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HBO Sports: ‘The Shop Uninterrupted’ 08

by Bernard Leak
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Another installment of the HBO Sports special, The Shop, snuck up on us, and while the regulars, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, and Paul Rivera were in the building, a smaller, but yet star-studded group followed. Megastars, Will Smith & Martin Lawrence, in addition to former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia and Hip-Hop Artist Chance The Rapper were in attendance on this installment. In all honesty, the show is better when it’s a smaller group, a focused conversation, and meaningful interaction.

The conversation starts with a discussion around the marketability around Black cinema. Will Smith talks about how often people would come and ask for a Bad Boys sequel. Martin Lawrence agreed as they spoke about the challenges in ensuring it was promoted as an international adventure movie for all people versus a Black only affair. Will  referenced the continuous debate of, “do Black movies sell?” Maverick chimed in and drew a parallel to hip-hop culture and it’s international success. And he’s right. Black culture and entertainment, when given a fair chance, over-performs and shines in a way where every hand involved finds it lucrative. TheShopLogo-300x108

Former MLB pitcher, CC Sabathia, talks about how amazing retirement is. And I mean honestly, #goals. He’s 6 weeks in and already enjoying it. He wears retirement like he’s been in it for years, but nope, he’s new to it, and earned it. The conversation pivoted to the years leading into his retirement. He and Lebron shared a moment over the importance of wearing a uniform and being affiliated with a franchise. For CC, he was especially vulnerable when referencing his decline. In over a year’s time span, his pitches went from 97 MPH to 91 MPH. It then became time for him to recognize that the game he’d love since 12 and the job that consumed his life was coming to an end.

Another good moment is Will and CC sharing memories about their father. While CC’s dad wasn’t involved, he still longed for him as most of us can imagine. They did eventually reconnect and he was able to find joy in that. Will recalled buying cigarettes for his dad and learning a valuable lesson when he didn’t bring them home. His dad taught him that he has two options in life: succeed or die. This stuck with Will.

And, perhaps my favorite moment of the show, is when Will relieved a magical moment where his daughter Willow, helped shift his narrative from such an intense outlook to a more kind outlook. Check the clip out below: .

We could all learn a thing or two from Willow!

Chance The Rapper did join the group about half-way through and talked about his experience and decision to be an independent artist. He did the math, stepped outside of his fear, and celebrated the success he had already accomplished. He owns his own masters. He’s in control of his destiny. And you can tell how bright this young man is. He doesn’t try and own the experience. He recognizes he did what was best for him. It may or may not work for others, but it worked for him and that’s what matters. Martin Lawrence shared that he knew early on that he wanted to be an actor. His mom told him, it’s hard, but he had a strategy and chose the stand-up route like Richard Pryor.

And that’s why I continue to enjoy this show. We get an intimate look at the entertainers who have found success that spans decades and reaches multiple generations. Like us, they have/had dreams. Learning their journey, hearing their thoughts, and seeing them enjoy the fruits of their hard work is inspiring. While LeBron wanted to be a rapper (I mean Shaq did it, why not?), it’s clear things worked out well for him.

Ever wonder what Will Smith and Martin Lawrence regret? Check it out below, and keep a close eye out for The Shop, we never knew when another installment is coming.

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