spent crafting laws and the language of social engagement. There were emerging issues at stake that would determine the foundation of our nation. Some of those matters were handled fairly and squarely. Others seem to linger-on or live-on in new ways.

That’s partly where Bryant and Sharpe are coming from. It’s as if they’d like to see more happening in pop culture to engage progress in system accountability and to explain the process of self-accountability.  Maybe it’s not happening fast enough when compared to shifts made in technology over recent years.

These days there’re more tech tools at our fingertips. The smart phone is one such device that’s made the world smaller. Furthermore, seeing headsets hooked to phones is part of everyday life. This creates options to experience more fun in the groove, hustle in the grind and make community smarter.

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Those who put more hustle in the grind let their best unwind. We see this with Sharpe and Rye as they do the things to broaden their influence. Maybe they as well as Bryant help us see that the political swings between left & right or the social swings between smooth & coarse call for greater impact possibilities.

In one sense, Sharpe knows we’ve come a far way since our founding. But there’re dreams that don’t make it because of system roadblocks. Bryant’s take is that even with system roadblocks there’re still ways to move past these circumstances. This isn’t a case of ‘either or’ but of both making good points.

The debate over who’s right and who’s off may end soon. But some debates can fall short if they do little to elevate ideas that clear-up confusion or express emotions that send a good vibration. While the topic is good for getting people stirred-up it might take a bit more of a personal ‘aha’ to get folks turned-up.

Sharpe says that’s what happened to him. He had some trying circumstances growing up being raised by a grandmother. It was her influence then that helped him reach great heights. He knows that while that worked for him it’s not always the results others see from coming up on the rough side of ‘Mean Street.’

With Easter behind us and Summer ahead what might pop culture do for Community 3.0 and vice versa? Well, it would be great for Bryant and Sharpe to deliver a ‘Coming to America’ moment. That’s the broader perspective people get not just from visiting, but by seeing the light that becomes eye-opening.

Bryant will be back for another season with the Cowboys. He’s probably getting in shape for his return. If he’s on his game he’ll likely have a few more replay moments for cheering fans. But beyond work & play, the more that people experience ‘Coming to America’ moments the more value there is to pop culture.

Block Talkback: Does Rap get a bad rap when people generalize about its affect as an art form or is the pop culture pendulum swing between ‘smooth & coarse’ something that’s been around for ages?

Groove-tracks: Common – The Light – https://youtu.be/OjHX7jf-znA

LeCrae ft Ty Dolla $ign – Blessings –  https://youtu.be/i58IH2D8sWQ

Lebron James Got a Hot Hand and a Son Who’s Got Game – No Joke!

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Trivia: Name three NBA players who are sitting-out the rest of the season due to injury? (Answer below)

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This is true for many athletes who’ve taken their natural talent to the next level. So when Lebron James tweeted a video clip last December of his namesake son playing AAU ball it was no surprise. LJ Sr. has got a hot hand and his son’s got game – no joke!

So much so that the kid is already being ‘courted’ by college teams. Rumor has it that there’re other star players in college who had early offers while in elementary school. The NCAA rules on this issue seem to be a little fuzzy. But father James feels recruiting this early is overkill. He says “It should be a violation.”

While that’s been a big topic of discussion it’s easy to miss another Bron-Bron milestone. He is now #1 for career assists all-time as a forward in the NBA. It’s almost as if he’s been quietly racking-up assists when no one was looking. Everybody knows him as MVP, 2-time NBA champion and perennial scoring leader.

Maybe he’s made a shift in his game when most weren’t watching. There’re different ways to strive for greatness as there’re ways to add value on the stats sheets. Sometimes it’s about scoring points in your professional game. It might also be providing next-level assists or forging the will to rebound in life.

LJ Jr. will have no problem getting into college. He’ll have a little easier road than most getting to the next-level since he’s got game and his father’s got dollars. But in the game of basketball and life he’ll come to learn more about developing vision from the top down and building success from the ground up.

Answer: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant (and maybe Derrick Rose)