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Entertainment: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Two New Netflix Docs for Sports-Starved Fans

June 16 in sports history: Lopsided trade 'heavenly' for Lakers

  June 16 in sports history: Lopsided trade 'heavenly' for Lakers In 1975, the Bucks traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Los Angeles, where he won five NBA titles with the Lakers. Milwaukee hasn't won a title since 1972 -- when it was led by you-know-who.What an epic date in NBA history, filled with the crowning of new champions and games before massive crowds. But June 16 was also earth-shattering in the Association for two major reasons other than the Finals.

In these sports-starved times when we're all standing as attentive as meerkats awaiting Game Day — any Game Day— Netflix is offering two shows featuring international sports that will temporarily quench our competitive thirst. Home Game and Magnetic not only present a variety of sports to entertain us, but each also attempts to make universal observations about the nature of sports and the soul of the athlete, with mixed results.

Each of Home Game's eight half-hour episodes focuses on one sport that appears unusual to the average American but is hugely popular in its native country. The show could have been called Home Grown, because the games are as much about local identity as they are about the individual competitors.

Son of former NASCAR driver makes disturbing, racist comments about Bubba Wallace

  Son of former NASCAR driver makes disturbing, racist comments about Bubba Wallace The post has since been deleted, with Skinner issuing an "apology" in which he still goes out of his way to make it clear that he disagrees with Wallace's role in the banning of confederate flags from NASCAR events. "I love everyone this was not about race at all," Dustin wrote. "I disagree with what [Wallace] is doing, but it was stupidly foolish for me to say what I said and I truly regret every bit of it. If there was a way to take last night back I would. All I can do is say I’m sorry. I love everyone and wish the world to pull back together and us all find a positive way to agree or disagree.

The first episode is the most startling: In Florence, Italy, 54 thickly muscled men punch each other senseless while trying to throw a leather ball into a goal. Calico storico ("historical football") dates back to the 16th century and, some say, maybe even to the gladiators. Described as "rugby meets mixed martial arts," the sport is brutal, violent — and fascinating. Then there's kok boru, a popular game in Kyrgyzstan that takes place on horseback and involves slam-dunking a goat carcass into a hole in the ground. For something a bit more familiar, the show takes us to Austin, Texas, to enjoy the rough-and-tumble world of roller derby.

Some of the national sports may seem bizarre, yet the athletes' dedication is as intense and emotional as that of any player in the NBA or NFL. And many play for free. For these amateurs, the game and the team give shape to their daily lives. The relentless practices and the physical punishment are a welcome price in exchange for the comfort and joy of their teammates. They experience a shared intimacy of purpose and risk that intensifies their otherwise mundane lives. What's especially touching is that the fans appreciate and admire the monk-like dedication of these athletes who do it for love of the game and pride of the community and little else.

Witness confirms Darius Leonard was racially profiled at Chipotle

  Witness confirms Darius Leonard was racially profiled at Chipotle Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard experienced something this week that many African-American men, women, and children face every day — racial discrimination, and apparently he had a witness who saw it all.Leonard says he was kicked out of a South Carolina Chipotle restaurant this week following a dispute, according to ESPN, and he discussed the incident on "First Take" on Friday.

The two-hour documentary Magnetic also tries to reveal insights into the motivations and psychology of the elite surfers, skiers and mountain bikers it showcases. The film has its thrills, but is more successful with its travelogue photography of nature than exploring the nature of the competitors. One can't help but be awed by the surfers in Portugal facing the largest waves in the world. The skiers facing the dangerous and stomach-churning terrains of France, Switzerland and Pakistan are skilled and daring athletes. There's also windsurfing and mountain biking, but those are not as compelling.

Magnetic's athletes don't talk about teams, just their personal experience and satisfactions. They often speak in the cliches of sports — "I'm an adrenaline junkie" and "the ocean is my church" — the faux spirituality that they probably believe but which makes them seem shallow and self-indulgent. This doesn't mean they really are, just that the film isn't interested in anything more than easily digestible confections that don't interfere with the scenery. The danger these athletes face that's even greater than a 100-foot wave is turning their personal obsession with the sports lifestyle into a personal philosophy about life that seems scribbled on the back of an airline napkin while flying to the next thrill. In the end, Magnetic feels more like a promotion for the sports. There are no statistics about the dangers, the injuries, the deaths, just dreamy photography that could have been sponsored by the equipment manufacturers. It seems made to run on the monitors at Islands Restaurants while you eat your Big Wave burger.

A decade later, 'The Decision' hardly represents LeBron James' true legacy

  A decade later, 'The Decision' hardly represents LeBron James' true legacy ESPN will premiere a docuseries Sunday that examines the infamous TV special when LeBron James devastated Cleveland by leaving for Miami.Nearly a decade ago, James famously announced he'd be taking his talents to South Beach in the ESPN special, "The Decision." James' announcement to leave the hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in favor of forming a super team with the Miami Heat made him a villain for several years after.

Home Game stays with you long after you've finished all eight episodes. The series made me wonder why athletes pick the sports they do. Why choose standing in a sand lot slugging your opponents in the jaw? Why choose riding around with a goat carcass? It reminded me of a scene in an X-Files episode when the character, a psychic obsessed with cause and effect, looks at a dead woman's enormous doll collection and ponders, "What was it about, her life? Was it one specific moment where she suddenly said, 'I know — dolls.' Or was it a whole series of things? Starting when her parents first met that somehow combined in such a way that in the end, she had no choice but to be a doll collector." Home Game at least dips a toe in a deep pool of philosophy, and, in sports, the choices that athletes make.

Of course, the sport I originally chose was baseball. But it didn't choose me back. And that, as Robert Frost would say, has made all the difference.

This story first appeared in the July 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Chris Paul supports players opting out of putting social justice message on jerseys .
Paul believes those players’ rights not to have a social justice message on their jerseys is as important as his decision to do so. “That’s exactly why we have a league where you get a chance to make a choice,” Paul said. “And I respect any of those guys’ decisions. They may have their reasons why or not.“For me … I was excited about the opportunity to speak on ‘Equality’ because I was asked about it. And also, for me, I envisioned my kids watching the game, my homies back home who go to the barbershops and talk about us and whatnot.”The NBA offered around 20 words or phrases as options for players.

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