Rappers stay scheming, getting lit, popping pills and ducking Zzzs. But such careless habits can leave anyone’s life on the line. Recent health scares have left Rick Ross and Nick Cannon in backless gowns, with overworking partially to blame. Hurts when breathe? Here’s how to combat hip-hop’s live fast, die young motto. CONTINUE READING…

Three-pointers: LeBron James, Heat make light work of Nets in romp

The Miami Heat blew out the Brooklyn Nets 103-73 [RECAP | BOX] at the American Airlines Arena on Wednesday night in the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Heat won all four quarters and quickly turned a solid 9-point halftime lead into a total laugh riot in the third quarter. The Big 3 looked on from the sideline, resting, for most of the fourth quarter. • LeBron James has said that, when planning to attack off the dribble, he concentrates first and foremost on reading the second line of the defense because he is confident he can beat his individual defender off the dribble. Against the Nets, “reading the second line of defense” could also be written as “looking at a wide open key.” The Heat’s much-ballyhooed position-less revolution was an absolute nightmare for the Nets, especially because Brooklyn’s most versatile player, forward Gerald Wallace, was sitting out due to injury. The list of resulting match-up problems for Brooklyn were just endless. The Nets’ traditional big men — center Brook Lopez and power forward Kris Humphries — were forced to follow Chris Bosh and Shane Battier all the way out to the three-point line. Nets guard Keith Bogans, inserted into the starting lineup in place of Wallace, was forced to check either James or Dwyane Wade. Those individual pieces were all problems but the Heat’s genius this season is in its “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” unselfish dynamic on offense, which sees spectacularly quick ball rotations and timely isolation plays to pick on weak defenders which seems to produce an endless stream of wide open shots and easy looks.

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Three-pointers: Clippers turn up the defensive pressure, outpace Spurs

A matchup of Western Conference powers ended up a decisive open-court blowout. The Los Angeles Clippers have had an up-and-down start to their 2012-13 season, but rode one of their brightest performances of the season to a 106-84 win over the San Antonio Spurs. • This game was an unusual one, if only because the Clippers were able to make the Spurs look as old and slow as San Antonio’s reputation suggests. So long as Tim Duncan suits up in a Spurs uniform, many will associate his team with plodding, measured play — even if such a characterization hasn’t been valid since 2010. You wouldn’t know it from Wednesday night’s game, but the Spurs of today are an offensive powerhouse equipped to outrun and outscore even elite competition. That makes the two-way efforts of the Clippers on Wednesday night all the more impressive, as Los Angeles capitalized on every sputter of San Antonio’s offense en route to posting a fully dominant performance. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan offered up a sampling of their collective defensive potential, and rebuffed drive after drive by way of emphatic blocks and great positioning. On the other end of the court, Griffin, Jordan, and the Clippers very literally sprinted past the Spurs to score at a marvelous rate of 114 points per 100 possessions. The gap in athleticism could not have been more glaring; for whatever reason, the Clips were simply playing this game at an entirely different speed, and used stilted matchups, forced turnovers, and long rebounds as opportunities to exploit their natural advantage.

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The Empowerment Campaign and its Dividends

There is one image from these last few days in Colorado that is going to stick with me, and it is perhaps an unlikely one. Gabe Cohen, a 33-year-old white guy in a Patagonia jacket, knocks on the screen door of a ranch house belonging to middle-aged black voter. “Hi there,” he says. “I’m with the president’s campaign.” The voter smiles. That’s it. What struck me right then was the power in the word “president,” and the power of what it meant, in that racially mixed neighborhood on the outskirts of Denver, for that word to mean not “them,” but “us.” And that, for a fleeting moment at least, the “us” here was a kind of community encompassing both a white Jewish kid and an older black man. It is an aspirational “us” that, as we saw last night, drove Latinos, and young people, and women, and African-Americans to the polls in tremendous waves. Credit to the Obama campaign’s base-vote architects and swing-state gurus, people you never heard of, like Mike Blake and Buffy Wicks, Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird, Rachel Haltom-Irwin and Jon Carson. You don’t need to know their names. But these are the people who in 2008, implementing a vision from David Plouffe and Jim Messina and Barack Obama himself, figured out a new way to campaign. It would be additive, rather than divisive, and even if it were not wholly positive (anyone with a TV or an internet connection knows it hasn’t been), it has been, to the last, about empowerment. Finding a man like Antonio Esquibel and giving him the tools to register hundreds of his neighbors. Putting a college junior in charge of something meaningful. Telling the man who answered Gabe Cohen’s knock that someone with a different background knew his name and was keeping track of his vote.

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Puerto Rico on Its Way to Becoming the 51st State?

Looks like Puerto Rico just voted in favor of statehood. But don’t start trying to fit a 51st star onto the U.S. flag just yet—the next steps aren’t quite that clear cut. The U.S. territory’s two-part, non-binding referendum vote on Tuesday showed a majority of Puerto Ricans supporting a change in national status, and a majority support for statehood. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, just under 54 percent of voters favored a change, according to the Associated Press. The second referendum question offered a choice between three possible status changes: statehood, which took 61 percent of the vote; Sovereign free association, with 33 percent; and just 5 percent support for independence. Congress would have to approve a Puerto Rican bid for statehood, something that President Obama has said he’d respect in the event of a clear majority decision. But it’s still not clear if the White House will consider the majority votes from Tuesday enough to take up the issue. To complicate matters, the pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuno conceded defeat on Wednesday in a close race against Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who supports the island’s current national status, according to the AP. Currently, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and use U.S. currency and passports. But they have limited representation in government, and can’t vote in presidential elections.

Read it at Slate.