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Raptors FANS.....A lil' sumpin' on Rafer....

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Old 01-14-2003, 02:04 PM   #1
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Raptors FANS.....A lil' sumpin' on Rafer....

A lil' wha' wha' on our new boy Skip......... (from Slam Magazine a couple of years ago)....Enjoy!

FRESNO STATE POINT G RAFER ALSTON HAS YET TO PLAY
A SINGLE D-I GAME, AND HE'S ALREADY IN CHARGE. PREPARE TO GET SHOOK.

"He's caught me. I ain't gonna lie. When you're playing against Rafer Alston,
you're liable to get embarrassed. You know it's gonna happen."-Stephon Marbury

by ANTHONY MCCARRON

Off the court, the kid doesn't look like much. Six-foot-not-much and about a hundred-sixty-nothin'. Sleepy eyes. Put a ball in his hands, and, well, things don't look that much different. The dribble is slow-lethargic, almost, but don't let that fool you. Get the kid uptown to 155th Street in the NYC, and things change in a hurry. He does things with the ball that defy explanation. He shakes the unshakable. He makes the best defensive footwork look straight-up weak. Still though, he makes it look easy-lazy, almost. Don't be fooled.

Like the countless basketball players who have played here before, Rafer has made a name for himself. Unlike most of them, he plans on doing more with that name than kicking it around a street corner. Many ballplayers have built careers off Rucker's caged fame, but Mr. Alston has taken his notoriety to an entirely different level. The exaggerated, straight-up lies people be telling about playground basketball and playground legends are actual facts when they apply to Rafer. He is so on-point with his, there's no need to lie.

Stephon Marbury needs to lie, but he can't. "He's caught me. I ain't gonna lie. When you're playing against Rafer Alston, you're liable to get embarrassed. You know it's gonna happen." Yo, hold up, this is Steph talking. S-T-E-P-H! Starbury. Dream-taker, ankle-breaker. The purest of pure point guards, Coney Island's finest. Maybe the illest point guard ever outta the boroughs. He's been up-close and personal with Rafer and cannot lie about the truth. "When he kicks it at Fresno State next season, he'll be one of the best point guards in college basketball, no doubt."

Who is Rafer Alston?

If Mike Tyson's got Brownsville to blame, Rafer Alston could just as easily blame South Jamaica, Queens, and perhaps his own demons, but he prefers to dwell positive.

"I feel good inside myself," Rafer says now.

It took a long time to get there.

Rucker Tournament, 155th Street, Harlem, NYC. Loud crowds squeeze into space below the 155th St. bridge, as the asphalt steams on another hot summer day. T-shirts stick to backs, even if you're not hoopin'. Julius Erving has run here; the Hawk, the Goat, the Helicopter, Joe Hammond, too. Iverson, Steph, Kobe, everyone drops by during the summer. When you roll on playground ball, this is the spot-no doubt.

There's a skinny guard with the rock. Hair braided, one sleepy eye. It looks like he's got a string attached to the ball as he dribbles up court. He can make the ball obey his every command. Defenders swarm, swipe, even shove, desperate for a rip. "Get in his jock and take it!" a clueless fan screams. No haps.

Son drives to the rack. Conrad McRae is there. Remember Conrad McRae? Big guy, New York guy, played at Syracuse? Anyway. With the ball in his right hand, the skinny kid tries to drive by McRae for the layup. McRae goes up, too. Visions of basketballs pinned on backboards dance through McRae's dome. In front of this crowd, that would cause as much wreck as swatting that shit into the bleachers.

But wait, somehow the ball disappears from McRae's sight. The sleepy-eyed guard gets mythical: Reverses the pattern in midair by letting the ball roll down his upraised right arm, around his head and down his left arm. (Re-read please!) While still in the air-now Conrad McRae has no idea what is goin' on-a seam is found as kid, without looking, let's the ball leave his left hand for the Magic Johnson. Stunned because he's never seen, let alone received, a pass like that, teammate Zendon Hamilton dunks the ball to finish the unreal. The crowd loses it. Hollerin', screamin', trippin'. Some even run out of the stands. Another dime is dropped. The skinny kid just smiles as he makes his way back down court to play d. It's all in a New York day's work. Who is Rafer Alston? You just met him.

Rafer Alston would never tell you that he made that pass on purpose, that it was planned, that it was perhaps the ultimate in creativity. He doesn't get down like that. "It musta looked that way," he says. "But I just let it go, and it slipped. It dropped straight down my arm to the dude." After all, this is a guy who once asked a writer, "Don't put any of that stuff about me being so great, all that going to the NBA stuff, into the article, OK?"

Humble. He got his nickname-"Skip to my Lou"-from an announcer at Rucker after he started skipping with the ball during a game. "It's an entertainment thing," Alston says. "The guy rocking the mic started that; I just try to follow up."

Some people know him only by that name. Some just call him, "Skip." Ron Naclerio, Rafer's former coach at Benjamin N. Cardozo High in Queens, tells a story about when Rafer met Grant Hill at a party:

"Hey."

"S'up?"

"Rafer Alston."

"Nice to meet you."

End of meeting. Later, someone told Hill that Rafer was actually "Skip to my Lou," and Hill went back to shake Rafer's hand again, eyes wide.

Oh, there are more stories. Mad stories. More stories than there were Victor Page jumpers last year. Naclerio says Anthony Mason, one of the NBA's toughest defenders, straight-up refused to guard Rafer during a summer league game, because he didn't want to face the handle. Once, Rafer got ill at a game in Queens against a player named "Headache;" shook him so bad that the spectators started throwing aspirin on the court to give dude some relief.

More stories? At another tourney in Queens, Rafer dribbled up court, and a frustrated opponent pushed him from behind. Rafer stumbled but didn't fall-he never falls-turned and whirled the ball at the kid. Kid put his hand up to protect himself like a bitch, but the ball hit a foot in front of him and bounced right back to Rafer. The ol' yo-yo move, yo. Lesson: Play punk, you get punked. Don't mess around.

And then there was the time Kareem Reid was guarding him. Rafer dribbled between his own legs, sent the ball around Kareem's back and back again, and just had to slap Kareem in the process. But anyway...

In high school, Skip moonwalked during a scrimmage, while Cardozo was working on its delay offense. Everyone cracked up, even the opposing coach.

One time, the 6-2 messiah got trapped by defenders, put the ball around one guy's back, spun away from another, tossed a stutter step at the foul line on one more and fed a teammate for the slam. Jerry Tarkanian was sitting in the stands at Rucker for that one. At the end of the game, Tark told Naclerio, "I love him-what do I have to do to get him?"

"Rafer has done stuff, if you tried to make it up, you couldn't," Naclerio says. "He is the Harlem Globetrotters. If Pistol Pete Maravich were still alive, he'd love Rafer.

"Rod Strickland used to sit opposite the bench at Rucker and watch. One time, he came up to me and said, 'Coach, don't give up on the kid, help him do the right thing. By the way, when's your next game?' He loved to watch him."

Rod confirms. "One of my partners, Mike Dean, kept telling me about him, so I just went over to Rucker to see him play," he says. "And right away I knew he was something special. Just the skill level. You know how they play over on 155th, a little clownish at times with all of the tricks and everything? But Skip just had instincts; his instincts were incredible to me. His passing ability, his dribbling ability. And then, he was playing defense! I mean, out in the park? He was really picking guys up and trying to lock guys down. After that, I would only go to the park to see him; I wasn't trying to see anybody else."

"You can make a kid a myth, but that doesn't mean anything," Naclerio says. "You have to see him play. I have a feeling that he's gonna be everything they say he is. Probably more."

Walking with Rafer near Rucker is like strolling down Michigan Ave. with Michael Jordan. And when Rafer's in a game, you can hear the oohs and aahs from blocks away.

Naclerio says he showed tapes of Rafer to Mitch Richmond, and all Mitch could say was, "Damn!"

Duane Causwell, the 7-foot ex-Sacramento King center who played for Naclerio at Cardozo, says he told the Kings' brass, "'Rafer's the point guard of the future, the total package.' I was trying to put them on the jump early, make 'em remember the name."

NBA superscout Marty Blake already knows Rafer's name. "We've got a file on him," Blake says. "My scouts say, 'Wait.'"

Rafer just wants to play ball. He wants to ball so bad he can feel the concrete under his feet; he can hear his sneaks squeak on a gym floor, even when he's not in a run. He's put in his work, sweated his hours, paid mad dues. In the gym, in the park, in tournaments-it don't matter. You think a handle like that is just natural? Never. It's supernatural, especially since he continues to work on it.

"He has one of the best handles I've ever seen," says former U. of Texas guard Reggie Freeman, an NYC native who was third-team All-American last season. "You just can't get the ball out of his hands. He's always gonna make the guy defending him look crazy. I've watched Pistol Pete on tape, and Rafer's just like that, the flash. I've guarded him a couple of times at Rucker; I don't like it. I try to let him shoot jumpers. If you guard him too close, he'll make you look bad.

"Man, that handle."

Sometimes, though, the only thing Rafer had a handle on was a basketball. That's Rafer Alston, too. Flipmode.

Rafer Alston is just 20 years old, but sometimes it seems he's lived a longer life. Playground prodigy, hyped high-schooler, truant, a risk. Growing up, he was the guy other kids asked for subway directions, because he knew the lines inside and out from playing in tournaments all over the city. Nobody ever asked to copy his notes from class, though. He was a fairly good student; he was just never there.

As a freshman at Cardozo, he scored 18 points in 11 minutes in a game against Lincoln HS, always one of the city's powers. Naclerio envisioned handing the team to Rafer for three years and then answering reporter's questions about how it felt to win all the time. But over the next three years, Rafer's attendance was low, real low, and his eligibility...gone. He only played six games as a junior and four as a senior-and only because a judge's temporary restraining order briefly lifted a school ruling that he was ineligible. In the 10 games he did play, he averaged 31.9 points. Damn.

"In high school, I just heard people say he was better than anyone, better than Stephon," says Ed Cota, the Brooklyn-raised UNC point guard.

At the Cardozo-Lincoln game during his junior year, Rafer watched from the stands as the Judges lost to Marbury and Jamel Thomas, now at Providence. "You could see tears in his eyes, he wanted to play so bad," Naclerio said. "He thought he let us down."

Rafer started skipping school. "He shut down because of family problems," Naclerio says. "They were bothering him, he fell behind in school and he didn't realize how much it would affect him."

"I really wasn't into the school thing in high school," Rafer says. "I wanted to hang out. That threw me off track, missing classes. I realized, finally, that I had to go to school."

He never graduated from Cardozo, but did get a GED after briefly going to a high school in California and to Laurinburg Prep in North Carolina. He went to Ventura College and led its team to the California state junior college championship, but left two weeks before final exams. He left basketball alone for a year and began taking classes at Fresno Community College, before suiting up last season. In his return to the game, Rafer averaged 17.3 points and 8.6 assists per game and sank 41 percent of his three-pointers. But don't call it a comeback...yet.

Wasted Talent. That's Rafer's "other" nickname. The "...to my Lou"-haters and all non-believers spit the term out whenever he's not around. It's become common conversation to question Rafer's skills outside of Rucker: Is he going to be another playground legend who couldn't get it done for real? Will he be one of those back-at-the-park, talkin'-about-what-he-could-have-been, how-he-used-to-bust-so-and-so, below-the-rim-story-tellin' has-beens? Will he be another Pearl Washington-a streetball legend who makes it big in the college spotlight, then crashes as a pro?

No. Rafer has put himself in position to finalize his dreams, not just start them. Only a couple real playground legends with this kind of credibility have made it big in the NBA. Earl Monroe caught wreck in high school, college, the NBA championships, not just on the block. But Connie Hawkins was past his prime by the time he made it to the league. Ray Lewis, Billy Harris, Joe Hammond, Earl Manigault and Lloyd Daniels didn't make it far. Players with their notoriety and street credits somehow, and too often, don't make the transition. The League is no joke, but then again, Rafer ain't kickin' out riddles. He's serious about this, maybe more serious than his playground predecessors because he's seen their fate.

"He had a lotta struggles growing up in South Jamaica," says Causwell, a good friend of Rafer's who graduated from Cardozo. "He had a hard time, but he's been able to get through it. It's a shame how many people have written him off, didn't think he'd make it. But after [next] year, everyone will know who he is."

"I think he'll make it. I'm hoping he does great," says Strickland. "I mean, you never know, can someone transfer [skills] to the college or pro level? I think him going to play with Tark was a good move, because he'll get that freedom to be himself. I'll be strapped to the tube watching him, believe that! Because, ultimately, I want to see him up here [in the NBA]."

"I'm proud of myself now," Rafer says-he graduated from Fresno Community College with a two-year degree. "My family is proud of me. I wanna keep going. Hopefully, I can graduate from Fresno State next."

Hopefully.

Rafer Alston got next. He signed a letter of intent to play his junior year for Fresno State. Late-night ESPN games, national ranking, USA Today cover stories, Rod Strickland's DirecTV. The NBA has always been a far-off fantasy, Skip's dream. So has getting to a stage fit for his b-ball madness. Rafer's madness. Tark will be biting that towel; Division I players guarding him will be getting shook up like Elvis, left face-down like Elvis. They don't know yet, but they will.

The questions will continue. Is he for real? Or is he just another point guard out of NY who got credit where it wasn't due? Is he just another bad-ass, non-deserving street kid that Tark is trying to save to build his program? Why should we care about him just because he plays basketball?

"I'm not looking back," Rafer says of his past. He's a young man with an extremely tight focus on his future, trying to make the most out of one of his wishes that was granted. "I wanna play. People will notice me on my talent. My decision came easy. It was a great situation in Fresno. To win it all next year, that's the only thing I think about."

Yes, but can Rafer play the point, distribute, lead, without the extracurricular?, the critics will ask. Can Rafer leave "Skip" in New York while he runs things in Fresno?

"A lot of people will look to see what I'm coming with this year," he says. "Some will look for me to be Skip, but this'll be D-I, college ball, so it'll be interesting. I think I can come to the table with both styles of play; whichever is going to work, I'll come with. I can be a leader and a point guard, get everybody else involved. And if they need someone to score, I can. I can do it."

If you don't believe, listen up: "The reason he'll be successful is because of his work ethic," says Boston College point guard Duane Woodward, another Cardozo product. "He always wants to improve, so that'll get him over, and with his ability, he'll be a pure point guard. He gets whoever he plays with in the right position to score. He gets everyone's strengths out. The flashy stuff is only for the street. I've rarely seen him do it when it's time to be organized.

"Plus," Woodward continues, "I know he's totally focused. We played alongside each other in high school; he sees where I'm at in college. All those guys he played with or against are in college and playing on TV. He wants to be there, too."

Strickland finalizes. "The thing about Skip that's a little different to me from the other playground guys is the fact that he's not doing all of that-I don't know how to say it, but...they do a lot of crazy stuff out there. Skip does stuff too, but it's basketball. You know what I mean? It's natural."

A fan standing outside of Rucker Park tells me one day that the difference between Rafer Alston and all of the other guards playing ball is like the difference between listening to a classically-trained musician and listening to Charlie Parker. "He's a real basketball player, the kind they don't make anymore," he says. His Skip story? "Real basketball players will play basketball in jeans if they have to. Mark Jackson or none of those NBA ball players would ever do that; Rafer would."
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:14 PM   #2
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i remember this article. so why didn't he make it big? is his jump shot really that bad?
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:18 PM   #3
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He really helped sunday's game, he's good news for sure.
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:18 PM   #4
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I didn't think so. I was at both games on the weekend and he was draining his jumper. I think, in general, it's tough to make the transition from 'playground playa' to NBA baller. He didn't play much in high school, nor college, so he's a risk as far as GM's and coaches are concerned. Plus he had some run ins with the law as well, which wouldn't help his case.

Regardless, he could turn out to be a nice pick up for the raps if he continues to play like this.

If he really can dish out the dimes, imagine what it 'could' be like if a healthy VC came back to catch some sick alley-oops!!
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:23 PM   #5
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Can't wait to see him play this sunday. Haven't been to ACC in ages.
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:40 PM   #6
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.336% FG (career) .646%FT (career)

granted, he didn't get a lot of minutes, but still...
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:46 PM   #7
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also a good article on him in todays post...

jc
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:51 PM   #8
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ots of potential.

hes a street baller, good handle, good instincts, needs work to bring up his skills to a pro level, i like his prospects

ever notice how SLAM always bigs up streetballers from new york w/ bad track records.

its their thing, they do that in every issue, most of them never pass the D-1.

they still think marbury will be the 2nd coming of christ....
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Old 01-14-2003, 02:52 PM   #9
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"I've never played this much in four years of basketball," he said Sunday, with that wonder-filled grin. "Man. That's like the total of my three years in Milwaukee."
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Old 01-14-2003, 06:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by judge wopner


ever notice how SLAM always bigs up streetballers from new york w/ bad track records.
They would say that about you but I cover you like the Glove.
Make you look like a Yogi Stewart bitch
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Old 01-14-2003, 07:09 PM   #11
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I think the Raptors should sign The Magical White Isle to a 10-day contract, he apparently has a lot of game--can knock down the three ball and bring power to the lane. I know for a fact he's been hitting the gym hard...though his weed-smoking habit might be a bit of a problem
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Old 01-15-2003, 01:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheVibe
I think the Raptors should sign The Magical White Isle to a 10-day contract, he apparently has a lot of game--can knock down the three ball and bring power to the lane. I know for a fact he's been hitting the gym hard...though his weed-smoking habit might be a bit of a problem

weed smoking is not a problem with the NBA
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Old 01-15-2003, 01:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by daddyiwantchocolate
He really helped sunday's game, he's good news for sure.
no doubt...GO TEAM RAFER...(plus, I like his name..its very unique)
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Old 01-15-2003, 01:57 PM   #14
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EVERYONE BACK ON THE BANDWAGON! ALL ABOARD THE BANDWAGON!
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Libradragon
EVERYONE BACK ON THE BANDWAGON! ALL ABOARD THE BANDWAGON!

see you on the bandwagon on Sunday Naomi!!
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:03 PM   #16
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i never left the bandwagon, robb.
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:12 PM   #17
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Originally posted by Libradragon
i never left the bandwagon, robb.

duh! I know this, but you're going to the game on sunday right???
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:15 PM   #18
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yes i am! (sorry for the mad face) see you sunday! lord stanley's @ halftime
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:17 PM   #19
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since when did LD start the bandwagon?

two games and people !!! COME ON!!
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:18 PM   #20
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woopaaa, go RAPTORS!

I'm sure they'll beat down the Bucks tonight!
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:27 PM   #21
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Originally posted by qtip
since when did LD start the bandwagon?

two games and people !!! COME ON!!
YOU come on, mr. cynical.
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:32 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Big League Chu

They would say that about you but I cover you like the Glove.
Make you look like a Yogi Stewart bitch

yet....

Quote:
Originally posted by daddyiwantchocolate
He really helped sunday's game, he's good news for sure.
looks like someone saw things as they TRULY were on sunday!!!
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:47 PM   #23
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Just for that your gonna get the shit talkin' of your life tomorrow and on Sunday.
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Old 01-15-2003, 02:54 PM   #24
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now now boys, don't make me change outta my pjs one sunday and come watch you boys play. i'll decide who gets the cheers and who gets the jeers.
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Old 01-15-2003, 03:07 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Big League Chu
Just for that your gonna get the shit talkin' of your life tomorrow and on Sunday.
please check my last thread

http://216.234.51.66/board/showthrea...threadid=28661

may have tochange your name to
Big League Jew.



much love to my Jewish brothers and sisters out there,
BOSA has much love for the chosen peeps!!!
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