U.S. President Barack Obama Reflects On Late Chicago White Sox’s Minnie Minoso

Although he’s a Hawaii native, U.S. President Barack Obama  is Chicago.

With the death of  Chicago White Sox third baseman Minnie Minoso, the first Cuban to play in Major League Baseball, President Obama, a former Illinois state senator weighed in on the Cuban Comet.

For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be “Mr. White Sox.”

The first black Major Leaguer in Chicago, Minnie came to the United States from Cuba even though he could have made more money elsewhere.  He came up through the Negro Leagues, and didn’t speak much English at first.  And as he helped to integrate baseball in the 1950s, he was a target of racial slurs from fans and opponents, sometimes forced to stay in different motels from his teammates.  But his speed, his power – and his resilient optimism – earned him multiple All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves in left field, and he became one of the most dominant and dynamic players of the 1950s.

Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie’s quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.

Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and fans in Chicago, Cleveland, and around the world.

 

Ex-Knick Derek Harper Remembers the Many Sides of Anthony Mason

Derek Harper played two-and-a-half seasons with Anthony Mason, the 13-year NBA veteran who passed away Saturday. Their time together included a run to the 1994 NBA Finals, where they lost in seven games to the Houston Rockets.

Harper, who played in the league for 16 seasons and now does color for Mavericks telecasts, spoke to Bleacher Report on Sunday. 

Here in Harper’s words are his memories of Mase as a player, a teammate, a friend and a father:

  

“He didn’t care what anyone thought about him.”

Mason—a New York City native—and Harper first played together when Harper was traded by Dallas to the Knicks during the 1993-94 season. Their teammates included Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks and Greg Anthony.

“He was one of my favorite guys. The first thing I remember is that he protected me when I picked on bigger guys.

“I also liked him because he wasn’t phony. He was comfortable in his own skin. He didn’t care what anyone thought about him. He was a character. He lived in a bubble, in his own world.

“I remember the color of some of the suits he wore. He started going to burgundy and mustard, colors like that. People started thinking he was from Florida because of the colors he wore.”

 

“There was no lovey-dovey…or hugs before the game.”

Harper, a 6’4″ guard, twice made the NBA All-Defensive second team. Mason, listed at 6’7″ and 250 pounds, played many positions and made the All-Defensive second team once.

“He was a mean guy when he played. There was no lovey-dovey, no going out to dinner with guys or hugs before the game. If you got to know him, though, he was a gentle giant.

“That ‘angry black man’ part of him stirred from the way he had to earn his place in the league. When someone finally recognizes you belong, you think about what it took for that to happen and you don’t want to lose it.

“For some reason, we hit it off. Maybe it’s because he talked defense and that was my mainstay. We sat next to each other on the plane talking about defense and toughness and—this might not be exactly PC—about how you could punk certain guys in the league.

“He was an overconfident guy, and I’d rather have that than a passive, indecisive guy. I’ll never forget we were playing in Atlanta. He’s dribbling the ball over and over again. And I finally told him, ‘Give up the ball.’ He said, ‘Shoot, you can’t do anything with it, anyway. I got it.’

“Coach (Pat) Riley had to separate us, but we later laughed about it. He could handle the ball. He wasn’t making that up. But there was a reason I was a point guard and he was a small forward. He understood that and ultimately we developed a mutual respect.”

 

“He looked like a linebacker, but his quick feet and agility were really special.”

Mason’s NBA honors included the 1995 Sixth Man award. In 1995-96 he led the NBA in minutes, and in 2001 he made his only All-Star Game appearance.

“I don’t like to overrate guys but I think Mase was truly underrated. Mase had a way of keeping people in front of him on defense. So he could guard four positions and he could handle the ball—crossovers, between the legs, he had it all.

“When Don Nelson loves a guy you know he’s versatile, and he loved Mason. Nelly (as the Knicks’ head coach) took me off point and put Mase there and told me to trust him. I did and it worked. Mase found open people. He looked like a linebacker but his quick feet and agility were really special.

“He took his job seriously, too. He came early and he’d stay late. That might surprise some people because, for some reason, he wasn’t thought of as that type of guy.”

 

“He made a lot of bigger guys look small.”

Mason starred at Tennessee State, then played in Turkey and in minor U.S. leagues before making the NBA, where he had his best seasons with New York, Charlotte and Miami.

“I wasn’t surprised when Pat brought him to Miami. They’re the same person in a lot of ways. They did have a few clashes in New York, but it was out of a passion and determination to be successful. When you put two people together who are the same in that way, it’s not always going to go smoothly. But it was never subordination on Mase’s part.

“Guys who go to small colleges and take a while to find their place in the NBA have a chip on their shoulders. They don’t take days off and they don’t take anything for granted.

“When I first got to New York, I was coming from a losing situation in Dallas and I was reaching for balls; he was taking my legs out diving for them. Hell of a competitor.

“He made a lot of bigger guys look small when he played against them.”

“The whole seven-game series in the finals against the Rockets was proof of that. He was forced to guard (Hakeem) Olajuwon a lot in that series. He wasn’t able to challenge his shot, but Olajuwon wasn’t able to move him. Mase guarded Olajuwon, Otis Thorpe and Robert Horry in that series.

“He had that kind of versatility, but I don’t know that he was ever recognized for it to the degree that he should have been.”

 

“You could tell he was a great father, very involved.”

Mason’s sons are basketball players—Anthony Jr. is a pro in Cyprus and Antoine plays for Auburn. Mason had a serious heart attack in mid-February and died Saturday of congestive heart failure. He was 48.

“(In 2005) the Knicks wanted me to go on the air and talk about the ’94 team that went to the finals. Mase did it with me.

“We shared some things on the air and got a chance to reminisce together and went out to lunch. He talked about his two sons, both who played. You could tell he was a great father, very involved.

“He had gained some weight at that time like we all do but not to an unhealthy degree. He played at 280 pounds, so he was a big guy anyway.

“We’d text each other now and then. I was disappointed when I heard (more recently) about the shape he was in. When you share all that time on a plane, in hotels and bus rides, you feel like you get to know someone. I was stunned when I heard everything.

“When we were in New York playing, I never thought of him as a guy who would let himself go. Obviously that wasn’t the case.

“He had a great heart. People say that all the time about other people, but it was really true with Mase. There are givers and takers in this world and he was definitely a giver. He made sure his mother didn’t want for anything. She was always dressed to the nines with her fur coats and everything.

“He took care of a lot of people that way. We lost a good soldier in Mase.”

 

Ric Bucher covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Some biographical information from the New York Times and Basketball Reference.

China manufacturing improves in February: HSBC

A worker assembles automobiles at a factory in Shenyang, north-east China's Liaoning province, on January 9, 2015China's manufacturing activity in February improved more than initially thought, HSBC said on Monday, but weakening foreign demand and declining prices signalled the world's second-largest economy still faces multiple woes. The index, compiled by information services provider Markit, tracks activity in China's factories and workshops and is a closely watched indicator of the health of the Asian economic giant. The National Bureau of Statistics on Sunday said China's official PMI showed contraction for the second straight month in February, coming in at 49.9. Analysts have said HSBC's survey is more weighted towards small exporters while the official one looks to larger companies.


China manufacturing improves in February: HSBC

A worker assembles automobiles at a factory in Shenyang, north-east China's Liaoning province, on January 9, 2015China's manufacturing activity in February improved more than initially thought, HSBC said on Monday, but weakening foreign demand and declining prices signalled the world's second-largest economy still faces multiple woes. The index, compiled by information services provider Markit, tracks activity in China's factories and workshops and is a closely watched indicator of the health of the Asian economic giant. The National Bureau of Statistics on Sunday said China's official PMI showed contraction for the second straight month in February, coming in at 49.9. Analysts have said HSBC's survey is more weighted towards small exporters while the official one looks to larger companies.


How Jeb Bush’s big bet on Florida economy may come back to haunt him

Jeb Bush speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in MarylandBy Jason Szep JUPITER, Florida (Reuters) – In October 2003, Jeb Bush unveiled one of the largest economic projects in Florida history: a $500 million plan to bring Scripps Research Institute to the state and build a biomedical hub he said would generate nearly 50,000 jobs in 15 years. As governor, he described it as a "seminal moment,” comparable to Walt Disney World's arrival in Florida in 1971, which brought billions of dollars in tourism, spawned tens of thousands of jobs, transformed the economy and created the world’s most-visited vacation resort. Today, as Bush leads possible Republican candidates in the 2016 race for the U.S. presidency, the missed projections and mixed results of his signature economic policy as governor — a biotechnology gamble that has yet to pay off — illustrate problems he could face in explaining his own record while promoting a vision of “real conservative success." By nearly all measures, the plan to transform bedroom communities into biotech corridors by attracting Scripps and other research institutes has fallen short of expectations, despite $1.3 billion in state, city and county funding.


How Jeb Bush’s big bet on Florida economy may come back to haunt him

Jeb Bush speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in MarylandBy Jason Szep JUPITER, Florida (Reuters) – In October 2003, Jeb Bush unveiled one of the largest economic projects in Florida history: a $500 million plan to bring Scripps Research Institute to the state and build a biomedical hub he said would generate nearly 50,000 jobs in 15 years. As governor, he described it as a "seminal moment,” comparable to Walt Disney World's arrival in Florida in 1971, which brought billions of dollars in tourism, spawned tens of thousands of jobs, transformed the economy and created the world’s most-visited vacation resort. Today, as Bush leads possible Republican candidates in the 2016 race for the U.S. presidency, the missed projections and mixed results of his signature economic policy as governor — a biotechnology gamble that has yet to pay off — illustrate problems he could face in explaining his own record while promoting a vision of “real conservative success." By nearly all measures, the plan to transform bedroom communities into biotech corridors by attracting Scripps and other research institutes has fallen short of expectations, despite $1.3 billion in state, city and county funding.


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