Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say. But nothing comes out when they move their lips. Just a bunch of gibberish. And [mofos] act like they forgot about Dre." That's the chorus Eminem rapped with venom in Dr. Dre's 1999 hit song "Forgot About Dre." Dre, who'd experienced a resurgence in the music industry after signing Eminem and executive producing Em's massive-selling debut album released earlier that year, wanted to remind us that he's still one of the best in the game. I wouldn't be surprised if Cam Newton played "Forgot About Dre" on repeat throughout last spring and summer. I'm almost certain that he had the same attitude coming into this season: to remind us that he's still one of the best in the game.

Cam amazed the sports world during his rookie season in 2011 for the Carolina Panthers, in which he broke several NFL records on his way to passing for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns along with rushing for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns, and making the Pro Bowl. While the Panthers still finished with a losing record at 6-10, it was a great improvement from the 2-14 season the year before Mr. Yes We Cam arrived. And it was fun and exciting to watch the Panthers play again (it used to be agonizing). Expectations were high for Cam and the Panthers for the 2012 season.

Because of Cam's rookie year performance, many NFL teams now believed they should take a chance on drafting college quarterbacks who were both a threat passing and running the ball. And instead of 2012 being a season that saw Cam's career continue to rise, it ended up being the year of the young quarterback--for other guys. Rookie QBs Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts), Robert Griffin III (Washington _________), and Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks), plus second-year player Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers), who barely played and only attempted five passes his rookie season, all put up stellar numbers.

Cam's second-year stats were actually close to his first-year numbers, and on par with the numbers for the 2012 rookies except in the most important category: Wins. He led the Panthers to a 7-9 record, missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season--second in a row under his tutelage. Meanwhile, the 2012 young QB class of Andrew, RGIII, Russell, and Colin each led their teams to winning records and the playoffs, including the 49ers making it to the Super Bowl.

After just one year, mofos had forgotten about Cam. Coming into the 2013 season, most of the (non-Peyton Manning) quarterback buzz was about those four new guys. Cam's name was only mentioned in passing, but not mentioned for passing and rushing. (Get it?)

People in the sports world, just like in the real world, can be extremely fickle. Praise you one day; forget about you the next. Starting off the 2013 season, Cam didn't help his plight for relevancy again, though. The team lost its first two games, and three out of the first four. Things were looking bad, fast. But since then, the Panthers have won three in a row, by an average margin of victory of 19 points. Not only has the defense been playing incredible, but Cam has played great by, most importantly, eliminating the mistakes that would often cost them the game.

At 4-3, by no means is it time to celebrate the Panthers' season. It will still be a battle to make the playoffs. The Panthers' remaining schedule includes games against the 49ers, Patriots, and Saints (twice), each of which have only one or two losses so far. But as we approach the midway point of this season, I thought I'd compare where Cam is statistically against the four quarterbacks who took all of the attention away from him. Of the five of these age-25-and-younger star QBs, only Russell has a higher passer rating than Cam (the two of them rank seventh and eight among all NFL quarterbacks). The number of yards and touchdowns for each of the five guys are pretty much within the same range.

It should be noted that the Seahawks and 49ers have played eight games at this point, while the Panthers, Colts, and Washington have each played seven (because they've had bye weeks already).

Through week eight of the 2013 NFL season
Statistics according to NFL.com.

Russell Wilson Age: 24 (turns 25 on Nov. 29)
Eight games played.
Passing yards: 1,628
Touchdowns (passing): 13
Interceptions: 4
Passer rating: 99.0
Rushing yards: 339
Touchdowns (rushing): 0

Cam Newton Age: 24
Seven games played.
Passing yards: 1,552
Touchdowns (passing): 12
Interceptions: 5
Passer rating: 97.6
Rushing yards: 229
Touchdowns (rushing): 3

Andrew Luck Age: 24
Seven games played.
Passing yards: 1,574
Touchdowns (passing): 10
Interceptions: 3
Passer rating: 91.3
Rushing yards: 183
Touchdowns (rushing): 3

Colin Kaepernick Age: 25 (turns 26 on Nov. 3)
Eight games played.
Passing yards: 1,584
Touchdowns (passing): 9
Interceptions: 5
Passer rating: 87.6
Rushing yards: 294
Touchdowns (rushing): 3

Robert Griffin III Age: 23
Seven games played.
Passing yards: 1,878
Touchdowns (passing): 9
Interceptions: 8
Passer rating: 79.2
Rushing yards: 240
Touchdowns (rushing): 0

Thursday, October 24, 2013

If you follow the Charlotte Knights on Twitter, and happened to see the team's feed today, you were probably asking: What's in the box? (Though you likely didn't drop the F-bomb.)

The Charlotte Knights promotions department came up with a clever, social media-powered strategy to generate interest leading up to the team's big announcement this evening, as well as to tie-in with the Triple-A club's move from Fort Mill to the new Uptown Charlotte baseball stadium. Below are several of the photos the team posted to its Twitter account today, beginning around noon and continuing until tonight.

Photos credit: @KnightsBaseball

So as you see, the Knights have debuted a new team logo and colors. The new designs and merchandise were formally unveiled during an event this evening at the Charlotte Convention Center. Here's how the look is described in the announcement on the team's website:

"In keeping with a medieval theme, the Knights new image showcases gold and silver, colors synonymous with royalty. The team's four on-field caps feature a base color of black with white accents, creating a classic combination of colors unique within Minor League Baseball. The font-style in the team's word emblem "Knights" has an Olde English look similar to professional baseball's Charlotte Hornets circa 1950."

Below is a look at the old logo against the new logo (in case you're wondering, it's already been updated on Wikipedia).

I must say, I like the new look. It looks fiercer, which is what I prefer in sports teams' branding. The Knights hired Brandiose, a San Diego-based design firm to create the new look. Brandiose has designed new identities for minor league and major league teams.

This new look will certainly add to the excitement for what's already an exciting time for the team (don't forget they added their first-ever cheerleader squad, The KnightinGals, last spring), led by its move to the under-construction BB&T Ballpark in Uptown. The stadium is scheduled to be completed in time for the Knights to begin playing there at the start of the 2014 season. Their home opener is Friday, April 11, at 7:05 p.m.

BB&T Ballpark rendering. Credit: charlotteknightsatuptown.com

Keep up with all things Charlotte Knights by visiting charlotteknights.com.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

If you work in technology, for a startup, in the arts, media, investments, marketing, or computer fields--ranging from a freelancer to an entrepreneur, an executive to a college student, you're encouraged to attend BarCamp Charlotte 8 this Saturday, October 26. Seeing as how this list of professions and career fields runs the gamut, if you're not familiar with BarCamp Charlotte you should get the impression that it's open to just about anyone. So what is it?

As the local version of BarCamp, which began in 2005 in Palo Alto, California, BarCamp Charlotte is a community-organized democratic event that's filled with a day's worth of sessions in which the topics and ideas are pitched, voted on, and determined that morning (and again in the afternoon). That's why this type of event is often categorized as being an "un-conference." The topics typically deal with technology and innovation, and it should be a great way for you to network, build relationships, and maybe even come away with a new idea or two that you want to apply to your endeavors.

A BarCamp Charlotte event at its former home, Area 15. Credit: facebook.com/BarCampCharlotte

Since beginning eight years ago, BarCamps have taken place in more than 350 cities around the world. Charlotte got in on it in 2009 and has held seven events thus far, attracting more than 250 attendees. Area 15 in NoDa had served as the home to BarCamp Charlotte since its inception, but this year the un-conference has moved to a much larger venue, Pease Auditorium at Central Piedmont Community College.

BarCamp Charlotte 8 is free and open to the public. If you plan to attend, you're asked to register in advance. The event, which includes lunch, goes from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, followed by an after-party 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Kickstand Burgers-N-Bar.

Visit barcampclt.org for complete details. You can also follow the group on Twitter @BarCampCLT and the hashtag is #barcampCLT.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Earlier this month, ESPN.com began its 2013-14 NBA Preview, including providing a "5-On-5" outlook on teams from a group of sports analysts. The website has published previews on a pair of teams each day, beginning with the two teams that met in last season's NBA Championship, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. Today, it's time for the Charlotte Bobcats to be placed under the microscope.

The 5-On-5 coverage on the Bobcats--5 sports experts answering 5 questions--is provided by ESPN Insiders Larry Coon and Tom Haberstroh, D.J. Foster of ClipperBlog, Danny Nowell of TrueHoop Network, and Spencer Percy of Queen City Hoops blog. They grade the Bobcats' offseason moves (average grade given is a C), give their suggestions for the biggest question facing the team this season, pick the most intriguing player, make a bold prediction, and predict how far they think the team will go during the 2013-14 season.

The preview provides some pretty good critiquing of the Bobcats. There's plenty of scrutiny--pros and cons--of MJ and company's decision to sign free agent Al Jefferson to a three-year $40.5 million contract over the summer. Jefferson, a 28-year-old, 6'10" power forward/center, averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds last season for the Utah Jazz. If you're a Bobcats fan, you won't be happy that none of the analysts expect Charlotte's team to come close to making the playoffs this season (do you?). But they offer a little optimism for what could lie ahead in the 2014 NBA Draft, which is expected to be one of the best draft classes in years and is when the Bobcats could potentially have three first-round picks. Click here to read the Bobcats preview.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm hooked on watching Vine videos, those six-second clips that users create on their smartphones, powered by the Twitter app. I don't usually watch the short videos individually, but instead I view the Vine compilations that you can find on YouTube and other sites. People will compile videos made up of dozens, sometimes hundreds of vines--most of them either funny or weird or both--that were created by random people from all over the country (in effect, you're watching a 10-minute-or-so blooper reel). And it's extremely entertaining. I've watched enough of them to where I recognize some of the popular "actors," but I only recently learned (from a Charlotte Observer article) that one of them is a teenager from the Charlotte area.

Nash being Nash. Credit: twitter.com/Nashgrier

Nash Grier is a 15-year-old Mooresville kid who's become a Vine sensation. He now has more than 1.5 million followers on the app, which, according to Rankzoo, ranks him at No. 23 for the most followers. Slightly ahead of him at No. 22 is Harry Styles of One Direction, while Nash has more Vine followers than Wiz Khalifa, Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Hart, and other top-ranked celebrities on the list (he's way ahead of Justin Bieber). In August, Vine surpassed 40 million users, continuing to grow at a rapid pace even though many analysts thought its popularity would be hurt by the introduction of video on Instagram.

You can expect Nash's profile to rise exponentially because he's currently on a quick national media run. He flew to New York yesterday, appeared on ABC's Good Morning America this morning (he met Sylvester Stallone), and also taped an interview for Inside Edition that's scheduled to air this evening. As is the norm with Internet sensations, I expect for his story to get picked up by many other media outlets in coming days (the U.K.'s Daily Mail already picked up his story from the Observer).

Follow Nash on Twitter @nashgrier, where you'll find links to his Vine videos (which you can view there on the web even if you don't have the app), and Instagram @nashgrier. You can also watch many popular Vine videos and top Viners online and all in one place at vinebox.co (here's the direct link to Nash's).

He's recorded several different "Mr. Steal Yo Girl" videos like this one.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday may have been a night race that ended around 11 p.m., but that didn't stop several NASCAR drivers and team members, and hundreds of fans from getting up early Sunday morning in support of a great cause. Kasey Kahne and his nonprofit organization hosted the Fourth Annual Kasey Kahne Foundation Five Kahne 5K and Kids Dash at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown.

The 5Kahne (what an awesome name, right) began near the NASCAR Hall and ran a circular route along McDowell, Morehead, Mint, and Stonewall streets. If you were in the vicinity you might've seen NASCAR drivers like Kahne, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and others. Several of the NASCAR drivers' wives, girlfriends, children, and other family members, as well as journalists who cover the sport, also participated.

Below are photos from the event that were shared on Twitter and Instagram.

Kasey Kahne and ESPN NASCAR reporter Marty Smith address the crowd.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fourteen years after The Best Man arrived at movie theaters and subsequently became a cult classic on DVD and replays on cable, particularly in many African-American households, the sequel, The Best Man Holiday, is finally on its way. When it hits theaters nationwide on November 15, you'll see the ensemble cast making their return: Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, Harold Perrineau, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, and Melissa De Sousa. And whereas the movie features a who's-who list of actors and actresses, the soundtrack has top billing from R&B stars.

The Best Man Holiday – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will be released ahead of the film, hitting stores and online outlets (like Amazon) on October 29, via RCA Records. Two singers who call Charlotte home--Anthony Hamilton and Fantasia Barrino--are among the All-Star R&B lineup, which also includes: R. Kelly, Monica, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Jordin Sparks, Ne-Yo, and more. The soundtrack is a combination of newly written material as well as classics being covered by the artists. And since this is a holiday movie, most of the songs have Christmas themes.

The track list:

01) Christmastime To Me, by Jordin Sparks
02) Someday at Christmas, by Mario
03) What Christmas Means To Me, by Fantasia
04) I Still Have You, by Charlie Wilson
05) Christmas, I’ll Be Steppin’, by R. Kelly
06) This Christmas, by Mary J. Blige
07) Shelter, by John Legend
08) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, by Monica
09) Winter Wonderland, by Emeli Sandé
10) Can You Stand The Rain, by New Edition
11) I Want To Come Home for Christmas, by Ne-Yo
12) O Holy Night, by Jayda Brown and Jasmine Watkins
13) As, by Marsha Ambrosius and Anthony Hamilton

The first song to be released from the soundtrack is "I Still Have You," by Charlie Wilson.

Get everything you need to know about The Best Man Holiday by visiting www.best-man.com.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

RSVP Now for 2013 Candidates Reception

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 10/09/2013 No comments
All politics is local. And local elections are more important than many people realize or give attention to. No, there isn't a presidential or state governor's race on next month's election ballot (or a plethora of political ads bombarding you during TV commercial breaks). But there are several candidates vying for public offices whose decisions, if elected, will affect your every day life. And you have the chance to meet many of them in person in one evening.

As they've done for the last several years on the eve of elections, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance (HTA) are partnering to present the 2013 Candidates Reception on Thursday, October 17, at 5:30 p.m. at the Belk Action Center inside the Charlotte Chamber (330 S. Tryon St.). The free event will feature numerous local candidates for elected offices, including mayors for Charlotte and towns in Mecklenburg County (Huntersville, Matthews, Pineville, etc.), Charlotte City Council at-large and district seats, town council seats, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board.

Scene at the 2011 Candidates Reception. Photo by Jon Strayhorn/Media Arts Collective.

This will also be a great opportunity to network, since there will be a packed house of business and civic leaders and young professionals. Plus, the event will feature complimentary food and drinks from local restaurants.

The Candidates Reception is free and open to the public, but registration is required. If you plan to attend, be sure to register ASAP before it reaches capacity.

And as always, visit meckboe.org if you have any questions about the November 5th General Election in Mecklenburg County, including the list of candidates, voting locations, and more. The deadline to register to vote is this Friday, October 11, by the way.

Friday, October 4, 2013

For sneaker heads, Saturday is often an important day. That's when a lot of the highly anticipated sneakers are released for sale in stores. This Saturday, October 5 is a big day for fans of the J's. The Air Jordan 5 "Bel-Air" is being sold at limited stores nationwide and is expected to sell out.

The 5's continue the lucrative trend by Jordan Brand of releasing retro sneakers in new colors. You have people my age and older who remember when these sneakers were originally released in 1990 and they want them today partly because of the nostalgia or because they can afford them now. And then there are the teenagers like my nephews who are intrigued by the sneakers that originally came out before they were born.

This release of the Air Jordan 5, or V, which retails for $185, has been given the nickname Bel-Air because the colors are reminiscent of the flashy and funky styles Will Smith wore on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The colorway for the sneakers are cool grey, court purple, game royal, club pink. Guess you could say it's a classic's ode to a classic, and one of the best sitcoms of all time also debuted in 1990, the same year as the Jordan 5's. Will's character often wore Air Jordans on the show.

If you're looking to buy these sneaks tomorrow, good luck. They're only being sold at select stores. If you're looking for them in the Charlotte area, the Foot Locker stores at SouthPark Mall and Carolina Place Mall are selling them, but you won't be able to just show up to buy them. Having learn from the craze, headaches, and even potential dangers of crowds forming outside of stores on the morning of popular sneaker releases, stores like Foot Locker now do sweepstakes or lotteries--just for the opportunity to buy the shoes. Specifically for the Bel-Airs, the Foot Locker at SouthPark and Carolina Place (as well as other select FL stores nationwide) issued tickets on Wednesday and Thursday to people who came by the store. You had to designate the exact size you wanted. Then today, Foot Locker called the winners, who'll now be able to come to the store tomorrow to buy the sneakers.

If you want to buy them from a store locally, you'll have the chance to cop the kicks from Social Status, the high-end sneaker boutique and men's clothing store in Plaza Midwood (1519 Central Ave., 704-632-9902). I called the store and the representative said they're selling the Bel-Airs on a first-come, first-served basis when they open at 11 a.m. tomorrow, and that you must also spend an additional $100 on merchandise to be able to buy the sneakers.

Social Status. Credit: socialstatuspgh.com

Foot Locker also says the sneakers will go on sale online tomorrow at 8 a.m. at Footlocker.com.

And artists are still making new songs about wearing J's.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

In case you didn't know, through Bank of America's Museums on Us program, bank cardholders can visit more than 150 museums nationwide for free during the first full weekend of each month, including five Charlotte museums. The next opportunity is this Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6.

The Mint Museum Uptown. Credit: Facebook

Below is the list of participating Charlotte museums:

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, 420 S. Tryon St., 704-353-9200, bechtler.org.

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St., 704-547-3700, ganttcenter.org.

Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. Seventh St., 704-333-1887, museumofthenewsouth.org.

The Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Rd., 704-337-2000, mintmuseum.org.

The Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St., 704-337-2000, mintmuseum.org.

All you have to do is show your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch card and photo ID at the admissions counter at any of the participating museums to be admitted for free. It would also be convenient for you to visit more than one of the museums during an outing because four of the five venues are located within walking distance of each other in Uptown (all except for the Mint Randolph location).

Harvey B. Gantt Center. Credit: Facebook

For more details on Museums on Us, visit museums.bankofamerica.com.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breaking News: Michael Jordan Does Not Twerk

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 10/01/2013 1 comment
In the roll-out for today's release of NBA 2K14, the newest installment of the no. 1 selling basketball video game, 2K Sports is posting interviews with the G.O.A.T., a.k.a. Michael Jordan. While MJ is now 50 years old and hasn't played in an NBA game in a decade, he's still one of the most important figures in the sport (not so much because of his ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats). And since he doesn't grant many interviews, we hang onto his every word.

The story that's burning up the 'net today is the recently released interview Jordan did for 2K14, that aired on ESPN, in which he was asked, among other things, which players would he want to play one-on-one if he was in his prime. He lists a bunch of greats who came before him (like Jerry West and Elgin Baylor) and after him, saying he could beat them all, including LeBron James, but "other than Kobe Bryant because he steals all my moves." LeBron is on the cover of 2K14 by the way.

But another piece of news came out of MJ's mouth during these interview segments, and it's floating a little beneath the radar. In one of the snippets posted on the 2K Sports YouTube channel, the greatest basketball player of all time reveals that he is not a twerker.

What is up with mainstream America's current and ongoing fascination with twerking? As if it wasn't around back in 2000 when rappers were making hit songs about it (remember the Ying Yang Twins?). I'm pretty sure Jordan wouldn't have brought it up on his own--clearly he was asked a question about twerking.

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