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Rookie Road is a platform for sports fans to learn the games they love

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. Some dread this particular season, others usher it in with open arms. Regardless of where you stand, we are in the bittersweet transition from the end of the football season to the start of what we’ve come to know as “March Madness.”

As a football and basketball fan myself, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the culture surrounding sports first-hand. From die-hard fandoms, rivalry matchups, and the screaming that ensues every pivotal play, sports have always been harbingers of unity, able to overcome the societal boundaries placed by race and religion.

However, if you’ve never experienced the sport when you were a kid, either as a fan or a participant, chances are this sports culture I speak so highly of doesn’t register as such. Instead, you’ve probably felt alienated, or even somewhat intimidated by the raw emotion and cult-like-passion sports fans consistently display.

This unwelcoming feeling of being a stranger to the sports community is what ultimately inspired Doug Gursha to start his company “Rookie Road.” During the fall of 2012, Doug stepped onto the University of Michigan campus as a wide-eyed freshman, conscious of the Wolverine pride but unaware of how serious it really was.

As he realized how integral the sports culture was, Gursha decided to teach himself the rules of football.

“I went to the library every day and checked out books on the subject and read the rulebooks. I looked for quality information online but couldn’t find anything. It was through this painful process of learning a new sport that I thought there must be a better way.”

In his attempt to integrate himself into the culture at Michigan, Gursha unconsciously paved the way for the inception of Rookie Road. While his initial objective was to learn more about the game, he soon realized that this opportunity was greater than just learning the rules of football.

This was his chance to provide those who didn’t grow up with the sport, an educational platform that’s as informative, if not more, than a real-life coach.

Since then, Rookie Road has grown tremendously, pushing the space between the sports and education industries to new frontiers. Tonia O’Connor, the former CRO of Univision and a current Rookie Road advisor, strongly believes this company is the next big thing.

“The founders at Rookie Road have identified a white space that is not being served by any other brand. The growth potential at Rookie Road is unlimited given that the priority is the full spectrum of global sports, from youth to professional.”

Rookie Road isn’t stopping at just the major sports either — soccer, basketball, baseball, football, hockey. Michael Gursha, the CEO of Rookie Road, has stated that the company has other sports in the works as well. “We have many sports in the pipeline, everything from cricket, rugby, volleyball, tennis, golf and field hockey. We believe we have a real opportunity to help grow the popularity of all sports through education.”

Rookie Road

Rookie Road’s mission to educate and inspire those who are curious to ultimately enjoy and participate in sports is as pure as it gets. They shoulder the burden of researching and speaking with players, coaches, and officials while creating informative content that is easily comprehensible. It mimics the order in which someone would learn from the ground-up.

However, let it be known that Rookie Road isn’t a tool limited to just educating beginners. The company has arranged its resources in a way where even those who do have prior experience with the sport can learn the more complex and nitty-gritty aspects of the game as well.

If you have some skepticism about the credibility of Rookie Road’s educational materials, former professional athletes and collegiate players have cosigned their approval on the company’s educational tools.

Derrell Smith, a former NFL linebacker and fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans, shared,

“Rookie Road is working to make sports education easy and accessible, and doing so in a way that any person, no matter their sports literacy, can better understand the game. Their content is simply presented and easily digestible, and encourages learning because the sports and history you’re curious about no longer feels intimidating.”

Gursha and his team at Rookie Road have revolutionized the sports education industry for anyone who is curious about a sport. All of the content you see on Rookie Road is created in-house, from the rules of the game, the explanation of the technical details, and to the graphics to demonstrate certain plays.

Rookie Road

The information you see is specifically designed to be digested and understood as smoothly as possible.

Think “personal coach” meets “professional referee.” That’s what Rookie Road is; a company that’s looking to break barriers in order to share the love and passion that comes with sports to everyone possible.

As a first-generation Korean American, I have directly experienced the difficulty in learning a sport without having had the opportunity to learn as a kid. When a person or an organization’s mission is to share the joy and excitement that we find in sports to others, I cannot help but whole-heartedly support the cause.

So in light of this year’s March Madness tournament, use Rookie Road and surprise some of your friends when you show up to this year’s party a little more knowledgeable than the last; maybe you’ll even put your knowledge to the test and play pick-up at your local gym.

Whatever you choose to do, your decision to engage with any sport on any given level can only be beneficial for you in the long-run.

Do yourself a favor and act on your curiosity; learn what you can about the sport, and don’t be surprised when you hear about Rookie Road literally, changing the game.

Meet Overtime Larry, the video host creating content with the next generation of athletes

Back in February of 2018, Overtime disrupted the digital sports landscape and put everybody on notice when they raised over $9.5 million in their first round of Series A funding.a

Backed by high profile investors such as NBA star Kevin Durant, VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, and former NBA commissioner David Stern, I knew Overtime was on the come-up and it would only be a matter of months before they’d start competing against the likes of ESPN, Bleacher Report, House of Highlights, etc.


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KD just a hooper who plays in the LEAGUE 🏀 Full vid in bio 🔥 @easymoneysniper @sharife.cooper @_isaacokoro

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Fast forward a couple of months and Overtime has indubitably established themselves as the “go-to” platform for the next generation of athletes and fans.

Whether it’s highlights of some of the most prolific hoopers hitting the cleanest #JellyFam layups or comedic fan submissions worthy of viral coverage, Overtime has amassed a following of over 805,000 loyal supporters on their Instagram, 350,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel, and over millions of views and engagements from their eclectic collection of content.


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Where did the IRISH HULK come from!? 🇮🇪 Full vid in bio 🔥 @aidanigiehon

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But considering the digital era we live in today, Overtime’s meteoric rise is fascinating. Because social media has warranted an oversaturation of content, people are actually more inclined to tune out. So with that in mind, how is Overtime successfully navigating the sodden terrain of creative content?

In order to further understand their secret to success, I caught up with Overtime’s very own Laurence Marsach, more popularly recognized as @OvertimeLarry, at their headquarters in Brooklyn last week. As we started talking, I sensed the energy Larry emanated, and it was obvious that Overtime’s success wasn’t a result of sheer luck.


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Who thinks Zion should do the Overtime Challenge? #nextquestion™ @zionlw10 💯 📸: @michaeleng

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When I asked Larry how Overtime was different, he replied,

“We’re new and we’re fresh… You saw our office. You saw mostly young people. We don’t hire older heads. The way you reach younger people is by having younger people create. I think I’m one of the older heads at Overtime and I’m only 26.”

Steve Stoute touched upon this exact sentiment at the Hashtag Sports Conference back in July: “Have the people that work in your company, look like the people you’re trying to sell your products to.”

And as the main host for the Overtime Challenge, Larry does just that. He admitted that, in the beginning, he was hesitant to be working with such high-profile athletes. But once he shifted his mentality to that of a brotherly figure, things started to click:

“I realized that I’m like six or seven years older than these kids, they’re like my little brothers. And since then, they kind of look at me as the big brother. I just give them advice, I talk to them like I’m their friend. I relate with them through the music, the fashion, and anything dealing with pop culture. They’re kids, they wanna have fun.”

For those unfamiliar with the Overtime Challenge, it’s one of the most popular basketball series on YouTube today, featuring some of the biggest high school athletes from LaMelo Ball to Shareef O’Neal.

And while plenty of basketball can be watched, what the Overtime Challenge truly offers these high school celebrities is an opportunity to showcase their identities outside of the sport they’re most known for.

“I feel like people are getting a chance to see these high-profile athletes and how they act behind the camera. Because people can see the nasty dunks and the highlights, but they don’t get a chance to see who he is. That’s what Overtime’s bringing to the game.”

Authenticity is the name of the game, but there has to be more. Larry’s on-camera persona is electrifying, a raw energy that obviously appeals to the younger generation. But what exactly is it about Overtime and Larry that the youth are relating to?

We all know Gen-Z is notorious for being particular with the companies it chooses to interact with. When I asked Larry his thoughts, he shared the recipe to their success:

“I think they started messing with Overtime because we were consistent… a lot of these brands don’t cover high school at all, but they’ll try to cover the biggest game of the year and take over video rights. We’re always gonna be here, and provide value from the jump. We’re authentic and we really got a dream team filled with creatives and intelligent people.”

Consistently authentic and authentically consistent; that’s how Overtime and Larry are changing the game. They’re not looking to just provide highlights of the craziest plays, anybody can do that.

These guys are breathing creative life into content with a fiery personality, sharing relatable stories that have lessons to be learned for the betterment of the next generation.


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Working OT #nextquestion™

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And for the younger sports content creators out there, Larry leaves you with this:

“Create every day. You never know what’s gonna hit. If you’re a creator, and you’re showing your personality and your brand, don’t be afraid to mess up.“

Keep shooting your shot, and maybe one day you’ll have Kevin Durant and the rest of the world believing in your vision too.

Be sure to stay on the look out for Season 2 of the Overtime Challenge don’t forget to follow Overtime on their IGYouTube, and Overtime Larry on IG here.

FamousLos is more than ‘Da Funny Sports Analyst,’ he’s got bars too

In today’s social media age, Instagram provides a platform for people to showcase their talent, and Carlos Sanford, more popularly recognized as FamousLos32, has taken full advantage.

Using his witty, sarcastic, street-styled humor to commentate on every basketball highlight that graces the Internet, FamousLos has appropriately earned himself the reputation as “Da Funny Sports Analyst.”

His humorous transparency has helped him gain over 1.1 million followers on Instagram and has afforded him star-studded friendships with athletes such as Steph Curry, Odell Beckham Jr., and Kyrie Irving.

His YouTube series “Who Got Next?” features episodes of him balling one on one against some of the biggest artists (Tory Lanez, Slim Jxmi, etc.) in the music industry.

And while those are just a few of the people he’s befriended, after chopping it up with Los last week, I could immediately tell that his journey is far from over.

Let it be known that I first found out about FamousLos32 back in 2016 when 50 Cent reposted a video on Instagram titled “Different Types of Fighters.” As he nailed each type of fighter with pinpoint accuracy, it’s easy to see why the video went viral.

But to see the man hustle and establish himself as a prominent social media influencer is clearly not by chance. When I asked how that journey was, he simply replied,

“I went from nothing into something.”

And while the process was slow and gruesome at times, Los shared the key to his success: “Stay consistent. Keep going. Don’t Stop. Everybody starts at 0.”

And after having followed Los for the past two years, I can confidently say the dude is consistently authentic; the guy is himself at all times.

Whether he’s in his bathroom filming his reaction to the latest highlight, or posting videos of meme-like baller personalities, FamousLos32 is as real as they come.

How do I know this? Because when the topic of music came up, Los kept it honest.

Coming off the release of his two latest singles “Straight Up” and “Told You,” Los didn’t hesitate for a second to be completely transparent.

When I asked about his pivot into the music industry, Los kept it simple.

“I’m still in the learning process… [Right now] I’m making songs, and I’m understanding how people make albums, how they come up with concepts.”

He admitted that “Straight Up” was him trying to find his radio sound and “Told You” was for the people that doubted him.

And since both songs appear to have an underlying theme of keeping it a hundred, which is the exact “consistently authentic” sentiment that seems to have emanated throughout Los’s career, I asked if these would lead to an eventual album.

And his truthful answer only reinforced my impression.

“Right now, [honestly] I’m just trying to think of a concept for the album, [something deeper] other than women, other than money, other than booze.”

Evidently, the honest manner in which Los approached the topic of his music reflected the same energy he brings to his basketball commentary.

Genuine, sincere, and authentic. And of course we talked basketball; it wouldn’t be an interview with “Da Funny Sports Analyst,” if the NBA wasn’t discussed.

But when I asked him how he’d handle his budding music career while juggling his sports persona, Los said,

“I’ll always do basketball. Really, I just like to work. Either I’m in the bathroom making videos about basketball, or I’m with my girlfriend, or I’m in the studio. Studio, basketball, girlfriend.”

A vigorous work ethic paired with an honest demeanor, FamousLos is making splashes in both the sports and the music industry. If he’s as real and as consistent as he is in the studio just as he is in his bathroom, brace yourself for more Los.

With social media allowing people to twist the way they’re perceived online, authenticity in today’s world is a rare and valuable trait.

Make sure to check out his latest single, “Keep It 100,” now available on all streaming platforms, to hear Los’s authentic-self.

Steve Stoute speaks on leading with ‘ethnic insights’ at Hashtag Sports

Last week I attended the Hashtag Sports conference at The Times Center.

While the event was primarily dedicated to uncovering the New Sports Economy for the new generation, hearing industry leaders share insights regarding their personal journeys helped refine my understanding of my own current generation.

This current era is comprised of both millennials and Gen-Z; we are the immediate by-products of the technological era we grew up in.

As our smartphones, computers, and other technological sources of information root themselves deeper within our daily lives, we become more callous to the bombardment of information we call “content.”

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And yet as we grow less-receptive to all this random clutter, we simultaneously become more selective in the type of news we consume.

Our respective social media platforms have flourished in becoming a reflection of our values and interests, in simpler terms our “culture.” And as a millennial myself, what I’ve come to realize is that our generation is most appreciative of authenticity.

In the opening panel of the 2018 Hashtag Sports Conference, Translation’s CEO Steve Stoute, reaffirmed this very sentiment that I’ve wholeheartedly believed from the very beginning.

Mr. Stoute told the audience, for brands to engage with the largest growing untapped consumer segment of millennials and Gen-Z, “you must lead with ethnic insight,” which in other words, “is synonymous to popular culture.”

I don’t know if you’ve realized, but this generation is quick to call bullshit when they see it. That’s why so many companies are scrambling to interact with us now.

By the early 2020s, Gen Z will be 40% of the market, so if companies don’t engage right now, they won’t be able to get us at all. Our generation is crucial for the survival of a majority of media outlets today, some of which are in the midst of experimenting with a variety of platforms and content, as they pray for one of them to stick.

Nevertheless, Stoute offered a logical and practical solution:

“Have the people that work in your company, look like the people you’re trying to sell your products to.”

If a company is targeting an older segment of grandparents, then hire an older figure to share and offer insights internally.

Likewise, if a brand is targeting the millennials and Gen-Z group, they must bring in someone from that very segmentation to understand how we perceive, consume, and think as a collective.

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Companies and brands must first understand who they’re reaching and how the message will resonate only if they are able to find true and authentic cultural insights.

Before he concluded, Stoute emphasized, “empathy allows you to see various perspectives.”

In today’s day and age, it seems like empathy is a trait that well-established companies are unfamiliar with.

Their attempts seem rather forced and inauthentic, like a middle-aged father sharing stale and worn-out “dad-jokes” to his confused and unamused children.

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Empathy begins with a willingness to understand, and if brands are truly willing to hear us out, I think it begins with companies trusting our lived experiences growing up in the technological era we did.

I believe millennials and Gen-Z are the key to our future. What do you think?

How the Hashtag Sports Conference will be giving insight into Gen-Z

Next week, Hashtag Sports will be hosting a conference in Times Square to focus on the New Sports Economy for the next generation.

Over the course of three days, industry leaders will gather to make original announcements, share insights, and offer bold predictions on the state of the sports industry and what’s next to come. The New Sports Economy is an increasingly challenging market.

Because technology is diversifying the way fans are experiencing sports, this conference will be instrumental in how sports will be consumed.

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After peeping over the events and panels that Hashtag Sports will host from June 25-28th, it’s easy to see that they are truly for the next generation.

Here are six conversations that will undoubtedly improve the sports experience as a whole:

Marketing to Gen-Z: Building Brand Credibility with Young Fans

Generation-Z is one of the most perplexing and challenging groups to reach, but their loyalty is unmatched.

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Youth engagement strategist Gregg Witt will lead this talk, as he guides brands into youth culture, leveraging influential and youth creators as more than messaging agents, and share best practices for building credibility with sports’ most influential cohort.

Deconstructing Gen-Z: Understanding and Engaging the Multi-Faceted Kids Market

Hashtag Sports understands that the youth is the future.

This talk will attempt to understand the next generation and shed light on deconstructing who they are and who they want to become.

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Reaching them where their attention is focused and understanding why they are focusing their attention in those places.

A New Era of Athlete Branding

Appropriate branding is the crux for building a following. Today’s athletes have a unique opportunity to build their brands beyond the lines of their sport.

With social media, athletes can access the ultra-passionate fanbases that drive sports and — when armed with the right content — can build audiences that rival that of their school, team, and the league.

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JuJu Smith-Schuster from the Pittsburgh Steelers will join opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence to discuss his brand journey from college to the NFL.

They’ll address his personal brand strategy, the role of his reps, team, and league, and the future of athlete marketing in a technologically-oriented society.

Bleacher Report: House of Highlights

Bleacher Report and specifically House of Highlights has established themselves as the sports voice for this generation.

With more than 9 million followers, House of Highlights is an account that influences behavior and has zeroed in on Gen-Z.

During this panel, Omar Raja, the founder of HoH, will explain how he capitalized on his audience and why the multi-cultural Generation-Z consumers are being underserved by traditional media outlets.

JuJu will join Omar for a raw conversation on how to keep it real on platforms.

How Innovation and Technology are Transforming the Global Fan Experience

Technology has inherently altered the way fans are experiencing sports.

Now more than ever, sports teams and leagues are relying on innovative technologies to identify insights that can improve the fan’s experience wherever they are.

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Notable CMOs will explain how to create fan value that drives interest, engagement and lifelong fandom.

Hulu: Reinventing Sports For The Connected Fan

I surmised Hulu was up to something when they came forward as one of the main sponsors for the NBA Finals this past year.

That’s why Hulu’s own Richard Irving will address how Hulu is building hyper-personalized sports experiences appropriate for die-hard fans, and even the casual fan as well.

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Hashtag Sports is prioritizing the next generation and they understand how technology is altering the way sports will be consumed.

This will be pivotal for the culture moving forward, and it’s exciting to see these guys are inspiring the conversation for Gen-Z.

How the Golden State Warriors are low key running tech in Silicon Valley

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals to face LeGoat and the Cavaliers for the fourth consecutive year.

And while the Dubs’ on-court success has drawn comparisons to some of the greatest teams to lace them up, it’s the Warriors’ off-court success that has set them apart.

The Bay Area is more than just a home for Dub Nation’s rendezvous fan-base; it’s home to the burgeoning tech scene and booming startup culture entrenched in Silicon Valley.

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NBA players such as Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Andre Iguodala have made headlines for their respective pivots from athletes turned investors.

But after a closer look into the Warriors’ off-court endeavors, there’s no denying the influence Silicon Valley commands in Golden State.

Joe Lacob, Warriors’ Majority Owner

Joe Lacob, one of Golden State’s majority owners, is a veteran venture capitalist from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Considering both his reputation as a seasoned investor and his active engagement with the Warriors, it’s no surprise that the rest of the Golden State family takes after Lacob’s penchant for investing.

After all, Lacob did prove his commitment to investing when he initially bought the dismal Warriors for a record-breaking $450 million back in 2010. Under Lacob’s ownership, the Warriors have had a meteoric rise to international stardom.

Peter Guber, Warriors’ Owner

Even though Guber has a smaller share compared to that of Lacob’s, he was granted equal standing within the franchise.

Guber, the former Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, currently sits as the Chairman and CEO of the multimedia Mandalay Entertainment Group.

With Lacob’s capitalist experience acting as financial guidance and Guber’s cultural perspective rounding out the partnership, the Golden State Warriors are just built differently.

Together, they hired a general manager who had no experience in the sports industry and two coaches who hadn’t coached on any level, let alone a professional one.

But after two rings, a fourth trip to the Finals, and the Warriors’ estimated net worth of $3 billion, it’s clear Lacob and Guber have appropriately invested their money within the Silicon Valley environment.

Stephen Curry

Hailed as the greatest shooter to ever grace the court, two-time MVP Steph Curry is taking full advantage of his NBA stardom, particularly off-the-court.

The fact that Curry gets to perform in front of CEOs, founders and presidents every home game definitely helps.

Regardless, the Baby Faced Assassin owns an equity stake in CoachUp, a start-up that connects private coaches with athletes all around the world.

Plus, in 2015, he co-founded a tech start-up, Slyce, with his old college teammate Bryant Barr. Curry has also recently backed Brandless, a start-up that aims to provide affordable household items.

Andre Iguodala

Even though he’s nursing a leg contusion that will force him to miss Game 1 of the 2018 Finals, Iguodala is still winning, as he cashes in from the savvy investments he’s made in his time in Oakland.

In addition to his investments in Facebook, Twitter, and Tesla, the Warriors forward has also backed Arianna Huffington’s new company Thrive Global, a health and beauty startup by Walker & Company, as well as Derek Jeter’s platform for athletes, The Player’s Tribune, among other companies. Iguodala tells CNBC,

“We have some great relationships with VCs [venture capitalists] out there, mainly Andreessen Horowitz. They’ve kind of taken me under their wing and … showed me some things in the portfolio and how I can integrate my brand into some of their brands.”

Andre works with his business partner, Rudy Cline-Thomas, to fully utilize the Warriors’ relationship to Silicon Valley.

Kevin Durant

Nearing the completion of his second season with the Warriors, Durant is on the verge of becoming a two-time champion while simultaneously turning himself into a capable investor.

KD has been quietly making a splash in the start-up scene as a willing investor, backing tech companies like Postmates and Acorns.

Durant’s portfolio also consists of JetSmarter, The Players Tribune, and Overtime, a startup that focuses on up-and-coming high school ballers.

With the recent creation of his own YouTube profile, it looks like Kevin Durant is looking to further cement himself as a big-time baller and growing businessman.

Draymond Green

While Draymond’s investment portfolio doesn’t stack up as impressively to those of his teammates’, Green has been quite vocal in his ambitions to become a billionaire by the age of 40.

And though he hasn’t made any financial decisions to back a start-up, Draymond has recently partnered with Blink Fitness on a franchise development deal to bring at least 20 gyms to his native Michigan as well as Illinois. He said,

“This is not an endorsement deal for me. I’m going to invest my money and my time to partner with Blink to bring an amazing gym experience to these communities.”

Perhaps this is the beginning of Draymond’s financial evolution in his quest to become a billionaire.

Nick Young

Swaggy P is one of the newest faces in the Bay and he’s already familiarizing himself with the booming tech scene that is Silicon Valley.

In December of 2017, Brandless, an e-commerce startup that offers household items and food for $3 or less, publicly announced that Young was one of more than 20 investors in a $35 million Series B funding round led by New Enterprise Associates.

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Other investors included fellow-Warrior Steph Curry and Portland Trail Blazers star C.J. McCollum. Okay Swaggy P we see you making those grown-men decisions!

Even though Golden State has their hands full with the Cavaliers these upcoming weeks, I’m sure some of the Warriors are looking to score outside of Oracle too.

Who will be the next Warrior to start funneling money into Silicon Valley?

The Kyrie Irving brand is stronger than ever after year one in Boston

“Jab jab. Tween the legs. Behind the back. Step baaaaack. Give me twoooo!”

That’s basically how each of Filay’s Kyrie highlights start, and it’s frankly always embarrassing to see the other guy on the floor… Just ask Brandon Knight.

And yet despite the phenomenal highlights Irving has given us throughout his career, and especially in his first season with Boston, we unfortunately won’t be able to see him compete in the playoffs this year.

After undergoing a “minimally invasive” knee-surgery that expected him to return to the court by the playoffs, a bacterial infection has officially sidelined Uncle Drew for the remainder of the season.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Irving’s surgery kills all the hype from the Kyrie-LeBron matchup fans have been drooling over since the beginning of the season.

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After three straight trips to the Finals, shit hit the fan this past summer when Kyrie officially requested a trade from the Cavs in order to become more of a “focal point.” Ultimately, Irving decided he no longer wanted to play second fiddle to LeBron James.

Days later, Cleveland sent the young superstar guard to the Boston Celtics, one of the NBA’s largest markets and historically-winning franchises in league history. And while people were initially skeptical of Kyrie’s decision, the move to Boston has paid off tremendously for his career both on and off the court.

Flashy handles, an ankle-breaking killer crossover, and a cold-blooded jumper have established Kyrie as one of the most exciting players the basketball world has seen. Couple that with his friendly personality and well-spoken demeanor and lo and behold, you have one of the most marketable players in today’s NBA.

Since he was drafted as the number one overall pick out of Duke in 2011, Kyrie has made a career out of exposing defenders.

As the only beacon of hope on a struggling Cavs team, Irving exploded onto the national spotlight when LeBron announced his return to Cleveland in 2014. And of course, with LeBron’s arrival came the media, and a slew of companies who viewed Kyrie as a potential ambassador to drive their brands forward.

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However, moving from Cleveland to Boston has indubitably placed Kyrie further under the national spotlight. Being LeBron’s best running mate generates its own type of buzz, but shouldering a historically successful franchise in one of the largest markets in the NBA has cemented Irving’s stardom.

Enter Nike, who revealed the Kyrie 1s four years ago and haven’t looked back since. With a multitude of various colorways and designs, the Kyrie 1s hit the market for a retail price of $110 USD.

Irving himself debuted them against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in December 2014, and also happened to drop 37 points and the game winning shot for the Cleveland dub.

Basketball fans are currently waiting for Nike to release the Kyrie 5s this year. And because he’s not directly competing against LeBron and his sneakers like he did in Cleveland, some critics speculated Kyrie’s decision to leave was influenced by the cannibalization of their respective sneaker lines.

However in addition to Nike, Pepsi is another company that partnered with Irving early in his career. Since 2012, Pepsi has been starring Kyrie as “Uncle Drew,” an old grandpa who’s got game.

The first video went viral, amassing 10 million views in less than a month.

It inspired Pepsi to release a couple of more webisodes, with guest appearances from the likes of Kevin Love and Nate Robinson. Uncle Drew became immortalized, and the phrase “don’t reach young blood” evolved into a generational motto.

Now, Pepsi has partnered with Temple Hill Entertainment to produce a film for the big screen. Uncle Drew will hit the theaters this June with a balling cast: Shaquille O’Neal, Lisa Leslie, Lil Rel Howery, and Reggie Miller are just a few of the names to act alongside Irving.

Uncle Drew places Kyrie on a list with Shaq, LeBron, KD, and MJ as NBA players who’ve tackled Hollywood on the screen. When seeing the type of impact Space Jam has had on the culture, Irving has an opportunity to further imprint himself onto the rising generation this summer.

However all things considered, it’s a damn shame to see Uncle Drew go down his first year in Boston when he was having such a terrific year both on and off the floor.

But when accounting for the Celtics’ trajectory as one of the most dangerous teams for years to come, I get the feeling that this is just the beginning for both Kyrie’s on and off-court endeavors.

The Uncle Drew story wouldn’t be exciting without setbacks here and there, so expect even more big things for Kyrie in the years to come.

How Kevin Durant is becoming the biggest tech investor in the NBA

When Kevin Durant announced his decision to leave the OKC Thunder for the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016, people immediately marked them as the team to beat.

But since winning his first championship and adding a Finals MVP to his already impressive resume, KD has showed the world that his decision was more than just about basketball.

Durant’s move to Golden State not only positioned him for multiple rings, but also supplanted him in Silicon Valley, the heart of the burgeoning tech scene. With the help of his business partner Rich Kleiman, KD has established himself as a serious investor.

While they did start the Durant Company, a venture capitalist firm for investing in companies they believe in before KD’s transition to Oakland, there’s no denying the business influence his “basketball decision” has had.

Even his teammates Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala have taken full advantage of the tech-savvy environment, bursting onto the scene as notable investors.

Since 2015, Durant has made waves as a full-time professional baller and part-time investor. Funneling his money into companies like Postmates and The Players Tribune, Durant has pivoted as a businessman, expanding his portfolio to the likes of JetSmarter and Overtime, a startup that focuses on up-and-coming high school ballers.

But even before his executive decision to dawn a Warriors jersey, Durant utilized his basketball talents and the NBA spotlight to become one of the most marketable players in the NBA; sponsorships with Nike, Beats, 2K, and BBVA banking prove that.

Having created a formidable reputation, companies on the rise should keep an eye out for Durant as a potential investor.

Now, as he navigates the shark-infested waters of the cut-throat business industry, KD is determined to be the best professional-baller-turned-investor the world has ever seen.

Meet Troy Press, the NBA entertainer paving his own lane as an actor

While fans mainly attend NBA games to see their favorite athletes perform, it’s the faces behind-the-scenes who transform a professional basketball game into a night they’ll never forget.

As the floor director and coordinator of game presentation for the Brooklyn Nets, Troy Press has made a career out of breathing excitement and joy into timeouts and halftime.

From overseeing the creation of new dance routines to arranging various talent and celebrity influencers, Press has obsessed over every detail to give fans something to remember.

In a one-on-one hour long interview with Kulture Hub, Press gave us some insight on his journey navigating the world of NBA entertainment, his aspiring career as an actor, and his passion for bringing people together to create everlasting moments.

On the court, you’ll find Troy rehearsing events and scheduling appearances for the Nets, but off the court, you’ll find him memorizing lines, hustling to become an established actor. Coming off his first feature film The Second Son, Press has been keeping himself busy with acting and improv classes to round out his schedule.

“If you’re not in the mix in New York City, I don’t know what you’re doing; there’s other cities to chill in.”

As I asked him about his journey, Press revealed his passion for interacting with people from all backgrounds. From having done gigs on ESPN Radio to hosting on Fox Sports 1 for events like Monster Jam, Troy explained his takeaways from his past experiences and how he applies them today.

“I realized I have this talent for being able to interact with people, and bringing smiles to everybody of all ages. I knew I kind of wanted to take performance to the next level, and that’s when I really started taking into acting.”

The world of entertainment is typically recognized as a diversified collection of crafts; whether you’re an actor, a musician, or even the floor director and head coordinator of game presentation for the Brooklyn Nets, there are a slew of nuanced differences and similarities among each profession.


When asked about the commonalities and distinctions between his roles as the leader of Nets entertainment and his endeavors as an actor, Press made it clear that at the end of the day, his job is to bring an experience.

“There’s so many times our amazing Nets entertainment team and crew are able to bring an experience for 18,000 or 19,000 people. Whether it’s making someone laugh off the dance cam, or seeing Brook Lopez [the Brooklyn Nets all-time leading scorer] get emotional for his tribute video… you rehearse it, you create it, and exactly like acting, you see it come to life.”

Analogously, acting on stage offers that same exhilaration of rehearsing, performing, and living with the results. Press said,

“I truly truly enjoy theatre because when the character/actor walks out onto that stage, the audience is living, breathing, and dying with that character. If I come out and I mess up, there’s a moment of me feeling some type of emotion, and the audience is there to live it with me.”

Because Press assumes more of a director’s role at Barclays, it clearly has helped him appreciate the other side of performance. Throughout the day, Press is the director, and in the evening, he becomes the actor.


With both of his positions offering him angled perspectives of the liveliness and excitement that comes from the fine arts, Press confirmed that it was his siblings, and specifically his sister, that first gauged his passion.

Press’ sister, Jessica, began as a Knicks City Dancer for three years, performed in a couple of Broadway shows, and eventually moved to Vegas then LA to pursue her acting career. She made her movie debut with John Stamos in My Man Is A Loser. And though his sister has stepped away from the limelight to care for her newborn son, there is no denying her influence in Press’ own professional career.

Due to his sister’s time as a Knicks City Dancer, she was able to land him an interview with the Knicks for an intern position the summer of his junior year in college.

Although he came ready to sell himself, Press soon realized that his family’s reputation had preceded his introduction. Because of his sister’s rigorous work ethic as a dancer, the Press name had blossomed into good fortunes, landing Troy the internship on the spot.


With his foot in the door, Press carried the same mentality, being as proactive as he could to create his own identity within the organization. When he went back to Wingate University in Charlotte for his senior year, Press was able to coordinate a position as the assistant game night floor director for the then-Charlotte Bobcats. His dedication as an intern had landed him a job working with the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan.

While Press did receive free Jordans from his time in Charlotte, his role was limited as an assistant director. He recalled how it felt, standing in the room as an assistant and seeing how MJ’s presence alone took the breath out of people, himself included.

Now, Press, who’s on the verge of completing his third year with the Nets, finds it funny that he’s the one at the head of the helm, directing and leading the show behind the NBA camera.

Press’ continual efforts to learn and grow has earned him a spot as one of the main floor directors for NBA All-Star weekend, the NBA’s largest event of the season. Press said,

“The Game Entertainment Committee selects their own ‘All-Star team,’ if you will. They bring in around 10-12 of their favorite and most reliable stage managers, people from the the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, etc … [But to grow from an assistant in Charlotte] to leading the charge, speaking to Team LeBron and Team Curry, telling them where they’re going to be standing for intros and how they’re getting off stage… To think about those moment from kind of being just somebody in the room, to actually owning the room and delivering was cool.”

Evidently, Press’ tenure with the now-Charlotte Hornets acts as a friendly reminder of his winding journey. Upon graduation, Press returned to the Knicks for a full-time position. But after a year, he found himself wanting more, ambitious to take on as much as he could. “A position opened up in Brooklyn just across the river, and I was looking to grow and take more on my plate and it felt like a great fit.”

Now, even though he’s at the top of his Brooklyn hierarchy, Press is even more attentive to detail and eager to learn. Whether he’s collaborating with celebrities for Brooklyn appearances, or picking the brains of accomplished actors, Troy Press has expanded his network to one day make a bigger splash in the acting industry.

“I think if you’re not networking in any field, you’re doing yourself damage. There are so many great people to learn from. I’m always open to learn, to take someone out to dinner or invite them to a game to learn about what they’re doing and how we can help each other… Most importantly though, just being good to people. You never know when the right time could click. I treat the custodian, the ushers, the security, the celebrities all the same. If I have a chance to bring a smile to somebody and change their day, I’ll do it.”

Open-minded and hungrier now more than ever, Troy Press is making his mark on the entertainment world. Whether it’s at Barclays or in front of the camera, he’s looking to create moments that’ll go the extra mile.

Follow Troy’s journey on Instagram and be on the look out for more moves to come.

The Mamba Mentality: How Kobe is able to dominate every aspect of life

Kobe f*cking Bryant. NBA legend, and now Oscar winner.

On Sunday evening at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Kobe Bryant added another piece of hardware to his already impressive resume.

In addition to his five championship rings with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals, and a grandiose list of accomplishments of all things basketball, the Black Mamba now boasts an Oscar trophy for the best animated short feature.

Kobe Bryant and animator Glen Keane’s film “Dear Basketball” won over “Lou”, “Revolting Rhymes”, “Garden Party”, and “Negative Space.” The feature was an animated short professing Bryant’s love for basketball from his time as a child to the present moment.

Throughout the six minute film, Kobe narrates a poem he penned in 2015 to officially announce his retirement on the Player’s Tribune. I know this for a fact because the first time I had read the poem, I cried.

Here was the man that had initially inspired my love for the game, announcing his departure in the most poetic possible fashion:

“I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more..”

In the spur of the moment, my heart was crushed to hear the Mamba admit that Father Time had finally caught up to him. But nobody could have expected him to win an Oscar at the Academy Awards two years later. The White Man’s Trophy!

The Oscars, which have a historically racist discourse surrounding the lack of minority representation, recognized an African-American basketball icon who is now voyaging through the world of fine arts. And he won.

During his acceptance speech, Bryant was ushered in as his co-recipient Glen Keane was mentioning how this film was a representation of the notion that “the impossible is possible.” Kobe stepped in to say, “I mean I don’t know if it’s possible, as basketball players we’re just supposed to just ‘Shut up and dribble.'”

Shoutout to Kobe Bryant for adjusting the focus onto the larger issue at hand.

A couple of weeks ago, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham publicly insulted LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s UNINTERRUPTED segment, in which they touch on Trump and race in America. Ingraham stated basketball players should remain quiet on political topics and just “shut up and dribble.”

LeBron and KD came back at Ingraham, but for Kobe to publicly respond, in his actual Oscar acceptance speech, is emblematic of the greatness Black athletes can achieve in any walk of life. African-American athletes are more than just figures of entertainment; they are pivotal voices in shifting the culture and are clearly capable of greatness in all avenues, like Mr. Kobe Bryant.

Kobe has taken the first step to proving that athletes, especially Black athletes, can do more than play a sport. For effective results, perseverance and determination are critical. Bryant is no stranger to such traits. In fact, he’s dedicated his entire basketball career to the iconic adage we’ve all come to know and trust: the Mamba Mentality.

You see, what’s amazing about Kobe’s career post-retirement is that he’s taken his obsession to be great on the basketball court and is now channeling it towards a creative outlet. Bryant is a living embodiment of dreams coming to fruition through sacrifice and determination, no matter the field.

We already know how great of a businessman Kobe is; he’s turned himself from an obsessively competitive player to an investor and entrepreneur. Having learned from the likes of Air Jordan, the Mamba has increased his net worth by investing in companies on the come up through his VC Bryant Stibel, as well as opening his own Kobe Inc. for all of his sports tech endeavors.

We’ve already seen Bryant’s strive for greatness on the court. In terms of basketball, Bryant’s career was nothing short of amazing. Kobe began his career as an athletic freak of nature, baptizing players left and right with vicious throw downs and an explosive first step.

He honed his jumper, but was then asked to be the primary ball-handler in order to optimize his play with Shaq, collecting three championships and earning the recognition as one of the most dominant duos in the history of the NBA.

Then after his first 10 years, Kobe donned the number 24, a symbolic shift, not only in jersey number, but style of play as well. As his athleticism retreated bit by bit, he emulated Jordan’s footwork, mastering the fade-away and punishing players with a scoring repertoire second-to-none.

He evolved as a leader, leading the Lakers to two championships and proving all of the naysayers who said his first three rings were only because of Shaq… Stop it with the disrespect.

And while the scoring prowess was amazing to watch, many forget that Kobe was a hell of a defender. His tenacity and hunger to be great on both sides of the ball granted him 12 All-Defensive Team selections, tied with Kevin Garnett for the second most selections in NBA history; a legend who was as passionate of a player on both sides of the ball… damn.

Kobe Bryant Basketball GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

During the cusp of his retirement year, Bryant admitted he was comfortable with the idea of leaving the game.

“I’m thankful. I’m not sad at all. I left no stone unturned, I gave everything to the game for 20 years in the NBA and more before that. So I feel very thankful to be able to play this game this long.”

Having turned every stone in basketball, Kobe is now shifting towards becoming the best businessman and creative he can be.

And I can assure you, judging from his obsession with excellence, and as the founder of the “Mamba Mentality,” a credo that has been a foundational message for not only athletes, but an entire generation, the Black Mamba is bound for more success.

Salute to you, Kobe Bean!