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In the face of Biden’s virus help, the GOP revives an Obama-era tactic.

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In the face of Biden's virus help, the GOP revives an Obama-era tactic.

 

Republicans want to erode public support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package by presenting it as too high, too bloated, and too much unsustainable public spending for a pandemic that’s nearly over.

Senate Republicans planned to vote against the relief bill in lockstep on Friday, taking the calculated political risk that once Americans hear all the information, they would see the large-scale expenditures for vaccine delivery, unemployment insurance, state funding, and other outlays as excessive. Reviving their 2009 critique of Barack Obama’s expensive recovery from the financial crisis, they expect their opponents to reap electoral gains, similar to how the previous campaign helped the House Republicans gain control.

It’s a tried and true strategy, but it comes at a difficult and unpredictable time for the nation. If more people are vaccinated, Americans are seeing glimmers of hope on the one-year anniversary of the deadly epidemic. New strains of the virus, combined with a still-shaky economy, could set off a new round of infections, lockdowns, and deaths. More than 500,000 Americans have died as a result of the war.

Biden’s solution to the pandemic has received widespread public support so far. According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 70 percent of Americans support the Democratic president’s handling of the virus response, including 44 percent of Republicans.

Biden and his Democratic allies caution that now is not the time to back down on aid; it is better to risk doing too much than doing too little. They claim that cutting back on the rescue costs risks stalling the recovery, as many believe happened in 2009.

During Friday’s session, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said, “When the house is on fire, you don’t argue over how much of the fire to put out.”

She said, “You do whatever it takes before the crisis is over.” “And you do it as quickly as possible.”

The debate in Congress represents a deep schism in the world about how to control and eradicate the pandemic while also returning the country to normalcy. Nearly 10 million jobs have been lost, and 11 million households are on the verge of being evicted. Although Democratic leaders traditionally favor social distancing constraints and gradual reopenings of schools and workplaces, congressional Republicans have become more eager to get back to business as quickly as possible.

The United States is not alone in facing a challenging challenge that has significant implications for the scale and nature of assistance needed to avoid further economic disaster.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is leading his minority party to vote “no,” said Biden’s 628-page bill is a Democratic “wish list” that doesn’t meet the needs of the moment because the pandemic is over and the economy is on the verge of a “roaring recovery.”

He said, “We are already on track to recover from the crisis.”

Republicans claim that Congress has already funded historic amounts to combat the pandemic, and that large-scale spending would overheat the economy, causing inflationary fears, though economists disagree. They have an opportunity with voters who are suspicious of Biden’s handling of the economy, according to polls.

Last spring, after the initial round of funding, the huge $3 trillion CARES, was approved, McConnell expressed similar optimism by putting new spending on hold. Around that time, then-President Donald Trump promised that by Easter Sunday, Americans would be back to normal.

However, with Texas’ announcement this week that it will work to eliminate face-mask standards, one of the main tactics public health officials claim helps stop the spread of the virus, old political divisions and fears have resurfaced. In May, Texas was one of the first states to reopen, easing restrictions at the start of the pandemic’s second wave, which lasted all summer.

Parts of Biden’s package are too high, according to Jason Furman, a former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers who now teaches at Harvard. He thinks the $350 billion in aid to states and cities should be cut or have tighter waste controls. However, he claims that the greater economic risk is not doing enough.

Vaccines alone, he claims, are insufficient to ensure a stable economy. Households are struggling, and companies are dealing with shifting customer buying patterns. Individuals receiving the Biden kit will receive $1,400 in direct payments, which will be phased out for those making more than $80,000 a year.

By email, he said, “When you sum up the financial needs of households and the shortfalls facing governments, the American Rescue Plan overfills these.” “But no law is perfect, and as I previously said, if the downside is that families get a little more money in one year, that is a lot better than if Congress fails to act.”

Republicans are fighting back against Biden’s go-it-alone partisan policy, which relies on Democratic votes for passage.

The bill was pushed into an all-night reading by Senate Republicans on Thursday, delaying the start of debate.

They started proposing what would be hundreds of amendments on Friday, with the aim of changing the bill but also highlighting expensive costs and unpopular clauses. One of the Democrats’ own changes, to cut extra jobless compensation from $400 to $300 a week, was causing divisions within the party and more delays.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who pushed the bill’s reading into the early hours of Friday morning, used maps and props to help Americans comprehend the $1.9 trillion bundle.

Before launching into examples, he said, “The human mind can’t really contemplate what a trillion is.” A stack of $1 notes, he said, might stretch the distance halfway to the moon.

Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, a Republican, said he hopes to change public opinion by the end of the process.

He said, “We’re going to reveal every ugly detail of it.”

The White House is well aware of the difficulties that lie ahead. Biden’s team includes many veterans of the 2009 fights.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said at the time that they didn’t do enough to clarify the benefits to the American people in ways that “people would be talking about at their dinner tables.”

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Ask Amy: This relationship really needs a payday

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Ask Amy: Woman should leave abusive relationship

Dear Amy: I am involved with a recently divorced man.

“Steve” has two children (both adults).

I have four children — also grown and out of the home.

Steve’s marriage was over before I met him.

Steve and I operate a small but very successful business together.

Here’s the problem: Steve’s 19-year-old daughter works for us.

She gets paid for 40 hours a week, even though she only works about 25 hours, at most.

Steve makes sure her phone is paid for, has bought her a very expensive laptop, and has bought her a brand-new luxury model car. (She now expects a new one.)

We pay her health insurance.

She lives in her boyfriend’s house. Her boyfriend’s parents own the house, and her rent is way below market price.

If I bring up to Steve that I think we help her way too much, I’m the bad guy.

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Literary pick(s) of the week feature immigrant food, Native hope, a tender relationship and travels

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Literary pick(s) of the week feature immigrant food, Native hope, a tender relationship and travels

There are so many candidates for Pick of the Week we had to expand to more than one this week.

WHAT WE HUNGER FOR

What food means to immigrants and second generations is shared by 14 writers of a variety of ethnicities in the interesting and touching anthology “What We Hunger For: Refugee and Immigrant Stories about Food and Family,”  edited by Sun Yung Shin.  To many immigrants, food means home, love, family, but also new experiences as their cuisine meets dishes of their new country.

As Sun Yung Shin writes in her introduction: “This book is so full of life, so vibrant, and so juicy, I am excited to share these essays with you. These writers have mined their multilayered, multisensory memories for you; they have brought their best storytelling gifts to these pages about food and families. You will find poetics of food both collective and idiosyncratic. You will travel to fragrant places here and there. You will see the beautifully human complexities in each author through their multifaceted relationships to food and family.” Sun Yung Shin will be joined by contributors Lina Jamoul, Michael Torres,  V.V. Ganeshananthan and Kou B.Thao reading from the anthology (Minnesota Historical Society Press) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22. Free, in-store, Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls.

A TENDER RELATIONSHIP

1634466482 588 Literary picks of the week feature immigrant food Native hopeElizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author (“My Name is Lucy Barton’) will be in-person at Stillwater Middle School, 523 Marsh St. W., at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, to introduce her new novel “Oh William!,” in conversation with Minnesota Thurber Prize recipient Julie Schumacher.  This is Strout’s third novel featuring writer Lucy Barton, recounting her complex, tender relationship with William, her first husband, whom she divorced, and her longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidante. A big revelation for both of them leads him to check out mentally, the reason she left him in the first place. The title refers to her belief he will never change. Presented by Literature Lovers’ Night Out, Rain Taxi Review and Valley Bookseller of Stillwater. $35, includes admission to the event and a signed copy of the book. Tickets: valleybookseller.com/event/elizabeth-strout-presents-oh-william.

NATIVE HOPE AND SURVIVAL

1634466482 22 Literary picks of the week feature immigrant food Native hopePlagues and natural disasters have killed millions of people on Earth and have prevented those who survive from sleeping, leading to sickness, madness and inability to rebuild. Except for the indigenous people, who have retained their ability to sleep. That’s the premise of Cherie Dimaline’s dystopian young adult novel “Hunting By Stars,” sequel to “The Marrow Thieves.” In the new book, 17-year-old French has lost his family to the boarding schools that have reopened so authorities can capture the secrets of the indigenous people, who are believed to carry this ability in their bone marrow. French heads north with his found family, dodging those who would imprison him. “Hunting By Stars” was named by Time Magazine as one of the best YA books of all time. A member of the Georgian Bay Metis Community of Ontario, Dimalin will introduce her book at a Zoom event at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, presented by Birchbark Books.  Free. Registration: birchbarkbooks.com

KLECKO AND THE GATED COMMUNITY

EAST SIDE FREEDOM LIBRARY hosts its last outdoor cultural event at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, on the front lawn of the library, 1105 Greenbrier St., St. Paul. It’s free and open to the public. Baker/poet/memoirist and bon vivant Danny Klecko, author of the award-wining collection “Hitman-Baker-Casketmaker,” will share how he found inspiration for his new book, “Lincolnland,” his odyssey during the pandemic when he chased the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. If the audience is lucky, he might read from an even newer publication, “3 a.m. Austin Texas,” his brief memoir about leaving St. Paul on a bitterly cold January day after he committed a crime, and his experiences as a broke young man on the road south to Texas. Providing music at the Freedom Library event will be The Gated Community, a country/bluegrass band started in 2006 by South Asian-American Yale graduate and political activist Sumanth Gopinath. a professor of music theory at the University of Minnesota.

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Stephen L. Carter: Congress itself should prosecute those it charges with contempt

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Jan. 6 panel moving swiftly as it sets Steve Bannon contempt vote

If Steve Bannon and other former aides to President Donald Trump refuse to testify before the congressional committee looking into the events of Jan. 6, should they be held in contempt? Plenty of partisans seem to be rooting for this result. I’d suggest to this and future Congresses that witnesses should be held in contempt only if the members are willing to return to the days when senators and representatives did their own dirty work.

Although contempt of Congress is a crime, it’s essentially never prosecuted (with good reason). When invited witnesses refuse to show, the House and Senate are typically reduced to asking courts to enforce the subpoenas. They demand, in other words, that another branch do the work.

But as the courts have long recognized, Congress also has its own “inherent” power to punish contempt. Either house has the authority to arrest recalcitrant witnesses, try them before the full body, and, if they’re found guilty, lock them up.

Seriously.

The inherent contempt power, apparently uninvoked since 1935, might seem like a 19th-century relic, but maybe its prominence should be restored.

Seriously.

Although congressional assertion of an independent authority to punish contempt dates to 1795, its most notorious use came in 1862, when the House Judiciary Committee was investigating how President Abraham Lincoln’s message to Congress came to be printed in the New York Herald before being delivered. (Yes, back then, the publication of even the most mundane secrets of the executive branch was considered a matter of national moment.)

The committee called Mary Lincoln’s friend Henry Wikoff, known as the Chevalier, whom historians agree was the leaker. Dissatisfied with the Chevalier’s refusal to disclose his source, the committee asked the full House to find him in contempt, which it promptly did. (Some members of the House were uncertain what question Wikoff had declined to answer. The chair of the committee assured them that they would be told “at the proper time.”)

The sergeant-at-arms was ordered to hold him “in close custody until he shall purge himself of said contempt.” Wikoff was locked up in what historians tell us was a storeroom in the Capitol basement, although the editors of the Herald, which employed Wikoff, reported that he was held in “a dungeon” where he “slept on a iron rack.” (The press hardly leaped to Wikoff’s defense. The Chicago Tribune dismissed him as “a serious annoyance to the representatives of the press, who, as a general thing, are gentlemen.”)

That was then. Nowadays, a contempt vote is easy and essentially costless. Having cast a ballot, House members can move on to other matters. The vote is pure theater — and essentially pointless, apart from allowing the members to signal their constituencies which side they’re on.

This practice gets the incentives wrong. A finding of contempt should have consequences — not just for the witness but for the senators or representatives who vote for it.

Use of the inherent contempt power rather than a criminal referral or a civil lawsuit would make clear to the public the seriousness of holding a witness in contempt. And by investing their own time and resources in the process — there could be a congressional trial! — members would show the depth of their own concern about depriving a citizen of liberty.

Perhaps most important, by acting on their own initiative to lock up those who refuse to answer their questions, lawmakers would be unable to distance themselves from the act. Rather than offload the costs of enforcement onto other branches, they’d be forced to get their hands dirty. After all, it’s easy to vote for contempt when all the work after the initial signal is done by someone else.

So, what are the arguments against?

Deschler’s Precedents (the semi-official handbook of House rules) says “a major shortcoming” of the process is “that the witness could be imprisoned only as long as the House remained in session.” But this aspect mirrors the same rule that typically holds for reluctant grand jury witnesses, and it is an important protection against vindictive authority.

Here’s another objection: I recently heard a television commentator complain that even if called, witnesses could refuse to answer questions by pleading the Fifth Amendment. The only way around that, he said rather grimly, would be to vote the witnesses immunity, which would make it hard to prosecute them. All true. But again, this bargain is a feature of democracy, not a bug. Otherwise, the government could force all of us to testify against ourselves.

Another concern is that holding contempt trials would take considerable time that legislators might profitably use on other business. But forcing Congress to internalize the costs of the process would provide an incentive to reserve contempt citations for truly important cases. In other words, members would be forced to make hard choices about who was worth the time and trouble to prosecute.

Finally, on the practical side, one might object that Congress has no jail in which to lock up recalcitrant witnesses, and there likely won’t be many fans of following the Wikoff precedent and imprisoning them in the Capitol basement. But a footnote in a 2017 report from the Congressional Research Service offers a subtle solution: “Given Congress’s plenary power over the District of Columbia, the contemnor could potentially be detained or jailed in a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department facility.”

I’ve long argued that legislators will cast wiser votes if they’re forced to internalize more of the costs of their actions. Contempt of Congress seems like a good case through which to study the willingness of those who represent us to get their hands dirty.

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Mike Lynch’s Skywatch: Wake up early to see the great winter constellations

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Mike Lynch’s Skywatch: Wake up early to see the great winter constellations

We have a nearly full moon lighting up the sky early this week, making evening stargazing a tough go. So instead, set your alarm for  5:00 to 5:30 a.m. and get an exceptional start to your day. You’ll get your first look at the winter stars and constellations. This week in the early morning hours, all of us in Minnesota and western Wisconsin are facing the same direction of space as we do in the early evening in midwinter. That means you’ll see the same stars and constellations now as you will in the early evening midwinter skies. Because of the combination of Earth’s orbit around the sun and Earth’s rotation on its axis, you can always preview what your evening skies will look like one season in advance when you stargaze in the pre-dawn hours.

So why do you want to see the winter constellations anyway? Because in this stargazer’s opinion, they are the best ones in the heavens, worth setting your alarm for! When you’re out of the sack early, you’ll see the prime players of the winter evenings lighting up the southern half of the pre-dawn sky. I call this part of the sky “Orion and his gang” since there’s there are so many bright stars and constellations centered around the grand old man of winter, Orion the Hunter. Next to the Big Dipper, Orion is probably the most familiar pattern in the sky, and most of its stars are as bright as the Big Dipper.

I know you’ve seen Orion the Hunter before. To me, it looks like a giant hourglass in the sky, but some see Orion as an oversized sideways bowtie. The biggest eye grabber is Orion’s Belt, three bright stars lined up perfectly in a row. Nowhere else in the sky can you see such a perfect row of bright stars. They are Mintaka, Alnilam, and Alnitak. Even though they’re so nicely lined up, like stellar ducks in a row, they have nothing to do with each other physically. These stars, in reality, are separated by hundreds of light-years. They just happen to fall into our line of sight that way.

To the upper left of the belt, at the hunter’s right armpit, is the bright reddish star Betelgeuse (pronounced “beetle-juice”), the second brightest star of Orion. It’s one of the biggest single stars we can see with the naked eye. Betelgeuse is a red giant star that regularly swells out to nearly a billion miles in diameter. Our puny little sun has a waistline of less than a million miles. Betelgeuse, nearing the end of its life, is around 500 light-years away. If you’re new to this column, just one light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

To the lower right of Orion’s belt is Orion’s brightest star Rigel, at the hunter’s left knee. At almost 800 light-years away, it’s also a lot bigger and brighter than our sun. It’s nearly 70 million miles in diameter and kicks out about 60,000 times more light than our home star. If Rigel were our sun, it would be 100 times larger in our sky. To be protected from sunburn from Rigel, I would recommend a sunscreen of about 3000 SPF! Don’t go cheap with the sunglasses either!

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How the Patriots defense can upset Dak Prescott and the Cowboys

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How the Patriots defense can upset Dak Prescott and the Cowboys

Fourth time’s the charm?

The Patriots, 0-3 at home this season, are in danger of losing a fourth straight game at Gillette Stadium against Dallas.

The Cowboys enter as solid favorites, largely thanks to their explosive offense comprised of multi-time Pro Bowlers at virtually every position. Dak Prescott is at the controls, completing 73.9% of his passes for 1,368 yards, 13 touchdowns and three picks. Dallas also boasts a two-headed monster in its backfield, with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard both averaging more than five yards per carry. And then there’s the offensive line, clearing space for all the yards, points and victories.

How can the Patriots possibly contend?

1. Lighten the box

The Cowboys are averaging 5.8 yards per carry against defenses with seven defenders in the box, a typical number on early downs. That number jumps to 6.3 yards when defenses back off, deploying six or fewer.

The Pats might as well back up from the jump.

Dropping a safety down or folding an extra linebacker into the box won’t solve their run defense, a below-average to average group by most advanced metrics. The Patriots must accept that they’re going to cede yards to Elliott and Pollard, a worthy sacrifice if it means keeping Prescott out of rhythm. Almost 70% of Prescott’s attempts this season have been to targets within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Crowding his throwing lanes takes priority.

This will put immense pressure on defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy, but they signed for a combined $26.5 million this offseason for games like these. It’s time to stand up to the NFL’s best run-blocking line, according to Pro Football Focus, so the rest of the defense can neutralize Dallas’ weapons outside.

2. Reintroduce the Amoeba package

Considering the similarities between the Cowboys offense and Tampa Bay’s — first-rate weapons, a top-10 offensive line and star quarterback — it reasons the Pats should dust off their game plan against the Bucs and use it Sunday.

One piece missing from that plan, however, was a once famous “Amoeba package,” a third-down scheme that stands all 11 defenders up and calls for several to roam around the line of scrimmage pre-snap. The objective is to confuse opponents by not declaring a single pass-rusher. If the quarterback and/or center can’t determine who’s rushing and who’s dropping — let alone whether the defense is blitzing or not — that’s an edge for the Patriots.

The Pats stressed all week the importance of confusing Prescott. What better way than to show him something he hasn’t seen before?

“We’ve got to keep ’em off the board, try to get stops, try to make Dak (Prescott) read some defenses and hold the ball a little bit longer so we can get to him,” Pats linebacker Matt Judon said Wednesday. “All 11 guys got to be on point this week.”

Said Bill Belichick: “You don’t want to just tell them what you’re in, and see what they can do about it. Make ’em figure it out, make ’em work for it, change it up on ’em a little bit.”

3. Double Cooper in the red zone

As balanced as the Cowboys have been, there’s one star that’s shone brighter closer to the end zone: No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper leads all Cowboys with eight targets inside opponents’ 20-yard line this season. Fellow wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has hardly received a look in that area, while leading pass catcher Dalton Schultz, a tight end, has only seen four targets and caught two.

Under Belichick, the Patriots have made a habit out of doubling opponents’ best weapons on third downs and inside the red zone. Two years ago, they showed Cooper utmost respect by shadowing him with Stephon Gilmore, who later won Defensive Player of the Year. Without Gilmore, it’s time for the Pats to get back to their old tricks.

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What’s Next For WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar? A Forecast

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What’s Next For WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar? A Forecast
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar may or may not remain with the company after it merges with Discovery Inc. If he leaves, opportunity awaits. Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In May, AT&T sent a jolt through the media landscape when it announced that it would spin off WarnerMedia in a merger with Discovery Inc. The chain reaction of questions and uncertainties this set off regarding the future company was explosive. Would Discovery CEO David Zaslav and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar co-exist, sharing the kingdom in an uneasy alliance? Unlikely. While speaking at Vox Media’s Code Conference in late September, Kilar admitted to feeling disappointed that he won’t have the opportunity to continue leading the company, though he expects to remain at WarnerMedia through at least early 2022.

With an eventual change of scenery expected, looking back at Kilar’s time at WarnerMedia and forecasting what may come next for the executive gives insight into the current competitive environment.

WarnerMedia’s Bold Yet Controversial Plan

Kilar was named WarnerMedia CEO in April of 2020, and his tenure’s defining move came eight months later, in December. With ongoing pandemic uncertainties dragging down theatrical cinema and fledgling streaming service HBO Max coming out of the gate slow, Kilar announced that Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 movie slate (beginning with Wonder Woman 1984) would debut simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. It was as bold of a strategy as has been seen in recent Hollywood history. While other studios patched together pandemic release strategies on a case-by-case basis, WarnerMedia carved its plan in stone. Except during the carving process the company failed to notify many creative and corporate partners, leading to significant backlash from the Hollywood community and hundreds of millions of dollars in “make-good” payouts. (Kilar admitted last month they rushed the move).

Whatever the repercussions, the move essentially turned HBO Max into a media lab, running a invaluable (and very public) experiment on the impact of day-and-date releases. And while some accused Warner Bros. of abandoning its movie business, the company currently stands second among all Hollywood studios in domestic market share (18.08 percent) at the box office (just behind Disney). Note that its biggest bets, Dune (Oct. 22) and The Matrix Resurrections (Dec. 22), are still to come.

“It’s ultimately been of benefit to everyone in the industry, and particularly Warner Bros.,” Bruce Nash, founder of box office analysis and tracking service the Numbers, told Observer. “They get to see who is watching on HBO Max, what the overall viewership impact of same-day releases is, and the financial benefits of setting up subscriptions on a service, which is a very good business model if you can crack it.”

At the same time, HBO and HBO Max have reached 47 million U.S. subscribers as of Q2 of this year, a 10.7 million increase from the year-ago quarter. Globally, HBO and HBO Max have surpassed 67.5 million subs as of the end of June. These include wholesale subscribers who may not have activated their HBO Max accounts, but it does exclude free trials. This growth painted a rosier picture of the company’s future. In July, AT&T upped its subscriber projections to between 70 and 73 million paying customers by the end of 2021 after forecasting between 120 million and 150 million global subscribers by 2025 earlier in the year. Year-over-year U.S. subscriber growth has increased by 72 percent from June 2020-June 2021, per transactional data firm Antenna.

HBO Max subscriber growth
U.S. SVOD Subscriber Growth. Antenna

Mending the damaged creative relationships has been difficult and expensive, and some bridges may be burnt beyond repair (see: Christopher Nolan). That’s a tough loss. But struggling theaters were able to lock in a slate of movies amid a never-ending game of release date musical chairs. And HBO Max gained a steady supply of high-end content amidst production shutdowns. Given the COVID complexities and the box office struggles for non-Marvel movies, it made sense. And it’s working.

HBO Max has grown substantially in the past year, according to content analytics platform Diesel Labs. As of the end of September ’21, it clocked in with an engaged audience that is only 18 percent smaller than Disney+, with both services hot the heels of Netflix. (Audience engagement is defined as the production of original posts / comments / tweets / reactions related to any ‘atom’ of media content. This engagement intelligence is augmented with subscription information, content ratings and metadata, and other emerging media signals.)

Netflix vs HBO Max vs Disney+
Streaming platform engaged audience growth. Diesel Labs

In terms of corporate demand share—which measures streaming video on demand (SVOD) market share for content across all platforms in the United Staes—WarnerMedia ranks third behind ViacomCBS and Disney, per data firm Parrot Analytics.

WarnerMedia Content
Content demand share in the United States by corporate ownership (2018-2021) Parrot Analytics

“The model is only successful if both platforms are successful in the release of these films,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told Observer. “If one platform takes a hit then, in my opinion, that isn’t a great strategy. But when you take in the sum total of the overall success, I think they’ve done pretty well.”

HBO Max is steadily growing in 2021 and the box office hasn’t bottomed out (WB’s Godzilla vs. Kong was the first pandemic hit). Looking at WB’s 2022 slate, the studio is poised to deliver a number of high-profile blockbusters such as The BatmanFantastic Beasts 3Black Adam and The Flash. Across HBO and HBO Max, WarnerMedia is tapping its major brands—DC, Game of Thrones, video-game adaptations, maybe even Harry Potter—to develop an avalanche of needle-moving IP. WarnerMedia developed these properties long before Kilar joined up, but he’s helped oversee continued progress.

“They are the only studio that is really competing with Disney in terms of having strong franchises,” Nash said.

J.J. Abrams Superman WarnerMedia DCEU
Warner Bros.’ ‘Justice League’ Clay Enos / TM & (c) DC Comics

What are Jason Kilar’s Next Steps?

A move within the Hollywood comes with its own set of perceptions problems.

“The problem is he’s CEO, and sort of like an NBA or NFL head coach, you can’t really go back to being an offensive coordinator,” former digital media professional and current industry analyst Entertainment Strategy Guy told Observer. “Sometimes, people do, but that’s considered a downgrade often.”

Kilar has long been considered a strong product-strategy guy. He’s drawn to technology and emerging companies, as evidenced by multi-year stints at Amazon and Hulu. This sets up an interesting choice.

Hollywood is diverging into two groups at the moment. One includes companies that have bottomless pits of money (Amazon or Apple) or thriving streaming packages (Disney and Netflix). The other (NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS) would love to join the cool kids. They’re spending billions to get it done. But they don’t have oceans of cash on hand and are struggling theatrically, digitally, or both.

Jason Kilar Job

Both NBC’s Peacock or Viacom’s Paramount+ need subscribers—and revenue from those subs—in a way that a company like Apple doesn’t. This makes long-term strategy a potential victim of resource allocation. How do you spend what you’re not making? Kilar’s experience straddling the line between legacy entertainment and the direct-to-consumer revolution is attractive to either company as they attempt to move up the ladder.

That said, Peacock just tapped former Hulu head Kelly Campbell as President, so even though it’s in need of growth, it may not be looking to add another big name executive. Paramount+ makes sense, though ViacomCBS’ President and CEO of streaming Tom Ryan is chugging along and Paramount Pictures just tapped the digital-friendly Brian Robbins as studio head.

Disney isn’t really much of an option—CEO Bob Chapek’s team is largely in place, and the Mouse House is unlikely to offer Kilar the autonomy that he’s used to. Amazon and Apple would be intriguing destinations. Amazon recently acquired MGM and may have the appetite to move aggressively on the entertainment front under studio head Jennifer Salke. Apple is set with content leaders Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, but they don’t have the same muscle on the product strategy side. Apple TV+ is flush with quality but lacks in audience awareness; it could use Kilar’s insight into marketing, distribution, and maneuvering. The gargantuan Apple ecosystem, though, comes with its own set of drawbacks.

If Kilar pivots squarely back to his tech roots, there are some intriguing options.

“TikTok U.S.? Maybe a music streamer,” Entertainment Strategy Guy said. “Something like that so it’s not specifically in Hollywood. If it has to be Hollywood or streaming, the one to keep an eye on may be DAZN. It doesn’t come with the baggage of some of the other streamers, but has lots of upside.”

DAZN was the only sports SVOD service to see a drop in U.S. yearly subscriptions from 2019 to 2020, per Antenna, as they pursued a more international strategy. Questions remain as to the value proposition for streamers aiming at the small but passionate audiences for niche sports. But as sports continue to migrate from linear TV to streaming, it’s an attractive growth area where Kilar could have impact.

Jason Kilar WarnerMedia Discovery
U.S. Sports SVOD Share of Subscriptions. Antenna

Ultimately, though, he’s going to have options if he wants them. “Someone with Kilar’s background and track record in how media is presented to consumers today leaves open a lot of opportunity,” Dergarabedian said. “He’s shown a strong grasp of marketplace dynamics during a very difficult time. He’s well suited for a lot fo companies.”

What’s Next For WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar? A Forecast

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CBD for Cats: Why Petly CBD Is The Purr-fect Brand For Your Cat

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CBD for Cats: Why Petly CBD Is The Purr-fect Brand For Your Cat
Presented by CBD Examiners
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CBD has been making waves in recent years as a natural treatment for a variety of conditions in felines, canines, and humans alike! The research is still pretty new, but existing studies have shown that CBD can help treat seizures, arthritis, anxiety, allergies, pain, and inflammation, and can have many other health benefits.

With the increased popularity of CBD in recent years, the CBD market has undoubtedly become a crowded space. Making a purchasing decision with all of these brands can be quite stressful, especially since it pertains to the health of your cat. We’re here to make sure you know how to choose the best CBD for cats

While there is certainly no lack of options, it is important to recognize that not all of these CBD brands are created equal. One brand which stands out from the rest is Petly CBD.

Top 3 CBD Products For Cats:

  1. Petly: CBD Oil for cats
  2. Petly: 450mg CBD Cat Food Topper
  3. Petly: CBD Cat Treats

Why is Petly CBD our top choice for CBD for Cats?

Quality Ingredients

When it comes to the quality of their products, Petly CBD doesn’t cut corners. Petly’s products are formulated using 100% organically grown phytocannabinoid-rich hemp and without any unnecessary additives or preservatives. Petly upholds a very high standard when it comes to the quality of their ingredients making Petly’s formula one of the best in the business. 

Third-Party Lab Testing

Petly places your pet’s health and happiness at the forefront of their mission. As a result, Petly makes safety and efficacy their top priority. To ensure purity, potency, and safety, all of Petly’s products go through a thorough in-house and third-party lab testing process. Petly makes all of their COAs available on their website.

Potency

For their CBD for cats, Petly’s products range in potency from 125mg of CBD to 450mg. In addition to being packed with high-quality CBD, their products also contain high levels of minor cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and CBC. Similar to CBD, these minor cannabinoids also have been shown to have a wide range of health benefits. Additionally, Petly’s products are also completely THC-free!

Customer Reviews

Hundreds of happy customers have left reviews on Petly’s website. Among the reviews, customers have said that Petly’s products have helped their pets with conditions such as anxiety and arthritis. Petly makes it easy to test out their products by offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best Petly CBD Products:

CBD for Cats Why Petly CBD Is The Purr fect Brand

Petly’s CBD oil for cats delivers the straightforward benefits of Petly’s phytocannabinoid-rich formula. Petly’s CBD oil is one of the best on the market as it is packed with high levels of CBD and other minor cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and CBC, and has human-grade MCT oil as the only other ingredient.

Their CBD oil for cats is made with 100% organically grown hemp and is non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free.

What customers are saying:

“We started our elderly, arthritic cat on Petly CBD oil and the difference is night and day. He’s happy and playful again. Would recommend this so highly. It’s made a vast improvement on his life”

“I ordered this in hopes to help my cat who was having skin issues that were causing him to act out in aggressive behavior. It has worked wonders for him. He’s not scratching or biting us anymore due to discomfort. I felt defeated when nothing the vet was doing or suggesting was working. This has given me my sweet boy back”

1634463044 67 CBD for Cats Why Petly CBD Is The Purr fect Brand

Made for the picky eaters of the world, Petly’s CBD cat food topper is a great option for those felines who don’t love to take their CBD as an oil. This CBD food topper comes in a delicious salmon flavor and is packed with 450mg of CBD as well as Omega 3’s. Made with the amazing same broad-spectrum CBD formula as their oil, Petly’s food topper is a great way to give your cat their daily dose of CBD while keeping their taste buds happy. 

This product is free of wheat, soy, corn, lentils, and potato flour, making it a safe and healthy option for your cat.

What customers are saying:

“Tipsy is an eccentric almost 16-year old that has been with me since she was 3 days old. Despite being hand-raised, she just never really took a liking to people or other animals. She has anxiety and is usually very stressed out. I had been giving her the CBD drops and it helped a little but she seems to really love the new food topping! She’s allowing people to pet her a little more and seems much less stressed”

If your cat prefers bacon to salmon, then Petly’s CBD treats are a great option for your feline family member. Each treat contains 2mg of broad-spectrum CBD and makes giving your cat their CBD a stress-free experience for everyone. These treats are also healthy and safe for your cat as they are grain-free, soy-free, corn-free, and free of preservatives and pesticides.

What customers are saying:

“My dog has so much anxiety when we travel or when there are fireworks. CBD treats really seem to help her”

“My dog, Min Pin, had a couple of seizures during COVID times. I wanted to try CBD before putting him on a daily seizure med. So far the CBD treats have helped him be seizure-free. He also has some separation anxiety when I leave him at home and the treats have helped with that, too. They give him a little pep and help him to chill out when it’s time for bed”

Overview:

Overall, Petly’s CBD products are some of the best ones on the market for cats. Made without harmful ingredients like unnecessary preservatives or pesticides, Petly’s products are incredibly safe for your cat. Their products are packed with high levels of CBD as well as other minor cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and CBC, all while being completely THC-free. With different options to suit your cat’s tastes, there is something for every feline in Petly’s product line. Petly has hundreds of happy customers and makes it easy for new customers to try their products with their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get some Petly CBD for your cat today! Save 15% on your entire order with the discount code OBSERVER15.

 

CBD for Cats: Why Petly CBD Is The Purr-fect Brand For Your Cat

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High school soccer Notebook: Newburyport boys take flight

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High school soccer Notebook: Newburyport boys take flight

For the Newburyport boys soccer team, a result like last week’s 1-0 victory over a quality Division 1 program in Central Catholic would normally be the signature win on the slate. And while coach Shawn Bleau and his team admit it’s the best game they have played all year, it’s not the one they are most proud of.

That would be a 1-0 win over North Reading the previous week. The Clippers were assessed a red card after a pair of yellows — borderline ones in Bleau’s opinion — forcing them to continue a man down for nearly three-quarters of the game. But instead of going into a shell and playing for a tie like most teams might, Newburyport stayed aggressive and were rewarded.

“At halftime, we said we are trying to win this game, not sit back,” said Bleau, in his 12th year as Clippers coach and a veteran of 28 seasons on the MIAA sidelines. “That’s the mentality we take into every game.”

The Clippers stood 13-0 entering Saturday night’s ALS Cup game against Pentucket. Newburyport is the only unbeaten and untied boys squad in Div. 3 and one of just four in the state, along with Hingham, Masconomet and Pathfinder.

The Newburyport program doesn’t exactly have a rich tradition, but this year’s success is not unexpected either. Two seasons ago, the Clippers advanced to the Div. 3 North semifinals for the first time since 2012 and followed up with their first-ever Cape Ann League Kinney Division title last year, finishing in a three-way heat with North Reading and Lynnfield at 7-1-2, but were denied a postseason by the pandemic.

“This team specifically has been building in our coach’s mind for a long time, so I think it’s a product of his hard work and everyone’s hard work,” said senior captain Brady O’Donnell. “We knew that this year was going to be special simply based on how well we did last year and how our J.V. team did. A lot of guys came up from there and have really stepped up for us.”

Bleau knew he would have a solid defensive club coming into the season, led by a pair of senior captains at the center back spots in Graham Smith and Jack Fehlner, and they’ve been as billed. With junior Owen Tahnk in net, a first-year starter, the Clippers have allowed just four goals.

The offense has been a revelation, however. After a 6-1 rout of Georgetown, Newburyport has found the twine a school-record 50 times with five regular season games still remaining.

“To score like we have, that’s been a surprise,” said Bleau. “We have like six kids that score, so you can’t really focus on one player, or two for that matter. We have three guys with six or seven goals, and the subs are coming and scoring so there is some depth putting the ball in the net.”

Eastern Mass. All-Star Max Gagnon, a senior captain and four-year starter, is the catalyst in the midfield for a diverse offensive attack. O’Donnell paces the Clippers with eight goals and six assists, but Newburyport has gotten scoring contributions from a number of different sources, including dynamic junior Will Acquaviva, who missed much of last year due to injury.

Even the defense has gotten involved as Fehlner leads the squad in assists, with many of them coming off his dangerous throw-ins.

“Set pieces, free kicks and corner kicks, we have scored a lot on those, which we didn’t in past years,” said Gagnon. “We are all pretty unselfish and all play as a team.”

The immediate focus for the Clippers is another CAL Kinney championship — O’Donnell said the team has derived particular motivation in going after an outright crown after having to share last year — but it’s no secret they are salivating for a shot at a deep tournament run.

Despite its unblemished mark, Newburyport landed at No. 10 this week in the Div. 3 ratings that will determine seedings in the new statewide format, a function of a particularly low opponents rating average, tumbling from a top four position in the initial release that would earn as many as three home games.

Still, the team’s perfect start has certainly legitimized the lofty ambitions this group has set for itself.

“Winning a state championship has pretty much been our goal since my freshman year, really, so we know this year is special and we need to take advantage of it,” said O’Donnell.

A Significant honor

A well-balanced soccer team typically combines proficiency on both halves of the field. A well-balanced program, however, encompasses more than just how it performs on the pitch.

The Dover-Sherborn girls soccer program has prided itself in having both in its four years under the stewardship of Evren Gunduz, and this week he was recognized as the Massachusetts recipient of the Coach of Significance Award from the United Soccer Coaches for 2021.

Gunduz expressed that he was honored by the award and shared much of the credit.

“The D-S school district’s staff, athletic director Emily Sullivan, the families, our coaches, and the great coaches in the Tri-Valley League do an extraordinary job of supporting excellence in our student-athletes,” said Gunduz. “United Soccer Coaches is a top class organization whose courses, resources, and pedagogy have been a part of my coaching career since the beginning. To represent their values and mission means a lot as they have given a lot to me. Coaching is simply a form of teaching and the competitive high school soccer pitch is the greatest classroom in which our student-athletes can learn the skills needed to thrive in their life and enjoy their life.”

While Gunduz prefers his program be judged by much more than results, the fact is they have been pretty good under his leadership. The Raiders claimed Tri-Valley League Small and Division 3 South sectional titles in 2019 and are in the hunt for another division crown this year at 10-2-1, sitting one point behind Dedham with a big showdown looming with the Marauders on Thursday.

“It is a testament to the quality, class, and character of the soccer student-athletes we are lucky to work with at D-S,” said Gunduz. “We have a belief in the DSGS program that the true success of our team isn’t measured by the scoreboard wins during the season but by how well our players are competing in life off the field five years after graduating from DS.”

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Field hockey Notebook: Concord-Carlisle girls break through

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Field hockey Notebook: Concord-Carlisle girls break through

Jacqui Turner doesn’t quite remember the specifics of her games playing against Concord-Carlisle while a member of legendary coach Mae Shoemaker’s Acton-Boxboro team, back before she graduated in 2004. What she does remember, though, is never losing to the Patriots team she now coaches.

That’s what any Colonial or Concord-Carlisle player would remember over the last 22 years, too. Playing each other at least once per year, the Patriots never won – not in the regular season, not in the playoffs. Within a crowded and strong Dual County League, Acton-Boxboro had their number.

But this season is different for Concord-Carlisle.

The No. 5 Patriots ended the winless stretch that dates to 1998 with a 2-0 victory against the Colonials on Sept. 17, helping fuel a 10-1-1 season entering Saturday that the MIAA Div. 1 power rankings deemed worthy of the No. 2 seed in the latest update. This is far from the first promising start that Concord-Carlisle has seen over the last 22 years, but for senior captains Emma Tonies and Grace Waldeck, this year has a special feel after finally getting over the hump against the perennial contender.

“It was an example of what we’re capable of,” Tonies said. “That’s the standard we need to compare ourselves to every time we play. That’s the potential we know we have, so it was really special for us to see that.”

“The win against A-B was super exciting,” Waldeck added. “I think it definitely was a product of how well we’ve worked together, and a lot of what we’ve been building toward.”

It’s not so much surprising as it is just unexpected that Concord-Carlisle has done so well this year.

The 2020 group that won the DCL tournament in 7-versus-7 play graduated seven seniors, leaving a team that Turner thought was the one that would lift the Patriots beyond the first round of the playoffs for just the second time since 2003. A younger group came in, leaving Waldeck and Tonies with the responsibilities of their strong leaders before them.

So far, with wins over quality opponents in A-B, Lincoln-Sudbury and Chelmsford, and a tie with Holliston, the group is passing with flying colors. Friday’s 5-4 loss to Wellesley was its first defeat, boasting seven shutouts and nine games with at least three scores. Despite losing seven seniors while playing in such a tough league, Concord-Carlisle is rolling.

“I think we have a really great team dynamic and you can see it on the field,” Waldeck said. “Just to see how they’ve grown as players and people is really rewarding.”

“We have a lot of natural team chemistry, which is not something that you’re always fortunate enough to have,” Tonies added. “It’s this natural chemistry that we were able to build off of that we were able to progress with and grow and develop. I think we’re really lucky to have that.”

There’s still a long road to go, as Concord-Carlisle still matches up with Acton-Boxboro (8-2-2) on Oct. 24. The two are still undefeated in DCL play with the first matchup technically slated as a non-league affair, and they could very well match up in the DCL tournament, too. Not to mention Lincoln-Sudbury, which is 5-1 in league play itself.

Still, the path Concord-Carlisle is on is encouraging, and one of its other major strengths is its ability to take the season one game at a time. That path isn’t lost on Turner, who uses a lot of what her former coaches taught her.

“The girls have worked really hard to be together as one unit,” Turner said. “They’re amazing. They really are. … I’m very excited that our girls have really stepped up.”

One of those former coaches is happy to see Turner succeed as the DCL heats up.

“It’s really fun to see her bring that team to its full potential,” Shoemaker said. “It’ll be interesting (to see how everything finishes).”

Quick Spotlights

• This has turned into a special season for Pentucket, starting off the year 12-1 for the first time in program history. What makes it more special is the challenge that Triton (10-1-2) presents it in what should prove to be an action-packed matchup on Monday, as the two squads fight for the top position in the Cape Ann League Kinney division. The only loss the Sachems have is a 1-0 bout against the Vikings thus far, so this finish could have historic implications.

• As Durfee rolls out a team boosted by young difference-makers, freshman Kathryn Gauvin and sophomore Emily Curran have played large roles to guide a 7-3-3 record entering Friday. It tied Dartmouth on Wednesday to try to keep pace with the undefeated Indians (11-0-2) in the Southeastern Conference. Senior Emma Tetrault and sophomore Samantha Souza lead Dartmouth as it ranks No. 10 in Div. 2, while Durfee is No. 25 in Div. 1, and New Bedford (6-4-2) is No. 28 out of the SEC as well.

• All-Scholastic star Caroline DiGiovanni leads the Cape and Islands League Atlantic with 24 goals, helping Monomoy (9-2-1) remain a hair behind Sandwich (10-1-1) for the league title. Sarah Currey has 10 shutouts for Sandwich while Paige Hawkins entered Friday with 20 points amid the undefeated stretch. That race extends to Falmouth (8-1-4), which just handed Sandwich its first loss on Friday. Nauset, Dennis-Yarmouth and Barnstable all round out a loaded league, as every team but Barnstable ranks in the top 10 of their divisions’ power ratings. Monomoy and Sandwich are each No. 1.

Maggie Sturgis has cracked the 30-goal threshold as part of an incredible season for Masconomet, which ranked No. 2 in the Div. 2 power rankings each of the last two weeks. Danvers (11-2-1, 10-1-1 Northeastern Conference) still creeps right around the corner in the NEC, trailing the Chieftains (12-0-1, 10-0) by a miniscule mark. The two play each other again on October 20. Meanwhile, Swampscott is giving its best shot with a tie against Danvers as part of a 9-4-2, 8-2-2 (NEC) record.

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It’s all about staying on the court for Celtics’ Rob Williams

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It’s all about staying on the court for Celtics’ Rob Williams

Brad Stevens often discusses the progression of a season with his wife Tracy, and where last year’s struggle was concerned, the mention of one name in particular was guaranteed to produce a momentary ray of 2020-21 sunlight.

Rob Williams was a highlight in a season that didn’t have enough of them. Stevens recently referred to his young center’s development as “an example of finding joy in the process.”

“I said one of the constants for me was how much I enjoyed Rob, how much I enjoyed his growth,” said the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “I think he’s on that trajectory, and on that path forward.

“You know, you wanted him to be here. It was important for him to be a Celtic, he likes being a Celtic, he cares about winning, he’s a hard worker. He’s a guy we want to have as a part of this and we’re excited we could do that.”

Stevens is talking about the commitment that soon followed in the form of a four-year, $54 million extension on Williams’ rookie contract. Beyond rewarding the 24-year-old for his flashes of immense talent and growth, the Celtics were betting that after playing a career-high 52 games in 2020-21, Williams would eventually outgrow his propensity for tough-luck injuries.

Sure enough, a debilitating case of turf toe truncated his playoff experience, but not before Williams kicked off the Celtics’ first round series against Brooklyn with an 11-point, 5-for-8, nine-rebound, nine-block Game 1 performance.

Ime Udoka, who was on the Nets bench last season, has talked often about how radical the difference was with Williams on the floor.

Williams’ greatest challenge now may not even be his improvement on the floor so much as his ability to stay on it.

“He’s a young guy we do want to build his role and minutes overall, and a big part of that is staying healthy, so we’re on him about lifting the weights, getting his treatment, take care of himself off the court as well as what we ask him to do on the court,” said the Celtics coach. “He’s been great so far, we know what he brings to the table, as I mentioned, it’s just a matter of him staying healthy. A lot of that has to do with just luck at times.”

As evidenced by the case of knee tendinitis that held Williams out of Friday night’s exhibition loss in Miami, the threat of even a precautionary measure reminds all involved of the young center’s injury prone past. But the Celtics have wagered that his talent far outweighs the downside.

Worry over negotiations

Williams was admittedly worried during extension negotiations, with his injury history a potential deal-breaker.

“It’s a business, with everything coming into play. I was worried, but I also knew what I brought to the table,” he said. “They knew where my mind was, and that I wanted to stay.”

On media day Williams said he had learned to trust his trainers. Sometimes it takes time for a young professional athlete to understand what it means to occasionally pull out of the fast lane.

“The bad luck you can’t do anything about. But the misnomer is that young guys can go all day,” said Stevens. “The reality is when you look at it from the perspective of being in the NBA, and the load that it takes, and how much you’re putting on your body, it’s something when you’re 19 to 23, you’re not as equipped to handle it as men who have been through it, and you get into the mid-20s and above.

“Those are things we were very cognizant of with him, as has been well-documented, with regard to even last year at this time, early in the season,” he said. “But as he gets older and further away from those things, I just think, knock on wood, we don’t have any concerns or big concerns moving forward with that. We’re excited about who he is as a basketball player, and we think he can continue to reach higher and higher.”

And in truth, Williams says, he never actually distrusted his trainers.

“I trusted them from Day 1. I had tendinitis when I first got drafted and they took me through the process and helped me get over that, so I always trusted them from Day 1,” he said. “It all comes down to trust. Every injury I’ve had since I got drafted, they always came up with a plan, a nice solid plan and I bounced back every time.”

Staying patient

The result now is a development almost as important as his growth. After missing 50 games as a rookie and another 43 his second season, Williams has completed a master class in patience.

“When I sat down for the hip injury (in 2019-20), that helped me to learn to keep my spirits up,” he said. “Not just for me but others too. I learned that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Nobody wants to go through the rehabbing process, or be in the injury list. But you have to stick to it.

“I feel like last year was obviously a big year for me — mostly just being comfortable on the court,” said Williams. “The greatest is yet to come, as I always tell myself. Everything is going to get better, and you work on all aspects of your game. Last year just made a big difference in my sense of being comfortable.

“My teammates and my coaches did a great job of it. I give them 90 percent of the credit and 10 percent to myself. Like I tell these guys all the time, whether you make or miss shots, you don’t know how much words push people sometimes. I commend my teammates as much as myself for helping me get more comfortable.”

The returns of Al Horford and Enes Kanter are like a down quilt in that respect. Horford was Williams’ first Celtics mentor, and Kanter was a tough sparring partner. Williams still talks about his glee the night Kanter grabbed 30 rebounds last season in Portland.

“If you can’t learn something from that … ,” said Williams, imagining his own 30-rebound night, provided he stays on the floor long enough to get there.

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