Kaepernick’s Legacy, September 11th, and QB Controversy

Tarlin and Mike reflect on the opening of the NFL season with a mix of excitement, confusion, and frustration just after the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans began the 2020 NFL season in front of 17,000 live fans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The fractured approach to protesting the anthem, with the Texans opting to remain in the locker room before joining the Chiefs for a moment of unity resulted in boos from the fans and confusion from TV viewers like Mike who watched it live.

We run it back to how sports can help us heal in difficult times like after the September 11th attacks in 2001 and contrast that with the unevenness and confusion of the return of football today. We tie much of that to the story of Colin Kaepernick who lost his opportunity to play in the NFL thus far since his protest of police brutality back in 2016. From there, we hit on the history of controversy around the abilities of black quarterbacks which seems mostly a thing of the past as we witness Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and other elite black quarterbacks establish a new understanding of the position.

From there, we quickly run through the QB1s out there to sort out where the most intriguing controversies may arise this year. There’s much to talk about with Aaron Rogers and Jordan Love and we connect that narrative to the Joe Montana and Steve Young era in San Francisco along with the Drew Bledsoe and Jimmy Garrappolo battles with Tom Brady over the years.

We’re happy that football’s back, and in this crazy year, we try to put this season in some context as we run it back to seasons gone by.

And we sprinkle in a bit of Friday Night Lights while we’re at it. Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.

Thanks for listening.

The 1999 NBA Playoffs, the Cinderella Knicks, and the Rise of Pop and Tim Duncan

Tarlin and Mike run it all the way back to 1999 to cover the season that was shortened due to a work stoppage. Through a series of fortuitous events, the New York Knicks get hot and tear through the early rounds of the playoffs before overcoming the loss of The Big Fella, Patrick Ewing, in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. Despite losing their Captain, the Knicks go on to beat the Pacers by virtue of the heroic play of Latrell Spreewell, Marcus Camby, Alan Houston, and Larry Johnson. They go on to face Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan in the Finals where they were quickly dispatched as the Spurs dynasty begins to take shape.

What can we learn from this? How do the stories of 1999 resonate with life in the NBA Bubble amid the tumult of 2020? As leaders, what lessons can we learn from Van Gundy, Spree, Tim Duncan, and Pop?

Listen in as we run it back to help make sense of things today.

Magic Johnson Announces He Has HIV

Tarlin and Mike run it back to November 7th, 1991 when Magic Johnson held an emergency press conference to announce that he had the HIV virus and that he’d be retiring from the NBA immediately. The news shocked the world and we reflect back on where we were when this flashbulb moment in sports history occurred.

Magic went on to have a storied career after the announcement – playing in the NBA All Star Game and on The Dream Team in 1992. The league responds by establishing the “Blood Rule” and working through the fears and objections of other players like Byron Scott and Karl Malone to demonstrate that even in the early 1990s, the NBA was up to the challenge of managing the medical risks of virus spread. Perhaps more importantly, it was our first experience with the confusion and misinformation of dealing with an epidemic and there are many parallels we draw between this story and much of what we’re seeing in the NBA in 2020.

Allen Iverson – Practice!?!?

Tarlin and Mike bring us back to the story of Allen Iverson which in many ways culminated in the notorious press conference in which he said the word “practice” 22 times. We explore what brought AI to that point and how in many ways it has marginalized his impact on the game and the lessons we can learn from his career.

We run it all the way back to his incredible high school career at Bethel and the incident at the bowling alley which nearly ended his basketball life before it even began. From there, we try to learn from his impact with John Thompson at Georgetown right through his career with the Philadelphia 76ers and Larry Brown.

Thanks as always for listening.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf – A Lesson in Protest

This week we run it back to the story of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf to glean lessons about the protests we’re seeing in 2020. Mahmoud began his life as Chris Jackson, a poor kid from Louisiana who battled Tourette’s Syndrome to become a tremendous college basketball player at LSU in the early 1990s. We chronicle the challenges he faced finding his way as he eventually found solace and spiritual direction through Islam. That in turn led him to change his name and begin with a silent protest of the National Anthem that eventually went public. As he remained true to his convictions, he was blackballed by the NBA and was quickly out of the league, in some ways presaging the story of Colin Kaepernik in 2016.

What lessons can we learn from Mahmoud’s story? How is he similar and different from Kaepernik? We dive into all of this as we look for lessons to be learned based on the transformative story of the life of Abdul-Rauf. And we also harken back to the early 1990s along the way.

Thanks as always for listening.

Coach John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas and the Ewing Era

We begin by reflecting on the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman, aka Black Panther, before diving into the history of the other legend who passed recently, Georgetown Coach John Thompson. Coach Thompson was a towering figure who established a program whose legacy we’re still experiencing to this day. We explore his impact on college basketball by focusing on getting young black men access to education while giving them support as men. We extol the timeless ways in which he connected with his players for good times and bad as we tell the stories of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Allen Iverson, and Michael Graham. And we explore the lessons in his decision to walk out in 1989 to protest Proposition 48 and its impact on traditionally underserved student-athletes.

And, of course, we dive into Ewing and Thompson’s storied run from an appearance in the NCAA Finals against Dean Smith, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and Michael Jordan in 1982 to a Championship in 1984 to a legendary run in 1985 which culminated in the shocking upset by Villanova in the Finals in 1985.

While we mourn the loss of Coach Thompson, we take some solace in running it back to another time and learning from the life of a man who had the courage to stand by his conviction and the vision to establish a legacy that changed the world.