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COMMENTARY: The Clippers Deserve a Celebration!

PASADENA JOURNAL — Realistically, the Clippers could not have expected much this season. They had young, mostly unproven players, and not a real star on the entire team. If the news reports were true, they tried to lure a couple of super stars for the team, but those efforts were not successful.

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By John Randolph Rogers

Realistically, the Clippers could not have expected much this season. They had young, mostly unproven players, and not a real star on the entire team. If the news reports were true, they tried to lure a couple of super stars for the team, but those efforts were not successful.

The team really had just two important assets. One was their Hall of Fame head coach, Doc Rivers. The second was their tiny scoring machine, whose name is Lou Williams. On paper, this looked like it would be a long, sad season.

However, this young group listened to the inspirational Doc Rivers, they played as hard as they could. The first pleasant surprise was that they had a winning season. Their victory celebration had to be short, since their playoff opponents would be the dreaded Golden State Warriors. They just happened to be one of the super teams of all time.

So, all of the indications were that the Warriors would sweep them in just four games, then they would relax until they had to compete against the Houston Rockets. Apparently, these young Clippers did not realize that they were just supposed to lose four straight and then go home. Doc Rivers was telling everyone that this team was really going to put up a good fight, but then that is what he is supposed to say. However, this time he really meant it.

There probably is not a happier man in the whole world than Steve Ballmer, the owner of the Clippers. Mr. Ballmer earned his billions running the Microsoft Corporation for about 20 years. The software business is extremely competitive so while he was there, he was competing against some of the best minds in the world. So, he has some extremely strong management capabilities. He has worked hard all his life, and he bought this team to have some fun, and that is what he is doing. Without any doubt, he is the most enthusiastic owner in the NBA. Also, according to some reports, he is worth about $40 billion.

I think that it is reasonable to say that this team exceeded his wildest expectations. There are likely to be one or two Super Stars on the team next year. However, let us not get too far ahead of ourselves. Traditionally, there have only been parades in Los Angeles when a team actually wins a championship.

So, the appropriate thing to do might be to have a Clippers day of celebration at Staples Center. This would give the fans an opportunity to thank the players for their outstanding success, and to hopefully inspire them to have an even greater season next year.

It is highly likely that the Clippers will add one or two Superstars to next year’s roster. So, they will likely be a much better team. In addition, Doc Rivers, has just signed a contract extension. Additionally, Jerry West is now a consultant for the Clippers, so it is highly likely that they will sign an additional one or two extremely talented players for next year. Possibly Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Klay Thompson.

When you look at the long, pitiful history of the Clippers, this great season that they have just had is almost unbelievable! However, as good as things were this year, they are likely to get much better, and they will become a dominant team like the Warriors. To Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers, well done, Sirs!

[Email: Journal@PasadenaJournal.com; Jorrogers@aol.com.]

This article originally appeared in the Pasadena Journal

Activism

IN MEMORIAM: Robert Farris Thompson, Renowned Professor of African American Studies

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993).

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Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.
Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.

TRIBUTE

By John Santos

We’ve lost a Rosetta Stone.

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson passed in his sleep Monday morning due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease and having been weakened by a bout with COVID-19 at the beginning of the year. He would’ve completed his 89th year on December 30.

Born on Dec. 30, 1932, Thompson was a White Texan who spectacularly disproved the fallacy of White supremacy through his pioneering and tireless elevation and clarification of African art, philosophy and culture. He removed the blinders and changed the way that generations of international students see African art.

A U.S. Army veteran, he went to Yale on a football scholarship and earned a B.A. in 1955. He joined the faculty in 1964 and earned his Ph.D. in 1965. He remained on the faculty until 2015.

‘Master T,’ as his students and friends often referred to him, was the Col. John Trumbull professor of the History of Art and professor of African American Studies at Yale University.

Thompson was also an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

He curated game-changing national exhibitions such as “African Art in Motion,” “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” and “Faces of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas.” The latter had a run at U.C. Berkeley in 1995 when local practitioners of African spirituality and musicians — including myself – demonstrated the powerful knowledge of tradition.

Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993). If he did not coin, he certainly standardized the term ‘Black Atlantic.’ He was a brilliant presenter, writer and teacher. But unlike many if not most academicians, he was also loved, revered and respected by the musicians, artists and communities about whom he wrote.

Initiated in Africa to Erinle, the deity of deep, still water, Thompson was hip, quirky and totally immersed in African and African-based music, dance, language, art and history. His lifetime of research, immersion and visionary work formed a bridge between Black America and her African roots.

Countless trips to Africa, the Southern U.S., the Caribbean and Central and South America informed his passionate work. He wrote about sculpture, painting, architecture, dance, music, language, poetry, food, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, African history, stolen antiquities, African spirituality, African retention, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, Black Argentina, New York, México, mambo, tango, jazz, spirit possession and so much more. He recorded African drumming. He befriended giants of African diaspora music such as Julito Collazo, Babatunde Olatunji and Mongo Santamaría.

I first saw his writing around 1970 on the back of the classic red vinyl 1961 Mongo Santamaria LP, Arriba! La Pachanga (Fantasy 3324). They are inarguably among the deepest liner notes ever written.

He told me that he used our 1984 recording, Bárbara Milagrosa, by the Orquesta Batachanga, to demonstrate danzón-mambo to his students. I nearly burst into tears when he invited me and Omar Sosa to address and perform for his students at Yale, his alma mater, where he was a rock star. It was an unforgettable occasion for me.

He wrote wonderful liner notes on our 2002 Grammy-nominated production SF Bay, by the Machete Ensemble. He went out of his way to support and encourage countless students and followers like me. I was highly honored to count him as a friend as well as mentor.

He will be missed.

John Santos is a seven-time Grammy-nominated percussionist and former director of Orquesta Batachanga and Machete Ensemble and current director of the John Santos Sextet.

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Activism

Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back to Hold Toy Giveaway December 18 

“This toy giveaway is a much-needed service for those of us who have been previously in prison for a crime against our community,” said Richard Johnson, a formerly incarcerated Oakland Post columnist. “…Now that we’re back in society we wish to give back in many forms that helps to restore promise while giving peace and redemption that our actions in the past aided in the destruction of our society that we now live in. Unfortunately, due to the red tape (efforts to reach) the target class of children of the formerly incarcerated (is stymied.)”

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Richard Johnson is a formerly incarcerated Oakland Post columnist who has formed a non-profit organization called Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back.

By Post Staff

Richard Johnson is a formerly incarcerated Oakland Post columnist who has formed a non-profit organization called Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back to provide toys, food, clothes and gifts to families who have a loved one who is incarcerated or is now re-entering society.

Johnson says he wants to make sure that these families don’t get overlooked by verifying and validating that these families qualify.

“This toy giveaway is a much-needed service for those of us who have been previously in prison for a crime against our community,” Johnson said. “…Now that we’re back in society we wish to give back in many forms that helps to restore promise while giving peace and redemption that our actions in the past aided in the destruction of our society that we now live in. Unfortunately, due to the red tape (efforts to reach) the target class of children of the formerly incarcerated (is stymied.)”

Understandably, Johnson says, the ways to determine which children should receive gifts is limited.

Therefore, he will rely on trusted messengers such as pastors and community-based nonprofit organizations to provide verified names of families of the formerly incarcerated.

“We want to ensure that we reach those who truly need these items. We are asking the various churches to submit names of their parishioners so that the pastors can verify the necessary information.

“We hope the county social services agencies will alert their clients. The various public safety departments, attorneys, parole offices and others who can’t provide or publish their client lists can be helpful by communicating directly to the families they’ve served to inform them of the opportunity to receive gifts during this season of giving.

“We will need volunteers who may have a few hours to spare on this historic occasion to come out and assist us to make this occasion a memorable one for the children most in need. Toys and gifts for 300 or more children is the current targeted number.

Please visit www.postnewsgroup.com after December 5 to respond, volunteer or to donate gift items.

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Activism

African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG) helps support 25th annual turkey drive in East Oakland

Assembymember Mia Bonta said,”I am excited and fully in support of the City Council’s decision to prioritize an African American-led, Oakland rooted, development group to negotiate how we can reimagine the Coliseum site. This represents a promise of development without displacement, and amenities and entertainment that East Oakland once had and deserves again. This is also the kind of community-led, wealth building opportunity l will fight for at the state level, and I will continue to support initiatives like these here in the 18th Assembly District.”

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The African American Sports & Entertainment Group came out to support the 25th annual Community Giving Foundation Turkey drive at Verdese Carter Park in East Oakland.

Hosted by founder and organizer Marlon McWilson, the turkey drive that started in 1997 has now donated over 35,000 Turkey’s through McWilson’s foundation. In attendance were Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, Oakland PAL, California Assembly Member Mia Bonta (AD-18) along with husband and Attorney General for the State of California Rob Bonta. Assembly Member Bonta also congratulated the AASEG on their recent unanimous 8-0 approval to enter negotiations with the City of Oakland on an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) to purchase the city’s half interest of the coliseum land, and looks forward to working with the team.

Assembymember Mia Bonta said,”I am excited and fully in support of the City Council’s decision to prioritize an African American-led, Oakland rooted, development group to negotiate how we can reimagine the Coliseum site. This represents a promise of development without displacement, and amenities and entertainment that East Oakland once had and deserves again. This is also the kind of community-led, wealth building opportunity l will fight for at the state level, and I will continue to support initiatives like these here in the 18th Assembly District.”

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