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A Father, a Daughter, And a Love of Basketball.

ROBBINS NEST

File photo/Neil Miller /The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

It was early January of 2013 when I bumped into World Metta Peace in the bowels of Madison Square Garden. He broke into a huge smile, gave me a neck-cracking hug and we settled into a couple of chairs courtside to do some catching up.

I had forged a bond with the young man then known as Ron “Ron-Ron” Artest Jr. years earlier when he played at St.  John’s. Anyone in the metropolitan area basketball world knew of Ron-Ron, his acts of generosity and volatile personality. He was ‘real,’ as they say, a kid out of Queensbridge who marched to his own thumping, erratic drummer to the NBA.

File Photo/Neil Miller/The New York Extra

There were the really good years in Indianapolis, ended by the notorious Malice in the Palace brawl; the solid years in Sacramento and Houston, followed by the magical season when Artest and Kobe Bryant won the 2010 title together with the Lakers.

“Man, Kobe and I went at it before the Lakers,’’ Metta Peace told me. “I was worried we weren’t going to get along when I signed with them. It wasn’t that we didn’t like each other. We wore different jerseys, came from different places.

File photo/Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Bryant had lived in Europe as a child, where his father, Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant played professionally. Kobe was fluent in Italian and Spanish and later educated at Lower Merion High School on Philadelphia’s exclusive Main Line.

Artest’s world was a housing project in Queens and a struggling Catholic school on Manhattan’s Lower Eastside – LaSalle Academy.

‘Kobe, people would see his smile, right,’’ said World Peace. “And he can speak, like five languages or something. Nice suits. I’m all ghetto. But we would kill you to win a game. Kill you. That’s what we had.”

We will never see Kobe Bean Bryant’s luminescent smile again, which is almost as tragic as the fact that we will never see the smile of his daughter – Gianna Maria Bryant. Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, were both killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles on Sunday.

The Black Mamba, a nickname Kobe gave himself, is dead. Unfathomable.

Kobe still had so much of life to live but he had accomplished so much in such a short time. It was 14 years ago this week that he scored 81 points in an NBA   game. It was just Saturday that LeBron James passed Kobe for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

 James wrote “Mamba 4 Life” on his sneakers in Sunday’s game against the 76ers.

Bryant is a member of the most exclusive sports club – Pele, Serena, LeBron, Kobe.

And he was on the cusp of business and creative greatness. He won the 2018 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball,” a six-minute film based on a poem Kobe wrote. He parlayed a $6 million investment in sports drink BodyArmor into a $200 million payday when Coca-Cola bought the company.

Most of all, he was scratching the surface of being a father. Bryant was taking Gianna to one of her travel basketball games. Gianna had dreams of playing at Connecticut, the Lakers and Celtics of women’s college basketball rolled into one.

Gianna had her entire life ahead of her. There will be no WNBA title, no opportunity to write a poem or become a businesswoman. Unfathomable.

One of the few truths we know is that no parent should have to bury a child. Now Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s high school sweetheart, will have to bury a husband and child, and find a way to raise daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kobe was asked if he had any regrets.

“Probably the amount of time spent on my craft and spent away from my family,” he said.

Unfathomable.

So what do we now, how do we process this tragedy?

Here’s the only consolation I can find. In their final seconds, Kobe and Gianna had each other. A father and a daughter together because of their love of the city game.

“He loves the game so much,’’ Artest said of Kobe. “You have to take his life to take that game from him.”

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Some Holiday NY Sports Cheer

So it goes. Another holiday season is here and from yours truly to yours a Merry Christmas and Happy holidays.

There were the usual highs and lows during the 2019 sports year in New York. From the abysmal Knicks, to the continued regression of the Jets and Giants, the Yankees failure to close the decade without another championship. 

And the Mets, of course, awaiting the check book of billionaire Steve Cohen as they try to contend and deliver.  Hockey is healthy as the Rangers and Islanders are at a pace to be contenders for playoff position.

With all of this, and more, here is that annual Christmas list for the New York sports fan. A little of everything and not being naughty but nice.

Yankees: The Gerit Cole signing to a record nine-year $324 million contract is the missing piece, so says the Yankees hierarchy. Though, as mentioned on  these pages,a pitcher with that long term deal is expected to deliver.

 The Yankees, as that holiday gift for their fans, got them Cole. It means the supposed best pitcher in baseball is expected to deliver, and at a risk in this long range plan to end their decade drought without a World Series championship.

Though, the appropriate gift of cheer for the Yankees is to get the timely hits in the postseason, which was more of the contributing factor of their failures to go deep in another postseason series loss to the Astros.

METS: The gift has been Michael Wacha and Rick Procello, two pitchers at low cost that add to their depth. If anything, rookie manager Carlos Beltran has been granted some flexibility. 

Seth Lugo, the Mets most reliable reliever, can stay in the bullpen as does Robert Gsellman. The need was to revamp a bullpen that was second worst in baseball to the Red Sox in 2019.

The gift this holiday season for the Mets, another bat in the lineup before Opening Day and possibly a healthy Yoenis Cespedes in his final year of a revamped contract.

Most of all, the best gift here? A turn-around 2020 out of the pen for Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz. Late inning outs and saves cost the Mets in 2019. Familia and Diaz could be a difference maker, along with Justin Wilson in the mix.

Giants: Yours truly will be the first to admit this is not an area of expertise. However, it is easy to comprehend that stability on the coaching end is important, why it is important to give another year to Pat Shurmur.

There are signs of progress. No more Eli Manning. Daniel Jones is improving, five touchdown passes Sunday against the Redskins.  The gift is acquiring a top draft choice, improve the defense. We haven’t seen Saquon Barkley at his best and healthy. 

Jets: Same situation with the Giants and that’s coaching stability.  Adam Gase? He needs another year. Disagree, of course Jets fans would. You see the continued development of a quarterback, Sam Darnold, and how he can control the ball out of the pocket. 

Again, a gift here for the Jets is patience. They are close. And the draft picks will be significant as the long and championship reign of the Patriots is on a decline, which makes the Jets a team to be enthused about in the AFC East.

Knicks: Sell the team. This is not a coaching situation. The answer is get rid of Dolan. A gift of joy for every Knicks’ fan is becoming that franchise champion again that takes the court in the “Mecca” of Madison Square Garden, and having the appropriate basketball personnel to run the show. 

NETS:  Did you say, can’t wait for Kevin Durant?  That 26.0 points per game is a void and a difference maker.

Rangers:   Sunday, Henrik Lundqvist made his first start in a week and stopped 19 of 20 shots that prevented the Rangers from losing their fourth straight. And that is the difference, because the veteran in goal can lead this team in his final years. 

You want to see a good old NY rivalry on ice with the Rangers and Islanders. It can get there again, of course it begins with the consistent play in goal from the veteran.

Islanders: All good in Nassau County and Brooklyn. The Islanders are leaving a gift this season and striving to become another dynasty before moving to their new digs in a few years over at Belmont Park.

NYRA:  Can we get another Triple Crown winner at Belmont Park?

NYCFC: Two years of semifinal and final conference elimination for an MLS CUP. The gift is go another step. The added gift is securing a stadium they can call home as the Yankees kick them out of the ballpark to avoid disrupting their sacred field during playoff time. 

Boxing: The sports deserves more championship fights in New York. Barclays Center in Brooklyn is in survival mode as a host for major fights and Madison Square Garden, well the “Mecca” always finds a place for the big fight.  Then again, the sport is healthy but no longer in that category of mainstream.and deserves a gift of returning to the heyday of Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard.

There you have it. Just some thoughts. From all of us at TheNYExtra.com a healthy and happy holiday season with the gift of joy and a championship. 

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

It’s Our Call: Safety Over High School Football Titles

Robbins Nest

The following article, written by Lenn Robbins, Editor-in-chief of the New York Extra is not endorsed by the ownership of the publication. However, Mr Robbins has complete editorial freedom to express his views and is supported in this regard. Neil Miller,publisher and owner,The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

   Maybe only those that have known the most unbearable sadness can truly experience the most unfetted euphoria.

  When Riley Ward ripped off his helmet to show the face of pure, unbridled joy, when he raised his left arm and pointed his index finger skyward, when he was mobbed by teammates, many of who were ecstatically screaming, “Oh My God!  Oh My God!” did the guy next to me, also transfixed by the images of the TV say:

 “That’s God at work right there.”

 This God entity can be challenging to understand. Some would say we’re not meant to understand. Certainly faith can help us make some sense, take some comfort, in the incomprehendable.

Maybe a higher power was at work Saturday night when the high school football team from the Connecticut town where Sandy Hook Elementary School is located, won its first state title exactly seven years to the day that a madman massacred 26 people, 20 of whom were six and seven-year-old children.

 Since this is a sports column, let’s give this higher power entity the benefit of the doubt,  and discuss religion another day.

  Which begs one question:

 If God was at work Saturday night, what the hell have our elected officials been doing  the last seven years? This isn’t a question for Republicans or Democrats. It’s a question for mothers and fathers, congressmen and senators, governors and the president.

 Why has there been no significant change in this country when it comes to making it  harder to buy weapons that have nothing to do with self defense but everything to do with mass slaughter?

 The second amendment is fine with me. If citizens in upstate New York did not have the right to bare arms, the escapees from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora would have had many more places to find refuge.

 As someone who legally owned a gun when living in New Jersey, it was reasurring to have to attend a gun safety course to get that license. The instructor said (I’m paraphrasing here) if someone is intent on doing you harm and he or she doesn’t back away after hearing the chambering of a round, no gun in the world can keep you safe.

We need to keep ourselves safe which means exercising some commom sense.

 No assault rifles. No large capacity magazines. No bump stocks.

 Hopefully, prayfully, No dead children.

  What transpired Saturday night was beyond explanation, just as Mike Piazza’s home run 10 days after 9-11 was inexpicable and eternal.

  “I’m so proud of my kids for not giving up,’’ Newtown coach Bobby Pattison told reporters after the game. “We had moments in that game where it didn’t look too good for Newtown … I’m so proud of the kids. I couldn’t be happier.”

    Newtown beat Darien, 13-7, on the game’s last play when quarterback Jack Street found Riley through the fog for a 36-yard touchdown and the state LL championship.  Kudos to the Darien Blue Wave, a high school I once covered while working at the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time, which Tweeted:

  While a State Championship loss is never easy to swallow, the joy it is bringing @newtownfootball and the entire #Newtown community is certainly numbing our pain. #NightHawkPride #FootballBrothers

  Newtown linebacker Ben Pinto’s seven-year-old brother, Jack, was killed in that 2012 massacre. No one can imagine that family’s grief or the grief of any family that has lost a child, especially to gun violence because our “leaders” have shamefully gotten up every morning to their lattes instead of passing gun control legislation.

 Riley’s celebration was one for the ages. Like the late N.C. State coach Jimmy Valvano, who couldn’t find a player to hug after the Wolfpack won the 1983 NCAA Tournament, Riley, Lucky No. 13 in your books, raced through the end zone, a self-driving car that had malfunctioned.

 He was bathed in the love and joy of his teammates and townspeople. But wouldn’t it be so much better to live in a world in which a high school football team didn’t have to help a community heal because there was no manmade tragedy to recover from?

   Surely, we’d all trade a state title celebration for a state of safety for our children. Our “leaders” have no excuses. Get to work!

Danny Aiello Always Did The Right Thing; My Tribute To A Friend

When Danny Aiello crossed paths with yours truly in 1974, there was no conception who was on the microphone up in a small press box calling plays as the public address announcer at a DeWitt Clinton High School football game.

That voice was clear and distinguished and could be heard all over Paul Avenue and a block away on Mosholu Parkway.. He was very professional and at the time not the well known actor that he would become.

His two sons played football for the school, Danny and Rick ,who yours truly also got to know. Danny Aiello III died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 at the age of 53.

That loss for Aiello was difficult as was the early struggle and stumbling on a career that led to over 100 roles on the screen and the stage.

And today we sadly mourn his passing, 86-years of age after an illness. His big break, “Do The Right Thing” the Spike Lee film that earned him an Academy Award nomination in 1989. He was Sal the owner of a Brooklyn pizza shop and tried to keep peace in the community.

Thing is, Danny Aiello always did the right thing. From those days in the press box, a man who asked for a penny or a nickel, to his success, Danny Aiello was always there for the community, He was there for friends and a loyal role model to his wife of 64 years, sons, and grandchildren.

He never changed. He was my role model up in that press box. He guided me to do the same PA announcing as his acting schedule called on him. Directors and producers called on him and often.

He said then, in 1975, “You have a future as an announcer.” He started to follow me as a cub sports reporter in the Bronx and appreciated the devotion and covering high school athletes for the Bronx weekly newspapers.

They know, as yours truly did as a 17-year old in the Bronx, that Danny Aiello was going to be a hit. He wasn’t shy to ask for a nickle or a cigarette. He always said there would be a day he would not forget and return the favor.

He never forgot. And, Danny Aiello always remembered the community. His late mother was admitted to Providence Rest Nursing Home. He felt there was need to do better there and later became a Board of Director member at Providence Rest over in Throgs Neck.

Sports was his passion when not on the set.

“My Yankees, what’s wrong,” he said a few years ago as we met at Yankee Stadium. His nephew, Bronx native Michael Kay, is the voice of the Yankees on the YES Network and hosts a successful afternoon sports program on ESPN Radio.

Kay was in tears as he paid tribute to “Uncle Danny” Friday afternoon. It was Danny Aiello who pitched and believed in his nephew. Must run in the family because Danny Aiello was an avid sports fan and was also seen many times at ringside watching a fight at Madison Square Garden and the Barlcays Center in Brooklyn.

He always did the right thing, so appropriate and many years before the movie hit the big screen.

That was Danny Aiello, born in Manhattan but the Bronx and the people he met were always in his heart.

In many ways, this career was fit for me. You never know what will transpire as time goes on. But that day up in a small high school press box was one that gave me the opportunity to speak out loud.

Danny Aiello, as he did for many and yours truly was an inspiration. God Bless and Rest In peace. The The New York Extra offers prayers and condolences to the Aiello family, friends, and those who knew him over the years in the entertainment industry.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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The DeWitt Clinton HIgh School graduate, a school at the end of the Grand Concourse also known as “The Castle” because of distinguished alumni in all walks of life, was a proud alumnus who was instrumental in  staging more than 30 plays and musicals on Broadway in four decades.

“I see the potential in so many here in the Bronx,” Simon said when he was awarded by the DeWitt Clinton Alumni Association. He was one of the many at the time that graduated at the age of 16. And from Clinton it was either NYU or City College of New York. He chose NYU  and from there the rest is history.

Simon in 1983  was the only living playwright who had a theater named after him on Broadway, “The Neil Simon Theater.”

But his “Odd Couple” play, later an Emmy award winning television series, was Neil Simon and the creativity that consumed the entertainment world for years and still seen in syndication.

He was 91 years of age and passed away Monday morning in New York City with complications from pneumonia.

Christmas Continues on Long Island by Toni Hoyos, Foodlady7

THE 24th ANNUAL DICKENS’ FESTIVAL

Neil Miller/The New York Extra
Neil Miller /The New York Extra

This past weekend December 7th and 8th commenced the 24th annual Charles Dickens Festival in the village of Port Jefferson. It was a weekend filled with holiday cheer! Starting it all off was the grand opening ceremony parade followed by an opening ceremony at The Village Center.

The Kuveikis Family of Pt Jeff Station comes to the Festival every year Neil Miller /The New York Extra
The combined families of the Badolato and Zimulis from Huntington ,N.Y. enjoy the happenings today Neil Miller/The New York Extra
Ben with his two dogs Chess left and Duke on Main street today Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Gallery /Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Volunteers dressed in time period appropriate wardrobe strolled the streets, there was Father Christmas, ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and the beggar boy to name a few. We encountered carolers Chercy, Cheryl, Keeley and Savannah from The United Methodist Church of Bayport who graced the streets with their singing. There was musical shows to enjoy such as a men’s choir, bands, Port Jefferson Elementary Chamber Choir and Orchestra, Christmas concerts and various street performances by Pirates of Fortunes Folly among others.

Family and children oriented activities included ice skating, a fire pit to roast marsh mellows , magic shows, holiday sing a longs, cookie making at Cookie Land, a Chocolate Extravaganza, horse and carriage rides with Oreo and friends. Plenty of hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts for your enjoyment! Tickets could be purchased for renditions of The Nutcracker performed by Harbor Ballet Theatre at PJ High School or A Christmas Carol at Theatre Three.

An event schedule and map of activities/performances was available at the Village center. There was something for everyone. Truly a good time to be had by all ! I’ve already made a notation to return next year as should you! The festival concludes with The passing of the Lantern of Life, a fabulous Pickwick’s Puppet Parade followed by a closing ceremony at Village Hall. Don’t miss out next year it is fun for the young and old alike!!

The Grinch that stole Christmas

Or how the Town of Islip disappointed hundreds of Town residents at The Connetquot River Boat Parade

Tonight, hundreds of Town of Islip residents and families were very upset and confused at the annual Boat Parade at Great River Dock in East Islip. For years a parade of brightly lit boats in all their Christmas glory would make several passes up and down the river.

But,not tonite.Instead the boats seemed to congregate by the various restaurants further south on the river.Crying children and angry parents kept asking” Where is the parade? Why are they turning around before coming up to the dock?” FYI ,Great River Dock is one of the listed viewing sites for the Boat Parade. Upon looking at the contributor list to the event,The View ,Snapper Inn,and Oakdale Yacht are listed as top level donors.Is it posible this this played a role in spoiling alot of families fun tonight?? Only the Town of Islip knows.

CHRISTMAS AT MILLERIDGE INN

Toni Hoyos/The New York Extra

The 2019 holiday season begins at the iconic Milleridge Inn Village starting with the annual Christmas tree lighting on Friday November 29. Thousands came to see the event and partake in the festivities which included carolers, a Santa village and of course the Grinch! The village is beautifully decorated with lights, garland, wreaths, snowmen, trees, holiday characters, a nativity display and so much more!

Toni Hoyos/The New York Extra

There was a fun area where you and your friends could take a picture with Santa or stop at the Cafe to grab some cider or hot chocolate. The stores were busy with shoppers and those just browsing. Surely a good time was had by all! Stop by to see the village in all its Christmas glory and check out up coming events.

Lindy’s “Safe ” Halloween

A safe alternative for Trick or Treat hosted by Lindenhurst High School by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

A young princess rides in her carriage today Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

A tradition in Lindenhurst, a safe Halloween party is thrown every year by the students and staff at Lindenhurst High School.This year was no exception as the community gathered in the halls and classrooms to enjoy a fun alternative for their families instead of going door to door in the streets.

There were games, face painting and lots of candy given out. Families of every size and type enjoyed the event. Most of all there were the very creative outfits designed by all who attended today. Long Island Natives always seem to have the ability to find new and fun ways to spend their holidays!

Woodstock,lessons learned, and lost by Neil Miller

Fifty years this weekend an event that has shaped a generation then and now, happened upstate.The things that lead up to Woodstock and the lessons from it still hold true today.

Its been said that Woodstock could never happen again,and that’s totally correct.The late 60’s brought together the greatest music of our times.The creativity, the variety and the energy of Janis,Carlos,Jimmy,Jerry,Jorma and Sly , and more could never be re-created.

.Although we have many fine groups now,with the over production of concerts we will never have the uniqueness of the music scene then.

So, what did we learn from Woodstock,and what lessons did we forget?We learned to share life in its fullness and the joy of music and companionship with all around us.We learned that those with political views tried to use that as a lever for their own purposes.We learned the strength of beliefs that bind a nation together.

And what lessons did we forget?we forgot that the musician of that time brought a vision of life as they saw it and shared it with the world. and we forgot then ,and today,that others[read that politicians} would try to use that against us.

The moral of this editorial is simple:trust in your beliefs,your heart, your love of life,family. god and country. Dont let others destroy what made our generation unique in what is was then and now.Do good in this life, to yourself and to others. Neil Miller/publisher nysportsextra copyright 2019

From despair to hope.A story about suicide among 1st responders and the battle to help them by Neil Miller nysportsexta

Members of Sworn Guns, a law enforcement riders group dedicated to suicide prevention for 1st responders Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Today, 08/04/19,in Greenport Village, Long Island,motorcycle units of the NYPD,NCPD,SCPD and NY state, along with concerned civilians, numbering in the hundreds,gathered after a run to celebrate the life, and to reflect on the passing of former NYPD Inspector Mike Ameri, who took his life in May of 2016.

gallery Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Mike Ameri was the friend of NYPD Inspector Rich Green ,that started this memorial run in 2016 to honor his memory, and to create a group to promote awareness of the epidemic in !st responders,and to financially and emotionally support the families of officers and other 1st responders that take their own lives.

Inspector Green riders group is called the Sworn Guns, which ran the event today. Many,many other law enforcement rider groups from all over the tri-state area participated in todays event.

Rich and I talked during the event,where he stressed the importance of outreach to officers at risk and how to remove the stigma of 1st responders asking for help, and reading the signs of at risk officers.Rich said”If you know someone that is considering suicide dont hesitate to help them.A day, an hour ,a minute may too late to save a life”

Rich’s group gives financial support to children of fallen officers for their education.Rich also talked about a bill at the federal level,if signed, would provide funds for research,prevention and treatment for 1st responders.

gallery Neil Miller /nysportsextra

Todays outpouring of brotherhood between these officers that share the same duties and stresses of police,fire ,EMT ,only helps to highlight the difficulties of their jobs, and the negative outcome that sometimes happens.Inspector Green hopes that his efforts along with others at the local and national level will raise awareness of this disease so that no one that serves feels ashamed to ask for help if needed.Let us all ask God to guide and help this brave men and women who protect us each and every day.