Empowering the Patient

March/02/2017

Whether it’s mastering the finer points of cooking a favorite dish or understanding the physics of a hummingbird’s flight, Anjali Kataria knows that more and more people are learning differently now—increasingly, through short online videos on mobile devices. This insight led Kataria and her husband, Vinay Bhargava, to co-found Mytonomy, a cloud software company that’s transforming healthcare by educating patients on treatments and procedures using videos. Mytonomy calls it “microlearning”—but the implications have opened up a meta-universe of understanding for anyone anxious about seeing the doctor.

The idea is simple: Before a treatment or procedure, patients watch brief videos on their own time—wherever and whenever they want—that have been assigned by their doctors. Patients learn what to expect, reducing their worry, before they set foot in a hospital. The Mytonomy cloud platform is HIPAA-compliant and lets the hospital and providers create customized patient education modules in a regulated environment. There are no apps and no downloads.

A typical video session might explain the complexity of a disease, the need for a given treatment, or break down a procedure step by step. The result is to demystify the unknown, a true example of knowledge equaling power. The instructional videos are also good for doctors: Armed with a better understanding and higher comfort level, patients are more likely to trust their providers and to show up for treatment. At one hospital, Mytonomy has reduced the no-show rate from 50 to 7 percent, a significant boost to business.

At another, patient satisfaction scores increased from 70 to 95 percent.  Through a clinical research study at a major health system, patients that used the Mytonomy system were demonstrably less anxious and had better patient-clinician interactions across the board. “When you change the way patients feel,” Kataria says, “you change their behavior.”

MAKING A PIVOT

In many ways, Kataria’s path to becoming the founder of Mytonomy’s healthcare business is the classic entrepreneur’s tale: a variety of seemingly mismatched experiences coming together to make a surprisingly powerful whole. The daughter of immigrant doctors from India, Kataria was drawn to science and tech from an early age. After attending Duke University on a full merit scholarship, she earned a Master’s degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and then went on to law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That’s when she fell for business.

“I took a seminar on entrepreneurship and loved it,” she says. “I felt like every cylinder was firing. During spring break of my first year of law school I went to California and interviewed executives about a business problem that I was studying, and then created a business plan around it. I caught the entrepreneurial bug.”

By that summer, Kataria had founded her first company and built a product, a wine-management operation system. When it failed to gain traction, she and her partners took the core assets and did a restart in a different industry that had similar problems: big pharma/biotech. The solution footprint expanded and became a best-in-class product lifecycle management company, Conformia Software, which was acquired by Oracle in 2009.

The path to Mytonomy began with Kataria’s husband. He was a strategic partnerships executive at Google who wanted to enable high school students to achieve their goals after graduation, regardless of their birth circumstances or where their school was located. So in 2011, he co-founded Mytonomy. “He decided to start a company that would create short bursts of information about colleges, job markets, the military,” Kataria says. “Mytonomy was a marketplace of advice, in a sense, from near-peers, about the opportunities kids could pursue after high school.”

When she saw what Mytonomy was doing in education, she thought how useful it could be in healthcare for educating patients and improving doctor-patient relationships. In addition to her startups, Kataria had served as an entrepreneur-in-residence and senior advisor with the Federal Drug Administration, and worked closely with the industry to understand their needs in developing 21st century cures. After leaving the FDA, she began thinking about how the digital era could address the big problems she had witnessed at the administration and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services around patient education and engagement. Following extensive market research, Kataria and Bhargava expanded Mytonomy’s enterprise cloud solution into healthcare. “When we eventually did pivot in that direction and began delivering microlearning patient education content to hospitals, everyone immediately got it.” she says. “Patients. Hospital administrators. Insurance companies. That’s when you know you have a good product—when everyone looks and says, Wow, I can’t believe we never thought of that.”

PATIENTS FIRST

Today, Mytonomy helps providers use any content they want, or they can create their own content (short videos about various medical conditions, treatments, and procedures). Providers can also customize pre-packaged starter kits of peer-reviewed videos being used at leading health systems in minutes. In less than a year, Kataria, the CEO, and Bhargava, the president, have generated $2 million in sales and signed up thousands of patients. Mytonomy is reaching diverse and high-risk populations as well: The average age of users is 68, and half the patients are minorities.

“I think we’ve cracked a tough nut with this cloud solution and customized microlearning,” Kataria says of patient education. “Hospitals want to reduce costs, increase revenue, and help patients proactively take care of themselves and not simply continue with the status quo. We are helping hospitals re-imagine the patient relationship and own the education they deliver to their patients. They are realizing that their brand matters, and reaching their patients through our cloud platform before they visit is good for their bottom line.”

This approach requires a shift in how hospitals view patients, and how patients view themselves. “Government and healthcare are service industries,” Kataria says. “But at the end of the day, the patient has to take charge of his or her care. They need to understand what is happening to them every step of the way as well as what they need to do to participate in their care. Providers are there to support patients, which starts with education, and that’s where we enter—at the very beginning of that treatment lifecycle.

“Mytonomy gives providers powerful modern software solutions to deliver this new kind of patient relationship management at scale. We enable the hospital to deliver a five-star, highly effective consumer experience, which is massively better than the status quo. All the patient has to do is press play.”

#FacesofFounders, a campaign by the Case FoundationBlackstone Charitable FoundationGoogle for Entrepreneurs, and UBS, in partnership with Fast Company, celebrates dynamic and diverse entrepreneurs. Learn more at facesoffounders.org.

BY FastCo.Works / PUBLISHED March/2/2017 / Fast Company

https://www.fastcompany.com/3068636/empowering-the-patient
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Grant Hill honored at Legends Brunch

February/19/2017

NEW ORLEANS — David Robinson and Grant Hill went home from All-Star Weekend with trophies.

Robinson and Hill were among the honorees Sunday at the National Basketball Retired Players Association’s annual Legends Brunch, several hours before the tipoff of the All-Star Game. Robinson was chosen as the group’s Humanitarian of the Year, and Hill is the Community Ambassador of the Year.

Robinson was introduced by Basketball Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning; Hill was introduced by New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry.

Also honored Sunday were the five founding members of the NBRPA — Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens, Oscar Robertson and the late Dave DeBusschere. The NBRPA is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

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Quinn Cook wins D-League All-Star Game MVP

February/18/2017

Quinn Cook was named MVP of the 2017 NBA Development League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire after leading the East to a 105-100 victory Saturday afternoon in New Orleans. Cook’s award is the first in Canton Charge history.

The reigning NBA D-League Rookie of the Year tallied a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting (70%) from the field while dishing a game-high 12 assists and grabbing seven rebounds in a game-high 25 minutes for Jerry Stackhouse’s Eastern Conference team.

A 10-0 run capped by a Vander Blue layup cut the East lead to 101-100 with 1:13 remaining. Maine’s Marcus Georges-Hunt pushed the lead to three with a layup of his own. Following a missed three point attempt by the West’s Blue, Cook drilled an 18 foot jumper with 13.8 seconds remaining to seal the East win at 105-100.

Cook currently ranks second in scoring, posting 26.2 points per game and fifth in assists, dropping 6.2 per contest. Moreland ranks second in the NBA D-League in rebounding, nabbing 11.6 boards per game.

Canton comes back from the All-star break to wrap up a six-game road trip at the Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers) on Wednesday, February 22nd at 7:00 p.m. Groups of 20 or more can take part in unforgettable fan experiences such as halftime performances, anthem buddies, high five tunnel, benchwarmers, and more! For Charge Nation Memberships, game day promotions and up-to-date information, head to www.CantonCharge.com or call 866-444-1944.

The Canton Charge are part of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization and also owned by a group led by Cavaliers Majority Owner and Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert. The group also owns and operates the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League, both of which play their games at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland.

BY Canton Charge / PUBLISHED February/18/2017 / FOX Sports Ohio

http://www.foxsports.com/ohio/story/nba-d-league-all-star-game-mvp-021817
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Henson, Milwaukee Community Leaders Announce Return of Midnight Basketball

February/06/2017

Milwaukee Public Schools, along with partners including the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, Milwaukee Bucks and Running Rebels, and City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention will announce the launch of a Midnight Basketball League on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m. at Bradley Technology and Trade High School —700 S. 4th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204.

The Midnight Basketball League is part of the new MPS C.A.R.E.S. (Community and Recreation Engaging Students) initiative, which was announced in October, 2016. Young men 17 to 25 years old who live in Milwaukee may participate in the 10-week league.

Milwaukee Public Schools will host three 10-week Midnight Leagues at Bradley Tech. The first league will start March 1, 2017; each league will serve 80 to 100 young men.

MPS has worked with partners in planning the league as a way to engage and support young men and connect them to community resources in Milwaukee.

“This is about more than just basketball,” said Darienne Driver, Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. “We want our community and young people to know that we have our doors open for them and that we are here to help support them.”

MPS is working with Running Rebels to bring community-based organizations and resources to participants during the league so young men can access a variety of programs including employment services, driver’s license recovery, child support services and other options.

In addition to resources, the league also supports positive police and community relations. The Milwaukee Police Department will provide mentoring opportunities for young men during the leagues.

The Milwaukee Bucks have played an integral role in the formation of the Midnight Basketball League and will continue to lend support as the league tips off in the coming weeks. Bucks forward John Henson will be on hand at Tuesday’s announcement to speak with MPS students and Midnight League supporters about the importance of working hand-in-hand with local police and other organizations to build stronger, safer communities.

“I am honored to be part of this important initiative,” Henson said. “Creating meaningful improvement in the relationship between the youth and young adults of Milwaukee and the local police is significant. It is our hope that the city’s Midnight Basketball League will be an avenue for all of us to learn from each other, gain insight from different perspectives, and help build a level of trust and respect. We are appreciative of the City, MPS and MPD’s strategy to implement a mentoring and life skills components for the participants – making this a win/win for all involved.”

Added Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey:  “Long before I was elected Alderman for the 7th district, and in my role as Milwaukee County Supervisor, I challenged the community and its leaders to find a way to bring Midnight Basketball back to Milwaukee. To say this is an awesome day – bringing City, MPS, the Bucks and most importantly our young men together around the game of basketball for the end game of a better life is so rewarding.”

Visit www.mpsmke.com/cares to learn more about the Midnight Basketball League and the MPS C.A.R.E.S. initiative.

BY Milwaukee Public Schools; Milwaukee Bucks / PUBLISHED February/6/2017 / Milwaukee Public Schools

http://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/News/MPS-City-of-Milwaukee-MPD-and-Milwaukee-Bucks-announce-the-return-of-midnight-basketball-leagues.htm
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Grant Hill to receive NCAA Ford Award

January/10/2017

Grant Hill has been named the 2017 recipient of the NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award, which honors an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for college sports.

“Grant Hill’s phenomenal success as a basketball player and graduate of Duke University paved the way for him to provide opportunities for other students to pursue higher education,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We all enjoyed watching as he achieved success on the basketball court, but I am most impressed with how he has used his professional success as a platform to regularly advocate for college sports while working to improve the lives of others through his work as a supporter of higher education and the well-being of kids all over the country.”

Hill was a two-time national champion men’s basketball player at Duke University and a National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American. He was selected third overall in the 1994 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and went on to play for 19 years in the league.

In 2013, Hill retired from professional basketball and began broadcasting for Turner Sports. He has called professional and collegiate basketball games, including the NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Hill and his wife, Tamia, have continued to support Duke University and students pursuing higher education, including donating $1 million to the university and establishing the Calvin Hill Scholarship Endowment Fund at the Duke Divinity School in honor of Hill’s father. Hill also has created the Grant Hill Achiever Scholarships in Orlando, Florida, and Detroit, which provide scholarships to local students.

In 2010, Hill was named a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, where he helps develop national initiatives and platforms to motivate Americans to get involved in physical activities and incorporate better eating habits into their lives. He also actively has worked with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.

“The NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award is a tremendous honor, and I am humbled to be in such great company with past honorees, including Coach (John) Wooden, Coach (Pat) Summitt and Billie Jean King,” Hill said. “I cherish my four years at Duke and truly appreciate how much I grew as a person and player in that time.  I am fortunate to have benefited from the experience, guidance and mentorship of such great professors, coaches, administrators, classmates and, of course, my parents. Collegiate athletics teaches us to lead by example, and it is my ambition to continue to lead by example for generations to come.”

Hill will receive the award Jan. 20 at the 2017 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, and will serve as the Convention’s keynote luncheon speaker.

Named in recognition of Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president and a member of two University of Michigan national championship football teams, the award was established in 2004 by the late NCAA President Myles Brand. It was first awarded to the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state and a professor at Stanford University, was last year’s recipient.

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Tamika Catchings to Serve as SEC Network Analyst

January/06/2017

Former Tennessee All-American and WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings will serve as an analyst on SEC Network, calling several women’s basketball games during the remainder of the season.

Catchings recently retired from the WNBA after a 15-year career with the Indiana Fever. Her illustrious professional career includes a national championship (2012), most valuable player (2011), four Olympic gold medals, and five-time defensive player of the year. She was also named Rookie of the Year in 2002 after leading the team in point, rebounds and assists, and ranking in the league’s top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

“I am thrilled for this opportunity to work with so many talented broadcasters at ESPN and to learn from each one of them,” said Catchings. “As a young girl, I never imagined I would be put in this position. I’m excited to embark on another journey in sports.”

Prior to the WNBA, Catchings played under legendary head coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee and was a member of the 1997-98 undefeated team that captured the national championship title. Her accolades as a Lady Vol include four-time All-American, the Naismith National Player of the Year (2000) and Academic All-SEC.

“Tamika is a legend on the court,” said Pat Lowry, ESPN Coordinating Producer II. “Her tenacity, passion and high basketball IQ will make her an invaluable asset to our SEC Network telecasts. Along with being a world-class athlete, Tamika’s humanitarian and volunteer efforts speak for the kind of person and teammate we’re all honored to work alongside.”

Catchings will call her first game of the season on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 2 p.m. ET when Texas A&M faces No. 24 Kentucky on SEC Network.

SEC Network is slated to carry more than 70 women’s basketball games this season, including coverage of No. 4 Mississippi State, No. 5 South Carolina, and No. 24 Kentucky.

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Chinanu Onuaku Brings Back the “Granny” Shot

December/27/2016

In the waning minutes of a blowout victory Monday night, a largely unknown rookie unleashed a specific brand of momentousness. Making his National Basketball Association debut, Chinanu Onuaku of the Houston Rockets drew a shooting foul and stepped to the free throw line, typically the blandest portion of a game. Except Onuaku held the ball at his waist with both hands and hoisted the ball at the hoop in an underhand motion, his arms spreading apart.

Teammates cheered and pointed on the bench, stars made rapt during a walkover. What remained of the Toyota Center crowd erupted. They had witnessed the return of the “Granny-style” free throw, a relic unseen at the sport’s highest level in decades. Onuaku, a 6-foot-9 20-year-old from Upper Marlboro, Md., outside Washington, had broken a stigma, or at least shown he would not be the victim of one.

Despite evidence it can improve free throw shooting, especially for big men, the form has remained foreign from the NBA since Hall of Famer Rick Barry retired in 1980. Players uniformly resisted it, afraid of looking foolish, standing out as childish or unmanly. Or at least they had until Onuaku made his debut Monday night and made both free throws he attempted, shooting them underhand.

Barry himself had studied Onuaku since last year, when Onuaku switched to shooting underhand as a college sophomore. Barry appreciates Onuaku’s commitment to improve in the face of possible derision. The greatest Granny-style shooter of all time was less charitable about Onuaku’s form.

“I admire the fact he was willing to try something different,” Barry said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “Unfortunately, his technique leaves a lot to be desired.”

As a freshman at Louisville, Onuaku made 46.7 percent of his free throws. After the season, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino showed him video of Barry shooting underhanded and suggested he copy Barry’s technique. Onuaku debuted the form in Greece, while playing in an international under-19 tournament for Team USA, to snickering, bewildered teammates. When he returned to Louisville as a sophomore, his percentage rose to 58.9 percent.

“I don’t really care what people think,” Onuaku told Sports Illustrated last year. “I know they’re going to make fun of me. I just brush it off. It’s all about getting better.”

The Rockets selected Onuaku in the second round of June’s draft. He spent the season’s first two months with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s NBA Development League affiliate, where he has shot 67.4 percent from the foul line — more than a 20 percent leap from his freshman season.

Foul shots have vexed many of basketball’s greatest big men, most famously Wilt Chamberlain, who may have been the greatest. His best season came in 1961-62, at age 25, the one year he utilized the underhand technique. Chamberlain made 61.3 percent that season, including the night he sank 28 of 32 in his landmark 100-point game.

The next season, he went back to shooting overhand, with a form somewhere between a drunk throwing a dart and an overgrown child hurling a rock. He converted 51.1 percent of foul shots in his career and tried everything to become better at making them overhand, even visiting a psychiatrist for a month. “After I came out of it,” Chamberlain later joked, “the psychiatrist was a better free throw shooter than I was.”

But Chamberlain never reverted to the Granny-style form on a full-time basis. His reason? “I felt silly,” Chamberlain wrote in his autobiography. “Like a sissy.”

The sentiment persists. Opponents intentionally foul mammoth bricklayers such as DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard, believing they will effectively steal a possession once the targeted player misses two free throws.

Barry once tutored a poor NBA free throw shooter, whom he will not name, to shoot underhand free throws. “I had him shooting 80 to 90 in practice,” Barry said. “He never had the guts to do it when he went back to the team.”

Drummond is the Detroit Pistons’ best player, but his dismal, NBA-worst free throw percentage — 35.5 percent last year — sometimes causes coaches to pull him in late-game situations. This offseason, he vowed to try anything, including virtual reality training. And yet he has refused to attempt an underhand free throw.

“Everything was considered,” Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He wasn’t as receptive. You don’t really like to do things guys aren’t receptive to.”

Barry resisted, too, when his father instructed him to use the form in high school. “I can’t do that,” he told him. “They’re going to make fun of me.” But he ultimately decided that results mattered more.

“My first time doing it, I was in Scotch Plains, N.J.,” Barry said. “I hear this guy in the stands yell, ‘Hey, Barry, you big sissy, why are you shooting like that?’ The guy next to him, I remember hearing him so clearly as if it was yesterday, says to him, ‘What are you making fun of him for? He doesn’t miss.’ That’s the bottom line. It’s not how you do it. It’s whether it goes in or not.”

In his professional career, Barry drained 89.3 percent of his free throws. He led the NBA in free throw percentage the last three seasons of his career, topping out at 94.7 in 1978-79. The NBA average this season is 76.6 percent.

One argument in favor of shooting underhand, compared with traditional overhand, is that it requires less movement and is therefore easier to repeat. There are physics behind the form as well. Shooting underhand creates a slower, softer shot, because a two-hand shot, gripped from the sides of the ball, allows a player to impart more spin than a shooter launching the ball forward with one hand. John Fontanella, a professor at the Naval Academy who wrote “The Physics of Basketball,” said most shots spin at two revolutions per second, but an underhand free throw will rotate three or four times per second. The additional backspin means more shots that bounce on the rim fall through.

“There’s something to be said for having a different shot for a different situation,” Fontanella said.

Friends of Barry have made an important point to him: Do you think maybe it’s not as easy for people who do not, like him, possess some of the purest shooting touch the sport has known? Van Gundy, the Pistons coach, worked as a counselor at one of Barry’s basketball camps in the late 1970s. One day, Barry challenged anyone present to a contest, and Van Gundy volunteered.

“What the hell, you know?” Van Gundy recalled Tuesday. “I was a good free throw shooter, even though I obviously wasn’t Rick Barry. So I go out there so we’re both 9 for 9. I make my 10th one, I’m shooting first, and he says, ‘Okay. Here’s what I’ll do. I’m going to shoot this next one blindfolded and with double the arc, and it’s got to go through nothing but net.’ If it doesn’t, I win, because he didn’t want to keep it going. So I think, This is great. So they blindfold him, and he shoots the ball, and it seems like it goes up to like where the ceiling was, and straight through. Straight through. And I was like, ‘All right. . . . If you can do that, I ain’t going to win, anyway.’ ”

And so perhaps Onuaku, nearing 70 percent, has used the form to approach his potential. Already, he has brought something back to the NBA.

“I was nervous as hell,” Onuaku told ESPN. “I’m just happy that I made them.”

Onuaku’s story does not have a happy ending, at least for now. The Rockets shipped him back to Rio Grande Valley before their game Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks. Onuaku’s departure from the NBA will likely be temporary, but it will leave the league, again, without a player willing to sacrifice aesthetics for success at the foul line.

But there is another player out there. At Florida, graduate transfer Canyon Barry, Rick’s son, is making 85.7 percent of his foul shots using the underhand form his father taught him. Attending one game, Rick watched Canyon shoot a free throw and overheard a fan behind him say, “That’s embarrassing.”

“And why is it embarrassing?” Barry asked, turning around. “Isn’t the ball going in the basket?”

“Yeah,” the fan replied.

“Well,” Barry said, “what’s embarrassing about making your free throws?”

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Ray Allen: My Trip Overseas With The USO

December/26/2016

Before Ray Allen ever touched a basketball, the NBA’s all-time three-point kings was born on Castle Air Force base in Merchard, Cali. Walt Allen, a metals technologist, spent 21 years in the military, repairing planes and raising his five children on bases around the the world. One month after the third Allen child officially retired from basketball, Ray joined General Joseph F. Dunford on the USO’s Holiday Tour, visiting American troops in Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Germany. Allen recounted his life-changing experience to The Crossover’s Jake Fischer. 

As a child, I thought I was cursed. I never had the opportunity to live in one place for longer than three years. I never had an opportunity to keep my friends and I wasn’t good at writing letters either. But as I got older and started traveling and then got to the NBA, I realized it was a blessing because I was tailor-made to do what I do: travel around the world and meet and interact with so many different people. I felt like I was built for it.

Every base that I lived at as a kid, I have been back to visit, except for two: one in Oklahoma and another base in Germany. So when the USO called me up and invited me to go abroad—with a stop in Germany—I assumed we would be visiting the base I grew up at. I had so many memories from that base, but I always felt like I needed some type of conclusion or closure. So I was very much looking forward to going to Ramstein, but we ended up at a different base called Grafenwoehr. As it turned out, I still got that closure; being on that base and seeing a lot of young people, I saw a lot of the military members’ spouses and their kids and it still gave me that same feeling I had as a military dependent myself.

There was one gentleman in particular I remember at the Grafenwoehr base. He was 21 years old and had already gotten to see the world. It was so inspirational to hear that because you realize the military has given this young man wings, literally, to fly and be able to see things all around the globe.

In the NBA, often times we’ll be in the locker room and we’ll talk about “going to war” and “going into battle” and “being in the foxhole,” all these terminologies that we equate with being at war. I have such a greater appreciation for the conflicts going on around the world, now I try to not use those terms out of respect, because I know exactly what these guys are doing when they’re in harm’s way. When we go on the floor, we make mistakes all the time—but it doesn’t cost us our lives. Those guys can’t afford to make mistakes and have to have each other’s backs. We look up to them far more than they realize.

One of the things that General Dunford said that resonated with me was, “We’re over here at war, my job is to make sure that we have all away games.” So when I got back on U.S. soil, I thought about how privileged we are. That as much conflict that is going on in the world, we in this country, we have managed for the most part to be void of any war on our home soil. I don’t think people appreciate that enough.

Being in Afghanistan was a slap in the face for me. It woke you up. When you walk around and you see the young men and women carrying their M4s everywhere they go like we carry our iPhones, you realize the serious nature of the ground that you walk on. Anything can happen at any given moment. You have to be prepared. In this country we don’t live with those pressures and those constraints as we move every single day. It gives you a great appreciation for the freedoms and liberties you have as you move around this country.

BY Ray Allen / PUBLISHED December/26/2016 / Sports Illustrated

http://www.si.com/nba/2016/12/26/ray-allen-uso-holiday-tour-overseas-afghanistan-military
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Spurs retire Tim Duncan’s No. 21 jersey

December/19/2016

After 19 seasons, five NBA championships and two MVP awards, Tim Duncan’s No. 21 jersey was raised to the rafters of the AT&T Center Sunday night, officially immortalizing “The Big Fundamental” as one of the greatest players in San Antonio Spurs history.

As if he wasn’t already.

The hour-long ceremony — which took place after San Antonio’s 113-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans — was hosted by Spurs legend Sean Elliot, and featured speeches from coach Gregg Popovich, who teared up when he said that Duncan is “exactly the same person now as he was when he walked in the door,” and Duncan’s long-time teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

“To all of you in here, the fans, all of San Antonio — thank you,” Duncan said. “The love and support is overwhelming, especially over the last couple weeks.

” … I got so much more from you guys. From my teammates, from these guys over here (group of ex-teammates and coaches), than they can explain that they got from me, and I know that.”

The soft-spoken superstar addressed his family, ex-Wake Forest coach Dave Odomand Spurs general manager R.C. Buford before thanking Popovich, who he played under for all 19 of his seasons.

“Thank you coach Pop, for being more than a coach. For being more like a father to me. Thank you.”

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

  • In addition to the championships, MVPs and Finals MVPs, Duncan led the Spurs to a 1,072-438 regular season record, the best in NBA history over 19 seasons.
  • He’s the only player in NBA history to start and win an NBA championship in three separate decades.
  • He finished his career with 15 All-NBA Team (tied for most all-time) and 15 All-Defensive Team (most all-time) honors.
  • Not only was he the third player in NBA history to reach 1,000 career wins, he was the first player to reach 1,000 wins with one team.
  • He’s the Spurs’ all-time leader in total regular season points (26,496), rebounds (15,091), blocks (3,020), minutes (47,368) and games played (1,392).
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How Jeremy Lin went from the Garden to the pages of the Hulk

December/15/2016

NEW YORK — In Greg Pak’s colorful and fantastical world, the award-winning comic book writer and filmmaker has superheroes from all walks of life accomplishing amazing feats.

But even Pak, like most of New York City in 2012, was captivated by “Linsanity” and in awe of Jeremy Lin‘s superhero-like origin story, going from a D-Leaguer who slept on a teammate’s couch to Sports Illustrated cover boy overnight.

“I was a nerdy kid who didn’t really care about sports,” Pak told ESPN. “But I was living in New York when ‘Linsanity’ happened, and it was a mind-blowing experience. I totally got sucked in. I mean the whole city was happy. It was a really kind of an amazing phenomenon. You would see random people start talking about it [all over the city].

“The more I came to learn about Jeremy Lin, the more I came to admire the guy. He has got a tremendous fortitude and dedication, and he is an incredible underdog story. And I love an underdog story.”

So Pak found a way to add Lin to the color-splashed pages of the Marvel universe of comic book superheroes. On Wednesday, Lin appeared in Pak’s latest issue of Marvel’s “Totally Awesome Hulk.”

The Brooklyn Nets point guard said he was shocked when he first found out that Pak wanted to add him into the Hulk’s storyline.

“‘Man, how are they going to use me, or what is it going to look like, especially me being Asian,” Lin said in an interview with ESPN. “I was really interested to see what would happen. I loved everything about it. … Growing up, watching the movies or whatever it might be, we have all experienced some sort of fandom toward superheroes.”

Pak, who is Korean American, co-created Amadeus Cho, a 19-year-old Korean American genius, with Takeshi Miyazawa more than a decade ago. Cho now has taken over the mantle and the powers of The Hulk from Bruce Banner and is a rare Asian American superhero.

Lin — the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent — said he is fully aware of the potential impact Pak’s character can have. He knows of the struggle many Asian American males face trying to land significant, strong and impactful lead roles as opposed to token portrayals that play off Asian stereotypes. For instance, none of the top 100 grossing films in 2015 featured an Asian actor as the lead or co-lead, and 49 of them featured no Asian characters at all, according to a report from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC.

“I have friends who are kind of into acting and the entertainment industry,” Lin said. “You kind of see how Asians and Asian-Americans are kind of portrayed in films over time.

“I feel that there have been a lot barriers, but this is a big step in the right direction. In terms of just making Asians more mainstream [and] not just in the stereotypically Asian way where it is almost like sometimes, it is like the token Asian guy — you are being made fun of, in some ways you got to be on there with an accent or something like that. It’s awesome that [Cho] is this really prominent and masculine figure as well.”

Pak has been cognizant of trying to create or cast diverse characters into his stories and films, such as “Robot Stories,” which starred Japanese-American actress Tamlyn Tomita and won 35 awards.

There are Asian characters throughout the Marvel Universe, but not many are of Asian-American descent such as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Jimmy Woo and Cho.

“Over the years, writers have created tons and tons of characters of all different backgrounds, but a lot of the Asians characters in comics are Asians from Asia,” Pak said. “That is not just Marvel, that is all comics, which is great. But I have always been an Asian American and had a special interest in seeing Asian-American characters. Historically there hasn’t been a ton.”

Nets teammate Brook Lopez, a lifelong comic book fanatic, went out to pick up five copies of the issue on Wednesday before posting 20 points and seven rebounds to help Brooklyn beat the Lakers later that night.

The center, who can practically deliver a thesis on any Marvel or DC Comics character, gave Lin’s comic debut his stamp of approval.

“Oh, I can’t state how jealous I was!” Lopez said repeatedly. “I didn’t even find out about it until I read my comic book websites … It was spot on. Great stuff. There were panels that I swear that [Pak] was behind me (with Lin and the Nets) looking at Jeremy while he drew it. And it was pretty true to his voice.

“[Lin and Cho] have a lot of similarities. Both Asian American, same haircut, both geniuses — genius-level intellect. They get along very quick. It’s a two-parter, left me on a cliff-hanger.”

Pak says after the two back-to-back issues with Lin, the “Totally Awesome Hulk” will feature Cho joining forces with other Asian American idols from Marvel.

“The next story in the ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ is going to be a team-up with Amadeus and a bunch of other Asian American characters, including Jimmy Woo, who is one of the oldest and most classic Asian American characters in Marvel,” Pak said. “More recent characters like Silk, who is a Korean American woman with spider powers in the Spider-Man universe and Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, who is a tremendous character (and Pakistani American). The books more and more reflect the world in which we live, and it is a fantastic thing. It is great to be a part of it.”

Lin never dreamed of being in a comic book. While Pak kept Lin in the loop over the storyline, Lin largely stayed out of the creative process and let Pak do his thing.

Even though the two only recently met after a Nets game, Pak has followed Lin closely, reading plenty of stories and books on the Nets point guard and watching the documentary about Lin — “Linsanity” — to get a feel for Lin’s character and vocal rhythms.

“It is such a great story,” Pak said of Lin’s rise. “I think there is something about superhero stories, a lot of them start from a place where the hero is an underdog. You look at Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, maybe not so much for Bruce Wayne — although Bruce Wayne is like, poor little rich boy, his parents have been murdered. Very often these superheroes come from a place where life has not treated them well.

“Then they find something inside or whatever the case may be, but they rise to the occasion and have this transformation and are tested as people and heroes. Athletes are the closest thing we got to superpowers.”

Pak says there is a natural bond between Lin’s and Cho’s characters.

“They have something in common of being thrust into a position of leadership and a responsibility,” Pak says. “Jeremy has been very open about this kind of feeling, about having a platform, and he needs to step up and use that platform responsibly when the time comes, and that is exactly some of the stuff that Amadeus struggles with as well.

“Amadeus is a cocky kid who thinks he knows everything, he is a lot of fun, so when he becomes The Hulk, he thinks he will be the best Hulk there ever was. But of course, being The Hulk, being the strongest one there is and running the risk of losing control of your emotions, there are huge responsibilities. Amadeus has a ton to learn.”

Lin jokingly admits you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry, as Banner, the original Hulk, famously says. But if Lin were to possess one super power, he says it would be the ability to fly.

“I have always wondered what it’s like to fly,” Lin said with a chuckle. “I would be a lot better at basketball if I could fly.”

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