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How Naomi Osaka’s road to business mogul is opening doors for minorities

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka is not only championing women of color on the court but also in the board room with multiple business ventures. And she’s just getting started.

This includes launching a new media company with LeBron James and her popular skincare line KINLÒ which she started from the ground up.

Historic wins from the 24-year-old American, Haitian, and Japanese tennis superstar brought cultural representation in sports to a whole new level.

Naomi recently lost to Zhang Shuai in Cincinnati back-to-back open match and failed to proceed to the next round. This heartbreaking loss for Osaka and her fans has not fazed a single fan of the cultural icon.

Birth of her grand slam tennis career

Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a father who’s of Haitian-American descent, Naomi is no stranger to the struggles of a mixed-race child.

Documented in the Netflix docu-series titled “Naomi Osaka” is her journey to finding her voice, building a name in tennis, her mental health, and contributing to the changes in post-match conferences.

At just 16, Osaka made her mark in Tennis during her WTA Tour debut back in the 2014 Stanford Classic, when she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur.

At 24 years old, Osaka is the 20th highest paid athlete according to Sportico with a net worth of $53.2 million.

What with her own skincare line and major deals with big brands such as Nissan, Tag Heuer, and Louis Vuitton, Naomi’s all set to continuously dominate more than her beloved sports.

Acing outside the court

True to her role as a cultural icon, Naomi Osaka ventured to break old myths and stigmas about skincare by launching her own skincare line catered to melanated skin just like hers, KINLÒ.

Debunking skin myths that are harmful to melatonin-rick skins, KINLÒ ensures their brand and their products go beyond the promise of healthy glowing skin.

Growing an inclusive and informed community is only just one of Osaka’s many accomplishments.

Sharing the glow with student-athletes

Naomi Osaka recently signed 5 student-athletes with their #GlowOutside campaign.

These five student-athletes are Deja Kelly (UNC women’s basketball), Reilyn Turner (UCLA women’s soccer), Robert Dillingham (Kentucky men’s basketball), Xolani Hodel (Stanford women’s beach volleyball), and Ziyah Leigh Holman (Michigan women’s track and field).

“I’m so excited to partner with these amazing student-athletes to help spread awareness for our Glow Outside campaign. As young, influential voices in the space, they are the perfect fit to help champion such an important initiative and as a brand, we couldn’t be prouder to empower and support NCAA athletes.”

Naomi Osaka, Forbes

These five student-athletes are the perfect brand ambassadors for Osaka’s KINLÒ suncare line as they prove to their communities the benefits of using sun protection during their sports seasons and year-round day-to-day activities.

Media company to cryptocurrencies

Naomi also recently launched her own media company in partnership with Lebron James through The SpringHill company.

With the goal of providing media platforms to people of color (POC) student-athletes and increasing their media representation. Osaka also launched Evolve, an athlete representation agency.

“There has been an explosion of creators of color finally being equipped with resources and a huge platform. In the streaming age, content has a more global perspective. You can see this in the popularity of television from Asia, Europe and Latin America that the unique can also be universal. My story is a testament to that as well.”

Naomi Osaka, CNBC

An unstoppable future for Naomi

Going beyond medals and trophies, Naomi Osaka has shown the world how inspiring stories are built and how a huge platform as big as hers can be used to do great things for others with their own stories to tell.

Naomi Osaka may have captivated the world with her beast tennis skills, but she is conquering it one community, one company, and one mission at a time. From women’s tennis, crypto, Evolve, and, for now at least, KINLÒ, there is no stopping Naomi Osaka from collecting victories.

It’s no longer just about representation for Naomi Osaka. It is now amplifying the many voices of minorities just like herself.

Erling Haaland carries momentum forward in the world of English soccer

Erling Haaland has played his last game for Borussia Dortmund, as he is set to join Manchester City this summer. The move is a massive one, quite possible even earth shattering, for City, for the Premier League, and for the world of English football as a whole.

Along with Kylian Mbappe, Haaland was on the shortlist of most-sought-after players this season. He is a tour de force of power, technique, and superb instincts, something all the best strikers seem to possess. And he chose Man City, the club his father used to play for, to help elevate him to an even greater level.

Erling Haaland chose sky blue

Haaland had many suitors as the summer approached. Real Madrid, perhaps the most prestigious club on the planet in terms of attracting stars, was one of the several teams rumored to be interested.

However, Haaland chose City, and England, to be his next step after Dortmund and Germany. One can surmise the reason for Haaland’s decision lies in the growth of City as a club, and how Haaland can see himself growing under manager Pep Guardiola.

Even Haaland’s teammate at Dortmund sees the vision.

“[I] told him I was really happy for him, that he was able to fulfil the next step of his journey and his dream as a footballer,” Dortmund star midfielder Jude Bellingham told the Times.

How does the move change the scope of Man City?

The signing of Erling Haaland not only elevates the spectacle of the extremely competitive Premier League, but it also solidifies Man City as a bonafide titan in the world marketplace of football.

What was the main concern heading into the 2021/22 season for City? What has been the main talking point nearly every time they have stumbled? The team’s lack of a true number 9.

Haaland is the heir apparent to Sergio Aguero and the enormous void he has left behind since leaving City. The Norwegian has a knack for putting the ball in the net. Twenty two goals in 24 matches in the Bundesliga this year tells the story.

The Premier League is a vastly different league, it cannot be denied. As NBC Sports pundit Robbie Mustoe said, defense is a bit tighter and stronger in the Premier League than it is in the Bundesliga.

Still, superstars overcome obstacles, and the best players perform even better when they’re surrounded by greater talent. Just look at another Bundesliga product City bid highly for in Kevin De Bruyne.

This attacking pair under the stewardship of Guardiola will be a force to be reckoned with, and the one perceived problem ailing City all season long, finishing, should soon not be a concern.

What does this mean for English soccer?

Man City and Liverpool have both steadily ascended, or at worst maintained pace of their respective apexes in recent years (if one wanted to argue Liverpool’s 2019/2020 and City’s Centurions sides were better).

While we have seen English teams such as Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and José Mourinho’s Chelsea reach immense heights before, there is an inevitability with these two sides at the moment. A disappointing final half hour from City in the Champions League semifinal with Real Madrid aside, most of us would look at these sides as the two best in the world.

Furthermore, if Chelsea hadn’t dealt with extreme and unorthodox ownership turnover, they might be battling with City and Liverpool right now for the league title. In some competitions, like the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, they already were.

Chelsea will find a way to reshuffle, even with defensive questions looming large. Liverpool will continue to scale the tower of all-time great sides, and closely watch other transfer targets to try and match City’s shiny new toy. And City will do as they have always done under Guardiola: renovate, innovate, and dominate.

The world of English soccer is bright, perhaps brighter than ever before. The top of the Premier League is naturally the focus, but the competition at the bottom is just as intense.

Whether you are a fan of Manchester City or not should make no difference if you enjoy the presentation that the Premier League provides.

English soccer just got grander, and we are all better off for it.

Jason Preston’s climb from journalistic dreams to the NBA Draft

Throughout last season, the story that swept college hoops nation revolved around Ohio University guard Jason Preston. His story is one of determination and always chasing your loftiest dreams. Journalistic aspirations slowly turned to college basketball and NBA realities, and now Preston can find himself on the NBA’s draft board.

After his mother passed away from lung cancer five years ago, Preston’s aunt became his legal guardian due to his father’s absence. Since she lived in Jamaica, Jason began to stay with his mother’s best friend’s son and put in countless hours in the gym.

Humble beginnings with journalistic aspirations

At Boone High School (Orlando, FL) Preston averaged only 2.2 points per game. At 6 feet, 140 pounds, his chance of playing organized basketball at the collegiate level was slim to none. As a matter of fact, Jason began to attend college at UCF for journalism purposes only. 

jason preston journalistic aspirations
Jason Preston and Ayo Dosunmu will both be valuable candidates for their respective squads (via Getty Images)

Jason Preston figured he could pursue his journalistic aspirations as he familiarized himself within online circles and heavily favored Detroit Pistons basketball. His mother had a major influence on the Pistons immersion as her favorite team was the 2004 Championship team with Chauncey Billups.

This development proved extremely interesting as many entertainers, athletes, and those who cover sports often find a way to merge their playing and media work. While many artists want to be ballplayers and several athletes want to become artists, where does the journalist fit in?

Well, in this scenario, it looks like they nearly all found a place to intertwine! Preston handles himself like a professional and his avant-garde nature on the court proves that he is certainly an artiste of many sorts.

Learn from Jason Preston – take every opportunity and make the most of it

While at UCF, Preston met someone who invited him to an AAU tournament and at that tournament, after a late growth spurt, he clocked in at 6 feet, 4 inches. Following a strong outing, he received an invite from another individual to hoop at Believe Prep Academy in South Carolina.

In prep school, teams are ranked from A-D and Preston landed on the C Team which is essentially rec league talent. After dropping a triple-double, Jason went on to create his own highlight reel and post it on Twitter.

From there, Ohio University Men’s Basketball discovered his talent and made him a scholarship offer.

Luckily, OU bulked him up by thirty pounds and together they improved his vertical jump as well. He shot 40 percent from 3 point range in the 2020 season, averaged 16.8 PPG with 6.4 RPG and 7.4 APG. 

nba draft board
Early last season, two powerhouse candidates squared off in quite the basketball showdown (via

In early 2020, Preston racked up 31 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds against the number 8 team in the nation, Illinois. Unfortunately, the outcome did not play out in the Bobcats’ favor as Ayo Dosunmu and Illinois scraped out a tough victory at home in Champagne, IL, 77-75. 

After stringing together two consistently productive seasons, Jason Preston is certain to receive a draft selection into the NBA on July 29th. He will look up at the NBA draft board and hear his name called, a validation of the hard work he has put in across years and different challenges.

This would make him only the fourth player in this century from the MAC Tournament to do so.

jason preston journalistic aspirations
Ohio U stand up! (via Robert Goddin USA-Today Sports)

Continuing to shine

After defeating formidable opponent Virginia in the first round of March Madness, Preston and Ohio went on to beat Creighton as well to earn a Sweet 16 bid.

It is clear that Jason can slow the game down to his pace and that he moves with a very old-school type of rhythm. His high IQ, playmaking vision, and meticulous play-running make him an extremely intriguing prospect.

During his Chicago Draft Combine, Preston impressed scouts and proved his ability to adjust in accordance to a faster pace. He signed with Drew Gross, an agent for Roc Nation sports, and is currently ranked 41st out of 100 on ESPN’s Top 100 prospect list

The NBA draft board shines brightly down on this smart and brave young talent.

nba draft board
Jason Preston turned heads at the NBA combine. (via Jeff Haynes NBAE/Getty Images)

Jason Preston’s old-school post-game, slender frame, crucial ball fakes/pump fakes, and pocket passes ensure his roster spot on any NBA team. He recently worked out with the Lakers who hold the 22nd pick.

It is clear that Preston’s game will translate well into the professional arena and this man has the potential to reach a high trajectory slope early on in his career. We wish him the best of luck.

Kevin Durant shines off the court with new Otis jersey sale

Kevin Durant is widely known for his unstoppable game on the court. But what he has done in recent years off of the floor has been almost just as impressive. Otis, a stock market for the culture, allows fans to purchase a piece of Kevin Durant’s jersey that he wore for his Nets debut.

Otis is an investment platform that lets anyone buy shares of “cultural assets.” These assets could be anything from a Banksy artwork to Michael Jordan’s game-worn Air Jordan 1’s. Durant’s debut Nets jersey is the latest asset up for investment. It can be purchased and/or traded here.

kevin durant otis
Kevin Durant’s debut jersey (Courtesy of Otis)

The specifics of the sale

Durant’s game-worn jersey is valued $47,600. Still, fans can purchase a piece of the jersey for as little as $10.

Fans will purchase shares on Otis, then watch as they fluctuate just like stocks. Shares can be traded whenever as parties seek to gain a profit. Recent drops on Otis have seen 150% to 400% increases on initial investments.

With the Nets standing as favorites in many people’s eyes to win the championship, Durant’s first game-worn jersey may end up being even more famous and valuable than can be imagined right now.

kevin durant jersey
Kevin Durant’s debut jersey (Courtesy of Otis)

Kevin Durant’s debut in a Nets jersey

Durant’s debut with the Nets was pretty impressive for a guy coming off an achilles injury. After being out for more than a year, Durant showed why he is one of the best players the NBA has ever seen.

In 24 minutes, Durant put up 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. The Nets dominated the Celtics with Durant and Irving, leading to a 125-99 victory.

Even before acquiring James Harden in a trade, the Nets were filled with star power. Durant stands as the headliner, and expectations were high from the moment he signed with the team.


He showed up big in that first game, and aside from injuries holding him out here and there, he has all season long.

For the Nets, it’s championship or bust

Now, as the Nets reach the real stage, the playoffs, it’s championship or bust. What has been a peculiar season has reached the place where teams show whether they are real contenders or not.

The Nets have formidable opponents along the way, should they reach the NBA Finals. What is more, is that they have big teams and players they must go through if they want to reach that stage. And for a relatively small team, it will be easier said than done to shut down the likes of Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

With Otis allowing the sale of Kevin Durant’s jersey, it is all about seeing how the postseason unfolds. Because for those who have a piece of Durant’s first jersey as a Net, the value may only rise. And for Nets fans, they damn sure hope it does.

Are the NBA play-in games good for players’ mental health?

The NBA has been a vanguard for conversations surrounding mental health in recent years. Now with the NBA play-in games, a whole new wrinkle to the fold has been introduced.

For the longest time, the two best words in all of sports have been – game 7. Undoubtedly so, there is no replacing combative competition that culminates to the ultimate neutralizer of a game 7 matchup. Each team pours their entire physical, mental and intellectual prowess onto the court until it is totally their time to shine in one final matchup.

Now, the NBA is no stranger to the funds. They know that the pandemic and slight lapses in action have caused their bottom line to shrink in a minor way. Nearly a stone’s throw in the ocean for the revenue that the league makes, they decided to be proactive with a new postseason method to rev up the ratings.

But are the play-in games really fair for NBA players’ mental health?

nba mental health
The wear and tear certainly takes a toll… (via Sports News Instant)

NBA players’ mental health has been put to the test in recent years

The question becomes: does this newly created competition spike benefit the players? That answer can be left to interpretation as many of the responses may vary on a case-by-case basis.

Above all else, this development is certainly testing the strength and mental health capacity of players on teams who were not able to secure one of the first seven seeds in their respective conference(s). 

This is not the first time we have seen expansion and experimentation leading into the playoffs. NCAA continues to add play in games prior to the March Madness field of 64 and the NFL just added two additional slots to expand their postseason playing field as well. 

The NBA play-in games represent the disconnect between the league office and the players

The overarching theme this season has been the disconnect between NBA commissioner Adam Silver and his constituents. Last summer, Silver was gung-ho about instituting social change efforts and allowed the players to voice their issues on social justice issues. 

nba play-in games
The run for the Larry O’Brien Trophy commences this week (via BeamClo)

The players responded immediately with warm-up gear, accessories and addressed systemic issues in nearly every post or pre-game press conference. Many players chose to utilize their platform to speak out for the injustice surrounding Breonna Taylor’s murder (Louisville, KY).

In what lasted as a brief trial run for social justice messaging, Silver quickly noticed a plunge in ratings and decided to save face. 

When it comes to professional sports, there is no greater determining factor than the financial bottom line. It is unfair to the players who work tirelessly to demean their efforts.

It is a much different story when players wish to be traded or seek a new team as people will spare their feelings due to the fact that it is business and not personal. Uprooted from original team? It’s all a part of the business!

But when players decide to voice their opinion on sociopolitical matters? Just stick to sports! 

It is almost as if the players are puppets in a sense – only meant to perform a certain role and obey those who pull strings. Clearly, we know this to not be true as many influential athletes continue to voice their strong opinions via podcast networks and social commentary. 

What bigger NBA star’s mental health to look at than the King himself

Many athletes have become prominent activists via LeBron’s UNINTERRUPTED Network. LeBron James has been one of the most outspoken when it comes to the current state of our country.

It is LeBron who first spoke up and admitted that it felt like a “slap in the face” when the Commissioner reinstated the All-Star Game after vowing to take a hiatus from All-Star Weekend. 

LeBron James and Draymond Green on Uninterrupted
Hounds on the court, activists off the court – LeBron and Draymond are an unlikely pairing to voice their worldly concerns (via Uninterrupted)

LeBron is a very calculated player and measures the days in a bionic manner. Meaning, his freakishly gifted physique and wholesome body regimen needs ample amounts of rest as he will block out these days on the calendar months in advance. 

During these days, LeBron goes through cryogenic and highly advanced restorative medicine. So, when Silver tacked the All-Star Game back onto the schedule, LeBron lost 5 transformative days that were set aside to replenish and restore nutrients + vital minerals within his veteran system. 

The NBA saves face, changes course and all the while shows its backside

So, as quickly as the NBA provided this foreground to advocate last summer, they snatched it right back in a dash toward ‘normalcy.’ Certainly, voicing political opinions and using the magnitude of their persona to effectuate change could not be considered normal. 

nba mental health
The way that Stephon Marbury is revered in China makes one wonder – do all players receive this harsh treatment? (via Unsplash)

There are too many hootin’ and hollerin’ fans who despise displays of political opinion in sole favor of the fantastical escape that sports bring. God forbid, the players embody a brief social role that they wish to exhibit.

So are the NBA’s play-in games fair to players?

Yes, I understand athletes make millions to play the game that they love but these men and women work harder to earn that top dollar. Therefore, their opinions should be valued even moreso. In an ideal setting, no amount of consumer backlash would be able to stifle those genuine sentiments. 

nba play-in games
LeBron and Adam Silver share a dap and a moment (via ABC7)

Now, players are being asked to perform at an even higher level during these play-in games. The action and sheer excitement from the likes of a winner-takes-all scenario is wonderful for the viewers – us – the connoisseurs.

But, for players that are given less rest and asked to prepare more just to put it all on the line – the situation is rather hectic. 

Without a doubt, their mental health is in jeopardy and they must nourish themselves properly to maintain good standing. Evidently, it is possible for every person at hand to achieve. Furthermore, expect the NBA to institute new and exciting ways to create enthralling action as the years progress.

Why J Cole playing professional basketball in Africa is massive

According to Stadium and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, J Cole is signing a deal with the Basketball Africa League’s Rwanda’s Patriots B.B.C. The rapper is expected to play 3-6 games, starting on Sunday vs. Nigeria.

Cole was a walk-on at St. Johns, and his basketball prowess has long been understood. Joining the Basketball Africa League not only provides the league with worldwide exposure, but also gives fans a chance to see Cole playing professional ball.

First an album, then a game?

As stated before, J. Cole is slated to play his first game in Africa on Sunday. But before then, on Friday, his long awaited album is expected to drop. The content king even dropped a documentary in anticipation of the album.

For the biggest die-hard fans, and casuals alike, it is undeniable J. Cole is a captivating character.

Last year, J. Cole released an article on The Player’s Tribune speaking of his interest in playing professional basketball. The intrigue even picked up so much that the Detroit Pistons offered him a chance to try out for the team.

So for Cole, who has long been a multifaceted star, why now? Not only is J. Cole’s music going to take over the musical world and dominate the airwaves this weekend, but now his basketball ability is going to as well.

I’m tapped in to witness greatness live. Are you?

What does this mean for J. Cole and African basketball?

J. Cole touched down in Africa two days ago, according to The Undefeated. He is now quarantining.

The Basketball Africa League is headed to begin its inaugural season. While it was scheduled to begin in March 2020, delays have caused the timetable to begin on May 16, 2021.

The league is a partnership between FIBA and the NBA. It is thus the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

J Cole is a headlining signing for the new league in Africa. It is a win-win situation, because for both sides there is not much to lose. J Cole gets to hoop on a professional level, but with little expectations. And the Basketball Africa League gets an influx of fans who follow J Cole everywhere, though it usually stops at music.

We wish the best of luck for Cole on this brief stop. And we are ecstatic to see how the Basketball Africa League grows as the years go on.

5 athlete and creator pairings we love to see together on the gram

Although a lot of people watch sports for the entertainment of the game, others follow sports for those behind the camera. Athlete and creator pairings show the world the delightful results when creatively inclined professionals link up.

And there are few bigger stages than sports venues.

There are countless creators across the sports world that show the beauty in the sport and the lives of the athletes outside of it. Highlighted in this article are the pairings between five players and creators across the sports universe.

David Sosna And Carmelo Anthony

Less than 20 weeks ago, Carmelo Anthony started an online workshop. Subscribers take online courses and get lessons from some of the best in the basketball industry. Whether it be shooting lessons, or learning about the free agency mill from Shams Charania himself, Through the Lens offers all of these lessons.

David Sosna has become one of the key photographers for the site. He is also one of the main people that helped to launch Through the Lens, roughly 18 weeks ago.

Sosna is also a content producer for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His work allows him to work not just with Carmelo Anthony, but Trae Young, and countless other athletes in the Cleveland area.

Countonvic and Trae Young

Trae Young, obviously a great young NBA talent, has had quite a few shots taken by photographer and overall internet superstar Countonvic.

Countonvic actually helped shoot Trae Young for his series with Through the Lens. His specific episode helped teach subscribers some key abilities in basketball.

Here is more on the ever-inspiring content creator:

Daniel Mogg and Russell Wilson

We have seen quite a few professional athletes dive into the creator space, and one of those athletes is no other than Russell Wilson.

Back in 2014, he founded West2East Empire, which is a brand management and production company, that focuses on strategic storytelling.

Daniel Mogg, an outstanding sports photographer, serves as the Chief Creative Officer for the organization. He has become a key member of Russell Wilson’s team and has been helping to build Wilson’s brand from just about the beginning of Wilson’s career.

Derrick Spencer and Kyler Murray

Derrick Spencer who is the coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals’ social media, has been a part of Kyler Murray’s Cardinals career from the beginning.

Many believed that Kyler Murray was too small to play in the NFL. It seemed that some were even rooting for his demise.

Derrick Spencer highlighted this doubt in the above photo. As the caption says “silence the doubters,” and Murray has definitely done that. An athlete and creator pairing that will always inspire and motivate.

Rod Mar and Jamal Adams

Rod Mar, another talented photographer in the sports world, had the opportunity to photograph one of the great personalities of the NFL in Jamal Adams.

After a blockbuster trade sent Adams to the Seahawks, Adams did not play up to his value in most people’s eyes.

This provided a unique opportunity for Rod Mar to try and capture the disappointment that a great personality like Jamal must have felt throughout last season’s campaign.

Still, Adams is never one to count out. Look for this star athlete to have a comeback season and for the other part of the pairing, creator Rod Mar to capture it in every luscious detail.

Top 5 storylines leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft

The 2021 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and storylines are already being written in invisible ink.

The next couple of weeks will be filled with the final mock drafts, teams deciphering their needs, and maybe a few more trades.

However, one thing is for sure. This year’s NFL draft, perhaps more even than in past years, will change the landscape of the entire NFL.

Most common NFL Draft storyline: The coming of Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars

nfl draft storylines
 In this Oct. 12, 2019, file photo, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State, in Clemson, S.C. Lawrence is a candidate for the 2020 Heisman Trophy award. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)

Without having to do much, the club down in Jacksonville will be the biggest winners of the 2021 NFL draft. Simply, this is one of the easiest decisions in draft history.

Lawrence comes out of Clemson with an insane track record, and even more insane talent, which is why he is a lock to go No. 1 to the Jaguars. The only way Jacksonville can go wrong here is if the experts have all been wrong about Lawrence.

We have seen in the past, amazing college talents becoming professional busts. The Jaguars are hoping that is not the case in Lawrence, as they try to fill a whole, that has been void in their lineup for years.

What will the Jets do with Sam Darnold?

nfl draft storylines
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

The Jets were one of those teams that thought they hit a home run when they drafted Sam Darnold a few years back. But his talent has not transferred to the big leagues…as of yet. He was a player touted by many experts to be the next “big thing,” but it just hasn’t happened.

Many believe that Sam still has amazing potential, and it really comes down to the position he is put in. And many believe the Jets are not the right team.

Some look at the talent the Jets have placed around him, some look at the coaching staff(s). And some look at both together, and logically come to the conclusion that Sam Darnold was not dealt the best card in the deck.

Those two reasons combined with Sam Darnold not playing well with the Jets and teams still believing in Darnold’s talent, makes most believe that the Jets will move on from Sam and trade him to another team. However, there are even more complications. 

Although teams may still have interest in Darnold, a deal would still need to be reached that is good for both sides. Originally, the Jets hoped to receive a first-round pick for Darnold, then reports came out that they would probably only get a second-round pick…and then it became a third-round pick. 

So for the Jets, are they willing to hand another team their star for a measly third round pick? Or do they still see potential in Darnold and give him another chance? This is a massive NFL storyline heading into the draft.

The Jets’ love affair with Zach Wilson

nfl draft storylines
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson throws a pass against Troy during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

Jets fans have been through a lot this past season, and here they are again in one of the biggest storylines before the NFL Draft.

For a large part of the season, it seemed the Jets would take home the first overall pick in the NFL draft, and get Trevor Lawrence.

However, after some late-season wins, and the continued losses by the Jaguars, the green and white missed out on a once-in-a-generation talent. This was a tough pill to swallow for Jets fans.

Focus then shifted to a possible trade between the Jets and the Houston Texans, who were looking to move their disgruntled young QB Deshaun Watson, which could end up being an even bigger prize as compared to Lawrence.

Jets fans went crazy, they knew their team had the draft capital and money to trade for Watson, but would the team be willing to let go of all this draft capital.

However as time wore on, sexual assault allegations against Deshaun Watson, and a “love affair” between Jets general manager Joe Douglas and Zach Wilson, made an acquisition of Watson very unlikely.

So that takes us to the Jets and Zach Wilson. Joe Douglas, whose talent is QB scouting, believes that he found his QB, in Zach Wilson. Prior to Wilson’s pro day, earlier last week, it seemed like Douglas’ mind was made, and after Wilson’s outstanding pro-day it seems like Wilson will suit up for the Jets next year.

The 49ers situation with Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Sunday Nov. 5, 2017. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Recently, the 49ers agreed to trade their 2021, 2022, and 2023 first-round picks, plus a third-round pick in 2022, for the Dolphins’ 3rd overall pick in the NFL draft.

That’s a big price to pay for the 3rd overall pick, so why would the 49ers do it? Well, the answer is clear, they are looking for a new QB. Jimmy G’s situation with the 49ers has become one of the biggest storylines heading into the NFL Draft.

It is expected that both Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will be off the board at the 3rd pick. This would leave the 49ers with their choice of Mac Jones and Justin Fields.

Early indications were that the 49ers are leaning to them taking Mr. Jones. But after a subpar pro day, the 49ers have a tough decision to make.

With that being said, it is obvious the 49ers are looking to move on from Garoppolo, but at what cost?

It is believed that the team is seeking a first-round pick for their QB. Coach Kyle Shanahan has been adamant that Jimmy is in their immediate future, but is that just a smokescreen? Only time, and the NFL Draft, will tell.

The biggest NFL Draft storyline: What is going to happen with Deshaun Watson?

Deshaun Watson
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is accused of sexual assault and harassment in civil lawsuits filed by 21 women. (Photograph: Eric Christian Smith/AP

The Deshaun Watson situation has been the key story of the NFL offseason. Without going into too much detail about Watson and the Texans, Watson is disgruntled after his opinion was not considered when the Texans picked their new GM, leading to Watson wanting out of Houston.

The Texans have been adamant that they will not trade their young-star QB. However, the story has gotten more interesting after 21 civil lawsuits have been filed against Watson for inappropriate conduct and sexual assault. Now we have the most insane storyline before the NFL Draft.

One thing is true: these lawsuits have added another piece to the puzzle for the Texans and Watson.

Most people believe that if the Texans were offered a trade they couldn’t refuse, they would be willing to trade away Watson. However, the question now is can the Texans even get a good offer for Watson. Many believe they still can.

With all this being said, it seems like the Texans are in the market for a new young QB, so do they make a Watson trade on draft day (or before), to get the necessary draft capital?

The 2021 NFL Draft will have a huge impact for the future of the NFL, this season and beyond. 

Zybek Sports is the model for sports equipment testing

Zybek Sports is a leader in the sports equipment testing field. By providing a consistent and reliable testing system for athletes of all levels, athletes everywhere can measure where they are currently, and where they need to get to in order to fulfill their aspirations.

Working with the NFL Combine, as well as other sports leagues such as the MLB, amateur leagues, and college leagues across the United States, Zybek Sports tailors itself to athletes of all ambitions.

Kulture Hub had the opportunity to speak with the CEO and Founder of Zybek Sports, Mike Weinstein.

Zybek Sports
Mike Weinstein getting set up in Shreveport, LA. (via Zybek Sports)

“We’re just trying to give hope and a direction for athletes who really want to continue onto that next level.”

Mike Weinstein

The inception of Zybek Sports

Zybek Sports was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2008. The initial focus was to make a reliable system to help the athlete testing industry. Weinstein and co. were making hardware and devising ways to test athletes and help coaches make athlete assessments.

“But since that point, I’ve really seen the need for athletes and coaches to have really valid and reproducible data. So that everybody can have consistent and comparable [data]. And just know where they stack up athletically and where they need to get to down the road.”

Mike Weinstein
sports equipment testing at Zybek Sports
Weinstein explaining the athletic testing to a group of adolescents in Shreveport, LA. (Zybek Sports)

As dedicated sports fans know, minor differences can separate athletes from one another. And thus, also how scouts see them performing at the next level.

Whether that is for adolescents looking to get into prep schools, high schoolers looking to get into college, or college athletes looking at the pros, the numbers clearly matter to scouts.

Therefore, it is essential that there is a standard testing system that gets it right 100 percent of the time. Enter Zybek Sports.

Sports are subjective, but Zybek Sports aims for fairness in objectivity

“What we’ve been doing at Zybek Sports is testing athleticism, no matter where you live, no matter what your economic background is, gender, race, any of that,” said Weinstein.

In Little Rock, Arkansas this month, Zybek tested 150 athletes. Each and every one of them, according to Weinstein, has dreams and aspirations of playing college sports. And thus they all want to know how they stack up against their competition.

He noted that the exact same test they use in Little Rock is used in Southern California.

“Thereby everybody can see that opportunity because we’re showing the athlete where they are right now. And where they need to be by next year.”

Mike Weinstein
sports equipment testing
Zybek Sports’ sports equipment testing. (Zybek Sports)

Weinstein explains how without having standards, there isn’t any way for athletes to compare and assess themselves as to what they need to improve upon athletically to be competitive at the next level.

“This isn’t everything by any stretch of the imagination but it is something objective that athletes can see. It really does provide something that’s easy to understand and motivates people.”

Mike Weinstein

Sports equipment testing at the NFL Combine

“It was 11 years ago now that the NFL combine’s scouting services asked us to come out to be the backup timer for one of their systems. And it worked really great.”

Mike Weinstein

And Zybek Sports was back ever since. For the last 10 years, they’ve been providing the timing system used for the NFL’s scouting combine.

Zybek Sports also does things like, as Weinstein explains, “…if you’ve ever watched the NFL Network, that running clock on the screen of your TV is actually coming from my computer. So we can really show the market and the public exactly what these athletes are running.”

One of the biggest things is that the athletes tested at the local level know they are taking the exact same test as the athletes that are soon to go pro.

The impact of sports equipment testing

Athletes take the SAT (Standardized Athletic Testing) with Zybek Sports. Since everyone is taking the same test, Weinstein likens it to standardized academic testing.

“It’s the exact same thing as taking the academic SAT. You can’t walk in and say ‘yeah I’m going to go into local arts so I’m going to skip the math section. Yale will understand.’ No, you take it. It’s a measure of your academic capabilities, as such the same thing with the 40-yard dash.”

Weinstein noticed a hole in the marketplace of sports equipment testing. And he sought out to create something that could be consistent and eternally accurate.

“What interests me is really solving problems and finding a way to deliver results to the market. I saw a really big opportunity in the market to solve a problem that can really level-set the industry and help everybody get to that next level or at least have everybody treated fairly and equally.”

Mike Weinstein

Kyrie Irving returns when? A look into his mental state

Kyrie Irving missed his third straight game Sunday due to personal reasons, leading Brooklyn Nets fans and just naturally inquisitive specimens alike to wonder when Irving’s return will take place.

The Nets have dropped two out of their last three games, and with Kevin Durant’s status in question due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Irving’s absence has exacerbated the Nets’ recent woes.

Kyrie Irving’s absence began after the January 6 storming of Capitol Hill by the pro-Trump mob. Irving, a deep-thinker and emotional feeler, has been in the limelight for his actions before. But this time is different.

Will we see a glorious knight-in-shining-armor headline declaring “Kyrie Irving Returns, Nets Back on Track”? Or will it be a much more harrowing one for Brooklynites: “Kyrie Irving Decides to Retire from Basketball”?

With Kyrie, anything is possible, both with his game and outside of it. These questions add intrigue to the biggest enigma in the NBA, but they also, for some people, cast aspersions. Here’s a deep dive into Kyrie Irving’s status missing games and whether it is likely or not he will return soon.

The Nets are behind him, but clearly are ready for Kyrie Irving’s return

Besides what the media has been told is due to “personal reasons,” there have been no updates on the specifics of Kyrie Irving’s absence. Recent fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and NBA fans in general, know not to take these things too lightly.

Irving prioritizes his mental health above all else, as he should. But a steady streamline of communication between him and the Nets organization is essential for the franchise’s success.

“We support him 100 percent,” said Kevin Durant of Kyrie’s current situation. Nets Head Coach Steve Nash also naturally had to weigh in on Irving’s absence.

“Ky’s still on personal leave and all the communication with Ky, between the organization, I’m going to keep private and I’m sure you’ll hear from him at some point.”

Steve Nash

The Nets clearly publicly, and seemingly privately too, respect Kyrie Irving and stand with him in solidarity. One can hope that those feelings are mutual, and that Kyrie can get back on the floor soon.

Kyrie Irving: as enigmatic a superstar as the NBA has ever seen

Kyrie’s actions off the court are much like his actions on it. After saying he believes the Earth is flat, fans yell out “what is he doing?” just like they do when he makes an insane up-and-under layup.

When he calls the media “pawns,” supporters scream “what on Earth is he doing?!!” just like they do when he takes a long-range three-pointer at the beginning of the shot clock, which subsequently goes in.

Irving looks beneath the surface. No one can ever say he was conned by the powers that be.

Irving has done an immense amount of work for the disenfranchised, and is a constant advocate for women, specifically Black women. He is, by all accounts, a great man, leader, and role model.

Different things affect different people differently. And Kyrie is not one to blindly follow someone in front of him. We can learn a lot from him, while still positing that his actions have a large effect on his team.

We don’t know when Kyrie Irving’s return will be, and his absence is felt daily by the Nets and entire league alike.

The mental toll of the past few months has hit us all

From November onward, there has been much uncertainty, vitriol, and blatant lies in the airwaves of the United States. There has been an echo chamber of misinformation and hateful rhetoric that has been impossible to tune out.

While those of us on the side of justice feel a near-impenetrable amount of obstacles to cross, let us remember we are together in this.

Kyrie Irving’s absence clearly takes a toll on the Nets and their aspirations. His return is up in the air, just like much of the NBA is right now with players sidelined due to COVID.

It is not our job to cast aspersions on Irving for his missing games, but rather to empathize with him. We may all be different, but in our experiences, most of us have been through much of the same.

For the Nets and Irving’s sake, let’s remember the NBA is a family, and a player missing time due to personal reasons should not be scoffed at. When Kyrie’s return does come, we will feel reignited to follow one of the best players the game has ever seen.