Mr. Marcus' Corner
It's NOT always about sneakers...
We are all going through crazy times in our lives right now...with the last few months of dealing with the Covid-19 Pandemic and social distancing/quarantining from friends, extended family members & inner circles. Many of us have had to transition from office work to working from home while being forced to also be the teachers, nurses, friends and daily playmates to our kids. Unfortunately many have been laid off or even let go from their jobs and have been faced with the added stress of needing to figure out how they will be able to pay their bills and remain above water during these unprecedented times. And if all of that was not enough to wrap our hands around, we are also presently living through a political and race explosion that has been centered around the recent and most unwarranted killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25th. I am indeed a black man and firmly believe and stand with the statement of #BlackLivesMatter and that now is not the time for anyone to be silent. It is important that we all band together, now more than ever and speak up against the injustices and abuse of power happening in our communities, states and country.
Growing up as a black male in America has been an extremely difficult feat for myself (and many others for that matter)...but I am still here. Maturing as a Black man, becoming a business professional and a business owner over the years, while having a white significant other has added its own additional trials and tribulations throughout the years (as unfortunately ignorance still supersedes substance for many)…but I am still here. However in the recent days, having to stare into the beautiful eyes of my 10yr old mixed daughter and begin to explain the plight and pain of what it truly means to be a “Black/Brown person in America” has been one of the most difficult things I have ever had to endure. Seeing the innocence of her heart and brain trying to grasp and understand the concept of “because of the color of our skin, many people will view both of us as beneath them and/or not entitled to the same rights and privileges that are stated to be for ALL within the Constitution that America is supposed to be built on”. Having to wipe her tears away and comfort her, as I continued to explain (in selective age appropriate detail) the injustices of what really happened to George Floyd, Trayvon Martin and Breona Taylor (because these were the names, videos and images that were constantly popping up on her Tik Tok feeds and on every TV channel), while not having all the answers for her constant “but why Daddy?” replies. It was during this time of our father/daughter bonding & conversations that we saw the below Nike #BlackLivesMatter post, preceded byAdidas reposting the Nike statement and bringing the competitors together unified with ONE cohesive message: “ Let’s all be a part of the change!”:
Although it was a simple post by Nike, it was indeed an extremely timely and impactful statement that my daughter and I were able to absorb the powerful message within and share a moment of satisfaction in these chaotic times. At that moment it was a comfort for me, as a lifelong sneakerhead to see the big conglomerate that is Nike step from behind their billion dollar business and use their huge platform not just for sneaker sales but to promote and get behind the call to duty on “Unity and Equality” to the masses and specifically speaking up for the Black community. I also praise Reebok for joining the shared stance of Nike and Adidas and speaking through the unity that is and has been the sneaker community and engaging the world to embrace that although they are direct competitors in the sneaker & athletic apparel business, they are one in standing up for Unity and the causes behind #BlackLivesMatter:
In these times of struggle it is important that we as a collective community stand up and utilize our platforms to either speak up about what we all know is simply not right and/or engage with others to seek knowledge on things that you may not have been aware of in the past. Seeing these iconic brands stand up for what is right, and not focus on the potential negative backlash and effects on their bottom line is to be respected, acknowledged and applauded. Sneakers and athletic wear have been a huge part of the black community and black culture for as long as I can remember. From shell-toe Adidas, Stan Smiths, Reebok Pumps, Tracksuits, baggy basketball shorts, fitted and snapback caps, Nike Air Max and Air Jordans; it is a known fact that WE as a people have greatly contributed to the success of these mutli-national billion dollar companies; so it was with great pleasure to see the acknowledgement and support from Adidas endorsed designer/Hip Hop artist Kanye West (despite his political stance and allegiance) step up and walk with the people of Chicago in protest for “change and equality’ after announcing his donation of $2 million dollars to the families of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery and Breona Taylor in addition to setting up a college fund for Geaorge Floyd’s 6yr old daughter, Gianna. It felt good to read the announcement of Nike and Jordan Brand stepping up and donating $100 million dollars over the next 10 years to specific "organizations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education" to aid in the ongoing fight against racial injustice and systematic oppression. We also had an opportunity to hear directly from Michael Jordan, who has long been criticized by many (especially the black community) for refraining from taking any public political and/or racial stances in the past, in favor of him maintaining the consistency of his image and non alienation of any from his brand.
I have been an active member of the sneaker community over the past 20+ years now and anyone who knows me well, knows that I always make SNEAKER contact before I make EYE contact with a person. One thing about the sneaker community that has forever stood out to me is that it has never been about Black or White when it comes to our love for the sneaker culture. However it has always revolved around the substance and story behind a particular sneaker. It is an embraced brotherhood and sisterhood that does not revolve around race and where there are no Right-wing or Left-wing views. It's time that we as a people start to value the substance of a human over the appearance of a person. It's time that we as a people start to listen to the “story” behind an individual in order to better understand that individual. The fight for equality has spanned over 400 years for the Black community and the time is NOW for change to be made. The call for #BlackLivesMatter is by no means to take away or lessen any other particular race, sex or gender but it is a cryout for ALL to ackowledge that we are ALL EQUAL and to remind the powers that be, that the American privilege IS FOR ALL and not just some.
Until next time stay healthy, stay safe & let’s look to make the change now, so that my daughter and your children live in a better tomorrow... Yerrrr!
Barbershop banter: In the MJ vs LBJ GOAT debate, MJ is the clear winner hands down. Or is he?
In present times, if you are a true NBA fan or even a true sports fan, you have been glued to your TV’s every Sunday night for ESPN’s airings of the “The Last Dance”, a 10-part documentary series of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls championship runs, with a focus on their final season on the road to that illustrious 2nd 3-peat “6th” championship ring and DAMN it has not disappointed! Two hours have not gone by so fast in the last few months and as these episodes conclude, the blatant feeling of wanting more and more immediately has consumed us all! The memories of seeing MJ battle the Detroit Pistons, the LA Lakers the Boston Celtics and all the emotions & heart break of seeing them continuously shatter my NY Knick dreams is captivating me all over again during these unprecedented times of not having any LIVE NBA games to watch (due to play being suspended without any evidence the season picks back up again this year).
Prior to the present COVID-19 pandemic, the heated debate of who is the NBA GOAT (MJ or LeBron) was heavy in discussion on every sports station, on every sports talk show, on every sports radio & satellite show and in most, if not all barber shops, playgrounds and gyms. MJ or LeBron. LeBron or MJ. His "Airness” or “The King”. Each debater looking to make their stance on why they felt either great was the sole owner of the GOAT title and throne or why the other player was definitely NOT the GOAT !
Photo credit from Sporting News
MJ’s 6 rings/6 Finals MVP’s vs LeBron’s 3 rings/3Finals MVP’s.
LeBron’s eight straight final appearances and ten years of undeniable league dominance vs MJ’s 2x 3-peat and ten years of undeniable league dominance. MJ’s 5 season MVP’s vs LeBron’s 4 season MVP’s. LeBron’s 16 All Star appearances vs MJ’s 13 All Star appearances. Bron’s 34,087 (and counting) points, 3rd of all time vs MJ’s 32,292 points, which is 5th of all time. MJ’s sheer “Killer Instinct/Assassin mode” like no other vs. LeBron’s unbelievable basketball I.Q. paired with his unmatched drive, skills, talent and athleticism. MJ’s undeniable ability to score at will vs. LeBron’s innate ability to seemingly always make the right basketball play. LeBron’s ability to personify the mentality “We” and “Team” vs. MJ’s persona of there’s no “I” in TEAM but there damn sure is a “I” in WIN. MJ’s 1st nine years in a league where the NBA physicality rules were non-existent, and players literally fought each other on the court almost to the point of assault vs. LeBron’s era of softer rules and enormous restrictions on physicality; however, playing in an era where the leagues overall skill level is at an all-time high, ranging from talent to athleticism and just sheer ability throughout the NBA. MJ’s 15 NBA seasons vs LeBron’s 17+ NBA seasons. MJ’s ability to be the face of the NBA while taking the league global vs LeBron’s ability to be the face of the NBA and maintaining the league's global dominance. Lebron also managed to make NBA players more mobile by exerting his influence in free agency to drive the power back into the players hands. He's done all this while navigating through the age of social media prominence.
Photo Credit: USA Today; Sam Amick & Jeff Zillgitt
Photo Credit: fadeawayworld.net | Article by Eddie Bitar
The statistical comparisons can go on endlessly and for every point that can be made for MJ, there are two points that can be made for LeBron (and vice versa). There literally is no wrong answer! They are BOTH great! They are both two of the best NBA players that the world has ever witnessed. There are many great NBA players and MJ and LeBron will forever reign supreme at the top of these lists. Their talent, ability, skill set, athleticism, mind set and ability to capture the attention on and off the court is unmatched and in a league of their own. And rather than planting your players flag by pushing negativity and belittling the other player, we should just agree to disagree on who the GOAT is and simply focus on the fact that these two players are the best of the best. They clearly have BOTH separated themselves from the remaining elite and are BOTH on the Mount Rushmore of the NBA. I am thankful that I lived in a time where I got to enjoy, watch and appreciate them BOTH!
However, the debate will forever continue and at the end of the day, if you are a true NBA/Sports fan you will always have an opinion, so here’s mine! I am known within my circle as the "Bron" guy! I’ve planted my flag and argument for Bron being “that dude” for many, many years now. Me being a DIE-HARD Knicks fan, that grew up hating EVERYTHING MJ & the Bulls, (except those sneakers of course) and was captivated by the aura that was everything 90’s NBA, surprisingly I “presently” have MJ as 1a to LeBron’s 1b; with MJ slightly ahead of LeBron (for now). I narrow it down to one thing and one thing only, we ALL wanted to “Be like Mike”! From that boy and girl on the playground screaming “I got next” to that person sitting in their cubicle wagging their tongue out as they balled up that company memo and shot it into the garbage; to the heart broken 90’s Knicks fans and the rest of the NBA fans during that era to Professional players in the MLB, NHL, NFL and the PGA, to the late great Kobe Bryant (rest in peace) who modeled every aspect of his game after MJ down to his walk, his fist pump, his gum chewing and patented fade-away. EVERYONE wanted to “Be like Mike”........and that too includes LeBron. There is no LeBron without MJ being the inspiration. And all though LeBron has carved out his own complete and utter dominance over the NBA during his reign and has forever earned his spot in this GOAT argument, MJ’s dominance and will to win cannot and will not ever be duplicated. Period.
Until next time, stay healthy and #Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Marcus Stapleton Jr. is a Co-owner at MSquared Management, a talent staffing and event management company based out of New York and one of the owners at Halo’d, a streetwear hat company based out of North Carolina launching this June. Marcus is a born and bred Brooklyn-New Yorker, and his love for kicks spans over two decades. Marcus will be a frequent contributor to Uncle Eddi3’s and will publish special posts that dive into the most relevant topics to our community; sneakers, street, music, sports and the intersection with money. Stay tuned for this special feature.
Marcus Stapleton Jr – Instagram @mrmcsjr
Halo’d Company - Instagram @halodapparel