RIP Kobe: A Farewell from a Fan

A true legend and a true competitor, Kobe Bryant was among the most prolific superstars in the sport of basketball. 

A week ago, fans from around the world struggled to process that the 41 year old legend and his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, had been taken away from this world in a tragic helicopter crash. Far too soon, at that.

Growing up as a basketball fan, this one hurt a lot. You have to be as iconic as Kobe Bryant to get namechecked on such a simple and playful act of throwing a paper ball into a trash can. Kobe has become a role model for athletes and sports enthusiasts like myself. Even though he is not with us anymore, and so the other passengers, we will never forget their legacy and they will be immortalized forever.

“I texted Kobe to see if he hit me back,” said Ice Cube, a performer and close friend of Kobe Bryant. “. I wasn’t worried immediately because it’s Kobe, he will always hit me back,”

Kobe Bryant, for fans and foes of the NBA, was a pop culture icon on par with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tupac, and Kurt Cobain. Like theirs, his passing will be marked in time forever. We will always remember where we were, what we were doing, and how hearing those painful words made us feel. 

His performance on the court dazzled fans for years. His competitiveness and work ethic was admired by many, he donned the phrase “Mamba Mentality”; meaning to work harder than what your heart can give. In other words, to be be the first person to show up to work, and perfecting on the smallest details to become the ultimate “go-getter”. Many athletes followed this phrase to evolve their approach towards their respective sport; just as Kobe did throughout his career.

A week later, it all feels unreal.

“I feel like I’m in a bad dream,” said Dwyane Wade who was mentored by Bryant when he played the majority of his career for the Miami Heat, “But the sad thing is that I’m not waking up.” 

Kobe, however, is remembered for more than his talents on the court. In fact, some of his greatest accomplishments happened off the court. 

Along with Kobe and Gianna, we also recognize the other seven passengers. 

Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter who has been flying Bryant and his family for years. “Pilot Kurt Deetz, who worked at Island Express helicopter company with Zobayan, said he considered Zobayan a friend and a trustworthy pilot. Zobayan’s neighbor Robert Sapia said Zobayan loved his job and would show him photos of celebrity passengers, including Bryant.”(CNN)

Payton Chester and Sarah Chester, a mother and daughter duo that were affiliated with Gigi Bryant’s basketball team. 

Christina Mauser, an assistant basketball coach at a private school in Orange County, California. 

John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, and Alyssa Altobelli who also died in this tragic helicopter accident. Gianna and Alyssa were teammates in Kobe’s “Mamba Sports Academy”.

Kobe’s passing unsettled both longtime fans and those who knew very little of his athletic prowess. His passing reminds us that life is so fragile, even for those whose impact seems to be infinite. 

Jeff Dominguez is the communications and marketing director for the UB Post. 


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Rice’s Suspension Overturned; Teams Expressing Interest

Ray Rice will be able to resume his NFL career.

The former Ravens running back’s appeal was heard earlier this month in New York City by former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones on Nov. 5 and 6. During the hearings, Rice and his wife Janay, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens President Dick Cass and General Manager Ozzie Newsome were among the key figures who were called to testify. On Nov. 28, Judge Jones released her decision, and ruled that Goodell’s indefinite suspension of Rice was “arbitrary.” Jones went on to write that because the imposition of discipline wasn’t consistent, “an abuse of discretion” had occurred on Goodell’s part. She also wrote that the NFL failed to prove that Rice was misleading when he and his wife met with Commissioner Goodell at the league offices back in June. However, Judge Jones did allow the league’s original two-game suspension to stand.

In the days since Rice’s reinstatement, ESPN has been reporting that four teams are expressing interest in rice, including the Saints and Colts. However, ESPN’s sources are reporting that it’s unlikely any teams will sign Rice before the end of this season. Any team that might sign Rice now would be a playoff contender that’s dealing with injuries to its running backs. Another factor is reportedly how Rice would be received in the locker room. Another scenario is that Rice may wait and see what happens during the offseason.

Orioles Clinch First A.L. East Title in 17 Years

The Baltimore Orioles won the American League East title back in 1997. That was followed by 14 straight losing seasons that often saw the time out of contention by the All-Star break or the July 31 trade deadline, and frustrated longtime fans. The team managed to break that streak by winning a wild card game, and then taking the New York Yankees to five games in the 2012 American League Division Series, only to miss the playoffs last year despite another winning record. Now, the pennant drought and all those losing seasons have faded into distant memories.

The Orioles became the second team to clinch a playoff berth by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2 to clinch the A.L. East title on Sept. 16 in the middle of a three-game series with Toronto at Camden Yards. After Toronto scored a run in the top of the first inning, Steve Pearce answered by hitting a three-run home run to put the Orioles on top for good. With the Orioles on top 4-2 in the seventh, new outfielder Alejandro De Aza hit a triple with the bases loaded to break the game open. Shortstop J.J. Hardy singled with one out in the eighth, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by catcher Nick Hundley for the final run. The celebration began after Pearce fielded a grounder and stepped on first for the final out. After the celebration on the field, the champagne and beer started flying in the clubhouse, and then some of the players came back out of the dugout to salute the fans and spray some champagne and beer on them. Jones shared hugs with the grounds crew and high fives with fans as he carried the division championship flag around the warning track. Right-hander Ubaldo Jiminez, who’s struggled all season after signing a four-year, $50 million contract at the start of spring training, got a spot start, and allowed two runs on two hits, walked four and struck out six in five innings to improve to 5-9. It was the first game he’d pitched in since August 31.

Baltimore started their final homestand of the regular season by winning three out of four against the Yankees. Utility infielder Kelly Johnson, who started the season with New York before being traded to Boston at the end of July and to Baltimore at the end of August, hit a double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Orioles a 3-2 win over New York in Derek Jeter’s final game in Baltimore in front of a national audience on ESPN. That whittled the Orioles’ magic number to clinch the division down to three to eliminate Toronto. In the Sept. 15 series opener against the Blue Jays, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen gave up a run in the first inning, but Baltimore responded with an RBI single by Adam Jones, and De Aza scored on a double play grounder by Nelson Cruz. Cruz drove in Jones with a single in the third. In the fourth, second baseman Ryan Flaherty hit a no-doubt two-run homer out onto Eutaw Street through an open gate in the flag court to put the Orioles on top 5-1 on the way to a 5-2 win. That set up the clinching game the following night.

The Orioles will play in the American League Division Series starting on October 2. Their opponent will be determined based on the outcomes of the wild card and other division races.

Ravens Coach Harbaugh Expresses Frustration After Another Player Arrest

By Andrew R. Koch

The Baltimore Ravens’ off-field troubles continue to mount, and head coach John Harbaugh has had enough of it.

The latest Raven to have a run-in with the law was fourth-round draft pick Lorenzo Taliaferro. He was arrested over Memorial Day weekend and charged with destruction of property and being drunk in public in Williamsburg, Virginia. The running back out of Coastal Carolina University is accused of breaking the window in a taxi. According to ESPN.com, a source familiar with the situation says Taliaferro has since reimbursed the cab company for the damage. He’s scheduled to appear in court in Williamsburg on June 26 to answer to the misdemeanor charges. Taliaferro is the fourth Ravens player who’s been arrested in the first five months of this year.

In addition, entertainment website TMZ is reporting that wide receiver Jacoby Jones, cornerback Jimmy Smith and running back Bernard Pierce were all asked to leave a bar over the holiday weekend for being too drunk.

At a press conference following a practice for organized team activities at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Harbaugh expressed his disappointment at what he calls “some of the silliness” that has gotten some of his players into trouble with the law. The message he tried to get across to his players is that their spot on the team is never guaranteed. He added that he’s “very concerned” about all the off-field issues hurting the team’s image, and urged his team to stay disciplined, both on and off the field.

“Discipline is not a light switch,” Harbaugh said, according to ESPN.com. “You can’t walk out of this building, and all of a sudden turn it off and walk back and turn it on.”

He added that discipline is a way of life, and that when a lack of it shows up in one area of a player’s life, it raises a red flag for where he’s going as a football player.

Harbaugh estimated that 90 percent of the off-field problems are related to alcohol, while nearly all the rest are related to marijuana. He feels that the world-class athletes on his team should be pursuing a higher standard instead of being out late at night partying.

“That is not what I would call an effective training method right there to go out and drink too much,” Harbaugh said, adding that the team will do everything it can to hold players who’ve gotten into trouble accountable. He said that if negative issues surrounding a player outweigh that player’s ability to help the team on the field, that player will find himself on the way out with the team.

Reid to Make Court Appearances in Florida

Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid will have to make a court appearance to answer to charges stemming from a bar fight.

Reid has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery in connection with an argument that escalated into a fight inside a strip club in Key West. He’s accused of head-butting, kicking and punching a man when their argument turned physical. Reid has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Reid was represented by his lawyer a docket hearing on June 4, and will have to attend a status hearing on June 13. According to ESPN.com, both proceedings are conferences to determine whether or not the case will actually go to trial.

Reid hasn’t been participating in the Ravens’ OTAs because of a strained calf. The injury could cause him to miss the rest of the team’s off-season workouts prior to training camp in late July.

Terps with the win, send the Seminoles and their Tomahawk Chop home (83-71)

Saturday, Feb. 8 brought the second matchup between Maryland and Florida State within a 30-day period.  When the Terrapins traveled to Tallahassee in January, they lost 85-61. This game marks the final matchup during regular season play between these two teams, and Maryland’s fifth to final home game as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).  The Terps entered the game 13-10 overall, 5-5 in the ACC; while the Seminoles were 14-8 overall, 5-5 in the ACC.

Starting for the Terps were sophomores Seth Allen, Charles Mitchell, and Jake Layman and juniors Evan Smotrycz and Dez Wells.  Sophomores Aaron Thomas, Montay Brandon, and Michael Ojo and seniors Okaro White and Robert Gilchrist started for the ‘Noles.

Aaron Thomas began gameplay for the Seminoles with a big shot behind the arc to put FSU three over on Maryland. Off a foul by FSU’s Michael Ojo, MD’s Evan Smotrycz went to the line, hitting one of his two free throws.  Then, a steal and dunk by Jake Layman tied the game 3-3.  Florida State answered back with a dunk of their own by Michael Ojo.  Seth Allen came up big for Maryland with a 3-pointer, followed by a layup by Charles Mitchell to put the Terps up by three (8-5) at a little over three minutes into the game. Florida State would never regain the lead.  FSU sophomore guard Aaron Thomas said, “[Allen] didn’t play well the first game we played and in this one he got going early.  I don’t think we did a good job containing him.” The Terps went up by seven (30-23) in a short run with under six minutes to play before Seth Allen (who scored 21 of his 32 total points in the first half) was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three shots from the line.  Jake Layman made a hit from behind the arc with 57 seconds on the clock to send Maryland into the locker room with a 46-29 lead over FSU. “We finished the first half well, and built that lead and maintained in in the second half,” said the Terrapins’ head coach Mark Turgeon.

Photos courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Maryland’s Seth Allen attacks the rim for a layup, with Florida State’s Michael Ojo defends the basket. (photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

In the second half, the Terrapins went up by 20 with just over 11 minutes to play. The Terps gave up some points in the end and allowed FSU to cut their lead to just eight.  Dez Wells contributed 13 of his total 15 points in the second half, and everyone, with the exception of Nick Faust (who scored six in the first half); also put points on the board during the half.  Something about this kid with 57 seconds on the clock: Jake Layman hustles for a loose ball to gain a key possession for the Terps.  Smotrycz hit one of two at the line off a foul by Okaro White, and Dez Wells went two for two at the line off a foul by Aaron Thomas. “My teammates got me open in transition and I was just making three pointers. It felt good; the win felt even better. They beat us bad [in the last game] so we came into tonight with a chip on our shoulders,” Seth Allen said of his and his team’s performance.

Of the Terrapins’ performance, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said, “they reversed the ball several different times, almost each possession, and broke our defense down. They did a good job of executing.”

Finishing with a career-high 32 points, Seth Allen led the Terps, followed by Dez Wells with 15 points and Jake Layman with 12.  For the Seminoles, Aaron Thomas led with 17 points, followed by Devon Bookert with 14, Okaro White with 12, and Montay Brandon with 11.

“Seth Allen was on another level tonight. He’s making shots and he guards better too,” Coach Turgeon said. “A really good win for us.  We played really well.  We shared the ball and took care of the ball until the very end. [Florida State] is a good team and athletic. I was really proud of our team.”

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Seth Allen (Left) and teammate Jake Layman (Right) (photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

Maryland will hit the road next to play #20 Virginia on Monday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.  The game will air live on ESPN.  Following the game against Virginia, the Terps will travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face rival Duke on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in their solo matchup this season; that game will also air on ESPN.  Maryland will return home Tuesday, Feb. 18 to face Wake Forest at 7 p.m.