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Morning News Report; April 4, 2012

SAMPSON ELECTED TO BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME

The greatest center in ACC history — Ralph Sampson — will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame Sept. 6 in Springfield, Mass.

(Courtesy Associated Press)

My take: Longtime bloggees know how I feel about this subject (yes, there’s a “Ralph Sampson is a basketball god” tab to your right). I feel he should’ve been inducted a long, long time ago and it’s a travesty it took this long. However, it’s awesome the HOF has finally come to its senses.

In the annals of college basketball, there might not be a better center outside of Sampson than UCLA’s Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton.

People have often asked why I’m such a University of Virginia sports fan … it’s because of Sampson. While everyone around me growing up in northwestern North Carolina was going crazy over UNC, N.C. State and Wake Forest in the early 1980s, I chose UVa. because of King Ralph. Even my first email address (which I still own) was wahoos50 in honor of him.

And yes … I’ll be in Springfield for the ceremony.

TRAYVON MARCH TODAY

A march for slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin will take place in Kinston today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

My take: I’ve not shared my views on this issue because I don’t know all the details. However, if Zimmerman wasn’t in danger of losing his life — and there have not been many indications that he was — why shoot at a teenager with nothing but a pack of candy and a bottle of tea?

Before you jump all over my quasi-analysis, remember this: no one knows all the details about this except for Zimmerman and Martin — and one of them is dead now.

And there is nothing wrong with a peaceful march — it’s awesome to live in a country where we can peacefully assemble without fear our government will break it up.

MAZINGO IS NEW SUPERINTENDENT/SL GETS A FOOTBALL COACH

Two big things happened at this week’s Lenoir County School board meeting — interim superintendent Steve Mazingo had “interim” taken off his title and South Lenoir had Tim Jenkins approved as its football coach.

My take: I’m not surprised by the Mazingo move — the man has done a fine job in the interim role. For all seven board members to approve him speaks volumes and it’s good they’re unified in their support of him. Now … let’s get our coaches paid a little more so they don’t stay for a year and then move on to surrounding counties because of money, OK?

Still crappy they ran off a fine gentleman in Dr. Terry Cline, though, but I guess it’s time to close the book on that subject.

As for Jenkins — he’s got a tough job ahead of him in Deep Run, but a good foundation has been laid by Kevin Wilson, his predecessor. I’ll say what I’ve said several times: no one has better football fan support in our county than South Lenoir — it’d be good to see those fans rewarded with a consistent program.

The iPod shuffle

(Love Is) Thicker Than Water — Andy Gibb

Kinda Like A Big Deal — Clipse

Straight Outta Compton — N.W.A.

Boom Boom Pow — Black Eyed Peas

I Want To Take You Higher — Ike & Tina Turner

World, meet Colton Matthew Herman!

Ryan Herman’s little boy was born yesterday at 7:05 p.m. Colton Matthew Herman was 7 pounds, 13.8 ounces and 20.5 inches tall. Here’s the first photo of Baby Hermanator:

Click on the photo for a better view. Please join me in sending congratulations to Ryan and Jaclyn!

Also, Justin “The Kid” Hill is covering for Herman over the next two weeks, so if you have any suggestions or ideas, hit him up at jhill@freedomenc.com.

Afternoon News Report; March 9, 2012

Ok, it’s ACC Tournament Friday and I’m having trouble concentrating since every TV in our building is on the Carolina-Maryland game. Going to do this quickly!

DAWSON NAMED 2A ALL-STATE

Kinston’s Josh Dawson, who has helped lead the Vikings to tomorrow’s 2A state championship game in Raleigh, was named to the ncpreps.com 2A all-state team today.

The 2A state player of the year, though, is Waxhaw Cuthbertson’s Shelton Mitchell — who Dawson and the Vikings face tomorrow for the title.

My take: I know Josh pretty well and the young man doesn’t need much motivation … but I think this might just be one of those things he’ll use tomorrow. Just sayin’.

And congrats to Josh — this is a well-deserved honor for the heart of Kinston’s team.

Also — don’t forget I’ll be blogging play-by-play from the game tomorrow; Ryan Herman will be tweeting the game (@KFPSports). I’m also helping with the pep rally at 2 p.m. today, so come on out if you have a chance.

Finally, if you haven’t checked out this podcast, featuring Wells Gulledge, Perry Tyndall and Ryan Herman, you’re cheating yourself. One of our best.

DALTON VISITS KINSTON AGAIN

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, one of the leading Democrats in the N.C. governor’s race, visited Kinston and The Free Press yesterday.

My take: While I still think he jumped into the pool a day early, I was pretty impressed with the lieutenant governor yesterday. He’s confident, well-spoken and ready to take on the presumptive GOP candidate, Pat McCrory. Should be a great race.

ROMNEY LEARNING TO LIKE GRITS

Leading GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is touring the Deep South — and is now saying “y’all” and eating grits.

My take: A bit funny, but he doesn’t need to try too hard. He certainly doesn’t need a Michael Dukakis in the tank photo that buried that candidate:

Fantastic.

The iPod shuffle

I Will Buy You A New Life — Everclear

Melissa — The Allman Brothers Band

Just You ‘N’ Me — Chicago

Dip It Low — Christina Milian

Love Me Tender — Elvis Presley

Paying off a bet … yada, yada, yada

The only comment I’ll provide for this abomination is that I pay off my bets. Carolina 54, Virginia 51. Congrats, Jon Dawson, you magnificient bastard.

My stomach, chest and arms have broken out into a rash. May God have mercy on my soul.

Here’s a nice picture to restore order to the universe:

As always, click on the photos for better (or not so better) views.

And we’re taping a Carolina-Duke podcast in a few; I’ll post it here — and you’re going to want to hear it!

World, meet Alana Yuvonne Carter!

I’m proud to announce a dear friend of mine — award-winning Free Press photographer Janet Sutton Carter — has given birth to a beautiful and healthy little girl named Alana Yuvonne Carter. Little Alana was 6 pounds, 9 ounces and 19 inches long when she jumped into the world at 11:03 a.m. today.

Here’s her first modeling assignment:

Congratulations to Janet and her lovely husband Carlon. Please join me in congratulating the new mama and daddy!

Morning Sports Report; Feb. 17, 2012

EASTERN PLAINS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP NIGHT AT VIKING GYM

Kinston’s boys and girls — each a No. 1 seed — play host to the Eastern Plains 2A tournament championship tonight. The girls tip off the night with a game against Farmville Central at 6 p.m.; the boys face surprising Tarboro at 7:30 p.m. in an attempt to win their sixth straight conference tournament title.

My take: While it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine a Kinston/Farmville Central girls matchup, NO ONE would’ve thought Tarboro — the seventh seed in the seven-team EP2A — would’ve upset second-seeded North Pitt and third-seeded Wilson Beddingfield in the first two rounds of the tournament.

And why would they? Tarboro was 1-11 in the league and 4-20 overall entering the tournament. They’re playing for a chance to make it to the 2A state playoffs with nothing to lose — and that’s always a dangerous combination.

And don’t get it twisted — there’s a lot of raw talent on that Tarboro hoops team, which includes several members of the 2A football championship squad.

My predictions for tonight: Kinston’s girls win 53-41; the Kinston boys win a good ‘un, 73-66.

And come on out to the game: I’m giving away two sets of tickets to the Freedom Classic, which takes place next weekend at Grainger Stadium between Air Force and Navy. In fact, the first person who comes up to me at the scorer’s table and says they read this on the blog will get two free tickets to one of the games.

DUKE BREAKS SOME WUFFIE HEARTS

Duke did it again to a Tobacco Road rival last night as the Blue Devils rallied to down N.C. State, 78-73, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke trailed by 20 points with less than 12 minutes in the game and outscored the Wuffies 37-12 to close the game.

My take: Combined with last week’s unbelievable comeback and upset at the Dean Dome, it’s been a great time to be a Dookie.

THE KID’S LAST GAME WAS AN AWESOME WIN

Thanks to Deadspin for this — Gary Carter’s final hit was a game-winner for the Montreal Expos:

My take: Awesome — just awesome. I’ve watched the video five times and it gives me chill bumps every time. I’m not nearly the baseball fan as some of you are here, but if you can watch that and it doesn’t move you, you have no soul.

And what makes it better is that Harry Carey called it. Freaking awesome.

NBA DUNK CONTEST LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED

Four guys you probably haven’t heard of will participate in this year’s NBA Slam Dunk competition as part of the All-Star weekend activities in Orlando.

My take: No pun intended, but I think it’s finally time for the NBA to admit this concept has finally jumped the shark (see what I did there?). Last year’s event was pretty cool with Blake Griffin participating, but if the best you can do is Iman Shumpert … what the hell are you doing, David Stern?

I’d rather see one-on-one contests between LeBron and Kobe or a hottest cheerleader competition than this. For example — who is hotter, these Charlotte Bobcats cheerleaders:

Or these Miami Heat cheerleaders?

You decide. I report. You click on the photos for a better view.

MARIO WILLIAMS READY FOR FREE AGENCY

Former Richlands High School and N.C. State star Mario Williams is arguably the best free agent on the NFL market this year after leading the Houston Texans to the franchise’s first playoff game and win this season.

My take: And now I begin my prayer — Please, Lord … let Dan Snyder sign Mario to my Redskins. Pretty please. Amen.

The iPod shuffle

In Da Club — 50 Cent

Hello Goodbye — The Beatles

Smokin — Boston

Cool The Engines — Boston

Brass Monkey — Beastie Boys

Morning News Report; Feb. 14, 2012

DALTON VISITS KINSTON

The leading Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, dropped in to Kinston yesterday for a campaign stop.

My take: One problem — he didn’t tell anyone (including The Free Press and the local TV stations) he was coming. Only because Dalton innocuously tweeted about it on his Twitter feed (and Justin “The Kid” Hill saw it) did we find out and have a reporter there to let the good folks of Kinston know about his visit.

Dalton’s campaign strategies to this point have been mind-baffling. First, he announces he’s running on the same day Bev Perdue makes her shocking decision not to run, burying his news deep in every North Carolina paper and news feed that day. Then, he visits Kinston for a “campaign stop” without telling media.

The concerning thing about the latter is that maybe he didn’t want anyone in Kinston or our area to know — other than big money folks who’ll bankroll his campaign … you know the REALLY important people.

If that’s the reason, that’s not cool; you’re coming to town to just talk to the people who are going to pay the bills? If failing to tell media was just an oversight, it’s a stupid move on his campaign’s part. So … which is it?

He may be the frontrunner for the Democratic bid, but if he continues doing things like this, he won’t be for long. He might be the best candidate for the job — who really knows at this point? — but he and his campaign aren’t doing him any favors right now.

SANDUSKY INAPPROPRIATELY TOUCHED GRANDSON, EX-DAUGHTER-IN-LAW ALLEGES

Accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky is being accused by his former daughter-in-law of inappropriately touching one of his grandsons.

My take: There’s a WHOLE lot of smoke here; hard to believe there isn’t some truth to all these allegations.

ECU TO BE PART OF HUGE-ASS CONFERENCE

East Carolina will be part of a Conference USA/Mountain West league that will include anywhere from 18-24 members.

My take: Well … this was the worst-case scenario for ECU since the Pirates never received that elusive Big East bid. Still, there really should be a BCS bid built in here or what’s the point?

KATE UPTON NAMED 2012 SI COVERGIRL

Kate Upton, a 19-year-old from Florida, is this year’s Sports Illustrated cover girl. Here she is on the cover:

Click on this for a much, much better view.

My take: Uh, wow. Happy Valentine’s Day, guys.

For poops and giggles, take a gander at a few more shots at Ms. Upton:

Again, click on these for better views.

The iPod shuffle

Wait For Me — Daryl Hall & John Oates

Easy Lover — Phil Collins

Heaven Is A Place On Earth — Belinda Carlisle

Teach Me How To Dougie — Cali Swag District

Be Near Me — ABC

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 9, 2012

DUKE 85, UNC 84

Austin Rivers hit a long 3-pointer last night to rally Duke past UNC, 85-84, in the latest edition of the best rivalry in college sports.

My take: Amazing — just amazing. As I said in yesterday’s ANR, Duke was a 6.5-point underdog but I thought Carolina would win by much more than that.

It appeared to be headed that way until the Heels laid down for the final three minutes.

I’ll say this — Rivers has some onions, that’s for sure. Check out the Fayetteville Observer’s Bret Strelow and his column on Rivers — one of the best columns I’ve read this morning on the subject. And Bret is our guest on this week’s Free Press Radio Program, which I’ll post here soon.

I know a lot of Duke fans who don’t particularly like Rivers — but I bet they’re LOVING him now. One thing is certain: he’s written himself into the storied history of the rivalry.

Here are some of my favorite photos that were popping up on my Twitter feed last night from the game:

(Credit:  Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE)

Click on the images for full views; again, they came off Twitter, so if there are credits, I will post them as soon I know from where they originated.

A postscript: this Jon Dawson column, which he wrote yesterday afternoon, almost seemed prophetic — especially the lead paragraph.

BAD CRASH SHUTS DOWN NC 11

One of the worst vehicle accidents in my tenure in Kinston took place last night when a delivery truck and a private ambulance crashed into each other on N.C. 11 about a mile south of Jackson Store.

Thankfully, no one was killed in the accident, although two workers in the ambulance were airlifted by EastCare to Greenville.

The accident also knocked out power to about 3,000 in that neck o’ the woods, including Heelatious and several other bloggees, who I was following on Twitter at the time. Power was completely restored around 11:30 p.m. last night.

Here are the pictures of the scene taken by Free Press veteran photographer Charles Buchanan:

My take: Awesome, awesome work by Charles to get these exclusive photos.

Also, many props to our senior staff writer David Anderson, who stayed on the scene for three-plus hours gathering details and helping me update the website. DAnderson — as he’s affectionately known around the office — worked his tail off yesterday, as he pulled about a 15-hour day.

And kudos to the management at WCTI ABC-12 and WNCT CBS-5, who are polite enough to call and ask permission to run an image — and we gladly obliged by allowing them to do so as long as they paid homage to Charles’ work. Both did a fantastic job of doing so.

And yes, WITN NBC-7 also called for permission to run the photo … which we ignored. Why? For starters, their tired, ridiculous and wrongful claims of “First on WITN” has finally gotten under my skin. I don’t know if they’re claiming “First on WITN” because they get information up faster than the other TV stations, but they’re not beating us, the Jacksonville Daily News, the New Bern Sun Journal or the Greenville Daily Reflector on our local stories. I know it’s just a ploy for pride or whatever, but it pisses me off — especially when it’s untrue, like last night.

Secondly, it chaps my hide when WITN uses information/photos from us without attribution — and it happens more with them than with WCTI and WNCT combined (because they’re not completely innocent here, either, although they strive harder than WITN to give us attribution).

Listen — my beef doesn’t extend to all the knuckleheads at WITN; in fact, I adore Heather King, who is arguably one of the hardest working and most dedicated journalists in Eastern North Carolina. I also think Billy Weaver does a pretty good job in sports, considering the limits they put on him.

But there’s a reason newspaper folks can’t stand the rest of them over there … and now, you know the rest of the story.

IPAD3 COMING IN MARCH?

According to these rumor-mongers, yes.

My take: Which makes me ecstatic that I didn’t plop down $800 for an iPad2 — whose only feature better than the original iPad is a camera.

The iPod shuffle

Wild In The Streets — Bon Jovi

Kitty — The Presidents Of The United States of America

Hypnotize — The Notorious B.I.G.

Guilty — Robin Rogers

Running On Faith — Eric Clapton

Morning News Report; Jan. 26, 2012

Ahhh … the ol’ MNR. Here you go:

PRESIDENT GETS LECTURED?

It sure looks like it in a photo that has, no doubt, circled the globe a few times since it was taken yesterday; in it, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer appears to be wearing out President Obama about SOMETHING:

(Photo courtesy: Associated Press; click for better view)

My take: According to both, it’s not as bad as it appeared. I’ll say this: President Obama is not perfect … but he’s still the president. If this type of exchange is going to take place, it sure as hell doesn’t need to take place out in public in front of cameras. Walk with him inside and talk to him.

Something like this does nothing but hurt America’s image in front of the world. It’s this simple — even if you don’t like Obama, respect his office. It’s too bad she can’t be punished for what appears to be an overt lack of disrespect.

DEATH ROW IS ‘LEISURE’ TO CON

A Gastonia man on death row rips the penal system while (literally) laughing at citizens and challenging them to go ahead and kill him in a letter to the Gaston Gazette.

My take: If you read this and it doesn’t anger you … you’re either a pacifist to the nth degree or mentally unstable.

This man ADMITTED to killing three women, then thumbs his nose at all of us. If there was ever — as comedian Ron White says of Texas — a death row express lane, this douche deserves it.

FACEBOOK CHANGING … AGAIN

So … you’re just getting used to Facebook? Guess what? The powers-that-be are changing the way your profile looks AGAIN.

My take: Congrats, Facebook — you’re yet another step closer to becoming MySpace. I know things change every day and you feel compelled to keep up with the “kids,” but you’re also starting to drive away users … like myself. Again, congratulations.

The iPod shuffle

Breakfast In America — Supertramp

Change Your Mind — The All-American Rejects

Dirty Day — U2

Cold As Ice — Foreigner

Darlington County — Bruce Springsteen