2022 NBA All Star starts today

The Celebrity Game opens this weekend’s All Star Game, followed by the Rising Stars Game.

The Celebrity lineup features the Mayor of Cleveland, Justin Bibb, among others, understandably so since he is the main host. The lineup includes various stars from different spheres. It will be Team Walton versus Team Nique. Sure sounds like it will definitely be a hilarious exciting event notwithstanding who wins.

The Rising Stars Game (photos courtesy of NBA) features twelve Rookies, twelve sophomores (2nd-year NBA’ers), and four players from the G League. There will be other activities in-between the games.

Watch it on ESPN or your local television channels.

Ben Simmons finally found a new home

The unfortunate saga surrounding Ben Simmons (BS) finally ended when he found a new home with the Brooklyn Nets in a megadeal that included James Harden.

The former Philadelphia Sixers (PS) guard has been in the foray of various media attacks since the last NBA Season allegedly because he failed to shoot (or dunk) a net against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2020-21 season’s playoff, thus ending the chances of his Team, Philadelphia Sixers, vying for the Championship.

True or false? Could BS’s shot had secured the win for PS? I believe that it’s easier said than done.

Personally speaking, I felt bad for the hand that was dealt the 25-year old, 6’11 Australian native. From the outside looking on and in, the whole incident appeared like a hostile takeover-pushout of sorts. With Doc Rivers as head coach, it seemed something had to be conjured against the Australian basketballer in order to edge him out and have his (Doc Rivers) son-in-law (Seth Curry) take over. I suppose nepotism is allowed in the NBA.

Yes, Seth Curry is the younger brother of Golden State Warriors’ affable Star Steph Curry. We all love Steph. I love Steph. It’s easy to love Steph. And because of Steph, I suppose that his family is accorded the same love. Because of Steph love, my conclusion was that many quarters who ought to speak truth to power regarding Ben Simmons-Sixers’ issue, failed to.

Simmons wanted to be traded. He requested it in August during preseason but Sixers won’t oblige. I heard some quarters stated that BS is under contract and must abide by the letters. However, does the Team realize that you can take a horse to the river, but you can’t force it to gobble down the water. If BS, for whatever reason wants out, it is pointless trying to force him to stay. Forcing him to continue to play is tantamount to controlling him. Unfortunately, you don’t get the best out of control. And you thought he did some bad last season, forcing him to stay would mean more bad, and Sixers would not have been near the Season’s record they now have.

Why wouldn’t Sixers trade him?

The question still baffles me. Why wouldn’t the Team trade Simmons? Several reasons were read in the media, among them were:

  1. He’s being paid so much that no other Team wants to pick up the tab because of Team salary caps; so he’s stuck
  2. He needs to grow up?!
  3. He needs to fulfill his contract
  4. Blah. Blah. Blah.

All the reasons were merely excuses to buy time. The one that floored me the most was his teammate (now former) and co-All Star counterpart, Joel Embiid’s negative rantings and comments to the print and social media which did not bode well for good sportsmanship.

Well, it was a loooooooong four (or six) months for all concerned. Hopefully, all sides are happy with the outcome. BS headed to Brooklyn and, guess what, with Seth Curry. With Seth Curry now out of Philly, I hope Sixers will still continue their winning streak. If today’s game with Celtics is a pointer of the Season’s second half for Sixers, Embiid better get ready to eat up all his words and BS will have the last laugh.

Sorry if I sounded like an instigator, but let’s keep it real.

Lessons learned from the BS-Sixers Issue

  1. People will unnecessarily take sides without knowing the full details of all concerned
  2. Never say anything you’d regret later or be uncomfortable looking the other person in the eye.
  3. Don’t air your dirty laundries in the public. Once the laundry dries up, the public still remembers
  4. When spirituality (or mentality) is involved, it never makes sense.
  5. Always give people the benefit of doubt whether you like, or agree with, them or not
  6. Always show compassion (empathy) when another is going through; it might be your turn next - sure you’ll want someone to understand you and be on your side.
  7. Never be too quick to condemn another.

May God continue to help us be quick to love and slow to judge another.

All Star Voting Results are in

Every NBA player is a star. But there are a few who excel above and separate themselves from the pack.

As it is written, “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:39-41‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

These NBA Stars are deemed elites. They are the super-stars, in a class of their own, creme de la creme, upper echelon of the sport, that is, the top 1 to 2% of the NBA players. These ones earn the top salaries in the Association and are the ones who get to play as starters in the upcoming three-day weekend All Star Game set for February 18 – 20, 2022.

These Elites have continuously proven themselves since the start of the NBA 2021-22 Season. They are not only key players, but players who have stepped up during critical games, and steadfastly carried their Teams on their backs. Such players are honored by fans who voted for them everyday for six weeks. I hope you voted, too.

Of about the 500+ NBA players, only ten (five each from the Western and Eastern Conferences) qualify as the Elite NBA All Star Starters. Join me in celebrating them listed below:

Some may argue that these players rank highest in salary and stats such as total points, rebounds, and or assists per game, but that is not always the case.

Well, Who decides?

I’m glad you asked.
If you don’t already know. Fifty percent (50%) of the All Star Starter votes is decided by you and I, and twenty-five percent (25%) each by current players and a media panel.

Since the selection was primarily fan-based, one could argue the probability of fan bias and or that the player with the best marketing strategy got the most-est votes. In addition, there’s also the probability of popularity contest at play for both the media panel and current players’ voting.

Notwithstanding, I hope you agree that this year’s Starters are deserving of the votes.

This year’s Eastern Conference (EC) frontcourts maintained and carried over from the previous year. However, we have two new EC guards, DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. Also new entrants for the Western Conference this year are frontcourt Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors and guard Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies. All have been phenomenal and I’m glad that the fans thought so, too.

The Reserves

Per NBA, the 2021-22 “reserves were voted on by the head coaches from each conference, who could not vote for players from their own teams.” Fifteen (15) Reserves were drafted yesterday by the Team Captains, LeBron James (West, Left) and Kevin Durant (East, Right); see below.

The All Star Teams will be playing for a charity organization of their choice. Fun and electrifying events have been lined up for the weekend and you don’t have to be physically present in Cleveland, OH to enjoy it as it’ll be aired on national and local channels. I hope you will watch to appreciate the great talents in the NBA.

Congrats to all the twenty-six amazing All Star players.

Loving Basketball: 2022 NBA All-Star 💫 Voting

I should have posted this sooner. Pardon me, but there’s still time to cast a vote.

If you’re a hoop fan, you know this is the time to vote for your favorite NBA All Star players. The All Star Games has been slated for February 20, 2022, and voting has already begun. The first and second rounds of votes have been released by the NBA. But voting is still ongoing.

Today, and specific days (Dec. 25, Jan. 7, Jan. 13, Jan. 17 and Jan. 20) before the voting is over on Saturday, January 22 at midnight, votes count as double. If you are not a hoop fan and are thus not partaking, or a fan who hasn’t voted yet, it’s not too late to join in the fun. Go to NBA.com (or the NBA App) to vote. If you don’t know who to vote for nor care who wins, pretty please help send, and vote for, the Golden State Warriors’ (GSW) players to this year’s All Star Game in Cleveland, OH. Thank you.

Below is the GSW Team list, in alphabetical order, just in case you don’t know all the players. You can only vote for two guards (G) and three forwards (F) per day. I suggest alternating (selecting different) players each day. This will give the younger and new players an opportunity to receive some votes.

Vote every night before 11:59 PM.

My favorite team as you know is the Warriors. I however have favorite players across teams. I must say that it’s been hard voting for each one of my favorite players daily. It also hasn’t been easy with voting all Warriors players. However, voting Guard Curry has been consistent; it is choosing the second Dubs guard to vote for that becomes an issue. I use the alternating method as well. How I wish we could vote for more than five players. Maybe the NBA Commissioner Stein is listening and will some day soon increase the number to twelve. All in favor say “Aye!”

What is the NBA All Star Game?

The All Star Game is a three-day fun, exciting, and highly competitive event. It showcases twenty-four of the leading NBA star players.

This year marks the 71st All Star Game. The players are voted by fans, players, and the media. The Coaches of the season’s leading NBA Conferences get to Coach the teams. The players with the leading votes for both Conferences gets to be the Captain. The Captain will choose his seven team players regardless of the player’s NBA Conference, while the Coaches select the five reserve players and they cannot select from their NBA Team. The All Star Teams play for charities of their choice. If you’ve never watched one, make this year your first. I can assure you that it will not be your last.

Setback for a Comeback … Welcome back, Klay

It was extremely great watching Klay Thompson (KT), Golden State Warriors (GSW)’s number 11, suit up and play again yesterday.

Klay Thompson had been out of the game for two-and-a-half years having suffered two back-to-back injuries; first an ACL during the 2019 NBA Finals and then rupturing his achilles during the 2020 NBA Draft. 2019 was definitely not the Dubs’ year. It was devastating watching it happen in 2019 during Game 6 as GSW was contending for that year’s Championship. After a year off, Klay returned only to rupture his Achilles on Draft Day. Bad as it was, it was preposterous that it happened on Draft Day; giving the Warriors’ Executive Team a quick strategic maneuver on its Draft selection.

KT, the Splash brother, was definitely and apparently missed by all; Team, fans, and the media. Though his other Splash brother, Steph Curry, held the forth in his absence, Klay’s contribution to the Team and game of basketball left a void that was terribly felt and unfillable.

The Splash Brothers, Steph and Klay, earned their alias as a result of their duo-dynamite three-point shootings from any angle. Both changed the basketball landscapes with their shootings.

Way to recovery …

The road to recovery for any athlete after a bad injury is often an emotional tumultuous journey that requires character-defining traits and values that will uphold one through till the end of the journey. While some players recover fast, others have a slow recovery. While some players return to their normal or better state, others seem to slump and finally stop playing; thus ending their athletic career. Even the strongest, positive, and most-optimistic player still has intermittent doubts and questions such as:

  • What if I do not fully recover?
  • What if I’m no longer as good?
  • What if I’m traded because of this injury?
  • What if other teams think my useful years are over?
  • What if no team wants me?
  • What if the injury ends my career?
  • A gazillion what-ifs hardly with no futuristic answers.

Klay obviously had a few question and or doubts.

After the initial surgery and recovery, Klay was always seen on the bench cheering his teammates and, after games, chatting with the analysts. His return date has been speculated a few times. He had even been sequestered to the Warriors’ G League which is a minor development team for the GSW. Having held up strong and mute about his hiatus and injuries over the years, rarely speaking about the injury nor his recovery, Klay finally and publicly showed his emotions after a Warriors’ game in late November. He was seen still being on bench long after the crowds had dispersed the Chase Center.

I was personally touched by Klay’s emotions. The wait and “weight” of not playing must have taken a big toil on him wondering why his return was being delayed.

The wait is finally over

He finally had his day of return on Sunday. I was overjoyed for him, like tons of fans and colleagues were, to finally watch him play again.

Click the links below to watch the various highlights on Klay’s return and game on Sunday:

  1. https://www.nba.com/news/nba-players-react-to-klay-thompsons-return
  2. https://gsw.page.link/k8TyojQZqdqDFojh7i
  3. https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/klay-thompsons-triumphant-return-to-warriors-brings-unbridled-joy-emotion-when-fans-need-it-the-most/
  4. https://www.nba.com/news/klay-thompson-return-feature
  5. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/33028982/nba-players-celebrate-klay-thompson-return-more-two-years

Setback happens to all

If you live long enough, it is certain that one would experience one form of setback. Life often can hand us lemons and bad things often does happen to the best of folks that set us back in many ways than one. It could be a health/physical setback, like Klay’s and several other basketball players/athletes. The physical setback can have a domino effect on one’s finances, emotions, and sometimes spiritual.

What do you do when it happens?

Many murmur and complain. We ask tons of unanswered questions and can recluse. We play the blame game. Why me? I have, too, at some point. We can stop living especially when we lack helpful and positive relationships concluding that none seems to understand our predicament.

However, only few understand that at such point we cannot and should not step on the brakes. It is a turning point. What we turn round to, blame or control, will make the difference.

The proverbial “when life gives you lemon, you make lemonade,” suffices. A professional football player, for example, who suffers injury that ends his football career can turn to a new other career as a coach or recruiter or game analyst. The point is that all is not lost. It might be the end of a season, but definitely not the end of one’s life or career.

7 Steps to a Comeback

  1. Have a positive outlook that things will be better
  2. Choose the people to surround yourself with.
  3. Do everything within your power to get better. It might mean learning new skills.
  4. If new skills are involved, be gentle on yourself, realizing that there’s a learning curve which is different for each person.
  5. Take life one day at a time
  6. Every step you take will eventually turn to giant strides.
  7. Be consistent.

If you do the work, optimism will lift you up to your eventual comeback which will propel you to a better state than you were before.

Glad that Klay did the work; long though it was, and is back to doing what he does best. GSW’s chances of winning this year’s Championship got much better with your return … The Game just got started. WELCOME BACK, KLAY!

One thing I know for sure …

Credits: Unsplash / Pro Church Media

No matter who you are and how many people rave about you, about your cookies or cooking or style or looks or you-name-it, one thing I now definitely know for sure is that there is always someone somewhere who doesn’t give a hoot about you, still can’t stand you nor like you nor adore anything everyone is raving about you. And I also know for sure that that’s definitely all right.

It’s pointless trying to be all things to all men (and women). It just turns you raggedy and into an unconscious dissociative identity disorder personality.

What I’m saying is that it’s totally all right not to be liked by or raved on by people and we should all be comfortable with it.

As a kid, I repeatedly heard an international artist’s song whose lyrics in part went thus: “there’s no intelligence nor behavior that you may have that will please all people or the world; life is but a short time so people do good always …”

Lately, I also heard Oprah Winfrey say that people always accused her of being “too full of herself.” It used to hurt until she started embracing it. She went on to say that “I can only give out of my overflow; so those who say that I am full of myself are saying the truth – I am full and my cup is running over and I give out of the overflow.”

Road to greatness or making history

You might have heard that Steph Curry, of the Golden States Warriors (GSW), recently made history breaking Ray Allen’s 3-points record by 511 less games.

The road to breaking the record was aired and tracked by the news and social media for days. With 17 3-pointers to making history, Curry was frustrated by opponents. I’m sure by now players know that keeping the key player under wraps is a strategy that not only frustrates the key player, but can secure wins. So it wasn’t unusual that Curry was double-teamed most of the time thereby making it impossible for him to rain those threes. The game between Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia Sixers was the start of the 17 3-pointers needed by Curry to make history. Sixers won the game and Curry only made three 3-pointers of the 17. A rarely-frustrated player, I saw Curry openly frustrated on that game night. What caught my attention however was during the end-of-game chat with the reporter, a young Sixers player stated that he and veteran teammate, Joel Embid, talked before the game and agreed that Steph Curry would not make history on their turf. People, Seth Curry, Steph’s brother is on the Sixers team! The young player’s statement caught my attention. Why say that? What does it matter if Curry broke the record on your turf or not? Curry was closer to breaking it anyways, and it will happen – your turf or not, right? I concluded that they might not have been happy with Curry trying to make history. The subtlety of envy and jealousy or is’t intense or negative competition?! You be the judge. I don’t know but I surely didn’t like it.

The road to greatness is not all smooth or paved with gold. There will be bumps, curves, detours, lies, slanders, overt or covert hatred, and some times temporary or permanent stops. The permanent stops happen when we give up out of frustration. Some history makers, like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Joseph, who were supposed to liberate their people, had themselves been imprisoned before achieving destiny. Most millionaires were once penniless. Most real estate/home developers were also once homeless. Those who carry out the negative, wicked acts to deter anyone’s momentum often do so out of ignorance unknowingly doing the devil’s bidding. But my people, we can take a rest to comeback stronger, but we should never ever give up, for that breakthrough will surely come.

Congrats, Steph Curry

Stephen Curry broke the record at the GSW and New York Knicks game night; the third game after the Sixers. The New York fans were elated for him and so were the reigning record-holder, Ray Allen, Reggie Miller (another previous record holder), family, friends, and the NBA community. New York looked a better ground for the record-breaking moments than it would have at the Sixers.

I am so happy for Stephen Curry. He not only put in the work, but was key to changing the trajectory of the NBA games with his three-pointers. For someone who was overlooked and once rejected, Steph, like Michael Jordan, has proven that you can turn everyone’s rejection to applause. Now, Steph’s on to the next record …

Curry’s way to making history and the Sixers’ comment supports my point that not everyone will celebrate you, but you have to be okay with it. Waiting for the approval of men just means that we will never get anything done, because that approval might just never come.

Sometimes people (or things and, God forbid, even ourselves) deter our momentum in life, but if we don’t give up, what has been ordained for us will surely happen. Delay never equates denial. Those stumbling blocks are meant to buffet us and make us more determined for a stronger comeback.

Till your breakthrough or history-making happens, keep on keeping on, my friend.

The Antagonist

Credits: Unsplash / Callum Skelton

Have you ever encountered an antagonist? I’m not talking about a storyline or drama-type antagonist. I’m talking about the one who is passive-aggressive, subtly malicious, unkind, intentionally does things to hurt you, and pretends that it was done unintentionally, in error, without bias, or were just trying to help you.

Who’s The Antagonist?

The Antagonist knows you well, knows your likes and dislikes, has studied you intensely, knows your weakest points, and know what to do not only to stir, but exploit, your emotions.

The Antagonist can be a close friend, family member, colleague, business associate, neighbor, or a sports teammate.

Most antagonists are charismatic, sociable, and have lots of friends. These character traits, which are great traits to possess, only serve as a cover-up for the antagonist’s true personality.

The Antagonist’s true self is one who seeks the attention and love of everyone and woe to the one who does not join in their attention-seeking group.

The antagonist goes after those who resist their attention with the goal to stir their emotions such that when those react, the aggressor looks like the pacifier.

Lakers and Pistons brawl

Such was my reaction regarding Sunday’s Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons’ game-turned-brawl that got LeBron James (LBJ) and Isaiah Stewart (IS)’s subsequent NBA decision of game suspension without pay. The incident occurred during the third quarter and was all over the media. You probably already heard or watched it. If you didn’t, google Lakers and Pistons fight.

The outcome was that NBA suspended LBJ for one game, but IS was suspended for two games, both without pay.

It’s unfortunate that IS got the heftier penalties, whereas LBJ, who in my opinion was the initiator, got a lighter penalty.

Sir Isaac Newton once said that “for every action, there is an equal or greater reaction.” Though Newton’s statement refers to the law of motion, the same statement is applicable in this instance. LeBron’s action, unintentional or not, including his response afterwards necessitated Isaiah’s furious actions. Granted that IS should have restrained himself when the officials stepped in to the court, but seeing and tasting your own blood threw commonsense outta the window for him.

What happened?

On this unfortunate Sunday, the incident happened during the third quarter. A younger team (Pistons) with one of the worst records of the season (4-11) was leading the game by two-digit points. It was also the second game day back for LBJ, having been out with injury and missed eight previous games. To have Pistons leading the game was an embarrassing moment, to say the least, for LBJ and the Lakers.

At the point of a free throw, LBJ elbowed IS by the brow causing blood to ooze down the right-side of his face. As would be expected, IS walked to LBJ, in my opinion, in an attempt to “verify” if it was an accident or an intentional act. Whatever response LBJ gave certainly compounded an already charged IS and thus infuriated him the more. He was furious and attempted retaliatory attacks before he was finally restrained. He was also seen running to the “tunnel” in an attempt portrayed by the media as going to the Lakers’ locker room and for LBJ.

For the record, the Pistons have been known to be a combative team. Which didn’t help a lighter NBA decision-making either.

My take is that if the initial act hadn’t been committed by “the antagonist,” the ensuing incidents wouldn’t have occurred. LBJ’s response, in my opinion, added fuel onto IS’s troubled waters.

One team player commented that LBJ is not a dirty player having been ejected only once (during the Cavs and Heat’s 2017 game) in his 19-year career. Sunday’s was his second ejection. The fact is that LBJ is not a saint either on the court, nor does he play a-100% clean game 100% of the time. He’s sly and being a veteran of the game, he knows how to tweak without breaking the NBA rules. I’ve watched him done several on-court unkind acts, both intentional and unintentional, over the years. To his credit, most of those acts were overlooked by the referees. LBJ would be a saint when compared to some players such as Draymond Green of Golden State Warriors (to his credit, he’s a changed man now), Rus Westbrook now of LA Lakers, Demarcus Cousins (now a free agent, Patrick Beverley now of Minnesota Timberwolves, etc., who are notorious for intentional vile acts and who would easily warrant a foul or technical for the slightest acts.

I do not advocate violence nor retaliatory acts. But I am fed up with antagonistic folks who act like the innocent after their intentional harmful deeds hence the need to speak up and call the act out for what it is. The NBA ruling also sends a strong message against such actions.

Do incidents occur when playing games? Sure they do. Both intentional and unintentional. Most intentional acts go undetected by the referees. But none should have to draw blood out of another. IS got five stitches for the brow bust. The more reason I feel that LBJ got away too easy.

Know how to handle them

Antagonists are everywhere. You might not understand my post if you’ve never experienced one. I had. At the time, I didn’t know how to handle antagonistic acts and people. After making outburst reactions, I learned to dissociate myself from such people.

I also recently had an experience at an Asian grocery store I occasionally visit. I bought fresh fish, shrimps, and a bag of local foods. On my way out, I realized that I had couple more errands to run before heading home. So I turned back to ask for a bag of ice to help preserve the seafood. I took out the other item from my grocery bag to make room for the ice. As I was about to grab a plastic bag near the exit of the store, to go get the ice, one of the staff (an Asian lady) chased me down. She ran all the way from the back of the store, was so loud speaking in chinese, pointing at me and the item in my hand. Since I didn’t understand, I ignored her and went straight to the store’s freezer room for the ice. The lady was still talking to her other store staff when I returned. So I asked what her uproar was. When I realized that she was actually accusing me of not paying for the item in my hand, I got upset. Now it was my turn to cause an uproar. I demanded an apology. The lady instantaneously shifted gear and said “me help you …”. She stated that she was trying to help me. Which was untrue. The lady ran from the back of the store to the front to accuse me and tried to cover up her act when she was told that I had paid.

My recent experience is nothing compared to LBJ-IS’s, but the outcome of turning the vile act to one of help-apology is similar.

If you have antagonists in your sphere of life, the best reaction is to ignore them. Their goal is to have the incident escalate from your reaction, while they keep silent and feign ignorance of why you’re reacting as such thus portraying you as the aggressor.

Another way to deal with antagonists is to be assertive. As in my recent instance, I requested an apology which was given. I am of the opinion that LBJ ought to apologize publicly to IS to portray the true NBA sportsmanship and face. Being proactive is also helpful and be prepared to walk away to avoid the situation getting out of hand. I wished IS had walked away.

Taking the above measures will help to know how to tame the antagonist.

The boy, Steph, is holy fiery!

After two Season games, Steph Curry is on a holy fiery roll ready to carry the Golden State Warriors (GSW) on his back all the way to the 2021-22 NBA Championship.

Thursday’s Game Two, against the Los Angeles Clippers (LAC), saw Steph being his usual self and more, catching the attention of fellow league players’ tweets. LeBron James (LBJ) of the LA Lakers tweeted that “Steph, you’re sick man,” and Dame Lillard (DL), Portland Trailblazers, tweeted that “Steph goin for 75 tonight;” alluding to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary.

The Golden State Warriors also celebrates 75th Anniversary being one of the initial NBA teams still around and going strong. Initially known as the Philadelphia Warriors from 1946 to 1962, before changing name to San Francisco Warriors from 1962 to 1971. The new name of Golden State Warriors began in 1971.

Steph sure caught the Lakers attention on Opening Night which was an away game at the Lakers’ home on Tuesday. He recorded a triple-double. He did it again on Warriors home Opening Night against the Clippers with twenty-five points in the first quarter. Well, he didn’t make seventy-five points as alluded by DL. But with a double-double and a total forty-five points recorded, Steph announced that the Dubs were back. He sure makes basketball seem so easy and puts the fun into the game, artistically demonstrating moves on the court that would make Picasso jealous.
Here’s hoping his fire don’t die but blows hotter throughout the Season. Go Curry!

He’s come a long way

Curry revolutionized the three-pointers, together with teammate Klay Thompson who unfortunately has still not been released to return (since 2019). Both earned themselves the nickname The Splash Brothers as a result. They were the pioneers of the game-changing three pointers before other NBA teams followed. They both had made their mark and the other players had to catch up.

For, Steph, it’s sure in the genes as his dad, Dell Curry was a shooter during his time, too. But his son, Steph, has broken his shooting record.

Steph Curry was also included as one of 75 Greatest Players in NBA History. Congrats, Steph.

From a skinny boy who was once rejected by top college recruits to now a hoop force to be reckoned with, the boy Steph has come full circle. Sounds like another de ja vu, right? You know who – Michael Jordan (MJ) was also once rejected.

Both Steph and MJ, new and old respectively, demonstrate that being rejected can propel one to greater heights rather than allowing it to destroy one by internalizing pain, shame, and guilt from the naysayers who determine to place a ceiling over one’s destiny. What do you say, people?

Join me in wishing Steph Curry more fires to his hands and feet.

Loving Basketball: International Players in the NBA and Opening Night Tidbits

The Season’s Opening Night was not disappointing. Both games played tonight were spectacular as expected with Milwaukee Bucks defending its championship against “short-handed” Brooklyn Nets (aka Kyrie Irving saga) and my fave Team, Golden States Warriors, routing the Los Angeles (LA) Lakers. The Dubs are surely back and in the championship race this Season. I hope tonight’s play reflects Season’s expectations which will only be improved upon and lead to playoff and eventual Finals. Knocking on woods! 🙏🏾

Credits: Bucks / NBA

BucksChampionship Rings

And, yes, the Bucks were presented with their championship rings (if you missed it, watch it here) prior to the start of game amid a full fan-packed arena. Well deserved. I’m happy for the Bucks players and management,

Will Bucks shoot for a back-to-back championship? We’ll see what the 2021-22 Season holds.

NBA’s International Players

Well, on Opening Night, the National Basketball Association (NBA) released that there are “109 international players from 39 countries on roster for its landmark 75th Anniversary Season, including a record number of players from Canada (eighteen), Germany (seven) and the Bahamas (three), and a record-tying number of players from Nigeria (five). The Toronto Raptors lead the league with a record-tying 10 international players from a record nine countries.”

The number of NBA international players went up by 2 compared to last season’s of 107 from 41 countries of which fourteen (14) were Africans.

On Opening Night, the Season’s roster comprised of 500 players. I identified 44 names of African descent. Twenty-seven (27) were Nigerians contrary to the Association’s stated number of only five (5). This might not be unconnected with the players being second or third generation Nigerians born offshore and/or having dual citizenships but choosing only to identify with the other country over Nigeria. Nigeria accepts dual nationality but some countries don’t.

Below is a list of the identified African NBA players, the country, the year they were drafted, and the Team:

  1. Gorgui Dieng, Senegal, 2013 - Atlanta Hawks
  2. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Congo & France, 2016 - Atlanta Hawks
  3. Onyeka Okongwu, Nigeria, 2020 - Atlanta Hawks
  4. Wes Iwundu, Nigeria, 2017 - Charlotte Hornets
  5. Ayo Dosunmu, Nigeria, 2021 Rookie – Chicago Bulls
  6. Daniel Oturu, Nigeria, 2020 – Chicago Bulls
  7. Tacko Fall, Senegal, 2019 – Cleveland Cavaliers
  8. Isaac Okoro, Nigeria, 2020 – Cleveland Cavaliers
  9. Frank Ntilikina, Rwanda-France, 2017 – Dallas Mavericks
  10. Eugene Omoruyi, Nigeria, Rookie – Dallas Mavericks
  11. Bol Bol, Sudan, 2019 – Denver Nuggets
  12. Zeke Nnaji, Nigeria, 2020 – Denver Nuggets
  13. Hamidou Diallo, Guinea, 2018 – Detroit Pistons
  14. Andre Iguodala, Nigeria, 2004 – Golden State Warriors
  15. Jonathan Kuminga, Congo, 2021 – Golden State Warriors
  16. Usman Garuba, Nigeria-Spain, 2021 – Houston Rockets
  17. David Nwaba, Nigeria, 2016 – Houston Rockets
  18. Nicolas Batum, Cameroon-France, 2008 – Los Angeles (LA) Clippers
  19. Serge Ibaka, Congo, 2008 – Los Angeles (LA) Clippers
  20. Sekou Doumbouya, Guinea-France, 2019 – Los Angeles (LA) Lakers
  21. Bam Adebato, Nigeria, 2017 – Miami Heat
  22. KZ Okpala, Nigeria, 2019 – Miami Heat
  23. Victor Oladipo, Nigeria, 2013 – Miami Heat
  24. Gabe Vincent, Nigeria, undrafted 2 years – Miami Heat
  25. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece-Nigeria, 2013 – Milwaukee Bucks
  26. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Greece-Nigeria, 2014 – Milwaukee Bucks
  27. Jordan Nwora, Nigeria, 2020 – Milwaukee Bucks
  28. Semi Ojeleye, Nigeria, 2017 – Milwaukee Bucks
  29. Josh Okogie, Nigeria, 2018 – Minnesota Timberwolves
  30. Mamadi Diakite, Guinea, 2020 undrafted – Oklahoma City Thunder
  31. Mohammed (Mo) Bamba, Ivory Coast, 2018 – Orlando Magic
  32. Chuma Okeke, Nigeria, 2019 – Orlando Magic
  33. Charles Bassey, Nigeria, 2021 – Philadelphia Sixers
  34. Joel Embiid, Cameroon, 2014 – Philadelphia Sixers
  35. Abdel Nader, Egypt, 2016 – Phoenix Suns
  36. Chimezie Metu, Nigeria, 2018 – Sacramento Kings
  37. Al-Farouq Aminu, Nigeria, 2010 – San Antonio Spurs
  38. Precious Achiuwa, Nigeria, 2020 – Toronto Raptors
  39. OG Anunoby, Nigeria, 2017 – Toronto Raptors
  40. Isaac Bonga, Congo, 2018 – Toronto Raptors
  41. Pascal Siakam, Cameroon, 2016 – Toronto Raptors
  42. Udoka Azubuike, Nigeria, 2020 – Utah Jazz
  43. Miye Oni, Nigeria, 2019 – Utah Jazz
  44. Joel Ayayi, Benin-France, undrafted 2020 – Washington Wizards

Race composition continues to be dynamic and has changed the trajectory of professional sports, including the NBA. Though Black-Americans first entered the league in 1950, almost fifteen years after its inception, the first African-born NBA player was Hakeem Olajuwon from Nigeria who was drafted in 1984.

NBA, like other professional sports and industry, have indeed come a long way as regards inclusion and diversity. We hope the trend continues to be upward till it indeed becomes a melting pot.

Loving Basketball: 2021-22 NBA Season starts today

Woohoo. I’m excited that the NBA 2021-22 Season begins tonight. Each Team will be playing a total of eighty-two (82) games, compared to seventy-two (72) played last season.

There was a Preseason, which was a two-week warm-up, feeler, tester of sorts, for players as several Teams were revamped with new players added and exiting. The Preseason games showcased each Team’s new portfolio of players though not all “old” and veteran players played during the Preseason. Many rested and watched the younger players flex on the courts for Team inclusion and time.

A handful of Teams are totally revamped while few had minor changes. Should be exciting watching the unifying dynamics of the new with the old players.

First Game Night will feature two games that supposedly mirrors the Conferences Finals:

  1. Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks @ 7:30 p.m. ET
  2. Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers @ 10:00 p.m. ET.

Click here to see the full Season’s schedule, I hope you will watch some or all of the games with utmost cheer and care. Live games can be watched on your local sports channels or the NBA Station. Highlights, and sometimes full games, can also be seen on YouTube or Hulu.

To an exciting and fun Season while wishing all players the very best with minimal or no fatigue or injuries.

NBA Lane

www.nba.com/watch/video/welcome-to-nba-lane-nba75

Did you see the short movie clip commemorating the 75th NBA history? If not, click the above link to watch, courtesy of the Association, and produced by Michael B. Jordan.

Yes, some noteworthy players were left out. Intentionally or otherwise, it’s impossible to include every player. I wonder though what the selection criteria for inclusion was.

I love the clip; wished it was a little longer to accommodate for more players, old or present.

The Association has come a long way … Happy 75th Anniversary, NBA!

Loving Basketball: 2021-22 PreSeason and 75th NBA Season

To the Hoops Enthusiasts

As you may or may not know, the Preseason started last Sunday. The Teams are different from what they were the previous season as several players have found new homes (teams) all in the race to win the Championship.

The Preseason games, already played, featured mostly the younger and new players showing off their skills and familiarizing themselves with one another. I’m hoping that the veterans will join in the fun too, if only to sort of warm up with the teams.

The Preseason is a two-week warmer, tester, feeler of sixty-six games; I hope I got the count right. I also hope that the veterans advised the younger (agewise and years in NBA) and newbie players to use wisdom and take it easy at the onset in order to minimize injuries and fatigue as they will have seventy more games to play. Their strength, skills, and stamina will be needed more towards the end of the Season, and continuing into Playoffs and Finals.

Interested in who’s moved to where, click Familiar faces in new places for 2021-22 season courtesy of the NBA.

Preseason Schedule

I’m still trying to get the hang of using tables in WordPress. It has not being easy. Even when done in Excel and uploaded, it comes out funny. But, I hope the below format is easily readable. All Times are ET.

Sunday, October 3rd

  1. 3:30 B Nets – LA Lakers

Monday, October 4th

  1. 7:00 P Sixers – T Raptors
  2. 7:30 O Magic – B Celtics
  3. 7:30 A Hawks – M Heat
  4. 8:00 NO Pelicans – M Timberwolves
  5. 8:00 C Hornets – OKC Thunder
  6. 8:30 U Jazz – SA Spurs
  7. 10:00 GS Warriors – PT Blazers
  8. 10:00 P Suns – S Kings
  9. 10:30 D Nuggets – LA Clippers

Tuesday, October 5th

  1. 7:30 I Pacers – NY Knicks
  2. 8:00. C Cavaliers – C Bulls
  3. 8:00 W Wizards – H Rockets
  4. 8:00 M Bucks – M Grizzlies

Wednesday, October 6th

  1. 6:00 LA Lakers – P Sun
  2. 7:00 SA Spurs – D Pistons
  3. 7:30 C Cavaliers – A Hawks
  4. 8:00 O Magic – NO Pelicans
  5. 8:30 U Jazz – D Mavericks
  6. 10:00 D Nuggets – GS Warriors
  7. 10:30 S Kings – LA Clippers

Thursday, October 7th

  1. 7:00. M Grizzlies – C Hornets
  2. 7:00. T Raptors – P Sixers
  3. 10:00 M Heat – H Rockets

Friday, October 8th

  1. 7:00 I Pacers – C Cavaliers
  2. 7:30 M Bucks – B Nets
  3. 8:00 NO Pelicans – C Bulls
  4. 8:30 LA Clippers – D Mavericks
  5. 8:30 M Heat – SA Spurs
  6. 9:00 M Timberwolves – D Nuggets
  7. 10:00 LA Lakers – GS Warriors

Saturday, October 9th

  1. 7:00 T Raptors – B Celtics
  2. 7:00 NY Knicks – W Wizards
  3. 8:00 A Hawks – M Grizzlies

Sunday, October 10th

  1. 6:00 SA Spurs – O Magic
  2. 7:00 C Bulls – C Cavaliers 3. 7:30 OKC Thunder – M Bucks
  3. 10:00 P Suns – LA Lakers

Monday, October 11th

  1. 7:00 H Rockets – T Raptors
  2. 7:30 C Hornets – M Heat
  3. 8:00 B Nets – P Sixers
  4. 8:00 D Pistons – M Grizzlies
  5. 9:00 NO Pelicans – U Jazz
  6. 10:00 S Kings – PT Blazers
  7. 10:30 M Timberwolves – LA Clippers

Tuesday, October 12th

  1. 7:00 T Raptors – W Wizards
  2. 10:30 GS Warriors – LA Lakers

Wednesday, October 13th

  1. 6:30 D Mavericks – C Hornets
  2. 7:00 M Grizzlies – I Pacers
  3. 7:00 B Celtics – O Magic
  4. 7:30 D Pistons – NY Knicks
  5. 8:00 D Nuggets – OKC Thunder
  6. 9:00 M Bucks – U Jazz
  7. 10:00 PT Blazers – P Suns

Thursday, October 14th

  1. 7:00 M Heat – A Hawks
  2. 7:30 M Timberwolves – B Nets
  3. 8:00 D Nuggets – OKC Thunder
  4. 10:00 LA Lakers – S Kings

Friday, October 15th

  1. 6:30 B Celtics – M Heat
  2. 7:00 P Sixers – D Pistons
  3. 7:00 C Cavaliers – I Pacers
  4. 7:30 W Wizards – NY Knicks
  5. 8:00 M Grizzlies – C Bulls
  6. 8:00 D Mavericks – M Bucks
  7. 8:30 H Rockets – SA Spurs
  8. 10:00 PT Blazers – GS Warriors

NBA enters its 75th Season

The Season starts on October 19th. It will be exciting with NBA entering its 75th Season. Special programs have been scheduled to commemorate the history, Teams, players past and present. Click on the above link for a movie, NBA Lane, showing tomorrow.

Loving Basketball: 2021-22 Season begins soon

2020-21 Recap

What a spectacular ending, in July, to the 2020-21 Basketball Season that catapulted the underdog Milwaukee Bucks (MB) as that season’s Champions. I was elated for several reasons; one particularly of which I felt that Giannis Antetokounmpo (GA), who led the Team, had been disrespected and routed by all; the media, fans, and other players, for shenanigans and silly various reasons in my opinion. The likes of disrespect and taunting that would not have been thrown at LeBron James (LBJ or Kevin Durant (KD) or Steph Curry (SC), or any of their caliber without some rebukes. Then again, it could have been a strategy (which obviously backfired) to intimidate GA, the Greek Freak. But, thank goodness, all those negative vibes didn’t sway him to withdraw. Yes, it did slightly affect him with his free throws. But he overcame and conquered to win the Season’s MVP. And, together with his equally indefatigable teammates, won that Season’s championship.

Too bad they (GA and MB) can’t enjoy the Larry O’Brien (LOB) trophy and exhilaration for long for two reasons: one, the break was curtailed, and two, the 2021-22 Season starts soon.

Anywho, that was a long recap.

2021-22 Season

I’m so happy to say that this Season is about to start in a month. Preseason games, which I call the warmers, testers, and feelers, start two days prior and the opening games start on October 19th.

The Preseason games in my opinion are kinda sorta warmers, testers, and feelers. Warmers because most players probably didn’t touch the ball during the break; resorting understandably to spend much needed time with their families to make up for those periods that they were grinding for the Larry O’Brien trophy. The warmups will help them know where they stand physically and mentally with the ball or see how rusty they’ve allowed themselves to let go.

It’s also a tester and feeler because each team, after the musical chairs of trades, wants to have a feel for the “new” team’s roster relative to other teams and test their capacities in various ranges.

It’s still always fun to watch. Having watched several, I feel that the experienced teams withhold their strength and capacities to give a false impression of the team. Kinda like a bait of sorts strategy. Why waste all the fire at the onset when you have seventy-two games to play, right?

The Preseason and initial first few Season games also allow the Coaches to try different strategies, plays, and players (aka rotations) for the best fit.

I can’t wait to see what the Season has for every Team. Will Milwaukee Bucks play for a back-to-back championship?

Various Teams are in the run for the LOB Trophy this season. The trades were brutal, coupled with the Rookies from the Draft, and returnees from injuries, the race to the 2021-22 Championship is going to be wild.

Have you seen or heard of the LA Lakers’ new roster? The big ball team could scare off the best of teams. But, what with Brooklyn Nets as an equally great contender?

Well, my team is in the race, too! It’s fire, fire, fire all round with the return of Klay Thompson (Welcome, Klay!), Jordan Bell, and acquisition of Ighi (Andre Iguodala), and the two Rookies, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, Golden State Warriors is right there at the top of the race. Sad to see Kelly Oubre Jr. and Eric Paschal leave. Wish them the very best.

Of course, we are cognizant of the younger teams: Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Sun, etc. They, and the rest of the teams in-between, all put up a show last season. How did the Drafts and Trades impact them? Will they return with greater tenacity this season?

I can’t wait to see and find out.

Cheers to a Season of great, fun, competitive, and mitigating (or no) injury to all players.

Last One: what’s up with the vaccine?

We all now know that being vaccinated does not preclude one from still testing positive for the covid, right? So, why did the National Basketball Association (NBA) agree to not test vaccinated players? Sounds also that masking has been lapsed, including allowing not vax’ing for religious reasons. 🤔

First, I read that the players disagreed to mandated vaccination stating that it was not part of their contract. Hey brothers, covid is no respecter of your contract. I just pray that none will test positive this season. That even if any, the impact will be mild. But remember, should any test positive, that player will be out for at least two weeks. Two weeks at the beginning of the Season is nothing, but I’m sure no Team wants their key player out for two weeks at critical times of the Season.

Now, the player options are vax or be tested daily.

My two-cents is that everyone (NBA players included) engaging in public should be vaccinated and intermittently tested. Stay home if you don’t want to vax or mask – it’s simple. I recognize the division between those who don’t want to and those who choose to. Defiantly choosing not to vax or mask is an act of selfishness given that your choice could directly and indirectly affect another or several and that the outcomes of covid when infected could be fatal. Those players choosing not to are a dire threat to those players who have chosen to. I just hope that the Basketball world are aware of this.

If you’re an unvaccinated player, do remember not to shake hands with nor hug any fans no matter how desperate the fans may be.

What side are you on: vax and mask or no vax no mask, or in-between?

For now, as much as I love to attend the opening games, my TV and living room will be my team stadium till further notice.

Loving Basketball: Welcome back, Ighi!

As you may or may not know, it has been a whirlwind in the NBA since August 2nd when the annual free agency trades began. With it came new mega contracts that’s making my head spin so hard; all in the bid to stack up on the best of the best of players onward to the 2021-22 NBA Championship race.

While some trades and contracts were shockers both on the acquiring and releasing of players, some made good business sense.

Of all the player trades, I am personally most pleased to see Andre Iguodala back with the Golden State Warriors.

Ighi a 37-year old veteran, still kicking it, has been around the NBA block since 2004 when he was first drafted by the Philadelphia Sixers; the Team he spent eight seasons with. He first joined the Warriors in 2013, had six seasons, and was invaluable in guarding key players during the Warriors’ Championships seasons in 2015, and the back-to-back 2017 and 2018. In 2015, Ighi won the MVP.

He was traded to the Miami Heats in 2019. It was a sad departure watching him leave and wondering why the Warriors couldn’t work out a better deal to retain him.

I hoped he enjoyed his two-season tenure with the Heats, but happy to see him back with the Warriors. Could this be his last dance with the Team and community that gave him the MVP? We will find out soon.

Welcome Andre Iguodala back to the Bay Area and the Golden State Warriors.

Want to read more about Ighi’s basketball bio, click here.

Bye to Oubre

As we welcome Andre, it was sad to say goodbye to Kelly Oubre Jr whose new home is now with the Charlotte Hornets. Thanks Oubre! I enjoyed watching Oubre fierce and fearless on the court and will miss him. I hope his new home is as comforting as, if not more than, the Bay. Wish you the very best, Oubre.

The Whole Trade

If you’ve followed the NBA in the last two weeks, you would have heard of the several mega and max contracts flying around. From Steph Curry to Luka Doncic to Kevin Durant to …., it’s jaw-breaking deals all over. Interested in knowing who has been traded from/to what Team, click here.

Tokyo Olympics

Credits: NBA

Finally, it behooves us to say Congratulations to both the USA Men and Women Basketball Teams for winning the Gold medals at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics.

Draft Picks Kuminga and Moody Ready to Get to Work with the Warriors | Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have added two new members to the 2021-22 roster following Thursday’s NBA Draft. Welcome to the squad Jonathan Kuminga (7th overall pick) and Moses Moody (14th)! Get to know more about the latest additions to Dub Nation and what they could potentially bring to the hardwood.
— Read on www.nba.com/warriors/news-blogs/kuminga-moody-20210729

Rep the Rookies!

Presenting Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, the newly-acquired Rookies. Both were selected, by Bay Area’s finest, the Golden State Warriors, (GSW) as #s 7 and 14 respectively in Round 1 of the 2021 NBA Draft yesterday. Kuminga originates from the Congo Republic in Africa.

Credits: Golden State Warriors

Click on the above link to read more about the Rookies.

Please welcome them, wish them well, and get to know them.

Here’s hoping that the addition will make GSW a better contender for the 2021-22 NBA Season.

ThinkerTalker wishes both the very best.

Article Credits to NBA.com and Golden State Warriors

Loving Basketball: 2021 NBA Draft Pick Is Tonight

It’s that time of year again for NBA Teams to pick their Rookies. It’s happening tonight at 8 P.M. ET.

www.nba.com/draft/2021

The above NBA link shows each Team’s pick number. Though I have several favorite players, my fave Team, Golden States Warriors, has the #7 First Round Pick. The Season’s Champions, Milwaukee Bucks, don’t get to pick, but they still have the #1 Round Two pick from a previous trade.

This CBS Sports link shows the prospects; a total of 102. An impressive list with at least ten (10) freshmen opting for the NBA. Africa is also ably represented with ten (10).

The Draft Pick is both exciting and emotional. Some are sure picks, but about forty percent (40%) will return home without a Team selection.

It is always interesting to see the final outcome of selections by the Teams. I also like to compare how close the Mock/Analyst selections are to the final outcomes.

I hope you will watch tonight; airing on ABC. Check your local channels for other airings.

ThinkerTalker wishes all prospects the very best.

The Steve Graves Weekly: Finding Your Scottie Pippen

The Steve Graves Weekly: Finding Your Scottie Pippen
— Read on us10.campaign-archive.com/

Who is your Pippen or Chuck?

Two weeks ago, I had thought of a blog topic, using basketball as an allegory. The topic was “every MJ has a Pippen.” But with the Finals in full swing, I wrote the title, then shelved it for other topics. Guess what, yesterday, I got an article on exactly the same topic from one of the blogs I follow! I can’t help but share it.

I was like omg, Father God, what are you trying to tell me? That’s like Him – giving His people the same thing at the same time. My people, He is speaking and we all need to pay attention.

I believe that God is telling us to pay more and better attention to the #2s in our lives. And if you are a #2 to someone, know that you are special because God has taken note of you. Not that He just did, He’s being watching you keenly.

I was going to post a different blog for Sunday’s Jesus Ministry, but had to switch to blog this.

Everyone knows who Michael Jordan is. He is a global athletic icon. Every kid or high schooler wants to be like Mike. But how many know who Scottie Pippen is – now or then; during both their seasons with the Chicago Bulls.?

The Bible talks about Ruth (in the Book of Ruth) and Jonathan (in the Book of 1 Samuel). Both Ruth and Jonathan are folks who came into the lives of another (Naomi and David respectively) to help them out. They became team members for the success of the other.

I really don’t have much to add. Steve Graves’ article does all the talking.

However, I would like to add this: that I hope we all have a Chuck (Barkley) in our corner. Chuck, on the Inside the NBA show was the only analyst who supported, voted, and believed that Giannis and Milwaukee Bucks would win the Championship. He believed at the onset of the Playoffs even when Bucks was losing and were not playing their best game as expected.

I hope someone some where believes in me. I hope someone some where believes in you, too.

Stayed blessed and have a great and productive week.

So, Bucks made the History on Game 6!

Milwaukee Bucks are the 2020-21 NBA Champs! It’s all over the media! And lots of histories were made:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (GA) and the Milwaukee Bucks finally made history; in 50 years!!
  2. And what an amazing way to make it happen with Giannis’s 50 points game night!!!
  3. And Giannis being the first international NBA Finals MVP
  4. And Bucks, as Mantange asked, became the fifth Team in NBA history to comeback from a 2-0 deficit and win the Championship.

All that, including winning the Finals MVP for the third time!!!

GA was all teary emotional. It was an emotional night for me as well watching him, the Team, owners, fans, and all. Perseverance, faith, humility, resilience, hardwork all in action.

Undoubtedly, the Phoenix Suns put up a great fight, but …

It was a well deserved win for Giannis and the Team. And they (Team, town, and fans) all need to celebrate and enjoy the WIN.

I’ll forget the negatives observed and leave you to enjoy the video clips and photos.

Thanks for an awesome NBA season that will forever go down in history.

Thank goodness also for some Olympics basketball which starts on Monday. Till next season,

History in the Making! Will it happen today?

Have you been watching the NBA 2020-21 Championship between Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, like I have? What a ball it has been!

Game 6 will be played today, at 9:00 P.M. EST in ABC. That’s in approximately three hours. It is the game NBA Analyst, Steve Aschburner, has tagged Desperation versus Discipline. I cannot agree more.

Desperation or Discipline?

Both Teams are indeed desperate to win today for obvious reasons. For Suns, it’s win or go home. The desperation is hardest on them such that some Phoenix lawyer(s) will pay for a billboard to be mounted in Milwaukee! Read about it here. Whether to support the Suns or troll the Bucks, it seems an act of desperation. The law firm should have used the money to fly all its staff and family members to Fiserv Forum to cheer Phoenix Sun if it really wanted to support. Well …

For Bucks, it’s win, clinch the Larry O’Brien Cup, or return to Phoenix for another grueling game.

Also, both Teams haven’t won a Finals in at least fifty (50) years.

Both Teams also have to indeed exercise discipline; a much better one than they had done and particularly did for Game 5 in order to mitigate the foul calls and avoid technicals and injuries.

Whether it is desperation or discipline, I hope it’s all clean, good, and fun game with no fatal injuries.

Background and Series thus far

As you may or may not know, NBA Playoffs and Championships are a series of seven games. The Season’s Championship began on Tuesday, July 6th at the home court of Phoenix Suns (PS). The Series started with Games 1 and 2 at Phoenix, Games 3 and 4 in Milwaukee, Game 5 – Phoenix, Game 6 – Milwaukee (today), and Game 7, if necessary, back in Phoenix.

As expected, PS clinched the first two games of the Series utilizing home court and fan base to their advantage, setting everyone, viewers and analysts, wondering what was going on with the Bucks, and thus putting Team Giannis in the hole 2-0! Phoenix’s fan base loudly roasted (or booed) Giannis Antetokounmpo (GA) non-stop at the free-throw line – a mental torture, in my opinion.

However, at Buck’s homecourt, GA appeared to get mentally tougher, better, and of course, fewer or non-existence of the Phoenix fans helped eased his composure at the free throw line. With some superb leadership caliber plays, Bucks won the next two games; also utilizing the fan base-home court to its advantage.

Though Game 5 was at PS’s, Bucks clinched the game; now leading series by 3-2. Spectacular was the steal by Jrue Holiday (JH) (from Sun’s Devin Booker) at the last few minutes, GA’s dunk, and Khris Middleton’s back-to-back three-pointers, including free-throws from fouls all helped put Bucks in the lead and cemented the win.

All games featured superb 40+ points each by three players; Devin Booker (PS), GA, and Khris Middleton (KM); thus making the Finals MVP a hard choice. Also notable were stunning steals in the last two games, including blocks and dunks throughout.

The Desperation continues

The Phoenix Suns franchise, established in 1968, has never won an NBA Championship. Per Jason Schandl, “the last time they even made the NBA finals was the 1992-93 season, when Charles Barkley and company lost to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Their only other championship appearances came in the 1975-76 season.”

Bucks’ slogan is “History in the Making.” It’s the first time the team reached the Finals in fifty (50) years.

“The last time the Bucks were in The Finals, legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson were their stars. Current coach Mike Budenholzer was only four years old. Some of the 2021 players’ parents weren’t even born yet.”

Steve Aschburner

“Only four teams have ever bounced back from a 2-0 series deficit in the NBA Finals. Can the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks team become the fifth?” – Yash Mantange

The four teams, he wrote, were:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016
  2. Miami Heat in 2006
  3. Portland Trail Blazers in 1977, and
  4. Boston Celtics in 1969.

I believe Mantange made the above statement simply because Milwaukee Bucks is closer to clinching the Series’ win than Phoenix Suns. But, it will be interesting to see the outcome tonight. Yours truly will definitely be watching, cheering, and taking notes. [smile]. I hope you will be too.

Post 2: Lessons Learned from just watching Basketball

In Post 1, I listed some observations from watching this season’s basketball. Please check it out to better understand the origin of this continuation Post.

In this Post, I’m diving into the Lessons Learned.

  1. Don’t give up: Persevere
  2. Be open-minded
  3. Change
  4. Believe
  5. Always put your best foot forward, and
  6. Speak / affirm your success.

Lessons

  1. Don’t give up: Persevere

The two teams in this season’s Finals got there as a result of perseverance and resilience. Not ever giving up means that your time will surely come if you continue to persevere. Most of us give up at the slightest turn of adversity and lose our dreams. Sometimes we give up at the edge of our breakthroughs.

Milwaukee Bucks’ back-to-back eliminations at the semi-finals rounds were both painful despite being the #1 NBA team both years. The team nevertheless did not give up, nor was the coach fired (a common theme with losing teams), nor did Giannis Antetokounmpo request a trade as a result. And, now, here they are at the Finals.

Another lesson came from Chris Paul who, and team, are also in the Finals now. But Chris has been in the NBA for sixteen years, in five different teams, but never once made it this far. Read more about Chris Paul here.

  1. Be open-minded

In basketball, or any sport for that matter, or in business, or at work, one may be required to perform in a different position, shift, or another job, or be offered a differing business proposal. It is important to be open-minded in accepting the shift or change and/or weighing the proposal. LeBron James though officially a forward, small and power, has played the point guard position and is one of a few players capable of playing all five positions. He wouldn’t have been if he had closed up on being tried on the other positions. True that sometimes one might try other positions and not excel at it. That’s okay; the attitude should be that “at least I tried it.” One would never know without trying.

  1. Change

Change is good. Yet some changes can be bad. It is a matter of attitude and perception – is the glass half-full or half-empty.

Changes for the players may occur as a result of trades or exercising their free agency options, and for the coaches by being fired. Both players and coaches could also not have their contracts renewed.

Trades are a part of basketball. It happens every season. NBA has designated a time frame for all trades to happen and the “deadline traditionally is in early February, about three and a half months from the start of the regular season.” While some players request the trade either because of friction / conflict or frustration not advancing as envisioned, most are traded because of non-performance. Also, most teams trade as a business proposition. An example is when the team desires a key player. To make it happen, the team might have to exercise some options that will trade (or let go of) an existing player or players in order to make room for the new player without exceeding the salary cap (which is the limit to the total amount of money that NBA teams are allowed to pay their players.). Good examples were when Golden State Warriors (GSW) and Los Angeles Lakers acquired Kevin Durant (KD) and LeBron James respectively.

I watched KD being an unhappy and aggressive player during his tenure at Oklahoma City (OKC.) But saw a “new” KD while at GSW. He didn’t show any unnecessary aggressiveness, but merely let out his super-elite skills. And he was happier in my opinion. The same observation goes for Anthony Davis formerly of New Orleans Pelicans (NOP), now with the Lakers.

  1. Believe

Faith is action. And faith without works is dead. Putting our faith to work produces result. And backing our faith with action, produces the desired result. Faith without action is merely wishful thinking. I noticed a lot of the players show, overtly or covertly, one form of faith or another. Some do the sign of the cross and others clasp their hands in a form of prayer. Notable among the players are Steph Curry and James Harden, The clasped hands might also connote “thanks.” Since I don’t know why the players perform the acts of faith or gratitude that they do, I’m unable to say whether their were praying or showing gratitude for answered prayers or not. But those forms of public actions demonstrate the players’ faith in a higher being.

  1. Always put your best foot forward

Some of us wait for things (or life) to happen to us then we react, rather than being proactive and going for the best and highest of everything we desire in life. I used to be so, too. There were areas of my life that I would not negotiate and thus was very proactive in those areas. A few others though, I just “accepted” when I should have denied.

In the Milwaukee Bucks-Atlanta Hawks Series opener, I witnessed Bucks playing reactively and thus not only lost to Hawks for Game 1, but had to thereafter “pant to win” though they were clearly the favored-to-win of the two teams. The win still happened for the Bucks in this instance, but sometimes it could have been the opposite. I hope that they learned a lesson from it, too.

Lesson: put your utmost endeavor at the onset of everything you do.

  1. Speak / affirm your success

This should actually be the Number 1 lesson but I left it here to match its placement with the first post.

Speaking your preferred outcome into existence is an act of faith though many call it affirmation. Whatever you call it, just speak it out specifically loud and clear. I know LeBron James spoke it out and pursued it relentlessly to the point of changing teams in search of the first Championship and ring. He’s done it thrice, has the three rings, and is looking on to the fourth.

Chris Paul has also declared that he has to win the Championship.

Note: your words must be specific. For example, “this is my year or season to win the Championship” is much better than saying “I have to win the Championship.” The latter is too general and has no set date attached to it.

It is akin to setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Target Date) Goals.

Questions and Comments

There you have my 6 Lessons Learned from watching Basketball. The lessons also apply to other sports. Do you watch basketball, too? Which of these lessons resonate with you? Do you have other lessons you would like to add? Please include in the Comments. Thank you for reading; like and share if you please.

Know the key players and coaches leading their Teams to the NBA Finals

Today is the first of the BIG Game basketball lovers have been waiting for. The 2020-21 NBA Finals between Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns is led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Paul respectively. Seven more games to excite fans, if it gets to the wires. We don’t know if Giannis Antetokounmpo will return today or not. (this was the paragraph I wrote earlier and chose to keep it …)

Well, Game 1 has been played and the Suns won. The win though is not enough to use as a predictor of the Series. We know the Suns ended their Western Conference Final (WCF) two days earlier than the Bucks. We can deduce that Bucks is still fatigued from the travel and jubilation of their Eastern Conference Final (ECF). And though Giannis played, it will be unfair to expect a top shape body and game from him having missed almost three games. It was obvious, in my opinion though that Khris Middleton was fatigued. Understandably so having carried Bucks on his back the last two games and to the ECF. Here’s hoping that Bucks bounces back soon from the exhaustion.

I thought to blog on the key players and their coaches. I found some articles, Ten things to know about the player, from NBA.com, to share. Click on each name to find out more.

  1. Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo
  2. Bucks’ Khris Middleton
  3. Phoenix’s Chris Paul
  4. Phoenix’s Devin Booker

The Coaches

Mike Budenholzer is the current Bucks head coach, since 2018. The team was formed in 1968, and there have been 15 head coaches for the Bucks franchise. The franchise won its only NBA championship in the 1971 NBA Finals under the leadership of its first coach, Larry Costello.
Don Nelson was the head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1976–1987. Terry Porter was the head coach of the Bucks for two seasons. Jason Kidd served as the Bucks head coach from 2014–2018.

Founded in 1968, the Suns are chronologically the second-oldest team in the Western Conference. The Suns are also chronologically the third-oldest team in the NBA to have never won an NBA Championship while having played in the NBA Finals at least once

Former Pelicans coach Monty Williams was hired to coach the team on May 3, 2019. The Phoenix Suns franchise has had 20 head coaches. John MacLeod is the franchise’s all-time leader in coaching years and games won, winning the most regular-season and playoff games. Cotton Fitzsimmons, Mike D’Antoni and Monty Williams are the only coaches to have won the NBA Coach of the Year Award with the Suns. The Suns never have been coached by a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

Now you know why the Finals game is important to both teams. Who would win the Championship? We’ll keep watching and I hope you’ll watch along.

References:

  • NBA.com
  • Wikipedia.org
  • Factsnippet.org

6 Lessons I learned from just watching Basketball: Part I

  1. Never give up
  2. Be open-minded
  3. Change
  4. Believe
  5. Always put your best foot forward, and
  6. Speak / affirm your success.

Preface

I know that God speaks to all His creatures (people). The question is whether or not we are receiving or perceiving what He’s saying? It is akin to a radio station; you hear it clearly when your antenna is in sync with the station. Other times, when the antenna is not, it’s muffled and you can get interferences. Interruptions that distorts the messages received will spur the wrong action.

I gravitated wholly to basketball when my daughters got more into the sport in middle school. They both had been playing since they were four. At the time, it was just to occupy their time. However, it turned out to be a sport they both loved, in addition to soccer. Prior to that, personally, basketball was just another sport. I wanted to better understand the game in order to be able to help them be better. So I learned, read, watched, and asked questions. Their dad was not interested in being part of it because he considered it a waste of time and money! Occasionally he would join us for a game, drop and pick them up from practices which all seemed like a “forced” chore.

Basketball is now my #1 pastime.

Observations

While I saw few players being misfits in their initial teams, blossoming when placed in another team, I also noted those who were excelling as starters at one team, relegated to benchers and thus dwindled skills. A few of those players have either faded into NBA oblivion or gone international for a second opportunity.

As with the players, so with the Coaches. A coach (or more) couldn’t coach his team to a championship not to talk of the Playoffs. Yet, when let go and embraced by another team, I watched their teams excelling and reaching Playoffs and Conference Finals.

What was it that changed or why couldn’t the same coach perform at the old team? I wonder repeatedly for an answer.

I also watched teams defeated, that were otherwise sure-bankers for the win, while the underdogs shone over and over. This instance happened to my younger daughter’s big 7th grade championship game! I still remember it to this day. And a few top key players appeared unprepared for certain games, and the benchers were the saving graces for the day.

All these, I hope you agree, demonstrates that nothing is etched in stone and never say never.

Golden Nugget

I shared with my younger daughter, while we were both watching the Milwaukee Bucks-Atlanta Hawks’ Game 6, one thing that had stayed with me over the years from a former CEO. At an office quarterly meeting, he said “we put so much into hiring the right fit and I believe that we have a superb HR Department. If an employee is not performing where we’ve placed him/her, it is not the employee’s fault. It could be that we made a mistake in hiring, which I doubt, or it could be that we placed the employee in the wrong department. Most likely the latter. I implore all managers to give the employee another chance and help find the department where they think the employee might be a better fit, before showing him or her the door. Give the employee time to adjust; learning curve.

The wisdom from that statement stayed with me and I have used it in advising others till date.

I shared that while musingly watching Nate McMillan coach Atlanta Hawks within the year to the Eastern Final; one he couldn’t achieve for Indiana Pacers nor the Portland Blazers during his tenures for four and five years respectively. His closest record to the Atlanta Hawks’ was once during his seven-year season with the Seattle Sonics.

Some thing, or things, definitely changed either connected to his maturity or skills or both. Was he let off too soon at his previous coaching positions and could he have achieved the same, or more, success had he stayed longer? Your answer is as good as mine.

God in Basketball?

God is everywhere and in everything whether you admit or acknowledge it or not. And, yes, he is in the basketball and all games.

One of my favorite scripture chapter is Ecclesiastes 3:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill (my interpretation: this is not to murder anyone, but more in reference to “killing” what is not fruitful in our lives), and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and
a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate (my interpretation: not hating of people, but more of a hate of evil and the heavy things that tend to weigh us down);
a time for war, and a time for peace. …
He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, …
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God hath done it, that men should fear before him.
‭‭(Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:‬ ‭ASV‬‬ verses 1-8, 11a, 14)

I referenced this scripture because winning in basketball, aside from the right fit, is about seasons and times. While the coach strategizes and breaks down the game plan, the players have to build up their game-changing habits, skills, and styles. More of this later.

Is “God” in the basketball, finals, and championship? Yes, you bet He is, though many will disagree with me and loudly say that it’s a matter of skills. And God is in everything though we don’t all see it nor acknowledge Him.

The two finals’ teams have long histories. On one hand one key player has been in the NBA for over a decade, with multiple teams, yet has never reached Finals let alone win a championship. Another was so close to a Final, yet missed it. Both Teams haven’t won in several years. I would propose that each player and both teams are desperate for a deserving win, right? Yet we know that only one will win. Who will it be?

These observations and lessons are not peculiar to this season’s basketball alone, but to every season, game of basketball be it at the school, college, or professional levels, as well as, every spheres of life. But we have to pay attention in order to grasp them.

Someone once said,

“If you pay attention, attention will pay you.”

This statement does not mean seeing the obvious and visible. We don’t need any more attention for that. What it means is that only the diligent and curious will see the latent. How does it relate to basketball and the lessons I have learned?

To be continued … stay tuned to find out.

All Hail Milwaukee Bucks, the Eastern Conference Champion!!!

What a game! What a series!! I had to watch Game 6 all over again.
But now it’s over and on to the next challenge, the Real Finals.

Milwaukee Bucks are the NBA 2020-21 Eastern Conference Champs. The #3 Eastern Conference seed defeated the young and feisty #5 Atlanta Hawks in an incredibly underestimated 4-2 run.

Milwaukee home fans

I hope that Bucks learned a lesson or two from this Series which started with underrating Atlanta in Game 1 of the series The “hungry” Hawks quickly stated that they showed up to play and behold won the Game.

I had thought that it would be an easy win or a sweep, but Atlanta Hawks proved me wrong.

Of course the Series was not without its share of injuries. Both Teams’ key leaders were sidelined for two and three games each respectively. First, it was Trae Young, then it was Giannis Antetokounmpo. Both Teams survived and won at least a game each without their key players.

Giannis, who left Game 4 and missed Games 5 and 6, humbly stepped aside to allow his deserving teammates; Middleton, Holiday, Lopez, Turcker, Portis, and Connaughton, to enjoy the exhilaration of holding the Larry O’Brien cup. They all elevated their games to cover Giannis’ absence and thus are taking the trophy back home to Milwaukee.

Bucks will face the Western Conference Champs, Phoenix Suns, starting on Tuesday, July 6. It sure will be another spectacular Series as it is Bucks Final qualifier since 1974 and Suns’ since 1993. Both Teams also entered the NBA in the same year. Surely, I’m not about to miss any of the games.

Hope you’ll be watching, too.

Congrats again to Milwaukee Bucks being the superior team in the Series.

Thanks to Team Trae Young for giving Bucks a hard-earned game. Till next season, rest, rest, rest!!!

The NBA Finals begin on Tuesday, July 6. Oh how I wish the Bucks have more time between games to recoup and reenergize. Phoenix Suns has been “resting” since Thursday. I’m sure they will all be fine. 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

Mike Brown prepares to make Olympic history with Nigerian national team

OAKLAND, Calif. – Nelson Mandela once famously said, “The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The Black people of the world need Nig…
— Read on theundefeated.com/features/mike-brown-prepares-to-make-olympic-history-with-nigerian-national-team/

Woohoo to the Nigerian Basketball Team – what a delight to qualify as the only African country – and to Mike Brown, the humble Golden State Warriors assistant Coach!

👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾😎

CONGRATS TO PHOENIX SUNS, The 2021 NBA Western Conference Finalist!

While we await the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Final, which has been a roller coaster of a series, I stop to Congratulate Phoenix Suns, Team Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Anton, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Payne, et al.

They just defeated LA Clippers in an emotional and high-intensity-packed game amidst injuries, bruises, fouls, technicals, and all, that demonstrates a finals hunger. And the hunger was satisfied with immense resilience and perseverance.

It’s the Suns’ first win in over thirty (30) years and Chris Paul’s in sixteen (16). Highly commendable.

👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾😎👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾

The NBA Finals will definitely be a record performance of two hungry teams; be it Milwaukee Bucks or Atlanta Hawks. Can’t wait to watch. I hope you’ll be watching, too.

What happened to the Spida fire?!

As you may have known or heard, Utah Jazz has been eliminated from the Playoffs. They started well with ‘Spida’ Mitchell on fire in Games 1 and 2, but the Los Ángeles (LA) Clippers came with their fire extinguishers for the subsequent games and Spida could fire no more. It was sad to watch Team ‘Spida’ Mitchell unable to bounce back after leading 2-0. The Number 1 Western Conference Team was sadly eliminated by the Number 4.

What happened?

One team was hungrier for the win than the other? Or the two-up-Team felt that it was a done-deal and relapsed? Your guess is as good as mine.

Experience was a factor in my opinion; the difference between the vets’/playoff/finals’ teams on one hand compared to the new-kid-on-the-block team on the other. Utah also doesn’t have any such player on their Team.

Clippers’ win was the Team’s first Wéstern Final. They move onto Round 3, the Western Playoffs Championship, against the Phoenix Suns (PS). Series is already in progress with PS leading 2-0. Will Clippers continue their new signature-style and strategy as seen with the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz? Time will tell. Watch the game tonight at 9:00 PM (Eastern Time) to find out.

Well, on to next season for Team Utah. Thanks for a great and exciting 2020-21 NBA Season.

Congratulatory Corner

Congratulations to Utah Center Rudy Gobert though for being the 2020-21 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year; an award he has won for three consecutive years and overall four times.

Shoutout, as well, to the First and Second All-Defensive Teams. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

Did you watch it?

Game 7 was phenomenal as expected. It could have passed for the NBA Finals, rather than the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals that it was. And for the Milwaukee Bucks, no other game going forward, could be as challenging as the one today against Brooklyn Nets. For sure!

So, Team Giannis won having narrowly missed a last minute three-pointer that could have ended the regulation with Kevin Durant’s (KD) shot, but for his (KD) foot on the line. Thus it was a two-point shot. It tied the game and went into overtime.

KD’s three/two pointer shot

The overtime (OT) started with Nets early shot, while Bucks’ shots refused to hit the basket until almost the fourth minute (of the five-minute OT).

A game with KD is not over until the clock times out because he is such a great player and shooter who can shoot from any angle. Unfortunately his last shot for the Game 7 OT was an air ball. As Giannis always says, a win is a win, whether by one or ten points. KD’s miss clenched the win for Team Giannis.

I have watched both Giannis Antetokounmpo (GA) and KD played each other times without number, both during regular seasons, Playoffs, and Finals, but still none compared to 2021 Game 7 nor have I ever seen both key players as exhausted as they both were for this Game. Everyone, that is the NBA village, was watching.

Bucks was the underdog, but with injuries plaguing the Nets, they had a chance. And chance they not only had, but took, and snatched the win from the Big Two (or shall I say, Big One-and-a-Half since Harden, who surprisingly made more shots (3s) than he did for Games 5 and 6) was not totally healthy. He stepped up immensely though to aid KD and the Team.

The key players on both Teams were glaringly and excruciatingly exhausted not surprisingly since both KD and Giannis played about 50 minutes each and had 40+ points. Giannis played with a limp towards the end having suffered pains from being hit. So did P. J. Tucker at some point. Giannis was also ridiculed at the free throw line for taking too long and missing the shots anyways, which he finally overcame and made a total of I think five out of the eight free throws. Middleton was hit in the eye. And there was also foul troubles; P.J. Tucker, who was doing a tremendous job guarding KD and frustrating his efforts, eventually fouled out during the OT.

Great Sportsmanship

KD gave his respect to the Milwaukee Bucks for all they did tonight, during the Series, and had done throughout the Season.
See the after-game video courtesy of NBA.

Congrats. Congrats. Congrats.

Congratulations to the Milwaukee Bucks. They get two days of rest, (excluding travel back to their home base) while waiting on the winner of Sixers and Atlanta, before the start of the Eastern Conference Finals Series.

Bucks-Nets Game 7 was the Game of the Season and one to remember for years!

It Is A Must-Watch Game 7!

You probably already heard about Brooklyn Nets-Milwaukee Bucks’ Games 5 and 6. If you thought those were spectacular, today’s Game 7 will definitely be much more. It is a MUST WATCH! This is the finale that determines who advances to the Eastern Conference Finals. The fight of the titans. An African adage says: “when two elephants battle, it is the ground (where the fight is taking place) that suffers.” We don’t interpret ethnic adages (aka proverbs) literally because they are so weighted that no literal translation can suffice. In the above adage, imagine the ground being wet and muddy, then imagine if the ground was dry and concrete. [laugh] Get the picture?

when two elephants battle, it is the ground (where the fight is taking place) that suffers.”

An African Adage

Anyways, and seriously, I am so excited that the game extended to Game 7. It was what it was supposed to be. The first two games of the series were a sham indeed. Bucks finally awoke and tied the game, only to lose Game 5 in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter though they had led throughout. It was unbelievable with Giannis’ fumble at the critical moments and the Team being in foul trouble. But Game 6 was better making it look like a ping-ponging series between the two teams. The ping-ponging is the sign of an equal team natch. But now this is it. Today at 8:30 P.M. ET.

Both Teams have utilized their respective court advantages. So, if courts- and fans-advantages have played a role, though I believe that Bucks could have won Game 5 on Nets’ ground, how will it play out today?

We will surely find out. Make sure you watch it if you can.

Congratulations

Congrats to the Los Angeles (LA) Clippers for making it to the Western Conference Finals. They defeated Utah Jazz’s Team Mitchell yesterday winning the series 4-2. It’s the first time ever for the Clippers to advance to the Conference Finals despite their key player, Kawahi Leonard, being injured and missing their last two games.

Congratulations also to the Phoenix Suns and their determined Team Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne, and Mikal Bridges for making it to the Western Conference Finals. The Western Finals start on Sunday. Doubtful if Chris Paul will be playing the first two games since he’s on protocol watch.

It has been fun and exhilarating watching the games so far. It gets even better going forward till the Grand Finale.

Are you watching? Why or why not?

Loving Basketball: Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets’ Game 4 was super-electrifying. Did you watch it?

Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets’ Game 4 was super-electrifying. Did you watch it?

It was very physical. Which is okay for a Playoff game, right, but when intentional hurt, harm, and injuries overshadow the games, it takes the fun away. I felt such happened during the game, but overall it was just what was expected of two elephants on the court. To some, it’s a part of what Playoffs and Finals are made of. Does it have to be though?

Unfortunately, Brooklyn Net’s Kyrie Irving, the Team’s indomitable point guard accidentally stepped on Giannis of Milwaukee Bucks, thought he twisted his ankle, had to leave Game 4, and won’t be available for Game 5. We learned later that Kyrie only suffered a sprain.

Also, Milwaukee Bucks’ Guard, Pat Connaughton, got hit in the brow and had to be stitched. Was his hurt/injury, a retaliatory action?

Yet, there was the unflinching recently-acquired-from-Houston Rockets Guard, P.J. Tucker, who superbly defended and restricted my awesome KD such that KD was frustrated and had a too-close-for-comfort-facial court encounter that necessitated KD’s bodyguard running to his side. It was dramatic and scary for me to watch. For a second I thought it was about to turn into a scuffle. Thank goodness that the swift actions of the referees and coaches averted one. [sigh]

All said and done, the Bucks put up a superb and superior game to equalize the Series; now 2-2.

Kudos to all for a tremendous Game 4 worth watch.

Today is Game 5. Nets’ James Harden, who left Game 1 with a hamstring injury and missed Games 2-4, might return to aid the lone star of the Big Three.

Will Bucks continue with the tight defense and fearless pursuit? We’ll see tonight.

Hope you’ll be watching too.

.

Bucks-Nets’ Game 3 was electrifying!

Absolutely electrifying. It was the game that had been expected of the duo. From start to finish with Giannis Antetokounmpo scoring nine points, and Kris Middleton scoring six, in the first few minutes, it proved to be just what every basketball lover was waiting for.

Team Milwaukee got a mouthful from Sports Analysts and fans for their Game 2 performance where they allowed Brooklyn to dominate unchallenged. But they showed up tonight with their best and strong defensive feet, setting the tone early till the end.

Bucks led the first quarter at 30-11. But Nets returned to the second quarter and took the lead at some points, ending the quarter with 42-45. A few ties in the third quarter and a 67-65 end. Fourth quarter was a ball-for-ball possession game till the last stretching minutes.

Game was very physical with lots of contacts and unnecessary floppings. Must be Playoffs, right?

Also, how does one explain fearless Greek Freak Giannis spending thirteen seconds at the free-throw line? He timed out again. Just shows that the best of us has a struggle (aka weakness) in at least one area.

It was scary watching Kevin Durant (KD) take the last shot in an attempt to tie the game and send it to overtime. Noted for his snipe-like deadly shots, KD narrowly missed the basket making Team Bucks a winner for the night’s Game 3. Would have been terribly disappointing otherwise.

Giannis and Kris Middleton combined for 68 of the total 86 Milwaukee points. Jrue Holiday made the shot that gave Bucks the critical edge while P.J. Tucker and Brook Lopez were the effective defensive sports on KD and the rim. Overall all players contributed and gave fans what they expected.

Nets players admitted that they just didn’t make the necessary shots. Unbelievably though, Nets Coach said that “it was a hostile environment.” Hostile? Um. I’d say that it was a home court advantage. What do you think if you watched the game?

Would we see James Harden return as a helping hand for Nets for Game 4 and will Team Bucks be able to repeat the performance? Leave your comment if you please.

Loving Basketball: #1 Team “Spida” Mitchell on fire!

It’s the kind of game worth the money to watch if I were in Utah for Game 1 of the Round 2 Western Conference Playoff between #1 Utah Jazz and #4 LA Clippers.

The overall 2020-21 NBA leader defended their title and proved that they rightly earned the #1 position.

Starters and benchers of both Teams contributed amazingly. At the end of the night, Leader Spida Mitchell stepped up and carried his team to a 3-point lead victory, with Rudy Gobert’s last minute rejection of what could have been a tying-shot. It was thrilling four quarters.

New Jazz co-owner Dwayne Wade (another of my fave players, now former), with spouse Gabby Union, were there to cheer the Team.

It’s sure going to be an exciting series. Looking forward to Clippers’ fierce comeback on Thursday. Make sure you watch it.

Loving Basketball: The Big Three are Nasty!

Excusez-moi, monsieurs! Qu’est-ce qui se passe?

What I envisioned to be a game of the titans is turning out to be an embarrassing game of mismatch to watch. Pardon me, but it appears that Giannis and Team Milwaukee are proving to be no match for Brooklyn Nets’ Big Three of Kevin Durant (KD), Kyrie Irving (KI), and James Hardin (JH); Big Two for Games 1 and 2 since Harden exited at the onset of the series. I can only imagine if he was playing.

The Nets rout Bucks, without resistance, in the second game leading by almost 40-points. Game 1 was sort of a sampler. I had thought that Bucks will resist and show up for Game 2. But was I wrong? Glad that I didn’t bet on it because I could have lost money big time.

I love to watch a game of equals and I had thought that there wasn’t much difference in NBA’s 2020-21 #2 Team Durant/Brooklyn Nets and #3 Team Giannis/Milwaukee Bucks. But watching Games 1 and 2 of Round 2 of the Playoffs, and particularly Game 2, proved that the difference and disparity goes beyond the numbers and thus me wrong.

I’ve always loved Kevin Durant (KD). The boy’s got style on the court. He’s so slick and plays the game with such unbelievable ease. So when he was acquired by Golden State Warriors (my favorite Team), I was elated. And he proved his worth earning the back-to-back MVPs. KD’s on-court countenance also changed compared to his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Too bad that we (GSW/fans) couldn’t keep him longer.

Anyhow, KD seems to be on a roll for a championship as it appears that this might be a sweep if Milwaukee is unable to bring their A+ game on Thursday and fight back. I hope they will. In basketball nothing is impossible as we saw with the Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers.

On edge waiting for this duo’s Game Three … till then

Love and Peace.

The NBA 2019-20 Champions were Defenseless tonight!

As you may have heard, LA Lakers are out of the Playoffs. The 2019-20 defending Champions showed up on the court tonight against the Phoenix Suns defeated even before the game started. It was depressing to watch. I wonder what happened in their locker room just before game time.

Phoenix Suns on the other hand showed up to win. What with Devin Booker lighting up from the onset. He had 47 points tonight!

Congrats to Suns and on to Round 2 to face Denver Nuggets.

Playoff Round 2 will surely be spectacular to watch.

Results of Round 1

Round 2 Brackets

Congrats to all Teams moving on to the Second Round of Playoffs and thanks to the other teams for putting on their best for the seven games.

Loving Basketball: And Yes, Giannis-Bucks Won!

The game was over no sooner I submitted my last post. It is official that Milwaukee Bucks are the first team to win the first round of the 2020-21 NBA Playoffs. They defeated Miami Heat with a hard 4:0 sweep; 120-103. Game four actually started with Miami leading well into the second quarter. But you know, a 20-point lead or deficit in basketball is no longer new; it’s still can be any team’s game. Not that Heats led with that many points though; they led by ten in the first quarter at one point.

Anyway, it was a SWEEP. Bucks came with the broom, brush, RoboVac, and suctions for the cleaning business. The sweep seemed like a vengeance from the start till the finish. Hopefully, it was all ‘just basketball game’ though a few instances didn’t appear so. What with a Miami Heat’s player on Giannis, while lying on the court after he was fouled, whispering “__” to him that was caught on camera and got him a technical?! Some said that stuff like that comes with the territory especially in Playoffs or Finals games. Um, I don’t know about that. My take is that it does not have to resort to that.

Last season, too, had Giannis so provoked that he head-butted someone. I’ve never seen him lose his cool like that. They all trying to get under (or into) each other’s head and skin.

This time around, Giannis came with a renewed and recharged mental toughness fitting for the leader he truly is. He and teammates made a statement putting on the classic show.

Giannis and his team have ample time to rest between games while waiting for the next team and Round 2. Bucks will play the winner of Brooklyn Nets (Kevin Durant et al) and Boston Celtics (Jason Tatum et al). Will be another spectacular round.

Congratulations. I am so happy for the Bucks Team. ThinkTalk is cheering you all the way.

Loving Basketball: Will Giannis and Bucks be the First Winner of Round 1?

Credits: YahooSports

What a difference a year makes! Remember the two Eastern teams to face off in the second round of Playoffs last season? Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat?

They are at it again. Only this time, it’s a different ball game.

The two started this season’s Round of Playoffs. It’s been a Milwaukee dominant show since Game 1. As at now, Bucks is leading the fourth quarter (101:90) after a slow and momentary lead by the Heats. Will it be Heat being cooked and given their own dose of (fill-in-the-blanks). Can’t wait to find out. Please stay tuned.

Loving Basketball: 🥵 Golden State Warriors’ 2020-21 NBA Season is Over?!

Two painful losses for the Dub Nation in the Play-In Tournament fighting for the 7th or 8th Seed, first against LA Lakers and tonight with the Memphis Grizzlies, substantiates the fact that some outcomes in life just don’t make sense despite your BEST efforts.

It’s the second time Warriors will miss the Playoff after winning the Championship thrice, with one back-to-back.

As a fan, the losses hurt. I can only imagine how Steph and team feels.

But for a team that started the season with only eight players (due to injuries) for the first twenty or so games, coming from last and second-to-last team, to now be in the Play-In, despite the loss still needs to be commended.

Well, on to next season. Hopefully, we’ll have Klay Thompson, who’s been out since 2019, back and be back to our Championship form.

Step said “It’s weird going out like this … we gave it all the gas we had in the tank.”

Thanks Dubs for a great season!

Loving Basketball: Woohoo All 30 Teams Playing Today!

It’s a day of basketball starting now. All 30 Teams playing today – 15 games!!! It’s Pre-Play-In which starts on Tuesday. Some teams (6 from the Eastern Conference and 5 from the Western) have clinched a Playoff seed, but a few teams need to win the game today and the Play-In to qualify for Playoff.

If you’re in the U.S., check your television local and sports channels for correct times. You can also subscribe to the NBA Station for individual games or all games. Happy viewing.

Praying for all Teams.

Loving Basketball: 2020-21 NBA Season, Play-Ins, and Playoff

What a Season! The 2020-21 NBA Season has been quite interesting. What with covid and a lack of fan-fare. We must commend all the players for continuously entertaining us despite being in lockdown away from families and their fans. Yay yay yay. I hear your mutterings – they are only doing their job after all the big contracts and pay packages. True, but I believe that they could have opted out of the lockdown conditions during covid and still be legally or contractually un-liable. Well, what do I know; I’m just speaking from my heart. I am however glad that they didn’t and chose to play through it all.

The 2020-21 NBA Season started in December 2020. Now, it’s down to the wires as the Season officially ends on Sunday. Under normal circumstances, we would have known the eight teams that made the Playoffs which starts a week from Saturday (May 22nd). But since the Season’s circumstances were abnormal, there is a Play-In Tournament to determine the 7th and 8th seeds. The Play-In, starts before the Playoff Tournament, on May 18 through the 21st and, according to the NBA, “will include teams with the 7th through 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference.”

Is the Play-In an exception as a result of covid or does this become the NBA Playoff norm? We will find out sooner or later. I bet the ninth and tenth teams, given the opportunity to play-in, are glad, but it might be one game too many for the current seventh and eighth teams.

It has definitely been an interesting Season to watch. On the Western Conference, what with the 2019-20 Championship, LA Lakers, regressing from the #1 Team, and Golden State Warriors once the #15 team advancing, to both now needing to win to clinch a Playoff seed. Likewise, the Eastern Conference has seen an impressive Miami Heat already clinched the #5 playoff seed, while the once indomitable Boston Celtics is in the same boat as their Western Conference counterparts, LA Lakers.

No one team retained the #1 spot on either the Eastern or Western Conference throughout the Season. However, the Utah Jazz has maintained the #1 spot for the Western than any other, while the Philadelphia 76ers are currently Eastern Conference #1 seed.

Of course, playing rigorous, and sometimes heart-wrenching, 72 games took its toll on some of the players and some teams a lot more than others. See this current injury list of all teams. Understandably. Here’s wishing a speedy recovery to all.

Life Lessons learned from the NBA Games

  • The greatest lesson learned, cliched as it may sound, is that nothing lasts forever. Never say never.
  • The other lesson is that resilience pays. Just watching the teams and players not giving up; one game after the other, was exciting sometimes playing through pain.
  • Grace was present for those players who merely and naturally were themselves and played for the love of the game, rather than for showbiz.
  • Opportunity might only come once in certain instances. Always be ready and prepared – no excuses. Watching how bench players had to step in and up. If they missed that opportunity, they get replaced or don’t get another chance for a long time. I wish that Coaches could give other players more playing times so that they can easily step in when the noted and more famous starter-players became injured. This one puzzles me all the time as it looks so simple, but I wonder why it’s not implemented so. I’ll love to know what the reason behind this is. It takes a few back-to-back losses for a team to recoup itself after an injury to the main player.
  • Basketball is a team sport, but sometimes it only takes one player to make the defying moment of victory. Often times, it is the least-expected player that makes it happen.

The next few days are highly expectant. I know it is for me. ThinkTalk wishes every team the very best.

Loving Basketball: Team LeBron vs. Team Durant: NBA All-Star Draft rosters and results

Credits: NBA

The Captains, LeBron James for the West, and Kevin Durant for the East, selected their starters and reserves watched by probably millions on TNT a few minutes ago.

Below is the roster per the NBA website:

Team LeBron

Starters:
• LeBron James*

• Giannis Antetokounmpo

• Stephen Curry

• Luka Doncic

• Nikola Jokic

Reserves:

• Damian Lillard

• Ben Simmons

• Chris Paul

• Jaylen Brown

• Paul George

• Domantas Sabonis

• Rudy Gobert

* Captain

Team Durant

Starters:

• Kyrie Irving

• Joel Embiid

• Kawhi Leonard

• Bradley Beal

• Jayson Tatum

Reserves:

• James Harden

• Devin Booker

• Zion Williamson

• Zach LaVine

• Julius Randle

• Nikola Vucevic

• Donovan Mitchell

Interested in details, click here

The, one-day 2021 NBA All Star Game is scheduled for Sunday, March 7th.

Schedule (per NBA):

Both Captains are playing for a Charity Organization. Should be lots of fun.

I hope you will join to watch and support. 😍

Results are in for the NBA All Stars and Reserves

Credits: NBA.com / The Starters
Credits: NBA.com / The Reserves

Well, well, well. The results are here and they’re final. LeBron James (LBJ) of LA Lakers and Kevin Durant (KD) of Brooklyn Nets lead the starter votes and head the West and East Teams respectively. The votes poured in from the fans and, according to NBA, “current NBA players and a media panel.” There was a tie that had to be decided by fan votes. This was specifically noted for votes between Damian Lillard of the Portland Blazers and Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Reserves were “selected by the NBA’s head coaches.” The two captains, LBJ and KD, will select their teams prior to the NBA All Star Game scheduled for March 7, 2021. Due to covid, it will be a one-day event starting that will also include a Dunk contest.

Per NBA, “Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers and his staff have earned the spot to coach Team Durant. Utah head coach Quin Snyder and his staff have earned the spot to coach Team LeBron.”

Click on the link to read all about the starters and reserves

Also found the below links that show details of the votes breakdown. It helps understand the player selection in a tie.

Eastern Conference Frontcourt

Eastern Conference Guards

Western Conference Frontcourt

Western Conference Guards

As you can see from the above links, using the guards as an example, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors topped the overall votes for guards. However, the selection had to include two guards each from both the Western and Eastern Conferences. It also explains why Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, and Luka Doncic made the starter list guards over Damian Lillard. This however was not the case with the frontcourts as the top three players were selected from both Conferences.

Anyways, unfortunately, “there will be no fan activities, ticketed events or hospitality functions as part of All-Star.” But we can watch at home and try to be on the virtual cheering teams. Hope you’ll be there.

Loving Basketball: NBA All Star Voting

Credits: NBA / West Conference
Credits: NBA / East Conference

Are you aware that the NBA All Star Voting is ongoing? If you are, I hope that you’ve voted for the player you consider to be the BEST Guard and Forward for both the West and East Conferences. If not, please jump on at https://nba.com/vote and start voting before the end of the day and till February 16th.

The above images are the count/votes for both West and East for the past two weeks. Voting started on January 28th.

Sorry, I wished that I had remembered to share sooner. Now let’s help these guys (our favorites) to double their counts/votes by the deadline.

Let’s go!

. . .

The NBA All Star has been scheduled for March 5-10, 2021.

Enjoy Christmas Day with your Family watching these NBA Games!

Source: NBA

Schedule

12:00 P.M. Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans

2:30 P.M. Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks

5:00 P.M. Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets

8:00 P.M. Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers

10:30 P.M. Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers

Credits: NBA

I am sooooo excited and will be lazing in front of the screen with my family aaaalllllllll Day!

Games are airing on ESPN and ABC today. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Loving Basketball: Can’t believe this is happening …!

Check out this game in the NBA app!
Celtics VS Bucks
https://watch.nba.com/game/20201223/MILBOS-1

Tell me that there’s no fear because it’s just the beginning of the Season! Again, an indicator of what the season holds.

Enjoy the remainder of the game on second opening night😍

Here are the results of other games played tonight, courtesy of NBA; couple or so still in progress.

Stop Press!

Though Milwaukee Bucks closed the lead, they lost the game to Boston Celtics by one point – 121:122!

Loving Basketball: Opening Night was unsurprisingly entertaining!

It was a double-header – Golden State Warriors (GSW) at Brooklyn Nets (BN) and Los Angeles Clippers (LAC) at Los Angeles Lakers (LAL) – opening night to start the 2020-21 NBA Season. With my fave Team, fave player, and the Lakers’ Ring celebration; all were exciting from beginning till end and an indicator of what the Season beholds..

There are great players in the NBA; while all are athletically fit, only some have great speed, some are vibrantly feisty and spur the Team on, some are sleek, some are sharp three-point shooters and some can do the free-throws with their eyes close. I don’t think the last one is allowed in the NBA. 😊 But I hope you get the point. In my opinion, I don’t suppose any possesses all combination skills like Kevin Durant (KD) who is now with the Brooklyn Nets! The boy has style and is just darn good; look at his record above. It was exciting to see him and watch his debut comeback game after about a year-and-a-half hiatus due to Achilles suffered during the 2018-19 Championship game while still with the Dub Nations. KD did not disappoint playing the first NBA Game of the 2020-21 Season. Of course he didn’t do it all alone. He and his duo, Kyrie Irving, combined for 48 points.

Unfortunately, they played Golden State Warriors (GSW). Steph Curry tried his best rallying his new and younger players. But without his tenured duo teammates Draymond Green and Klay Thompson who are out due to injuries, it was an upheaval battle matching KD and his Team.

Brooklyn Nets’ win was not unexpected. The reverse would have been grossly disappointing because the team has more seasoned players than GSW.

The second game of the night started with the Lakers’ Ring Celebration. It was beautiful with each player’s family virtually presenting the player with the Championship Celebration Ring. See the NBA video here.

The Lakers however got a rude awakening from the Clippers. It was fun watching the Clippers finally fight the Lakers back tonight.

All-in-all, both games offered a taste of what the Season would be like. It’s going to be hella exciting. I hope you watch some of the games too, especially those lined up for the Christmas Day. 😊

Loving Basketball: 2020-21 NBA Season Starts Tomorrow!

For lovers of NBA Basketball, the 2020-21 Season starts tomorrow!!! I’m so excited but too bad Covid-19 has barred fans from being live on-the-ground to watch their favorite Teams. Well, we’ll be glued to our televisions.

It’s going to be different. What with Teams’ almost all new players and the ten (10) players who, missed almost all of the previous season or more, now returning, and all the BIG deals and trades! Giannis Antetokounmpo having the BIGGEST BADDEST DEAL! The trades are on till March, so still more trades to expect and James Harden is still looking for a new home. I wonder where he’ll land.

The Championship race this season will sure be different. Personally, it’s hard to tell who’s going to lead each conference, but I know it’s gonna be darn wild and exciting!! Yours truly will be watching and I hope you will too.

Here’s the Season’s Broadcast Schedule. Watch your locals for appropriate showing times.

Loving Basketball: Preseason starts this Saturday!

t.email.warriors.com/r/

Woohoo!!!

Check your local Teams for respective stations’ airing times. You know (C)ThinkTalk will be glued to the television.

Quiz:

Which Team will win this season’s Championship?

1 Golden State Warriors

2 Golden State Warriors

3 Golden State Warriors

4 Golden State Warriors

😆 Okay, I just displayed my bias!

Let’s take two:

Which Team will win the 2020-21 NBA Championship?

1 Golden State Warriors

2 Los Angeles Lakers

3 Miliwaukee Bucks

4 Brooklyn Nets

You can also write it in the comments.

Hope you’ll be watching too!

Loving Basketball: So glad to see these guys back!

www.nba.com/news/10-players-we-finally-get-to-see-again-in-2020-21

. . .

I’m really glad and looking forward to the 2020-21 NBA season starting soon – Christmas will be bomb!!!

The game, like any other sports, is a risky venture. We, the fans, concern ourselves more with the big bucks paid to the players and big contracts signed. But none, absolutely none, can relate to the private grind and unfortunate mishaps, nor the public scrutiny, that comes with it.

I’m really gladder to see these players, highlighted by renowned NBA sportswriter and my fave sportswriter (though he doesn’t know that or know me! smile), #ShaunPowell, return to doing what they love. I watched the incident live as it happened to everyone on the list and man, I shed a tear or two. That each had to be grounded at all is painful; for some a year or more. But as awful as each’s incident was, I gathered and consoled myself that each needed a divine rest that they would otherwise not had taken.

How could the Bay Area fans had explained Kevin Durant’s (KD’s) incident recur live during the 2018-19 NBA Championship. It undoubtedly dented hopes of winning that season. Steph, Draymond, et al were still fighting till the next casualty Klay Thompson went down! All hopes at that point, for my beloved Golden State Warriors (GSW) winning that season, shattered. Was that a divine coincidence? You be the judge.

Needless to say, we welcome these guys back and pray that there will be no mishaps during the season. Cheers to the stronger, vibrant, and healthier ten (10) NBA players. Love you all and thanks for giving us your best always and sharing your gifts and talents with the world.

p.s. we continue to pray for a speedy recovery for the indomitable Klay Thompson.