Conclusive …..

Conclusive …

In aftermath of the Golden State Warriors’ (3-4) loss in the NBA Finals and the way in which the defending champions relinquished their title, has the sports’ world talking as the newly crowned champions the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) hold sway of the NBA world. Finals’ MVP and now a three-time champion , LeBron James now feels vindicated after the franchise’s triumph and the promise of bringing a title to his home state. The Akron , Ohio native fulfilled the promise and now has fans who once taunted for his departure from the Cavaliers now calling him ‘ The King’ once again . For the Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert and his partners have seen the franchise’s value rise over 60% in the last four years, with the biggest increase coming immediately after James rejoined the Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise is now worth in excess of $1.1 billion , though their value places them mid-table among the league’s thirty teams .

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Two consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and the belief appears to be , Cleveland can now dominate the league , but specifically in the Eastern Conference for years to come. As to how many years is actually dependent upon how long LeBron James will continue his career in the league. I firmly believe the twelve-year veteran is now seeking personal goals , winning at least three more titles, three League MVP’s to add to his tally of four . Yet James’ biggest personal achievement could come from his being biggest earning player in NBA history . Having accumulated an estimated $300 million fortune, James’ business tentacles now stretches across a wide variety of entrepreneurial endeavors. LeBron James will likely become a billionaire before his NBA career has ended , with the player now the highest earning athlete in the league and one of the most recognizable faces in the world of sports. Not since Michael Jordan’s reign over the NBA , has there been a player so enigmatic , as athletic and as dominant in this league. Fans may now be seeking a team and player rivalry which are reminiscent of the intense rivalries seen between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics . I do believe those years are long gone and in our rear view mirrors and they are unlikely to return to the NBA !

Golden State’s fall from the heights of the basketball world to the point where many might now be questioning the heart of this team might well be justified. I firmly believe the title was lost for the Warriors , when the referees interjected themselves in the series far more than fans have come to see in previous NBA Finals . In particular during games four , five and six, when there appeared to be anomaly of outrageous calls favoring the Cleveland Cavaliers when they were in the process of mounting their now historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit . Golden State crumbled, while Steph Curry’s play and leadership continued to falter along with his teammates following in tow. The loss of Draymond Green from game-six , was far more telling than anyone would career to admit, but the player went all out in game-seven , as he fought valiantly in seeking to retain the Warriors’ hold Los their title. Cleveland Cavaliers’ four point 93-89 victory sealed Golden State’s fate and brought a title to Cleveland. Green’s thirty-two points in the contest led all scorers in the game. The defeat now leaves the Golden State Warriors and their fans wondering what might have been and whether or not the chase of the single-season record for regular season wins was actually worth it. To a degree there was a great deal of complacency seen during the NBA Playoffs by the Warriors , but this loss to the Cavaliers came down to who wanted the series’ victory more , without apportioning blame squarely on the shoulders of the referees.

There has to be a great deal of disappointment among the coaching staff of the Golden State Warriors , especially with head coach Steve Kerr . Having been fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of the officials and pointed accusations at LeBron James , the thick skin one might have felt was a shell of invincibility with the Warriors had indeed began to crack. This off-season , there are likely to be some changes among the team’s lineup and I firmly believe Andrew Bogut will no longer be a part of the franchise’s future. Bogut’s best years are now behind him and limited availability in the Playoffs was clearly of no advantage to the team. Yet the biggest decision facing Steve Kerr and Warriors’ GM Bob Myers , is whether not they will allow Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to become free agents or seek to retain both players who were vital to the team’s success during the regular season. The NBA salary cap will increase significantly this upcoming season rising from the current level of $63 million to a proposed $78 million with the luxury tax set at $92 million . Teams will aggressively seek to sign marquee free agents this off-season , very much in a similar vain witnessed last season and the year previously.

Dustin Johnson claimed the first Grand Slam Major of his PGA career having won the US Open at the Oakmont Golf & Country Club , Oakmont , Pennsylvania by a four-stroke margin . The American saw his rankings move up in the world, while also move up the FedEx Cup standings . However, the controversy which resulted in round four stemmed from the officials of the United States Golf Association (USGA) seeking to penalize Johnson for what they believe was an attempted stroke when the player’s club never actually struck the ball while it was on the green. They were either seeking to add insult to injury or as usual , the USGA and PGA in particular are just showing how truly incompetent they remain. Jordan Spieth , Jason Day and Rory McIlroy never made an impression during the tournament and the final leader-board indicated nothing more than Johnson’s margin of victory and his taking the almost $1.8 million first prize . Golf is in need of a great deal of excitement and it is now being provided by the top three players in the world with Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy leading the way.

Phil Mickelson no longer competes to win , merely turning up for what appears to be a guaranteed paycheck , just as long as he finishes in the top twenty -five of a PGA sanctioned event. Tiger Woods remains missing in action and milk carton’s with the player’s image will soon be going on display . Granted , Woods is now too old to be thought of as a missing and exploited child , but I can’t help but wonder what is next for the former world number one golfer ? It has been over eight months since his last appearance in a PGA event and over eighteen months since his last victory world worldwide . It goes without saying if Woods isn’t competing or winning a Major Grand Slam tournament, then fans of the sport are not necessarily interested in the game.

With golf now being part of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , it will be interesting to see which of the top-ranked golfers will be competing in the events . The Zika Virus remains at the forefront of the news within Brazil , even with the assurances being given by the Brazilian government. Dilma Rousseff , the country’s President has been deposed , amid claims of corruption , mismanagement of the country’s economy as well a litany of claims not substantiated. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in Brazil on the staging of the Summer Olympics and IOC President Thomas Bach has now began to assure the world the staging of the event will take place without their being any major setbacks. That is of little assurance to many who believe the country has not dealt with the epidemic appropriately or the possibility that the nation’s security forces are ill-prepared to deal with a possible terrorist attack . If the staging of the games are to be a success then it will be incumbent on the country , the IOC making sure all necessary precautions are taken in safeguarding not only the athletes competing but also the guests entering Brazil to attend the Olympic Games.

Maria Sharapova might well be the best known female athlete to have become embroiled in the use of a banned substance. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has proposed a two-year suspension of the Russian tennis star which seems to have the backing of the ITF as well as the WTA , but the Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have called into question the harshness of the suspension of Sharapova. The tennis star offered her apology to her fans and the WTA when the news first broke of her having tested positive for Meldonium , a prescriptive medication commonly used in the rehabilitation of muscle fatigue. The drug has been on the banned list of substances by the IOC for over two years and Maria Sharapova’s explanation concerning the matter remains ambivalent , making absolutely no sense at all. In the midst of this all the Russian Olympic Federation is now questioning the ban by the International Track & Field Association (IAAF) of the Russian track and field team . Several of the athletes who face a mandatory two-year ban are world-class track stars , several of them ranked among the top-ten in their events and thought of as medal contenders at the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil.

This ban instigated by the IAAF might seem draconian and harsh without flexibility as to the decision rendered. Yet it should be noted the Russian Olympic Federation itself , while admitting no responsibility of any wrongdoing have admitted there has been a breakdown in their testing protocols for many of their track stars and other athletes. From my own perspective , I believe the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been correct in their stance in stamping down on offenders and the associations who have yet to fallen into line with the testing protocols now in place and mandated by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) ! Russia has been one of the biggest offenders in the blatant use of banned substances in the world of track and field athletics over the past three and a half decades. It remains at the epicenter of the rampant widespread use of banned substances along with several Eastern bloc countries . However, it should be noted a number of US born athletes in recent years have also tested positive for the use of a banned substance. Track stars Tyson Gay , Justin Gatlin , Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones are the most prominent names known the public but the most well-known of all remains former seven-time Tour de France Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong . Ambivalence and hypocrisy remains commonplace within the IOC , IAAF as well as within the numerous federations affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.

Maria Sharapova will likely seek an appeal of the ruling of her suspension by taking her case directly to the Council For The Arbitration on Sports (CAS) based in Lausanne , Switzerland which also happens to be the headquarters for the IOC. Many of Sharapova’s contemporaries have not voiced their opinions publicly , but there is the belief the tennis superstar knew all along her actions were contrary the rules of the WTA and that of the IOC. I certainly hope an appeal by Maria Sharapova will not be upheld, as it would certainly open the floodgates for other athletes seeking to overturn decisions concerning their suspensions which were certainly warranted.

With the NBA season now over and baseball now in full swing the Summer months will now take center-stage with Olympics being the focal point for what will be a billion-plus audience watching this two-week spectacle. While I have always been ardent sports’ fan , in light of the recent political events around the world , there will be more the expected anticipation of the events taking place in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil .

In the aftermath with the events of the NBA Finals , do you believe the end result with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the title was a satisfying end to the season ? Also, with the heightened alerts now taking place around the world because of the recent terrorist attacks taking place , do you believe the Summer Olympics in Brazil can turn out to be a tremendous success ?

Tophatal …. 2016/06/21

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It’s Not Over Until The Fat Lady Sings …

It’s Not Over Until The Fat Lady Sings …

A game-seven will now be played in this year’s NBA Finals , providing the league hierarchy with the climactic and suspenseful finish they will be hoping for. Conspiracy theorists wherever they might be , will continue to question the veracity of the officiating and whether or not the league itself actually intervened at any point during the series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors . No matter what the outcome in the Finals . there will be questions asked which I doubt NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will proffer up a satisfactory answer ! Clearly the referees have shown their inconsistency throughout the NBA Playoffs and during the entire NBA Finals, in the lead-up to a series’ deciding game seven which will take place at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California on June 19th , 2016.

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There was a great deal of frustration on the face of Steph Curry during game six , which resulted in the Warriors’ loss and Curry being ejected , having thrown his mouthpiece into the crowd during game-six played at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio on Thursday night. Golden State were outplayed and failed to get off to a fast start at the intent of Steve Kerr and the Warriors’ coaching staff . Sunday’s game could prove to be fateful if the defending NBA champions allow the Cleveland Cavaliers to dictate the pace of the game for its entire forty-eight minutes. Losing this game and their title would prove to be disastrous after such a sensational regular season for the Golden State Warriors. League record or not , the emphasis for the franchise was to make a successful defense of their title.

I do believe there is a great deal of merit to the claims , the NBA Playoffs have proven once again what we know to be true and it is the very fact, the hierarchy is unwilling to admit the officials are very poor and there seems to be a declining standard of the officiating talent among their on-court officials. The NBA Referees’ Union might believe this to be the contrary , but there seems to no denying the fact the league has a problem which it has failed to address over the past decade.

I’ll say this for the MLB season at this point of the schedule and it is the fact we have seen some stellar pitching from the starters and an abundance of offensive woes among several of the teams . No-hitters though not a rarity , have been seen already this season , but we have to see a perfect game . Offense from the players , has been somewhat sporadic, but in recent days we have seen Victory Martinez put on an amazing performance for the Detroit Tigers . Martinez set the trend which would lead to the Tigers’ most impressive performance of their season while leading the team to a victory over the Kansas City Royals , with the Tigers’ catcher hitting three home runs in the contest . The Detroit Tigers will be back in action on Friday when they face the Kansas City Royals in the resumption of their current series between these two AL Central combatants . Michael Fulmer will be on the mound for the Tigers as he faces the Royals’ Yordano Ventura in a match-up of two very good AL starting pitchers.

Give credit where it’s due , because even light of Jose Reyes having served a fifty-one game suspension for domestic violence and aggravated assault the Colorado Rockies are well within their right to rid themselves of the short-stop. Reyes has been designated for assignment , but will be hindered by the fact the player will be owed $40 million on the two remaining years of his existing contract . Playing sub.500 baseball the Rockies now find themselves sitting third within the NL West with a 32-33 record . Eight games behind the division leading San Francisco Giants (41-26) and three games out of a wildcard berth , the team over their last ten games are 8-2 . Yet within an un-competitive division, it simply isn’t good enough place them as a serious contender within their division.

The departure of Jose Reyes I certainly don’t believe will be on any great loss for the Colorado Rockies, given his lack of productivity since being acquired by the ball-club from the Toronto Blue Jays . Colorado has not reached the heights expected of the ownership group or their fan-base over the past ten years and it is becoming increasingly clear the management as well as the front office has become increasingly impatient with the lack of consistency and progress sought. The franchise’s farm system has talent , but there appears to be no one among their Minor League System capable of stepping up to the plate and leading by example. Among the Rockies’ starters it is already clear that has been the case , as seen with their play over the course of the season.

In the Colorado Rockies’ last game they they had an easy 6-3 victory over the struggling New York Yankees in a home contest played at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday evening . Walt Weiss and his Rockies’ managerial staff will prepare the team for a three-game weekend schedule against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark , in Miami Florida.. The first of the three contests will take place on Friday and Colorado will have starting pitchers Jon Gray of the Rockies facing Adam Conley of the Miami Marlins . Both of these teams are seeking to make an impact within the NL with an eye gaining a wildcard berth at least . It remains to be seen if either can make it a reality , but it will be interesting to see how things pan out at the end of the season.

Ichiro Suzuki has now amassed more than 4,000 career hits over the course of professional baseball career, but a large proportion of those hits took place while he played in the Japanese League . However, baseball’s hierarchy has seen fit accord Suzuki’s achievement of recently garnering his four thousandth two-hundred and fifty-seventh hit , accrediting as if it were an MLB career record . Now while it is an achievement within itself , it does not equate with what is still considered to be the legitimate record held by Pete Rose , whose 4,256 career hits which is seen as the all-time record. Rose may will still remain on the outside looking in as a pariah . Yet it does seem hypocritical of MLB to afford Suzuki this accomplishment and then overlook the career statistics put up by Hideki Matsui . Ichiro is still twenty-three hits shy of the 3,000 hits’ career plateau and would have to play another six more seasons to reach the league record set by Pete Rose in MLB (Major League Baseball) based on his current pace .

Only a game and a half out of the NL wildcard berth it has to be said the Miami Marlins have been one of the surprise teams in the NL this season. Yet from my own perspective , I do believe this Don Mattingly managed team will have to do a great deal more prove their detractors wrong in suggesting this group of players are not competitive enough to win a World Series title . The struggles of the Marlins have been there for all to see over the course of this season and I doubt things are likely to change anytime soon !

Something strange is happening in the state of Texas and it has nothing at all to do with the Dallas Cowboys . While year in year out great things are expected of the NFL franchise , you have to admit . it is always great to see the Cowboys’ repeated pratfalls , with Jerry Jones , the front office and their often injured quarterback Tony Romo continue to make the same old excuses for another poor season . The less news’ coverage to the Dallas Cowboys during the off and regular season , the better off we all are as sports’ fans. While the Cowboys wallow in self-pity and ridicule , the Texas Rangers are having a good season, leading the AL West and playing some solid baseball . Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels has shown a great deal of faith in Jeff Banister and his managerial staff this season while the Texas players have gone about their business with a great deal of professionalism.

Heading into their weekend series’ schedule of games Jeff Banister and the Texas Rangers will be seeking to increase their AL West divisional lead over their rivals by taking down the St Louis Cardinals , whom they will face at Busch Stadium , in St Louis , Missouri , with the first of those games taking place on Friday evening. Cole Hamels will be representing the visiting team when he faces Michael Wacha of the Cardinals.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the few teams in baseball who can continue to spend capriciously on talent while their apathetic and clueless fans wistfully believe the money is being well-spent and getting absolutely nothing in return . Dumping an ineffective veteran Carl Crawford made a great deal of sense given the fact the player was well past his prime and no longer seen as a leader. Utter stupidity by former GM Ned Colletti was simply one of the signs that this organization still remained in a quagmire after the sheer lunacy seen from former team owner Frank McCourt . The Dodgers’ financial troubles notwithstanding, in the four seasons since being acquired by a cabal of billionaire entrepreneurs , very little has changed with the mindset of the franchise. Common sense now seems to be prevailing with Andrew Friedman having been brought in to lead the Baseball Operations , while Farhan Zaidi was installed as the general manager.

Having to play catch up in a division where it was felt the Dodgers would be totally dominant this season , we are beginning to see a number of weaknesses on the roster . The team lacks consistency and have not been able to put together a winning streak of more than four games during their entire schedule at this point of the season. Over their last ten games heading into their current schedule the Los Angeles Dodgers are an abysmal 4-6 . On Friday night the Dodgers would be playing host to the Milwaukee Brewers with Julio Urias on the mound for the home team against the Brewers’ Zach Davies . Having lost their Thursday night meeting against Milwaukee , it is easy to see why the Dodgers are such an inconsistent team . There is some great young talent being developed within the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system , but it will take time for that talent to prove to be effective long-term, in spite of what has been seen from Yasmani Grandal , Julio Urias and Corey Seager .

A great deal of pressure has been placed on the shoulders of Dave Roberts , with his having succeeded Don Mattingly as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I believe Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi will continue to show faith in the manager and his staff , but I also feel should things continue to head South , then this entire lineup could be blown apart , rather than having to witness the Dodgers’ continued futility.

If a case can be made for the unexpected season the Chicago Cubs are now having , then this must be the year where the stars are in alignment and something special could very well happen. Then you remember these are the Cubs we are talking about , a franchise whose fortunes over the last e ninety-five years reads like a sob story , never mind delving into their postseason woes . Theo Epstein , GM Jed Hoyer and the entire Cubs’ front office and ownership now seem to be on the same page. Add in the fact the organization now has one of the best managers in all of baseball. A winning formula now seems to be in place with Joe Maddon and his managerial staff to go alongside a team of truly determined players eager to win.

The Cubs have simply been relentless throughout much of the season winning games with ease , throughout the months of April , May and now in the month of June . The team has a healthy 10 ½ game lead over their nearest divisional rival in the NL Central . A lead I might add, which is the biggest in all of baseball’s six divisions . The Chicago Cubs have to be seen as a shoo-in to not only win the division , but also a leading contender for the NL Pennant , solely based upon their record. One could allude to their play which is head and shoulders above all of the NL teams , if not the entire league . A weekend schedule which began yesterday will see the Chicago Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates , another divisional rival . Friday’s result saw the Cubs annihilate the Pirates without their breaking sweat during in the game . Wrigley Field in Chicago will be the scene for today’s action when the two teams resume their schedule with Jonathon Niese on the mound for the Pirates against Jon Lester of the Cubs.

Current NL Cy Young Award winner and Cubs’ All Star Jake Arrieta is considered to be the best starting pitcher on Chicago’s daunting rotation . Arrieta is having an astonishing season , but while I believe him to be one the best pitchers in the National League , he has to be perhaps one or two tiers lower than Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers . This year’s NL Cy Young Award could very well come down to the achievements and consistency seen from both of these starting pitchers and I believe should they meet head to head at some point during the season, we could very well witness some of the best pitching to be seen anywhere within the game !

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With the final of the NBA Finals set for Sunday evening prime-time what do you expect to see from both teams and have you been completely satisfied by these contests throughout the series ? Furthermore with the MLB season having now played a quarter of the scheduled games have you been impressed by certain teams and which ball-clubs and players do you believe to have been the biggest disappointments to date ?

Tophatal ……….. 2016/06/17

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The Cause of A Great Man ….

The Cause of A Great Man …

The death of Muhammad Ali brought an outpouring of grief , sorrow and sadness as literally tens of millions from around the world sought ways to express their condolences. Various media sources had their tributes and the print media in particular paid their respects with full-page articles , op-ed pieces and even comments sought from the public , in letters sent to the newspapers. Obituaries were also resplendent with the announcement of Ali’s death and of course the Hollywood literati also mourned the death of the fighter in their own inimitable way.

From my own standpoint , much of what I have read in the recent days subsequent to Muhammad Ali’s death has reminded me how little things have really changed since the days of his seeking to speak out against the injustices wrought upon minorities here in the United States , the country’s entry into the Vietnam War and his stance taken as a conscientious objector. Many seem to forget , the fighter was well within his right not to fight in the war even though he had been drafted. Politically motivated or not , the verdict of the US government could not sway Ali in his determination. The boxer may well have been leveling his criticism at the government , but in reality, a great deal of what he saying was indeed true and even judging by his vocal opposition to the war and the US government’s mistreatment of minorities. If you take a look at the racial divide now in place within the country, the economic and social angst , without seeing a number of the current Presidential candidates using race as a platform for their political diatribe and you have to really wonder how much a real social advancement has actually been made in the US, altogether .

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I have long admired Muhammad Ali as a fighter, humanitarian and a genuinely passionate individual. He brought a voice to the issue of the downtrodden , when many of his boxing peers at the time remained silent. Even his most famous opponent of his illustrious career , Joe Frazier was very critical of Ali and his antiwar stance. Yet , if anything Frazier could very well have been thought of as an ‘Uncle Tom ‘ , with his own stance and obeisance of not wanting to offend his Caucasian associates within the sport and the public in general. Floyd Patterson , himself a former boxer , was also critical of Ali and beyond the three-time world heavyweight champion’s choice to change his name and religious faith from being a Christian to a Muslim , was also seen as a threat. The perception being , Ali’s choice of aligning himself to the Nation of Islam and its then leader the Honorable Elijah Muhammad posed a real threat to the country. Anti Muslim sentiment then and even more so now , but no one seems to give a damn, that the biggest threat posed to the country remains the ineptitude of the US Congress and successive Presidential administrations over the past four and a half decades. It is simply the downright ambivalence and stupidity of the electorate along with the ongoing nonsensical diatribe of politicians at the local, state and national levels which continues unabated.

As a youth , my fondness for the sport of boxing came from my father who was as passionate about the sport as he was about Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sonny Liston . It would be his fight against Liston where Ali would make his name professionally, when he won the world heavyweight title for the first time. A successful defense against Sonny Liston and the drama which surrounded the bout still draws a great deal of attention and criticism to this day. Muhammad Ali would go on to make eleven successful defenses of the world heavyweight title (WBA/WBC) before he suffered a loss to Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden , New York City, New York on the 8th March ,1971. There were three now classic fights between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, which are considered to be among the very best in boxing history . Nothing before or since has been considered close in comparison , though everyone will have their favorite bouts or series or trilogy of fights between famed boxers over the years.

Perhaps the fight which might resonate the most with fans of Muhammad Ali , has to be the bout against George Foreman , who at the time was considered to be the most lethal fighter of his generation. Forman was known for his punching power and his ability to knock an opponent out with either hand. Foreman would defend the title he won in defeating Joe Frazier by making a defense against Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa , Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30th October , 1974 . In a result which was seen as one of the biggest upsets in boxing history , Ali as the challenger would defeat Forman in the eighth round by a TKO (technical knockout) . These two protagonists would never meet again professionally in a boxing ring , but a long-lasting friendship would begin , lasting right up to Ali’s death.

If Muhammad Ali’s greatest professional triumphs were said to have taken place in the ring , then he also had a number of demons outside it , which I believe arose from what he saw as a blatant disregard of human rights , a government still steeped in racism , with a wish to disenfranchise segments of the population. Forget about the protests about the Vietnam War and simply look at the facts as they stood at the time during the Civil Rights’ Era of the sixties and the lead-up into the seventies. Politics was divisive , the Klu Klux Klan wielded a great deal of power not just in the Deep South, but across the country. Yet, there are those who try to gloss over those rather abhorrent moments in history and simply deem it as being an idyllic period in the nation’s history and this was particular true from the White perspective. There were also internal fractions within a number of black organizations , as the unity sought within the NAACP and Nation of Islam (NOI) might well have been orchestrated by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) as a way weakening the growing power of both groups. Funny isn’t it this sought of attention was never seen as appropriate in dealing with the violent actions of Klu Klux Klan , as then FBI Director J Edgar Hoover only felt there to be a threat against the country by either Communists and organizations such as the NAACP and Nation of Islam , whom he felt to be subversive and a danger to national security.

The Vietnam War was a sham and the country’s involvement the conflict brought a great deal of loss for the nation, with so young men dying for no apparent reason , other than the fog , folly and down right stupidity with the decision-making of the Congress and President at the time. Those returning heroes in many cases , were not seen as heroes in some circles , but more so as murderers and many of them also returned , psychologically battered and mentally unstable . PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) was not yet a syndrome or psychosis which was fully understood by the medical establishment and even to this day the Department of Defense and the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs ) are not able to fully appreciate the ravages of this illness, much less treat the sufferers of this illness appropriately or with dignity. So in effect it was better deflect the incompetence of an administration, , by haranguing an athlete , Muhammad Ali , who sought to speak out about social indifference , the folly of war and the fact he felt his country had no respect for many of its citizens .

Four-plus decades on and there have been few athletes in today’s arena who are willing to speak out on social injustice. In many respects so-called acts of opposition are orchestrated and rather comedic with regard to the effect sought. Nowhere has this been more self-evident than with the rather innocuous stance taken by the NBA and a number of the high-profiled stars within the league in the aftermath of the death of teenager Trayvon Martin . Since then , there have also been some rather tedious and asinine PSA’s (public service announcements) on the issue of gun violence , but no real vociferous calls for any type of real dialogue concerning the issue.

Muhammad Ali may well have set a template for athletes to be vocal on issues of social inequality , but far too many of today’s superstar athletes are far too concerned with endorsement deals , accumulating wealth or simply being boorish in terms of their conduct in public or private . Ali gave of himself monetarily , in a variety of causes which he truly cared about around the world, but a great deal of this seems to be forgotten by those who only seek to oppose what he stood for .

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While the world mourns Muhammad Ali’s passing , the eulogies continue across various media formats , with a cast of thousands posting daily about their memories of one of the most widely recognized athletes in history and how much he meant to them. As a youth my memories of him have to proven to be long-lasting , but it has been my respect and what he has stood for, which has my ultimate admiration ! The cause of a great man can be deemed as doing something great , but I feel it can also mean having a lasting impression on others, where they also seek to change a life for the better. Not only do I believe Ali has been able to achieve this feat, he has also changed the viewpoint of many on how we also look at our political leaders and question their conduct while in office.

Tophatal …………………..


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