C’s thrown major curve

The Celtics opened training camp on Tuesday for what almost everyone expected to be a season full of promise. At least until Thursday morning, when news of the Ime Udoka sex scandal broke.

I’ve been around long enough to see the Fritz PetersonMike Kekich family swap story, hear Wilt Chamberlain claim he slept with 25,000 women (which somehow didn’t stop him from scoring 100 points in a game or playing an incredible 48.3 minutes a game for an entire season), the Wade BoggsMargo Adams girlfriend-on-the-road saga, and the daddy of them all, Tiger Woods derailing an all-time career with an array of extramarital affairs. But none threw a team’s season into chaos at Day 1 quite the way the Udoka story has.

For those who have been on Mars: Celtics Coach Ime Udoka was suspended for an entire year five days before training camp opened for violating team policy by having a consensual relationship with a co-worker/subordinate.

It triggered a number of stories and distractions large enough to overshadow the worrisome news that Rob Williams will be out for the next three months after another knee surgery.

All of which has everyone wondering if the tongues wagging will send the season south before it even gets started.

The distractions and ridiculous behavior that followed include:

News Item: Is There More To It?

I know this is the post-Harvey Weinstein Me Too era, but getting suspended for an entire year for one intra-office affair with a subordinate seems like overkill. Especially when the brass said they just learned of it in early July, which likely means he wasn’t continuing something after being told to stop earlier in the season. Maybe that’s all it was, but it makes me wonder when the other shoe will drop. Especially when you see 14-year NBA veteran Matt Barnes defend Udoka on Thursday and then retract that on his podcast the next day because he said when he got more facts it was “100 times” worse.

News Item: More Media Blather

First he correctly castigated Udoka for his role in the debacle. But then, in the most ridiculous newspaper column I’ve read (outside of politics) since Joe Barnea retired from the UL, Boston Globe basketball writer Gary Washburn went on to somehow blame the Celtics for the mess. Particularly vexing was the story being anonymously leaked to ESPN with a burner phone at 11 p.m. on Wednesday.

My question is, what difference does it make if it got out at 11 p.m., or 11 a.m. the next day? Because it didn’t change the story one bit.

As for who did it, my guess is it was someone who didn’t like Ime in the organization or maybe from outside. Like, I don’t know, the boyfriend or husband of the woman (or women) Udoka was sleeping with.

News Item: Why Do We Need To Know?

I’ll admit I’m curious to learn the full story, but I don’t see why the Celtics have to tell us. Washburn said Celtics fans deserve better after the Celtics press conference. Why? It’s a privately owned business, with employee privacy and legal liability issues at stake. And It’s hardly an important matter in the scheme of things. If you don’t like what they did, don’t watch. Like I quit being a Yankees fan after George Steinbrenner hired a convicted felon with mafia ties to dig on Dave Winfield.

We all have that choice here.

News Item: Social Media Does It Again

News flash: Social media is filled with gawking idiots and insensitive trolls. And they went right to work expressing who they thought the woman in question was. Washburn didn’t like it and intimated it was racist that the consensus settled on attractive Black women as the object of Udoka’s desire. I think it’s more likely the majority were sexist and settled on women most attractive to them as the likely candidate. Doesn’t make it right, or eliminate the discomfort of all the women, but that’s how those kinds of guys think.

News Item: What’s Next

It wasn’t all hysteria in the media. Chris Gasper wrote a solid analysis in the Boston Globe of why Brad Stevens taking over made the most sense. One that even included counter-arguments to his belief 34-year-old Joe Mazzulla is top young and inexperienced to take over for Udoka, which I agree with, even though I disagree with his contention that Stevens not being on top of his game his final three years as coach was because of burnout. I think it was because he fell in love with the 3-ball no matter what kind of shot it was, and got run over by the players, which led to all sorts of on-court issues and bad habits.

But given the situation, Gasper is right — Stevens is the best choice.

Now let’s see how it unfolds.

Email Dave Long at dlong@hippopress.com.

A stretch assist

Helping get muscles back in condition

Nate Lavallee is the owner and operator of the new FlexABLE Assisted Stretching & Wellness studio in Manchester, where he specializes in one-on-one Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, also known as PNF Assisted Stretching. The studio, located at 679 Mast Road, has an open house planned for Saturday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit flexable.biz.

What is your background in this kind of work?

For most of my life, I did construction. As of a few years ago, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I decided to go back to school … for health and fitness. I was 34. It was a leap of faith to do this. I was making a decent living doing construction, but I wasn’t happy. I was treating my body terribly … and had some pain, physically and mentally. I went back … and got my Associate of Science. I’m a certified personal trainer, and I have training in PNF stretch. That’s my main focus, the assisted stretching. I had a year-long course in school about it … and I did more research on it and got even more training on it.

What is PNF assisted stretching?

It’s a contract-release method that’s just really effective for anything muscular. For anything skeletal, you go to a chiropractor. For joint pain or injuries, you go to PT. But for anything that’s muscular, this is the solution — stretching and mobility training. I have quite a few clients who have been going to PT for years and say the stretching actually helps them more. A lot of people prefer it over massage and other forms of bodywork. … It’s also about finding the root of the problem and using corrective exercise to fix any imbalances and mobility issues so that the problem doesn’t continue or come back.

What made you decide to start this business?

I started working for a place in Londonderry as a personal trainer for a little over a year, and I got passionate about this assisted stretching idea. I’d do assisted stretching with some of my clients, and they loved it. A few of them were even going to this [assisted stretching] place down in Massachusetts that’s like an hour away. That’s when a light bulb went on for me that I could open a place around here. An opportunity came up with a property for lease, and I started renovating in July.

How is it different from physical therapy?

Most physical therapists will do a few things with the clients, then give them some exercises to do on their own. The problem with that is a lot of people won’t do the exercises that their physical therapist tells them to do. They’ll say they don’t have time or they’ll just forget. Even people who get regular exercise and movement don’t usually stretch, but stretching is the most important part. It helps you stay mobile, it helps your muscles stay pliable and it helps prevent injury that you might get from making a sudden movement if you aren’t very mobile. … Also, some people don’t necessarily need physical therapy. Maybe they work a desk job or are mostly sedentary and they’re tight and in pain. All they need is to stretch and move, and that’s where I come in.

What do you find rewarding about this work?

When I’m in pain and not able to do the things that I love to do, it affects me in all ways — physically, but also mentally, spiritually, emotionally. My hope is for people to be able to continue doing the things they love to do — play with their kids and grandkids, go fishing, go hiking. A lot of guys want to play golf until the day they die. My goal is to help them be able to do that for the rest of their life rather than just sitting around for their last 10 to 20 years, not able to move very well and not enjoying life.

Where do you see this going in the future?

I definitely want to bring in a couple more health-fitness professionals. … I want people who have a positive attitude. I can teach them the skills, or they can learn skills, but they need to have a positive outlook on life, because a lot of [clients] come in and this is the only hour a week that they spend with other people, and they’re looking forward to having a positive time. … If it makes sense to, and if the demand is there, I definitely would want to open another [studio] somewhere else.

Featured photo: Nate Lavallee. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 22/09/29

Absentee voting misinformation

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office issued a cease-and-desist order against the New Hampshire Democratic Party on Sept. 23 in regard to a case of “voter confusion” caused by absentee ballot application mailers for the November 2022 general election that the Party published and mailed that contained erroneous information. According to the order, the mailers, which affected 926 voters in 39 communities, had postage pre-paid, pre-addressed return envelopes with wrong return addresses for the appropriate town and city clerks. Voters also reported receiving mailers with return envelopes addressed to “[County Name] Board of Elections,” entities which do not exist; mailers that said, “You have a history of requesting absentee ballots” when the voter had not voted by absentee ballot in the past; and mailers that listed the voter’s domicile address as being in a city or town in which the voter does not reside. “The NHDP’s mailer … is causing voter confusion and frustration,” New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said in the order. “The [incorrect] return mail addresses on the mailer are likely to mislead voters into unintentionally violating [the absentee ballot application procedure]. It could also disenfranchise some voters in that voters may complete the absentee ballot applications, believing they will receive absentee ballots for the State General Election, only to discover that their applications were never delivered to their Town or City Clerks. This discovery could be made at a time when the voters are not able to file follow-up applications for absentee ballots.” The order closed with remediation steps that the NHDP is required to take, including contacting each recipient of the mailers and personally assisting them with the absentee ballot application process to ensure that it’s done correctly so that they will be able to obtain an absentee ballot in time for it to count as a valid vote in the upcoming General Election.

Federal funds to fight opioid epidemic

State Opioid Response grants in the total amount of $28,507,046 for fiscal year 2022 are being made available to the State of New Hampshire to fund resources and efforts addressing the substance use disorder crisis in the state. According to a press release, the federal funding was approved through legislation bolstered by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a senior appropriator on the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and is nearly $400,000 more than the annual opioid response funding New Hampshire received last year. “We need to continue an all-hands-on deck approach to combating the opioid epidemic, and I will stay laser focused on getting New Hampshire communities and law enforcement the tools that they need to combat this crisis,” Hassan said in the release.

Making monkeypox vaccines accessible

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has updated and expanded the eligibility criteria to receive the two-dose monkeypox vaccine series known as JYNNEOS. According to a press release, people for whom the vaccine is recommended include “any person who identifies as gay, bisexual, queer, or is a man who has sex with men and believes they are at risk for monkeypox virus infection; a person of any gender or sexual orientation whom a medical provider thinks is at increased risk for monekypox virus infection; [and] persons who report in the prior 14 days a known exposure to the monkeypox virus.” “JYNNEOS vaccine uptake has been low in NH, and with increasing supply we want to make it as easy as possible for people who may be at risk to get vaccinated to protect themselves from infection,” New Hampshire State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said in the release. The vaccine is currently being distributed through city health departments and participating provider clinics throughout the state. If you believe you are eligible to receive the vaccine, contact your primary health care provider for a referral to a participating clinic. If you do not have a primary health care provider from whom you can get a referral, you can still receive the vaccine at a participating New Hampshire Convenient MD location as long as you live, work or have a primary health care provider in the state. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms or has been exposed or possibly exposed to the virus should isolate at home and consult their health care provider. Visit dhhs.nh.gov/programs-services/disease-prevention/infectious-disease-control/monkeypox for monkeypox vaccination locations and the latest updates on the monkeypox outbreak in New Hampshire.

New NH Liquor & Wine Outlets

Two new NH Liquor & Wine Outlets are now open, at 850 Gold St. in Manchester and in the Concord Crossing Plaza at 11 Merchants Way in Concord. According to a press release from the NH Liquor Commission, the Outlets feature more than 4,000 sizes and varieties of wines and spirits and have special sections showcasing premium and ultra-premium spirits, high-end wines and Outlet Price Busters and Wine Power Buys. The buildings include high-efficiency materials and LED fixtures, oversized aisles and enhanced accessibility for curbside pickup service. The NH Liquor Commission also announced that construction has begun on a new NH Liquor & Wine Outlet in the Westside Plaza in Nashua, to which the existing Outlet on Northwest Boulevard in Nashua will relocate. It is expected to open in May 2023. “These new Outlet locations represent the latest step in our ongoing effort to enhance the customer shopping experience, strengthen our brand, and continue to generate critical revenue for the New Hampshire General Fund,” NHLC Chairman Joseph Mollica said in the release.

The New Hampshire Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, along with state and local dignitaries, local community members and project partners, gathered atop Pack Monadnock in Peterborough on Sept. 23 to celebrate the revitalization of Miller State Park. According to a press release, the Miller State Park Revitalization Project included upgrades such as improving views, improving parking, painting buildings, removing old conduit and restructuring the poles and wires that run up to the summit and across the access road. The celebration included a ribbon cutting, comments from project partners and dignitaries and the unveiling of a new historical highway marker commemorating Miller State Park as “New Hampshire’s First State Park.”

The Nashua School District has become the first New Hampshire school district, and one of only four school districts in New England, to be accepted as a member of the League of Innovative Schools. According to a press release, the national network was created by Digital Promise, an organization devoted to accelerating innovation in education, and currently includes 150 schools across 38 states. “Being a member of the league offers us access to a network of similar, forward-thinking schools to share best practices in teaching and learning,” Mario Andrade, Superintendent of the Nashua School District, said in the release.

Road work to resurface Route 101 resumed this week in Milford and Amherst, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. The work, which is estimated to take one week to complete if the weather permits, is concentrated at all on and off ramps at Route 13, Route 101A and Route 122. Daytime lane shifts are being used between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to accommodate the placement of ramp traffic markings.

To remember

Over lunch a few years ago, a friend asked me a simple, but very direct question: “Steve: when you think of the Holocaust, what image comes to mind?” It caught me off guard as we had been talking about politics prior to the upcoming election. I paused, thought for a moment — my mind flashing through a series of recalled images — and replied: “The picture of an emancipated Elie Wiesel, in a prison suit, standing in a bunk room with similarly starved inmates. The other is the open pits with thousands of bones uncovered in the course of liberating the Nazi concentration camps.”

“Yes,” he said, but a fuller picture — an important additional facet — is an image of the German neighbors who peered from behind their lace curtains, watching, as the Gestapo dragged away their Jewish neighbors. Their silence, their inaction, to what was being done, while understandable given their concern for their own safety, over time, had allowed a totalitarian regime to take such measures without opposition.

That lunch conversation and its insights have stayed with me, deeply impressing on my conscience.

This month marks the appearance of Ken Burns’ new documentary, The Holocaust. While some of Ken’s films give us reason to celebrate the beauty, places and people of our country, this has a very different intention and impact. It is a historical documentary but also a cautionary tale.

A cautionary tale sets out a story, the roots of an event, the impact of an event, and the lessons to be drawn from it. It invites — nay, challenges us — to look around at our present situation and ask, “Could that happen here?” His film does and the answer is “yes.” But with a qualifier: “It is happening now.”

Institutions and movements have arisen since the Holocaust to amplify and instruct regarding the horrors and the lessons of that tragic time, but despite those, bigotry, racism, intolerance, extreme nationalism and supremacy have mushroomed in countries around the world. “Ethnic cleansing” — the term itself proclaiming that only one “pure race” can/should inhabit a country, has set tribalism against multiculturalism. “Difference” has become the criterion of choice, its impact felt in the political ads that blanket our state now in the days leading up to the midterm elections and likely to follow into the voting booths as well.

But we are a country of indigenous people and immigrants. Of the latter, no matter how long we have lived here, we came from someplace else, and we have made our way and enriched this country, this noble experiment in multicultural democracy. To honor our forebears and their epic journey — regardless of race, religion or culture — we must not wait till we can look out our windows to see what is happening. The time to resist is now. Otherwise, the option is complicity. And by now we should know where that can lead.

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