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The Verzuz Song Battles Have Been An Escape From An Otherwise Tough Time

In the midst of his Saturday night Verzuz battle with Lil Jon, T-Pain played the 2008 favorite “Blame It” with Jamie Foxx. Lil Jon cheekily replied, “Cute… you made an alcohol song” before noting, “I made the biggest alcohol song of all time.” T-Pain grunted in dread as Instagram live stream attendees like Charlemagne Tha God, Ebro, and 6lack commented, “Shots!” in unison.

Lil Jon fed the anticipation by playing his 2009 “Shots” banger with LMFAO, and the two music icons actually toasted their cameras and took a shot “together.” Ciara spoke for all 250K stream viewers by commenting, “This is too good.” Even if Americans had the option to go out, Lil Jon and T-Pain’s banger back and forth would have been the best way to spend a Saturday night.

Most of the world is quarantined as a measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and beat battles have been one of the best breaks from reality. While fear and anxiety are rampant, these two-to-three-hour Instagram streams have delivered music fans away from their doldrums and into pleasant memories of cookouts and parties that we’re all longing to get back to.

But the battles aren’t just entertainment. They’ve been a springboard for a collective appreciation of bygone eras and cultural moments. They’ve also inspired intense debate: what means more for a producer, having the hits or having the streets? Does musical versatility mean more than mastering one style? These are questions that most people have had nothing better to do but debate, and we have Timbaland and Swizz Beatz to thank for it.

There have been other hip-hop highlights of this surreal moment in human history. DJ D Nice’s live-streamed “Club Quarantine” that had a who’s who of pop culture vibing with his 11-hour set. Tory Lanez’ Quarantine Radio has women twerking, DMX growling, and Drake pulling up to a record 315K stream viewers.

But the beat battles, which have all been broadcast on Instagram Live, have been the biggest draw. The sessions started with Timbaland and Swizz Beats, who rematched their 2018 beat clash for hundreds of thousands of people on March 24th. Nationwide “social distancing” policies, which encourage people to stay in the house, gave their stream perhaps the livest chat in Instagram history to that point.

Other artists and fellow producers were giving out fire emojis as the two producers culled their vast catalogs. Since their battle, the Verzuz series has become such prime viewing that non-hip-hop accounts like @Sportscenter, @NBA, @Sports Illustrated, @Netflix (drunk), and @UFC have been seen in the chats. There’s nowhere to go outside, so Instagram live is the place to be, giving each battle a party atmosphere.

After the success of their battle, Swizz and Timbaland branded the clashes as the Verzuz series, an impromptu brand to stamp the battles of their choosing. Though most of the battles have been between producers, there were two songwriters battles between Johnta Austin and Ne-Yo, as well as Sean Garrett vs. The-Dream. The T-Pain vs. Lil Jon battle was a bit of a hybrid, as T-Pain played songs he featured on as well as records he produced.

The battles, aside from their entertainment value, have served as various producers’ refresher — and introduction — courses on their legacy. Consider this sequence: T-Pain transitioned from Tory Lanez “Jerry Sprunger” into his “I’m Sprung” hit (which Tory sampled), then Lil Jon followed up by playing Saweetie’s My Type” and transitioning into Petey Pablo “Freek-A-Leek,” which Saweetie sampled. Scott Storch got to show off his mastery of melody for a generation of fans who were in elementary school when he was one of music’s biggest hitmakers. Swizz Beatz and Timbaland both showed off their longevity by trading Jay-Z hits from the ‘90s and 2010s. Lil Jon dropped a gem Saturday night, telling T-Pain and viewers that the famous bed-creaking sound from Lil Scrappy and Trillville “Some Cut” track actually came from him rocking in a chair.

The Verzuz series is probably the most fun way for kids to learn about the history of the genre. There’s no shaming or guilting involved, just good vibes. The nostalgia will reach the next level when Babyface takes on Teddy Riley in the next Verzuz matchup. The battle was supposed to take place last Sunday, but Swizz noted on Instagram that, “we’re taking the quality to the next levels for these 2 Kings,” promising “you will understand later trust me!”

Could the Verzuz series be headed to TV? Could Timbaland and Swizz use their influence to coax hitmaking heavyweights like Jay-Z, Diddy, Drake or Lil Wayne to jump into the fray? Will Kanye pause his secular music ban to fulfill Timbaland’s dream matchup and take on Pharrell and the Neptunes? We all have more than enough time to wait out the answers to these questions, and we’ll have a lot of fun watching along the way.

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Ron Perlman Is Spilling Details About His Infamous Pee-Handshake With Harvey Weinstein

Back in 2018, when the numerous sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein were making headlines, Sons of Anarchy star Ron Perlman swooped onto Twitter with an anecdote about the time he, uh, relieved himself on his hand, and then immediately sought out the lecherous producer for a warm handshake. The viral tweet was a welcomed moment of levity (and revenge) during the height of the #MeToo movement, and now, the actor has expanded on the infamous exchange in a lengthy interview with The Daily Beast where he explains his motivation:

I think it was around 2001, because I was making Blade II with Guillermo in Prague and had a few days off, so I ran down to the Cannes Film Festival. That’s where it happened. I never really had a relationship with Harvey but I wanted to show up to one of his charity events, and when I got on the phone with him to request a ticket, he just acted like a f*ckin’ piece-of-shit pig, like, “Who are you to ask me? Do you know who I am?” He thought I was returning the Revlon guy’s phone call [Ron Perelman], which is why he returned my phone call in the first place, and when he realized I was just the actor he just went off on me:

I said to him, “Well, it’s OK, Harvey, I managed to get a ticket between the time I called you and now, so I’ll be there tonight.” And he said, “Oh, you’ll be there? Well, make sure you shake my hand out of respect.” And I said, “Oh yeah, Harvey, I sure will.” And that’s the genesis of that story.

When asked if Weinstein noticed, Perlman said “he knew it was clammy,” and that he hopes Weinstein saw his now-viral tweet below:

By itself, the anecdote is the stuff of legends, but it rocketed even further into viral fame after Donald Trump Jr. tried to score points on Perlman who’s been a very vocal critic of the Trump administration. While attempting to accuse Perlman of not stopping an alleged rapist, Junior clearly didn’t realize that a central element of the Weinstein accusations is that he used his wealth and influence to hide his crimes. Fortunately, Perlman was more than happy to explain the situation.

And that’s why you don’t mess with a guy who isn’t afraid to stick it to the most powerful producer in Hollywood.

(Via The Daily Beast)

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The Best And Worst Of WWE WrestleMania 36: Night Two

Previously on the Best and Worst of WrestleMania 36: I gave the Firefly Fun House match its own column, because I needed to write 4,000 words to understand it. You can also read about night one, and the night that the skeletons came to life, here.

If you haven’t watched part two of this year’s WrestleMania yet, go do that now. Remember that With Spandex is on Twitter, so follow it. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter. BUY THE SHIRT.

One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. Feel free to peruse the WrestleMania 36 tag page if we missed anything.

Here’s a special, one-match breakdown edition of the Best and Worst of WWE WrestleMania 36 (2 of 2) for April 5, 2020.

Before We Begin

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As mentioned in the intro that you probably breezed through, we decided to give the Firefly Fun House match between John Cena and Bray Wyatt its own, full length edition of Best and Worst. I got about 2,000 words into it and realized it’d be a hell of a thing to drop in the middle of jokes about Liv Morgan’s catch-as-catch-can skills and Randy Orton taking three and a half minutes to throw a punch. I definitely recommend you give it a read, though, as I did my best to break down the most ambitious and complex character work WWE’s ever done. It’s not a “good match,” and it’s not even the wacky and enjoyable experience of the Boneyard Match, but it feels essential to the product.

I apologize in advance that the rest of the WrestleMania night two recap isn’t going to be that meticulous.

Best: Charlotte Flair Is Low Key One Of The Best WrestleMania Performers Of The Last Decade

Leave it up to Charlotte Flair, with all her perceived flaws and frustrating idiosyncrasies, to once again walk into a difficult position at a WrestleMania and not only do validate her “I MAKE HISTORY” talking points, but deliver one of the best performances of the night. Of the weekend. You know what I’m saying. She’s been doing that for years now, and I’d argue that over the past five WrestleManias (32 through 36) she’s been one of WWE’s best and most reliable big match performers.

Flair vs. Rhea Ripley — wearing Vegeta-themed gear and joining New Day on the list of people who dressed up like Dragon Ball character at WrestleMania and lost — works well in juxtaposition from two other women’s matches on the WrestleMania card: the Kickoff Show’s Liv Morgan versus Natalya match, and Saturday’s Raw Women’s Championship match between Shayna Baszler and Becky Lynch. I thought it was a really interesting choice to run Liv and Natalya on the pre-show and then go straight into Charlotte and Rhea, as it emphasized the clear as day distinction between competence and excellence. I guess that’s why two of these people had a “history making” championship match with months of build bolstered by a Royal Rumble win with emotional video packages and a marquee spot on the show, and the other was announced on a whim on Saturday afternoon.

The more interesting comparison is between this match and Lynch vs. Baszler, as Becky Lynch is the John Cena to Charlotte Flair’s Randy Orton, and Ripley had one of the best NXT Women’s Championshp matches in history with Baszler only a few months ago. Baszler and Lynch got eight minutes, while Ripley and Flair got 20. Different spots on different nights, I guess, but it’s an interesting comparison nonetheless. Makes you wonder how much the construction and presentation of the matches had to do with WWE’s interest in Ripley and Baszler as performers and characters.

It’s also probably impossible to discuss this match without talking about the decisions around it. The assumption is that Flair won the championship here so she can spend a few months working Wednesdays, and help NXT’s ratings on USA. But there’s also the fun side story with her being a complete prick to Bianca Belair, which will hopefully build to Belair K’ing the O-D out of her at SummerSlam in August. Belair showing up later on this same show made me think that’s an even more likely possibility. Anyway, the point is that Flair and Ripley killed it, Ripley’s future is as bright as ever, and Charlotte’s horrible ass of a character is going to make NXT shows better, if only by increasing how badly we want to see the entire NXT women’s roster put her in a figurative body bag. Very excited for Io Shirai to show her what a moonsault’s supposed to look like.

Surprisingly Good: Bobby Lashley Loses At Dark Souls

Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley was about as good as it could be for a match between two characters who’ve never met or interacted, wrestling in an empty building. Like I said before, it’s very much like of those old pay-per-view matches featuring mid-carders you stumble onto and have no idea why it’s happening. I don’t think the two guys HAVING the match knew why it was happening. There’s the flimsy pretense of Aleister Black “wanting competition,” I guess, which probably would’ve been a better angle if he hadn’t gotten dunked on by AJ Styles for a couple of weeks early last month, and hadn’t only won the rematch via divine (Satanic) intervention.

Still, credit to the guys for having a pretty good Raw match in quarantine. I didn’t like the finish, though, as Lana getting up onto the apron to cause a distraction that ultimately led to her man losing the match is ostensibly the same finish they used in the very next match, with Sonya Deville getting up onto the apron to cause a distraction that ultimately led to her man losing the match. Maybe they should’ve put these on different nights, so you wouldn’t notice how similar they were? It worked for Braun vs. Goldberg and Lesnar vs. McIntyre, after all.

Best, I Guess: True Love Weights

So yeah, Sonya (who is super invested in Mandy Rose dating this specific co-worker instead of the other one, because vague reasons we’ll probably never explore) is now not only managing Dolph Ziggler and accompanying him to the ring, but getting up onto the apron to make sure he wins matches against a nice fat guy they both hate. Things look bleak for poor Otis without even so much as a Tucky to back him up, but out comes Mandy (sadly not in sweat pants and a big graphic tee from Walmart) to even the score. The most disappointing thing about this entire night of WrestleMania, I think, is that we missed out on the monster pop Mandy and Otis’ retaliation and pairing would’ve gotten from a live crowd. Folks would’ve been all,

WWE Network

As is, Otis ends that classic American story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl due to the secret machinations of girl’s gay best friend and an asshole cheerleader they know, girl finds out thanks to help from an unidentified hacker who gained access to their work gym’s video screen, girl helps boy win a WrestleMania match, boy gets girl. Boy carries girl off like at the end of An Officer And A Gentleman, which is a cute callback to how boy briefly prevented girl from being eliminated from a battle royal.

Sorry, Worst: Last Man Standing

This is going to be a divisive one.

I want to say before anything that I like what these guys put together as a concept. The build was great, and I like the idea of Edge having to go to some big extreme to put Orton down only to immediately reveal how sad it makes him that he had to do it. Orton claiming to “love” Edge and saying love’s why he had to hurt him without showing any human emotion or remorse contrasts really well with Edge outright hating Orton, but hurting him and revealing that he feels this hate because of how much he loves him. I also think Edge is a good actor, and that Orton can be good when he tries.

But man, this did not have to be 40 minutes long. They were already doing that thing WWE does where their conceptualization of “hatred” is two guys kinda punching each other and throwing each other into things while they walk around and try out props. It’s not hatred as much as it’s … I don’t know, violent tourism? I know a lot of people really like this kind of match so I can’t really shade it for giving people what they want, but it didn’t work like I wanted it. Add to that the fact that the Last Man Standing mach is actually one of my least favorite match types ever, as it’s always a 15 minute match that takes 30 because half of it is the referee loudly counting to 8 or 9, and it felt less like a grudge match and more like an interminable walkabout. Like, if you hate a man for attacking your wife and trying to paralyze you to take away the career you spent nine years working to get back, why are you doing spider-crawls along lighting fixtures to drop elbows on him? Who does that? Why are you guys comically fighting with gym equipment and basically just doing CrossFit at each other? At one point in the match Edge uses a pull-up bar to do a big Bronco Buster. It’s just not the right tone for what you set up. Not that I can expect you to have a bloody southern empty arena brawl during quarantine or whatever, but still.

I actually had to mute the majority of the match due to the combination of the referee using his full, project-to-the-back-of-the-building REFEREE VOICE to count to ten, completely with that little bend over and stand back up and throw up your hands gesture, and the announce team mumbling about what they’re seeing in the lowest volume possible. Honestly, if this had just been a no disqualification match and gone 15 minutes, it would’ve been brilliant. The shorter matches really helped night one of Mania move at a much better pace than night two.

It was funny to see the backstage areas from WWE video games finally get used in a real wresting match, though. They fought in the hallway, in Goldberg’s pretend dressing room from the night before that’s actually a conference room, in the lighted area where they film promos, and even on top of cars. Just doing their signature moves to each other on the tops of cars. They go up onto the production truck for the finish, and I swear I thought Orton was going to climb up that really tall ladder nearby and Edge was gonna run and leap off the truck and spear him off, or whatever. Instead they just did more signature moves up there and Edge won with a Conchairto, which hurt more on top of a truck the same way submission moves hurt more when you do them on a table.

All in all, again, I get and don’t hate what they were going for, and it’s great to see Edge back. But Randy Orton pay-per-view matches are Randy Orton pay-per-view matches, no matter what. The payoff is never going to be as good as the build. He’s “the journey, not the destination” of professional wrestlers.

Speaking Of Contrived Spots That Were Supposed To Look Organic

WWE Network

Here’s the 24/7 division naturally fighting out into the gym and running over to stand and brawl under the Cathy Kelley Memorial Juliet Balcony so Rob Gronkowski could jump onto them and win the title. The best part isn’t even that they ran to where they needed to be and congregated in a group, it’s that they just used extras as the “24/7 division” and they were indistinguishable from the guys who’re actually in it.

Best: GIRL! UH HUH!

Tonight was the card full of matches they just made up at the last minute. The Raw Tag Team Championship match was all it was ever going to be, which was five minutes of back and forth Raw-quality tag team wrestling where Montez Ford looks awesome and Austin Theory takes the pin because he was EXTRA extra not the plan. It was probably supposed to be the Profits vs. AOP, but AOP got hurt, so they replaced them with Andrade and Garza and built that for a week, but then ANDRADE got pulled and they were just like, “fuck it, put that first draft Finn Bálor create a wrestler in the match, he can take the pin.” At least they put Theory AND Angelo Dawkins at ringside this time so Ford didn’t jump into nothing.

The positive, though, is that BIANCA BELAIR shows up to help her husband and her husband’s less cool friend even the odds against Zelina Vega and her random confederation of hot guys, continuing her war against people who don’t 👏 even 👏 go 👏 here 👏. Life tip: find somebody who looks at you like Montez Ford looks at Bianca Belair.

WWE Network

Them holding her up and showing her to all four sides was funny, though. Like I said, some wrestlers are just stuck in their animations.

Smackdown: The Women’s Elimination Match

Not best or worst. Simply, Smackdown.

Pour one out for Tamina, who disappeared from TV so long it became a joke and got played up as a threat for two whole weeks, only to be immediately eliminated from the match where she was intended to be dominant and threatening.

See you in another several months when they need a fifth or sixth person for a match and remember they’ve got a division of four people, Tamina.

In case you’re interested in the actual finish, it’s about half of what you were expecting. Lacey Evans got to look way too good while Naomi just kinda went out like a chump, and then Sasha Banks got eliminated just to jog back in and help Bayley win anyway. And then after the match, Sasha handed Bayley the belt in a way to let you know that yes, she’s going to betray Bayley, but she’d probably rather do it in front of people. Maybe she was planning to do it anyway, but called an audible when Karen knocked her out.

Good For Drew: The Main Event

Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar is the same match as Braun Strowman vs. Bill Goldberg from the previous night. Champ hits a bunch of finishers in a row at the beginning of the match, challenger kicks out. Challenger then immediately hits four of his finisher in a row and wins the title. Same damn match.

As I’ve written at length, I think Drew McIntyre rules and am happy he got to achieve his destiny as The Chosen One™ despite the empty building, the champion who barely wants to work, and WWE’s obsession with this match layout. We really need to retire the quick finisher spam contest. It was surprising and new when Goldberg and Lesnar did it, but it can’t be your new “main event style” blueprint. It’s just half-assed and lazy. You’re giving us exactly as much “match” as a fingerpoke to the chest would. It devalues the finishers, devalues everyone from before who got beaten by one of those finishers — see also Goldberg squashing The Fiend after Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins went to war with him for hours and couldn’t even hurt him — and feels less like a main event and more like somebody selected “fast momentum.”

Let’s hope Drew doesn’t fall victim to the Universal Championship curse. P.S. please don’t bring Brock back and switch the title back at SummerSlam. Please? Please?

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

AJ Dusman

This is not hyperbole. Bray Wyatt is one of the best wrestling minds to ever live.

FreewayKnight

Dolph Ziggler getting a lesbian to be his rebound girl is the most on-brand Dolph Ziggler has been in a long time.

SHough610

Tom Phillips: Up next is Drew McIntyre vs Brock Lesnar!
Byron: Aren’t we going to talk about what we just saw?
Tom: Huh?
Byron: Did Bray just devour Cena’s soul?
Tom: It would appear that way!
Byron: And we’re not going to talk about it?
Tom: We are not!

Designated Piledriver

Team B.A.D. reunion here.
If you don’t remember, Naomi was “Beautiful”, Sasha was “Dangerous” and Tamina was “And.”

Diamond Joe

Of all the wrestling-related things this pandemic has robbed from us, Gronk getting booed mercilessly by 70,000 people is near the top of that list.

Jushin Thunder Bieber

THIS IS MY BRUTAL YE-TAY

Taylor Swish

BRING OUT SLATER AND JINDER TO HOIST HIM ON THEIR SHOULDERS

Harry Longabaugh

Titus’ brain just tripped under the philosophical ring apron.

ML Kennedy

Otis and Mandy have an “every sitcom husband and wife from the last 30 years” kinda vibe.

Juwave

A Randy Orton match going way too long… and you guys said the epidemic would ruin all their plans.

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And there you have it: the Best and Worst of WrestleMania 36, the strangest and most unprecedented WrestleMania in history. An act in three parts.

As always, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and enjoying these. Times are hard, and knowing y’all are still around checking these out, joking with us, and sharing the columns not only keeps us employed, it keeps his going, period. We couldn’t do it without you, and right now is proof of that. If you liked any of these, give them a share on social and drop a comment down below. We’ve got one more show — the “Raw After WrestleMania,” which will DEFINITELY not be what we’re used to — and we’re on to WrestleMania Hollywood.

CLICK HERE to read The Best and Worst of WrestleMania 36: Night One

CLICK HERE to read about the Firefly Funhouse Match

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Doctors and nurses aren’t the only ones on the front line. Here’s to the unsung hospital heroes.

By now, we’ve all seen videos and posts from exhausted nurses and doctors who are working like mad under less-than-ideal circumstances to treat patients during this pandemic. We’ve also seen the well-deserved recognition and praise they’ve received for putting their own lives at risk to save others. They are heroes, and should absolutely receive a hero’s acknowledgment.


But there are others working on those front lines as well—folks that medical facilities rely on as much as our critical care workers, but who are rarely ever seen, much less acknowledged. They don’t receive anywhere near the pay or the respect that care providers do, but as a viral Facebook post points out, our medical facilities would come to a grinding halt without them.

Here’s to the hospital janitors, housekeepers, custodians, and other support workers who keep our medical facilities clean and safe. They literally clean up human waste, bodily fluids, and other contaminants that give us all the willies, day in and day out. They wipe, sweep, mop, sanitize, change sheets, dispose of trash, and make the environment as sterile as it needs to be. We often forget that none of the good work that doctors and nurses do would be possible without these workers.

The cleaning crews deserve our thanks, but they also aren’t the only ones. There are other support staff in hospitals who also play a vital role in keeping our healthcare system running smoothly. The secretaries, receptionists, maintenance workers, technicians, and other behind-the-scenes workers who manage the running of the facilities and systems that enable medical caregivers to do their job of treating people and saving lives deserve our thanks as well.

Along with our front line doctors and nurses, these people are also putting their own health on the line. They are going toward the fire. They are making sacrifices that most of us aren’t being asked to make.

And they are doing all of that without an impressive paycheck or high societal status.

So thank you, medical support staff. You are heroes in your own right, and we are grateful for what you do.

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Scottie Lewis Is Returning To Florida But Should Stay On The Radar For The 2021 NBA Draft

As April arrives, most of the top high school prospects from the Class of 2019 are declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft. A few, headlined by LaMelo Ball, skipped college entirely while others, namely James Wiseman, spent very little time on campus. Still, players like Anthony Edwards and Isaac Okoro have already announced the intention to enter the 2020 draft and many more will likely follow. Florida freshman Scottie Lewis will not following in their footsteps, however, as the 6’5 wing announced on Monday that he will be returning to Gainesville for another collegiate run.

Lewis, who was named a McDonald’s All-American, played alongside Villanova’s Bryan Antoine at Ranney School in New Jersey and he entered his college career at Florida with immense expectations. The 247Sports composite ranked Lewis as the No. 7 player in the country in the class, landing ahead of projected lottery picks in Ball, Onyeka Okongwu and Tyrese Maxey. In fact, many anticipated that Lewis would be making his way into the lottery discussion by June 2020, and the talented freshman was projected as the No. 10 pick in ESPN’s November mock draft.

In short, that ascent never fully transpired, with Lewis getting off to a slow start at the college level and Florida struggling mightily to live up to considerable expectations as a projected top ten team. Lewis was only a small part of the overall issues in Gainesville, but he did not produce (8.5 points per game) in a way that would traditionally be associated with a lottery pick, and his low usage (15.7%) jumps off the page as a stark contrast to many with his prep pedigree.

Overall, Lewis remains an intriguing prospect, however, and he is the rare case of a player widely expected to be drafted that could certainly (and vastly) improve his draft stock with a second tour of duty at Florida. Lewis was reasonably efficient on the offensive end in an overall way, posting a 56.2 percent true shooting clip, but his professional future is likely pegged as a “3-and-D” contributor with an emphasis on the defensive end.

The 6’5 wing is an excellent athlete, both horizontally and vertically, and that sets up Lewis as a potentially explosive defensive force. He moves his feet exceedingly well and, given that Lewis is well-known and well-regarded for his tremendous motor, there is every reason to believe that he can translate his tools into defensive production. It would be fair to say that Lewis has strides to make as an off-ball defender but, given his age, that is a normal concern and his off-court reputation as a smart thinker plays into the belief that he can figure things out.

While he rightly took responsibility for some of the issues at Florida this year, Lewis provided a window into a mature thought process with his comments while announcing his decision to return.

“I put the season we had on my shoulders,” Lewis told Jeff Goodman of Stadium when announcing his decision to stay in college. “I came in with a big head. I wasn’t promised anything, but I expected a lot. It didn’t just hurt me, but it hurt our team. It took me a while, but I learned how to be coachable and I thought it showed with how well the team was playing towards the end of the season.”

Offensively, Lewis doesn’t fit the bill of the player that a No. 7 national ranking would imply, which may have played into some of the noise he referenced. There is a lot to like athletically, but Lewis struggled mightily as a playmaker, passer and ball-handler in college. Realistically, those issues are smaller given his projection as a relatively low-usage player in the NBA but, at the same time, it would be nice to see development from Lewis in those key offensive areas.

As a shooter, Lewis struggled at times and that was likely part of his small role on the offensive end. It would be fair to say that his jump shot isn’t a lock to translate but, at the same time, he did improve as a shooter (albeit in a small sample) as the season went along. Lewis shot 49% from the floor and 45% from three in the last 15 games of the season, after posting ugly numbers (39% FG, 27% 3PT) in the first half of the campaign. Moreover, Lewis is a very strong free throw shooter (82%) and that often helps as a projection tool for effective catch-and-shoot ability at the next level.

Lewis did have curious issues as a finisher at the rim, especially when forced to do so in traffic. In the open floor, he is often breathtaking in translating his athleticism to explosiveness, but he will need to improve his craft to succeed at a higher level. Presumably, Lewis will be allowed to do that and, in garnering NBA feedback, he was likely informed of some of his current shortcomings.

Lastly, Lewis is likely making the right decision, as far as a pure evaluation of his NBA Draft stock by returning. It is fair to assume that Lewis would’ve been selected whenever the draft takes place, but it is hard to see a scenario in which he would have been taken with a first-round pick. The situation also plays a role here, as Lewis is the kind of athlete that would potentially explode in a workout setting but, with the uncertainty of the evaluation cycle in a COVID-19 world, teams will likely rely more on tape and Lewis was shaky for much of this season.

Realistically, Lewis won’t “live up” to the expectations some assigned to him as a McDonald’s All-American and a consensus top-10 prospect. In fact, he projects as a role player as a professional and, at least in some circles, those contributors are often undervalued. With that said, Lewis still has the physical tools to be a tremendous defender in the NBA and, if he can prove himself as a solid shooter and decision-maker on the offensive end, a return to school could help Lewis to reestablish himself as a first-round pick in 2021.

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I Just Realized Amanda From “Gossip Girl” Dated Jax Taylor On “Vanderpump Rules”


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Boy Scout 3-D prints over 1,200 ‘ear guards’ to help healthcare workers suffering from face mask pain

Some of the most striking images of the COVID-19 pandemic have been the photographs of healthcare workers whose faces have been bruised and cut from wearing protective surgical masks.

This photo of a healthcare professional in Italy battling the pandemic was seen around the world. She looks like she went 12 rounds in the ring with a heavyweight fighter.


However, this type of pain isn’t just a concern for the medical community. In high-foot-traffic professions such as grocery stores, people have been wearing masks for their entire shifts.

Now, it’s recommended that all Americans wear protective masks when they go out in public.

A hospital in Canada put out a call to anyone who could help alleviate the pain caused by the masks and Quinn Callander, a Boy Scout, answered the request in a big way.

He got to work designing an ear guard that can be produced with his 3-D printer. It’s a simple, but genius design. The guards connect the straps from the masks, elevating them to the back of the head, so they don’t rub the backs of the ears. They’re also adjustable so they fit comfortably.

Quinn’s mother shared photos of his invention on Facebook and the post has gone viral, attracting over 340,000 shares.

“Quinn answered a request from the local hospitals for help with creating more ‘ear guards’ to help take the pressure off health care workers ears from wearing masks all day,” his mother wrote on Facebook. “He got busy on his 3D printer and has been turning out dozens of ear guards to donate.”

via Heather Roney / Facebook

“As someone who works in healthcare I can say that this is fantastic! When we wear them constantly all day everyday, they actually start to cut into the back of our ears,” one Facebook user wrote.

Quinn has made the 3-D printing files for the project public, so that the ear guard can be replicated by anyone with a printer.

“In one week I’ve personally produced over 1300 straps, 1215 have gone to a few hospitals in my region where they seem to be really appreciated,” Quinn wrote on the file. “A volunteer group that I’m contributing to in the Vancouver BC area has delivered over 3300 straps including mine.”

His mother later edited the viral Facebook post, adding the file information, to encourage other people to print the ear guards as well.

“We need more volunteers to fire up their 3D printers and donate these ear guards to hospitals and medical professionals!” she wrote.

Quinn’s mask is a great example of how everyone is now deputized to help out in the fight against the virus. Even though he’s only 13, he used his special skill set to contribute in the best way he knew possible.

We all have our own unique skills we can use to help others during the pandemic. What can you do?

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Damian Lillard’s ‘Four Bar Friday’ Is Back As A Weekly IG Live Series With Genius

With the NBA on hiatus right now, players are suddenly finding themselves with a tremendous amount of time on their hands that they aren’t accustomed to having. With no access to team facilities, basketball activities have all but ceased as most players don’t so much as have a basketball hoop at their home, and as such they’re finding other ways to fill the time.

Video games are a favorite choice of many to help get through hours of being home alone, while others have turned to their musical interests. We’ve seen a number of players showing off their musical talents (or, in some cases, lack thereof) during the quarantine period and it’s no surprise that the man considered the best MC in the league would be among them. Damian Lillard, aka Dame D.O.L.L.A. is using some of his downtime to work on new music and also bring back an old favorite in #4BarFriday.

Lillard used to do Four Bar Friday on social media, posting a video of him dropping four bars on a track and then having fans send him their best verses in response. With a lot of time on his hands, Lillard is bringing it back, but in a more structured format as he’s partnered with Genius to bring Four Bar Friday to Instagram Live, bringing in big names from the world of hip-hop and sports to join him.

The first edition happened this past Friday and they’ll be back on April 10 at 5 p.m. ET for the second edition of what will be a weekly series. It’s the latest in artists and athletes using Instagram Live to connect with others and allow fans a chance to join in the fun and watch as they bring a little home entertainment to a world that desperately can use it.

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2 Chainz Challenges Meek Mill To A Hits Battle On Instagram

As the country continues to shelter in place, Swizz Beats and Timbaland’s Instagram Live battles have become something of a national obsession. Even the biggest stars in hip-hop have been watching — and starting to plot on their own matchups. 2 Chainz posted an open invitation to a hits battle on his own Instagram, eventually settling on Meek Mill as his potential opponent after a process of elimination that excluded Drake, Lil Wayne, and Snoop Dogg.

“So I put up a post saying that Atlanta has run the game for the past couple of decades,” he said in the video. “And me wanting to participate in this Versus thing that Swizz and Timbaland have got going on. So we were thinking of some people outside the city to compete with. Some people were saying Drake, but Drake got more hits than The Beatles, like literally, we know this. Somebody say Wayne, but he been rapping before all of us, we all came up on Tune.”

Next up was Snoop, but Chainz ran into the same problem he had with Drake and Wayne — too much history. “Then Snoop chimed in, but he got a couple of projects produced by Dr. Dre. When he drop his stuff, it’s going to stick. We know what Snoop has in his bag. I’m trying to see who I can go against.” Someone else mentioned was Fabolous, but Chainz finally landed on Meek, saying, “Somebody said Meek, and I thought that would be dope. So let’s do it Meek. Let’s do it.”

However, Meek promptly responded in the comments. “I just wanna watchhhh lol,” he wrote. “Respectfully bowing out to my brother.”

In the meantime, check out Swizz and Timbaland’s battle and watch Lil Jon debut a highly anticipated new song during his battle with T-Pain.

Meek Mill is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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The NFL Draft Will Officially Take Place As Scheduled But Will Be Done Virtually

The 2020 NFL Draft is still happening from April 23-25, but the massive, traveling event the draft has become will not. There were grand plans for the 2020 Draft in Las Vegas, with boats shuttling players across the Bellagio fountains to the red carpet and the entire Strip being shut down for fans to gather and watch as the next class of NFL player is selected into the league.

Instead, this year’s draft will look more like what everyone’s typical workday looks like now, with front offices and team personnel conducting business remotely from home offices, linked together by video calls and trying their best to stay on the same page. The league made the virtual draft plans official on Monday, announcing the draft would go forward as planned and teams would need to spend the next two and a half weeks preparing accordingly.

The league’s IT department will be working with teams to get everyone on the same page so that this can go as smoothly as possible, but anyone that’s been on a Zoom call in the past few weeks knows there is the chance for some home-based hilarity to ensue. There will be dogs barking, children barging in, and just general confusion as mute buttons aren’t pressed when they should be.

It will also be interesting to see how ESPN and the NFL Network handle the broadcast. ESPN has plenty of experience at this point of having analysts patched in via video call from home, as that’s how all SportsCenter segments have been running of late, but how they’ll get in on interviews with players and team personnel remains to be seen. The league has reportedly discussed some grace periods in the event that there’s difficulty connecting on trade discussions, so things might move a touch slower than usual, but it appears to be full steam ahead for April 23 for the first round to commence. The only difference is there will be no war rooms or green room.