News: New appointment fore Sabre
Travel technology company Sabre Corporation has named Roshan Mendis as senior vice president of its global distribution system (GDS) and corporate travel business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa effective July 1. The appointment aligns with Sabre’s focus on continuing international growth.
In the new pan-regional leadership capacity, Mendis will expand his current responsibilities in Asia-Pacific and will now lead commercial operations and business development across the EMEA and APAC markets. He will be based in London and be responsible for customer engagement across agency, corporate and online customer segments.
“Roshan has demonstrated successful results in expanding our GDS and corporate travel business in the fast-paced APAC region through a healthy combination of organic growth and new customers,” said Wade Jones, interim president of Sabre Travel Network. “Roshan’s leadership will help our teams to better serve our customers and partners more efficiently, while continuing to grow in the two regions.”
Mendis has led growing businesses in the travel agency and online space at Sabre for more than 20 years and was instrumental in the company’s acquisition and successful integration of Singapore-based Abacus GDS in 2015. He will report directly to Alfred de Cárdenas, Sabre Travel Network’s Chief Commercial Officer.
Prior to his current role, he served as president of Travelocity and Zuji, both consumer-facing brands that were part of the Sabre portfolio. He will relocate from Singapore to London in July.
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April 22, 2017 at 08:23AM
Trying to Describe Giannis Antetokounmpo
Late in the Milwaukee Bucks’ close second-game loss to the Toronto Raptors, on Tuesday night, the team’s sui-generis star Giannis Antetokounmpo backed his way toward the basket, along the baseline. His defender, Raptors forward P. J. Tucker, buttressed himself, but Antetokounmpo, all roughly seven feet of him, nimbly spun and charged the hoop. Tucker, a good and muscular defender, kept pace, forcing Antetokounmpo behind the basket—but Antetokounmpo spun again, and extended one cartoonishly long arm to flick the ball into the basket as his body sailed in the other direction. Tucker was called for a foul on the play. “He is one step away from being able to dunk the ball from almost anywhere on the court,” Tucker had said after the first game in the series, which the Bucks handily and unexpectedly won. (Milwaukee is the No. 6 seed; Toronto, No. 3.) At one point in that first game, Antetokounmpo got a high screen, drove, and then dunked over Tucker’s teammate Serge Ibaka. Hanging from the rim post-dunk, his right shoe simultaneously touched the floor.
This past season, Antetokounmpo led his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots, a feat that only four previous players have managed. But with Antetokounmpo, it is not so much about the numbers as it is the sheer sense of improbability one has while watching him play. That sense, along with his country of origin and the challenge of pronouncing his last name, led to Antetokounmpo’s nickname, the Greek Freak—though lately that moniker has mostly given way among basketball fans to a simple first-name basis: Giannis. “The basketball world has always been compelled by big people who can move gracefully,” Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, who wrote a January cover story about Antetokounmpo, said recently. “And what’s going on right now is you have big people who are really moving more gracefully than they ever have before—not necessarily sure why that is—and he seems to be the prime example.”
Jenkins was thinking of the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, Karl Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the injured 76er center Joel Embiid. All of them have lately been called “unicorns,” a label that seeks to capture their almost mythical rarity. But that term starts to lose its meaning when you apply it to five or six young players at a time. Antetokounmpo is the only one of this cohort who regularly handles the duties of a point guard, bringing the ball up the court, creating shots for his teammates. “I don’t think there’s really anyone else like him,” the Bucks’ reserve point guard, Matthew Dellavedova—who, at six-four, has more familiar dimensions for the position—told me earlier this season. “I don’t think you’ll see someone in the exact mold of Giannis.”
The ineffability of Giannis’s play hasn’t discouraged those intent on describing it, but it has posed a challenge. Two years ago, for Grantland, Zach Lowe wrote that, “on any given possession, the Greek Freak can look like he knows nothing and everything at once. He is an empty vessel, and in a blink, he is one vision of modern basketball fulfilled.” In January of this year, after Antetokounmpo hit a contested turnaround at the buzzer against the Knicks, in Madison Square Garden, Jay Caspian Kang wrote, in the Times Magazine, that it was “as if T-1000 from ‘Terminator 2’ had challenged a Wang computer to a jumping contest.” Following Game 1 against Toronto, Tim Bontemps, of the Washington Post, made a more familiar pop-culture comparison: Inspector Gadget, with his go-go bionic limbs.
Antetokounmpo was drafted by Milwaukee with the fifteenth pick, in 2013, at just eighteen years old, and two and a half inches shorter than he is now. Last February, the Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who was himself one of the league’s great point guards, began experimenting with Antetokounmpo at his own former position. The Bucks, a losing team, had room to experiment. And, as with all things basketball-related, Antetokounmpo took to the task with astonishing immediacy. “You hear about all the ten thousand hours, but this guy sort of flies in the face of all that,” Jenkins said, alluding to the popular conviction that reaching an exhaustive threshold of practice results in expertise. “These guys are sometimes born more than made.” Another Bucks point guard, the six-two Jason Terry, who is an eighteen-year N.B.A. veteran, put it similarly, when I visited the team’s locker room in February: “Someone like him is God-given, heaven-sent.”
An angel, a unicorn, a T-1000, a freak, an empty vessel: in every description of Antetokounmpo, one can sense the strain of people trying to put into words a sight they haven’t seen before. On Thursday night, I went to a pub outside Milwaukee to watch Game 3 of the series, against Toronto, and I asked a few of the fans there if they could do any better than the flailing sportswriters. “He plays like a little guy, but he’s seven feet tall,” Brad Lauterbach, a local cabinetmaker who was watching with his wife, Kate, said. Others described Antetokounmpo, whose parents immigrated to Greece when they couldn’t find any work in Nigeria, and who signed a contract worth a hundred million dollars earlier this season, as humble.
In front of a clamorous home crowd, the Bucks pulled ahead early, and their lead ballooned to as much as thirty-two points in the first half. They won by twenty-seven. Giannis put up unremarkable numbers, scoring nineteen points, but they were enough. Late in the third quarter, the Raptors guard Norman Powell drove past Antetokounmpo—and then, with one outsized stride, Antetokounmpo caught up with him just as he torqued his body for a layup. Powell released the ball, and Antetokounmpo sent it flying into the stands. Lauterbach, the cabinetmaker, enjoyed it. “He’s a little man in a big man’s body,” he said.
April 22, 2017 at 06:09AM
TPG’s Card Inventory, #Sundaegate, A New Premium Travel Card and More
Each Saturday, we round up news stories that you may have missed from the week before, including several that already appeared on The Points Guy, and some more that we haven’t covered yet. If you’re an avid TPG reader, scroll down for the new stuff. Here’s the top miles, points and travel news you may have missed this week:
It’s been a busy year so far in the premium travel credit card space, and several issuers have made significant changes to their top products. In light of all the changes, TPG has taken inventory of all his cards and has decided it was time to cut several from his wallet — see which ones he’s keeping and which ones are getting canceled.
While it’s still not official yet, leaked details of the upcoming U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card have surfaced online and point to a new card that’s going to be a formidable competitor to the top cards already on the market.
More bad news for United flyers — the carrier is suspending its ice cream sundae service for premium-cabin passengers, and instead is serving ‘pre-packaged ice cream cups and mousse’ while it evaluates its options.
Beginning May 9, Southwest Airlines is moving to a new, modern reservations system known as Amadeus. Here’s what you can expect to change when the new reservations system comes online soon.
After several years of maintaining Executive Platinum status with American Airlines, TPG has decided that he’s de-prioritizing chasing Exec Plat in 2017 for a number of reasons — find out why he’s not all that concerned about chasing AA’s highest status level this year.
This week, United CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email to the airline’s top frequent flyers that contained both an apology as well as a promise that the airline would be changing some of its policies so that it can avoid situations like #Bumpgate going forward.
This week, the Taxi and Limousine Commission of New York City (TLC) shared that it will be introducing a proposal that would require all ride-sharing services that accept only credit cards (like Uber) to allow customers to add a tip using their card.
The British Airways Visa Signature Card is currently offering a sign-up bonus through which you can earn 100,000 Avios, though you’ll need to spend a significant amount to net that amount of rewards.
In other news…
United President Admits Leaving New York’s JFK Airport Was a Mistake
United’s president Scott Kirby (formerly of American Airlines) said this week that pulling all flights from New York’s JFK airport and moving them all to Newark Airport (EWR) in New Jersey was a mistake that led to the airline losing some of its most valuable customers. However, he didn’t suggest that United would be returning to JFK any time soon.
Virgin America is Moving in With Alaska at LAX Soon
As of May 13, 2017, Virgin America will be moving from Terminal 3 to Terminal 6 at LAX to join Alaska Airlines. Unfortunately, this means the Virgin America Loft at the airport will be closed as of May 10. Virgin America’s Elevate Gold members will receive free access to the Alaska lounge, and Silver members will be allowed in at a reduced rate when the airline completes the move on May 13.
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April 22, 2017 at 05:11AM
We tried something new here with grouping together all the “goodies” I use either for photography or fun! Here’s our link to Kit.com – enjoy!
Daily Photo – Approaching Antarctica
Somehow I talked my way into the cockpit of the C-130 that was landing on the ice in Antarctica. It was my first time landing in a plane with skis on the bottom, so it was pretty exciting. I wasn’t nervous… and these cool-headed US Military guys put my mind at ease!
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April 22, 2017 at 02:30AM
Bryony Gordon: What training for the marathon taught me about London
Until the end of last year, I thought I’d seen all of London that there was to see. I was born in a hospital in the west that, like much of the city, has since been turned into a block of luxury flats, went to a primary school next to Kew Gardens and a secondary on the doorstep of the Natural History Museum and the V&A.
London is the only place I have ever lived, and I have lived all over it: Lewisham, Hammersmith, Bethnal Green, Camden, Ladbroke Grove, Shepherd’s Bush, Battersea and now Clapham. I’d been travelling on the Tube by myself since the age of 11. I remember Kensington Market before it was a PC World and the Trocadero when it was cool (no, no, I’m sure it was). I’ve done dive bars and speakeasys and all sorts of things in them that are not fit for publication in a family newspaper.
And then, last October, I started training for the London Marathon, and I realised that I didn’t really know this city at all. I’d never noticed, for example, the gas lamps that line one side of the Mall, or how easy it is to run all the way from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s.
I’d never noticed the tennis ball that has somehow got stuck under the pavement by the pub in front of the Tate Modern. I have run past that sunken tennis ball so many times now, and I have come up with a million different theories as to how it got there: cheeky workmen? Secret art instillation?
Running is intrinsically boring – if you do it on a treadmill. If you go outside, it is just another way to get to see a city. I have, in the course of training for this marathon, run in Copenhagen and the Cotswolds, Alicante and Ibiza, and along the bouncy, all singing, all dancing running tracks of Dubai – running is the best way to get to know a place unless, like me, you end up running down a Spanish highway with no data left to work out where to go. But I didn’t think it would show me a new side to this city I thought I knew inside out.
There is an unspeakable high that comes from running long distances through a city. The trail from Battersea Park to Tower Bridge takes you past a giant golden buddha, MI5, the Houses of Parliament, both Tates, my magic tennis ball, the wobbly bridge (which, I discovered running over it, hasn’t actually wobbled for 17 years), HMS Belfast, the Tower of London… and then there is the glorious South Bank, on which it is impossible not to feed off the energy of every tourist, skateboarder and culture vulture heading for the National Theatre. All of life is here: or all of life worth seeing.
My last long run, a couple of weeks ago, took me the opposite direction along the river, from Battersea down to Putney and then up to Hampton Court Palace via Richmond Park. There, as a herd of young deer streamed across the road onto the lush green fields around us, I had to blink several times and remind myself I was still in London. So however painful today’s marathon is, it will have been worth it alone for the opportunity to become a tourist in the city I have lived in all my life.
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April 22, 2017 at 01:09AM
At Long Last, A Small Portion of the Baha Mar Resort Opens in Nassau
Baha Mar, an enormous 1,000-acre Bahamas development that’s been $4.2 billion and more than 10 years in the making, is finally opening its doors — well, sort of.
To call the Nassau resort complex massive would be an understatement, as the finished product, which sits along a half-mile stretch of sand between Downtown Nassau and Cable Beach, will house three properties with a combined total of 2,300 rooms, 42 restaurants and lounges, 11 swimming pools, a 100,000-square-foot casino, 30 luxury shops and an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and Golf Club.
The largest and most affordable of its three hotels, Grand Hyatt, is the first to open — there’s a soft opening this week, while the general public will be able to book rooms starting in May — and will feature 1,800 rooms, with prices starting around $350 a night. The other two hotels — SLS, with 300 rooms and prices hovering around the $500 per night mark and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, with 200 rooms and prices starting at $700 per night — will open later this year and next spring, respectively. The resort’s many amenities are set to open between now and this time next year. Today, for instance, guests were able to visit the casino, golf course, seven of the 11 swimming pools, portions of the spa, and several shops and restaurants.
While luxury mega-resorts are not a rarity, it’s not often that they take this long to open. Plans for the project were announced in 2005, with construction not officially starting until 2011. The complex, originally scheduled to open in May of 2015, filed for bankruptcy in early-2016 after experiencing issues with missed deadlines and other delays. Baha Mar was eventually purchased in November 2016 by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, and things seem to be going according to plan — finally. Hopefully, guests will find Baha Mar was worth the wait.
H/T: The New York Times
Featured image of Baha Mar’s Royal Blue Golf Club courtesy of Baha Mar’s Facebook Page.
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April 21, 2017 at 05:22PM
Marriott Is Adding 300,000 New Rooms By 2019, Here Are Some of the Best
Whether or not you’re a fan of the Marriott-Starwood merger, one thing’s for sure: it’s going to mean that Marriott will be overseeing a lot more properties in the near future. In fact, in a recent USA Today article, the property announced that it would be adding up to 300,000 rooms globally by the year 2019.
Marriott is even quoted as saying that the new openings would amount to approximately one new property every 14 hours! That leaves us frequent fliers with a bevvy of new hotels to check out. Here are just a few of our favorite new Marriott (and Marriott affiliated) properties.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, Nadi, Fiji
One of Marriott’s newest hotels, this paradisiacal, Category 8 retreat aims to be the only oasis you’ll ever need. Located in private Momi Bay on the coast of Viti Levu, it features deluxe rooms and Villas, including some spectacular over-water villas with direct lagoon access.
All accommodations come with a private balcony or terrace and gorgeous views of the pool, ocean or lagoon. Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay also features three swimming pools, an exclusive spa and a variety of water sports (for those rare times when you’re not sunbathing or snorkeling). Guests can also choose from among three restaurants and enjoy cocktails pre- or post dinner at the swim-up bar.
Empire Hotel, Autograph Collection North Birmingham, AL
May 2017 will see the opening of the long anticipated and very elegant Empire Hotel. This pet-friendly, Category 6 property is in the center of Birmingham’s historic district, which is peppered with quaint galleries, hot restaurants, one-of-a-kind fashion boutiques and interesting architecture.
Amenities include a fitness center, free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant. You’ll also want to be sure to visit Moonshine; the chic lounge will feature craft cocktails, local micro brews and panoramic vistas of Birmingham.
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Ritz-Carlton Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
The recently opened Ritz-Carlton Budapest is the Ritz’s first property in the storied European country. It lies at the center of the vibrant city’s historic heart and is just minutes away from shopping, cultural sites and the lovely Danube River.
This Tier 2 property (in The Ritz-Carlton Rewards program) is luxury personified with elegant décor, an indulgent spa and an indoor pool that features a glass roof. Visitors will have numerous dining choices, including Deák Street kitchen, which offers rustic, international dishes. For something lighter, take in high tea and homemade cakes at Kupola Lounge and top the evening off with a toast at the Kupola Champagne Bar.
Just opened last year, this is one of Marriott’s most talked about hotels because of its less touristed locale. But with more and more airlines adding direct flights to the blossoming metropolis, Port-au-Prince seems poised to become an interesting, popular destination for the adventurous globe-trotter.
This Category 4 hotel even made Conde Nash Travelers’ “Best New Hotels Caribbean Mexico Hot List” for 2016. Specially curated artwork, stylish décor and a welcoming vibe add to this hotel’s charm. Amenities include a fitness center, pool, stylish rooms with free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant that highlights local cuisine.
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April 21, 2017 at 05:03PM
United CEO Oscar Munoz Will Not Automatically Become Board Chair in 2018
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz will not automatically become board chairman in 2018. United Airlines
— Brian Sumers
When Oscar Munoz joined United Airlines as president and CEO in September 2015, he was promised he would serve as chairman beginning this year. After he suffered a massive heart attack less than two months later, the board pushed it back one year, to 2018.
Now, United said in a filing Friday, Munoz may never become chairman. His employment contract no longer guarantees he’ll take the position, and if he does some day get it, it’ll be the board’s decision, rather than an automatic elevation.
United said in a filing that Munoz “initiated” the move, though it did not say exactly why. United did not reply for a request for comment.
“The Board believes that separating the roles of Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board is the most appropriate structure at this time,” United said Friday in a separate filing. “Having an independent Chairman of the Board is a means to ensure that Mr. Munoz is able to more exclusively focus on his role as Chief Executive Officer. ”
United and Munoz have had a rough time since April 9, when United employees at Chicago O’Hare called airport security officers to remove a passenger from a United Express flight to Louisville, Kentucky. The passenger, Dr. David Dao, refused to leave the airplane after United employees told him they needed the seat at the last minute for an airline crew members. Security officers violently removed him, and he was seriously injured during the altercation. He may sue United.
Another passenger took video, and it went viral the next day. At first, in a statement, Munoz blamed Dao for being “disruptive” and “belligerent.” He also defended United’s employees in Chicago, arguing they had no choice but to call authorities.
It was a public relations disaster. Not until two days later — after some consumers called for boycotts of United — did Munoz issue a real apology. “It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Munoz said, promising United would no longer call for security or police except for matters involving safety and security. A couple of days after that, United’s board chairman, Robert Milton, wrote a letter defending Munoz and saying Munoz would keep his job.
But by some accounts, Munoz’s third apology was too late. In her widely-respected industry newsletter called Plane Business, Holly Hegeman, a former communications consultant to American Airlines, criticized Munoz for his response.
“If there is one man in this industry who understands the importance and the power of perception, my bet, until [April 10], would have been on United CEO Oscar Munoz,” she wrote. “But a rather unfortunate thing happened. As the nightmare at United got worse and worse, Oscar was nowhere to be found.”
Already reduced role
Still, United’s filings gave no indication the decision was related to the Dao matter. And Munoz has — since his heart attack and subsequent heart transplant — reduced his duties. In August, he gave up the president title to Scott Kirby, whom he hired from American Airlines.
Munoz has also, over time, acquiesced as United has built a stronger board of directors. Munoz, a former board member, only got the top job after ex-CEO Jeff Smisek resigned amid allegations he had kept a poorly performing flight to South Carolina because the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had a second home there. Afterward, some investors criticized the board for not closely monitoring United’s executive team.
In 2016, a group of active investors sought to change the composition of the board, and eventually the company agreed to add more members with airline and travel industry experience. In March and April of 2016, the board added five new members, including Milton, a former Air Canada CEO, James Whitehurst, an ex-Delta Air Lines COO, and Barney Harford, former CEO of Orbitz Worldwide.
via Skift https://skift.com
April 21, 2017 at 04:18PM
A Fleeting Glimpse of Playoff Rondo
The Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo is the only N.B.A. player I can think of with a nickname that can only be used for two months a year. That sometime moniker, “Playoff Rondo,” points to his propensity for saving his best performances for this biggest and most visible stage. It’s a bit like Reggie Jackson’s “Mr. October,” except that while Jackson’s seasonal sobriquet had purely positive connotations, indicating his ability to accomplish incredible feats when they mattered most, Rondo’s tag is meant, partly, to suggest that maybe he’s dogging it a bit the rest of the time. It’s hard to tell whether he simply plays harder for the national-TV cameras or if, for him, it’s somehow easier to be fully present when the stakes are clear and close at hand.
This year’s dispensation, we learned on Friday morning, may have been even briefer than usual: the Bulls announced that, during his excellent Tuesday-night game against the Boston Celtics, Rondo fractured his right thumb and will sit out “indefinitely.” This was a blow. As the Bulls have sprinted to an unexpected 2–0 lead against Rondo’s former team, the top-seeded Boston Celtics—in a first-round series whose proceedings have been sadly overcast since the day before the opener, when the star Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas’s sister died, at just twenty-two, in a tragic car accident—it’s been refreshing to see “Playoff Rondo” again.
The standard narrative about Rondo’s decline as a player is that, as he’s aged, his weaknesses—a janky, hesitant outside shot, and an interest in perimeter defense that is, at best, occasional—have grown steadily more glaring, and placed him increasingly out of step in a league in which defense and long-range shooting are commodities more precious than ever before. His pass-first, pace-controlling game makes him an obvious ancestor of an older generation of point guards, like Gary Payton and Jason Kidd, but also leaves him without an obvious place within contemporary N.B.A. offenses. He’s also, pretty obviously, a pill. When he played fourth wheel to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen on the last great Celtics team, he often seemed to drive his older teammates, as well as their coach, Doc Rivers, to distraction. When Boston traded Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, he spent an ill-fated half-season feuding openly—sometimes on the sidelines, in direct view of the TV cameras—with the universally respected coach Rick Carlisle, who finally benched Rondo during the playoffs. Then Rondo signed a one-year deal with the Sacramento Kings—as close to an Outer Darkness as the N.B.A. has to offer. While there, he directed a profane, homophobic outburst toward the referee Bill Kennedy, who, during the round of media recriminations that followed, came out as gay, the first N.B.A. official to do so. Just this year, midway through a largely uninspiring, slow-footed season, Rondo, in an oddly long Instagram caption, chastened his two All-Star teammates, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, for their public criticisms of the rest of the team.
And still, when, for whatever complex set of physical and probably psychological reasons, he manages to resemble the version of himself that helped and sometimes led those old Celtics groups to two Finals appearances and a championship, he is mesmerizing to watch. On Tuesday, his intelligence was palpable whenever he was on the floor, especially on defense: on more than one occasion, he seemed to anticipate, several passes in advance, the movement of the Celtics’s offense, and then slip cavalierly into a passing lane, accepting the ensuing steal like a gift. On offense, he saw everything: once, standing near the foul line with his back to the basket, he tossed the ball over his shoulder and into the hands of an airborne Butler. At another point, he leaped to collect a rebound, then threw a football pass downcourt, again to Butler, who made an acrobatic catch and notched an easy layup.
Personality-wise, Rondo was equally present—and this, perhaps, is how he can continue to help his team, even if Tuesday’s game was his last of the playoffs. Late in the game, the Celtics guard Avery Bradley overheard Rondo saying that the Celtics had “given up.” During a time-out, he stood talking animatedly and endlessly to Butler, pointing here and there on the floor, while Butler nodded and avoided eye contact. Whatever he was saying, it was worth the annoyance: by the end of the evening, Rondo had tallied a perfectly Rondovian box score—eleven points, nine rebounds, fourteen assists—and the Bulls had won again.
Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors’ do-everything forward, has always reminded me of Rondo, and he might be a sad hoops fan’s best compensation for the latter’s early exit. At his best—and also, for that matter, at his worst—Green’s presence is felt across the entire court, and his box scores are correspondingly full. Like Rondo, he is a gifted passer, with a rare ability to wordlessly nudge his teammates onto advantageous spots on the floor. He, too, has an often spiky, never-retreating personal style. (Videos of his intense interactions with Kevin Durant have come to form something of a mini-genre.) It is possible that, by way of an unforgettable shot to LeBron James’s groin, Green cost his team last year’s title. And so there is a strain of personal redemption in his brilliant postseason play so far this year.
Green often acts as a “point forward” for the Warriors, bringing the ball downcourt and gesturing his teammates into motion; during the playoffs, this has become his semi-permanent role. During Wednesday night’s 110–81 blowout win, against the Portland Trail Blazers, he doled out assist after assist, including an offhandedly beautiful alley-oop to his seven-foot teammate JaVale McGee—who had his own energetic first half, all dunks, tip-ins, and soaring blocks. The sharpshooting guard Klay Thompson looked good early, and Green made sure, several times, to draw the defense into the paint and then send the ball to Klay with room to let it fly. When Green hit his three from the corner, it was almost an afterthought.
Green is a terror on defense—he had three blocks on Wednesday, including a chase-down swat that followed a full-court sprint—but he is also one of basketball’s most intuitive and diverting offensive players. Everything he does on that end of the floor has a reckless edge. At one point, he set an obviously illegal screen, then, predictably, feigned bewilderment when the referee called a foul. Green attracts technical fouls in bouquets, but this time, a teammate pulled him away. Like Rondo—the two are twins, really, identical in their difficulty and their rough, sometimes off-putting love of the game they play—he was utterly himself.
April 21, 2017 at 04:00PM
A Misguided Impulse to Update the Greek Classics
In the three millennia and more since its legend arose, the Trojan War has been reënacted in dozens of uniforms, with many generations of weapons deployed as props. Homer’s Iliad and, to a lesser extent, the Odyssey have made that conflict a paradigm for all wars at all times, and it’s not uncommon to see Achilles and Hector stalking one another in Kevlar vests, holding submachine guns, even while declaiming lines that refer to shields and spears. In “Our Trojan War,” a mash-up of Greek mythic texts that closes this weekend in the Fishman Space of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the parallels between ancient and modern combat are pushed, at times to a point at which the myth loses its depth of meaning and becomes a means of political messaging.
“Our Trojan War” opens with U.S. troops, dressed in desert fatigues, brutally searching a private home in a vague Middle Eastern setting. The house belongs to a Muslim sage who teaches Greek and is passionately devoted to Homer’s poems, so much so that he begins chanting the opening of the Iliad from memory. In a moving exchange, one of the invading soldiers takes up the narrative, and then all onstage, both soldiers and Arab locals alike, begin playing its parts. For the next eighty minutes, we shuttle back and forth between the modern setting, with its fraught gun-to-the-head tensions, and the mythic landscape of the Greeks, mostly that of Homer’s epics but with occasional detours into the works of Sophocles, Plato, and Virgil. A final segment features a set of quotations in which American political leaders pay tribute to the timeless importance of the Greeks (reminding us of a time when such leaders knew that the Greeks existed).
This sort of recontextualization of Greek myth has been used with increasing frequency since Jonathan Shay’s landmark “Achilles in Vietnam,” published in 1994, which used the Iliad’s portrayal of battle rage as a window into post-traumatic stress and other kinds of combat-related disorders. Greek tragedy is now regularly performed as a kind of therapy for veterans and active-duty soldiers, as the director-translator Bryan Doerries, a leader in this style of production, describes in his recent memoir, “Theater of War.” “Our Trojan War” goes one step further down this road, taking some of its material from a “warrior chorus” of combat veterans who were asked to respond to Greek texts
based on their own experiences; many of the actors themselves served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The N.Y.U. classicist Peter Meineck, one of the two writer-adapters, recently co-edited an anthology entitled “Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks,” in which leading scholars take turns focussing the lens of modern military experience on different aspects of ancient myth and culture.
Shay’s approach has many heirs, but it has also raised questions. Jason Crowley, the British scholar and the author of the 2012 study “The Psychology of the Athenian Hoplite,” makes the case that ancient combat experience had very little in common with its modern counterpart. The Greek warrior almost never fought alone or in small groups but instead fought as part of a phalanx. He was rarely forced to deal with foes of a different race, language, or religion, nor was he ever, at least in classical times,
stranded in alien jungle or desert landscapes. Most crucially, he never faced the dehumanizing weapons and tactics of modern asymmetric warfare, in which death can arrive, unseen and unanticipated, even from the most seemingly safe or benign of encounters. Though an archer’s arrow might strike from afar, the idea that one might be fired in secret, at a moment when battle was not officially joined, is decried in Homer’s Iliad as an atrocity and an offense against the gods.
The questions “Our Trojan War” raises go further. For classical scholars, putting an emphasis on the material and physical aspects of war, taking the battles so literally, risks diminishing the the mythic legacy of the Greeks. With its universality and range of meaning, the Iliad has gripped readers in many ages and societies, both peaceful and belligerent. It is not, in the end, a poem about war but rather about life and death, which stand out in starker relief on the battlefield than in any other setting. One can read it with great feeling and insight without having taken part in war oneself, though the implied assumptions of “Our Trojan War” and similarly Shay-inspired productions seem
s to argue otherwise. The sight of Achilles in a flak jacket, searching for I.E.D.s with shaky hands and a twitchy trigger finger, gives us too simple and reassuring a peg on which to hang these noble old poems. Veterans need to read and discuss them, but so do we all.
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April 21, 2017 at 03:35PM