My Friday Five: On Mark Gottfried, NBA All-Star Game & LifeWay

  Photo: Chris White

1. NBA All-Star Game

This weekend could have been a very different one in North Carolina, specifically, Charlotte. The Queen City was set to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game and associated festivities but all of it was taken away from our state thanks to HB2. The law was drawn up and passed in response to the passage of a non-discrimination ordinance by, ironically enough, the Charlotte City Council and economic backlash has followed. Several concerts and other performances, the aforementioned NBA All-Star Weekend festivities, as well as 17 NCAA and ACC sporting events have been canceled and/or moved out of the state due to the infamous law.

Think about it: North Carolina, known for its rich college basketball tradition, may be excluded from holding ACC or NCAA events for at least the next six years unless something is done about HB2 by the end of February, when final decisions on host sites are made. There are already going to be no NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games in Greensboro this year as previously scheduled. This could also mean no ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro when its slated to return to “Tournament Town” in 2020. Greensboro has hosted the tournament 28 times, the most of any site. I’ve been to a few ACC Tournaments in Greensboro and let me say, there’s truly nothing like it. The ACC announcing the tournament’s move to Washington, D.C., Brooklyn and Charlotte before all this HB2 nonsense crushed many ACC Tourney traditionalists such as myself, who love the tournament being in the Gate City. With HB2 still on the books, Greensboro could very well lose its 2020 bid to host the event. Also included is the ACC Baseball Championship, which has been held in Durham and Greensboro in the past. The championship was set to be held in Durham again this season but that will be no more. Events like these not taking place in North Carolina are not only bad on the entertainment side of things, they are bad because of jobs. Not having events due to HB2 negatively impacts jobs, temporary or otherwise, surrounding these events.

Perhaps the most contentious element of the law eliminates anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and dictates that individuals may only use restrooms or changing facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates in government buildings. What many people often miss, however, is HB2 covers much more than that. The law also prevents local municipalities from enacting ordinances for non-discrimination, minimum wage, child labor or making regulations for city workers. There was initially language in the law as well that would not allow people fired based on race, religion, gender or age the ability to pursue wrongful termination suits in state courts but that was later amended, according to the News & Observer. It even wipes out protections for some North Carolina veterans. According to The Huffington Post, HB2 nullifies ordinances in Greensboro and Orange County that barred job discrimination against veterans.

To the proponents of HB2, I’ll ask you the same question sports radio host, David Glenn, asked on his show today (starting at the 19:35 mark): Do you have a fear of traveling to the 49 other states outside of North Carolina simply because those states don’t have a law like HB2 on the books? The honest answer is no and that further proves how unnecessary the law is. This could’ve been a big weekend for North Carolina on so many levels. However, legislators decided it was more important to create an unenforceable law under the guise of “protecting privacy in restrooms.” This is nothing more than petty politics, in my opinion and it’s a crying shame.

2. Mark Gottfried

N.C. State decided to fire head men’s basketball coach, Mark Gottfried, this week. The Pack has lost six straight games after it won for the first time since 1995 in Cameron Indoor Stadium against Duke. Four of those losses being by double digits, including a 30-point beatdown by Wake Forest. That game was actually the point where I felt a personnel move was coming. And it did. I was a little surprised the announcement of Gottfried’s dismissal came before season’s end, especially given the fact that he’s staying on until the end of the season. But I could feel it coming.

I don’t know Gottfried on a personal basis. I have no clue about what goes on behind the scenes. However, I’ll share this story. In 2014, I graduated from the College of Natural Resources at N.C. State alongside Ralston Turner. Turner was a member of the men’s basketball team then and now plays for local NBA D-League team, the Greensboro Swarm. We were both sitting in a holding room before the graduation ceremony and in walked Coach Gottfried, who was there in support of Ralston. The two spoke and I’m sure Gottfried said how proud he was of him and congratulations on the accomplishment. I’ll never forget that. Gottfried is a good guy and a good coach.

And now, let the new coach speculation commence. Who knows who will be the next head coach? My thoughts: unless the name is Archie Miller, don’t go the former player route. Remember Sidney Lowe at N.C. State or Matt Doherty at UNC? Neither situation ended well. It’ll be interesting to follow this story in the months to come.

3. Champs!

The N.C. State Women’s Swim Team captured its first ACC Championship since 1980 on Thursday. It was not only historic but a breakthrough for the team since Virginia had been dominating the championship in recent years. The Pack performed so well in the championship that it became “academic by the last few races of the day,” according to Steven Muma of Backing the Pack. If you follow me on social media, I chronicled my experience at the swimming Senior Day meet against Virginia, where both the men’s and women’s squads defeated Virginia. Although much of the attention is on the men, the Wolfpack women are really good as well, proven by this ACC Championship. Congrats, ladies!

4. LifeWay’s Double Standard

LifeWay Christian Stores has found itself in a controversy. Officials decided to remove Christian rapper Sho Baraka’s new album, The Narrative, which was praised on the Christian retailer’s website, saying it was “saturated in a Gospel worldview,” according to Bradford William Davis of The Washington Post, The reason? A track on the album contained the word “penis.” This has caused backlash among many, Christians or otherwise. LifeWay’s reasoning, according to Davis, was some customers objected to the language and LifeWay deemed it as “inappropriate.”

Now, why in the world would I title this “LifeWay’s Double Standard?” I’ll tell you why. LifeWay officials pulled Baraka’s album for containing one use of “penis” in what was not an inappropriate manner, rather, perfectly in context but still carries books that contain similar words. Example: a book entitled Sheet Music, a sex guide for Christian couples, contains 45 uses of the word “penis” and euphemisms such as “Mr. Happy,” according to Davis. LifeWay has come under fire before for a similar situation. In 2012, the retailer opted not to carry Rachel Held Evans book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, for what she believed the reason being it contained the word “vagina.”

Choosing not to carry Baraka’s album is a double standard. Period. If LifeWay and those complaining about this had taken the time to examine the lyrics, the would have seen why Baraka chose to use the words he did. The lyrics are as follows:

I was an insecure boy who just thought he was a geniusBut always pissed off, that’s because I thought with my penis
It’s all strategic, I’m just asking us the reason
Share my faith on the track, I’m just exorcising demons.

Baraka is confessing past shortcomings he experienced as a human and he says that God is good through it all. Now that’s a problem all of a sudden? I contacted LifeWay regarding this and have not received a response as of this post. Surprising? Nah. I’m glad that there is no LifeWay Store in my local community. Even if there was, I wouldn’t spend a dime of my money there.

5. Alpaca Chicken Coming to Ninth Street

After Tijuana Flats’ closed its Ninth Street location in Durham with little to no warning, I wondered if anything would come in its place and whether it would be something else Durham didn’t need or something new. Well, I finally have the answer. A new location for Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken is slated to move in the space. The eatery has locations in Durham, Raleigh, Cary and Sanford already but I have not heard of it before. Alpaca’s menu is pretty simple, serving hormone-free, allergen-free and local chicken cooked in a special marinade on an imported grill. Alpaca pairs the chicken with traditional South American side dishes such as plantains, yuca fries and black beans. There was no opening date from what I could tell but I’ll keep you posted on when it opens. I’m pretty excited to try it!

Thanks for Reading

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