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How Michael Jordan And the Bulls Inspired the World – Sports Illustrated

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Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls offered the world—not just America—a new meaning to the world of sports and superstardom.

The year is 1992.

Here I am, a Peruvian kid in Lima, a city going through economical and internal conflict but also – and just like the rest of South America –welcoming the initial effects of modern American culture.

Saved by the Bell is reaching the heights of its popularity and even though it’s been almost year since its release, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is still playing in movie theaters across the capital.

McDonalds were expanding across the city, right next to cevicherias, and everyone wanted G.I. Joe action figures for Navidad.

Thanks to developments in television streaming and market consumption, American products were placing an imprint all over the world, and Peru was no different.

We also felt the U.S takeover in sports. Sure, soccer was still the absolute dominant national force, but thanks to the introduction of international cable, Peruvians were now also watching NBC and ESPN and their fandom habits were diversifying.

And this is when the NBA entered the party.

Illustration by Alonso Guzman Baroné

If you ask any Peruvian who grew up in the 90s, they will tell you that their memories, in one way or another, always came back to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. It’s hard to explain this to an American reader, but for South Americans, MJ opened a door that signified more than just basketball. It was as if we realized there was another way you defined an athlete and cultural icon.

So here we are, back in 1992. I remember the moment so vividly.

It’s May, less than a month away from my 11 birthday, and I’m staying over at my close friend Alonso’s house to watch Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Bulls and my New York Knicks (I had already made this decision based on my love for my favorite player John Starks). It’s not official but I am willing to bet my life savings that Alonso was also the biggest NBA fan in Peru at the time. He was obsessed with the game. Obsessed.

Miguelito Jordan, as my dad called him, and his Bulls returning as defending champions, are now doing something quite remarkable outside of the court. And this was being felt everywhere, even in Peru.

I didn’t know it at the time but years later, when I started to work in the sports industry, I realized that specific Game 7 (where Chicago won 110-81) and watching it with my friend essentially proved to me that sports was more than just a game. It was a cultural movement. And that’s what Michael Jordan and the Bulls did for a chubby Peruvian kid in the 90’s.

The 90s, you see, was not just a glorious time for the league in America—it was a pivotal moment for the world of sports because Miguelito was rewriting the way we—the world – looked at superstars.

I reached out to Alonso (Guzman) for this piece because I wanted to make sure my memories were more than just nostalgia.

Without a beat, he concurred.

“Honestly, at the beginning of 1991, my life changed because I discovered basketball and the Bulls embellished my love for the sport,” says Alonso, now an illustrator and writer in Lima. “And even though it’s widely accepted that the Dream Team lifted the game to epic global proportions in ‘92, I’d actually argue it was the 90s Bulls—alongside satellite TV—who were responsible for the start of this phenomena. Especially where we grew up.”

For Alonso, his love for Michael Jordan and the Bulls was also personal. “Watching them became a means of bonding with my dad,” he says. “I remember how he used to talk about their great chemistry, the grace of Scottie Pippen, the strength of Horace Grant and later Dennis Rodman, the clutch play of John Paxson and later Steve Kerr. And as the seasons went by, we became one while watching their games, and even congratulated each other for a good job after every championship clincher. It was as if we were two of ‘the guys’. And whenever I watched Phil Jackson on TV, I saw my dad: a throwback grey-haired man who was strict, but also very kind.”

“The endless summer days in which I saw more hardwood than sun, all the ups and downs of the seasons (including the 93-94 team) and that final Bulls salute after game 6 of the 1998 Finals, when I embraced my dad in the same fashion as Jordan and Phil Jackson. We saw history together, and all those precious moments will remain with me forever.”

After our conversation, he confessed to me that though this team was important to him, he didn’t realize just how much the Bulls meant until he realized they were a connector, a bridge that united a father and son.

Illustration by Alonso Guzman Baroné

Illustration by Alonso Guzman Baroné

Illustration by Alonso Guzman Baroné

The 1993-94 season—as any NBA fan remembers—came with change like no other for many reasons. The Bulls were without MJ and due to the fragility of the nation, my family and I left Peru for England.

It’s not a surprise to say the culture shock changed me and life in the United Kingdom transformed almost everything about me. Here I was, no longer a Peruvian, but now also an immigrant, having to acclimate myself to a new world, a new society and a distinctively different way of life.

At first, due to my basic knowledge of English, making friends was difficult. But one of the saving graces were my Air Jordan VII sneakers, my knowledge of U.S. pop culture and most importantly, Michael Jordan. This immediately became a conversation starter and slowly, piece by piece, I felt more comfortable in my new home.

Have you ever seen Fresh Off the Boat? That was my life—the Lima-to-London version. I was a foreigner in a new land using pop culture and sports as my Get Out of Jail passes.

Again, just like in Peru, soccer was still the ultimate sport in the country and my personal first love, but the NBA, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were once again the major influencers in 90s England, especially for young people.

Channel Four in England was the vehicle that introduced U.S. sports to British audiences. In the 80’s, the network broadcasted the NFL and achieved success in viewership so the mid 90s was naturally a move for the NBA. Showing the 96-97 season was a major step for the network as the deal to broadcast the league became the biggest move since making a similar agreement with Serie A soccer (also, an incredibly popular league at the time). The show would be called NBA 24/7 and almost every single British teenager watched it religiously.

Illustration by Alonso Guzman Baroné

Illustration by Alonso Guzman Baroné

The year is now 1998. I am a junior in high school and fully accustomed to English life. Jordan the Bulls were still iconic and heading to their sixth title but most importantly from a personal standpoint, his poster was still hanging on my wall, right next to my other sports hero Dwight Yorke (who would come down eventually the same year after leaving Aston Villa for Manchester United).

In England, the NBA didn’t just attract the attention of young British fans, but he also represented minorities, especially the black British community. The NBA, therefore, appealed to people of color in England because, as mentioned earlier, it was more than just a sport, it was a symbol of cultural representation.

“Like many teenagers growing up in London, a love of the NBA came from watching rap stars on MTV and all I wanted to do was emulate their style, while rapping into a hairbrush in the mirror,” says James Chinery, now an English teacher and educator in Greater London. He is also a good friend from my college years. Like Alonso, James was influenced by U.S. culture—especially Jordan and the Bulls. “First, it was the Raiders cap and jacket, which were almost like school uniform growing up in North London. Then quickly, the legend that was Michael Jordan took over the consciousness. Jordan trainers, t-shirts, hoodies, caps, posters on walls – you name it, we all wanted it.”

James’s love for MJ and the Bulls elevated after subscribing to Slam Magazine and staying up until midnight to watch the  NBA 24/7 on Channel Four, and his overall view of the world changed because of this team. “My daily cartoon drawings changed from black superheroes to street ball players, but whatever I drew, they were wearing Jordans and a Bulls cap. To this day, I still religiously wear my AJ3’S when I’m not at work.”

My immigrant story is a testament to this very notion: Michael Jordan and the 90s Chicago Bulls offered the world—not just America—a new meaning to the world of sports and superstardom. Their success sparked an international spectacle, idolized and adulated.

And this Peruvian kid will never forget it.  

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Nadal's 5 Best Roland Garros Moments – ATP Tour

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With 12 titles to his name, Rafael Nadal is the most successful player in Roland Garros history. Apart from leaving an indelible mark in Paris, he has provided countless memorable moments throughout the years.

ATPTour.com takes a look back at five of his biggest highlights at this event.

To Paris On Crutches
Two injuries delayed Nadal’s Roland Garros debut. In 2003, he hurt his right elbow while training in Manacor. The following year, he picked up a stress fracture in his left foot during his win in Estoril against Richard Gasquet.

Nadal’s agent, Carlos Costa, convinced Nadal to visit two of his sponsors at 2004 Roland Garros. Although the trip was only for a couple of days, the former No. 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings believed it would be good for Nadal to familiarise himself with the surroundings and discover the charm of Court Philippe Chatrier.

The teenager boarded a plane with his crutches and made his way around the tournament on them. For his introduction to Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal went to the top of the stands with Costa.

“We went to watch a Robredo match and [Nadal] was only able to stay there for 10 minutes,” Costa recalled. “He couldn’t be in the stands instead of on the court. That was when I realised he was a champion.

“On the street, without me asking, he told me he couldn’t be there any longer. He said that he was broken because it wasn’t his turn to win, that he would have to win when he played there for the first time.”

On 5 June 2005, Nadal climbed into one of the boxes in the stadium to celebrate with this team after beating Mariano Puerta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 to win his first crown in Paris. The critics labelled him as the favourite, but the victory was still extraordinary for the 19-year-old.

“I told you I would do it!”, Nadal shouted to Costa when it was his turn for a high-five in the stands.

Zidane & The First Title
Rafael Nadal collected his first Coupe des Mousquetaires from the hands of Zinedine Zidane, the French football legend and Real Madrid’s current manager. For Nadal, well-known for his love of football, it was hugely exciting to receive his first Roland Garros trophy from Zidane.

Back in the locker room, Nadal was drinking a soft drink. He had a short conversation with Jaime Lissavetzky, then-Secretary of State for Sport in Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s government in Spain. Later, still dressed in his green sleeveless t-shirt and white pirate pants he had worn in the match against Puerta, the player sat on a wooden bench with the trophy as his team continued to recall moments from the match.

Two special guests then approached Nadal to congratulate him and have their photo taken with him: 1977 Roland Garros champion Guillermo Villas and Gustavo Kuerten, former No. 1 and three-time champion in Paris (1997, 2000, 2001).

Mats Wilander, another three-time champion in Paris (1982, 1985, 1988) also asked for a photo. The Swede had been the last player to win the tournament on his first attempt before Nadal accomplished the feat.

But nobody in the room, not even Nadal himself, could imagine on that afternoon that they had just witnessed the birth of the best tennis player of all time on clay.

Monday Final
With Nadal looking to break the record for most titles won in Paris with his seventh Roland Garros crown, rain pushed the end of his 2012 final against Novak Djokovic to Monday.

The match was delayed that evening in Paris as Nadal led Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2. However, the Serbian was in the midst of a comeback after winning eight consecutive games from 0-2 in the third set.

Nadal was unable to sleep that night or calm the butterflies in his stomach as he lay in his room. It was almost midnight and Nadal was still restless, his mind on Djokovic’s comeback.

In a desperate attempt to relax, Nadal opened his computer and started watching Dragon Ball, the successful cartoon series inspired by Akira Toriyama’s manga. He managed to stop his mind from churning and was able to fall asleep.

Heavy rain meant the match was restarted on Monday at 13:00. Nadal won back the service break in the fourth set and prevailed 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to win his seventh Coupe des Mousquetaires, surpassing Bjorn Borg’s record to become the most prolific winner in the tournament’s history.

“Call An Ambulance!”
After holding the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the ninth time at 2014 Roland Garros by defeating Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4, Nadal climbed into his team’s box to celebrate. When he reached Toni Nadal, his uncle and coach, the Spaniard covered his mouth and whispered into his ear that he needed an ambulance.

“He had been having cramps since the third set and he asked me to call an ambulance,” Toni explained. “I spoke to Angel Ruiz Cotorro [Nadal’s doctor] because he told me he didn’t have any saline solution. Afterwards, he went to see the doctor and he got better.

“Rafael was worse than Djokovic because he had cramps. Playing for an hour with cramps makes you hesitant all the time. You know that you have to run more than normal, that you have to be cautious. And that’s why the match required a few moments of brilliance. He knew that if we didn’t win it in the fourth set, it would be difficult to do so in the fifth.”

Nadal reiterated this when he spoke to journalists after the match.

“This was the French Open in which I’ve suffered the most physically,” Nadal said. “There have been moments when I felt very empty, very tired. I don’t know what would’ve happened in the fifth set. I guess I would’ve tried to find strength from somewhere, but I was really in a bad way and very much at my physical limit.

“Passion, motivation, the desire to win… All of that keeps you on court with the mentality that you want to do it. I don’t know what it was, but for whatever reason, I managed to handle it. I was able to suffer and find solutions. I coped with the physically difficult moments with very high-quality tennis. In one way or another, I found a way to win this title.”

A Replica Of The Coupe Des Mousquetaires
To celebrate Nadal’s 10th title at 2017 Roland Garros, a historic moment in the world of sport, the tournament decided to present him with a replica of the Coupe des Mousquetaires with “Rafa Nadal’s Tenth” engraved on it, something that has never been done for any other champion.

The tournament organisers had decided that the Spaniard should be the first player of all time to keep a Coupe des Mousquetaires, having won it on 10 occasions.

Normally, Roland Garros champions pose with the trophy after the final and the next day at an iconic part of the city, but the one they take home is a small replica. However, the tournament organisers decided to make a life-size replica of the Coupe des Mousquetaires that Nadal could display it in the museum of the Rafa Nadal Academy.

In addition, Roland Garros wanted to recognise Nadal’s 10th victory with a couple of special moments during the ceremony. Firstly, the fans in the stands held up cards to form an enormous mosaic that read “Bravo Rafa”, together with a huge 10 in reference to his 10 titles at the tournament. Toni Nadal was also given the honour of making a surprise appearance on court to present his nephew with a special trophy, breaking from the usual protocol.

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Woods joins the conversation as athletes continue to speak out – TSN

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Athletes and notable names from the world of sports are speaking up as protests continue following the death of George Floyd last this week in Minneapolis.


Als RB Wilder leads CFLers message against racism and police brutality

Montreal Alouettes running back James Wilder Jr. posted a video to social media Tuesday of a number of CFL players sharing a message against systemic racism and police brutality.

“Called on some of my brothers all round the CFL to openly stand with me against Systemic Racism and Police Brutality. WITHOUT hesitation they STOOD!!! Now WE call on YOU to Proudly stand with us!!!! SILENCE IS VIOLENCE!!!!! #STANDTOGETHER

Among the CFLers to share the message were Adam Bighill, Henoc Muamba, Mike Reilly, Zach Collaros, Dacid Casarrubias, Bo Levi Mitchell, Shawn Lemon, Cody Fajardo, Dylan ynn, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Timothy Flanders, and Trevor Harris.

Toronto Argonauts receiver Juwan Brescacin also posted a message on social media, saying “we need to reach one common goal together which is equality.”

Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Nick Arbuckle joined the conversation on Tuesday as well.

“An entire half of my family shares the same skin colour as George Floyd, who was murdered by the police in Minneapolis last week. My wife is Black and our beautiful newborn daughter, Aaliyah, is biracial,” part of the statement read. “Even with Aaliyah being biracial, which comes with its own challenges, she will undoubtedly be viewed as Black in America when it comes to the justice system, school applications, police interactions, and everything else where prejudice and racism exists.

“That’s one of the things that has made it most difficult to find the words to express during these times.”


Struble: Being silent doesn’t ignite change

Defenceman prospect Jayden Struble, selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, shared a powerful message on Twitter Tuesday morning.

Struble said he’s angry with how many black lives have been taken without any consequences.

“To start I wanna say that I’ve been angry for a while now. Angry that I keep seeing innocent black lives taken at such a rate that the news seems incomplete without another victim,” said Struble, who is African American. “I’m angry that time and time again this country lets us know that black lives are disposable without any consequence. Angry that the “every man is equal” slogan proves to be just a slogan in this country.”

The 18-year-old went on to support the protests in North America and criticized people who are referring to the rioters as “thugs.”

“First of all these people rioting are not thugs, they’re not criminals, they’re not lower than you,” he wrote. “They are people so broken down by years of systematic racism, and discrimination, in a country who stands for freedom and equality. They’re people who have watched brothers and sisters, friends, and/or other people of colour be beaten, killed, and belittled, asking for help and justice, without the slightest hint of support or change. Peaceful protests got us NOWHERE. So before you u label people thugs, think about where this country could be if people in power listened, helped and implemented change.”

Reach Struble’s full statement below.


Woods joins the conversation

Tiger Woods took to Twitter Monday night to speak out for the first time since Floyd’s death.

“I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement,” Woods said. “They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line.”

Woods condemned the looting that has taken place in some areas, stating he learned from the Los Angeles riots in 1992 that “education is the best path forward.” 

“We can make our points without burning the very neighborhoods we live in,” Woods said. “I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.”


Griffin III: No brand is more valuable than human rights


Dumba: I will not be silent about any racial injustice in our society again

Veteran Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba joined the conversation on Tuesday.


Marner: Now is the time to listen with intent

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner and goalie Frederik Andersen was two of many professional athletes and organizations to participate in #BlackoutDay on Twitter on Tuesday.

“I’ve been searching for the right thing to say – but I realize that now is the time to listen with intent, understanding and learn how we can help,” wrote Marner.

Andersen added shortly later: “Humanity can be incredible, and people have the capacity for so much more. Let’s all fight racism and hate and unite with compassion, respect and love.”  


Stamkos makes a statement

Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos took to Twitter Tuesday morning regarding the death of George Floyd and the ongoing protests in the United States.

“I have watched, I have listened and now I am ready to speak. Since the senseless killing of George Floyd, I have had a hard time trying to articulate a way of expressing how I truly fell. Am I scared? Do I feel a sense of guilt being a white man? Am I part of the problem if I remain silent,” Stamkos wrote. ” I have watched and listened to the peaceful gatherings of people in protest and I have nothing but compassion and respect for that. I have also watched the looting and the riots. I certainly don’t approve of those action, but as many of YOU have opened my eyes to, I see that these action may be coming from real pain and suffering. I can at least try to comprehend that.”  

The 30-year-old went on to say that he’ll continue to educate himself on the issue pf racism and encourages others to step up and speak up against it.

“I know that we don’t have all the answers right now, but I believe we can come together and continue this fight for change and a better tomorrow.”


Trouba Talks

New York Rangers defenceman Jacob Trouba says “as a privileged white male, it’s easy for me to live in this country,” and that even though it’s important to speak up when it comes to racial injustice, it’s “equally important to listen.”

“It’s been tough for me to find the words to say, so I haven’t. I’ve been listening. Educating myself. Letting others educate me before I speak. I thought I understood, but I didn’t. As a privileged white male, it’s easy for me to live in this country.

“I’ve always heard about the pain and fear of others but I don’t know if I ever truly sat with it and tried to imagine. I know that I will never know what it’s like. And now I know that as important as it is to speak up, it’s equally important to listen.

“Talk with your friends about racism, Black and White. Start conversations, self-reflect, listen, and engage. Black lives matter.”


Chargers coach Lynn discusses racial injustice: ‘I don’t want to just put [a statement] out there because it’s the right thing to do. I want change.’

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn shared his thoughts on George Floyd’s death and the ongoing protests, and racial injustice to LZ Granderson of the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, saying he’s ‘pissed off’ and wanted to do more than put out a statement.

“I’ve read some good statements,” Lynn told the LA Times. “I read Brian Flores from the Dolphins and I agree 100% with him. I read Doc Rivers’ statement and those guys spoke from the heart. I think statements are needed to bring awareness to the situation. But I want to do something too. I don’t want to just put [a statement] out there because it’s the right thing to do. I want change.”

“I haven’t done anything to make this a better place for my son. I remember having the talk with him when he was 16 about how to handle police and then at age 30 I called him up and just had the talk with him again because I’m so scared. I want to do something but to be honest with you, I don’t know what that is.”

“How do we effect that type of change? Where’s the accountability for that kind of [expletive]? That’s where I’m at right now. I’m angry, I’m pissed off and I don’t want to just put out a pretty statement.”


MLB memo on addressing injustice

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued an internal memo to all MLB employees on Monday concerning the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the subsequent protests around the United States. Manfred said baseball wants to be part of the solution.

 “Addressing injustice requires action. Together we must bring about change. Baseball wants to be part of the solution,” the memo read.

A number of teams released statements Tuesday morning including the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets .

“Racism and silence in the face of it cannot be tolerated,” the Brewers statement read. The Brewers also said they are committed to working with their community to effect meaningful and lasting change.

“We stand with our state, our city, and community. We hope to be a part of positive change in our society,” the Mets statement read.

Former Toronto Blue Jays and current New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman retweeted the Mets’ statement with the caption BLACK LIVES MATTER.


American international RB Yedlin shares emotional message on Twitter

American international and Newcastle United RB DeAndre Yedlin shared an emotional message on Twitter Tuesday after the death of George Floyd.

Yedlin, who has represented the United States in international soccer, said his heart goes out in solidarity to George Floyd and his family, and “all of the countless number of victims that have had their lives taken at the hands of meaningless police brutality.”

 


Monty Williams validates Suns players’ feelings amid civil unrest 

Monty Williams validates Suns players’ feelings amid civil unrest

Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams provides insight into the conversation he had with Suns players to express his support for their feelings about injustice.

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Infantino: Don’t punish Bundesliga players for George Floyd support – Sportsnet.ca

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino stepped into the debate about Bundesliga players who protested during matches against the death of George Floyd, saying Tuesday that they should be applauded and not punished.

Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho was booked for taking off his jersey during a Bundesliga match so he could display a T-shirt emblazoned with “Justice for George Floyd.”

Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie carried the same messages on their body at the weekend in a technical breach of the game’s laws that led to the Germany soccer federation saying it was considering a disciplinary case despite expressing pride in their actions.

Floyd, a black man and former community college basketball player, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and stopped pleading for air. His death has sparked protests across the United States and in other countries.

“For the avoidance of doubt,” Infantino said, “in a FIFA competition the recent demonstrations of players in Bundesliga matches would deserve an applause and not a punishment.”

Infantino’s comments were published in a statement by FIFA and were set to feature in a letter to all 211 member associations. The statement also urged leagues to apply “common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”

The laws of the game prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.

European football’s governing body will also overlook that rule to allow Floyd tributes in continental competitions it oversees.

“Football is a sport which encourages tolerance, inclusion and justice,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said. “These are the same values being espoused by those showing solidarity to George Floyd.”

UEFA is hoping to resume the Champions League and Europa League in August after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“If a player in our competitions were to display a message or act symbolically to ask for equality for human beings,” Ceferin said, “the circumstances around the event should be taken into account in line with UEFA’s zero tolerance against racism.”

The English Football Association has already said it will adopt the stance urged by FIFA. The Premier League is due to resume on June 17 and clubs have been showing solidarity with Floyd.

Players from Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle have been pictured this week in training taking a knee as part of anti-racism gestures.

“Where any behaviours or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the laws of the game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context,” the FA said earlier in a statement when asked about players’ tributes to Floyd.

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