A few random thoughts on the NBA/NHL playoffs

As a sports fan, this is one of my favorite times of the year. The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full gear and I have found myself watching a little more television than usual in the last month or so. If the playoff game is a late game, I will check my phone immediately after I get up in the morning to see the results and details. Yes my friends, it is playoff time and if you are sports fan, it is just like Christmas time. As is my yearly custom on this blog site, I like to give a few observation on what I have seen so far as well as throw out a few predictions. I have to confess that I am not a big NHL hockey guy, so if you want some intelligent puck talk, go to ESPN and look up Barry Melrose. You will not find it here. But having said that, I do love the NHL playoffs. Here are a few thoughts of mine after watching and following the playoffs this year.

1) Predictability can be a good thing. One of the knocks against the NBA playoffs is that it is too predictable. The NHL playoffs are always full of more surprises and upsets which I have to admit makes their playoffs at times more entertaining to watch. However, this year is different. There is a very good chance that we will be blessed with a Stanley Cup final between Vegas and Tampa Bay. I am sure that the executives at NBC are doing back flips over that stellar match up. The average sports fan probably would have a hard time naming one player from each team. The NBA finals will no doubt have many big-time players. Star players are what drives up ratings. A Golden State vs. Cleveland matchup would be far more interesting than a Vegas, Tampa Bay final in the NHL playoffs.

2) Danny Ainge. Ainge has taken his share of heat in Boston over the years but his recent moves makes him just short of a genius. About 5 years ago, he hired a young coach of some mid-major college program. Many NBA followers including myself were very surprised by the move. Today, that coach Brad Stevens, might be the best coach in the game. In addition, Ainge has brought in a nice mix of players along with a few stars through trades. The future is very bright if you are a Celtic’s fan.

3) The Vegas surprise. I do not know who is responsible for putting together the current roster of the Vegas Knights roster but they deserve a tremendous amount of praise. Can anyone recall when an expansion team has ever won a major professional sports title? It is simply one of the most amazing stories I have ever seen in professional sports.

4) Biggest disappointment of the playoffs. My vote goes to Oklahoma City in the NBA. After picking up Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last summer, this team was supposed to contend for the Western Conference finals and even the NBA Finals. As it turned out, they barely made the playoffs and were quickly dispatched in the first round. It will be an interesting off-season for this franchise. Are there enough basketballs to go around when Russell Westbrook is on the floor?

5) Good for Winnipeg. Several years ago, Winnipeg had an NHL franchise only to lose it to that hot hockey hotbed in Atlanta. In 2011, the Jets returned to Winnipeg and now the team is one of the best in  the NHL. I have always rooted for Canadian teams because their fans are always so passionate. Winnipeg has some of the most passionate hockey fans in the world and are very deserving of a good NHL team.

6) Predictions. I look into my crystal ball and see a Tampa Bay vs. Vegas match up in the NHL finals with Tampa winning the Cup. On the NBA side, I see a Houston vs Boston finals with both teams winning epic game 7’s at home to reach the finals. Houston will win the title. I would have picked Golden State but I wonder how healthy Steph Curry really is.

 

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A very disturbing trend of school shootings

Last Friday, 8 students and 2 teachers were more people added to the growing list of people killed in senseless school shootings. Nobody at that school probably ever imagined their day would be laced with tragedy. It was supposed to be one of the happiest school days of the year. School was coming to a close for the year; the weekend was almost there and many students and staff were no doubt in a very happy mood. Then the unimaginable happens. A disturbed student walks into the school and starts shooting; several students and faculty are killed or injured. A very brave school resource officer helps stop the carnage with his brave actions. My question is this, when is this madness of school shootings going to stop? We have seen more school shootings this year than any year since this type of data has been collected. Lost in this tragic story was another school shooting that was averted just a few days ago that could have been even more tragic.

Before I go any further, I join many others in sending out my condolences to the folks of Santa Fe, Texas and the many students of that school who had to endure this tragedy. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the school and community. No innocent human being should ever have to go through an event like this. Many of these poor students will be traumatized for life.

The natural reaction after a horrible event like this and the Parkland shooting is to ask what can be done to prevent these events from happening and make our schools safer. Several ideas have been thrown out by lawmakers which make some sense. Having special locks on doors, metal detectors and having specially trained personal on campus are all good ideas that deserve some consideration. But I find it amazing that many fail to understand where the real problem arises from. So many of these mass school killers leave clues as to their intentions and yet nobody reports on them. Sorry, but do not blame the NRA when someone cannot report their child who is showing very abnormal behavior at home. Or maybe someone who hangs out with them might hear them say that they want to blow up the school. Many people do follow-up on these actions because they are afraid of offending their friend or child. Well, offending that friend of child is the responsible thing to do. It might save several lives someday. It is also a sad fact that in many situations, law enforcement fails to follow-up on these tips that could have prevented these tragedies. That was especially true in the Parkland tragedy.

We are living in a very violent culture now and I am not optimistic that these school shootings will be totally stopped. The toughest gun control laws will not stop a troubled teen from finding other methods of doing harm. A metal detector will not stop a student from planting a bomb. The real key is picking up these disturbing traits early on. Dare I say it might mean being a better parent or close friend? Something needs to be soon because no student should be fearful of going to school. These events are slowly becoming a national crisis. No school in this country is exempt from this happening. The next victim could be your loved one.

 

The best advice that my Mother ever gave me

Mother’s Day is coming up next Sunday and we honor those very important people in our lives. Our parents are definitely among the people who you can point to as having the most influence in our lives. Many of the ways that they influence us is the type of advice they give us. My mom was always willing to lend advice to my sisters and I whenever she could. In many cases, those words of advice went in one ear and out the other. But there is one bit of advice that she gave me that really hit home and I still remember her telling me. It a very simple yet powerful words of advice that everyone should apply to their lives. That advice is this, be careful about the type of people who you hang out with and who your friends are.

When you think about it, who you hang out with can have a tremendous negative or positive impact in your life. I think my mom really meant those words to pertain to the women I dated when I younger. I know so many young people have completely ruined their lives because they have gotten involved in relationships with the wrong people. When you are younger, those relationships with the wrong people seem pretty harmless. That great looking young lady in your class that you have been eyeing appears to be the woman of your dreams. She has a beautiful face, a great body and a killer smile that melts your heart. You finally ask her out and start a relationship with her. Never mind that she has  drug, alcohol and emotional issues. Things get serious and you guys get married at a young age. Shortly after the marriage ceremony, you guys start having children. You are still blinded by the fact that she has these issues in her life. About 5 years later, the relationship dissolves and your life is temporarily ruined. Her drinking has influenced you to start drinking as well. I see so many young people making these mistakes in their lives. They are desperate for love and they end up getting involved with the wrong people.

It does not always have to be with members of the opposite sex. Many young people meet up with the wrong type of people when they go off to college or they start living on their own. Most young people want to be accepted and not be lonely. There are many temptation out there that can have life long consequences much like the example I just mentioned. It is very easy to get caught up in a different lifestyle which goes against what you believe in. I struggled in my college years with this. It is not worth ruining your life over.

I cannot thank my mother enough for those strong words of advice. The older I have become, the more I realize how powerful those great words of advice were and still are today. Of all the things she has ever taught me, picking your friends wisely ranks up there at the top. If I ever had children, I would strongly pass on those same words. I would like to wish all the moms others out there a very happy Mother’s Day. Many give strong words of advice that help their children for years and generations to come.

Is college even worth it?

I read a story yesterday about my alma mater’s commencement ceremonies and could not help but think to myself about the thousands of mostly young people who received diplomas. What is next for these individuals? Will this new degree actually pay off some day in the form of some very lucrative job down the road? Will all that hard work and stress that many have had to endure for the past 4 and maybe more years lead to a successful life and earnings? Sadly, many doubts filled my mind. I am one of many who are very skeptical of the importance of getting a college degree these days. Is it really worth it to go through all of that effort to get some signed piece of paper stating that you were able to pass a series of tests?

For many high school students, the decision about what to do after you graduate from high school might be the most important decision you will ever make in your life. Going to college is probably the number option that these students will probably strive for. The next decision is determining exactly what is the purpose of going to college and what field you will be studying. And there lies the problem. Very few young people at that age really know what they want to do at that point in their lives. Furthermore, college is a very huge investment of money and time and for someone who is unsure of what field they want to pursue, it can be a huge waste of money, not only for them, but their parents. In many cases, the parents help foot the bill.

Which leads into my next concern about going to college. The cost of college continues to skyrocket these days with no end in sight. Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians actually brought this up as a campaign issue more often? I strongly believe this is a huge problem affecting our country today. Student debt is a major issue. Any potential student going to college should realize that when they get out of school, they will have a lot of debt to deal with immediately after graduating. How are they going to pay for it? Do they have a game plan in store? And to add to this problem, many students falsely belief that they will land some high paying job immediately after graduating from college. Most students are not so fortunate. Many entry-level jobs for college graduates barely pay the rent.

There is no doubt that a person graduating with a 4 year college degree has much higher earning potential than someone without a 4 year degree. But the thought that you will be working for minimum wage the rest of your life without a 4 year degree is absolutely ludicrous. There are many good high paying jobs that ambitious hard-working people can get without a degree. Many manufacturing jobs pay nice salaries and benefits. The most important qualification at these jobs is not a degree, but a willingness to work hard and work well with people.

An option that many young people seem to forget about is going to a technical or trade school after graduating from high school. A person can pick up a skill and only attend school for only a couple of years. Furthermore, many of these schools actually give you hands on experience in applying your learned skills. One of my gripes about attending a 4 year college is that most of the classes do not really prepare you for the actually work place. It is one thing to pass a test, it is another to actually your knowledge in a work environment with other people. And by the way, there are no safe spaces in a typical work place!

If you are a good ambitious student who wants a career in a particular field, then college is definitely for you. However, if you struggle with grades in high school, maybe college is not for you. It does not mean the end of the world though. Many successful people do not have college degrees. There are many options available to those who are not quit ready to tackle the challenges of higher education. Some day, you might by thankful that you considered those other options. And your wallet might be thankful as well.

Good for Kanye West

Kanye West is certainly one of the bigger celebrities in this country and maybe the world today. He is a huge icon in the world of pop culture. This week, Kanye committed a mortal sin among his peers when he declared his support on Twitter for President Trump. No say it isn’t so! A famous celebrity is actually throwing his support for President Donald Trump? That is grounds for many years of hard labor isn’t it? I have to take my hat off to Kanye for actually having the balls to come and say what he did. I have gained a lot more respect for the man and I would shake his hand and tell him “atta boy” if he were in this room right now. And the truth is, there are probably many other pop stars who wish they had the courage to come out and offer the same support. Far too many are worried about the backlash that will result if they ever come out and support our president. I guess it is an unwritten rule that celebrities, especially black celebrities, must not support any Republican president. You see, all Republicans are racists.

In one of his tweets, West expressed his desire for people of the black community to be freethinkers. So what is wrong with that? I find it rather puzzling that people of the black community continually support Democrat candidates no matter how bad they are. Why is that? All West is saying is that maybe those members of the community should take a second look at the two parties and decide what is best for them. It is not a crime to go outside the box and vote for a Republican once in a while. Maybe that Republican might have a good plan for getting your kid out of some crappy public school and into some private school where they might get a better education and thus a stronger chance for a better paying job. Or that free market approach that many Republicans preach or should preach will result in less poverty for many in these inner city areas. President Trump is very clear about his desire to help those living in harsh inner city conditions. He wants to uplift people out of those areas. How can somebody not support those ideas?

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why people continually vote for Democrats and their reasons could be seen as being very valid. Some see the Republicans as only being for the rich guys and the wealthy Trump only adds to their beliefs. But my point is, why not branch out and look at what both parties have to offer and most importantly, look at the history of what the two parties have done. I know if a certain party has ruled a particular city for years and poverty continues to increase, it might be time to seek and look for new ideas and maybe a new party to vote for.

I find it extremely disappointing to see this type of backlash against West who is doing and just stating what all Americans should be adhering too. We all need to be freethinkers. Equally disappointing and outlandish is the amount of hate and grief these celebrities get for actually supporting a president who is not “cool”. We need to stop this nonsense and respect others opinions. Threatening someone who does not agree with your political support goes against what this country is all about. I really admire West for his courage and maybe more could speak out against this ridiculous notion that we are not supposed to be freethinkers.

The sad demise of Bill Cosby

Several years ago, Bill Cosby ruled America. His hit television show “The Cosby Show” was one of the most popular television shows to ever air on prime time television. It was more than just a show about some affluent black family. So many Americans could relate to that family known as the Huxtables. You could say that Bill Cosby was at one time “America’s Dad” I still remember watching the show in my younger years on Thursday nights on NBC.  It was can’t miss television. Cosby might have been one of the most popular celebrities in the country back then. Everyone loved the guy. Flash ahead several years later and look what has happened to the guy known as “America’s Dad. Who could have ever dreamed that one day, Cosby would be convicted on several counts of sexual assault. And several other women have also come forward to accuse Cosby of improper behavior.

The unfortunate part of this whole situation and allegations against Cosby is that he has let down a ton of people who really looked up and admired him. He could have used his vast popularity and fame at the time to become a huge spokesman for certain social issues, especially those concerning the black community. All races loved the guy and how often can that be said? Now, how can anyone take him seriously? His reputation has been tarnished forever.

I guess this really illustrates why no one should get too caught up in falling in love with these celebrities. Fame and popularity are fleeting things. Fame gives us too much power and the thinking that we can control other people through very harsh measures. Those women who are accusing Cosby can attest to that. Cosby came across as some role model dad for millions of people, but deep inside, there was a dark side of him that finally came out. And how many other celebrities seem to have this same problem as Cosby has? This list seems to be growing every day with no end in sight.

At one time, Cosby was this great dad that millions of people dreamed of having. How could we be so fooled? I just hope something good can come out of this very sad story. Maybe some other huge celebrity who is a role model to many people will learn from this story and think twice about engaging in unethical and immoral behavior.

A ridiculous lawsuit by the Democrat party

The  Democratic party filed a lawsuit the other day against both the Russian government and the Trump campaign alleging among other things that they conspired together to help prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the 2016 election. It is being claimed in this lawsuit that Trump’s campaign and the Russians worked together to hack the DNC’S servers thus giving Trump an advantage in the election. Never mind that there is already an ongoing investigation going on for the past 13 months that has produced absolutely ZERO evidence that President Trump did indeed work the Russians to help him win the election. Many Democrats are still to this day convinced that Trump’s win was unethical and should be investigated. This latest move by the party is, not only foolish and a waste of time, but a big act of desperation. The Trump presidency is picking up steam and his popularity is increasing weekly. The odds that a Democratic will win the White House in 2020 are becoming increasing slim. There is no Democratic candidate who even has a remote chance to defeat Trump. The only way Trump does not get re-elected is if he does not run again. This latest stunt by the DNC is just a publicity one designed to hurt Trump in the polls. In the end when all is said and done, it may be the Democrats who will be hurt in the polls.

I know I have said this in previous posts, but why are the Democrats so hell-bent on creating reasons to impeach Trump? In my mind, this is a huge mistake for the party and for our Democratic process. Trump was elected BY THE PEOPLE and he won FAIR AND SQUARE! Suppose enough Democrats and maybe some Republicans garnered enough support to hold impeachment hearings against Trump which resulted in having him removed from office. There is always a possibility that someone with an axe to grind against Trump (and there are many) could come up with some totally bogus false claim or allegation against the president which may stick and be damning. This a very real possibility and scenario. Suddenly, we are in a position where elections do not matter. The president’s fate is determined by members of Congress instead of the American people. Don’t think for a second that the Republicans would not return the favor if a Democratic president were elected.

The Democrats need to move on and forget about this false premise that Trump colluded with the Russians. For starters, maybe they should start looking for a strong candidate who can compete with Trump. Someone who will win the hearts of Americans and come across as a stark contrast to the personality of Trump and his policies. Oh and those Democratic policies. What exactly is their party platform? I assume the next candidate will be against the tax cuts which have been a success so far. Nearly 80 percent of all Americans are seeing a larger paycheck. How do you run against that? Or the fact that Trump seems to be having some foreign policy success unlike some of our more recent presidents. If a Democratic candidate starts accusing Trump of colluding with the Russians or supporting this lawsuit, they will not win my or many others support.

The American people like myself are very interested in what the Democratic platform will be for the next election. We are not interested in hearing the same old tired claims that Trump stoled the election in 2016. President Trump earned his win so lets move on please! Enough of the desperate nonsensical collusion talk and sour grapes! In the end, this lawsuit will only hurt the party.