Friday, March 03, 2017

Friday News

The news today is like watching a movie, but this is real. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been found to have met with a Russian Ambassador. Now, Sessions has recused himself from investigating the questions about Russian officials and the 2016 election. The New York Times have reported that Kushner and Flynn met with the Russian Ambassador at Trump Towers. We know that Sessions omitted his meeting from his confirmation testimony. Some want him or Sessions to do more than rescue himself. Some politicians and others want Sessions to resign. Sessions claims that he doesn't recall specific political discussions during the Russian ambassador meeting, but we know that he met with a Russian ambassador. We desire a true, independent investigation to decipher the whole truth. I believe that Sessions should resign, because of his political views on voting and civil rights. Sessions has reversed an Obama administration decision to phase out private for-profit prisons, now doing a booming business jailing detained immigrants, and withdrew a legal claim by the federal government that a Texas voter ID law was enacted with the intention of discriminating against minority voters and college students.The attorney general in many ways personifies the ultra-right policies of the Trump administration and the congressional Republicans, but many people have not called for Sessions’ ouster over any of these actions. The essence of the anti-Russian campaign is obvious. Certain sections of the intelligence community (using conduits of the NY Times and the Washington Post) are leaking or displaying information about Trump since they want Trump to focus on more military confrontation and agitation against Russia while Trump is desiring more agitation against China and Iran. This is an open disagreement among the oligarchy on how to proceed with foreign policy, but they are unified in the same goal of empowering corporate power at the expense of the power of the people. Trump is still a right wing nationalist extremist. It is true that many Trump allies and officials have contacts with Russian officials. For the record, I reject any military action against Russia, China, or Iran. DeVos' comments are not only disrespectful, but they are based on something that has no basis in history. A large number of HBCUs existed from the Reconstruction era in order to give black people opportunities when many non-black institutions refused to respect racial justice. HBCUs back then and today give black people camaraderie, cultural growth, and many means to grow success from business to STEM fields. Her comments don't happen by happenstance. They are calculated in order to promote the lie that the privatization of all resources in society can somehow end injustice. We know that isn't true since the elimination of all public resources will cripple millions of Americans' opportunities. I believe in the general welfare and I believe in social justice. DeVos is totally unqualified to be the Department of Education since she never taught in any public school and she didn't answer questions succinctly on basic issues of educational concepts. Like usual, we will set the record straight and not let right wing extremists deter us from the mission. The mission is justice. Her father-in-law Rich DeVos, Sr., was the co-founder of the Amway Corporation. Rich DeVos Sr. was a member of the CNP or the Council on National Policy (which supports extremist causes). The corporate oligarchy funds the Trump regime and his allies. We know that her younger brother, Erik Prince, is a known militarist. So, many of the same ones who slander black people give passes to DeVos. Our eyes are on the prize.
So, Bless HBCUs.

In 1967, the NBA faced new competition with the creation of the ABA or the American Basketball Association. So, both leagues had the best players in the country. The NBA landed the most talented college star of that era. His name is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (his previous name was Lew Alcindor). Also, Rick Barry (the NBA’s leading scorer back then) jumped into the ABA along with 4 veteran referees (their names are Norm Drucker, Earl Strom, John Vanak, and Joe Gushue). In 1969, Alan Siegel, who oversaw the design of Jerry Dior's Major League Baseball logo a year prior, created the modern NBA logo inspired by the MLB's. It incorporates the silhouette of the legendary Jerry West based on a photo by Wen Roberts. Although NBA officials denied a particular player as being its influence because, according to Siegel, "They want to institutionalize it rather than individualize it. It's become such a ubiquitous, classic symbol and focal point of their identity and their licensing program that they don't necessarily want to identify it with one player." The iconic logo debuted in 1971 and would remain a fixture of the NBA brand. The ABA was very successful. They signed many major stars during the 1970’s. One was Julius Erving of the Virginia Squires. It allowed teams to sign college undergraduates.  The NBA expanded rapidly during this period, one purpose being to tie up the most viable cities. From 1966 to 1974, the NBA grew from nine franchises to 18. In 1970, the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) all made their debuts expanding the league to 17. The New Orleans Jazz (now in Utah) came aboard in 1974 bringing the total to 18. Following the 1976 season, the leagues reached a settlement that provided for the addition of four ABA franchises to the NBA, raising the number of franchises in the league at that time to 22. The franchises added were the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and New York Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets). Some of the biggest stars of this era of the 1970's were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Dave Cowens, Julius Erving, Elvin Hayes, Walt Frazier, Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, Dan Issel, and Pete Maravich. The end of the decade, however, saw declining TV ratings, low attendance and drug-related player issues – both perceived and real – that threatened to derail the NBA.

Basketball increased with popularity still. The NBA added the ABA’s innovative 3 point field goal starting in 1979 to open up the game. During that same year, rookies Larry Bird and Magic Johnson joined the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers respectively. This started a period of significant growth in fan interest in the NBA nationwide and internationally. Both players were some of the greatest players in NBA history. In 1984, they played against each other for the first time in NBA Finals. Magic Johnson and the Lakers during the 1980’s caused the Lakers to get five titles. Bird and the Celtics went on to cause the Celtics to win 3 titles. Also in the early 1980's, the NBA added one more expansion franchise, the Dallas Mavericks, bringing the total to 23 teams. Later on, Larry Bird won the first three three-point shooting contests. Former league commissioner David Stern who took office on February 1, 1984 before retiring February 1, 2014, oversaw the expansion and growth of the NBA to a global institution. The 1984 NBA Draft was one of the most talented drafts in NBA history. The players of the draft during that year included Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Charles Barkley, Melvin Turpin, Alvin Robertson, John Stockton, and other players. Scottie Pippen, Dominique Wilkins, and other players of the 1980’s were ahead of their times and excellent in their talent. Michael Jordan entered the league in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls, providing an even more popular star to support growing interest in the league. This resulted in more cities demanding teams of their own. In 1988 and 1989, four cities got their wishes as the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Minnesota Timberwolves made their NBA debuts, bringing the total to 27 teams. In the first year of the 1990's, the Detroit Pistons would win the second of their back-to-back titles, led by Coach Chuck Daly and guard Isiah Thomas. Jordan and Scottie Pippen would lead the Bulls to two three-peats in eight years during the 1991–98 seasons. Hakeem Olajuwon won back-to-back titles with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995. The 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team, the first to use current NBA stars, featured Michael Jordan as the anchor, along with Bird, Johnson, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, and Christian Laettner. Eleven players on the Dream Team have been inducted individually into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Dream Team was a great team.

In 1995, the NBA expanded to Canada with the addition of the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors. In 2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, which left the Raptors as the only Canadian team in the NBA. In 1998, the NBA owners began a lockout which lasted 191 days and was settled on January 18, 1999. As a result of this lockout the 1998–99 NBA season was reduced from 82 to 50 games (61% of a normal season), and the All-Star Game was cancelled. The San Antonio Spurs won their first championship, and first by a former ABA team, by beating the New York Knicks, who were the first, and are the only, eighth seed to ever make it to the NBA Finals. By this time, the modern era of the NBA existed. By the summer of 1998, the breakup of the Chicago Bulls championship roster existed. The Western Conference afterwards dominated the NBA Finals. Since 1998, the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs combined to win the title nine out of 14 seasons.  Tim Duncan and David Robinson won the 1999 championship with the Spurs, and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant started the 2000's with three consecutive championships for the Lakers. The Spurs reclaimed the title in 2003 against the Nets. In 2004, the Lakers returned to the Finals, only to fall in five games to the Detroit Pistons. After the Spurs took home the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy in 2005, the 2006 Finals featured two franchises making their inaugural Finals appearances. The Miami Heat, led by their star shooting guard, Dwyane Wade, and Shaquille O'Neal, who had been traded from the Lakers during the 2004 summer, won the series over the Dallas Mavericks in six after losing the first two games. The Lakers/Spurs dominance continued in 2007 with a four-game sweep by the Spurs over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were led by LeBron James. The 2008 Finals saw a rematch of the league's highest profile rivalry, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, with the Celtics winning, for their 17th championship, thanks to their new big three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. In 2009, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers returned to the Finals, this time defeating the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic. Bryant won his first Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his 13th season after leading the Lakers to their first NBA championship since the departure of Shaquille O'Neal. The 2010 NBA All-Star Game was held at Cowboys Stadium in front of the largest crowd ever, 108,713. At the end of that season, the Celtics and the Lakers renewed their rivalry from 2008 when they met again in the NBA Finals for a record 12th time. The Lakers won the title by winning Game 7, 83–79.

Before the start of the 2010–11 season the NBA had an exciting summer with one of the most anticipated free agent classes of all time. Two of which signed, and one resigned, with the Miami Heat, leading to a season that was heavily centered on their eventual success or failure at taking home the championship. The Heat, led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, did in fact make the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, in a rematch for the franchises of the 2006 Finals. The Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki (the eventual NBA Finals MVP), took the series in six games. This was the Mavericks' first title. Veterans Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Peja Stojaković celebrated their first NBA championship. July 1, 2011, at 12:01 am, the NBA announced another lockout. After the first few weeks of the season were canceled, the players and owners ratified a new collective bargaining agreement on December 8, 2011, setting up a shortened 66-game season. Following the shortened season, the Miami Heat made a return to the Finals with the trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh against Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. The Heat went on to defeat the Thunder in five games, capturing their second NBA title in six years. Their success would continue into the following season, which concluded with their victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. The two teams would meet for a rematch in the following year's Finals, where the Spurs defeated the Heat in five games. Following that series, LeBron James announced that he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. James led the Cavaliers to their second Finals appearance, where they fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games. Most recently, in a rematch, the 2016 NBA Finals concluded with the Cavaliers defeating the Warriors in seven games to win their first NBA Championship. Right, Lebron James is the greatest player in the NBA playing right now. He has taken the league into new heights and has shown philanthropy outside of the court too.

By Timothy

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