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Turning the Clocks Forward

I had a great weekend! And doesn’t it sound positive to turn the clocks forward?

It was filled with activities that included going to a play on Friday at the Virginia Repertory Theatre. The play is adapted from a book titled The End of War, written by my friend and author David L. Robbins. Historical fiction that is attention-grabbing.

I also attended a retirement party in Virginia Beach, for Brenda Jennings. She taught me in high school and has had such an impact on so many lives. Mary Jo Harrell posted pictures and a video and also tagged them to my Facebook page. One video posting includes me saying a few words of thanks. (Yes, if you see it, you might notice that I did grow some facial hair. It’s cold outside!)

And one final mention from the weekend. I attended a soccer tournament in Richmond and watched my 11-year-old nephew play. It was cold but really made me smile.

These are the good days!

This upcoming week filled with lots of basketball and the excitement of the start of the NCAA tournament. Will a Cinderella team dance to the final four?  More twists and turns than a Rubik’s Cube.

The hope of excellence. The certainty of excitement. The sanctity of pure competition. (I know… I’m getting crazy. I was pretending that my sequence of sentences was being read in one of those sports announcer voices, like the voice that famously spoke “The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” in NFL Films)

With all that sports and basketball in mind, that leads me to a good reminder of the pursuit of success. This comes from a Nike poster:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan
And for pic o’ day, from Bleacher Report. A creative NCAA basketball game sign that makes me laugh:


Staying Prepared

Elephants need jobs too. But that has nothing to do with this blog. Just had to get that off my chest. I’m not staying focused!

Ray Allen recently retired after an NBA career that spanned 18 years. He “wrote to himself” in this article at Players Tribune titled Letter to My Younger Self.

The reason that the article grabbed me is two-fold. First, in the article, he writes that life is not a time machine. He writes that he wishes he could tell himself that, “You need to stay focused”, and then recites all the reasons that you can’t go back.

I found that interesting as an overlay to an article that quoted one of his prior coaches, Erik Spoelstra, who said that he always wanted Allen to play on his team because of the way he stayed focused and prepared. He ultimately did and won a championship with the Miami Heat.

In the Miami Herald he recites an example of why Allen was so successful in an article titled Ray Allen’s ‘crazy’ drills, work ethic remain enduring examples in Heat locker room.

 “He would lay on the floor, pop up, backpedal, have the presence of mind to have his feet set and not out of bounds and have a coach throw him the ball,” Spoelstra said. “Afterwards I said, ‘That seemed like a crazy drill. Why would he do something like laying down in the middle of the floor?’

 “He said, ‘It’s extreme, but I want to prepare myself for when I’m in the lane and hit the floor, or I’m on the ground and there’s an offensive rebound so I have the fundamentals to be able to back pedal, stay in bounds and be able to knock down shots.’ ”

The article goes on to describe how that very situation basically occurred in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals. Allen hit his most famous shot with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, which sent the game into overtime and eventually the series to a Game 7. When Miami ultimately won the championship, everyone pointed to Allen’s amazing shot from the corner, without realizing that it didn’t just happen.

But as Coach Spoelstra put it, “Things don’t happen by accident the majority of the time in this league. It was an incredible thing to see, but that’s how Ray Allen was with his workouts. And it was on all levels — his conditioning, his shooting, his footwork. He was really maniacal about the details.”

Abraham Lincoln said about preparation, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.

The Ray Allen preparation grabbed me on a professional level. In the months of November and December we have several jury trials. Right now, the preparation is being completed. Life is full of surprises but our hope is that we are always prepared for what might happen next.

I hope you have a great weekend!

For pic o’ day, I am posting a picture from a friend with a look-back to Halloween. This made me laugh:



Sports and Jury Selection

It’s NBA playoff basketball time so it’s probably a bit predictable that I have managed to combine law and basketball into my Monday blog. That’s because I went to the Wizards/Hawks game on Saturday night in Washington D.C.

Here’s a picture of me at the game during the game-winning shot by Paul Pierce. Looking at this crowd and trying to search for me is like asking you to “find Waldo”.


You can see me in the bottom left corner of the picture, standing just above the photographers in a blue jacket and blue shirt… looking “fan crazy”. A shot at the buzzer will do that to a fan. At least that’s my excuse! I suspect that you are still having a hard time finding me! That’s the power of a crowd.

Several years ago I met an NBA referee from Virginia. He was officiating back in the 1990’s. I asked him what it was like to referee a game with Michael Jordan playing, and whether it was hard to do it. He described it as if the power of Jordan walking on the floor was much like attending an Elvis Presley, and that you couldn’t help but be impacted by it.

He hastened to add that he quickly adjusted. I guess that he didn’t want me to think that his officiating could be influenced by the cult of personality. When I look again at the screaming crowd on Saturday night, it makes me wonder how any official can avoid being influenced. I guess that’s part of home court advantage.

It reminds me of being an official of faculty basketball, as a freshman at Bob Jones University. The entire league was made up of teams from the college professors. And, the president of the university was also playing… Dr. Bob Jones III.

I remember calling one foul on him where he just stared at me after I blew the whistle and made the call. Tough times for a mere college freshman! Years later he laughed about that when I told him that story. I have to admit… I was influenced.

During my jury selection for a case trial, I try to ask questions that are intended to reveal any bias or prejudice. Sometimes I will receive an answer from a prospective juror that will reveal one of those characteristics. I have seen several potential jurors struck by defense attorneys, just because they didn’t want a juror hearing a car crash case, if that juror responded that they had previously been in a car crash. The defense attorney is sensitive to a potential bias toward my client, who was hurt in the crash.

Usually near the end of my prospective jury panel questioning, I will ask a variation of the following to the panel: “You have heard the judge describe the events of this crash and now you have some details about my client and her treatment. Based on what you heard, is there anyone who believes that they cannot be fair and impartial in this case. Perhaps something about these facts causes you to be already influenced before you have heard the case.”

I may even recite some examples of where I would be influenced. I tell them that there are just some cases that I personally could not be fair to all the parties because of the facts.  That’s because we are all subject to outside influences. However, that doesn’t always mean that such influence is a bias or prejudice. In some examples, the referee of the case— the Judge, has to make that call.

And for pic 0′ day, here’s some influence and persuasion:


Those Diet Drinks!

This past week I watched a lot of basketball including the ACC tournament and games that featured University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth. As a sports fan, this is a great time of year.

While watching these games, you start to see the same commercials repeated over and over. So much so, that on occasion I have found myself thinking that I will never buy that car or that product being advertised. Maybe they really are just trying to irritate me into an angry purchase. Is that a marketing ploy?

There is one ad that I just cannot get enough of it. In fact, I’ve even mentioned it in a previous blog. It’s really a spokesman/animal. It’s the Food Lion lion. Here he’s even at a tailgating party:



Seriously, I know that a lion cannot talk and dispense wisdom on budgets and shopping. Although, lions might enjoy picnics and tailgating. So there’s that!  There’s even one where he enjoys getting his hair/mane blown back like a “hair band member” from an 80’s rock band.

The Food Lion lion is a figment of our imagination and fancy televison editing. Another figment of our imagination… diet soft drinks.

According to WebMD, after eight years of collecting research data,  researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center have reported findings that a person’s risk for being overweight increases by 41 percent, for every can or bottle of diet soft drink that they drink per day.

Also in the book A Lighter You! Train Your Brain to Slim Your Body, author  Holly Stokes, a certified Hypnotherapist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner, writes that drinking diet drinks are more likely to cause weight gain than non-diet soda and may lead to health problems including diabetes and heart disease.

When we take the concept of diet soda as being part of losing weight, it is true that it saves approximately 140 calories versus other sugary drinks. Unfortunately, it is linked to causing tooth decay, depression, loss of bone density and has been linked by some researchers to heart problems. Not to mention the fact that diet drinks have no nutrional value.

The above reported study followed over 9500 people to arrive at these research findings. Unfortunately, diet drinks are like the Food Lion lion.

Of course, I still am waiting to hear the Food Lion lion say the diet drinks are healthy. I might then be persuaded!

And for pic o’ day


The Kobe Lesson

The Sunday night NFL football game has the New England Patriots traveling to Indianapolis to play the Colts. It’s popular to pick the Patriots to win because people  (and I mean “people” as in ESPN  “every second Patriots Network”) say that Tom Brady with his three Super Bowl rings, is the golden boy and will lead the Patriots to victory.

If you are a Patriots fan, you recall the glory days of their three Super Bowl victories. You realize that they have won 5 straight games.

If you aren’t a Patriots fan, then you recall that they got caught cheating for all three of those Super Bowl win years; that the NFL destroyed the cheating tapes before the public could see how much they cheated, and that you notice that no one ever talks about the cheating or that the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl without cheating.

In fact, you also pick the Colts to win on Sunday night because, since 2009 Brady is 3-11 on the road against teams with a winning record. What do you think? Do I sound like a Patriots fan? It’s how you look at it.

I admit it, I just enjoyed writing those last paragraphs. But, I realize that this is not a football pick em column. Instead, I want to segue from the Patriot success/failure thinking to NBA basketball and Kobe Bryant .

This past week, Kobe Bryant just set the NBA record for most missed field goals (shots) in a career. He passed former Boston Celtic great John Havlicek.

Now, it’s real easy to focus on all those misses. Or, to focus on what it also might mean. To focus on the negative would be to think that he just shoots too much or that he sure did miss a lot.

If you are looking for the positive for Kobe, then it means that he is not afraid of failure. It also means that he has been able to play a long time. Just staying at it! And that his team has always counted on him to shoot. And you might also think that Kobe’s Los Angeles teams have won five NBA championships.

Have you ever heard someone say, “he is so lucky” or “I wish I could get those breaks”. Yes, it’s either thinking like that or thinking that life is a moveable feast.

And for pic o’ day, it’s real easy to feel like this by the end of the week!

I am done

Hair Power

Gene Keady’s hair. Spending $600 a week. The power of a comb over. Probably all of the previous statements mean nothing to you; but combined, they make quite a story about what was important to a coach. (Indianapolis Star)

I call this the power of the comb over. It also may be classified as “what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

First, let’s travel back in time to the story of Gene Keady’s hair.

Gene 1



Gene 2



Gene Keady did not like going bald. So, he decided to fight it. As basketball coach of Purdue University, he knew he was going to be on TV. It caused him to hire a hairdresser. She dyed his hair and even added hair extensions weekly… at a weekly expense of $600.

Let’s quickly review. He thought that he looked good in the above pictures. He wrapped his dyed hair around his head as though he was wearing a turban, with hair extensions inserted.

Thankfully, there came a time that he met a lady who he ended up marrying. She talked him into getting rid of the weekly expense and scary hair. Below is a before and after… sans hair!

Before and after


Now, let me connect this comb over to the practice of law. It shows the significance of appearance. It’s why I put value on scarring.

When I ask a client if they are bothered by their scar, whether on a leg, arm or the face; I then relay that answer to the adjuster. To me, it’s not very persuasive when a callous adjuster tells me that the scarring is no big deal.

Some clients are impacted by no longer wearing a bathing suit or perhaps a sleeveless dress. Others make sure that they always wear specific makeup to cover up the scar.

An old British Television series was titled Keeping Up Appearances. It was centered on the life of Hyacinth Bucket, which she pronounced Bouquet because she aspired to be upper class. She did not want to appear less. Every episode reminded us of the importance of appearance to others.

So it is when a car crash causes injury and harm that truly impacts the way a person thinks about themselves. Coach Keady personally was concerned about his own appearance. Enough to spend that amazing weekly expense. He did not want to be bald for television. It doesn’t matter if someone else said that such a loss did not matter.

And for pic o’ day… the get-away:

squirrell get_away

An Athlete’s Bad Investment

NBA basketball player Mike Miller was considered to be an integral part of the Miami Heat, when they won their two recent championships. NBA: Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors

In the world of Miami Heat basketball and Miller, all seemed right. In fact, the Heat exercised an NBA clause that allowed them to release him this year and still fully pay him while he could go sign with another team. They then received cap space to sign another player. On the surface, both parted on great terms.

However, that really doesn’t tell the full story of what was brewing. This according to the Miami Herald:

Miller, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, lost $1.7 million in a scam allegedly orchestrated by Haider Zafar, a South Beach bling king who presented himself as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family.

According to Miller’s complaint that has been drawn up but not yet filed, a Heat employee introduced Miller to Zafar, and Zafar used $700,000 of the money he stole from Miller to pay for courtside Heat tickets.

Settlement talks between Miller and the Heat have stalled. Miller asked for that $700,000 back from the Heat, plus attorney’s fees, but “the parties were far apart,” Miller’s attorney, Andrew Fine, said.

In the potential lawsuit, Miller is seeking a lot more: the entire $1.7 million that he lost in Zafar’s scam.

The part of the facts most troubling is that the meetings between Zafar and Miller were held at the Heat’s offices. ( To date, the lawsuit has not been filed but there is some settlement discussion.

Miller’s attorney suggests that he believes that the Heat are fully responsible for this loss from this fraudulent investment. Without the Heat employee introduction, he would not have invested.  He believes that they were only focused on selling their season tickets to Zafar.

Two other Heat players also lost money to this individual.  Currently,  Zafar is being held in custody in an Ohio jail, on an unrelated fraud case.

DID YOU KNOW that the saying, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” comes from Ancient Rome wrestling. The only rule during wrestling matches was “no eye gouging”. Everything else was fair game!

 For pic o’ day…

witness protection

Real Estate Scam Story

NBA basketball players are known to make big money. That doesn’t mean that they make good investments. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that players from the Miami Heat were caught in a multi-million dollar real estate scam.

According to recent testimony in an Ohio Federal Court courtroom, witnesses testified that Florida residents invested over 8 million dollars with Haider Zafar. Zafar has been indicted with 135 counts of fraud. The indictment  describes a scheme that he used to swindle money involving a real estate and a promise of amazing profits.

According to testimony, Zafar claimed that his uncle was Pakistan’s defense minister, which gave him the authority to buy and sell property for that country. So, he promised investors like Heat players Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and James Jones that if they invested in Pakistan properties, they would be guaranteed a profit through his contact.  A simple idea, buy low and sell high… to that government.

Unfortunately for them, he had no relative in government and could not promise a profit. Evidence suggests that he also purchased little or no properties. A story that we will probably soon see on some American Greed episode.

For our DID YOU KNOW, it’s another math puzzler. If you take any number between 1 and 9 and multiply it by 9, then the sum of those two numbers will always equal 9. Here’s an example: 7 muliplied by 9 equals 63.  So… 6 plus 3 = 9.   Another????      3 x 9 = 27. So… 2 plus 7 equals….. 9!

And finally in pic o’ day… some courtroom drama?

courtroom drama


The Fan That Heckled Lebron

“You’re a bum” is one of the first “heckler phrases” that I heard when I went to a baseball game. Of course, I have been known to heckle umpires or referees with such expressions as, “If you had one good eye, you’d be a Cyclops“. If you know Greek mythology, then you know that a Cyclops only has one eye. Another thing I’ve been known to holler is, “Hey ref, you’re missing a good game”.

I start this blog out with the admission that I have been guilty, on occasion, of a bit of heckling. It has always been my belief that a certain amount of heckling is part of the experience of a game. Why else would you be called a fan, if you are not truly fanatical.

Avid NBA Washington Bullets’ fans (that’s before they were renamed the Wizards) probably remember a famous fan heckler, that used to sit right behind the opposing team, at Capitol Centre. Robin Ficker comes up as a listing when you google “Washington Bullets’ famous heckler”.

It still makes me chuckle when I think about the time that Ficker sat behind the Phoenix Suns’ bench and heckled Charles Barkley. He had a stick with a large plastic piece of broccoli hanging from it, and he just kept screaming, “Charles Broccoli, Charles Broccoli”. Barkley was so impressed with his “heckling” that he flew him out to the 1993 NBA Finals and bought Ficker a ticket, right behind the Chicago Bulls bench, to heckle Michael Jordan.

Now, dial forward to the athletes of today. It brings into question the rights of a fan, when they purchase a ticket to a sporting event. Usually, there is some kind of language on the back of the ticket that gives the facility or Stadium certain causes for removal, based on conduct of the spectator.

Causes for removal could include the expected reasons of using a laser pointer; setting off fireworks; failure to surrender a sign that might block the view of other fans; or, smoking in seating areas.

There is also usually a paragraph that includes some kind of the following: “abusive language directed toward players referees or other fans, disorderly conduct, abusive language, and public intoxication”. Does this language put a limitation on allowable heckling?

It used to be that, just hollering at players or fans, did not constitute a violation of any of those provisions. In fact, the Washington Bullets/Wizards never took action against anything that their famous heckler shouted or did, except that when they moved from Capitol Centre, to downtown D.C., and into their new home at the MCI Centre, they advised Ficker that all tickets behind the bench had already been purchased. They did provide him with the ability to still purchase season tickets. They just were not close to floor level.

On Friday night, while the Miami Heat were in Detroit, Lebron James and a fan exchanged words. (story here) James claimed that he heard the fan/heckler, mention and insult his mother.

James walked over to the fan and said, “I don’t care what you say to me. I don’t give a (expletive) what you say. But don’t be disrespectful.” The exchange took place during the first quarter and was picked up by the TV microphones. At no time was it alleged that the fan ever used any curse words.

When James said that to the fan, it was in earshot of the man’s two boys, who were also sitting court side with their father. Shortly thereafter, security advised the man that he would have to stop heckling the rest of the game, or he and his sons would be escorted from the game.

This brings us to the age old question of what you are entitled to do, when you purchase a ticket. The story does not say exactly what the man said. I suspect that the fact that he attacked James’ mother, or whatever he said, is probably considered to be going over the line from a judgment viewpoint. I’m not sure that it should qualify for cause, as a breach of his ticket purchase. The definition of heckling includes “trying to embarrass or annoy”.

I did find it interesting that no one seemed bothered that James used profanity in front of the man’s sons and also on the TV microphone. I guess that’s why Nike used to advertise that “we are all witnesses”. Maybe James believes he can do whatever he wants. Of course, no one was paying to see the heckler.

Two Sides to a Shoe

It came down to family loyalty or being part of the team. At least that's how Michael Jordan's son, Marcus, apparently saw it. It was a question over which shoes he would wear.

 Marcus Jordan wore a pair of white Air Jordans during a University of Central exhibition win over Saint Leo College. (ESPN). He is a freshman on the basketball team. Since Michael Jordan has been forever linked with his shoe brand and poster logo that goes on the side of the shoes, it doesn't seem surprising the Marcus would wear his father's brand.

The problem with this is that UCF is in the last year of a five year contract with Adidas. The contract requires all coaches and athletes to use Adidas apparel and equipment. Because of contract issues, this could cost the school up to 3 Million dollars. That, and now the players probably don't have new Adidas shoes to wear.

Adidas sent an email to the Associated Press that stated, "The University of Central Florida has chosen not to deliver on their contractual commitment to Adidas. As a result, we have chosen not to continue our relationship moving forward". The school issued its own statement by saying that, "We are disappointed to learn that Adidas has chosen to discontinue its relationship with UCF Athletics". Marcus had said that he would only wear Nike Air Jordan shoes because they hold special meaning to the family.

I notice that Marcus didn't mention that they also hold special meaning to the family bank account. I guess we'll see if this leads to a lawsuit and, will Jordan shoes now step up and make up the difference in a big way. I guess it also takes the old saying to a new meaning, "if the shoe fits, wear it" because Marcus will only wear one shoe. Hopefully his teammates aren't in socks for the next one!    

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