Entertainment

Felipe López: What You Need To Know About The Legendary NBA Star Being Called Dominican Jordan

Latinos have smashed almost every glass ceiling in professional sports in the United States. It is common to see Dominicans (did anyone say Alex Rodriguez?), Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans and Mexicans, among others, hit the ball out of the park or pitch the perfect game in professional Major League Baseball.

World boxing is dominated by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans (Saúl Canelo Álvarez just signed the richest contract for any athlete in history with streaming service DAZN, $350 million for eleven fights over six years). However, there are two sporting arenas that remain elusive for nuestra gente: the NFL and the NBA. Latinos who have become stars in basketball or football are few and far in between, which makes the improbable journey of Dominican NBA player Felipe López all the more extraordinary.

López’s life and career is the subject matter of the new film Dominican Dream, which launched at the Tribeca Film Festival this May 2019. Here are some facts for this true legend and one of the many faces of Latino pride in the United States professional sports landscape. 

Here’s all you need to know about the film that honors Felipe López.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

Joining great documentaries on basketball, such as the unmissable Hoop Dreams, this feature directed by Jonathan Hock tells the rags-to-riches story of our beloved López, who in 1994, at the mere age of 17, was the hottest prospect in basketball. His journey all the way to the NBA was a given. Los sueños sí pueden cumplirse. This film is part of ESPN’s series 30 for 30. The director had previously helmed Through the Fire, the story of another young basketball star, Sebastian Telfair. You can watch the trailer here

He was once known as “the Dominican Michael Jordan.”

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

Felipe’s smart moves, athleticism, and quick reactions earned him the moniker of “the Dominican Michael Jordan”. To be compared to the greatest basketball player of all time is quite something, and that in itself turned Felipe into a bastion of Dominican pride. In fact, Felipe wanted the film to be more about immigration than the courts. He told CBS: “Jonathan Hock introduced it to me not as a basketball story, but more as an immigration story. I loved it because to me, it’s a topic that we are living. There are so many migrating families going through adversity coming into the country.”

His journey in the NBA was bittersweet.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

Felipe was touted as the next big thing in professional sports after being an absolute star in St John’s High School. He played only for four seasons in the NBA, which makes his journey a bit of an anticlimactic and tragic one for some. After the NBA, where he played for the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Washington Wizards. He never got to hold the prized championship trophy. 

López moved to the United States with his family when he was only 14 years old.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

Luis Felipe (his full, telenovela name!) was born on December 19, 1974, in Santiago. With his family, he then settled in the New York area when he was a teenager. Just three years after arriving in los estates, he was gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, perhaps the most important sports publication in the world. 

His dad was also a sportsman: de tal palo tal astilla.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

Like many in the isla bonita, Felipe’s dad had a fondness for baseball. He participated in the amateur baseball league of the Dominican Republic. 

He played for Rice High School in New York City. Guess who else came out of New York high schools.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

No other than NBA stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor) and Dean Meminger, who at the time was also considered top prospects. 

He played college basketball for St. John’s Red Storm.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

This team is proudly New Yorker and hails from St. John’s University in Queens. The team plays in the Big East Conference and has one of the biggest followings in the NCAA. What a way to start! 

López made quite a mark in his college team.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

He is one of the top four scorers (he recently went from third to fourth place) in the team’s history. Not bad for a recent migrant trying to achieve his dreams, eh! 

He was first picked by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1998 NBA Draft.

Credit: front. Digital Image. Beckett Upper Deck

He never got to play with stars like David Robinson, as he was quickly exchanged for Antonio Daniels and went to play for the Canadian team Vancouver Grizzlies. The fact that the NBA was just testing the ground in the Canadian market might have contributed to the bumpy road that Felipe had during his first steps in the league. One can only imagine what he could have accomplished with the San Antonio Spurs. 

He played 112 games for the Grizzlies.

Credit: fvi8ne1512773910. Digital image. The Sports DB

As happens with a lot of professional athletes that are traded like objects (there are serious ethical issues with this), Felipe was then sent to play with the Washington Wizards in 2000. He then became a free agent and played with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team with which he last saw action in the NBA. He signed with the Dallas Mavericks and trained with Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Clippers, but never played a game with these teams. We can see that his career was full of ups and downs, through which he kept his cool and a positive and generous attitude. 

His game in the NBA never quite reached the level of his high school and college days.

Credit: felipelopez13 / Instagram

In the NBA he averaged 5.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and one assist per game. To be honest, these are OK numbers, but nothing too impressive by superstar standards. 

He was a pioneer, though: he was the first high-school athlete to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, sí señor.

Credit: Instagram. d10b86e6-71d7-4f85-bb60-be89cc216aeb-782×1024. Digital image. The Big Hoop. 

Can you imagine being a Latino kid in the 1990s and see this cover? The Statue of Liberty on the background and a playful yet imposing Afro-Latino dynamo being the face of basketball? There perhaps too many expectations around Felipe’s career, which he acknowledged in an interview for SI, saying he wasn’t able to“make it all come together … and make it be the story that everyone wanted it to be.”

He is generous by nature and he established The Felipe Lopez Foundation

Credit: https://www.felipelopez13.com/foundation. Digital image. 

As a teenager, Lopez saw a way out of trouble (he was too busy shooting hoops!), but he knows that not all kids have the same opportunities. Out of his church in the South Bronx, he offers a space for kids from 5 to 17 years-old to be better students and better peers. Way to go, hermano! By the way, he also works with USA Basketball to develop clinics all around the country. We think that Felipe’s Dominican-American Dream is alive and well, thank you very much.

READ: Learn How Basketball Superstar Carmelo Anthony Got Where He Is Today In 21 Steps

Residente Tried Out For The Chicago Cubs And Javy Báez Was There To Coach Him

Entertainment

Residente Tried Out For The Chicago Cubs And Javy Báez Was There To Coach Him

MLB / YouTube

Residente and Javier “Javy” Báez playing baseball is the kind of sporting moment we needed.

MLB is rolling out an original series on YouTube and it will give you a chance to see some celebrities take to the field and try their stuff. “The Tryout” started May 18 and the first celebrity up to bat is Puerto Rican rap superstar René “Residente” Pérez Joglar. The show merges both baseball and entertainment in a new and fun way. The show is centered around baseball because, well, MLB, however, it does create special moments of the athletes and celebrities. There is an ease to their conversations that is akin to an interview but just feels like a conversation between friends.

Now, Residente was pretty confident in his abilities to play the game. After all, he has spent his life playing the sport because it is one of his favorite hobbies. Though he tried to temper everyone’s expectations, Residente did say that he would do decent at tryouts. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the “Atréve-Te-Te” singer played catch, caught some ground balls, and batted. Yet, the conversations they had about the best Latino baseball players and their beloved Puerto Rico are where the magic happened.

While warming up, Residente and Báez spoke about Hurricane Maria. It has been three years since the hurricane devastated the Caribbean island they both call home. Maria left millions of American citizens living in Puerto Rico without power, running water, and essential services for many months. When the hurricane happened, Báez and Residente knew that they had to do something.

Residente and Báez swapped stories about where they were during the hurricane and what they did in response. Residente was on tour in Chile and Argentina when the 2017 hurricane killed thousands of people. He immediately went into action and began collecting supplies the people of Puerto Rico needed and sent it all by military plane.

Báez had a similar reaction. The Chicago Cubs player was playing a game when the hurricane hit Puerto Rico. Báez wanted to do something so he was able to convince his manager to send some help. At first, Báez said his manager was concerned he was going to try to go to Puerto Rico but he told the manager that wasn’t possible so they collected supplies and sent them by plane to the people.

There are more episodes of “The Tryout” coming to YouTube soon.

READ: Javier Báez Of The Chicago Cubs Shows Off Athletic Physique In ESPN’s Body Issue

Model Denise Mercedes Is Using Her TikTok To Empower Women Body Positivity

Fierce

Model Denise Mercedes Is Using Her TikTok To Empower Women Body Positivity

denisemmercedes / TikTok

Dominican-American model Denise Mercedes and her friend Maria Castellanos are showing the world how every body is beautiful. Mercedes, a plus-size model, and Castellanos are sharing a series of TikTok videos showing what the same outfits look like on two different body sizes.

Denise Mercedes is using her TikTok account to celebrate body positivity.

Credit: denisemmercedes / TikTok

The fashion industry has long been criticized for its impact on unhealthy body images among young women. Recently, the fashion industry has started to change with some fashion designers embracing and celebrating all body types. This has given rise to some plus size models that have become household names.

Mercedes, along with friend Maria Castellanos, is showing the beauty of all body sizes.

Credit: denisemmercedes / TikTok

Who doesn’t like rocking a little overall every now and then? The outfit is as annoying as a romper but denim is everything so it makes it all worth it. If you have ever wanted to rock some overalls, take them for a spin in your apartment right now.

Never shy away from a little bit of midriff, especially over the summer.

Credit: denisemmercedes / TikTok

The hotter it gets, the less you want to wear. No one wants to spend the summer sweating. It isn’t a good look. Let your body feel the sun this year and just rock your style, mija.

This bestie brunch chic look is stunning.

Credit: denisemmercedes / TikTok

The top is all fancy business and the blue jeans make it comfortable and fun. Plus, who doesn’t like a cinched waist via an oversized belt? This is one look that anyone can rock and everyone should.

You can definitely enjoy a comfy t-shirt dress.

Credit: denisemmercedes / TikTok

Again, the waist belt is all you really need to give your hourglass figure the kind of attention it deserves. Curves are beautiful and something our community knows a lot about. Let’s celebrate them.

It is summer so why not wear a fun summer piece.

Credit: denisemmercedes / TikTok

Get some safe, socially distanced sun and fresh air this summer. We are all allowed to go outside to get fresh air and spend time being active in parks ad beaches. Don’t gather, obviously, but go get that summer tan you love by walking on the beach if you can.

And, of course, some ’90s-inspired looks are always nice to bring back.

Credit: denisemmercedes / TikTok

A nice little dress with some black, patent leather boots is a solid look, y’all. As we see here, it is one look that we can all get comfortable wearing around.

READ: How Dressing Up For The Gym Helped Me Start Loving My Plus-Size Body