New York’s NBA stars shine in Tokyo

With stars from across the NBA and world representing their home nations, basketball at the Tokyo Summer Olympics was a can’t-miss event that provided quality hoops and thrilling entertainment. As the USA hunted a 4th consecutive gold medal in the event, it was Nets superstar Kevin Durant who paved the way forward.
Durant wasn’t the only New York star on the court in Japan. Evan Fournier, who recently penned a 4-year deal with the Knicks played a key role for the French national team. Australian star Patty Mills also landed in NYC, signing with the Nets in free agency after 10 seasons in San Antonio. Both Fournier and Mills would get the better of Durant and Team USA in the early stages of the Olympics.
Despite easily having the strongest roster in the world, Team USA didn’t fare too well in the exhibition games. Losses to Australia and Nigeria sent fans into a frenzy, and a loss to France in the first official game didn’t make things any better. Facing sudden pressure, the US took down Iran by 60 points and the Czech Republic by 35, making it past the preliminary round.
After a quarterfinal victory over Spain, the US got their rematch with Australia, who played for a shot at their first ever medal for basketball. A win for the Aussies would not be easy against the USA, but it would guarantee them at least a silver medal.
Australia came out of the gates hungry, moving the ball around at a blur and hitting their shots. Jazz forward Joe Ingles hit two threes to open the scoring, while the US struggled to hit perimeter shots in the opening quarter.
A dazzling display by Patty Mills helped create separation, as he showed off some flashy passing and fantastic shooting from deep. In the blink of an eye, Australia held a 41-26 lead and showed no signs of slowing.
With just under four minutes left in the half, Devin Booker finally hit the first American three pointer. A 16-4 run brought the lead down to just three, but Australia held onto a 45-42 lead at the break.
In the first two minutes of the third the USA completed the comeback, taking their first lead since 2-0. After three quarters the lead was up to 19, and a 97-78 win sent the USA to the gold medal game, while Australia was forced to fight for bronze.
The opponent in the final would be France, who like Australia, remained unbeaten in the event. France narrowly survived their semifinal match against Luka Doncic and Slovenia. The youngster’s triple-double (the third in Olympic history) nearly upset the French, but a last-second block by Nic Batum sent them through to the gold medal game.
Rudy Gobert started the scoring off with a physical move inside for France, as a hard-fought contest got underway. Durant responded with a strong drive to the rim, finishing on the Jazz center. Fourneir got in on the action too, hitting a deep three to give France an early 10-4 lead.
It took a while, but after Durant hit the first American three, the shots started to fall for Team USA.
At the half the USA held a 44-39 lead. Durant led all scorers with 21 points, and Celtics star Jayson Tatum recorded a solid 11. For France, Gobert’s 13 points and Fournier’s 11 kept the game in reach.
A few former NY role players also put in solid shifts for France. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who spent two years in Brooklyn, scored 11 points in 21 minutes on the floor. Former Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina recorded 5 points in just over 10 minutes. Both shot 50% and filled in nicely on offense.
Once the USA found their groove, it was hard to stop them. The three pointers that weren’t falling earlier in the game were finally connecting, ball handling was near-immaculate, and the defensive effort made it tough for France to keep pace. The American lead grew as big as 14 in the 3rd quarter, but was never bigger than 10 in the final period.
In the final minutes, the French team made a final effort, with Fournier hitting a three to cut the lead to just six. Two free throws by Durant sealed the game, giving him a 3rd consecutive 29-point performance. Fournier and Gobert both scored 16 to lead France, though Fournier only shot 33% and 22% from the perimeter.
“It meant a lot, especially playing against this team. France is a good team and they don’t quit. They play hard every minute they’re on the floor,” said Durant postgame. “We wanted them again, just like we wanted Australia again…. And we were able to finish this game off.”
With the NBA playoffs running deep into summer, COVID cases affecting the roster, and the early defeats, winning gold felt extra special.
“We went through some real adversity,” said Durant in an interview. “We lost a game in the tournament, we lost two exhibition games. We had some unusual circumstances with COVID, guys playing in the NBA Finals and coming in late. And we just fought through everything. It’s definitely different, so I’m glad we finished the job.”
Durant’s third gold medal cements his legacy on the international stage, where he joins Carmelo Anthony as the only NBA players to win Olympic glory three times. During the Tokyo games, he surpassed Carmelo as the leading Olympic scorer and became the first Team USA player to score 100 points in three different summer games.
Durant wasn’t the only one setting records in the medal round. In the bronze medal game, Patty Mills erupted for a legendary performance. Slovenia was not an easy team to take on, even as they made their Olympic debuts.
Mills scored 42 points on a terrific 15/31 shooting performance and picked up nine assists. On the Slovenian side, Luka Doncic led scorers with 22 points, also recording eight rebounds and seven assists. It wasn’t enough to earn him and Slovenia a debut medal, as Australia celebrated a well-deserved bronze.
The 42 from Mills set an Olympic record for points in a medal round game, an emphatic finale in what’s likely the last game for Australia’s veteran core. Mills and Ingles fought for years to taste Olympic glory and finally earned it, even if it’s bronze.


Dear Editor,
The Mets were chugging along, but have since dropped out of first place in the NL East.
They are a good team, but it seems that every season after the All-Star break they begin to flounder. Guys, get your act together, you have tons of fans who root for you.
I have been a fan since I was ten years old. Let’s go Mets, you can do it!
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

End the draft

Dear Editor,
As a veteran drafted to serve in Vietnam (Air Force, 1964-68), I agree that women and men should not have to register with Selective Service for a possible wartime draft.
But men are now required to so, even though no American has been drafted for nearly 50 years. After U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, President Richard Nixon converted our military to an all-volunteer force, ending the draft.
President Jimmy Carter restored Selective Service registration in 1980 for all U.S. male citizens between the ages of 18 and 26 after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
Proponents of registration say it may be necessary if war breaks out, but we’ve fought several wars over the past four decades, including a 20-year conflict in Afghanistan.
Implementing a draft would force the military to drastically lower physical and mental standards in order to fill its enlarged ranks.
The Selective Service system also costs taxpayers $24.4 million a year to run. Ending it will not only save money, but also eliminate an unfair and unequal burden on our nation’s young people.
The draft was unfair because because of two conflicting elements in its structure. It was created by the Universal Military Training Act, but administered by the Selective Service system.
It was universal during World War II when 10 million Americans were inducted. But the draft became more selective during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Many college students were granted deferments for as long as they could stay in school, while men in key professions got occupational exemptions.
This placed the burden of military service on poor and disadvantaged people, while those of wealth and privilege largely avoided conscription.
Selective Service is a relic of that painful past. Let’s end it completely for everyone.
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Blood in the water

Dear Editor,
As Governor Andrew Cuomo enters the twilight of his political career, he has three options. The first is to resign and hope in coming years he can rehabilitate his image and career.
The second is continue to fight the inevitable impeachment by the state legislature.
The third is cling to the office and run in the June 2022 Democratic Primary for a fourth term.
Most of his former friends, be they other office holders, party leaders, major campaign contributors or union supporters have abandoned ship. A campaign war chest of $16 million will not buy him another term. Cuomo fatigue has taken root.
While he decides what to do, he will have less time to deal with other ongoing issues facing New Yorkers.
Should Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul become governor, she will likely be preoccupied with winning the June 2022 Democratic Primary to run for a full four-year term.
And being attached at the political hip to Cuomo may adversely impact her ability to win any cooperation from the state legislature.
The political sharks have already begun circling the political carcass of Cuomo, and many are now considering their own run for Governor.
Larry Penner
Great Neck

What about murder?

Dear Editor,
During the month of July there there were 35 murders and eight deaths from COVID in Washington D.C. In Chicago, there were 105 murders and 35 deaths from COVID. Why do we hear so much about COVID and so little about murder?
We are spending billions on COVID and cutting funding on policing. It does not make sense to me.
Jacques Hakim

Not funny

Dear Editor,
Disgraceful FOX “News” hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson mocked the testimony of police officers during a congressional committee hearing. They shamelessly gave out awards for best performance!
These pathetic examples of human beings laughed at officers getting emotional about fearing they would be killed by rioters.
Carlson thought Officer Michael Fanone saying he’s “been left with psychological trauma and emotional anxiety” from the Capitol riots was funny. Fanone was nearly beaten to death and suffered a heart attack.
And Republicans still claim the raging mob at the Capitol was patriotic tourists who just “went a little to far.”
Robert LaRosa, Sr.

Chaplain’s recovery celebrated on one-year anniversary of crash

Staff at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills celebrated the one-year anniversary of the recovery of it’s chaplain, Fr. Radu Titonea.
One year ago on August 5, Fr. Radu and Dr. Orlando Santandreu, chief of Obstetrics/Gynecology, were on jet skis when a four-foot wave caused Fr. Radu to suffer a near fatal crash.
Fr. Radu shattered his face and neck in the crash. Dr. Santandreu was 100 feet behind the chaplain when he saw him fall.
“The water was very choppy and I think that he slipped forward, and as he was coming down the jet ski was coming up and then they crashed,” said Dr. Santandreu.
“It looked like he was just jumping off and going for a swim,” he said. “I drove up to him and he was face down. I turned him over and he was bleeding.”
After getting Fr. Radu to shore, Dr. Santandreu attempted to resuscitate him with backward chest compressions. He worked on him for 20 minutes and was beginning to lose hope when a tugboat appeared and transported the pair to the hospital.
“I was literally looking for some sign, and that’s when I saw the tugboat,” said Dr. Santandreu.
Fr. Radu was intubated on a bed where he would lay unconscious for three weeks, fighting for his life. He endured three strokes.But six months later, the chaplain returned to work without any memory of the accident .
Fr. Radu credits his recovery to the power of prayer. During the time when he was unconscious, hospital staff from multiple religions came together and prayed for his recovery.
“Because of everybody’s prayers and support, I am the way I am today,” said Fr. Radu. “I consider LIJ Forest Hills my extended family, you guys were there for me.”
Fr. Radu and Dr. Santandeu had only been jet skiing together once before.
“I thought he needed more of a break than me because it was the middle of COVID, he was working a lot of hours, and he liked it and I knew that was an escape for him,” said Dr. Santandreu.

Early morning fire tears through Queens Blvd. building

An early morning fire on Queens Boulevard on Thursday tore through a row of businesses in Sunnyside.
Hundreds of firefighters and emergency personnel responded to the four-alarm blaze on the south side of the boulevard between 43rd and 44th streets. Three suffered minor injuries.
The fire started in Taiyo Food on 44th Street, and quickly engulfed the four neighboring businesses, Mad for Chicken, Bajeko Sekuwa, Malingo and Mad Cafe. No employees were injured.
In December of 2018, a large fire destroyed several businesses just a few blocks east on the same side of Queens Boulevard. That property is still a large, graffiti-covered vacant lot.
As they did after that fire, the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District has started a fund to help the five businesses. Donations can be made on GoFundMe or by emailing

New trees in store for Forest Hills, Rego Park

The Parks Department is putting the “forest” in Forest Hills and the “park” in Rego Park with its plans to plant trees in both communities over the next year.
“Our goal is to continue expanding the city’s tree canopy as much as possible,” said spokesperson Charisse Hill. “Our fall 2021 planting projections for the Forest Hills and Rego Park communities are 128 trees, whereas our spring and fall 2022 planting projections for both communities total 425 trees.”
Stretches of Queens Boulevard, 66th Road, 102nd Street, and 67th Avenue are anticipated to have an estimated 16 to 19 additional trees by spring 2022.
Empty tree pits being reforested, while sidewalks are being excavated to accommodate new pits.
Extreme weather in recent years decimated the neighborhoods’ trees, which motivated residents to preserve mature trees and plant new ones, including the Forest Hills Tree Giveaway, which was held in MacDonald Park from 2011 to 2015.
“Young street trees are four times more likely to grow and thrive through tree stewardship, and community engagement can help ensure young street trees grow strong and healthy,” said Hill.
To volunteer to be a tree steward, visit
Trees provide a home to wildlife, reduce stormwater runoff, filter and cool the air. Some older trees can feel like an unofficial landmark.
“As the steward of New York City’s urban forest, we take tree planting seriously,” said Hill “We recommend constituents who wish to help accelerate the planting process to pursue tree planting through New York Tree Time. The cost of planting a tree through this program is currently $1,800.”
To participate, email or call (718) 361-8101.
A resident does not have to be a homeowner to play a role in the planting and maintenance of city trees. Residents can make note of empty tree pits, dead trees, or request pruning and planting by calling 311.
Over the years, the Parks Department has worked to diversify the street tree canopy.
“Species diversity is essential to maintaining a resilient, robust urban forest,” said Hill. “Planting a wider range of tree species helps combat pests and climate change. Our planting program now incorporates over 200 tree species in its street tree planting palette.”

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