by Bernard Leak
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The next installment of The Shop aired on Friday, December 21, 2018. Here is a recap of the A-list packed show. This week’s guests were: hip-hop legends Nas, Ice Cube and Mary J. Blige, Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh, Emmy-award winning/LGBT Icon Lena Waithe, Jimmy Kimmel and Todd Gurley. The format of the show remains consistent. The first half is conversations with athletes and the second half shifts to the entertainers. Nothing is off limits, and everyone gets an opportunity to share in this space.

LeBron found himself in the headlines after this week’s episode because he references NFL owners as having a slave mentality. In context and in comparison to the NBA, one could understand why.  The NBA allows freedom of voice regardless of content as long as it’s non-violent and educational, according to LeBron. But the conversation around the national anthem protests, while it seems to have subsided, revealed anger and dislike for similar openness and expression. James offered a shared perspective of many people who have witnessed the NFL’s response to their players. While I know politics still exist in that space, I would have been interested in hearing how the guys felt about black players like Dak Peterson who have openly spoken against protests.

trailer-89308708_PRO35_10Another point of conversation that was interesting centered on the group talking about life after the NBA/NFL. Something we don’t really consider is the normalcy that occurs when a player’s career comes to an end.  LeBron mentioned how it’s an offered structure that keeps athletes going in their professional career. They know year over year, there is a clear shared goal and they work towards it. But in life, you work day after day for the end or retirement and then what? Each player in the room agreed they work with the end in mind. It’s clear with LeBron’s continued existence in spaces outside of the arena, he too has a plan in place.

The last portion of the show centered on identity and race relations. Waithe shared her experience on coming out and how she wished she didn’t have to. She shared her sentiments on being visible because not many black masculine women get to see themselves on TV. Blige talks about her consistent desire to uplift women and push through the toughest times in her life. Nas talks about creating his iconic album and the power of music. He and Ice Cube really do a great job talking about the appropriation of black culture. Ice Cube sums up the black experience in America well. Style is the currency, and the number one export from America is black culture. LeBron added to the conversation by saying he wished black people knew the value and instead of being disappointed, he wished the mentality was to step it up constantly and move the needle forward.

Another great show in the books! You can check the trailer.


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