first_img…says OHS has hundreds of skills, Guyana teaching only 17Guyana has some way to go when it comes to its technical vocational training, a point emphasised on Saturday during an oil and gas forum when a Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (CTVET) official revealed how behind other countries Guyana really is.CTVET Head Floyd ScottAccording to CTVET Director Floyd Scott, one of several presenters at the forum in Albouystown, Guyana is missing hundreds of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) skills from its technical and vocational curriculums.“There is currently in the region of Occupational Health and Safety standards, 250 skills. In Guyana, within our TVET institutions, we only have 17 occupational skills being taught. So if there is a need for a skill outside of that 17, the foreigners will come.”Scott also revealed that during a recent meeting of the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT), he learned that they were now issuing skilled certificates to categories of workers.“The agriculture workers, security workers and domestic household… What was interesting is that what the skilled certificates mean, it’s a work permit to travel throughout the Caricom region. Guyanese cannot get it…because that certification is not afforded in Guyana.”“With oil and gas, you will see tourism. You will see a lot of hotels. You will see the need for people to be daycare workers. And the foreigners aren’t going to come and ask you to work for them because you look good. They want to know you are capable of doing the job.”Local content and what it will do for Guyana has been a burning question since the announcement of oil in the Stabroek Block. After Exxon first tempered expectations by saying that few job opportunities will be created by oil, it has since said that it will help with local content delivery.One measure it has taken is to set up a Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD). A prevailing complaint has been that Guyanese are losing out to foreigners when it comes to local content, especially as the Local Content Policy is still to be in effect.However, there have been steps taken to beef up Guyana’s capacity to train students in technical and vocational skills. Last year, an agreement was signed between the Education Ministry and the Organisation of American States (OAS).This signing ceremony was attended by a representative from the OAS, Jean Ricot Dormeus; Education Minister Nicolette Henry; Assistant Chief Education Officer Patrick Chenadu; Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry, Vibert Welch; and the Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs, Vanessa Dickenson.Ricot Dormeus, in remarks, stated that along with this agreement, Guyana has also benefited from a scholarship programme established by the OAS to boost technical and vocational training in secondary and post-secondary institutions.“It comes under the umbrella of quality, inclusive, equitable education promoted by the Development Corporation Fund managed by the OAS,” Dormeus said.Implementation of this programme will assist in the production of skilled individuals — a necessity in today’s society – and further enhance the sustainable development factor.“Our people need good jobs and good technical [and] vocational education. They will be able to secure good jobs and even set up a business of their own in the future so that the [country improves and the economy grows],” Dormeus had added.last_img read more

first_imgPakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has congratulated Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men for making a great comeback in the ongoing World Cup following their emphatic victory over New Zealand in Birmingham.Pakistan were in a spot and were brutally criticized by former cricketers and fans on social media following their loss to arch-rivals India on June 16 at the Old Trafford.However, they made a strong comeback in their next fixture as they defeated South Africa by 49 runs, knocking them out of the competition on June 23 at Lord’s.And on Wednesday, Pakistan came out with a brilliant bowling performance as they first restricted the Black Caps to 237/6 at a tricky Edgbaston wicket. Left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi was the pick of Pakistan bowlers as he scalped three wickets and also bowled three maidens out of his 10 overs, giving away just 28 runs in his spell.The Green Brigade then rode on Babar Azam’s unbeaten century to chase down the target with six wickets in hand. Along with Babar (101*), Haris Sohail also made significant contribution with the bat and scored 68 runs.”Congratulations to our cricket team for a great comeback. Congratulations especially go to Babar, Haris and Shaheen for their brilliant performances,” the Pakistan Prime Minister tweeted on Wednesday night.Congratulations to our cricket team for a great comeback. Congratulations especially go to Babar, Haris and Shaheen for their brilliant performances.Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 26, 2019Former cricketers Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis also took to Twitter to congratulate the Pakistan team.”Brilliant batting by Babar Azam and Haris Sohail, special win for Pakistan. Babars batting through the innings has made all the difference. The talent of Haris Sohail, his shot making is pure class. Pakistan are back in this World cup!” tweeted Afridi.advertisementBrilliant batting by Babar Azam and Haris Sohail, special win for Pakistan. Babars batting through the innings has made all the difference. The talent of Haris Sohail, his shot making is pure class. Pakistan are back in this World cup! #WeHaveWeWill #BoomBoomPakistan pic.twitter.com/r6Xz3nwdQMShahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) June 26, 2019″Match winning inning from Babar Azam. Brilliant display of talent by Haris Sohail. What a class act he is turning out to be. Shaheen Afridi bowled with pace & aggression. Pakistan Zindabad. One step closer to the dream,” said Akhtar.Match winning inning from Babar Azam. Brilliant display of talent by Haris Sohail. What a class act he is turning out to be.Shaheen Afridi bowled with pace & aggression.Pakistan Zindabad. One step closer to the dream. #PAKvNZ #CWC19Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) June 26, 2019″Pakistan keep the dream alive!” tweeted Wasim.Pakistan keep the dream alive! #PAKvNZ #CWC19Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) June 26, 2019″Congratulations Pakistan and Well done Team Green You guys played like Champions,” said Waqar on the micro-blogging website.The win ensured that Pakistan remain in the hunt for a berth in the semi-finals. And while the team currently has seven points from as many matches, they need both luck and wins in their remaining two matches to ensure a path ahead in the knockout stages.Also Read | I am definitely up there with greats of West Indies cricket: Chris GayleAlso Read | India vs West Indies, World Cup 2019: Weather Updates from Manchester on ThursdayAlso Seelast_img read more

first_imgCandlestick Park, San Francisco, 1964. The wind is whipping off the Bay on a typically cold night at the ballpark. Mike Murphy takes his seat in Section 17. A jazz band pipes up and the vendors shout their wares: Hamm’s or Falstaff beers, Oscar Mayer hot dogs with Gulden’s mustard. Murphy is close enough to talk to the San Francisco Giants players – but he’s not interested in hero worship. He wants to put a voodoo curse on the opposition, the LA Dodgers.He tells two friends it’s called a “whammy” or “occult backlash”. He’s been practising for years, perfecting the very particular cries and exact hand gestures to transmit negative energy to players. He reckons he’s a baseball witch doctor, sending psychic waves to scramble minds and zap energy from muscles.While sitting in the bleachers at Candlestick Park, Murphy asked for assistance from the fellow Giants fans around him to explore his powers, explaining with a straight-face that the gestures had been developed by shamans in the Amazon basin to kill enemies. If they wanted the Giants to win, this would help. And so he exhorted the crowd to close their two middle fingers over the thumb, leaving the index finger and little finger pointing, like devil horns, towards their target. And he told them to shout and wail as they thrust their horns towards the Dodgers players.That night would prove Murphy’s most successful as a conjuring cheerleader; according to his account, he enlisted almost 200 fans, all their negative energy flowing through him as he stood at the front, like the arrowhead. With several hundred horns pointing towards the tip, he began to feel dizzy. Whenever the wave of gestures and curses was at its strongest, the Dodgers began to make inept plays. The Giants went on to win.Murphy staggered out of the stadium, drained, exhausted and fearing a heart attack. But believing that he had made it happen.Baguio City, the Philippines, 14 years later. Mental combat has begun for the World Chess Championship. Anatoly Karpov, the golden boy of the Soviet Union, is playing Viktor Korchnoi, a defector the regime loves to hate. Despite sitting opposite each other for hour after hour, day after day, they have not spoken. But somebody is talking to Korchnoi. There is a voice inside his head. It is incessant. Over and over and over it berates him: “YOU. MUST. LOSE.” Espionage Pinterest Bobby Orr leaps with joy after scoring the goal that won the 1970 Stanley Cup for the Boston Bruins. Photograph: Ray Lussier/AP Facebook By 1984, the cold war was heating up. The Doomsday Clock, the timepiece those cheery folk at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists kept ticking to judge how close man-made global catastrophe was, nudged the little hand to three minutes to midnight and oblivion. Luckily, help was at hand in the most unlikely of places. The hippies, gurus, shamen and yogis wanted to start a thaw and they knew exactly how to do it: nude hot-tub bathing.With their friends in Washington giving them a nod and a wink, a series of Soviet – American exchanges had been organised from 1980. After several visits, Murphy and Hickman revealed they had discovered a Soviet Esalen: a group of believers and free thinkers who believed in the existence of siddhis. Contacts ranged from the obligatory psychic to Kremlin influencers. As a result, astronauts and cosmonauts, writers, KGB agents, military veterans, politicians (like Claiborne Pell) and diplomats were frequently invited to Esalen. There, they were told to sit crosslegged on the floor with pillows and just talk to each other. Then it was time to jump in the hot tub.The idea behind the exchanges was to convince Americans and Russians to recognise that they were not so different after all. The brains at Esalen wanted to call this project The Institute for Theoretical Studies. When someone pointed out that the acronym for that was TITS, it was renamed the Esalen Soviet-American Exchange Program. It still exists today, albeit under a different name – Track Two: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy – and is run by Murphy’s wife, Dulce.“We had KGB guys and CIA guys at Esalen talking to each other,” Murphy said. “The KGB knew communism wasn’t working. It was their job to know everything … they could fucking see it. When we hosted people, it was just confirming what they already knew.”The exchange programme’s biggest coup was bringing Boris Yeltsin to America in 1989. At the time, as a critic of the communist regime, Yeltsin was considered a political lightning rod. It was a visit that played a part in ending the cold war.Yeltsin’s aides had contacted Russian activists connected to Hickman and Murphy, and took part in Esalen’s exchange programme.They asked the institute to ask if they would be interested in hosting Yeltsin.“It turned out to be a gigantic deal ’cos he flipped!” Murphy said. Twitter Share on WhatsApp features Since you’re here… It just so happened that there was a big chunk of Murphy family land on the cliffs of Big Sur, California, which would do nicely as a base for teaching superpowers. Murphy provided the land , and his friend Dick Price, a co-founder, brought the cash. Before Esalen even opened, in 1962, the plot needed a security guard; a young Hunter S Thompson, pioneer of gonzo journalism, got the job.“He was 21,” Murphy told me, on our first phone call. “Unpublished. Fully armed. With a small arsenal. He seemed to love tracer bullets. He’d fire hundreds out into the night sky so every night was like the fourth of July. Sometimes he’d fire his gun out of the unopened window of one of the houses that was on the grounds.”Thompson was the first of many colourful and culturally significant characters in the Esalen story. Aldous Huxley, the English novelist and psychedelic grand philosopher, followed. He was another inspiration for Murphy, who attended a Huxley lecture at the University of California with Price, entitled Human Potentialities, in 1962. Huxley, then often high on mescaline, was a key figure in Esalen’s establishment, before his death a year later from throat cancer.Murphy believed that the best place for the superpowers to reveal themselves was on the sports field. Sports, he said, was the west’s yoga. He collated thousands of stories of athletes describing siddhis experiences. John Brodie, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, once told Murphy that he could move the ball with the power of his mind and reported seeing rivals shape-shift to avoid tackles. Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the martial art aikido, was said to be able to make himself invisible. Murphy found “scores” of reliable witnesses who had seen Ueshiba elude attacks, with one writing: “Completely surrounded by men with knives, Ueshiba disappeared and reappeared at the same instant, looking down at his attackers from the top of a flight of stairs.”What about a human passing through solid matter? Murphy cites Pelé, one of the world’s greatest footballers, as once saying: “I felt that I could dribble through any of their team … that I could pass through them physically.” In 1970, ice hockey star Bobby Orr was said to have called on abilities of thought projection to hypnotise Chicago Black Hawk players during a four-game winning sequence on the way to the Stanley Cup finals for his Bruins team. Twitter Twitter Sport and leisure books Facebook Reuse this content Psychology Facebook Support The Guardian Twitter Unsurprisingly, the American military and CIA began to take note of Esalen. Prompted by intelligence reports about the Soviets experiments, the Americans felt they had to start programmes of their own, in which Murphy would become a key figure. His friendship with Democratic senator Claiborne Pell, a supporter of Esalen and Murphy’s jogging partner, was instrumental. In White House intelligence meetings, Pell spoke forcefully of the benefits of supporting their experiments. He argued that if the Russians had it, and the Americans didn’t, they would be in serious trouble.Murphy was an adviser for the Jedi warrior training programme at West Point Military Academy in New York. Code-named Project Jedi, soldiers in the programme were taught invisibility, seeing into the future and extraordinary intuition, like knowing how many chairs were in a room before walking in – but also stopping the hearts of animals. It was similar to the First Earth Battalion (FEB), best known from the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats. Jim Channon, the founder of the FEB, thought it a good idea that each of his “warrior monks” should carry pouches of herbs into battle, give out flowers as a sign of peace, and play indigenous music to calm and confuse the enemy. Channon had been given a small Pentagon budget and two years to research ways for the US military to use new age methods in warfare. He spent most of that time at Esalen, being taught by Murphy.In 1975, the Chicago Tribune reported that the CIA was attempting to develop a new kind of “spook”, after finding a man who could “see” what was going on anywhere in the world. CIA scientists would show the man a picture of a place, and he would then describe any activity going on there at that time.In fact, there was more than one of these men. Russell Targ, who had taught this psychic power at Esalen, was one; another was Uri Geller. (You might have heard of him and his bendy spoons.) There was a whole team of psychics based at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, California, as part of the CIA’s Stargate programme to find psychic warriors. Targ and Geller would sit in that office, close their eyes, breathe deeply and then after a few minutes draw the location of Soviet missiles. Sometimes, they were right.By contrast to the Soviet plan, Targ and Geller seemed harmless. “They were using it to kill people,” Targ said. The Russian term for superpowers was “Hidden Human Reserves”. Senator Claiborne Pell, a high-profile supporter of Esalen, pictured in 1972. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive “They created a replica of the Oval Office and they would have people in there 24 hours a day concentrating on the US president in such a way to try to muddle his thinking,” said Jim Hickman, a key figure at Esalen during the cold war. Hickman spent much of the 70s and 80s travelling in the USSR to research siddhis, often with Murphy at his side. Hickman told me they learned about strange, disturbing things. Even stranger and more disturbing than a whole bunch of Dr Zoukhars trying to influence the thought patterns of a head of state from great distances? “There was much deeper work going on,” he said. “We knew that we were only talking to the people they let us talk to.” Share on Pinterest Those people were probably among the 60 Soviet-based scientists who worked at what was called Special Department 8. Their job was to investigate distant mind control. It was just one of 40 centres at Science City, Novosibirsk, in south-west Siberia, which housed thousands of scientists and their families from across the communist bloc, in a kind of nerdy utopia. Road names included Calculators Street, Thermophysics Street and Hydrodynamics Square. Here, Soviet scientists were attempting to prove the existence of extrasensory perception (ESP). In one creepy experiment, the scientists implanted electrodes in a mother rabbit’s brain, took her young litter off to a submarine and, when it was deep below the surface, killed them one by one. At each synchronised time of death, the mother’s brain reacted.At the Kharkov University Neurology Institute, the rat brains were attached to electrodes and put in solution. The best Russian psychics, having been tested in research centres dotted around the state, were brought in to transmit emotions and thoughts to the brains. The most popular response recorded was laughing but the brains also “enjoyed” sums. (It is not known whether the brains were better at fractions or algebra.)Unsurprisingly, some of the morally questionable experiments began to make the experts feel uncomfortable. One lab was even shut down in 1974 as the resident scientists en masse rejected what they called “the negative work”.It is widely believed that a mega-secret lab was set up in its place, in a sub-sub-basement below the Filatov Institute in Odessa. Only clandestine couriers knew how to access these secret paranormal departments. KGB guards made sure there were no unwanted visitors. There, death row prisoners were “bombarded” with pulsing magnetic fields to see if they would become clairvoyant. Years later, in 1991, one Dr Bryukhanov would publicly claim that he had run the project and said they had believed that animals they tested it on had developed the ability to see through walls. Alas, their small animal brains could not cope with the onslaught from the magnetic fields, and simply disintegrated. The prisoners reportedly suffered the same, horrible fate. Facebook Murphy and Zoukhar hailed from opposite cultures teetering on the brink of nuclear Armageddon. But for all their differences, America and the Soviet Union held a common belief: the existence of superhumans. Both world powers believed in a race of cosmic beings who could, just like in the sci-fi movies, slow down time, speed it up, change their body shape, feel no pain, levitate, see into the future, and more. With boggle-eyed mind control and harnessing the occult, both nations believed they could put a thought in someone’s head, or stop a man’s heart at 100 paces. Both nations thought these powers would win them the war. From the west coast of America to the far corners of the Soviet Union, yogis, shamans and psychics were sought out to aid these alternative war efforts, with millions spent on attempts to create a real life Superman or Wonder Woman.Since the first millennium, Hindus and Buddhists have believed that spiritual practice – like yoga – was capable of giving rise to a siddhi, a Sanskrit word that roughly translates as “superpower”. Siddhis included an ability to master pain, levitation, invisibility, being able to read minds at a distance – basically, any comic book superpower you can think of. And in America, Murphy was Professor X, and Esalen was his Westchester Academy.As a trust-fund kid at Stanford University, Murphy had once wanted to be a priest, maybe a scientist; his parents preferred doctor. But on the second day of spring classes in 1950, Murphy went to the wrong classroom and ended up listening to a comparative religion lecture. It was providence. Murphy was hooked. He quit his class, enrolled in Indian philosophy and devoured The Life Divine, a 1939 book by Indian mystic, yogi, guru and poet Sri Aurobindo. It was a handbook for spiritual powers. From then on, Murphy would dedicate his life to the pursuit of the extraordinary. Share on Messenger Pinterest Topics … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Yeltsin spent most of the trip drunk. But when he visited a Houston grocery store, called Randall’s, he sobered up pretty quickly. One of the Communist party’s great lies was that America staged its wealthy image through fake stores. He was shocked by the bountiful aisles of meats, cheeses and vegetables. He asked why no one was queuing. He stopped shoppers to ask how much they earned per month and what they spent on food. Yeltsin became upset. “When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people,” Yeltsin later wrote in his autobiography. Two years after that supermarket trip, he quit the party, stood on a tank in Red Square and became a capitalist. It was the start of the Iron Curtain’s fall.But neither side stopped searching for a superman. Murphy, now approaching his 90s, is still looking. Every year he holds a conference, the Sports, Energy and Consciousness festival in San Francisco, where he holds workshops advising people how they can experience the siddhis. The American military haven’t stopped, either, spending millions of dollars a year on research for “alternative powers”. And just like the Russians and their chess experiment, they are using the sports field as a training ground.• This is an edited extract from Ed Hawkins’ new book The Men on Magic Carpets: Searching for the Superhuman Sports Star (Bloomsbury, £16.99). Neuroscience Pinterest Twitter When Boris Yeltsin visited a Houston grocery store, he sobered up quickly. He was shocked by the bountiful aisles – with no queues – and felt sick with despair Share on Facebook Pinterest Share on LinkedIn US sports Pinterest Facebook Korchnoi recognises the voice. It’s not his. It belongs to the man sitting in the front row of the audience since the match began. His heart starts to beat a little faster. He begins to sweat.“YOU. SHOULD. STOP. FIGHT. AGAINST. KARPOV.”The demands keep coming. Korchnoi is not afraid but he is angry. He understands perfectly what is happening. The man is trying to control his thoughts.“YOU. ARE. TRAITOR. OF. SOVIET. PEOPLE.”The man sits cross-legged, dressed immaculately in a white shirt and dark brown suit, reclining with a hint of arrogance. He looks like an accountant, albeit a somewhat demented one. A slight smirk plays across his face. His eyes are terrifying, bearing into Korchnoi. He does not blink until Korchnoi is defeated.Both of these stories are true. Murphy, the zany hippy in bell-bottom jeans warbling occult orders, would, in time, have the US government dancing to his tune. And Dr Vladimir Zoukhar, the immaculately dressed communist spook, staring demonically for comrade and country, was considered the KGB’s mind control expert. Both men were protagonists in an extraordinarily paranoid chapter of human history: the cold war.Murphy was no regular football fan. Known as “the godfather of the human potential movement”, he co-founded the Esalen Institute, a famed new age retreat and pillar of the counterculture movement in 60s California. It was a centre for eastern religions, philosophy, alternative medicines, and a fair amount of nude hot-tub bathing. Controversial eroticist Henry Miller swam at the hot springs in the grounds, Beatle George Harrison once landed his helicopter there to jam with Ravi Shankar, and Timothy Leary, whom Richard Nixon called “the most dangerous man in America”, taught regular workshops on the benefits of LSD, claiming that women could orgasm hundreds of times during sex when under the influence. And most recently, in the final frames of Mad Men, advertising executive Don Draper was seen smiling on Esalen’s lawn.While Murphy was establishing Esalen, if Soviet state security wanted to place a negative or damaging thought in someone’s head, they called Zoukhar. That’s why Zoukhar was at Korchnoi’s match; communism trumped capitalism if it could produce a world chess champion. Korchnoi, hang-dogged and pot-bellied with his mistress in tow, was not the image they were going for. He could not be allowed to win against Karpov, the poster boy for true Soviet values. Share via Email Share on Twitter In one creepy experiment, scientists implanted electrodes in a mother rabbit’s brain, took her young litter off to a submarine and killed them one by one Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov compete for the 1978 World Chess Championship. Photograph: Jerry Cooke/Corbis via Getty Images Cold war ‘He was Professor X, and Esalen was his Westchester Academy’ … Mike Murphy. Photograph: Wally Skalij/LA Times via Getty Images A nude encounter group therapy session at the Esalen Institute, in 1968. Photograph: Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Hunter S Thompson was Esalen’s first security guard; Aldous Huxley, then often high on mescaline, helped establish itlast_img read more

It’s rare in life that you can look back and identify the specific moment that marked the end of the way things were and the beginning of the way things are. That is not the case when it comes to the creation of the style of play that dominates the modern NBA, which now sees teams eschewing size advantages in favor of loading the floor with as much shooting as possible. It’s worth examining the origins of the small-ball revolution, even if there are indications that the trend may reverse itself — perhaps as soon as this season.Though the seeds for this shift were planted by teams like the Houston Rockets of the mid-1990s, the Phoenix Suns of the 2000s and, particularly, the 2009 Orlando Magic, everything changed for good on May 13, 2012. During the Miami Heat’s 95-86 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals, Heat star Chris Bosh suffered an abdominal strain and was ruled out indefinitely.To that point in both the regular season and the playoffs, the 6-foot-11 Bosh had played almost exclusively at power forward. He’d played 2,174 minutes combined regular season and postseason minutes, spending 1,901 of them (87.4 percent) next to one of Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf, Dexter Pittman or Eddy Curry in the frontcourt.1All lineup statistics come from NBA Advanced Stats, unless otherwise noted. With Bosh sidelined for the remainder of that Pacers series and the first four games of the ensuing Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, however, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra slid the 6-foot-8 Shane Battier into the starting lineup in his place.Battier had played just 3 percent of his regular-season minutes at power forward in 2011-12, per Basketball-Reference, but he remained in the role for the rest of Miami’s run to the 2012 title. Bosh returned at first as a reserve. But when he moved back into the starting lineup for Game 2 of the NBA Finals, it was as a center next to Battier and LeBron James in the frontcourt. With that group providing more space in which James and Dwyane Wade could operate, the Heat blitzed the Oklahoma City Thunder with four straight wins, capturing the first of two championships of the Big Three era.After the Heat rode the same configuration to another championship in 2013, the NBA saw a massive drop in two-big lineup usage the following season. That trend may have steadily continued anyway, but it was hastened by the Golden State Warriors going even smaller, playing the 6-foot-7 Draymond Green at center in order to beat LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers teams. Pretty soon, damn near the whole league was reorienting around trying to compete with the Warriors’ Death Lineup.Consider the following chart, which plots regular-season “two-big” lineup usage for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, as well as the league average, from the beginning of the Heat’s Big Three era through the just-completed 2018-19 campaign. See if you can identify the turning point; it should be pretty easy.2For purposes of this analysis, we are identifying a “big” as a player who is either a) listed as a center; or b) listed as a power forward and measures at least 6-foot-8 and attempted less than one three-pointer per 36 minutes during the regular season. Such a definition allows us to see which teams played a non-shooting forward (or another center) next to their center in the frontcourt. Two-big lineup usage peaked at 58.8 percent of minutes leaguewide during the 2011-12 season, but the shift to small ball sliced that number in half within four seasons. Last season, two-big lineups played just 6.4 percent of regular-season minutes. During LeBron, Wade and Bosh’s second season together, 19 of the league’s 30 teams used two-big lineups at least 50 percent of the time. Last season, no team even crossed the 40 percent mark in two-big lineup minutes.Such a stark trend might make it seem like we have reached a point of no return. But given several developments of this offseason’s free-agent period, it seems fair to wonder whether we may have actually passed Peak Small Ball and might be in for a reversal during the 2019-20 campaign.The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, signed Celtics center Al Horford to a four-year deal, and presumably plan to play him as their primary power forward alongside Joel Embiid. Contrary to popular belief, the 6-foot-10 Horford has actually been a center for the majority of his career — he’s played 83 percent of his minutes at the position, per Basketball-Reference — but Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has said that he believes a desire to return to the power forward slot — where Horford played in college — factored into his decision.Assuming Ainge is correct, Horford is not the only big who’s moved to a new team hoping to slide back to the four. New Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis expressed a firm desire to resume playing the four during his introductory press conference. According to Basketball-Reference, Davis has spent 55 percent of his career at center, peaking last season at 96 percent.Other teams’ offseason moves indicate they could potentially lean into two-big lineups as well.The Sacramento Kings signed centers Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes, who could potentially play either together or alongside Harry Giles. The Portland Trail Blazers let small-ball power forward Al-Farouq Aminu leave in free agency and traded combo forward Moe Harkless, at the same time adding former Heat center Hassan Whiteside to last season’s primary starter Jusuf Nurkić,3In fairness, Nurkić suffered a serious injury at the end of last season and figures to miss a significant portion of 2019–20. and they seemingly plan to start former backup center Zach Collins at power forward.The New York Knicks have Mitchell Robinson as their presumed starting center and should probably let 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox play at least some of his minutes at power forward; but they still used a significant portion of their free-agent budget to sign non-shooting power forward Taj Gibson, as well as Bobby Portis, who in a 28-game stint with the Wizards last season played 77 percent of his minutes at center. Even the team’s most high-profile signing, Julius Randle, only started shooting threes last season, and he often gets treated by opposing defenses as a non-shooting big man.The Indiana Pacers let power forward Thaddeus Young and small forward Bojan Bogdanovic leave in free agency, and plan to start backup center Domantas Sabonis at power forward next to Myles Turner, who has been the starting center since midway through his rookie season. Sabonis has played 79 percent of his minutes at center with the Pacers, per Basketball-Reference, but he was primarily a power forward both in college and during his rookie season with the Thunder. The Utah Jazz — previously among the heavier users of two-big looks — pivoted smaller by signing the aforementioned Bogdanovic, but in so doing sent Derrick Favors to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he could potentially play alongside either Jaxson Hayes or Jahlil Okafor when he’s not manning the pivot next to Zion Williamson.Several additional teams may end up using two-big lineups more often due to other types of roster changes. The defending champion Toronto Raptors, after losing Kawhi Leonard to the L.A. Clippers, could use more of the Marc Gasol-Serge Ibaka frontcourt that worked so well for them in the playoffs. The Clippers figure to load-manage Leonard, as the Raptors did last season, but even when he’s in the lineup, it’s entirely possible we see Montrezl Harrell — who has played 83 percent of his career minutes at center, including 96 percent last season — playing the four next to Ivica Zubac. Even the Warriors — who took small-ball even further than the Big Three-era Heat — could end up using more two-big lineups featuring, say, Kevon Looney and free-agent signee Willie Cauley-Stein when Draymond Green has to rest, given that they lost Kevin Durant in free agency and traded away Andre Iguodala.Already, that’s a significant portion of the league seemingly preparing to devote non-trivial minutes to two-big lineups. Not even mentioned are four of the seven squads that used two-big units at least 10 percent of the time last season, and could conceivably do so again. (They are the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets, in addition to the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Pacers.) With multiple contenders in the East and West seemingly planning to use two-big lineups more often, it doesn’t appear as necessary for teams to ensure that they are well-equipped to go small against the very best opponents. Much of the league appears to have reacted by returning to the comfort of using size as an advantage. read more

first_imgApple turned in another quarterly beat with revenue up 16% to $61.1 billion and earnings per share up 30% — and announced a whopping $100 billion share buyback program and a higher dividend to shower cash on investors and signal bullishness in the business.“Given our confidence in Apple’s future, we are very happy to announce that our board has approved a new $100 billion share repurchase authorization and a 16% increase in our quarterly dividend,” Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO, said in announcing the results.Apple CEO Tim Cook said the U.S.’s recent tax-reform legislation “enables us to deploy our global cash more efficiently.” The company in January said it expects to make about $38 billion in U.S. tax payments, as required under changes in the tax code to repatriate overseas funds, and that it will invest billions in the American economy over the next several years. Popular on Variety Apple’s services segment — which includes revenue from iTunes digital content and services, Apple Music, AppleCare, Apple Pay, licensing and other services — soared 31% year-over-year, to $9.2 billion. Apple had 270 million paying subscribers across services at the end of fiscal Q2 2018, up 100 million year over year, according to Cook.Meanwhile, iPad revenue was up 6%, to $4.1 billion, while unit sales increased 2% to 9.1 million. Mac unit sales dropped 3% year-over-year and revenue was flat at $5.8 billion.On the earnings call, Maestri said Apple did not have a specific end-date for the new $100 billion share repurchase program. “The amount is very, very large,” he said. “We will try to execute it… at a very fast pace, but we will also do it efficiently.”From August 2012 through March 2018, Apple has now returned $275 billion to shareholders, including $200 billion in share repurchases.For its fiscal Q3, Apple projected revenue of $51.5 billion and $53.5 billion; analysts have been estimating $51.6 billion in revenue. Apple shares were up as much as 4% in after-hours trading Tuesday after reporting earnings for the quarter ended March 31. The company reported net income of $13.82 billion, up 25% year over year, or earnings of $2.73 per diluted share.The tech giant topped Wall Street’s lowered expectations. Analyst consensus estimates had forecast revenue of $60.82 billion and adjusted EPS of $2.67 for the period, Apple’s fiscal second quarter of 2018.In recent weeks, several analysts have lowered expectations for Apple on signs of slowing iPhone growth — and that the company’s “super-cycle” model of selling the latest-and-greatest smartphone is losing steam as consumers hold on to their iPhones longer.That was borne out in the results: Apple sold 52.2 million iPhones in the March 2018 quarter, up just 3% from 50.8 million units in the year-earlier period — in line with average analyst expectations of 52.3 million units for fiscal Q2 2018. However, iPhone revenue jumped 14.3%, to $38.0 billion, in the most recent quarter. That undoubtedly was fueled by the iPhone X, Apple’s priciest model ever, which starts at $999.Cook cited strong sales growth of iPhones, services and wearables for the most recent quarter, its best-ever FYQ2 for revenue and income. “Customers chose iPhone X more than any other iPhone each week in the March quarter, just as they did following its launch in the December quarter,” he said in prepared remarks.International sales accounted for 65% of Apple’s quarterly revenue (the same as in the year-earlier period). The company grew revenue in all geographies, with 21% growth in Greater China and 22% growth Japan. Some analysts have been predicting that Apple will lose market share in China to cheaper smartphone rivals.Asked about the threat of a U.S.-China trade war, Cook said he was optimistic that the two sides could iron out their differences. “I’m a big believer that the two countries together can both win and grow the pie, not just allocate it differently,” he told analysts on the earnings call. “I don’t know every play-by-play that will happen, but over time, I think that view will prevail.” ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15last_img read more