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Category: newsSource: thestandard thestandardDec 6th, 2018

In France, the Force is strong with lightsaber dueling

By John Leicester, Associated Press BEAUMONT-SUR-OISE, France (AP) — Master Yoda, dust off his French, he must. It's now easier than ever in France to act out "Star Wars" fantasies, because its fencing federation has borrowed from a galaxy far, far away and officially recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport, granting the iconic weapon from George Lucas' saga the same status as the foil, epee and sabre, the traditional blades used at the Olympics. Of course, the LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate lightsaber replicas can't slice a Sith lord in half. But they look and, with the more expensive sabers equipped with a chip in their hilt that emits a throaty electric rumble, even sound remarkably like the silver screen blades that Yoda and other characters wield in the blockbuster movies . Plenty realistic, at least, for duelists to work up an impressive sweat slashing, feinting and stabbing in organized, 3-minute bouts. The physicality of lightsaber combat is part of why the French Fencing Federation threw its support behind the sport and is now equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and training would-be lightsaber instructors. Like virtuous Jedi knights, the French federation sees itself as combatting a Dark Side: The sedentary habits of 21st-century life that are sickening ever-growing numbers of adults and kids . "With young people today, it's a real public health issue. They don't do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs," says Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general. "It's becoming difficult to (persuade them to) do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one's thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural." In the past, the likes of Zorro, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, joining and even supplanting them are Luke Skywalker , Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. "Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth," Aubailly says. "Lightsaber films have the same impact . Young people want to give it a try." And the young at heart. Police officer Philippe Bondi, 49, practiced fencing for 20 years before switching to lightsaber. When a club started offering classes in Metz, the town in eastern France where he is stationed for the gendarmerie, Bondi says he was immediately drawn by the prospect of living out the love he's had for the "Star Wars" universe since he saw the first film at age 7, on its release in 1977 . He fights in the same wire-mesh face mask he used for fencing. He spent about 350 euros ($400) on his protective body armor (sturdy gloves, chest, shoulder and shin pads) and on his federation-approved lightsaber, opting for luminous green "because it's the Jedi colors, and Yoda is my master." "I had to be on the good side, given that my job is upholding the law," he said. Bondi awoke well before dawn to make the four-hour drive from Metz to a national lightsaber tournament outside Paris this month that drew 34 competitors. It showcased how far the sport has come in a couple of years but also that it's still light years from becoming mainstream. The crowd was small and a technical glitch prevented the duelers' photos, combat names and scores from being displayed on a big screen, making bouts tough to follow. But the illuminated swooshes of colored blades looked spectacular in the darkened hall. Fan cosplay as "Star Wars" characters added levity, authenticity and a tickle of bizarre to the proceedings, especially the incongruous sight of Darth Vader buying a ham sandwich and a bag of potato chips at the cafeteria during a break. In building their sport from the ground up, French organizers produced competition rules intended to make lightsaber dueling both competitive and easy on the eyes. "We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect," said Michel Ortiz, the tournament organizer. Combatants fight inside a circle marked in tape on the floor. Strikes to the head or body are worth 5 points; to the arms or legs, 3 points; on hands, 1 point. The first to 15 points wins or, if they don't get there quickly, the high scorer after 3 minutes. If both fighters reach 10 points, the bout enters "sudden death," where the first to land a head- or body-blow wins, a rule to encourage enterprising fighters. Blows only count if the fighters first point the tip of their saber behind them. That rule prevents the viper-like, tip-first quick forward strikes seen in fencing. Instead, the rule encourages swishier blows that are easier for audiences to see and enjoy, and which are more evocative of the duels in "Star Wars." Of those, the battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace" that ends badly for the Sith despite his double-bladed lightsaber is particularly appreciated by aficionados for its swordplay. Still nascent, counting its paid-up practitioners in France in the hundreds, not thousands, lightsaber dueling has no hope of a place in the Paris Olympics in 2024. But to hear the thwack of blades and see them cut shapes through the air is to want to give the sport a try. Or, as Yoda would say: "Try not. Do! Or do not. There is no try.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News7 hr. 55 min. ago

Giants manager Bruce Bochy to retire after this season

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Bruce Bochy has always managed with his gut. Those same instincts told him it's nearly time to retire. Bochy announced Monday this will be his last season managing the San Francisco Giants, his 25th in all as a big league manager. He told the team before Monday's spring training workout at Scottsdale Stadium. "In my mind it's time," he said. Bochy, who turns 64 on April 16, had offseason hip replacement surgery that has him moving more swiftly and he insists "the health's great" and didn't factor into the choice. He begins his 13th season with the Giants. He led the club to World Series championships in 2010, '12 and '14. "I've managed with my gut. I came up here in 2007 on my gut. So it's a gut feeling it's time," Bochy said. "It's been an unbelievable ride. There's so much in there to be grateful for, with the players, the city, the fans, my ride here. It's time. I'll stay in baseball and do something. ... I'm not going too far, trust me. I love this game. It's been in my blood, so sure I'll be doing something in another capacity and I look forward to it." Bochy came to San Francisco from the San Diego Padres before the 2007 season, in time to watch Barry Bonds break Hank Aaron's career home run record that August. He managed Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012 and a pair of no-hitters by Tim Lincecum against the Padres in July 2013 and June '14. "This will give me time to go back and reflect and even watch some games and think about some of these great achievements and milestones these players have reached," Bochy said. "I've always had a deep appreciation for the gifts and talents of these players. I consider myself fortunate to have managed players like a Bonds and Lincecum." Every other manager with three or more titles has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. "I haven't even thought about that," Bochy said. Giants CEO Larry Baer already envisions a place in Cooperstown for Bochy, "Words cannot adequately express the amount of admiration, gratitude and respect the Giants family has for Bruce Bochy," Baer said in a statement. "His honesty, integrity, passion and brilliance led to the most successful period of Giants baseball in the history of our franchise. He will always be a Giant and we look forward to honoring him and all of his achievements throughout his final season in San Francisco and inevitably in Cooperstown." Giants Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford considers himself fortunate to have played for the same manager his entire career. "That's definitely special. I don't think many guys have one manager throughout their entire career," Crawford said. "Obviously we have this year to take care of first. Hopefully we make it a memorable one for him. A part of what's made him such a good manager over the years is just being able to work with the players he has, whether that's the bullpen or the bench, he always seemed to plug the right pieces at the right times." Bochy has faced daily questions about his future, and he wanted to address his plans now and avoid distractions later in the season when he hopes to have a contender again following two years out of the playoffs. He intends to stay in baseball. "It's something I put a lot of thought in it," Bochy said. "There's a lot of things that I look forward to doing, but right now my head's at this moment, hey, I'm going to focus on getting this team ready. I look forward to one more shot, trust me, and us having a big year. I'm all in." He spent his first 12 seasons as a manager with the Padres from 1995-2006, guiding San Diego to the NL pennant in 1998. Bochy came to the decision over the winter, but had all but realized this would be his last year at the end of the 2018 season. He discussed it with family and the front office. Executive Brian Sabean was hardly surprised by his dear friend's decision, saying "that's a pretty elite and, as we all know, fast treadmill to now do this for 25 years." "Two different organizations, four trips to the World Series, you win three, that's pretty elite company," Sabean said. Once he's through, Bochy will stick to his simple life of fishing excursions and family. "I'm not going anywhere. I don't have any cruises planned, trust me, I don't plan on going up Mount Everest. Baseball, that's my life. I'll be around," Bochy said. "I don't have a bucket list. There's no hidden agenda in all this, trust me.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News7 hr. 55 min. ago

God begs us to love him

FROM the Book of Proverbs comes this passage that shows ushow God practically begs us to love him. “My child, give me your heartand let your eyes delight in my ways.” (23,26) Note that he does notforce us to love him, deferring to our sense of freedom, since thatfreedom would enable us to truly love […] The post God begs us to love him appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated News12 hr. 22 min. ago

SPREADING THE FESTIVAL CHEERS!

Page Maker: Zedrick Señeres AT THE height of Dinagyang highlights on Jan 27, 2019, the Florete family’s plush penthouse residence at the heart of our City of Love proved to be the comfiest haven as well-loved couple, business mogul Marcelino Florete and famed jeweler Susan Caperonce-Florete, along with their children Marjorie, Mars and Atty. Cristine […] The post SPREADING THE FESTIVAL CHEERS! appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated News13 hr. 35 min. ago

UAAP Season 81: DLSU players impose social media ban

De La Salle University’s signature swagger is definitely back. Haters and bashers can say whatever they want on social media against the Lady Spikers, for all they care. They won’t even see them anyway. DLSU players made a self-imposed rule among themselves to have a social media ban for at least the duration of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament to avoid distractions and keep their focus on the goal of putting their names on history books with a four-peat championship.   “Wala na, deleted na Twitter namin before mag-start ng season,” said new Queen Spiker Des Cheng, who is in her final year for the green and white. The Lady Spikers opened their title-retention bid with a masterful, 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19, dismantling of archrival Ateneo de Manila University Sunday at the MOA Arena. “Sa amin lang (nag-impose). Kahit sa mga rookies sinabihan namin kasi ‘yung hype sa Twitter sobrang iba. Sobrang iba talaga,” said Cheng, who scored 13 points. “Ayun shutdown muna ang Twitter namin. Sabi namin. ‘Kahit hindi nyo i-delete ang Twitter basta ‘wag na kayong magsi-search ng whatever na gusto n’yong i-search.’” “’Pabayaan n’yo na lang. Kung gusto n’yong mag-tweet OK lang pero ‘yung magbabasa kayo na maapektuhan kayo ‘wag na kasi makakasira ng talaga ng laro ‘yun’. So um-OK naman sila,” Cheng added. The graduating hitter became the spark plug and energizer of DLSU during the early clash of powerhouse teams with her on-court antics that Lady Spikers’ fans love to watch and their opposing team’s supporters love to hate. Her contagious energy rubbed in to her teammates and even got head coach Ramil De Jesus, who’s known to be a dead-serious mentor during games, animated by exchanging high fives and flaunting his dimpled smile in DLSU’s earned points. It may be too much for others’ taste but Cheng cleared that it was just a way of pumping up the team.         “Siyempre kailangan nga may magsisimula ng spark para sumunod sila. Parang doon nga na lahat kami nabuhayan,” she said.       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News20 hr. 9 min. ago

PH Divorce Bill Status: It’s Complicated

While Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, not all love stories lead to a happy ending. In many countries, the best way to end these romance-turned-nightmare stories is divorce. However, it’s not the case for Filipinos as the Philippines does not have a divorce law yet. Measures to legalize divorce in the country […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2019

Broadcasting your romance on social media isn t always driven purely by love

Instagram users have taken to issuing “weekiversary posts,” where they diligently mark the duration of their romances.  An article  in The New York Times explained how weekiversary posts have the unintended – or very much intended – consequence of shaming people who are not in love. The article also noted that ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Eh dun na kami kilala -- Cheng on DLSU swag

Graduating De La Salle University hitter Des Cheng roared as she walked backwards while staring at Ateneo de Manila University’s Kat Tolentino following a monster block in the second set. It was Cheng’s classic swagger that volleyball fans just love to love or hate depending on which side they're on.      But the open spiker cleared that it just came out naturally, especially in this kind of exciting and intense match between two proud schools.    “’Di ko alam kasi siyempre, hello! It’s Ateneo-La Salle. So parang kahit anong sabihin mo may rivalry talaga kahit sabihin mong wala,” said Cheng, who scored 13 points in the defending three-time champion Lady Spikers’ 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19, victory over the Lady Eagles Sunday in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena. Cheng was very animated during the match smiling, laughing, doing the finger wag and whatever gesture she could think of to celebrate a point.   OH MY, DES CHENG 😱 #UAAPSeason81Volleyball pic.twitter.com/ePvIxjxREe — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) February 17, 2019 “Uy, ang hirap kaya kumuha ng puntos kung mapapansin mo. Kaya sabi ko before mag-start ang game sabi ko, ‘Every point ise-celebrate natin. Hindi ‘yung every point makakapuntos ka tapos tatahimik ka tapos parang, ‘Yeheey!’ ganun lang,’” said Cheng, who added 14 receives and nine digs for an all-around performance. The veteran expected that non-DLSU supporters would think that the Lady Spikers went over the top with their on-court reactions but this is what they’re known for and they are not gonna change that. Des Cheng breaks out the finger wag ☝ #UAAPSeason81Volleyball pic.twitter.com/bbVBMIYoGK — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) February 17, 2019 “Eh dun na kami kilala bakit kailangang (i-hold back),” said Cheng. “’Dun kami kilala eh. Sabihin nyo na mayabang kami, swag kami, whatever kung ano ang pagka-interpret nyo it’s OK. Eh kasi yun na ang pagkakakilala nyo sa amin eh di dun nyo na kami i-ano talaga. Pero hindi kami mayabang. Ayun lang po talaga.” Even head coach Ramil De Jesus got into the celebration during that second set highlight, exchanging high-fives with Cheng.       The mentor, according to Cheng, actually asked her to be the spark plug and energizer of the team. “Kasi kailangan. Sabi ni coach, ‘Hindi gagalaw ang team mo kapag walang mag-spark.’ Meaning, kailangan may gagalaw para magi-spark sa kanila tapos susunod lang sila. Kaya kapag nakapuntos ako parang kahit hindi nga ako nakapuntos naga-ano ako na ‘Yeheey, yeheey!’ ganun-ganun,” she said. “Kasi kailangan nila yun kasi kapag walang isang tao na ganoon sino ang magli-lead sa kanila.” And to end her night, Cheng finished off Ateneo with an ace... and a finger wag as exclamation point.   Des Cheng. FOR THE WIN. #UAAPSeason81Volleyball pic.twitter.com/KHyg6qECPs — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) February 17, 2019     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Cop in love triangle shooting surrenders

A member of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) allegedly in a love triangle with a policewoman turned himself in to his superior on Saturday after he shot and wounded his supposed rival on Feb. 14......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Dani Barretto engaged to boyfriend

MANILA, Philippines – "I prayed for this. I prayed for you." Blogger and social media influencer Dani Barretto on Sunday, February 17, announced that she was now engaged to her boyfriend, Xavi Panlilio.  The 26-year-old, daughter of former actress Marjorie Barretto, shared photos of the proposal and said: "I love you [Xavi]!! ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Special Valentine’s

Like Christmas or New Year, we consider Valentine’s Day as a special time of the year. It is the time when we get to express our love and affection for someone through flowers, chocolates, food or even simple letters. I can say that Valentine’s Day for me was quite special Don’t get me wrong, it […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

OPPO offers R17, Find X for Valentine’s season

WHETHER you’re single, committed, in love or have fallen out of love, OPPO will be the best partner from as it prepares to woo with its premium smartphones. OPPO offers…READ The post OPPO offers R17, Find X for Valentine’s season appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Love (local) in the time of K-pop

FILIPINO fashion brand, Bench, has mastered the art of fostering nationalism while keeping up with the trends. Its mantra, “Love Local,” has a unique twist in that while Bench is a homegrown line, it has partnered with Asian superstars to beef up marketing. The formula has worked -- and continues to work -- making Bench the brand of choice in its target segments......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

WATCH: Filipino nurse gets standing ovation in ‘Ireland’s Got Talent’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0O81FkIx58 MANILA, Philippines --- Despite feeling extremely nervous, Filipino nurse Rodelle Borja gave a stirring performance that earned him a standing ovation in "Ireland's Got Talent," singing his own version of a song popularized by Elvis Presley, "Can't Help Falling in Love." In a video uploaded on the show's YouTube channel on Feb. 16, the 29-year-old Borja said that, while he did not feel confident in expressing himself through words, he could do so through songs. "I applied for 'Ireland's Got Talent' mainly because I want to inspire other people, especially all the stutterers around the world since I'm also a stutterer myself," he said i...Keep on reading: WATCH: Filipino nurse gets standing ovation in ‘Ireland’s Got Talent’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

With Roma, Alfonso Cuaron reinvents how he makes films

LOS ANGELES, USA — Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron has experimented before with styles and genres, from space epic Gravity to road trip coming-of-age tale Y Tu Mama Tambien to fantasy flick Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. But with Roma, his highly acclaimed autobiographical love letter to his ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Country star Miranda Lambert reveals secret marriage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Country star Miranda Lambert celebrated Valentine's Day weekend with the announcement that she secretly got married. A representative for the singer confirmed the marriage after Lambert posted photos on social media Saturday showing her in a white lace gown with her new husband, Brendan Mcloughlin. She wrote that in honor of Valentine's Day, she wanted to share that she "met the love of my life. And we got hitched!" It's unclear when the marriage occurred. The two-time Grammy winner was previously married to country star Blake Shelton, but she hadn't spoken publicly about her relationship with Mcloughlin before Saturday. The Texas-born singer who is also...Keep on reading: Country star Miranda Lambert reveals secret marriage.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

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