On Location: Ball Up Streetball “Search for the Next” Tour with The Professor and Eric Gordon

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Streetball gets a bad wrap. After being exposed to the And1 Mixtape Tour, and occasional Rucker Park Tournament highlight, it’s easy to envision four guys standing around while one guy dribbles, each possession punctuated by a slam dunk with little or no defense.

But the Ball Up “Search for the Next” is completely different from its predecessors. It’s a 10-city tour looking for the best undiscovered player in the country that culminates in $100,000 and a roster spot for the tour’s winner.

In 2003, the most popular streetball player in the world right now, The Professor, was one of them.

While attending an And1 Mixtape Tour stop in Portland, Oregon in 2003, the 5’10,” 155-pound 19-year-old Professor competed in an open run competition prior to that evening’s game and did well enough to get invited back that evening to square off against Team And1.

After a solid performance in the game, he joined the team full-time and was suddenly getting paid to play basketball, literally overnight.

“Yeah, true story. We would’ve been fully content just watching the game,” said Professor about the experience. “I got there early and saw that there was an open run going on and that there was a chance. I hopped in as soon as I could and showed them what I could do.

“And next thing I know, I’m selected to play against the And1 Mixtape Tour team. I got the crowd excited again a few times in that game, and then that night, they asked me to go on tour with them, and I was just shocked.”

Ball Up started in 2009 and took the concept of touring streetball to a new level.

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Burning nitro with Patron Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria

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To some people, Alexis DeJoria is the wife of “Moster Garage” star Jesse James. To others, she is the daughter of Jean-Paul DeJoria, billionaire businessman and co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair products and the Patron Spirits Company. But on the NHRA Mello Yello circuit, Alexis DeJoria is one of the best Funny Car drivers on the tour.

We spent two days with Alexis and her team from Kalitta Motorsports at the Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park in Topeka, and inadvertently found ourselves in the middle of the most exciting weekend in the history of the sport.

The day before we arrived, during the second day of qualifying, DeJoria ran the best run of her career, an Elapsed Time (ET) of 3.994.

During the weekend, there were a total of 15 three-second runs. There were 19 three-second runs in the entire 2014 season.

In this video, Alexis talks about how her car accelerates faster than anything on earth (yes, even a fighter jet), how she got into racing, and her career-defining victory in the 2014 NHRA U.S. Nationals, it’s 60th anniversary, a feat akin to winning the Super Bowl.

While ET (the time it takes the car to get from the starting line to finish line) determines qualifying order, it is not as important on race day.

On race days, the car that crosses the finish line first wins, regardless of ET. So the quicker car might not be the winning car, because that driver may have left the starting line slower.

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For any driver, a time in the low fours is considered a successful run. But in Kansas on this weekend, the perfect storm of weather conditions and high performance vehicles combined for the most sub-four runs in one weekend, ever.

So what does that even mean? Each run, or “pass” is 1,000 feet. Going a thousand feet in under four seconds means the cars are travelling at speeds in the 300-315 MPH range. Alexis’ car goes from a complete standstill to 100 MPH in less than one second.

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NBA down to its Final Four

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We’ve witnessed some great series and some surprising performances, and now we’re down to four teams battling for the NBA championship. The Houston Rockets will visit the Golden State Warriors tonight to kick of the Western Conference Finals, and tomorrow night the Cleveland Cavaliers will visit the Atlanta Hawks for the start of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Cleveland Cavaliers

From the moment Lebron James announced he would be leaving Miami and returning home to Cleveland, we all knew this team had a chance to compete for a title. Still, few could have predicted the ups and down and all of the drama that this team would go through over a long season and then the first two rounds of the playoffs. All year long, Kevin Love had some issues as he adjusted to being the third option in Cleveland’s Big Three. Still, he was a critical piece of the puzzle, and losing him for the season as the result of a bush-league foul in Boston was a cruel blow to this franchise.

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A Sorento Adventure: NBA Playoffs, headbands and bank shots

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Kia offered us the opportunity to see two NBA playoff games between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls, with the road trip from Cleveland to Chicago in the all-new 2016 Kia Sorento sandwiched in between. Naturally we said yes and needless to say it was quite an adventure! (Read more about our impressions of the Kia Sorento here).

It all got started in Cleveland will some amazing floor seats just behind the Cavs bench. Right away we had a buzz-worthy story as Lebron was introduced wearing his signature headband which he had discarded earlier this season. But after a game one thrashing at the hands of the Bulls, Lebron felt the need to go back to the headband to revive his game, which seemed silly in many ways until the game started and the Cavs jumped out to an early lead.

As a Cavs fan the entire experience was pretty amazing. It started as I checked in to the Hyatt located in the historic Arcade in downtown Cleveland.

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Riding shotgun with Speed Stick driver Cole Whitt and Playboy’s April Rose at Talladega

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Confidence opens doors that nothing else can. But confidence can also be misplaced. How do you know if the shirt you’re wearing is completely ridiculous until you actually wear it outside the house? Thanks to Speed Stick, at least I had confidence in my underarm scent.

But confidence was definitely not lacking for driver Cole Whitt. Even though Front Row Motorsports is at a distinct disadvantage, operating on one-eighth the budget of its competitors and Whitt’s highest previous finishing position this season a modest 22nd, Whitt was ready.

A Top 20 finish at Talladega would’ve meant a lot, as Cole explains in our interview below, shot immediately before the race. But Whitt was able to #DefyTheDoubt and lead the entire field with under 40 laps remaining en route to his best performance this season. Speed Stick is all about giving you confidence for the moment you shut down the naysayers, as Whitt did finishing a career-best 13th in the race.

I got a little excited during my interview, and it isn’t completely my fault – there’s so much energy at a NASCAR race, it permeates the grounds and is as real as the guy with the Dale Jr. shirt on next to you.

There is no other major sport that allows fans’ access the way NASCAR does. No one is too big or too important. The mix of American pride and Bible Belt-bred Christianity adds two additional layers that don’t exist north of the Mason-Dixon.

That ethos permeates the grounds and is exemplified in a myriad of ways, from the ease in dealing with on-site officials, to the random mix of cool people you meet while watching the race, to the drivers themselves.

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