We have stormed through the month of March yet again, and college basketball is over after a Final Four weekend with a multitude of storylines and feel good moments. It included the redemption song of UNC basketball, and Dawn Staley and her South Carolina Gamecocks winning their first championship ever. We learned that the best college basketball is played in the Carolinas.

In route to their national title victory, South Carolina had to defeat Morgan William and Mississippi State, who took down UConn in their historic run. But like I said in my first blog post, head coach Geno Auriemma and the Huskies lost with dignity and class.

You take the losses as they come and in stride. But you also have to win with class, right?

Well, Lance Stephenson of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers displayed otherwise as he returned to his former team Tuesday night, in a 107-90 win against the Toronto Raptors. His end of game antics were just Lance being Lance if you will.

The headline grabbing layup with under five seconds to play almost turned into an all-out brawl à la the Malice at the Palace.

His seemingly unnecessary gesture at the end of the Pacers game exudes a lack of sportsmanship, but as a black athlete, one is typically scrutinized for his/her showmanship.

What I’m talking about is lookin' good and feelin' good because when you look good and feel good you also play — well.

Notable black athletes have practically lived by "Prime Time’s" mantra, and have mastered this art of being a showman while performing. Nowadays, It's just apart of the 'culture' — our culture. It isn’t crossing the line.

It can be summed up by Migos’ aptly titled hit album, ‘Culture’ , which has been the top rap album this year due to its songs relatability to the black community.

Two of the most notable athletes in their respective arenas, Former MVP Cam Newton and Future MVP Russell Westbrook, exude this ‘culture’ or showmanship in their play. Whether Westbrook is feeling the Thunder’s pre-game mix or Newton is hittin’ dem folks all through the endzone, they exemplify doing it for the ‘culture’ everyday.

Often times labeled as excessive, many take these characteristics of the black athlete and mistake them for being cocky or overly self-centered. It’s not as much braggadocio as it is self-confidence and self-expression.

The youthful exuberance we see in Theo Pinson of UNC or A’ja Wilson of the Gamecocks dancing after cutting down the nets is exactly what I’m talking about. It is this black boy joy or black girl magic that we fawn over.

It’s about expressing and being yourself, at all times. Doing whatever you have to do to be in your element, or get in your bag. That’s what our ‘culture’ is all about.

You can be a great showman, and still be an ambassador of the game. You can celebrate your accomplishments without drawing attention to your opponent’s failures.

Showmanship and disrespect DO NOT go hand in hand. Every great athlete has their own swag, and the way they choose to acknowledge it should not be treated as tasteless actions.

One of my former coaches once said: “Play with emotion, don’t play emotional.”

This type of performance=Showmanship

Putting on a show ‘for the culture.’

-AJ II

 


 

 

 

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