Some of my main takeaways:
*Trump was solid on emphasizing the plight of minorities in Democrat controlled major cities (President Obama's adopted hometown of Chicago in particular), whether it's victims of violent crime or substandard educational opportunities.
*Trump also stressed more openness in the GOP for members of the LGBTQ community, likely a first such declaration for a Republican presidential candidate.
*Perhaps the most salient issue was his emphasis on nominating strict legal constructionists for the U.S. Supreme Court. Given that the current GOP majority in the U.S. Senate is deferring to the next President to fill the SCOTUS vacancy left by the passing of Antonin Scalia, this issue should be hit on every campaign speech from now until November 8.
I don't expect to see this kind of message discipline from Trump in every speech over the next 3-1/2 months. However, he definitely will not cower when the media's inevitable "GOP candidate shaming" takes place. This will be the most fascinating aspect of the cycle, which is how the mainstream media will react when they're unable to rhetorically shame a Republican presidential candidate.
- The NBA made a major announcement regarding its next All-Star Game.
The NBA is moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the league's objection to the state's House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the state.
In a statement, the league said it hopes to reschedule the game for Charlotte in 2019.
"Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change," the league said. "We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.
"Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community -- current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2."
Now wait a second. You mean to tell me that an enterprise like the NBA is allowed to exercise its freedom of conscience and thus decline to associate with whomever they choose not to associate? What a novel concept!
- Dennis Green, the second most successful head coach in Minnesota Vikings history, died Thursday evening at age 67.
"Dennis passed away last night from complications of cardiac arrest," Green's family said in a statement. "His family was by his side and he fought hard."
Green's Vikings made eight playoff appearances in 10 seasons from 1992 to 2001, reaching the NFC Championship Game in 1998 and 2000. He led the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season in 1998 and ranks second in franchise history in games coached, wins and winning percentage, trailing Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant in each category.
"Denny made his mark in ways far beyond being an outstanding football coach," the Vikings said in a statement. "He mentored countless players and served as a father figure for the men he coached. Denny founded the Vikings Community Tuesday Program, a critical initiative that is now implemented across the entire NFL. He took great pride in helping assistant coaches advance their careers. His tenure as one of the first African-American head coaches in both college and the NFL was also transformative."
As Vikings head coach, Green was terrific motivator, rarely going into a game where his players weren't ready to play. And he had a terrific eye for talent on the offensive side of the ball. However, his in-game coaching strategies (particularly clock management) left something to be desired, particularly in the postseason. While his regular season record was very good (a .610 career winning percentage as Vikings coach), Green was only 4-8 in the playoffs, including losses in his first four postseason contests. Many long-suffering Vikings fans (myself included) still recall his decision to "take a knee" on their own 20-yard line and opt for overtime in the 1998 NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. This occurred despite the Vikes having two timeouts and 57 seconds remaining to get in field goal range. The Vikings lost 30-27 in OT, which is perhaps most heartbreaking loss in franchise history.
From 2004-06, Green had three losing seasons in Arizona (finishing 16-32 overall) and was fired after the '06 campaign. He never held an NFL head coaching job again.
Perhaps his most memorable moment as Cards coach was a postgame meltdown in 2006 after blowing a 20-0 lead to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
While we had a tendency to caricature Green after his coaching career was over, there was no denying that he had the respect of many who played for him. He will definitely be missed by the NFL community.