Oct 20

Life Slogan-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

People sometimes use words or phrases to give them strength when they are dealing with adversity. Sports teams use slogans that they feel best describe their mindset for a season. The slogan can identify season goals, or simply motivate players. The Brooklyn Nets’ slogan for the 2017- 2018 season is, “WE GO HARD.” Another way one might interpret this slogan, is saying a team will not stop until they get what they want. Chris Carrino, who just began his 17th season as the Nets’ Franchise radio play-by-play announcer, may not have voiced that this was his family’s Life Slogan, but he and the people around him exemplify the meaning of these words daily.

Children tend to mimic what they see on television. When Carrino was a child, he would watch sporting events on television with the volume turned down and record himself doing play-by-play of the game he was watching. One of the most common practices when a person is recording themselves is to listen to the recording when they are finished. When Carirno listened to his recording, he noticed something was missing; “There was no crowd noise.” In 1980, NBC Sports decided to try something different in terms of television coverage. The December 20th game between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins did not have a play-by-play crew. While some people may not have been fond of this new idea, there was a young man who lived in New York who was thrilled, Carrino remembers thinking, “When I heard that they were going to broadcast this game with no announcers, I said, well that’s perfect. I can do the game and I’ll have the crowd behind me and I’ll have the effects and I’ll hear the tackles, I’ll hear the PA announcer, not realizing that if that had taken off, I would have never had the career that I’ve had. Admittedly, Carrino was not thinking that this fun activity would lead to a career saying, “I didn’t do it thinking I’m going to do this, or I want to grow up and be a sports announcer. I just did it because it was fun.”

The New York native attended college at Fordham University in the Bronx New York. During his time as a Ram, Carrino and others who were involved with the school’s radio station, WFUV were mentored by legendary radio broadcaster, Marty Glickman. Prior to attending his first workshop taught by Glickman, Carrino did research and was amazed by Glickman’s career. “And then you realize all the things that he had done in his career, how for so long he was the voice of the Knicks and the voice of the Giants, how he invented a lot of the terminology that’s used to do play-by-play. And then you learn more things about him, about his background at Syracuse as an All- American football player and track star, also him being on the 1936 Olympic Team. You know they talk about the most interesting man in the world that might have been Marty Glickman.” During the workshop Carrino made two important decisions, “I realized two things at the moment, the first time I met him; number one, I was really interested and this is what I wanted to do now, this was going to be my focus and what I want to do; and number two, I didn’t know how to do it. What I thought I knew was not what it was and I had to now forget everything that I thought I knew and listen to Marty and let him teach me what to do.”

As a senior, Carrino won an award from MSG Networks, he was named the Best Student Play-By-Play Announcer in the Tri-State Area. As the winner, Carrino was given the opportunity to broadcast the third quarter of a New York Knicks game at iconic Madison Square Garden with Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The night before he would be heard on the Knicks’ flagship station, Sports Radio 66 WFAN, New York, he received a congratulatory phone call from his mentor. As one of Glickman’s protégés, Carrino distinctly remembers the last piece of advice he received prior to hanging up the phone. As Carrino tried to do his best Marty Glickman impression, he relayed the advice using a thick New York accent. “Listen, you’re going to go to Madison Square Garden tomorrow night and do a New York Knicks game with Walt Frazier, but you do the game just as you’ve done every other game for the last four years at Fordham. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the Rose Hill Gym or the Hofstra Gymnasium or Madison Square Garden, the game is still the game and do the damn game like you’ve done every other damn game.”

On April 14, 1992, the New York Knicks played the Washington Bullets. Carrino remembers being given a tour of Madison Square Garden by fellow Fordham alumnus, Mike Breen, who hosted the Knicks pregame and postgame shows on WFAN. During the tour, Carrino recalled feeling at home saying, “When I got to the Garden that night, I was met by Mike Breen…Mike found me and introduced himself, being another Fordham guy, he gave me a tour of the Garden and all the places I needed; how I get to the press box, how I get to the press room and everything I might need and he kind of looked out for me that night.”

It was the third quarter, which meant it was time for the regular play-by-play announcer, Jim Karvellas, to give up his chair to Carrino. During the broadcast, Frazier noticed that the aspiring broadcaster did not seem to be nervous, after he described a Patrick Ewing-made jump shot from the free-throw line saying, “Chris, you’re supposed to have the Gardenitis. You don’t sound nervous at all,” Carrino responded, “Oh I’ve got the butterflies, it’s good to have the butterflies though, keeps you sharp.”

People can tell when something is not right with their body; Carrino was experiencing this feeling as an upperclassman at Fordham. He noticed that the things he used to be able to do were becoming more difficult. Feeling confused, he was trying to find reasons as to why he was feeling this way. “I was a good player, especially baseball. I was an All-District player, and I was a catcher, and you know the physical nature of that. I played on the tennis team in high school. I was very physically active and athletic…In some ways it was alarming that I couldn’t do the things that I used to do, but then I’m thinking, well maybe that’s just part of getting older. It was confusing more than anything and a little alarming. My first thought was, well I’m not physically active like I was when I was a teenager. I need to work out more. So I would take time in school when I didn’t have class and I’d go to the gym and I’d go try and run or I’d go lift weights. Then I thought maybe I just need a vitamin.”

Carrino then noticed his right arm had become thinner. He had a discussion with his father who suggested that he go see a doctor. His father thought maybe there was a pill that he could take to correct this. Carrino went to the doctor who carefully examined his right arm and then said, “There’s definitely some kind of a Muscular Dystrophy.” As we sat in Carrino’s Marlboro Township, New Jersey home, more than 20 years after he received this life-changing news, he still had a perplexed tone in his voice when describing his reaction, “I was taken aback by that, I was like wait a minute, Muscular Dystrophy is what I see on the Jerry Lewis Telethon. You know, children in wheelchairs and severely disable people. I said how is that possible?” The doctor then informed Carrino that there were different types of Muscular Dystrophy.

Carrino then went to another doctor for a second opinion, who diagnosed him while he was walking down a hallway. He said, “I’m pretty sure I think I know what you have, I’m going to send you to another specialist…I think you have this thing called FSHD, but we’ll have to send you to a Neurologist to get a muscle biopsy.” When the results came back, the doctor’s original thought was confirmed, Carrino was diagnosed with Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy (FSHD) which is a form of Muscular Dystrophy that progressively weakens the facial, shoulder, upper arm, and leg muscles in a person’s body. When Carrino asked the doctor what he could do, he was told to stay as active as he could, but there was no cure for the disease. Carrino defiantly proclaimed, “All right, well then I’m just going to continue to live my life. I’m not going to think about where this is going, I’m just going to think about what it’s like today and I’ll just continue to chase and pursue my dreams that I’ve had. I’m not going to let this stop me.”

In the broadcasting business, aspiring broadcasters often must work towards the goal of being a broadcaster by doing what people in the broadcasting business call, “behind the scenes work.” In 1992, Carrino was hired by the New Jersey Nets as a studio producer and feature reporter. As he became more experienced, he became a studio host and the backup radio play-by-play announcer.

In 2001, Carrino was promoted to the full-time radio play-by-play announcer position. Carrino’s eyes became brighter when he recalled his reaction to the promotion. “From 1992 to 2001, that’s nine years, that’s almost a decade. That’s a long time of doing the behind the scenes work, of paying your dues, and when you finally get there, it’s almost just this natural progression. You’ve done so much to get to that point. In that moment you reflect on everyone that has helped you, everything you’ve dreamed about when you were a little kid and suddenly you realize, I just got named to one of thirty NBA play-by-play jobs. I’m 31, I think I’m going to be the youngest guy in the league doing it, and I remember calling Laura, she was my girlfriend. I remember calling her and calling my mom, those were the two people I called and both of them were crying when I told them. Then it put it into perspective, when I told somebody what happened.” Carrino certainly was going hard in pursuit of his dream.

When the then New Jersey Nets made the NBA Finals in 2002, Carrino was given advice by Brian McIntyre, who was the NBA Senior Vice President of Public Relations in 2002. McIntyre told Carrino, “I hope you don’t take this for granted, because there are guys who work in this business for 30 years who never get to do what you’re doing right now.” Carrino reassured McIntyre that he would not. When the Nets returned to the NBA Finals in 2003, Carrino jokingly said to McIntyre, “By the way, I know I’m not supposed to take this for granted, but we’re here again, and I’m still not taking this for granted.”

When people work in an organization for several years, they build a reputation for themselves. Very few people knew about Carrino’s disability during his first 10 years as lead radio play-by-play man for the Nets. In 2011, with encouragement from his wife Laura, Carrino founded the Chris Carrino Foundation, to help find a cure for FSHD. Carrino said, “I always had it in my mind, ever since I was diagnosed, knowing that there was nothing that could be done, I always had in the back of my mind, one day when I make a name for myself…then I’ll put my name on something and try to help raise money and try to get involved with helping people.”

In its six-year existence, the foundation has helped fund many research projects to help researchers find a cure for FSHD. Carrino relates a quote from former New Jersey Nets Head Coach Lawrence Frank to starting the foundation. Frank was explaining how to break pressure defense, “Sometimes the ball handler has to participate in his own rescue.”

Carrino in turn said, “There aren’t enough of us with FSHD that overwhelmingly the world is going to want to help us. We have to go out and we have to: number one, do the things that will lead to treatment or a cure, like raise money, and get scientists involved: the other part, and I try and set this example, lead a good life, put into the world what you want to get out of it” Referring to the charity, he said, “We don’t have millions of dollars to give out, but what we do is we feed seed research that then leads to breakthroughs.”

When Carrino started the foundation, there were no pharmaceutical companies doing research about a possible drug that would help people with FSHD. According to Carrino, now there are over 20 pharmaceutical companies working on a drug to help cure the disease. This is another example of how the Carrino family exemplifies the words used in their Life Slogan.

A baby boy is sometimes given his father’s first name, this creates an instant connection between the baby boy and his father, even before the little boy does anything that a proud father will remember forever. Christopher Carrino was born in 2004. Throughout his life, as any child does, he has learned so much about his father. Yes, some might say Christopher has learned several things about the broadcasting business, or sports, but that is not all he has learned about. Chris and Laura have watched their now 13-year-old son, become an integral part of the team that is searching for a cure for the disease that makes it difficult for his father to do certain tasks.

Fathers and sons share special moments together, in the case of Carrino and his son, they have shared unique, but special moments together, “Sometimes it upsets me to think that having the limitations physically that I’ve had over the years, not being able to do the kinds of things that fathers and sons do. When he was little and growing up I couldn’t go and run with him, throw him batting practice from 60 feet, or put him on my shoulders at a parade or something. I couldn’t do those things and it used to really bother me.”

Watching their child grow can be one of the most rewarding things parents can do. Sometimes children show their parents that they understand and appreciate what they have taught them. Every year the foundation has a dinner as one of its fundraising events. Prior to this year’s dinner, Christopher informed his parents that he would like to speak at the event. When his parents asked him what he wanted to talk about he said, “I don’t want to tell you, I just want to do it.”

When the proud father recalled his reaction to his son’s speech, there was a prideful tone in his voice. “I didn’t see him working on it, I was a little worried that when he got up there he wasn’t going to be prepared, but he was ready, he was prepared, he was nervous but he did it and it was very impressive…I know he was mirroring a lot of what I always say, but to see this person who just absorbed all this his whole life and now has the confidence to get up there and just speak from the heart to all these people, it’s a little bit of an affirmation for me and my wife, that what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do is having a positive effect on the world and it’s represented in my son and what he’s able to do.” Another member of the Carrino family is emulating their Life Slogan.

Besides his work with the Nets, Carrino also works on both radio and television for various networks. In 2008, he was part of the NBC Sports Olympic broadcasting crew. In Beijing, Carrino served as a play-by-play announcer for both Men’s and Women’s Basketball. Currently, Carrino is the lead play-by-play announcer for Compass Media Networks NFL National game of the week. During the NFL preseason, Carrino works on the New York Giants’ radio network, WFAN, this is also where Carrino began his broadcasting career as an intern in 1991.

Decades after Carrino was mentored by one of the pioneers in broadcasting, he is sharing the knowledge he has gained throughout his career with aspiring broadcasters. In July, Carrino and his Nets radio partner, and friend Tim Capstraw, began the Chris Carrino & Tim Capstraw Sports Broadcasting Camp. The Nets radio duo took over the teaching duties for the first-year section of the camp after the founders of the camp, Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle decided after 15 years to step away.

When beginning a new venture, people sometimes feel several emotions. Carrino said, “When I talked to Dave Popkin (Camp Director) about doing the camp and Tim, I had a little bit of reservation because I didn’t want the kids and parents to think that this was some sort of a ‘come to our camp and your kids going to be a professional broadcaster,’ because it’s such a difficult profession to make a living in. I didn’t want to give the wrong impression or want them to think that if you pay me I’ll make your son into a sports broadcaster, I would never want that idea to be in peoples’ heads when they come to our camp. But what I saw in the opportunity is, I like to teach, I think I’m a pretty good teacher, the things that Marty Glickman taught me, I think I’m able to teach them and inspire young people. I thought the camp was an opportunity for kids to learn about the business which is fun for them, it’s a little inside information for them that I think they enjoy and I think we’re teaching them lessons that go beyond being a professional sports broadcaster. To become a more effective, confident communicator will help them in every walk of life, in anything that they do and that is my first priority with the kids at the camp.” Carrino and Capstraw teamed up, this time off the radio or television airways, to teach young people the importance of hard work in life.

Creating a culture takes time, it is essential to reinforce the concept of that culture regularly. The Carrino family has created a culture, one that perfectly embodies the words in the Brooklyn Nets’ 2017- 2018 slogan, "We Go Hard." Chris may receive most of the accolades and praise, but as he said, “It takes a team; no one accomplishes anything in this world by themselves. Whether it be people who have influenced you in your life, inspired you, maybe in the case of you and I, people have to physically help us do things. It takes a team to get you through. It’s like the Call of the Wild, the Jack London book written about the dogs, it takes the pack to help you.” The Brooklyn Nets will only use these words for inspiration for one season, but the Carrino family can use it as a Life Slogan.

Sep 26

Rolling Thunder-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

When a person sees lightning, usually what follows is a booming sound which some people refer to as Rolling Thunder. During the NBA offseason, teams look to improve, which some call making noise. The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed some of the league’s best players, in other words they have made a tremendous amount of noise.

Another term, or cliché that some sports fans and commentators use when a team is on a winning streak, is rolling, which means they cannot be stopped. If fans put the words Rolling Thunder together, they can accurately describe Oklahoma City’s offseason, productive because they made acquisitions, which team executives believe will help them improve.

When NBA free agency began on July 1, one of the first signings that was reported was former Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George signing with the Thunder. This signing came as a surprise to NBA fans and analysts. When the signing became official, analysts were predicting that Oklahoma City would improve upon their 47-35 record, and compete for a championship, given the fact that George is partnered with the reigning Most Valuable Player in the league, Russell Westbrook.

Recently, New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony made it widely known to the organization, as well as the other teams in the league that he no longer wished to play with the Knicks. Sometimes players have no control over what jersey they will wear next. Anthony however, had a no- trade clause in his contract, which meant before any trade was finalized Anthony would have to approve it. It was reported that Anthony would only approve a trade which sent him to the Houston Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sometimes a player can change his mind when going through the process of finding a new team. ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday, that the Knicks and the Thunder agreed to a deal which sent Anthony to Oklahoma City, and center Enes Kanter, and small forward Doug McDermott to New York. The Knicks also received a second-round draft pick in the 2018 draft in the trade. NBA analysts are now more confident in their earlier predictions, because Oklahoma City will now have three all-stars in their starting lineup.

Some people have a fear of thunderstorms, because of the noise they create or the destruction they can cause. Oklahoma City Thunder fans might enjoy the thunderstorms that will potentially be created in Chesapeake Energy Arena. There is no way to statistically judge whether the trades Oklahoma City made will be successful now, but that analysis will begin on October 18 when the Thunder begin their season at home against their recent trade partners, the Knicks. While Oklahoma City fans anxiously await that day, they can say the phrase Rolling Thunder.

Sep 22

No Doubt-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

When a basketball goes through a net, it makes an unmistakable sound. The sound can make the shooter of the basketball feel many emotions: excitement, joy, and a feeling of accomplishment. When a player enters the NBA, he can experience those same emotions while at times experiencing a feeling of doubt, wondering whether he belongs in a league with some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Tracy McGrady experienced all those emotions during his basketball career. When he received a call from the President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, John Doleva, informing him that he was a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017, he felt vindicated. In 1996, McGrady was invited to an Adidas Basketball Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey. He was the last player invited to the camp, by his own admission, it took some ""favors"" for him to be invited. When the camp began he was given the last jersey number, #175. By the conclusion of the camp, he was rated the #1 high school basketball player in the nation. McGrady has a theory on how players become elite, which he explained at the Class of 2017 Press Conference, ""If you take the guys, you take myself that have reached elite status, and never played a game of basketball before, never played it. And you take somebody that plays the game every single day they practice hours tireless you take them. And then you take myself that never played basketball before, and you put me out there with those guys and we play right, I never played basketball before, but I am able to hold my own with the guys that have been playing the game every day and working on the game every day because they peaked out already. So, if they peaked out already, and I haven’t played a day of basketball in my life, and you put me out there, and I am able to hold my own, then I have so much growth to go to surpass them, and that is what that is, it’s just God given talent."" He continued, ""I was like a duck, my feet were always moving, but no one ever saw that. No one ever saw me in the gym after practice working. That is how I went from #175 to #1: work."" This would not be the last time McGrady would have to prove his ability to others as well as himself. McGrady was one of the first players to enter the NBA draft after his high school career was complete. The Toronto Raptors selected McGrady with the ninth pick in the 1997 draft. During his rookie year, McGrady was told by the Raptors Head Coach that he would not make it three years in the league. That coach was fired halfway through the 1997 season. It is a rare occurrence when a team decides to relieve a head coach of his duties in the middle of a season. When someone doubts a player’s talent, that player sometimes uses that criticism to motivate him to become a better player. McGrady seems to be the type of person to do that exact thing. On August 3, 2000, the Toronto Raptors signed- and- trade McGrady to the Orlando Magic. During his tenure with the Magic, McGrady average 28.1 points per game while dazzling NBA fans with his ability to score in different ways. Still, McGrady’s ability to lead a team to a championship was doubted, since Orlando never made it past the first round of the playoffs. Something people may not remember is, on the same day that the Magic acquired McGrady, the Detroit Pistons signed Grant Hill to a seven-year $92.8 million contract. The Pistons then traded Hill to the Magic. Hill however, only played in 47 games over a three-year period while the two were teammates, due to an ankle injury. When an all-star caliber player is unable to play, it makes it difficult for a team to achieve their goal of winning a championship. The Houston Rockets acquired the two- time scoring champion in 2004. Houston was hoping McGrady and fellow Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Yao Ming would lift the Rockets to a championship. Unfortunately, during their time in the ""Magnolia City"" the Hall of Fame duo dealt with several injuries which limited their court time together. In 2005, McGrady was hampered by back spasms, which then became an ongoing issue for the All-Star. Back spasms forced McGrady to miss seven games in the beginning of the 2006 season. When McGrady returned, he admitted that he was not the same player, because the pain in his back slowed him down. Later in the year, Ming suffered a season-ending leg injury. Without Ming, McGrady average 24.6 points per game, a career-high, 6.5 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. Even though the championship expectations for Houston were not met, McGrady provided NBA fans with what some may call, the most memorable moment of his career. On December 9, 2004, Houston was playing one of their in-state rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, at home. Houston was trailing San Antonio by 10 with just 49 seconds remaining in regulation. People doubted whether Houston would be able to overcome this deficit with such little time remaining. Legendary Turner Sports Play-By-Play Announcer Marv Albert, said on the television broadcast, ""The Rockets will drop to 8-12,"" as the camera showed Houston’s dejected bench. McGrady then proceeded to score 13 points in 35 seconds to single-handedly improve Houston’s record to 9-11. This improbable barrage of points was highlighted by four three-pointers, the last one was the game-winning shot as time expired, and a rare four-point play. No one doubted McGrady’s talent that night. The 13- year veteran’s Houston tenure ended when he was traded to the New York Knicks in the middle of the 2010 season. During the last three years of his career McGrady spent time with the Knicks, the Detroit Pistons, the Atlanta Hawks, and the San Antonio Spurs. While McGrady was wearing a San Antonio Spurs jersey the Spurs made it to the NBA Finals, but they were unable to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy, losing to the Miami Heat. The Mount Zion Christian Academy alumnus still possessed a competitive nature inside of him during his final years playing in every NBA arena, however physically he was limited due to persisting back, knee, and elbow injuries which he suffered earlier in his illustrious career. The player who was once told he would not make it three years in the NBA began his Hall of Fame Speech with a story. McGrady and his wife Clerenda were in New Orleans during NBA All-Star Weekend in February, where the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Finalists were announced at a press conference. The couple was in an elevator, they were on their way to the press conference. While in the elevator, Clerenda was telling Tracy how proud she was of him. Tracy did not acknowledge his wife’s praise. A wife can sense how her husband is feeling by his actions. Sensing that her husband was experiencing a feeling of doubt, she demanded that her husband repeat after her, ""I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame."" The 6’8"" basketball star did not utter a single word. Insistent, McGrady’s wife implored him to look in the mirror that was on the elevator wall and say the words, ""I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame."" Still, Tracy could not say the phrase. McGrady finally succumbed to his wife’s peer pressure saying in the final sentence of his Hall of Fame Speech seven months later, ""I deserve to be here. I am truly humbled, grateful, and proud to be in the Class of 2017."" Tracy Lamar McGrady, there is No Doubt you are a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Sep 11

I Remember-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

16 years ago today, our country’s history changed forever. September 11, 2001 was a sunny day in Washington, New Jersey: the sky was as blue as crystal-clear ocean water. The events of that day however, made me sick to my stomach. No one has heard the story I am about to tell, not my parents, not any of my family members or even my best friends. Today, I want to share my story with all the people listed above, as well as with people around the world.

So why am I sharing this story more than a decade later? It has taken me this long to, and I use this phrase very loosely, “come to grips” with the events of that horrible day.

It was Picture Day at Warren Hills Regional Middle School, a day where students can show their personality if they would like. I decided to dye my usually dirty blonde hair red in the spirit of showing my personality, someone who is willing to be different. Anyone who knows me knows that I despise the feeling of uncertainty. Making the transition from elementary school to middle school gave me that exact feeling. I did not know what to expect. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Allegheny and Monongahela River flow together to form the Ohio River. All the students who graduated from Brass Castle Elementary School, Franklin Elementary School, Mansfield Elementary School, and Memorial Elementary School form the student body of Warren Hills Regional Middle School. Imagine one of the elementary schools listed above as the Allegheny or the Monongahela River, then imagine Warren Hills Regional Middle School as the Ohio River. Keeping this comparison in mind, you can imagine how overwhelming this transition might be for a 12-year-old.

On that tragic morning, after I got my picture taken, I was in my seventh grade math class taking a placement test. The test would give my teacher an idea of what areas of math I needed the most help with. In the middle of taking the test, I realized that the date was 9\11, instantly I felt sick to my stomach and thought to myself that someone needs to call 911 because something is wrong. About one minute later, Dr. Carl Weber, principal of the middle school at the time, came over the loudspeaker and said anyone who has relatives who work in the World Trade Center please come down to the library. A few minutes later, Dr. Weber once again came over the loudspeaker and told all of us the shocking news. At the time, we did not realize that this was an act of terrorism, but I for one was feeling very uneasy. After school, I went to physical therapy in Randolph New Jersey, this is usually a 45-minute drive, but the roads were barren, so it only took about 40 minutes to get there.

I slept in my parents’ bedroom that night, something I had not done in years. I wanted to be close to the people that I love the most because I was scared.

In the days and months that followed, there were several memorable acts of patriotism. These acts ranged from civilians donating money to various charities which helped the victims of the attacks and their families, to simply displaying an American Flag for everyone to see to show that Americans were going to come together in the face of tragedy. I am 28 years old, and I have never been prouder to be an American than during that time. Although it was a tragedy, Americans showed great patriotism.

In my opinion, one of the greatest things about the United States of America is our ability as a country to come together to overcome adversity. A few weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey devastated the states of Texas and Louisiana, but through that devastation I am sure everyone saw at least one person willing to lend a hand and help those in need. Once again, I was reminded of the unity that Americans showed in 2001.

There have been several occasions over the past few months where the American people have seemed divided, for example after the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. It seemed as if people were fighting each other physically and verbally. Whether you support the slogan, “Make America Great Again, “or “Yes We Can,” or even if you do not support either slogan, we all still have one thing in common: WE ARE AMERICANS!

I began every one of my school days by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, as I am sure most schoolchildren did, or maybe still do. Just as a reminder, here is what it says, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Many times, I find myself dissecting words, meaning I ask myself what do those words mean to me? The Pledge of Allegiance, to me, means that we may be divided as a country at times, but despite our disagreements, we are still ONE NATION!

As we take a moment or two to remember the lives that were lost 16 years ago today, I ask all of you who are reading this to say two words to yourself, or if you choose in your prayers. Those two words are, “I Remember,” and it is my hope that by saying those words, you will remember that this great country thrives when we are UNITED!

Sep 06

Friend and Foe-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

The Boston Celtics played the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals this past season. During the best-of-seven series, each team was trying to find the smallest of weaknesses to exploit with the goal of winning four games in mind. The Cavaliers accomplished this and were named Eastern Conference Champions and moved on to the NBA Finals. Sometimes in a playoff series there can be hostility between both organizations due to the competitive nature of the games. This sometimes can cause the organizations to lose respect for one another. During the off-season team executives try and improve their team, in some cases that means making a trade with the team you were competing against months earlier in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavaliers and Celtics did exactly that when the two teams agreed to make arguably the most talked about trade of the off-season thus far. Point guard Kyrie Irving will be wearing a green and white Celtics jersey next season, while guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, and center Ante Zizic will dawn a blue and red Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. Cleveland also received the unprotected first-round draft pick of the Brooklyn Nets in the trade, which the Celtics acquired from the Nets in a trade in 2013. The Nets have struggled the past few seasons, which means Cleveland could get the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. ESPN College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman said, that the 2018 draft has potential to be ""loaded"" with future NBA stars. Cleveland also received the Celtics second- round draft pick in the 2020 draft. This pick was added to the trade after there were questions about Thomas’ injured right hip after he was examined by Cleveland’s medical staff. When a player spends multiple years with one team some might say he writes his own story with the team. A story that the franchise and the fans of the team will remember forever. Keeping this perspective in mind, this trade has an interesting similarity. A similarity that some may not remember, in the 2016 NBA Finals Irving during Game 7 made the game-winning three- point shot which gave the Cavaliers and 92-89 lead. This shot gave the city of Cleveland its first championship of any kind since 1964. Cleveland fans will cherish the memory of Irving’s shot forever no matter what jersey he wears in the future. Losing a loved one is hard, imagine losing someone you love while trying to lead your team to a championship. Thomas lost his sister Chyna, who was killed in a one-car accident during the playoffs. Thomas had to deal with the emotions of losing his sister, while keeping the team’s goal of winning a championship in mind. Sometimes when a player is on the court and around teammates, it serves as a distraction when a player is dealing with difficult circumstances off the court. There is no comparison that can be made between making a game-winning shot and losing a loved one, but there is something that can be said about the heart that both players possess. Although the adversity they faced was of a completely different nature, Thomas and Irving without question made an impact on their team during those respective moments. They also exemplified great leadership qualities, courageousness, strength, and the ability to not let distractions affect the way you play in a game. Looking at the other two players involved in the trade Crowder and Zizic, Crowder will bring size and athleticism to Cleveland. He can play in the post and shoot from the outside. As far as Zizic he is a 7-footer with decent post moves who the Celtics drafted with the 23rd overall pick in the 2016 draft. He has played for several teams overseas including the Darussafaka Dogus which is a Turkish team in the Basketbol Super Ligi coached by former Cavaliers Head Coach David Blatt. ESPN College Basketball Analyst, Fran Fraschilla told the Boston Globe that Zizic is a 240- pound big man who ""has a mean streak."" NBA fans will not have to wait long to see the top two teams in the Eastern Conference last season play each other. The first game on the NBA schedule on October 17, has the Celtics traveling to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers. Some may look at the statistics and say this is a good trade for both teams which is hard to argue. When teams have an opportunity to acquire players that can not only help their team win a championship, but also players that possess amazing leadership qualities it is hard to turn down the deal. Friends are people who help people they care about in any way possible, while foes are defined as enemies or opponents. It is hard to characterize the relationship between the Celtics and Cavaliers as a friendship, but this trade makes it hard to call the two teams foes. The only way NBA fans can accurately characterize this relationship is by saying they are both a Friend and Foe to each other.

Aug 19

Say Yes-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

The word yes is a simple word, a word that is easy to spell and say, but sometimes convincing someone to Say Yes can be very challenging. Quarterback Kurt Warner, who was recently enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2017 in Canton Ohio, understands how challenging it can be to convince someone to utter this simple, but life-changing word.

When playing quarterback, a player must not only call plays and distribute the ball to his teammates, but he must also possess leadership qualities. Those qualities are not developed just because a player says he must have them, they are developed throughout a player’s life, or as Warner eloquently said in his Hall of Fame Speech, “For those of you that have witnessed my career from the outside, you will undoubtedly use the milestones – Super Bowls, MVP’s, and of course, tonight – as the defining moments of my career. But if there’s one thing that this process has revealed, it’s that those pinnacle accomplishments were simply byproducts of the moments that made the foundation of the man that stands here before you this evening.”

Ironically, playing quarterback was not Warner’s first choice. During Warner’s first high school football practice, his coach, Jim Padlock, was separating every player by position, when he realized that the quarterback position was vacant. He decided to line everyone up and have a throwing contest, which meant whoever threw the ball the farthest would become the new Starting Quarterback for Regis High School. Much to Warner’s dismay, he won the throwing competition. Although reluctantly, and maybe not verbally, this was one of the first times that Warner would have to Say Yes. He did not realize this was the beginning of the path to Hall of Fame success.

The Burlington Iowa native decided to continue his education and football career at the University of Northern Iowa. Despite having the comfort of being close to home, one of the newest members of the University of Northern Iowa Panthers still faced adversity. Every athlete wants to feel like they are a major contributor to their team’s success. Although every individual on a team is an integral part of their team’s success, when a player is not participating in games, it is hard to have that feeling. That is the feeling that Warner had to try and remind himself of, the feeling that he was still part of the team even though he sat on the bench for four consecutive years.

Warner contemplated transferring or just quitting altogether, but after a conversation with his mother, Sue Warner, who told her son to be grateful for the opportunity even if it didn’t look the way he wanted it to look. As one of the people Warner looks up to the most, Sue Warner continued to impart her wisdom on her son by saying, “Never stop working or preparing because God has a plan and you need to be ready when he shows it to you.” The conversation concluded with Sue Warner telling her son that he was not a quitter, and that they would get through this together. Warner decided against quitting and stayed with the team. That simple, life-changing word referenced earlier can also be a source of motivation, and give a person strength and the will to not give up.

Think of Warner’s professional football career as if he were a storm chaser, a person who follows the path of a weather event, such as a Tornado, in the hopes of getting a glimpse of a funnel cloud, or simply for the thrill of doing it. Warner’s professional football career started with him being an undrafted free agent. He was then signed and later released by the Green Bay Packers in 1994. It then included stints with NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals, his home state Arena Football League team the Iowa Barnstormers, and even as a Grocery Store Clerk at Hy-Vee. As Warner put it, “The road to our dreams often times has detours. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do while you’re waiting to do what you were born to do. Thus my infamous stint at the grocery store.”

There are some things in life people cannot control, like when you are on your honeymoon and you get bitten on your throwing elbow by an unknown creature. The bite causes your elbow to swell shortly before a scheduled tryout with the Chicago Bears. You are forced to cancel the tryout because of the mysterious bite. Yes, that is yet another chapter in Warner’s Hall of Fame success story.

Some people think that the number 13 is unlucky, but in Warner’s case, that unlucky number was the right number. In 1997, just as Warner was about to give up on his football career, he received a call from his former Amsterdam Admirals Head Coach, Al Luginbill, saying that the St. Louis Rams would like him to come for a tryout. The previous 12 phone calls between NFL teams and Luginbill concluded with another simple, but powerful word: No.

The day arrived, Warner was getting a second chance at an NFL career. Warner, by his own admission, had the worst workout of his life, saying, “I called Brenda,” his wife, “and told her I blew it. I blew my last chance at the NFL.” Much to Warner’s surprise, a few days later he received a call from the Rams offering him a contract. Jokingly Warner said, “To this day, I think the signing must have just been a favor to Al, but all the same to me. One man’s junk, is another man’s treasure.”

During training camp, teams must cut players that they do not think can help them win. It was the night before final cut day in 1998, the Rams coaching staff had a tough decision to make, who would be their third-string quarterback? The members of the coaching staff took a vote, but this did not answer the question because the vote was even. The final decision would be made by Head Coach Dick Vermeil. The candidate who would fill that position remembers exactly how he received the thrilling news, saying, “I’ll never forget the moment I made the team. I was wandering the halls at Rams Park – the same halls from which I’d called Brenda informing her I blew my tryout – when, who do I run into? Coach Vermeil. Not very often do you find out your football future in the hallway of the facility, but after everything else I’d been through, why should this surprise me? It was there that I found out the first step of my dream had been realized.”

Still in shock, Warner continued, “But, ‘you made the team,’ was not the statement that made the greatest impression. It was the one that followed. Coach V looked at me in the eye and said, ‘the reason why you made this team is I feel there is something special about you. Something different. And I couldn’t let you go without seeing if it was true.’” Finally, the quarterback who had been longing to hear the word yes, heard it twice from the same team.

It was 1999, quarterback Trent Green was set to become the Starting Quarterback for the Rams. In a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, near the end of the First Half, Green was hit from behind by Chargers safety Rodney Harrison. Green tore several ligaments in his knee. Everyone associated with the Rams was devastated, but there was Warner, ready to do something improbable. Warner would become the leader of what is now one of the most well-known offenses in NFL history, “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

The Rams would hoist the Lombardi Trophy in 1999, winning one of the most memorable games in Super Bowl history by defeating the Tennessee Titans. The Titans tied the game at 16 with an Al Del Greco 43- yard field goal with 2:12 remaining in the game. The Rams started their next drive on the Titans’ 27- yard line. Warner then threw a 73- yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaac Bruce: the Rams took a 23-16 lead with 1:38 left. On their final drive, the Titans moved the ball down to the Rams’ 10- yard line with six seconds left. Quarterback Steve McNair threw a short pass to wide receiver Kevin Dyson. Dyson caught the ball at the 3, his effort to try and score the game-tying touchdown fell one-yard short however, when he was tackled by Rams linebacker Mike Jones. Warner would raise the Super Bowl MVP trophy as well as the Lombardi Trophy.

Warner was also named the regular season’s most valuable player in 1999. In 2014, Vermeil talking about the quarterback he saw something special in, told the Kansas City Star, “How many quarterbacks in the history of the NFL (became) the most valuable player in the league with only 16 game snaps in his career? Tell me. Nobody. It has never been done before, and will never be done again.”

The Rams played in the NFL’s biggest game once again in 2001. This time, the Lombardi Trophy would be hoisted by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The Rams participated in an unforgettable Super Bowl, losing to the Patriots 20-17 on a 48- yard field goal by future Hall of Fame place kicker Adam Vinatieri as time expired.

In 2005, Warner was trying to revitalize his football career after being released by the Rams and not being re-signed after one year with the New York Giants. Once again, Warner was told yes, this time by the Arizona Cardinals. In 2007, Ken Whisenhunt was named the new Head Coach of the Cardinals. Warner would have to prove himself again, he was competing for the starting job with the Cardinals 2006 first-round draft pick and Heisman Trophy Winner Matt Leinart.

Warner was named the starter during training camp in 2008. He helped the Cardinals soar to their first Super Bowl in franchise history. For the third time in his career, the 11-year veteran was a part of an amazing Super Bowl. The Cardinals were not able to complete their historic season with their first Lombardi Trophy. The Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII 27-23 when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw the game-winning 9- yard touchdown pass to wide receiver, and Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes with 0:35 left in the Fourth Quarter. This came after Warner threw a 64- yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to take a 23-20 lead with 2:37 remaining.

The 310th member enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame understands the word yes means the most to his seven children. When his children ask, “Dad, would you play football or video games with me?” His answer is a resounding yes.

As he said, “Moments matter. They leave their impression upon us. They shape how we live our lives, and they impact who we become. They also offer something of possibly more value: The opportunity to leave a lasting mark on the world around us.” Warner left a lasting mark on every place that his football career led him.

Warner is a man that is undoubtedly committed to his faith. He concluded his Hall of Fame Speech by saying yes to the most important figure in his life, saying, “Now, love it or hate it, the opening scene captured the sports world, and the words became the heart of my story. The rest, as they say, is history. Bringing us to this: The famous last words, and the only place this extraordinary journey can end. His final moment was for me. Mine is for him. Thank you Jesus!” Some might interpret his last statement as Warner saying, “YES, I believe.”

Everyone must overcome the feeling of being rejected at some point in their life. Warner overcame that terrible feeling by not letting that feeling deter him from chasing his lifelong dream. His actions showed that he was determined to hear that simple, but life-changing word. There is a lesson to be learned from Warner’s story, that is do not let the fact that someone said no, stop you from chasing your dream, rather make someone else Say Yes.

Aug 02

Biggest Fan-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

Support can be given or shown in so many ways, monetarily, by guiding someone to their destination, or by just showing someone that you love them and believe in their abilities. When an athlete is making the transition from playing collegiate sports to playing professional sports, it can sometimes be difficult for the athlete to adjust to the level of play or other aspects of being a professional athlete. Boston Celtics’ Rookie Jayson Tatum sure has had a lot of support during his life and especially during his transition from Duke University to the Boston Celtics.

Parents can show their children the definition of words through their actions. Determination is one quality that NBA players must possess to be considered elite. Brandy Cole, Tatum’s mother, sure showed one of the newest members of the Celtics what the word determination meant through her actions. On July 4, 1997, just weeks after Cole graduated from high school, she discovered that she was pregnant with Jayson. Tatum was born on March 3, 1998. Despite being an 18-year-old single mother Cole enrolled at the University of Missouri St. Louis to achieve her goal of obtaining a college degree. While attending classes Cole worked part-time at Cingular Wireless to help pay for college and household costs. Most times Tatum accompanied his mother to her classes, which Tatum readily admitted was boring. More than a decade later Cole has degrees in Communications, Political Science, and Law.

Throughout Tatum’s childhood his mother was very tough on him. She demanded that he must do well in school despite his basketball talents, which is rare today. When Tatum was making one of the toughest decisions of his life, where he would continue his education and play basketball, one of the deciding factors which led him to choose Duke University was the fact that Duke’s Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski expects all his players to earn a degree even if they declare for the NBA Draft before obtaining their degree. Cole told ESPN College Basketball Writer Jeff Goodman in an article written in 2016, "Coach K won’t retire your jersey until you graduate. That’s a big thing for me." Cole continued, "Duke kids come back and get their degrees. I told him I don’t care how long it takes. He sees how hard I’ve worked."

Imagine two people are climbing Mount Everest with the goal of making it to the top. Accomplishing this feat will not occur in one day, or maybe not even in one week. There may be times when both or one climber wants to stop climbing and give up on achieving their goal of reaching the top. When a basketball player is trying to make it to the NBA, he may have similar sentiments. In these types of situations NBA prospects and climbers need people to encourage them and tell them not to give up on achieving their goal.

Most parents beam with pride when their children accomplish their goals. In an interview with Goodman during a Celtics’ Summer League game in Las Vegas, Cole was asked what she thought of her son’s play in the game. As a smile came across her face she said, "Well you know, I wasn’t happy about that missed free throw," she continued, "How many parents get to watch their children realize their dreams? This is amazing." Every NBA player has fans: those who wear their jersey with pride and maybe even those who will buy front row seats for a game just for the chance to say hello to someone they idolize. Tatum, without question, has fans like this already, but his Biggest Fan might just so happen to be his mother. No matter how many points Tatum scores during his NBA career, his mother will not be satisfied until he walks across the stage to receive his college degree.

Jul 06

The Return of Showtime?-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

In the 1980s the Los Angeles Lakers were also known as the “Showtime” Lakers because of their fast-paced flashy play. That team was led by Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who was the Point Guard, 38 years after being drafted by the team, Johnson is now the Point Guard of the Lakers’ front office, as the President of Basketball Operations.

When Johnson was hired in February, he said, “I will do everything in my power to build a winning culture on and off the court.” Johnson has already begun building that culture. Prior to this year’s draft, the Lakers traded Guard D’Angelo Russell and Center Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for All-Star Center Brook Lopez and the rights to the 27th overall pick in the draft, University of Utah Power Forward Kyle Kuzma.

As every team does, the Lakers continued to build during the draft taking UCLA Guard Lonzo Ball with the second pick. Johnson has already called Ball the new “face of the franchise.” The purple and gold also acquired Villanova Guard Josh Hart and Indiana University Center Thomas Bryant from the Utah Jazz in exchange for North Carolina Center Tony Bradley Jr. Hart was a four-year starter at Villanova and an integral part of the Wildcats National Championship team in 2016. Bryant averaged 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in his final season with the Hoosiers

When people are putting together puzzles, they must make each piece of the puzzle fit together perfectly to recreate the picture illustrated on the box of the puzzle. Similarly, when trying to put together a championship caliber NBA team, everyone involved must make sure their players fit together to recreate the picture that every NBA team has in their head, the one where their team is holding the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Unlike a puzzle created by Milton Bradley or HASBRO, this type of puzzle does not have a set number of pieces, or in this case, players that will recreate this image, nor does it have a timetable for its completion.

The Lakers and Johnson have already shown that they are not afraid to make bold moves through the draft and through trades to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to the Staples Center. On July 1, 2018, some of the NBA’s best players could become free agents. Players and fans recognize when teams are being aggressive in pursuit of a championship. This attitude can be enticing to those players looking for a new team.

The Lakers won five championships in the 1980s, but before it was “Showtime” there were trades and draft picks that needed to be made.

· With the first pick in the 1979 draft the Lakers selected Johnson of Michigan State University.

· On February 15, 1980, the Lakers traded Power Forward Don Ford and their 1980 first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Point Guard Butch Lee and Cleveland’s first-round pick in the 1982 draft.

· Cleveland used that 1980 first-round draft pick to select Chad Kinch, Guard from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

· The Lakers used that 1982 first-round draft pick to select James Worthy from the University of North Carolina.

These are just some of the moves that were made which helped the Lakers become champions.

Long time Lakers’ fans without question are anxiously awaiting the day that they can proudly proclaim, “It’s Showtime again,” and they may not have to wait too much longer.

Apr 09

Graduation Day-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

Graduation day for high school students, their families, and school faculty is supposed to be one of the most joyous days of the school year, but for the 36 graduating seniors, and all others at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City New Jersey, the day will be bittersweet. The 2017 graduating class will be the school’s last as school officials announced Wednesday that it will be closing on June 30. The Jersey City school has been dealing with the risk of closing for years due to rising costs and declining attendance, but now the school’s nightmare has become an unfortunate reality.

Kids that live in an inner city such as Jersey City often need a safe haven, that is a place that they can feel safe while being impacted positively by other kids their age and adults, and St. Anthony High School is that safe haven for so many students. Take a minute to think about who had an impact on you during your high school years, or if you are in high school which staff member at your school seems to always believe in your abilities no matter what? Imagine tomorrow you found out that your school or place of business was closing how would you feel, what would you miss about that place? The hypothetical situation written above is a reality for the Jersey City school’s students and staff. The place where they all come together as one to help make the world a better place will soon no longer exist.

Hall of Fame Coach, motivator, father figure, those are some of the words used to describe St. Anthony High School Boys’ Basketball Coach Bob Hurley. Any high school basketball fan has heard or read the name Bob Hurley. They may have heard or read about the legendary coach, but do they know what an impact he had on many of the now young men that he coached. Hurley demands a lot from his players, some might say perfection, but because of those demands Hurley has turned sometimes immature boys into men. Earlier I asked my readers to think about a person who impacted or impacts them during their high school years Hurley is certainly an example of someone who had or has an impact on someone during their high school years.

As the son of a Jersey City native, and the nephew of one of the Hurley family’s former neighbors I feel I have a connection with St. Anthony High School, I have never been to the school, I have never even seen Coach Hurley preside over a practice, but I know what it feels like to be motivated and inspired by someone every day. If you notice I waited until the later paragraphs of this article to write about the impact the decision to close St Anthony High School will have on high school basketball, in particular New Jersey high school basketball. Sure, I can write at length about Coach Hurley’s coaching career, the more than 1100 wins, the 28 state championships, or the 150 former Friars that went on to play Division 1 basketball, but even if you were to ask Coach Hurley I think he would tell you that this decision goes far beyond basketball. My heart goes out to all the people impacted by this decision, especially the students. I can only imagine the emotions that everyone at the school is feeling right now. As I wrote the hypothetical situation in the earlier paragraph I got emotional because my heart sank.

During every graduation as Pomp and Circumstance plays tears are shed by many in attendance, this June as the iconic graduation song is playing at the St. Anthony High School graduation many additional tears I am sure will be shed. I am going to conclude this article with a message for all the Friars of St. Anthony High School. This saying is simple, and something I do my best to do every day. Enjoy the moment! Enjoy every last minute with your teachers, your students and your friends. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear, because that only means you care!

Apr 02

Enjoy Life-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

There are times in our lives where we just need to take a step back and appreciate what we have. Believe me I know life can be hectic at times, but it’s the people in our lives that make it worthwhile. We all have people in our lives that make us strive to be better, that help us stay positive when times get rough.

Think about this, you wake up one morning and you realize your alarm did not go off, and now you are late for work. You want to make a cup of coffee quickly because you cannot function without a cup of hot coffee. You go into the kitchen and you find out you have no more coffee beans to make your hot cup of coffee. You get to work and your boss reprimands you for being late, and face it, you do not have a valid excuse for it.

I know this is sometimes difficult to do, but when you have days like this it is the perfect day to reflect on life and appreciate what you have. I have had days like this, days that I would like to forget, honestly more than I care to talk about. What I try and do during these days is remember all the moments that have occurred in my life that always make me smile.

Enjoy life, no matter what it brings you do your best to smile. Think of those special moments that make you smile when you feel like nothing is going right. I usually write about sports, but I felt we all needed a reminder about how thankful we should all be for what we have been given in life, including myself. I write all the time in the final paragraphs of my articles that I want my readers to learn something from them, in this one I do not expect my readers to learn something, rather I would hope that my readers reflect on their lives and appreciate everything in them.

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