The Eastern Bunny

•April 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Easter is a lot like the NBA heading into the playoffs. It’s the end of something great with the promise of something even better and its not about what already happened, its about belief of what can be. It’s hope that greatness will lead the way into a place in history that will never be forgotten. It’s more than just a game.

While the easter bunny might have hidden your eggs, the eastern is already fighting for that golden egg-shaped trophy and I’ll break it down for you.

Chicago Bulls

What they did right: They put all the pieces together in the off-season. Chicago its perhaps the most balanced team in the league between superstars, rebounders, shooters, backups and coaching staff.

What they did wrong: Although this is a very good all-around team, with that much room left in salary cap they shouldnt have settled, and if there is one thing Bulls fans knows is that Jordan could have been enough to win a title, but they had Pippen too, just in case.

The spark: Joakim Noah. He is one of the scrappiest players in the league and he will take that energy on the floor in every posession.

The key: Scoring. I know the soon-to-be MVP Rose can score at will and is more than capable of hitting the last shot, but that is it. Who will score against Miami/Boston or whoever comes from West in a possible Finals? If even Kobe went 6-24 in game 7, I dont think Rose can do it all by himself in the offensive end.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: East Finals.

Miami Heat

What they did right: Dwyane Wade. Lebron James. Chris Bosh. Yes. They. Did.

What they did wrong: Mike Miller. They had room for one mid-level signing and they blew it on him. He hasnt done anything so far and he wont do anything in the playoffs, he is barely in the rotation. However, how much can you talk trash about a GM that puts D-Wade, Bron and Bosh together?

The spark: Big Z. We know the game plan: pass the ball to the shooter open in the corner everytime they double Wade or James, but Big Z is one of those “little” (the guy is 7 foot 3 for God’s sake) things that you need to win in the playoffs. He is a great, underrated offensive rebounder and a big-man scoring option.

The key: The question is already the answer. I know both Wade and Lebron can deliver but deciding who will close in takeover time might cause some trouble. I just hope it doesnt.

Cousin Paul’s prediciton: NBA Champions.

Boston Celtics

What they did right: Doc. Locking up Doc for another year was key. He is the mastermind behind everything and no one could coach this team better than him.

What they did wrong: The trade. It makes sense, trading an older guy, struggling with injuries for a more versatile, very good younger athlete, that can provide a lot of offense and could play an important role in the post-apocalyptic, post-big-three future of this ball club but you cant mess with your team chemistry halfway through the season. Do it in the offseason.

The spark: Shaq. Imagine having one of the greatest ever, playing well in the playoffs, hungry for a 5th ring to tie with Kobe. Its a long shot but it could be huge (I have finally learned how to use words).

The key: Rondo. I can tell if Boston have won or lost a game just by looking at Rondo’s assist number in the scoreboard. I’m aware of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but I’m telling you, he is THAT important. It’s not ok if Kobe is guarding you 7 steps back in game 7, do something about it, be agressive instead of shy.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: Second round.

Orlando Magic

What they did right: Turkoglu. When they made it to the finals back in 09 he was a big part of this team and shouldnt have been traded in the first place, nice job getting him back.

What they did wrong: Howard is clearly the most dominant center in the NBA hands down. He is a Duncan/Shaq big-man caliber that can give you a ring but Orlando is missing something and doing nothing to improve. They have been coming up short in the past few years and the organization dont put up an effort to go the extra mile.

The spark: JJ Redick. The all-time leader in 3s in the NCAA, could play a pivotal role in the playoffs, specially because the paint is always crowded with humans trying to stop the beast, Howard.

The key: Jameer Nelson. Call me point-guard-oriented but its up to him to read the D and decide if you are going to the post with Dwight or shooting from the outside with the sharpshooters. Avery Johnson, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, they know.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

Atlanta Hawks

What they did right: Kirk Hinrich. He is a much better fit to this team than Bibby and dont forget that he was the 7th overall pick in the Lebron-Wade-Melo-Bosh draft, but never really had a chance. This could be it for him and for Atlanta.

What they did wrong: Regular Season. When Atlanta plays at home, its the highlight factory. Phillips Arena is a tough place for the road team and they should have fought more for a higher seed.

The spark: Jamal Crawford. He is the definition of spark. He can win games coming off the bench and he has done it several times througout his career.

The key: Shooting. Atlanta has a bunch of guys that can hit the trey, such as Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Kirk, Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford. If its a good shooting day, they have a good chance of beating anyone, if its not they are up to a tough game.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: Second round.

New York Knicks

What they did right: Amare. Other than Dwight Howard, no one is as dominant as Amare Stoudamire in the paint. He is a scorer, a rebounder, a defender, he is a superstar and a great fit for Mike Dantoni.

What they did wrong: The trade. Sure you got Melo and Mr. Big Shot Billups but you had to give up half your team. Chandler, Gallinari, Felton, NY will miss those guys and its not like Melo-Amare-Billups is a big 3 like Allen-Pierce-KG or Wade-Bron-Bosh. I’m bold enough so I will say it: bad call trading for Melo.

The spark: Spike Lee. If you think anything else is the spark for the Knicks other than Spike Lee you havent watched a game at the Garden.

The key: Melo. Its all about Carmelo Anthony. He wanted the big stage, he got it. NY wanted him to be under the spotlight, he is. Amare and Billups are great but NY sucess depends solely on Melo.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

Philadelphia 76ers

What they did right: Doug Collins. Philly is a rebuilding team, full of young guns, just waiting for the future to come, but Doug doesnt wait. He has a reputation for turning losing teams into winning ones and he did just that with this 76ers team. Great job.

What they did wrong: Well, they are going to face the Heat in the first round. A bunch of young, unexperienced players against Lebron and Wade, there isnt much you can do about it other than say: the future is near, its just not here yet.

The spark: Jrue Holliday. Although he is only 20 years old, he’s got it. Whenever Philadelphia is behind, and believe me, they will be, he is the go-to guy who can hit some 3s or make a pass and change the flow of the game.

The key: Motivation. Miami is the team to beat. Philly has nothing to lose while Miami has everything. Everyone wants to beat Miami, a bunch of young guys and a great coach have a chance of doing it, not a good chance, just a tiny one, but then again, this isnt a math test.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

Indiana Pacers

What they did right: Not much really. They finished the regular season with a 37-45 record, so I dont have a lot to work with here.

What they did wrong: Personally I dont like the way this team is coached. I believe Indiana has above average talent in the paint with Hibbert and Hansbrough but they dont use it. They insist on shooting the ball and playing a crazy tempo game. Play more half court basketball, trust your point guard and your big-man.

The spark: Darren Collison. I know, another point guard, I cant help myself. But he is quick as lightning and make some highlight plays.

The key: Rebounding. The Pacers are among the best rebounding teams in the NBA and we all know working the glass is key in the playoffs. If the Pacers are able to mantain this high count of boards in the playoffs this could be trouble for opponents.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

I’m cousin Paul and I’m not the easter bunny but I’ll be watching close who lays an egg in the eastern conference.

History Lesson

•April 5, 2011 • 1 Comment

I’m gonna start this one by giving non-baseball fans a piece of advice: learn what ERA means and start getting excited whenever you hear ‘that one is outta here!’ cause we might not have NFL this year and its going to be a long winter if you dont have a team to complain/brag about during holydays while your cousin (no, not cousin Paul, your other cousin) tells you all the annoying jokes in the world. Either that or buy a videogame and dont show up at all (I’m seriously considering the last one even though I’m a baseball fan).

I remember the days when it used to be hard being a Red Sox fan. People would come to you and say “The Red Sox? Is that the team that hasnt won in many many years? Whats wrong with them? Why cant they win?” and you could give them a million reasons but deep inside you didnt knew why, why cant the Sox win God?

Those days are gone. The movies used to mock us, now there are movies about us. We were history, now we have made history. We used to pray to end the curse, now we know that aint no curses.

For the first time since I can remember before the opening day we were the favorites to win the World Series, thats right, the forever underdog Boston was the favorite! Then the season started and we lost three straight.

Back in 04 no one believed in us, and we did it. In 07 no one thought we could do it again, we did it. Now they are saying Papi is old, Papelbon isnt reliable, Lackey isnt the same, Pedroia is hurt, Beckett is done…

Well, in my humble opinion, they should do a little less talking a little more reading, cause if history has taugh us anything, is that you cant count the Sox out, just because they are 0-3.

I’m cousin Paul and history hasnt taught me anything, but the Red Sox taught me to believe.

March Madness by Stan Lee

•March 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

There is not much else to talk about in March other than March Madness, but before we jump into that I’d like to point out that March has already gone mad and I have four heavily strong arguments to support that:

#1 The two time MVP King James missing three buzzer beaters in a row while Channing Frye, thats right, Phoenix Suns Center, hits two in a row to beat the clock and win the game. Sick.

#2 Take a look at THIS DUNK . Really, its worth. Blake Griffin dunks all over 6′ 11” Marcin Gortat almost from the free throw line and the ref calls an offensive foul. What the hell man?! Give him the Oscar, Nobel Prize, Emmy, I dont care but dont give him an offensive foul for that otherwise lets change the NBA slogan from ‘Where the amazing happens’ to ‘Where dull offensive fouls are called for apparently no reason’. Sick.

#3 As yall know I live in Rio de Janeiro and a few weeks ago we had one of the best parties in the world: Carnival. I was unfortunate enough to see my beloved QB, the 36 TDs 4 INTs, MVP of the season, Tom Brady doing this . I mean, we get it. You can split the cover 2, you can complete that narrow pass to whoever Reevis is guarding, you are a superbowl champion but that doesnt give you the right to dance like that. You cant do samba, nobody will judge you if you just stand there and if somebody asks why you are not moving your feet you just answer “I’m here with my wife, Gisele Bundchen”, but if you try and fail like this, oh boy.. sick.

#4 Last but not least, the NCAA will not allow Blue II, thats right, that cute little harmless bulldog, mascot of Butler Bulldogs in court against Wisconsin. Why? I really dont know but if you tell me why they wont allow the bulldog but they let the WVU mascot, a musketeer with a loaded weapon in, I will get back to you. Sick.

Now I will share with yall a secret about March Madness: Stan Lee came up with it. What? That dude from comic books? Yep, hear me out: March Madness, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four. Now check this: Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Dr. Otto Octavius (aka Octopus), the Invincible Ironman, Wonder Woman, DareDevil, and the best of all J. Jonah Jameson Jr. Sick.

This is Cousin Paul and Im feeling sick of all this madness, or it could be all that 24/7 drinking at carnival, who knows?

The hunger

•February 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I miss NFL. Sure, I miss College Football too but saturdays are fun. How many sad songs do you know about saturdays? This gotta tell you that even if you miss college football you will find something to do saturday. Sundays are a whole different story and Im really worried that I might write a sad sunday song.

Luckily NBA was kind enough to schedule Heat @ Celtics yesterday so I wouldnt become the next bitter person to write a song about my feelings or something totally irrelevant. Instead I’m writing this post, thats nearly as irrelevant as my song would be but I’m guessing you will read it anyway so its a marketing decision.

Watching the game I thought about this Celtics team and what an amazing sucess they are displaying since the trade back in 2007. Check out this: First year, championship, it doesnt get any better than that. Second year was injury-plagued and resulted in a 4-3 playoff loss to Orlando BUT it was Rondo’s breakthrough season so no love lost there. Third year we were underdogs in the East and made it to the finals losing that unholy game 7 by four points. Fourth year, so far top of the east baby.

So, whats Boston’s secret? Why are they so good? I got 5 theories, you can support one or more if you like. Here it goes:

1-Big Three’s desperation for a championship or just call it the hunger. Lets start with Paul. You just cant question Paul’s will to play, to win. We are talking about a guy who was stabbed ELEVEN times in late september of 2000, got back to the gym a few days later and then was the only Celtic to play through all 82 games that season. If that doesnt prove that you wanna play the game and win a ring, I dont know what does. Now Ray. Drafted by the Bucks and then stuck in a franchise that eventually was going down, Ray always did his part. All those 3s dont come without a ton of practice and hard work. If you ever watched this guy play you know he runs the whole time, its nearly impossible to guard him. Reggie didnt win a ring but he made the finals, Ray deserved that much too. KG. What can you say? MVP, defensive player of the year, and a part of those amazing power forwards group that wears #21 jersey. This guy will kill for his teammates and he was mvp caliber stuck in a cursed city, he needed to get out of there, he needed his chance. So yeah, Celtics organization put 3 great players together but here is what I really think its a great part of their sucess: the clock is ticking. They are all over 30, not getting any youger, its kind of a ‘now or never’ scenario, or just call it ‘the hunger’.

2- A freak show bench. Thats the beauty of the Boston Celtics. They may suck at times but they run the show for the fans. You have a freak of nature midget who dunks all over the place and has like 25 handshakes for every timeout called, a fat guy (who doesnt like fat guys playing professional sports?), until last year they had a redhead who would trash talk the lakers even though he hasnt played more than 5 minutes per game, a guy that does a one-legged dance or whatever terrell owens touchdown celebration after every three he makes. Really, what else do you need as a fan? Also, yeah, after 22 years without a title, the fans feel ‘the hunger’ too.

3- Ubuntu. When 3 stars come along to play togheter its never easy, they have to sacrifice touches, stats, money but basically it comes down to teamwork. They could have used that as their mantra but why use ‘teamwork’ if instead you can use a cool african word that is a lot more intimidating to those facing you? Why? Ubuntu, or just call it ‘the hunger’ (and no, thats not an african joke, its just a writing technique called repeating your title throughout paragraphs so it can make sense.)

4- Ray’s Mom. If you are the one who made the most 3’s in the history of the game and yet your mommy attend to nearly every single game you play, you gotta win a championship and wear a ‘Im a champion’ sweater cause its chilly outside and you dont want to get a cold. You have to give 100% night in and night out cause you know, your mom’s there. Its brillant, although I wouldnt recommend this to Artest’s mom just in case he decides to throw a punch at everyone in the crowd. I cant call this ‘the hunger’ cause if you are hungry mommy will make you a sandwich and bring you a glass of milk.
5- Doc. This guy is smooth. He should be wired for life, make it a reality show, I dont care. Everything this guy says is smart. 4th quarter, close playoff game he wouldnt even need a clipboard he would just say something like that: “Paul, they cant bring you down, they tried to stab you, they tried to suck the life out of you by keeping you so many years without a shot at the championship, but hey, your time is now, we trust you, aye aye my captain! KG, they need you out there, your teammates are your family so go out there, play D, grab that board, punch someone I dont give a crap just get it done, you my man! Ray, think about your beloved ones, look in the crowd, your mom’s there, she came here to watch you nail this, she wants the W, go out there, hit the game winner and go give her a hug. Ok guys ubuntu on 3.” A guy who gives a motivational speech every timeout wants to win badly, and yes, you can call it ‘the hunger’.

This is cousin Paul and depending on how it goes by the end of the season I might be hungry enough to write more on the Celtics.

Paul the Octopus

•December 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This NFL season is like a drunken fight: we dont know why, we dont know the next moves and we definitely dont know how its gonna end. For mental sanity purposes I’m not going to say “what if” in this post. Instead, lets take the divisions for a spin.

NFC EAST

As usual they are punished with tough schedules since they have to play each other twice and this season was even worse. Washington improved with one of the best coaches in the league and McNabb playing under center instead of cousin Jay; Dallas started the season with the best group of players in the NFL (and somehow managed to fall 1-7, sick); Philly has Michael Vick, 21 TDs in 9 games, MVP candidate, Comeback Player of the Year for sure. New York’s improved D is currently 2nd in yards/game, allowing only 290.8 per game.

Prediction: Giants. I’m sorry Vick but you will play the Giants in New York and you still have to play the Cowboys twice and now they are actually using the real plays and no one is mentally challenged in their coaching staff anymore.

NFC NORTH

This should be closer than it is. Da Bears are playing some really good D and somehow managed to be 9-3. The Packers only had 4 losses: 2 in OT, and 2 by three points. The Vikings are 5-7 but you know they can play right? AP surely knows it.

(I cant talk about the Lions cause I promised I wouldnt say ‘what if’ but they are probably the best negative record team. They are 2-10, I know, but…)

Prediction: Packers. Even though Chicago is ahead with a 9-3 record I’m still not convinced. Also I dont like their chances of improving since they face: Pats, Jets, Vikes away and Packers away. Chicago fans, beware: 9-7 wont make the playoffs in the NFC, but dont blame me, blame the NFC West. Speaking of it…

NFC WEST

Dear NFL, do you really need to send one of this “teams” to the playoffs? I mean, Kurt Warner is gone, is there any reason at all to watch this division? Raise your hands who would miss the NFC West. No one? Thought so.

Prediction: Seattle. Pete Carroll is dominant as a college football coach, I think we all agree with that, so he should be able to beat the Rams at home in PAC-10.. err NFC West finals, giving his team a shot at the BCS… Superbowl.

NFC SOUTH

A lot of tough breaks for Tampa. I mean A LOT, specially now with CB Aqib Talib and C Jeff Faine on IR. I dont mean to play the ‘what if’ card but this Bucs coaching staff did a hell of a job so far and Josh Freeman is getting better week after week. Judging by the way this team is playing right now you cant rule them out of the Wild Card race just yet.

Prediction: Atlanta. They are 10-2 and they play Carolina twice. This one is easy money at this point.

AFC NORTH

Another great division. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are the top D’s in the AFC (points per game), Cincy has been a disappointment so far and the Browns might be the best 5-7 team in the league. Defense wins championships? The 06 Bears dont think so. The 2000 Ravens disagrees. Its hard to tell. You can ask Ray Lewis if you are brave enough, I’m not.

Prediction: Pitt. Three games at home, with this weather that fits their game perfectly, one game ahead already, there is just no way Baltimore wins the division.

AFC SOUTH

Jacksonville is 7-5. Believable? Sure. Jacksonville is first, Indy is second, with a 6-6 record. Say what? Yep. Really? Yep. Mark Sanchez is Captain Comeback now, not Peyton. Come again? Yep. Are you kiddin me? I wish. Here is what I think its happening: Indy stopped caring and I dont blame them. I mean, at some point, after 5-10 years, they have seen Peyton single-handed take over and win so many ball games that right now they dont care if they are losing by 20 at the end of the third, cause if Peyton is still breathing he will find a way to win the game, right? Not if he is throwing 15 interceptions in 13 games. Houston and Tennessee are still in the mix with a 5-7 record, not impressive though.

Prediction: Colts. I cant be a respected writer if I say Jax, so I’m just trying to earn your respect, help me out here and believe.

AFC WEST

Talk about home field advantage, KC is 6-0 at home and sitting at the top of this division with an 8-4 record. Oakland is the biggest mistery of the NFL, one week they lose at home to Miami, then they beat the Chargers at San Diego with a 13 spread. I cant talk about the Raiders, they are just so shady. San Diego will play KC this sunday at home (I really dont know if that matters anymore) and thats their game of the year. Denver sucks.

Prediction: KC. I simply can not stand the Chargers going to the playoffs just to beat the Colts and then lose to whoever comes next.

AFC EAST

Hell Yeah! 10-2 game of the year 45-3. Thats Right baby, New England Patriots. Rex Ryan, Hard Knocks, there is no hype. They are good, I know, they’re just not Patriots good. Do you know who is Tom Brady’s wife? Take a look. If this guy can nail this girl, man he can win ball games. Nuff said.

Prediction: Pats. I’m a homer, thats all I can say for myself. GO PATS!

I’m cousin Paul and if you dont like my predictions, check again next week. I wont change my mind but you might.

The Other Story

•November 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Michael Vick. He is the biggest story of this season so far, no doubt. I mean, he scored 15 touchdowns in 6 games, no interceptions thrown, 62.7% completion and that is what the story is all about, it speaks for itself and you dont need me to tell you. But I gotta tell you the other story.

The Other Story

Chapter One: Vick was the first overall pick of the 2001 NFL draft. He was selected before LT, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith, Chad Ochocinco, Drew Brees, Seymour, among others. Thats how big he was.

Chapter Two: He is dynamic, explosive. The only way you can understand what happens when Mike gets the ball is through the Michael Vick Experience.

Chapter Three: Tough break for Mike. Two years away from the game, away from the league, away from society. There is no get out of jail free card, Mike is done.

Chapter Four: Nope. Mike isnt done. Not yet. They can take you away from the game for two years, then pay you a minimum contract to be a third string quarterback. They can make you wait, sit on the bench, watch as someone plays your game. Its ok, cause when they look you in the eyes they will know what you have always known.

Chapter Five: He did it. He is back and he is currently the best player in the world. That is what I call a comeback. The thing about sports is that sometimes passion finds a way to overcome the odds, its such a joy to watch.

Chapter Six: I could end this book of Mike (not book of Eli) calling him a cousin because thats what I do, but I cant. Right now, he could be saying something like that: “Yeah! Thats right! Look at the boxscore bitches! Yall cant stop me, every time you knock me down I’ll get up and score again and again. Yall linebackers can hit me and try to take me out of the game but I’ll bounce back every fiiing time and rip your ***sses cause thats just how good I am. The cops can try to keep me away but jail wont stop me, no one can stop me, so dont bother trying bitch.” – Instead, here is what he is saying: “God Can Turn Mistakes Into Miracles” (via twitter @Mike Vick).

Vick could be just another athlete with an ex-convict tag, instead he chose to be better, he is a role model. Lebron said “Mike Vick for PRESIDENT!!” (via twitter @KingJames) I wouldnt go that far but if you ever feel like you are all out of chances, that the odds are against you, that no one believes in you anymore, drop it, think of Michael Vick and come up with a plan to bounce back and prove them wrong (that sounded like cousin emo).

I’m cousin Paul and if you try to shut me up I’ll knock you down, yall cant stop me, your bullets cant kill me. I’m not humble, Vick is, sorry.

Be selfish.

•October 28, 2010 • 2 Comments

Everyone watched NBA opener Celts-Heat but I’m guessing few watched today’s Heat-Sixers. I did. The same off-season (post The decision) questions remains: How will they co-exist? Who will take the final shot? Will role players hit open shots in close games? We dont know. Not yet. Still, I do have a few answers, just not to these questions.

I’m going to assume that I’m a better coach than cousin Erik (and I’ve never coached basketball) – WARNING: I said that about Doc Rivers and now I’m glad he’s coaching my beloved Celtics – and tell you my ‘instant championship formula’ in three (one) easy steps:

1. Be selfish. Lebron averaged 8.6 assists per game last season and Wade 6.5 and they had to play selfish. These numbers show that both Bron and Wade will make the right play. They dont think like brotha JR Smith must-shoot-every-ffffing-time-i-get-the-ball (cant call him cousin with all that tattoos), they are supreme athlethes and understand the game in a superior way. Right now, they are committed to make the extra pass. Dont. Make the pass, forget about extra ones, here is why: they are overthinking the fact that they are playing with each other, I mean, sure, if you are playing with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, you want to give them the ball, but hey, dont forget that you are Lebron James, meaning they want you to finish (all possible combination of mad libs switching names here works). Dont think pass first, think I’m Lebron/Wade/Bosh first, assists will come naturally.

2. Play man-to-man D (the ‘be selfish’ version of D). How many times we have seen Lebron away from his man coming out of nowhere to block someone? How about Wade stealing the ball? And they did it playing 1-on-1 defense. They are so good that they can defend their man and still be aware of the ball and make the right play with the perfect timing. Once again cousin Erik is trying to turn this into a team thing. Dont. Be selfish on D.

3. Bosh, be selfish. He averaged 24 points per game with 51.8 FG% and 79.7 FT% in 09-10 season, meaning he does have a sweet touch. He can score, he excels at scoring. Cousin Erik knows that and he is asking Bosh to do something he never did in 7 great NBA years. Bosh is not a post up/pick and roll guy, you cant give him the ball with his back to the basket and expect him to perform at the same level. So dont. Be selfish, Bosh.

That was my 3-step priceless win a championship formula. Why am I revealing it for free, one might ask. I guess I’m just a selfish guy that wants to see the most amazing NBA trio playing at their best.

This is cousin Paul and here is some piece of advice: Do something selfish today, you’ll feel better tomorrow.

 
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