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Legends Open with a Win

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The Albany Legends tipped off the 2011 season and their defense of the 2010 IBL Championship title

Albany, Ny – The Albany Legends have a new home this season at CBA, where they faced the Kankakee Soldiers in their home opener. With familiar local names such as Scott McRae, Lucious Jordan, and Will Harris Suny Albany lovers were sure to be in attendance. However, I think many people were anticipating performances by DeAndre Thomas as well as Emanuel “Tiki” Mayben.

Mayben, a Troy native helped bring Binghamton University to their first NCAA basketball tournament appearance. He was also unfortunately in some trouble there after. An event that has well passed. He certainly has continued to work hard and had plenty of ambitions to make his way back to the court. He made his statement their tonight. The crowd behind him and even a poster made by a fan “Tiki 8 We Missed U!”

Thomas played for the Indiana Hoosiers and notched 11 points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal in his debut. With the Legends, his athleticism is unmistaken and his passion apparent. He said during our interview “I didn’t have butterflies at all, this is my job.” He is all business on the court.

The Kankakee Soldiers and Albany Legends faced off in the first game of the 2011 IBL Season. The game took place at CBA

The IBL game is played a little bit different than what we may be used to. These differences really show the resilience in the players themselves. There is very little “dead time” which leads to a faster paced game. The teams are allotted one timeout per quarter. The IBL also employs an immediate rebounds rule to get the game going quickly. Mostly the IBL follows NBA rules with the exception that the players only have a 22 second shot clock. Most of the current players are used it but others such as Mayben, are still in the works of making the adjustment. Coach Ben Smith is confident that it will become “easier as we go along.”

The Legends started out calm, cool, and collected easily making their mark on the board with a 6-0 run. With 8:52 in the 1st quarter the Soldiers made their reply with a 3 pointer and a super dunk nearly over the top of Thomas. The Legends came up huge on the offensive end of things but it was important that the defense did as well. Scott McRae and DeAndre Thomas had fantastic starts. Both were guiding the basketball through the paint efficiently. The team itself displayed wonderful ball handling skills and considering they didn’t have much time with one another as a whole to practice, no one would have noticed.

Mayben showed great intensity when he was guarding his man. Damone got his groove late in the 1st quarter with a sweet dunk expanding the Legends lead 19-12. The 1st quarter came to a close 24-16 in the Legends favor. The Soldiers had not lead once in the game.

On the other end of the spectrum the Soldiers had to claw their way back into the game and they did. Ryan Edwards, Kankakee guard was out for blood after a couple of questionable calls on the refs parts….well at least he thought so. He and Billy Baptist were dominate forces to be reckoned with. Baptist was quick on his feet and stunned with 360 up and under moves to make buckets….I mean I would have been pleased with an easy layup, of course, they were missing dunks left and right so this made up for it.

Waiting to jump into the action

As the 2nd quarter pressed on the Soldiers crushed the Legends lead and tied the game with approximately 5 minutes to play. EJ Gallup, Legends 6’4″ guard from Coastal Carolina, came in to take the reigns with a 3 pointer after the Soldiers took the lead. Mayben hooked up with Gallup moments later and just like that another 3. The Soldiers switched to a half court press but Scott McRae would not be intimidated by any of the defense set in his way. He was eagerly ready to challenge the defenders but smart enough to be able to draw fouls.

DeAndre seemed to struggle a bit turning the ball over 3 times but would redeem himself by spectacular blocking, he had 3 of those as well. At the end of the 2nd quarter the Legends were down 56-58.

The rebounding issues for the Legends became more apparent in the 3rd quarter. The Soldiers were certainly capitalizing on this. Free throws were missed often by both teams, more so by the Legends. With the game back and forth as it had gone from here on out, these attempts as we all know can make or break a teams chances in the end.

With seconds to go in the 3rd and twice now this had happened, seconds ticking off the clock, Legends last attempt for a shot, had all been missed but this shot Mayben took in the well off the 3 point line sunk like a brick and the crowd went nuts. The score now 89-84 Legends lead and this I think changed Mayben’s momentum and attitude for the rest of the game. Sometimes that is all it takes for a player to ignite, a single shot. LOOOOKK OUUUUTTT!!! He hit 2 more 3s from that spot the rest of the game.

With the game on the line, Mike Simms from the Soldiers bench hits a 3 to make the game 113-112 in the Legends favor. Mayben was fouled and needed to make the free throws. He made them both and a last miracle attempt from the Soldiers was not answered. The Legends win their home opener 115-112.

Top scorers of the game were DeAndre Thomas and Tiki Mayben. Quiet but a true leader of the team Chris Grant scored 7 points. When asking the Coach Ben Smith who the leader of the team was he credited a lot to Grant. “Chris Grant is our leader on this team. Chris Grant comes up and down the floor, he directs traffic, he lets people know where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be their.” Smith also has faith and potential in Mayben stating,”Tiki is going to lead by example all year long. You can’t displace how good of a basketball player that young man is.

The season surely looks promising after today’s game. The Legends will face the Soldiers tomorrow night at CBA 7pm. Don’t miss the fun and action!

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Boxing

25th Annual Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night, A Charity Knockout Event

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Photo Credit: Monica Alvarez

The stars came out last night to give, show support, perform, and to continue to raise money and awareness in hopes of one day find a cure to knockout Parkinson’s disease.

Going back to year number 1, The first ever event was held at the Ritz-Carlton operated on a much smaller scale than today, which is now held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

At the very first Celebrity Fight Night With the help of Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, and the valley of the sun’s very own Louie Espinoza, Tony Baltazar, and boxing champion Michael Carbajal who by the way fought in the ring with over sized boxing gloves.

The ”Puttin on the Fists at The Ritz” first Celebrity Fight Night scored a knockout win and is STILL punching on through today for the Greatest Of All Time, The late great Muhammad Ali.

Last night I was honored to attend and speak to a few of the stars, one was NFL legendary kicker Nick Lowery, Mr. Lowery now spends most of his time at charitable endeavors and advocating for alternative medicine research and is also a spokesman for Kannalife, Inc to raise awareness for CTE and players safety in hopes of one day having intercellular “helmets,” like Kannalife’s CBD and KLS-13019, is so important to potentially treat the brain.

I asked Lowery what is his favorite Ali memory, and Lowery’s response: ” Taking Ali to the NBA All-Star game one year as we sat behind Jay-Z and Beyonce and watching Beyonce wave to Ali, Beyonce spoke to us, she is the sweetest person. Also taking Ali to the locker rooms and watching Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and all the other all stars turn into children at the sight of seeing their hero the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali walk through the doors, what an experience that was.”

In asking the very same question to R&B Singer Brian McKnight, ”I have so many Ali memories but my favorite was watching Ali knockout George Foreman at home with my dad. The odds were against Ali and Ali being the great fighter that he was he beat the odds and stopped a much younger powerful puncher in Foreman. You know, I am still a big boxing fan today, I enjoy watching Tyson Fury out of the current heavyweights.”

And what did legendary former champion boxer, Micheal Carbajal have to say? ”It’s truly an honor to attend this great event, at the very first one proceeds went to my 9th street boxing gym and now 24 years later it’s still going strong, a great charity”. Mr. Carbajal went on to talk some boxing with me,

Carbajal- ” You see Spence/Garcia?”

Me- ” Yes, it was brutal, what did you think?”

Carbajal- ” Not good for Mikey Garcia at all, but he is still my favorite current boxer, and he beats everybody at 135 pounds if he can make the weight there. Mikey would knockout Lomachenko in 4 rounds at 135.”

Me- ”Wow, you really think that? Both are great technical boxers but I can’t see a 4 round fight between them, so you really think it would only take Mikey 4 rounds to stop Lomachenko?”

Carbajal- ” I KNOW so!”

Special honorees for the evening include fabled American music producer and 27-time Grammy Award-winner Quincy Jones, Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the medical director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute and Renee Parsons of the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

“For 25 years, we’ve treated Celebrity Fight Night audiences to the world’s greatest entertainers and this year will be no different as we welcome Barry Manilow,” said Jimmy Walker, Founder of Celebrity Fight Night. “With the help of our celebrity friends and incredibly generous donors, we are once again excited to raise millions of dollars and make a difference in the lives of those who need our support.”

Individual tickets for Celebrity Fight Night start at $1,500 – $10,000.  To purchase tickets or to get more information on the event, please visit www.celebrityfightnight.org, or call (602) 956-1121.

About Celebrity Fight Night
Celebrity Fight Night has gifted more than $86 million over the past 24 years benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as several other worthy charities.

The black-tie event features a cocktail reception, silent auction, elegant dinner, and an exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items and experiences. Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 by Jimmy Walker and supports the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. For more information, visitwww.celebrityfightnight.org.

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Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23

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Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.

“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”

Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.

Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”

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Kansas City Chiefs

Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl

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It’s Championship Sunday and one of the NFL staples remain atop the league. The New England Patriots are appearing in their record 8th AFC title game in hopes of competing for a sixth title.

A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.

Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic ,  As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.

The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.

In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”.  Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?

I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.

Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.

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