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Nets can still get the last laugh after bizarre 12 months

A year ago, they were not only the toast of the NBA but a model for the way things get built in professional sports now, the way foundations and cornerstones are laid, the way blueprints become blessings.

Starting with an Instagram message posted by Kevin Durant late in the afternoon of June 30 and stretching for most of a celebratory July, life had never been better for the Nets, not in their NBA incarnation, anyway, not since Julius Erving and his friends had tried to wrest the basketball city away while loitering in the burbs and brandishing a red, white and blue ball. Durant and Kyrie Irving were in the house, in the fold, and suddenly the Nets were in the unfamiliar position of feeding the new NBA zeitgeist.

“We knew,” Sean Marks said in Las Vegas a few weeks later, “what we were getting into.”

Maybe they did. Still: Nobody could truly forecast just how bizarre the next 12 months would be for the Nets. One prominent fly in the ointment was apparent right away: Durant wouldn’t be available at all in 2019-20 thanks to his blown Achilles. While Irving came with a clean bill of health, when he was limited to 20 games (during which the Nets went 8-12) thanks to a bum shoulder that wasn’t exactly a stunning development, either, given his history.

What would have been impossible to envision last July, though, were all the things, epic and subtle and everything in between, that’s littered the Nets’ landscape at the dawn of another July, in no particular order:

  • A global pandemic which has turned everyone’s world upside down.

  • The firing of coach Kenny Atkinson on March 7 after leading the Nets from the dregs to the playoffs last year and the brink of another berth this time, the details of which are a bit fuzzy but was clearly precipitated by the fact that Atkinson on one end and Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan on the other had stopped believing they could work together.
  • Injuries that cost Caris LeVert (having another fine season) 25 games and rookie Nic Claxton all but 15 games.
  • Forward Rodions Kurucs was arrested on domestic violence charges.
  • Wilson Chandler, a key offseason addition, missed the first 25 games thanks to a PED suspension, shot barely 40 percent in the 35 games in which he did play, then opted out of the Nets’ trip to the Orlando restart bubble — a stay that looks, by the day, to probably be the shortest of the 22 teams who will report there next week.
  • And, not least, the Nets have been bludgeoned worse than anyone by the coronavirus. Four players — Durant the only one whose name we know — tested positive early in the lockdown. This week, both Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie — easily the Nets’ most reliable player this year at 20.6 points and 6.8 assists — revealed they, too, have COVID-19. Jordan is definitely out of Orlando; Dinwiddie wants to play but said he has actually shown symptoms (fever, chest tightness) and will almost certainly be forced out.

Other than that …

The Nets are one of what will almost certainly be a wealth of cautionary tales as sports tries to reintegrate into the world. There are others. The Phillies have so far been the hardest hit of the baseball teams by the virus, and the Nationals have already lost two players they expected to be part of the season — Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross — who decided to opt out instead.

The NHL had 15 of the first 250 players tested come back positive and we are still trying to determine at what percentage these things become problematic. Clemson has had 37 football players test positive and there is a cynical (if apocryphal, for now) take that has gotten a foothold in the sport that football factories like that wouldn’t mind seeing their players spike now, possibly develop herd immunity and be fully loaded for the season (if there’s a season).

The Nets were going to be a longshot to do anything in the bubble anyway since it was announced that both Irving and Durant would stay idle. The other dominoes that have fallen have merely ensured their stay inside will be as quick as possible. Most of their eggs were already carefully laid in baskets belonging to 2021, 2022 and 2023, anyway.

By then, depending on how this all shakes out, it may almost be funny how much quicksand they encountered these first 12 months, how many banana peels entangled their feet. If you are a Nets fan, you look forward to that laughter.

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TV and Movies

'The Last Kingdom': Why Was Hild Hardly Seen in Season 4? Fans Weigh In

In The Last Kingdom, there are a number of characters that fans would like to see more of, and one of those is definitely Hild (Eva Birthistle). She is a close friend to Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) and Father Beocca (Ian Hart), but for some reason, her part is much smaller in season 4 and fans certainly noticed.

Hild’s role has diminished in the new season

In season 4, Hild is with Beocca in Winchester when Uhtredcomes calling for their assistance. He plans to take back his native homelandof Bebbanburg and he asks for their help since they are both fierce and capablewarriors. However, neither of them is feeling the need or desire to fight anymore,although Beocca does eventually go with Uhtred and that’s where he meets hisdeath unexpectedly.

The last fans see of Hild, she is assisting Lady Aelswith (Eliza Butterworth) in seeing King Edward’s (Timothy Innes) first wife along with their son, Aethelstan. Hild helps her with this, and that’s the last we see of her all season. Fans were disappointed that they didn’t get to see Hild learn about Beocca’s death since they were so close.

Why was Hild hardly seen in season 4? Fans weigh in

RELATED: ‘The Last Kingdom’: Fans Weigh in on the Many Women in Uhtred’s Life

More than a few fans have wondered about Hild’s whereabouts for the remainder of the season, as she isn’t seen again after helping Aelswith. What happened when the Danes seized Winchester? It isn’t like Hild to not fight and defend the people.

“Not sure if this is a spoiler as such but wondering where Hild was when the Danes took Winchester?” a Reddit user asked. “I’m sure she was there at the start of season 4 but not sure whether she just left after arranging Aelswith to meet with Aethelstan. Missed her in this season!”

Fans didn’t get to see Hild learn of Beocca’s death

Other fans were apparently wondering where Hild was all season as well. She is a fan-favorite and her absence was felt. Fans also didn’t get to see her reaction to the death of Father Beocca and they were close friends. Does she even know about his death?

“I was so disappointed at how little we saw of Hild. She’sone of my favorite characters and we didn’t even get to see her reaction toBeocca’s death,” a fan said.

One fan thinks Hild was a great “addition” to Uhtred’s crew of friends and warriors. It’s sad to not see her as much or her interactions with them all. “I was definitely feeling the loss of both her and Beocca this season!” a fan wrote. “I don’t know if I’m missing something and she’s meant to be off doing something somewhere but she was such a golden addition to Uhtred’s crew and I feel like she’s just been brushed under the carpet.”

Hild could be off doing things for the church

Another fan points out that she’s an abbess, so she wouldn’t be out with Uhtred and his warrior friends anymore. She could be doing things for the good of the church and that’s why she’s missing in action. She’s put up her warrior clothes and traded them for a peaceful life.

“Historically, she’s an abbess, so it wouldn’t make sense for her to be running around with Uhtred’s crew,” a fan pointed out.

Fans miss Hild and wonder where she went for the majority ofseason 4 of The Last Kingdom.

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Celebrities

CLAUDIA CONNELL reviews last night's TV: How do we end racism?

CLAUDIA CONNELL reviews last night’s TV: How do we put an end to racism? Just leave it to our schoolkids

The School That Tried to End Racism

Rating:

Britain’s Best Parent

Rating:

Filming for The School That Tried to End Racism (Ch4) took place more than a year ago.

Since then the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed have brought racism to the fore. Glenthorne High School in South London was chosen because it has an even split of white and ethnic minority pupils. All 24 of the 11-year-olds who took part believed they were not racist.

The aim of the experiment, run by race experts Dr Nicola Rollock and Professor Rhiannon Turner, was to weed out ‘unconscious’ racial bias — where a person states they are not racist but their words and actions suggest otherwise.

The aim of the experiment in The School That Tried To End Racism was to weed out ‘unconscious’ racial bias

For the first test, developed by researchers at Harvard, each child was given a tablet computer to see how quickly they could associate positive words with white faces and negative words with black faces. A word flashed on the screen that they had to swipe to the right (underneath the picture of a black child) or left (underneath a picture of a white child).

The test was then reversed. The results showed that people were far quicker to associate positivity with white faces and negativity with black

The white pupils seemed horrified, the black ones less so.

‘It’s not going to go, I’ll always be treated differently,’ said Mahkai. Later, he wept as he recalled the time he’d gone to buy sweets with friends after school and, when some of the other children misbehaved, he was the only one asked to leave because, he believed, he was black. ‘That wasn’t the nicest time I’ve ever had,’ he added.

Schools in America have already taken part in the experiment that also includes a controversial exercise in which black and ethnic minority pupils are segregated into ‘affinity’ groups — the idea being they can talk without fear of judgment.

Henry, who described himself as ‘a ginger European boy’, became very upset when he heard the ethnic minority affinity group laughing in the room next door.

Were they laughing at the white pupils? Did it mean they had more fun when they weren’t around?

Lesson of the week:

Those considering applying for Love Island would do well to watch Make Me Famous (BBC1) first. The powerful drama told the tale of Billy, whose life went downhill after his appearance on a fictional reality show.

The division stirred deep emotions for all pupils. Lucy, in the white group, felt that people were often unfairly accused of racism. Black pupil Amalie just wished white people weren’t so uptight and that ‘not ever asking anything about my race is weird’.

When the classes came together they talked about their differences. White pupils wanted to know what was and wasn’t appropriate to ask about race and black pupils spoke with pride about their heritage.

It ended with what Mahkai called ‘the most racist sports day ever’. The children ran a race from different starting points. Pupils whose parents had English as a first language took a step forward, those who’d ever been in a room where nobody else looked like them took a step backwards and so on.

It was a brave and thought-provoking initiative but what shone through was how bright, kind and open to discussion the children were.

Not so open to change were the parents in the final of Britain’s Best Parent (Ch4). Each had a different approach to raising children and each was convinced theirs was the right way.

Would it be Becky and Ben, who home educated, didn’t believe in timetables and whose children are surely in for a rude awakening when they start work?

Strict Nicky and David fought a good fight — as did Jen and Tom, who wanted children to make fires and get dirty outdoors.

The title went to Rin and Robin, who believed in making children partake in ‘scholarly and warrior pursuits’, which appeared to be playing chess and doing Karate.

Best parents? Debatable. Smuggest? Undoubtedly.

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