Friday, March 30, 2012

J-Speaks: Tim Tebow In the Big Apple

The last two seasons have seen the New York Jets led by head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez appear in the American Football Conference Championship Game only to fall in those appearances to the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 and the Pittsburgh Steelers the next season. This past season, the Jets, who have come to know about not being shy about their aspirations of winning a championship went just 8-8 a year ago and missed the playoffs completely. Sanchez who has had his highs and lows in his first two seasons, statistically was okay, but has yet to make the monumental step in being the so-called leader the team needs. This past week, the team made a major acquisition of a guy that has become the “GCQB” [Good Christian Quarterback] of the NFL so far in his young career.

Back on Mar. 21, the Jets acquired from the Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, along with the team’s 7th round draft pick in exchange for the Jets’ 4th round and 7th round pick.

Tebow was introduced at a press conference at the beginning of this week and it did not take long for him to understand the type of situation he is in as well as the kind of team he is a part of.

“I’m excited to be on a football team that’s a tough football team. That’s a physical football team and a football team that’s won a lot of games over the past few years,” Tebow said to the media when he was introduced this past Monday afternoon.

“When you watch the New York Jets play, you see a team that’s physical. Tat wants to win and that’s exciting. It’s always a lot of fun to be on the tough team and the physical team and I believe that’s what you have when you’re on the New York Jets.”

While that has been true, the Jets also have something that they have not had in the last three seasons, an understudy who can challenge the lead for the starring role.

While Sanchez as aforementioned has been an okay signal caller, he has at times struggled. While he did throw a career-best 26 touchdowns as well as rush for six more, he threw 18 interceptions and lost eight of the 10 fumbles in 2011.

With Tebow in the fold now the question is if Sanchez struggles to consistently make the Jets offense work, well he if he does get pulled will he ever get the keys back?

“He’s here to help us and I’m confident in my abilities,” Sanchez, who was working out and throwing the football during the press conference, said in a conference call to WFAN radio station on Monday.

“I know the team feels the same way about me and they have belief in me. I’m the same guy that’s helped us win a lot of games here with a lot of great players around me.”

At the press conference Tebow, who orchestrated the 12-play 95-yard game-winning drive capped by his 20-yard rush to the end zone that helped his former team the Broncos beat the Jets 17-13 in their game Week 11 contest in Denver a year ago said that he and Sanchez are good friends and that they will be able to thrive together as teammates.

“We are going to have a great working relationship and I think we’ll have a lot of fun together,” Tebow said.

What are the Jets getting in Tim Tebow? Well they are getting a guy who came off the bench to help get the Broncos out of a 1-4 hole to a 7-4 finish compiling, which included six consecutive wins from Weeks 9 to 14 to lead the Broncos to an 8-8 record and their first AFC West crown since.  During that six-game winning streak, Tebow orchestrated game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and/or overtime.

While his numbers for 2011 may not blow you away, 1,729 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, but just six interceptions, 660 rushing yards and six touchdowns, he has something more that earned him respect from his teammates at Florida, where he won two national championships and his Bronco teammates in his stint with Denver.

It is his will to win and his aforementioned ability to battle tough moments in a game. He has an amazing ability to battle, work and grind his way to the finish line. He also has the ability to inspire others and make them play to the kind of level necessary to constantly pull the rabbit out of the hat.

Along with the aforementioned game-winning drive that Tebow orchestrated that helped the Broncos beat the Jets in Week 11 of last season, the week before he completed just two passed at their rival the Kansas City Chiefs, but one of them was a 56-yard strike to wide receiver Eric Decker that ended up being the difference in Denver’s 17-10 win. The greatest game-winning drive of all that Tebow had a year ago was in the AFC Wild Card matchup versus the Pittsburgh Steelers when he threw a pass to Demaryius Thomas that he took 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown in overtime that gave the Broncos a 29-23 victory. The team lost in the AFC Divisional Round at the eventual AFC East and conference champion New England Patriots 45-10.

There is no question that Tim Tebow is something very special. He has had his ups and downs in the early stages of his NFL career. He brings that so-called it factor to the table. The kind makes his teammates better and that allows him not to get to high when things are going well and not to low when things are difficult. With all of that being said, Broncos executive John Elway, who many consider one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time in the NFL said something very interesting about what he thinks of Tebow.

“He’s the one guy if I wanted someone to marry my daughter it would be him,” Elway said back on Mar. 21.

Just from that alone Tim Tebow while he was very popular in Denver and that he helped the Broncos get into the playoffs and win a playoff game was someone that the organization did not think was going to get them to the promise land and when they signed Peyton Manning the writing was clearly on the wall.

The question now is what will happen with Tebow here in the “Big Apple?” Well it can go one of two ways. He will start unless something happens as the team’s backup and if Sanchez should struggle he more than likely will get his chance and what he does with it is on his shoulders.

One is for sure, the Jets have another option to go to at the quarterback position this upcoming season that they did not have in the previous two. The team has something to prove, Sanchez has something to prove and again if he struggles, he knows that there is someone waiting in the wings to take his place. Tim Tebow, the “GCQB.”

Information, quotations and statistics are courtesy of 3/21/12 6 a.m. edition of Headline News’ “Morning Express” with Robin Meade, report from sports anchor Carlos Diaz; 3/26/12 5:30 p.m. of ESPN’s Bottom Line sport’s ticker; 3/26/12 6 p.m. edition of CBS 2 News with Dana Tyler, Chris Wragge, report from sports anchor Otis Livingston;;

Saturday, March 10, 2012

J-Speaks: The Colts Say Goodbye To Their Great Signal Caller

From 1984-97, the Indianapolis Colts were cellar of the National Football League (NFL) with a .345 winning percentage, just 3 playoff appearances, no Super Bowl appearances and they had 16 starting quarterbacks. That all changed in the 1998 NFL Draft when they selected Peyton Manning out of Tennessee University with the No. 1 overall selection. In the 14 years that followed, the Colts were a perennial playoff participant; a .678 winning percentage and Manning played every game in the regular season and postseason until this past one where he missed the entire year because of an injury to his neck. Without the future Hall of Famer at the controls the Colts fell from the NFL’s elite going 2-14 and the question now was, what would happen next? The answer came this past Wednesday.
The Colts formally announced that they would cut Peyton Manning. The reason, the team did not want to pay the $28 million dollar bonus, which would have happened this past Thursday, to the 35-year-old QB who has had 4 procedures done on his neck in 19 months, which has rendered his neck almost bionic.
When Manning and Colts owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday night by private jet a reporter asked them, “Are you both happy though?”
Manning said, “We’re good. We’re good. We’re going to talk tomorrow. We’re gonna do it… the right way tomorrow.”
When tomorrow came in front of many of the media, the parting of ways was done the right way, but it happen in a very tearful way when they both spoke.
“For 14 wonderful years, the only professional football I’ve known is Colts football,” Manning said on Wednesday. “Our team won a lot of games here. I’ve played with so many great teammates here and I’ve been part of a great organization here; an organization and an owner who I respect and continue to respect.”
He also said about his departure from the Colts, “Times change, circumstances change and that’s the reality of playing in the NFL.”
The other reality is that in his 227 starts, regular season and playoffs combined, the Colts made 11 postseason appearances, which includes nine straight which ended this season. For seven consecutive seasons, the Colts won 12 games or more, an NFL record, which includes two 14 win seasons in 2005 and 2009. They captured the ultimate prize in 2006 when they defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Manning who threw for 247 yards and a touchdown was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Individually Manning put up numbers that will surely guarantee him induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
In a 14-year career, Manning has thrown for 54,828 yards, 399 touchdowns and 198 interceptions. He has 63 career 300-yard passing games, which is tied for most all-time in NFL history. In 14 seasons, he has thrown for 4,000 yards 11 times. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times and has won four regular season MVP awards, an NFL record. His 141 career wins as a starter are the 4th most by a starting signal caller in NFL history.
Besides the statistics, Manning did something even more remarkable. He turned a town that has been known for basketball into a town that is also known for having a great football team.
“As difficult as this is I know that our journey together hasn’t ended,” the Colts owner said on Wednesday.
“When I look down the road and see the many decades going forward that we’ll share together and how he’s always part of the horse shoe. I can’t thank him enough. The 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field.”
The question now is where will Peyton Manning play next? A number of early contenders for his services are the New York Jets, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and a few others.
As far as his neck injury is concerned, he has been cleared by doctors to resume playing. According to ESPN’s senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that Manning was seen throwing at Duke University a week ago. His sources who saw Manning throw said he looked like his old self.
When he decides to continue his career with another team, Manning will not be the only player who made his name with one organization to move on and continue making that legend in another place.
Hall of Famer Joe Montana who helped lead the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl titles was traded in 1993 to the Kansas City Chiefs. In 1993, Montana helped lead the Chiefs to a franchise best 13 wins. They defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the American Football Conference (AFC) Wild Card round 27-24. They won the Divisional Round at the Houston Oilers 28-20. They lost in the AFC Championship Game at the Buffalo Bills 30-13.
Montana led the Chiefs back to the playoffs the next season, but they lost at the Dolphins 27-17. Montana in his last ever game threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns.
Wayne Gretzky who led the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cups and individually won eight consecutive MVPs in nine seasons was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988.
The most recent stars to take their talents to another team are LeBron James, who helped the Cleveland Cavaliers to five straight playoff appearances while capturing back-to-back MVP awards in 2009 and 2010 took his talents to South Beach and joined the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010. The other star who changed teams is Albert Pujols who after helping the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 and 2011 signed this offseason with the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim for 10 years and $240 million.
If Manning should sign with the Dolphins, he might have a former teammate come with him. On Wednesday, free agent wide receiver and former teammate of Manning’s Reggie Wayne said to WQAM Radio, “I can see it. I am definitely not opposed to it. He’s a great worker and I consider myself a great worker and when you put great workers together good things happen. Me being in his trail onto Miami I would love it. I would definitely love it. I am totally available. It can definitely be dangerous. It can truly be dangerous if they put us all together.”
Manning, who will be turning 36 years of age soon understands what is ahead of him, but he also understands what he has done and knows that he would not be in this position today.
“I haven’t thought yet about where I will play, but I’ve thought a lot about where I’ve been,” Manning said.
“I’ve been truly blessed to play here. I’ve been truly blessed to play in the NFL. As I go, I go with just a few words left to say. A few words I want to address to Colts fans everywhere. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I’ve truly enjoyed being your quarterback.”    
As for the Colts, their attention will turn now to the NFL Draft where the speculation is that they will draft with the No. overall pick Stanford QB Andrew Luck who is consider by many to be a can’t miss pick as Manning was when he was drafted in the same place 14 years ago.
“I think it would be a complete honor to be drafted first by the Colts and have the opportunity to play for them,” Luck told ESPN Monday Night Football color analyst Jon Gruden.
He also said as far as replacing Peyton Manning if he is drafted by the Colts, “I think that’s impossible You don’t replace a guy like that…I think you have to chart you own path because what he’s done is remarkable.”
It is something that we all have to do. Chart out own path and that is what Peyton Manning did in his stint of 14 seasons with the Colts.
It was a stint that included a 21 point comeback in the fourth quarter comeback at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 6, 2003 on Monday Night Football with the Colts winning 38-35; a career-best six touchdown passing performance at the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 28, 2003; a 377 yards passing 5 touchdown performance in his first career playoff win after three setbacks over the Denver Broncos 41-10, while also having his second perfect passer rating of that season and the fourth of his career; He and former teammate Marvin Harrison becoming the all-time leading touchdown combination of quarterback-wide receiver with 86 passing 49ers Hall of Fame tandem of Steve Young and Jerry Rice on Monday Night versus the St. Louis Rams; Becoming the single-season touchdown thrower with his 49th pass in the end zone to Brandon Stokley on Dec. 26, 2004 in a 34-31 victory versus the San Diego Chargers, though the record would be broken by Tom Brady of the Patriots in 2007 with 50 touchdown passes, throwing the 50 to Randy Moss in a 38-35 victory at the New York Giants where they completed the first undefeated regular season (16-0) since the 1972 Dolphins; the 18-point comeback (21-3) in the AFC Championship Game versus the Patriots that was capped by a 3-yard rushing touchdown by then rookie running back Joseph Addai and an interception on the fourth play of the Pats final drive by cornerback Marlon Jackson; The 29-17 win over the NFC champion Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, FL where Manning threw for 247 yards and a touchdown claiming Super Bowl MVP honors and making then head coach Tony Dungy the first African American in the modern era of the NFL to win a Super Bowl.
While his career may not be over and who know where he will end up, I think ABC’s “Good Morning America” news anchor Josh Elliott put it best when he said, “He may not have the championships that which all great quarterbacks are judged, he was as fine a quarterback as we have ever seen.”
Information and statistics are courtesy of 3/7/12 7 a.m. edition of ABC News’s “Good Morning America” with Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Josh Elliott; 3/7/12 7 a.m. edition of “CBS This Morning” with Erica Hill, Gayle King and Charlie Rose, report from Whit Johnson; 3/7/12 6:30 p.m. edition of “CBS Evening News” with Scott Pelley; 3/7/12 6:30 p.m. edition of “ABC World News” with Diane Sawyer, report from Josh Elliott; 3/7/12 6 p.m. edition of ESPN’s Sportscenter with Jay Harris and John Anderson;;  

J-Speaks: The Half-Century Anniversary of The Triple Digit Scoring Night In Hershey, PA

There are many of us who ask the question, what is Hershey, Pennsylvania? It is a census-designated place (CDP) in Derry Township, Dauphin County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the home of The Hershey Company which produces the well-known Hershey chocolate bar that is sold in grocery and convenient stores across the U.S. and the world as well as the parent to the H.B. Reese candy company, which manufactures of the famous Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It is also where Hershey Sports Arena is located where two Friday’s ago was the 50-year anniversary of the greatest scoring output by one of the finest big men in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
On that night of Mar. 2, 1962 the late great Wilt Chamberlin delivered a scoring performance that stands to this day when he scored 100 points for the then Philadelphia Warriors in their 169-147 defeat over the New York Knickerbockers.
In the contest, Chamberlin went 36 for 63 from the field, 28-32 from the free throw line and grabbed 25 rebounds. He scored 23 points in the first quarter on 7 for 14 from the field, 9 for 9 from the charity stripe and grabbed 10 boards. He put in 18 points on 7 for 12 from the floor and pulled down four boards in the second quarter, giving him 41 points and 14 boards at intermission. He shot 10 for 16 from the floor, 8 for 8 from the foul line grabbing six boards in the third quarter. He saved his best for last in the fourth and final stanza when he shot 12 for 21 from the field, 7 for 10 from the free throw line and grabbed five boards scoring an aforementioned total of 100 points and 25 boards.
To put into perspective how incredible of a performance this was, in the 66-year history of the NBA, there have been 22 occasions where a player has scored 60 points or more. Chamberlin has done it on 15 of those occasions. The other players to do so are Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant who scored 62 points in just three quarters on Dec. 20, 2005 versus the Dallas Mavericks. He outscored the Mavs by himself with aforementioned 62 points while the Mavs as a team scored just 61. On Jan. 22, 2006, Bryant scored 81 points versus the Toronto Raptors, which became the second greatest scoring performance in NBA history to Wilt’s 100 points.
His next output of 60-plus points came versus the Portland Trail Blazers where the guy known as “The Black Mamba” scored 65. Two games later, he dropped 60 points at the Memphis Grizzlies. His last 60-point game to date came on Feb. 2, 2009 when his 61-point at the New York Knicks set a new scoring record at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” also known as Madison Square Garden. He broke a record that was set by Michael Jordan when he dropped a double nickel 55 at the Knicks in 1995.
The other notable players that scored over 60 points in a game is Bryant’s former teammate and current Turner Network Television analyst Shaquille O’Neal who scored a career-high 61 points in a and grabbed 23 boards on Mar. 6, 2000 at the Los Angeles Clippers he also grabbed 23 rebounds. It was the first 60-point, 20-rebound game since Chamberlin did it back in 1969. Hall of Fame center for the San Antonio Spurs David Robinson scored a career-best 71 points in the team’s final regular season game on Apr. 24, 1994 at the aforementioned Clippers to win the scoring title that season (29.8 ppg). He also grabbed 14 rebounds in that contest. The only other player to score over 60 points is Hall of Famer of the Utah Jazz Karl Malone who scored a career-high 61 points in a 144-96 victory versus the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 27, 1990.
What Chamberlin did on that historic night 50 years ago and what many of these Hall of Fame players and soon to be Hall of Famers did on those occasions that will engrained in our subconscious until the end of time the question now is will there be another 100-point game ever.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love said, “I don’t know if anybody will ever get there again.”
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard said, “The average fan wouldn’t be able to see how tough it is to get 10 points in the NBA and even for guys who score a lot a 100-point game is very tough.”
“If I ever were to score 100 points, it would probably be me versus a bunch of pre-schoolers,” Boston Celtics’ swingman Paul Pierce said.
“I think in time, I think that a day will come somebody will do it. If you’re sitting here before I scored 81 points and somebody told you that someone was gonna score 81 in a game everybody would have said that is not possible. Yet here we are.”
There are a number of factors when you at what happened that night in Hershey. For starters Chamberlin was the tallest player on the court as well as the strongest. He had the ability to do whatever he wanted at the basket. The other thing that he had in his favor is the fact up to he had played every minute of every game to that point. In that season, he had missed a total of eight minutes in a game because he was ejected.
As coach of the team, Frank McGuire had two rules. The offense went through Chamberlin and Chamberlin never left the floor.
The other factor in why there is such nostalgia about this is the fact that most of the colleagues of the press did not make the trip to Hershey, not even the New York Press. The only form of the press that was there on that night was Philadelphia statistician Harvey Pollack, who turned 90 years old this past Friday. On that night he served as public relations director, writer and game statistician for the Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and United Press International.
“I’ve been in the NBA for 65 years and this was by far the busiest night of my career,” said Pollack, who has been a part of Philadelphia organization since the NBA began in 1946.
After Chamberlin scored the basket that put him into triple digits many fans came onto the floor and showed their love and respect for an amazing performance.
“You never saw more people excited for one person than that. Grown men acting like a group of little children,” Al Attles said of his Warrior teammate.
The other question that comes to mind is what happened to the basketball used in that game. Well one story of what happened to the ball is that the referee in that game picked up, brought it over to the press table and gave it to Pollack. The other story is that a fan came down to shake Chamberlin’s hand for his amazing performance he took the ball and kept it.
One story that is fact is that after the game in the locker room wanted to get a picture of Wilt for what he did on that historic night. He went over to Jim Heffernan of the Philadelphia Bulletin and gave him a piece of what was called copy paper at that time because reporters used to write their story and Pollack wrote on that paper the number 100. He gave the paper to Chamberlin and he held it up and the rest is history.
“It’s as great as any image that’s ever been taken in basketball. Whether its Julius Erving’s dunk or Michael Jordan elevating or the sky hook by Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], that image trumps them all,” Gary Pomerantz, author of “WILT, 1962” said.
This night when you look at it was a microcosm of one of the greatest careers in NBA history. It is about an unbelievable athlete who showed us how the impossible is possible. Wilt Chamberlin was a guy who was a great player and he put up the numbers to back it up.
In a game against the Detroit Pistons as a member of the Lakers, Chamberlin blocked 26 shots. He won seven scoring titles, nine shooting titles and even led the league in assists one season. Since his retirement in 1973, he still owns 90 NBA records. Two records that I am sure is proud of more than anything the championship that he helped to bring to the city of Philadelphia in 1967 when they defeated the San Francisco Warriors 4-2 and in 1972 with the Lakers where they won at the time an NBA record 69 games and a record winning streak of 33 in a row that last to this day.
What makes this moment bitter sweet is the fact that Chamberlin is not around to embrace it and for us to enjoy seeing the individual in person who accomplished it. He passed away on Oct. 12, 1999.
It would have been nice to see Chamberlain and Bill Russell, who was the narrator for “Wilt 100” that was shown two Fridays ago on NBA TV today talking about their historic rivalry back then.
“We know death is inevitable for everybody, but you just think that there’s some people that are too big, too strong. This can’t happen to him,” Attles said.                                                                                                                                                                                   
He was one of the biggest. One of the strongest and one of the greatest player to ever grace the hardwood and on that night at the Hershey Arena, the people that were there saw Wilt Chamberlain up close and were probably astounded beyond belief as I am sure Pollack was.
Information and statistics are courtesy of; article “Shaquille O’Neal’s Career Highlights and Achievements [Year-by-Year]; 3/2/12 7:30 p.m. edition of ESPN’s KIA NBA Countdown Pre-Game Show with Chris Broussard, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Jon Barry; 3/3/12 2 a.m. NBA TV special “Wilt 100;” 3/9/12 5:30 p.m. edition of “Pardon The Interruption” with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, subs were Bob Ryan (The Boston Globe) and Kevin Blackistone;;; O’Neal;;

Monday, March 5, 2012

J-Speaks: The Passing of Iconic Co-Author of Legendary Child Series

From my earliest years of life, I have found memories of children’s book series that taught about the facts of life. From the basic fundamentals like how to clean my room to the valuable life lessons like not talking to strangers and the importance of hard work. This series was also about the value of family and the importance being a close loving unit. The co-authors of this series of children’s book have charmed young children and their parents for half a century. Two Fridays ago the co-author of these books and the creator of the series passed on.

Jan Berenstain, who with her husband Stan Berenstain wrote and illustrated The Berenstain Bears books passed away back on Feb. 24 from a stroke. She was 88 years gold. Jan’s husband Stan passed away from cancer back on Nov. 26, 2005. 

The couple, who are both natives of Philadelphia, PA, is survived by their two sons Leo and Michael and four grandchildren.

This series of children’s books, which would later be turned into cartoon series for television was the gentle tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear that was inspired by the two sons of Jan and Stan Berenstain and later their four grandchildren. Each story addressed concerns of everyday life and offered guidance on everyday matters like a visit to the dentist, dealing with peer pressure, consequences of lying to others, throwing tantrums in public places or the importance of not polluting our planet.

As the world evolved, the series began to focus on current tribulations that kids face today like online safety, cell phone usage, video game systems and childhood obesity.

Jan Berenstain, who was Janice Grant when she was born on July 26, 1923 in west Philadelphia and attended Radnor High School. She met Stan on their first day of classes at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941.

They got married on Apr. 13, 1946 after Stan returned home from World War II serving as a medical illustrator at a stateside Army hospital. Jan during that time worked for the Army Corps of Engineers as a draftsman as well as a riveter building Navy seaplanes.

Before they began The Berenstain Bears series, the Berenstains produced periodicals.

In 1951, the Berenstain’ Baby Book was published by the couple which dealt with topics of pregnancy and how to raise a young child. While there was a great deal of practical advice, the book also contained a great deal of humor and was a reminder of how not to take every situation of raising a child too seriously.

Five years later, the Berenstains produced a cartoon series It’s All in the Family that ran in McCall’s and Good Housekeeping magazines for 35 years. Each issue centered on a situation like the daughter for the first time preparing, cooking and serving her family a meal or the preparation, rehearsal and the performance of the youngest child’s Christmas pageant. With each issue, the drawings of It’s All in the Family were a stand-alone panel with a caption gag instead of a one panel sequential strip. Individual panels though in order depicted a completed arc from the preparation, completion and aftermath of that issue’s family experience.

Six years after introducing Its All in the Family, the Berenstains created the first of their signature children’s book series The Berenstain Bears in 1962 with the first book entitled, “The Big Honey Hunt.”

With the assistance of Theodor Geisel, then head of Beginner Books at Random House, who is known as Dr. Seuss, created an iconic franchise that has published over 300 books in 23 languages, a television series, toys and stage productions. It also gave Jan Berenstain a chance to be immortalized by her alma mater when she was inducted into the Radnor High School’s Hall of Fame on Oct. 20, 2006.

To understand the kind of impact this series of children’s books has had on our society, about 260 million copies of Berenstain Bears books have been held in a young boy’s or girl’s hands and their parents since the first books were published with the help of Geisel.

“It’s a wonderful to do something you love for so many years,” Jan Berenstain said to the Associated Press in 2011. “Not everyone has that.”  

Stan and Jan Berenstain continued creating hundreds of books until Stan’s passing in 2005 from aforementioned cancer seven years ago.

Michael, the youngest of Stan and Jan Berenstain, is a writer/illustrator who collaborated on the books with his parents and continued to work with his mother on new projects before her passing focusing on promoting Christian religious practices. Stan Berenstain was Jewish and Jan was an Episcopalian.

The eldest son Leo takes care of the business side of the family’s business.

“Everyday she was very productive,” Michael Berenstain said of his mother’s work as an author. “She was working on two books and had been doing illustrations until the day before she passed away.”

To be a great story teller whether it be with a book in your or from watching something on the television set, you have to strike a cord with your audience. You have to produce something that will make that person or in this case a child think. Allow them to see something in a way that will make them be better. More than anything that will teach a lesson that has a long lasting impact.

Jan Berenstain and her husband Stan produced books that gave lessons on life, the importance of a sense of self and the power we have of making this world a better place while having a sense of humor.

“They say jokes don’t travel well, but family does,” Jan Berenstain told the Associated Press back in 2011. “Family values is what we’re all about.”

Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of the Obituaries Nation section in the Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 edition of Newsday and

Friday, March 2, 2012

J-Speaks: History Made At 2012 National Basketball Association All-Star Weekend

To witness history is a very special occasion. It is a moment where greatness is achieved and a moment is etched in the minds of those who watch or see it in person for a long time. It is also allows for a chance of reflection of the true greatness from the past that gives the chance to appreciate the present and provides inspiration, motivation and anticipation for the future. All of that and was on display last Sunday at the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, FL.
In a game that had highlight after highlight, above the rim and from behind the 3-point line, the Western Conference lead Most Valuable Player of the game Oklahoma City Thunder superstar forward Kevin Durant’s 36 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals as the Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference All-Stars 152-149 in the 61st Annual NBA All-Star Game.
The 301 total points are the second most in All-Star Game history, two shy of the 303 scored in the 1987 contest, which was decided in overtime. The 301 total points are the most in an All-Star decided in a 48 regulation contest.
The 88-point output that the West had at intermission was an All-Star Game record. The previous mark was set by the West at the 1989 Game in Houston, TX. The 157 total points scored by the East and West at intermission of last Sunday’s All-Star Game tied the record that was accomplished at the 1988 All-Star Game in Houston.
Durant in winning M.V.P honors the first player in Thunder history to win the award since Tom Chambers did it in the 1987 contest when the team was known as the Seattle Supersonics. He led the West All-Stars to victory in overtime 154-149 in front of the hometown faithful.
“It’s a dream come true man. I’m just blessed to be here,” Durant told Turner Network Television’s (TNT’s) Ernie Johnson after the game.
“These guys behind me were trying to feed me the ball and it was a lot of fun. I’m glad I’m taking this back to Oklahoma City.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was brilliant as well with 27 points on 9 for 17 from the floor and he also made a little history in the process. In the third quarter, Bryant scored on a breakaway dunk with 4:57 left, making him the all-time leading scorer in All-Star Game history with 271 total points scored. He came in with 244 points scored in his previous 13 All-Star Game appearances ranking him 5th all-time. He passed Oscar Robertson (246 points), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan (262 points).
Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin scored 22 points and pulled down eight boards and his Clipper teammate Chris Paul had eight points, five boards and 12 assists. Durant’s Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook scored 21 points and had five boards. Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love had 17 points and seven rebounds.
The East was led in a losing cause by Miami Heat forward LeBron James who scored 36 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out seven assists. He went 14 for 25 from the floor, including going 6 for 8 from 3-point land. His six hits from long distance is a new All-Star Game record. James also bumped his All-Star Game scoring average to 25.9 ppg, which is the highest average in All-Star Game history. Second is Bryant with a 20.8 scoring average, followed by Oscar Robertson (20.5 ppg) and Bob Pettit (20.4 ppg).
The East connected on 14 treys, which is also a new All-Star Game record, breaking the West’s old mark of 13 triples set in the 2002 exhibition in Philadelphia. The two teams combined to hit 26 3’s, breaking the old mark of 22 set in the aforementioned 2002 All-Star contest.
Miami’s other representative in the Game Dwyane Wade had just the third triple double in All-Star Game history with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. James was the second player to accomplish that feat at last year’s game with 29 points, 12 boards and 10 dimes. The first to do it was Jordan in 1997 when he had 14 points, 11 boards and 11 feeds.
“Well I mean were all competitors and we want to win,” Wade said to TNT’s Craig Sager after the game.
“Once we came back, got to within 10 we was like, ‘hey lets go try to get it.’ Its unfortunate a couple of plays down the stretch, I had one, I lost it. A turnover by me teammate, but all in all we had a lot of fun. It was very competitive. Hopefully we gave the fans a good show.”
New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams had 20 points on 8 for 11 from the floor, including going 4 for 7 from the 3-point line. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points and grabbed nine boards. Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose had 14 points and Philadelphia 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala scored 12 points.
What made this particular All-Star Game very special beyond what was happening on the floor is that 20 years ago, the All-Star Game was held at the old building where the hometown Orlando Magic played, the Orlando Arena and is where the last All-Star Game took place in the sunshine state.
This was the game where ESPN/ABC basketball analyst Earvin “Magic” Johnson played for the first time since announcing his retirement before the 1991-92 after contracting HIV.  He was magnificent in the contest winning M.V.P honors with a 25-point nine assist efforts.  Beyond the numbers though it was the love and admiration that he got from the crowd and the players like Jordan, Scottie Pippen (Bulls), Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons). It showed the nation that one can have something as serious as “Magic” had, but that it did not have put a stop to him living and doing what he loved. It was a teaching moment as well as an educational one. Since then, the man that brought “Showtime” to L.A. has gone on to live, with the help of medication, a productive life in the business world and talking about pro hoops for ESPN/ABC.
The 2012 All-Star Game was one to remember for the records that were broken. For the stars that showed us why they are the best of the best in the National Basketball Association and for us as fans of the NBA, the thrill, joy and pride we take in seeing greatness before us.
Statistics, Information and Quotations are courtesy of 2/26/12 7:30 p.m.  61st Annual 2012 NBA All-Star Game on TNT from Amway Center in Orlando, FL with Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller, Craig Sager and David Aldridge; 2/26/12 10 p.m. edition of “Inside the NBA” on NBATV with Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Craig Sager;;