Sports Beat “Knicks Draft Thanasis”

Until a few days before the 2014 NBA Draft neither the Knicks nor the Nets had a pick in the two-round NBA Draft. The Knicks were able to obtain two second-round picks from the Dallas Mavericks as part of the deal in which they sent center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to Big D. They used the picks to select forwards Cleanthony Early from Wichita State and Thanasis Antetokounmpo from Greece. Both selections were warmly received by Knicks fans who attended the Draft at the Barclays Center.

Since his last name is a spellcheck killer, expect nearly every writer to refer to Antetokounmpo simply by his first name. His brother, Giannis, was the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2013 first-round draft choice, and he is known by that moniker the way that LeBron and Pele are referred to without surnames.

Giannis accompanied Thanasis to his introductory press conference moments after being selected by the Knicks. When I mentioned that Astoria is home to the largest Greek community in the United States, both brothers quickly smiled and acknowledged that they were aware of that fact. “Right now my focus is on making the Knicks roster so I won’t get familiar with it until after I make the team,” Thanasis replied.

As expected, JaKarr Sampson, who left the St. John’s Red Storm after his sophomore season last spring, was not drafted by an NBA team Thursday night. Whoever advised Sampson to leave for NBA glory probably told his friends to invest in Enron stock in the late ‘90s as well as encouraging them to have Bernie Madoff handle the rest of their investment portfolio.

St. John’s Athletics department sent out a press release on Friday touting how the Philadelphia 76ers invited Sampson to play on their NBA Summer League team. That is the equivalent of when Major League Baseball clubs extend non-roster invitations to attend spring training to a number of players who they deem as longshot insurance policies. Sampson will either be playing the NBA Development League or overseas come the fall.

Major League Baseball has been very much concerned in recent years about the decline of African-Americans playing our nation’s pastime and they may have further cause for worry. Clemson forward KJ McDaniels, who was selected by the 76ers, comes from Mobile, Alabama, the hometown of such baseball Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Billy Williams, and Willie McCovey, as well as former Mets stars Cleon Jones and the late Tommie Agee. “I never played baseball nor did any of my friends,” McDaniels replied when I asked him about Mobile’s storied baseball history. He knew nothing about any of his hometown’s famous ballplayers although he did say that he heard of Hank Aaron who does have a stadium and a street named after him there.

Just when it looked as if things were brightening for the Mets they dropped three out of four games to the Pirates in Pittsburgh this past weekend with the coup de grace being Sunday’s game where they scored two runs, both in the ninth inning when the game was long ago lost, despite collecting 13 hits and being the beneficiary of two Pirates errors and a walk. That kind of futility takes special talent.

Mets fans will be holding their collective breath as the team’s franchise face, third baseman David Wright, tries to recover from a bruised left shoulder rotator cuff. The good news was that pitcher Dillon Gee threw three terrific innings in a rehab start for the Brooklyn Cyclones Sunday and said that he did not feel any discomfort. Gee added a caveat however when he said that the real test would be how his arm and upper body would feel 48 hours later. Dillon is hopeful of returning to the Mets starting rotation before the All-Star Game break.

The Brooklyn Cyclones will play a rare weekday matinee on Tuesday, July 8 at 11:30 AM. Going to a game at MCU Park which is located adjacent to the Coney Island boardwalk is a great way to beat the heat on a hot and humid day.

Speaking of the beach and minor league baseball, attending a Lakewood Blueclaws is a fun way to top off a visit to the Jersey Shore. The Blueclaws are the Philadelphia Phillies’ South Atlantic League affiliate and they play in First Energy Park. If you want to stay overnight, the Freehold Radisson is a great option and it’s centrally located as it’s only a 20 minute-ride to either First Energy Park or Great Adventure in the other direction; it’s 30 minutes away from Bradley Beach and Asbury Park; and finally it’s an hour away from Philadelphia.

After three years of being in exile at Newark’s Prudential Center as Madison Square Garden was undergoing its modernization, the New York Liberty have returned to the “world’s most famous arena.” Former UConn star and Jamaica native Tina Charles was traded to the Liberty this year from the Connecticut Sun and the hope around the WNBA was that teaming her with longtime All-Star Cappie Pondexter would finally turn the WNBA’s franchise team from a perennial also-ran to a powerhouse. Unfortunately Pondexter has not played well this year, probably because she has been playing with injured calves, and the rest of the Liberty, with the exception of point guard Anna Cruz, have been dreadful. The Libs finished June with a 5-12 record.

Glenmorangie, the famous whisky distiller from Scotland, brought in one of its best known ambassadors, PGA legend and CBS golf analyst Sir Nick Faldo, to discuss the upcoming British Open and to give a clinic at the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers to the media as well as select (and very lucky) members of the public. Sir Nick pointed out some of the most common mistakes that duffers make such as not following through on their swing; being too heavy on their heels on their back swing; and not taking the front shoulder past the back foot on the back swing.

Glenmorangie was trying to tie in its 18 year-old Scotch with the fact that golf courses are made up oh 18 very distinct holes. The company also brought in famed golf photographer David Cannon to show off photos of his favorite 18 holes from golf courses around the world.

The popularity of AMC Network’s “Mad Men,” which glamorizes the 1960s world of advertising, has also helped make scotch popular again. Adam Ford, a former Wall Street attorney, is hoping that vermouth, an alcoholic drink that was so popular in the early 1960s that it was mentioned in the lyric of “I Believe In You,” the memorable song from “How To Succeed In Business Without Even Trying.”

Ford acknowledges that vermouth had fallen out of favor but is optimistic that it’s ready for a comeback as he has launched Atsby Vermouth. Despite its name, Ford claims that it has nothing to do with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” but rather its short-hand for the Assembly Theaters on Broadway that were located in what is now SoHo which is where Atsby’s headquarters are. According to Ford, this was the birthplace of New York’s nightlife.

The annual Consumer Electronics Week took place in New York last week as manufacturers showed off their latest gadgets and apps. While 3-D television has gone by the wayside, 3-D printers have become the rage. There were plenty of remote cameras and other devices that let you see what is going on in your home while you are away via your smartphone as well as devices that can turn on your various appliances even if you are in California.

Here are some fun summer snacking ideas. Instead of consuming salted pretzels and potato chips try Wonderful Pistachios which are less caloric and have both proteins and anti-oxidants.

On the beverage front, a can of Arizona’s Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail reminds me of those fun Hi-C drinks that I used to enjoy when I was in grade school. Yes, a 23-oz can does have sugars but it also has plentiful Vitamin C. The cans come with a pre-marked price of 99 cents so it’s hard to beat the value.

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