Salute To A Ballplayer

Saint Pauls College former student and basketball player ( # 52 on above photo) Neil Woodard passed away recently at the young age of 61.
Neil was my roommate and teammate on the Fighting Tigers from 1973-1977.  I remember meeting the brother for the first time and he made an immediate positive first impression.
Neil was a sincere and down to earth brother with an incredible sense of humor.
And who could forget those dance moves !  Part of the beauty of attending college away from home is that you get to make lifelong friends with people from different backgrounds.
I’m from Chicago and possessed what I thought were modest but presentable dancing skills.  Like most youngsters back in the day you would watch Soul Train and try to copy something.
However, my boy Neil surprised me and I’m sure many others with dance moves that looked like they came straight from the T.V. series “Fame”
Neil would leap and spin in a manner that resembled modern dance more than anything else.
It wasn’t until I learned Neil attended Music and Art School in New York that I began to understand the depth of this man’s skill set.
I learned later that Neil was a musician and to my surprise was also a great writer.
 I can recall meeting this 6′ 8″ brother blessed with great hands and footwork branding him as a prototype basketball center/power forward.
Neil was strong and would not hesitate to slam on you given his considerable leaping skills. ( Believe me, as the guy on the wrong end of some of those dunks I know).
Neil also personified what I would like to call the New York ball player.
New York ball players strutted as healthy a sense of bravado as most other cities but in Neil and others I sensed a dedication to the game that showed up in just about every aspect of their lives.
When you saw NYC guys you could tell just by looking at them that they were basketball players and they were from New York.
What I found is that these brothers would talk basketball and walk basketball, Neil was no different as he helped the Saint Paul College Tigers play some of the most competitive basketball in an extremely tough conference the CIAA.
I remember a recent conversation shared via group text that I shared with Neil and a couple of former teammates William Cozart and Brady Whaley.  The talk was hilarious as we all traded good natured stories about who shot too much and who  coach Moses Golatt fussed at more.
We teased Neil about leaving Saint Paul’s for rival Virginia State to collect on a promised Chevy Camaro.
It was a great time and reminded us just how important the maintaining of relationships can be.
We were all shocked and saddened upon learning of Neil’s death and the outpouring of love and respect at his home going only solidified what we already knew about this man who has spent much of his life in service to others.
As I mentioned Neil was a Jazz musician and writer but most importantly he expanded his love for the LORD by starting the Remnant Church and Magazine with a fierce dedication and first rate staff.
It is a common saying that the LORD reaches us by using other people a point driven home by all of the testimony’s of people who’s lives were impacted by Neil (mine included).
We will all miss this gentle giant who drank freely and enthusiastically of life and all it offered.
This poem by Dylan Thomas typifies to me the essence of this peaceful warrior:

poet Dylan Thomas

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Poem by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Neil got every inch out of every day as the self proclaimed “Superman”
touched and helped  many over the course of a full and meaningful life.
RIP Big Man, you will not be forgotten.
Reprinted courtesy of The Remnant Magazine.
Lebron at ESPYS

Micheal Jordan Speaks Out On Racial Strife

All time NBA great Micheal Jordan addressed the ongoing spate of police shootings of unarmed black men and the violent retaliatory responses of some African Americans to those shootings.
After spending most of his career avoiding controversial topics as they related to race and politics Jordan felt compelled to speak out and show support for both sides of the apparent conflict between Police officers and African Americans throughout the country.
Micheal Jordan issued his statement through the site, “The Undefeated” and it read as follows:

As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported

“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.

“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”

   Jordan managed to put his money where his mouth is with separate donations of one million dollars each to the NAACP legal defense fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Institute For Community-Police Relations.
While applauding Jordan for finally making his voice heard after an entire NBA career of sitting on the fence and making statements like “Republicans buy shoes too” I have to wonder where did this commitment to social justice come from?
Well, look no further than the 2016 ESPY awards sponsored by ESPN. At the start of the show LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade spoke on the violence particularly the shootings by police officers of unarmed African American men in New Orleans and Minnesota.
All of the players were impressive but LeBron James managed to convey a genuine determination to do whatever he could to help in his community but more importantly to inspire other athletes to do the same.
What does this have to do with Micheal Jordan ?
Micheal Jordan more than any other athlete in history has a brand that is unsurpassed in terms of it’s marketing reach and profitability.  Possessing a net worth of over a billion dollars and an NBA team (Charlotte Hornets) the Micheal
Jordan clothing line & shoe sales have literally changed the way people all over the world dress as sport and active wear have become the norm. Throw back Jordan brand shoes cost upwards of 200 dollars even though they are exact replica’s of Micheal’s first Air Jordan’s.
Micheal Jordan is smart and highly successful so he had to notice LeBron’s slow ascent to legendary status as an athlete who wins on the court and off.  A player who will occasionally speak out when injustices occur.
LeBron James accomplished a seemingly impossible task of winning a major sports championship for the state of Ohio. ( His Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2015-16 NBA title). The Cavaliers also made NBA history as the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to win.
But don’t stop there, taking into account what Lebron has accomplished so far in winning three NBA championships It is also worth noting that he has also pledged 41 million dollars to send 1100 Akron Ohio kids to college.
 That’s right, I said 41 million !
So, when LeBron, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony stood on that stage and vowed to follow in the footsteps of Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali one has to wonder just how did Micheal Jordan feel about these events and more importantly, his own place in history.
Micheal has endured some criticism through the years for what some perceive as a profit above all else approach but M J  has a solid record regarding charitable contributions. However, for the first time Micheal Jordan has decided to offer his opinion on a controversial topic.
Could it be that Micheal Jordan has finally found his social voice while risking an image that has been carefully crafted and nurtured through the years?
Could it be that Micheal can see the slow erosion of his brand and or market share?  Only time will tell but one thing is certain.
Considering the state of ever increasing violence in this country one can’t really complain about any athlete trying to contribute to the cause no matter the motive.
Moving forward though it will be interesting to see just how far LeBron James will go and to what degree will his candor regarding social issues expand.
Article reprinted courtesy of The Remnant
Dr King V

Dr.Kings Memorial…A Must See


I’m a little embarrassed to say that I just got around to visiting the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC.
While always planning to go I never got around to it even while acknowledging the  initiative it must have taken took to complete a project that was long overdue.
President Obama has achieved a lot during his short tenure in office but the Dr. King Memorial along with the much anticipated African American History museum will go a long ways in cementing a formidable legacy. ( I’m not certain it would have gotten done with out him).
The entire experience of visiting D.C. is impressive just from the standpoint of appreciating the history associated with all of the historical sites including the White house, The Capitol, The Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Memorial etc.
However, visiting the Dr, King Memorial served to drive home just how impactful and overdue this effort really is and how it so belongs along side all of the others.
Up to this point I had only newspapers and magazines photos to rely on and I was unaware as to how large an area was carved out to pay homage to one of the giants.
The site itself is facing the tidal basin across from the Jefferson Memorial.
It is a massive block of granite with Dr. Kings image carved out of it.  That was the image I was accustomed to but what I didn’t know was there were two other sections of stone which gave the impression that Dr. King was actually separated from a mountain.
The inscription serves to drive home this point:
To each side of the memorial are marble walls that showcase passages from some of Dr. Kings speeches.
My favorite:

Harry E. Johnson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the memorial foundation, added these words in a letter posted on the memorial’s website:

The King Memorial is envisioned as a quiet and peaceful space. Yet drawing from Dr. King’s speeches and using his own rich language, the King Memorial will almost certainly change the heart of every person who visits. Against the backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial, with stunning views of the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial, the Memorial will be a public sanctuary where future generations of Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, can come to honor Dr. King.[
One cannot come away from this memorial with any feeling other than one of respect for this visionary who was at equal times prophetic, spritual, metaphysical and selfless.
You could do a lot worse than paying a visit to Dr.Martin Luther Kings Memorial, that is, If you happen to be in the area.
Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) grabs a rebound during the first half on Monday, March 23, 2015, at the United Center in Chicago. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Time Is Right To Trade Jimmy Butler

Many thought the Bulls would move Jimmy Butler during the 2016 NBA draft due to his value and potential to bring in a combination of top picks and established players.
The Bulls inactivity led most to believe that it was time to build around Jimmy Butler going forward but then something happened.
1. The Bulls acquired Rajon Rondo. On the surface it would seem reasonable given the Derrick Rose trade and the need for a point guard.
However Rondo presents with a couple of challenges for Jimmy Butler since he is at equal points a ball dominating guard, a poor outside shooter and an alpha male in the locker room.
The trading of Derrick seemingly alleviated a leadership log jam between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose so what do we do? We bring in an Alpha dog in Rajon Rondo.
Some had envisioned the Bulls becoming the Houston Rockets 2.0 featuring Jimmy and the shooters. Let’s see Butler 31.2% from the three, Rajon Ronda 36.5% from the three, could we be witnessing a shift from Hoi-ball (Bulls head coach Fred Hoiburg) to something else entirely different?
  And what does that mean for shooters Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic’ ?
 Well the Bulls could:
Trade Jimmy Butler to Boston for their # 3 pick which turned out to be Jaylen Brown from the University of California and two number one picks.
A possible starting line-up could be Rondo, Brown, Dunleavy, Gibson and Lopez.
Reserves ? Valentine, McDermott, Mirotic’, Calderon and Felicio.
Those moves would leave the Bulls flexible and competitive….As it stands now this team misses the playoffs again this year and the next.
Bulls fans, the iron is hot.

Random Thoughts And LeBron.

Random thoughts while in route to Cleveland;

27 points 11 assist and 11 rebounds in a game 7 ?   What player does LeBron James really remind you of?

See photo above.

Is it possible that LeBron could re-frame the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) argument from one that only really considers scoring as the most meaningful criteria ?

Could getting J.R a championship ring be bigger than say coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals ?

The looks on the faces of Cleveland fans during game 4 of the finals only drove home the level of despair and hopelessness felt by them for 50 odd years. The fear and tension was thick enough to cut with a knife.

One of the single shrewdest moves of recent history was LeBron James goading Draymond Green into the crotch blow that changed the series and to drive home the point LeBron adroitly repeated to the media (and NBA commissioner Adam Silver) how Draymond insulted him, a man with a wife and three children.

The resultant suspension altered the entire flow of the series and the upset was on…..Absolutely brilliant!

Dear Draymond, an ” It was my fault” will not suffice.

By refusing to go small the Cavaliers did what OKC started but failed to finish and forced the Warriors to (unsuccessfully) adjust to the obvious size deficiency. The Warriors will have to shore up their size in the middle to support the oft-injured Andrew Bogut going forward. ( Bulls free agent center Pau Gasol would be a good fit).

Now that the ( Cleveland championship) curse has been broken it is not inconceivable to see LeBron James winning another 3 or 4 NBA titles at which time the greatest player of all time discussions will heat up yet again.

By the way:

How far do you think a young Micheal Jordan would have gotten with LeBron’s first team in Cleveland?

Just sayin.





in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Lord Of The Rings-NBA Style

The Cleveland Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in one of the most anticipated NBA Finals in years and the story lines abound in this one. Will Cavaliers superstar Lebron James provide the title strapped city of Cleveland with their first championship in any sport in over 50 years.

Can the Golden State Warriors complete a history making year, one that saw them break the all time winning record (73 wins) held previously by the Chicago Bulls?

The Warriors have defied convention and shattered all types of records in their quest for a second consecutive NBA championship so we have to ask, will LeBron James bring glory to the long and I mean long suffering Cleveland fans?

Actually it’s bigger than that.

LeBron James has been charged as it were to not only preserve his own legacy as the greatest player of this generation but also to protect conventional NBA wisdom regarding the path to stardom, pecking orders and whether or not the game is changing to a style featuring three point shooting.

Point guard Stephan Curry (45.4 3-pt%), Shooting guard Klay Thompson (42.5 3 -pt%) and the Warriors have taken the sports world by storm with their team play, incredible 3 point shooting and first rate defense.

Steph Curry has maybe the quickest shot-release in the game today with only one caveat. Teammate Klay Thompson’s is quicker. The style of play featuring ball / player movement and a barrage of 3-pointers has everyone from Charles Barkley to Oscar Robertson voicing doubt as to the greatness of these players and this team.

The Warriors have already eclipsed the Chicago Bulls all time win record of 72-10 by going 73-9 this season. The only hope millions of Chicago and Cleveland fans are holding onto is that some one will defeat this team and derail their quest towards NBA dominance with serious historical ramifications.

Who could pull this off? Well certainly not the Oklahoma City Thunder who lost in 7 games to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder had arguably better talent but in the end they could not maintain the focus and discipline needed to knock off the champs as it took seven games to determine who would blink first.

Return of the King

Lebron James appears to be the last hope in beating Steph Curry and returning the NBA to some sense of normalcy or at least the league that made corporations out of poorly developed and trained AAU phenoms. No, the Warriors have taken a page from the the book of San Antonio and thrown in a kid with the looks of a 12 year old (according to his coach) and the stuff of legend coursing through his veins.

This would amount to a mighty undertaking and we all get to witness as one of the best NBA Finals in recent memory unfolds.