July 17, 2012

DG 129

Now that we've seen the basketball players with dreads in college, let's take a look at some of those who play for pay (legally, that is) and how they did during the 2011-12 season.

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  • It was the night before Christmas
  • and not a moment too soon
  • the NBA would be back
  • finally!, tomorrow at noon

 

  • was not dreamin' of Kobe, KD, or KG
  • rather, Courtney and Squeaky and Kenneth Faried
  • tho' hopes were not high in the house of dread
  • a great wonder lie just a few hours ahead

(sorry about that, but I couldn't help it.)

With the NBA in lockout mode throughout last summer and fall, I completely lost track of all the league's player transactions. So when the season tipped off (2 months late) on Dec. 25, all I knew was that the arrival of rookie Kenneth Faried (photo below with the commish moments after he was drafted in June 2011) would provide a much-needed boost to the meager number of dreads in the league. Considering just how few dreads there were in the league last season, it was a pleasant surprise and a wonderful Christmas present to see, in the very first game of the season (Celtics vs. Knicks), not one, not two, but three players with dreads on the floor in the same game. But that wasn't all. A little later in the day I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Faried's debut - only to discover that there actually were three players with dreads on one team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the season, a total of 11 players with dreads had appeared in at least one game - the most ever. But the problem was that (with the exception of Faried) none of them were starters and only a couple were key reserves. Most are last-man-on-the-roster types just struggling to stay in the league. In dread gallery 129 we'll take a look at the eleven, then we'll go overseas and check out some of the dreads on European clubs during the 2011-12 season. I was planning to cram everything into one DG. But there are too many photos, so just like last year I'll have to make DG129 a two-parter.  

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 1. Knicks F Bill Walker fouls the player formerly known as Ron Artest during 2nd quarter of the Lakers' 99-82 home win on Dec. 29. Walker accomplished something you rarely see in this game: committing 4 fouls in one quarter ..... For the 6-6, 235-pound Walker 2011-12 was his 4th season in the NBA and his first with dreads. He played in 32 games, averaging 5.9 points (39.8% FG) and 2.5 rebounds in 19 minutes before being released about a week before the end of the season.

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 2. The other two players with dreads to appear in the season opener on Christmas Day face off against each other, as G Marquis Daniels defends against F Renaldo Balkman during 2nd quarter of Knicks' 106-104 win ...... As long as these two have been around they both should be sporting some of the best dreads in the league. But instead they share the 'award' for the most disappointing dreads of the season. Not long after this game Balkman, who had never played with reduced dreads prior to this season, kept them reduced for most of the season until he was released on Feb. 17. He averaged 3 points (50% FG) and 1.9 rebounds in 14 games ......

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 3. ..... and Daniels, once again this season, kept his dreads reduced almost all season, although I did find this photo where they weren't reduced. Marquis gets credit for a blocked shot as he and C Greg Stiemsma team up to deny Wizards F Kevin Seraphin at the end of 1st quarter during Celtics' 88-78 home win on Mar. 25 ..... The last I had heard Daniels had been traded to Sacramento, so I was kind of surprised to see him back with Boston. He played in 38 games, averaging 3.2 points (36.4% FG), 1.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists - all career lows - in 12 minutes per game. But his choice to go with reduced dreads is spoiling what should be something really special. 

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4. On opening night F DeMarre Carroll was one of the trio of players with dreads wearing a Nuggets uniform. But he only played 4 games for Denver, was released and then made an impact late in the season with the Utah Jazz. Here Carroll tries to make G Stephen Jackson miss a short shot during 1st half on Apr. 9 as the Jazz defeated the Spurs 91-84 to end San Antonio's 11-game winning streak.

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 5. A week later on Apr. 16 DeMarre Carroll tries to drive to the basket against Mavericks G Vince Carter. This was the game where Carroll, in the words of the Jazz TV announcers, "made some money tonight." DeMarre played 45 minutes, finishing with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists as the Jazz picked up a crucial victory in the Western Conf. playoff race 123-121 in triple OT ..... With seemingly every team dealing with a rash of injuries late in the season Carroll got his shot with Utah and took advantage of it. And as a result he may have found a home. If you like, you can check out an article on DeMarre from last week in the Deseret News: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765589512/Utah-Jazz-DeMarre-Carroll-maintains-a-hunger-to-stay-in-NBA.html ..... Carroll's numbers this season: 24 games, 4.5 PPG (41.0% FG) and 2.2 RPG in 14 minutes per game.

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 6. Just like DeMarre Carroll, Nene began the season with the Nuggets but ended it elsewhere after a Mar. 15 trade to the Wizards. Here Nene, the 6-11 center from Brazil, deals with the long arm of F Josh Smith as he tries to get off a shot during 1st half on Mar. 24. Nene had 21 points and 11 rebounds, but Wizards lost to Hawks 95-92 ..... Nene had his hair in braids earlier in his career but has switched to dreads for the last two seasons (and hopefully for several more). He was the leading scorer among players with dreads, averaging 13.7 points (53.7% FG), 7.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 39 games ..... The Wizards were the only team with two players with dreads when the season ended, because .....

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 7. ..... Joining Nene was 6-7 F/G Cartier Martin (welcome to the house!), who debuted these baby dreads late in the season. Here Martin drives against G Anthony Parker during 1st quarter of Wizards' 96-85 road win over Cavaliers on Apr. 25 ..... Martin began the season playing in China, where he averaged 26 PPG, then played a couple of weeks in the D-League before joining the Wizards for the final month. For Washington he played 17 games, averaging 9.3 points (44.0% FG) and 3.4 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. Hopefully we'll be seeing these dreads grow a lot longer in the seasons ahead.

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8. G David Bailey, playing for the D-League's Idaho Stampede, goes to the basket past F Terrance Thomas during a 120-98 loss to Reno on Dec. 26. In his 8th season in the D-League Bailey averaged 9.3 points and 5.8 assists. Now 31 years old, David realizes he's not going to get to the NBA. But wouldn't it be neat if somebody, anybody, would sign him to a 10-day contract so he didn't have to play his entire career in the minors.

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9. Just when you thought Mikki Moore was dead, or at least his career was dead, he's back. Desperate for healthy bodies late in the season, the Warriors signed him for the last 7 games of the season. Here Moore, the 7-0, 36-year old center, has the ball stolen by F Chandler Parsons during 3rd quarter of Rockets' 99-96 home win on Apr. 21. Moore averaged 3.4 points (45% FG) and 3.1 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.   

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10. If you remember G Courtney Fortson when he was at Arkansas, you know it's not unusual at all for him to get his shot blocked, as he does here by G Earl Watson early in 2nd quarter on Jan. 17. One night after making his NBA debut in a L.A. Clippers uniform, Fortson opened some eyes as he had 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists (most of it in garbage time) in the Clippers' 108-79 defeat.

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 11. Courtney Fortson goes to the floor to beat Raptors F Gary Forbes to a loose ball during 2nd half of Clippers' 103-91 home win on Jan. 22. It was his last apperance with the Clippers. He was released on Jan. 27.

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 12. After being picked up by the Rockets in mid-March, Fortson was sent to the D-League for most of the remainder of the season but did appear in 7 games with the Rockets, including here as he tries a driving layup against C Darryl Watkins during 2nd half in the final game of the season on Apr. 26, which Rockets won 84-77 ..... In a total of 10 NBA games Courtney averaged 3.5 points (34.4% FG), 1.5 rebounds, and only 1 assist. He impressed enough for the Rockets to bring him back next season, as mentioned in this recent article in the Montgomery Advertiser: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20120701/SPORTS/307010017/Hoop-dreams-fulfilled-Rockets-pick-up-contract-option-Fortson ..... It's still too early to tell if Fortson is going to make it in the NBA. He certainly has the ability. But most teams want their point guard to run the offense, and Courtney still prefers those solo drives to the basket. I'm pulling for him, but I'd like to see him become more of a team player. Do that Courtney, and you just might hang around awhile.

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 13. F Jordan Hill goes to the basket between C Bismack Biyombo (left) and F D.J. White on Jan. 10 at Charlotte. Hill had 12 points and 12 rebounds as Rockets broke a 4-game losing streak with an 82-70 win over Bobcats. Sadly this was one of the few times all season that Hill did not have his dreads reduced. I mean, he was on that list with Marquis Daniels and Renaldo Balkman until he finally let his dreads loose during the playoffs. 

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Of course, those playoff games did not come while he was playing for the Rockets. He was traded to the Lakers on Mar. 15, where he became a fixture on the bench, playing a total of 18 minutes in his first month on the team until ......

14. ..... Apr. 22, when he was called on to play 35 minutes against the Thunder. Here Hill takes down a rebound against C Kendrick Perkins. Jordan tied his season highs with 14 points and 15 rebounds as Lakers won 114-106 in double OT.

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 15. Jordan Hill fouls F Nick Collison twice on the same play but probably didn't get called for either one while battling for rebound position during Game 1 of 2nd round playoff series on May 14 at Oklahoma City. Hill had 4 points and 6 rebounds in a 119-90 blowout loss.

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16. Thunder G Russell Westbrook watches Jordan Hill dunk for two of his 6 points during 2nd quarter of Game 2. Lakers led 75-68 with 2:08 to go but collapsed and ended up losing 77-75.

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 17. Jordan Hill wrestles with Kendrick Perkins for a rebound during 1st half of Game 3 on May 18 at Los Angeles. Hill had 2 points and 4 rebounds as Lakers picked up their only win of the series 99-96 ......  This season Hill had similar numbers to his first two NBA seasons, averaging 5.0 points (49.7% FG) and 4.8 rebounds in 14 minutes per game. Currently a free agent, hopefully he'll stay with the Lakers, and hopefully he'll let us see those dreads more often.

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There was a game in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago in which Kentucky was upset by UAB. Remember? What I remember most about that game was that sick play by the Taylor twins. But I also remember a short point guard with dreads by the name of Squeaky. Well, seven years later, 5-foot-10 Carldell "Squeaky" Johnson finally made his NBA debut this season, even if it was only for a handful of games.  

 18. Squeaky unleashes the dreads as he is photographed at the Hornets' media day on Dec. 15.

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19. Carldell Johnson gets called for a foul as he tries to steal the ball away from C Kosta Koufos early in 4th quarter at Denver on Jan. 9. Johnson had 3 points, 1 rebound, and 1 steal as the Hornets won 94-81, their only win during an awful 1-15 stretch.  

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20. Carldell Johnson drives against Dallas on Jan. 7. This was his best game of the season as he scored a season high 9 points in 17 minutes in a 96-81 road loss.

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 21. After being released by the Hornets on Feb. 7, Johnson returned to the D-League's Austin Toros, where he has spent most of his pro career, here looking to drive against F Joey Graham during a 97-87 playoff win over Erie on Apr. 15. Squeaky averaged 8.2 points and 5.7 assists in 20 games to help the Toros to the D-League title. His NBA numbers in 15 games: 1.8 PPG (31.4% FG) and 1.5 APG in 8 minutes per game. Hopefully those won't end up being his final NBA numbers; but if they are, well, at least he was in the league for a little while.

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After Kenneth Faried played impressively for the Nuggets in a preseason game, I remember coach Karl mentioning that Faried wasn't going to play much once the regular season got started. And I was like "Oh, that's just great. First he gets drafted later than he should have (22nd overall) and now he's on a team with a coach who hates rookies."  Sure enough Faried began the season glued to the bench, and I just got increasily more angry as each game passed as he sat out 18 of the Nuggets' first 21 games. But you know the rest of the story. With the injury bug biting every team in this compressed season (66 games in 4 months) eventually it got to the point where Karl had to play Faried. And Kenneth went out and did what he does - rebound and defend with high energy and at a high level, all the while with his dreads swinging and shaking all over the place.  

 22. Kenneth Faried, 6-8 F, throws down a dunk, much to the chagrin of F Rudy Gay, on Feb. 17 at Memphis. This was Faried's breakout game. He finished with 18 points (10 in 4th quarter) and 10 rebounds, sparking a Nuggets' rally from a 23-point deficit early in 3rd quarter. But then disaster struck. In the closing seconds, Kenneth failed to box out F Dante Cunningham and watched helplessly as Cunningham scored the game-winning putback. Watch it and weep: http://www.nba.com/video/games/grizzlies/2012/02/17/0021100451_den_mem_play4.nba/index.html

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23. Hawks F Josh Smith tries to pass over the double team by Nene and Kenneth Faried on Mar. 13 at Denver. Smith scored 33 points; Nene had 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists; Faried had 8 points and 9 rebounds. Nuggets won 118-117 in OT. It was Nene's last game in a Nuggets uniform. Faried's outstanding play in fact helped convince Nuggets' management that it would be OK to trade Nene.

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24. Marquis Daniels goes to the basket against Kenneth Faried on Mar. 17. This looks like Daniels' driving layup and one midway through 2nd quarter. Marquis had one of his better games with 8 points. Faried finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds as Nuggets defeated Celtics 98-91.

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25. Blazers F Gerald Wallace, with the braids that look like dreads, has Kenneth Faried in his way as he tries to get to the basket on Feb. 29. I guess if you say RG3 doesn't have dreads, you have to say the same about Wallace. Earlier in the game .....

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26. If you didn't already know, Kenneth Faried takes rebounds seriously. I mean, you take your life into your own hands if you try to take one away from him. Just ask Kurt Thomas. As Thomas challenges him for a rebound during 1st quarter, Faried, about to fall out of bounds, tries to throw the ball off Thomas but misses. But he doesn't miss with his foot, delivering a kick to Thomas' head that .....

27. ..... knocks Thomas down and almost out. Here's the video of the play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p66BjBloEwo ..... Thomas suffered a concussion and missed the next 2 games. Faried hit all 6 of his shots from the field, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes as Nuggets won 104-95.

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28. Kenneth Faried goes to the basket to lay one up against Warriors F Jeremy Tyler during 1st quarter on Apr. 9. Kenneth had season highs of 27 points and 17 rebounds in just 24 minutes as Nuggets slaughtered Golden State 123-84.

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 29. Take that! .... says Kenneth Faried to Lakers C Andrew Bynum as he dunks during 2nd quarter of Game 2 of 1st round playoff series on May 1. Faried finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but Lakers won 104-100 to grab a 2-0 lead in the series.

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30. Faried often found himself dueling with 7-0 F Pau Gasol often during the series and wins the battle for this rebound during 1st half of Game 7 on May 12.

 31. The dreads fly as Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hill battle for a rebound during Game 7. It was not a good night for Faried as he finished with 6 points, 10 rebounds, and a season high 4 turnovers in the season-ending 96-87 loss to the Lakers ...... But after a slow start it was an outstanding rookie season for Faried. He averaged a double double in his last three years at Morehead State, and the only reason he didn't do it this season was that he played only 22 minutes per game. He finished at 10.2 PPG (58.6% FG) and 7.7 RPG; and btw, the 22nd player drafted finished 3rd in the voting for rookie of the year. It's only gonna get better from here. If he stays on course, Kenneth has a great chance to have a really special career.  

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 32. Remember Brandon Jennings early in his rookie season with the Bucks at the end of 2009? I mean, he must have tried a half dozen different hairstyles in less than a month, including dreads for about a minute. Here's Jennings with dreads again a couple of weeks ago, greeting new teammate and former Kentucky G Doron Lamb at a press conference for Lamb, the team's 2nd round draft choice. Let's hope the dreads are here to stay this time.But I won't believe it until I see him with them on opening night in October.  

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One of the great things about basketball is that there are dozens of countries around the world that have pro leagues. So even if you're not quite good enough for the NBA, you can still make a living playing ball, because a few of these leagues pay pretty well. And even if you were only a decent player in college - and you don't mind playing for not-much pay - there's a league out there somewhere where you can find success. Here now are a few of the many players with dreads playing pro basketball overseas, some of whom I never thought would be playing beyond college. (FYI: Like in soccer, European basketball clubs play for more than one trophy every year. In addition to the regular league season, most teams play in at least two tournaments that progress throughout the season. The stats I'll be listing for these players will be (in most cases) their stats for all of their games combined).

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 33. Wow. I remember when James Gist was at Maryland, he was just getting his braids started. But look at him now. After playing in Italy, Russia, and Serbia the last three seasons, Gist made his way to Turkey this season, playing for Fenerbahce Ulker. Here he fights off F Axel Hervelle as he tries for a one-handed rebound during a Euroleague game on Dec. 15. Gist had 11 points and 5 rebounds in the 80-70 loss to Spanish club Gescrap Bizkaia. Fenerbahce advanced to the 2nd stage of Euroleague before being eliminated, and finished 5th in the Turkish league at 21-9 before being swept 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Gist played 47 games, averaging 8.5 points (48.0% FG) and 5.0 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.

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 34. Back for his second season with Montepaschi Siena in Italy, F David Moss looks to pass out of the double team by F Haluk Yildirim (#14) and C Luksa Andric during a 67-63 Euroleague road victory over Galatasaray on Dec. 8. Montepaschi advanced to the quarterfinals of Euroleague before being eliminated. In the Italian league it was a 1st place finish at 24-8 and then a 10-2 record in the playoffs en route to their 6th straight championship. Moss played 54 games, averaging 8.1 points (45.3% FG) and 2.8 rebounds in 22 minutes per game.  

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35. Former Southern Illinois F Randal Falker has played all four of his pro seasons with Cholet in France. Here he defends as G Yannick Bokolo drives to the basket during deciding Game 3 of quarterfinal playoff series on May 29. #8 seed Cholet eliminated top seed Gravelines, which went 27-3 during the season, 2-1 with a 78-72 road win in OT, a game in which Falker had 7 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. But Cholet lost in the semifinals. Falker played 42 games, averaging 6.3 points (55.6% FG), 6.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 blocked shots (2nd in the league).

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 36. Action from Belgium here as Gent F Luc Louves reaches for the loose ball along with Dexia Mons-Hainault C Seabastien Bellin before it goes out of bounds on Oct. 29. Louves had one of his better games with 8 points and 9 rebounds in 26 minutes, but Gent dropped to 0-5 with the 72-60 road loss. Gent finished 12-20, good for 7th place in a 9-team league. Louves averaged just 12 minutes in 27 games, finishing with 2.3 PPG (58.1% FG) and 2.9 RPG.

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 37. Former Illinois F Warren Carter started the season with Dexia Mons-Hainault (which has since changed sponsors and is now Belfius Mons-Hainault) but left in February and finished the season in Israel (where he played last year). Here Carter is defended by Lille F Steve Smith during an exhibition game on Jan. 6. In 33 games between his two teams, Carter played 33 games, averaging 9.4 points (50.0% FG) and 5.6 rebounds.

 38. 6-8 F Chris Copeland of Generali Okapi Aalstar goes to the basket against 6-8 F Brent Wright of Telente Oostende during a Belgian League game on Mar. 4. Wright outscored Copeland 14-12 in the game, which Oostende won at home 82-65.

39. Chris Copeland gets a handle on the ball as he looks to get past F Caleb Green of Spirou on Apr. 27. Copeland scored 21 points, but Aalstar scored just 5 points in 4th quarter and lost on the road 68-64.

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40. Brent Wright and Chris Copeland face off again on Apr. 25. Copeland had the upper hand this time with 37 points and 10 rebounds to lead Aalstar to the 85-71 home win. Wright had a team-leading 18 points in defeat. Wright is running out of fingers to put rings on. When Oostende defeated Spirou 75-74 in OT of the decisive Game 5 of the finals on June 8, it meant that Brent had clinched his 7th career league championship: http://www.euroleague.net/news/i/98539/180 .... Brent Wright - all he does is win championships.

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41. Chris Copeland tries not to lose the ball as he drives through traffic during Aalstar's playoff opener on May 14 against Belfius Mons-Hainault. Copeland had 15 points in a 77-72 home loss. Two days later, in what hopefully will be Copeland's final game in Belgium, Mons-Hainault completed the 2-game sweep. Copeland was the league's leading scorer at 21.8 PPG. In 45 games overall, he averaged 21.3 points (53.5% FG), 5.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 33 minutes. Here's a highlight video of his 45-point game on Mar. 28: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT9sLwsrCPI ..... If you've been watching the NBA summer League games on NBA TV this past week, yes, that's Copeland playing for the New York Knicks. Chris' scoring average has increased in each of his 5 pro seasons, so maybe he is ready for the NBA. We'll see.

That's it for now. We'll look at the dreads from the rest of Europe coming up in part 2 of DG129 - hopefully later this week.   

1 Comment:
  • Nice look??? I thought id better comment before this reaches Page 10???
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