March 12, 2017

Looking Back on Two Years with The Flame

Kim Robins '17 and Zach Colton-Max '17

From our impressive scores in Miniclip games during Spark meetings to Sam Zimerman's brief time on the Ochsygen staff, the Class of 2017 has an illustrious history with regards to the GOA student newspaper. As former Editors-in-Chief of The Flame, the two of us have been particularly involved in writing, editing, designing and publishing the paper at all levels. Whether our participation in the GOA newspaper began in third grade or freshman year, our journalistic experiences have given us a deep appreciation for the GOA student body and the school as a whole.
To us, the GOA newspaper is an essential part of student life. We both initially joined the newspaper for the same reason: we wanted to play a bigger role in telling our peers’ stories and in influencing the actions and policies of the school. As far as we are concerned, neither of these jobs will ever be finished, but we have made significant progress in each area.
The Flame was far from the only activity in which we were involved during high school. However, despite our commitments to the school musicals, Robotics, Model Congress, Israel Club and everything else GOA could throw at us, we persisted in our work with the newspaper. We dedicated ourselves to the publication because we were inspired by our peers' passions and were compelled to share them. Writing for The Flame gave us the opportunity to discuss student groups and clubs, to interview their leaders and to publicize interesting events and initiatives. As editors, our peers approached us with topics about which they were passionate and we were able to incorporate these into articles and features.
With GOA's rigorous curriculum and busy days, we know that students struggle to find time for their interests outside of school and that they spend more time talking about academic stress than about their true passions. For us, the most important part of working on The Flame was breaking this cycle: we helped students share the things about which they care and in doing so connected our peers to one another. This is what motivated us to continue our work on The Flame when things were going well and this is also what reinspired us when our work seemed futile.
As we became Editors-in-Chief, one of our goals was to refocus The Flame on our own community. Instead of bringing world, national and local news together into one publication, we wanted to ensure that our articles revolved around GOA students and faculty, either by reporting on them directly or by sharing their perspectives on more global events. It was important to us that The Flame be the mouthpiece of our student body and that The Flame’s coverage was truly unique.
We also know that The Flame is a platform for civic engagement: students can write about elements of their GOA experiences that are going well, but can also share their opinions about aspects of school in which they see room for improvement. Students who once hesitated to voice grievances about the dress code, the lunch program or the curriculum itself have been able to speak out through Flame editorials and opinion pieces and as editors, we have been privileged to help these students improve our school community through their input.
During our time with The Flame, we have worked to make the paper a more open platform for students’ critical voices by diversifying its content and by working with the administration to combat censorship. Thanks to the work of Mr. Hefetz, Mr. Shapiro, Ms. Stodolski, Mr. Herskowitz and the students themselves, the GOA student body is more engaged in journalism than ever, because The Flame amplifies students’ voices and provides an environment for uninhibited, productive discourse between students and faculty.
As Editors-in-Chief of The Flame, we were inspired by the students around us but also by our writers and editors. The editorial staff, the Journalism class and other student writers were mature, creative and cooperative, and their hard work was essential in developing the paper. We are impressed with the work of the new Flame leadership and we are confident that the writers and editors will continue to make us all proud.
As much as we might like to, we could not edit The Flame forever. We are left to carry the yellowing extra copies of the papers we published in our Neshama and college suitcases, but we also carry with us the knowledge that our work has impacted the GOA community in the long term. We are grateful for the support we have received from every student and administrator and we are proud to see that our successors are carrying on our commitment to civil engagement and sharing students’ passions.

If you’re reading this, thank you for empowering us. And if nothing else, keep writing.


A Home-bred Champion

Sophie Goldman ‘19

Ally Landau has distinguished herself as a champion ever since she won her first championship in a youth soccer league. Now a freshman, she continues to succeed in her athletic journey, notably on Golda Och Academy’s girls varsity basketball team.
“GOA teams aren’t anything like the travel teams I have played for,” Landau said. “Even though my travel teams compete at a much higher level, at GOA everyone is much better friends.”
According to Landau, this bond strengthens her and her teammates’ performance. Her teammates agree, citing Landau as one of the key sources of team unity.
“Ally brings more than just her talent to a sports team,” sophomore Maddie Herman said. “She brings a sense of community. She takes it upon herself to befriend everyone on the team and help them succeed.”
Senior Emily Binstein agreed.
“Her love for basketball is contagious,” she said.
In addition to her support, Landau’s strong offense has led the basketball team to success. She is currently averaging 23.6 points per game, good for sixth best in the state. The rest of her stat line is just as impressive, as Landau is averaging 11.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.3 steals per game, demonstrating excellence on both sides of the ball. Much like any other player, however, Landau always wants to find ways to improve.
She said that to prepare for this season, she worked on her long-range shooting and defense. It appears her hard work has paid off: this season, Landau averaged 2.9 three-pointers per game, the 14th best in the state and she ranks 12th in steals per game.
While individual success is nice, Landau knows that she isn’t alone on the court and that she can always rely on her sister, junior Rebecca Landau.
“Sometimes I feel like everyone is relying on me to win the game, but then I remember that I always have her to help me out,” she said.
Likewise, Rebecca said that her sister pushes her to be a better basketball player, especially through her impressive work ethic.
“When I’m too tired to crawl out of bed, she’s already at the JCC working on her skills,” the elder Landau said. “Being 5’2” doesn’t give her a big advantage in basketball, which forces her to work even harder. It’s amazing how she never gives up and pushes herself towards incredibly high standards.”
After just one season, it is clear that Landau will continue to succeed, both on the court and off. Still, it’s not just the success that drives Landau. Even now, she said she still loves sports for the same reason as when she first began.
  “Mostly, I just play sports because I find them very fun.”

A Beggar and a Chooser

Nina Robins ‘19

The monumental Paris Mideast Peace Conference, discussing the parameters of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, concluded on Sunday, January 15. This conference marked a diplomatic milestone – for the first time in recorded history, the Palestinian Authority, represented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was a willing partner for peace.
And the Israeli government was not.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the conference outright, claiming that “it was coordinated between the French and the Palestinians with the aim of imposing upon Israel conditions that are incompatible with our national needs.”
Netanyahu and his government were indubitably aggravated by the swamp of past United Nations resolutions condemning Israel disproportionately to frequent violators of human rights and international law. In addition, after failed mediated peace talks in April 2014, Israel’s administration voiced their disapproval in partaking in any negotiations that were not bilateral.
This is a severe miscalculation on Netanyahu’s part. In whose mind are strictly bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians currently feasible?
Conversely, mediated negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have experienced far greater success. The most prominent example is the 1993 Oslo Accords, officiated by former United States President Bill Clinton, between then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. The agreement outlined a gradual Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank, which has since been partially realized.
The Accords were incredibly flawed, as evidenced by their failure to end Israeli military presence and ensure lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. However, they and negotiations like them have developed a lasting framework for peace far beyond the parameters of solely bilateral negotiations.
Likewise, the Paris peace talks and multi-party conferences similar to them, are imperative in ensuring permanent cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.
Obviously, strictly bilateral discussions are the ideal solution, but given the past and current tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, such meetings are unrealistic. The conference in Paris was a fantastic step in the right direction toward peace and the Netanyahu administration erred when denying it.
At the Paris conference, 70 countries convened to discuss prospects for peace with full support of the Palestinian Authority.
“We praise the role of President (Francois) Hollande and the French government in organizing this international conference, and we call upon the participants to take concrete measures in order to implement international law and UN resolutions,” Abbas said.
He and other world leaders reached out their hands in an unprecedented gesture of cooperation and Netanyahu refused the embrace because the offer did not meet his high standards. This rejection makes Netanyahu no better than past Palestinian governments that have rejected Israeli peace offers and instead demanded unfeasible land swaps and terrorist exchanges.
Netanyahu’s hypocrisy only serves to injure Israel’s public relations and give the world yet another justification to baselessly discriminate against it. Surrounded by enemies on its borders and on the international sphere, Israel is not in a secure position of expression where it can choose whether or not to support certain diplomatic procedures. Condemnation of negotiations of any kind will only fuel more anti-Israel sentiments from its opponents.
Although unfair, Israel is villainized more than any other country and is therefore held to a high standard when compromising with any party, especially the Palestinians. Israel usually meets and exceeds these expectations, as the failure to do so would only exacerbate its already weak global appeal.
Such is the case with Netanyahu’s failure to seize the opportunity for negotiation and reaffirm Israel’s position as a viable partner for peace. In order to ensure any semblance of international support of Israel in the future, Netanyahu must engage in productive discussion whenever it presents itself, however unwillingly and however bleak and flawed these prospects may be.
If not, the world can expect this dramatic role reversal between Israeli and Palestinian peace initiatives to become the norm.

Trump’s Alternative Truths

David Wingens ‘19

The book of Proverbs is full of witty one-liners for every occasion and President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the subsequent series of events was certainly no exception.
A line from Proverbs 17:7 encapsulates what many are thinking about the beginning of the Trump administration: “Eloquent words are not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler.”
This verse rings as true today as it did when King Solomon wrote it 3000 years ago, except that it seems that the line has been blurred. If President Trump does not want to be seen as  foolish, he cannot mislead his constituents to make sure his ego stays intact.
Trump did exactly this when he sent Press Secretary Sean Spicer to overtly lie to the press about the size of his crowds at the inauguration, claim that it was the biggest crowd to ever attend an inauguration and then proceed to refuse questions from the press.
Spicer told these “alternative facts” not to protect our national security or to ultimately benefit the American people, but because Trump does not like to lose and his ego was threatened by the millions of women around the country and the world overshadowing his crowd at inauguration, which was objectively smaller than the last two inauguration crowds and the nationwide Women’s March protest.
Trump’s first event on his first full day as president was a visit to the CIA, where he gave a short speech. In this short speech, which probably should have consisted of nothing more than praise for the intelligence community and a promise to support them, he managed to talk about many topics that had nothing to do with intelligence and seemed also to be lacking an identifiable focal point.
One of these topics was, once again, the crowd size at his inauguration. He said that it “looked like a million and a half people.” Perhaps he was not aware, but there are people who specialize in approximating crowd sizes and according to them, it was in the hundreds of thousands, not millions.
The lies, however, did not end at crowd size; he also blamed his feud with the intelligence community on the “crooked media”. He claimed that it was not real and was simply a creation of the media, despite the fact that he tweeted “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” and several other antagonistic tweets directed towards the CIA and broader intelligence community.
These first public words from the Trump administration are not promising. Already, they have told more “alternative facts” than real ones, which shows a deep disrespect for the American people, who deserve the truth and not a continuous stream of fabrications and exaggerations from the nation’s highest office.

The Darker Side of Football

Gidi Fox ‘19

Every year, the American public is captivated by the thrilling sport of football. They love the excitement of incredible catches, spectacular defensive plays and games that come down to the very last throw or field goal attempt. However, hidden underneath the excitement and drama that fans of all ages love is the reality of an organization that constantly fines its players unnecessarily, lacks concern for their health and values itself and its brand over the players that serve it: the National Football League.
Over the past few seasons, there has been an increasing feeling that the NFL does not care for its players as much as it cares for its reputation and profits and has been cracking down not on actions that endanger players,but on actions that endanger its own brand.
A perfect example of this was when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown scored a touchdown this season and then proceeded to perform a sexual gesture. He was fined $10,000 for making sexual references on national television.
Brown’s punishment makes sense; he was setting a bad example for young kids who watch football and undoubtedly look up to him as a role model. It makes sense that the NFL had to make it clear that they do not endorse this kind of behavior and it is understandable that they wanted to protect their brand from this kind of association.
What does not make sense is Brown was fined almost $2,000 more for this than he was for kicking another player in the head.
In 2014 on a punt return, Brown kicked then-Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning in the face. Fortunately, Lannings was able to walk off the field uninjured, but was lucky he did not suffer permanent brain damage.
That the NFL would fine someone more because he made the league look bad than they would if  he almost permanently injured a person by kicking him in the head is alarming.
Another time the NFL issued an over the top punishment was during this past NFL season when the league suspended Buffalo Bills right tackle Seantrel Henderson for 10 games without pay for using marijuana.
Again, on the surface that makes sense; the NFL’s substance abuse rules state that marijuana is banned and Henderson clearly violated this rule.
But upon further investigation, a crucial point stands out: Henderson was using medicinal marijuana prescribed to him by a doctor as a painkiller for two surgeries related to Crohn’s disease.
For over two months, a man went without pay because of something he had to do to combat the pain of having more than 60 inches of his intestines removed.
If that does not cause longtime fans to pause in their tracks, there is also the fact that the NFL fails to look out for the health of players and even pushes back against and distorts research on the dangers of football to players’ brains.
Many players who have played for the NFL have suffered so many concussions that they now have permanent brain damage. Some, such as Bo Jackson have even said that they would not have played football if they had know the health risks.
None of this is to say that football, its fans, and even the NFL are entirely bad. Football is an incredible sport that has offered hope and joy to fans of all ages in times of difficulty and allowed the country to come together during times of extreme division.
It is only to point out that NFL does not treat its players, who dedicate their entire lives to football, with the decency and respect that they deserve. It is not right that players who make such incredible plays in front of the fans on gameday are treated so badly when the cameras are off and the fans are not watching.

How to Succeed Without Really Trying, The Class of '17 Way

Lindsay Biebelberg ‘17

Dear Class of 2018,

You have just taken the reigns from us and assumed your new role role as the oldest grade in school. You have got big shoes to fill, though; there is no grade quite like ours. You’re now the bosses; the captains; the head honchos; the big cheeses. There may be 56 of you, but that alone does not mean it will be easy to match our group of 34.
We’ve been told we have “outstanding qualities,” which “you wouldn't expect at first since there's so few of [us].”
We’ve been told we are “really good people.”
Perhaps most relevant to this piece, we’ve been told that people will “miss [us] when [we] are gone.”
Clearly, we have left our mark on the school and have managed to make it look effortless. In an effort to help you get started, here are some simple, yet foolproof tips to ensure that you too can leave a lasting legacy:

  1. Put cucumbers all over the walls. Really. “Why would we ever do that?” you ask. Counter argument: Why not?
  2. Lose all of the color wars. I’m not telling you to just miss first place – you need to come in last, every time. Without fail.
  3. Make sure to promote anything and everything in which you are involved excessively and without shame. Throw in some puns or rhymes while you’re at it.
  4. Sick of each other? Befriend your teachers!
  5. This one is multi-step: First, find an empty locker; next, buy individually packaged snacks; third, put said snacks into the aforementioned empty locker; finally – bam! – you’ve got yourself an instant snack closet!
  6. Always propose your good ideas. The grade below you will most certainly benefit from them.
  7. Around one third of your grade should show up to school on Senior Skip Day. You will get asked questions such as, “Why aren’t you sleeping?”, “Why are you here?”, and “What’s wrong with you?”, but you can’t make your mark if you aren’t in school to do it!
  8. Leaving things for the last minute is key. Close deadlines always make things more interesting.
  9. Finally, don’t take yourselves too seriously.

Good luck!

The Class of 2017

The Stresses of Midterms

Emily Saperstein ‘18

It’s that time of year again. Midterms season is upon the student body and the stress-filled atmosphere has filled the halls. Although teachers prepare their students well for these tests and school policies ensure we have enough time to study, the weeks leading up to these exams can be daunting ones, especially for those who have never taken this type of assessment before.
“I was incredibly stressed out for midterms during my freshman year since I had never studied for five subjects so intensely at once before,” junior Dina Doctoroff said. “I eventually gave up trying to organize my study time and just crammed for everything at once, leading me to become even more nervous once the tests came along.”
Although students’ initial reactions can be extreme, after gaining more experience with these tests throughout their high school careers, many people have gradually developed effective strategies for studying for midterms and don’t see these tests as being nearly as frightening as before. Especially when considering the actual value of midterms in a student’s semester grade, the situation can be put into perspective.
“I definitely see the tests as less important now, but I still prepare for them as I would any big test,” junior Alissa Lampert explained. “I think I just figured out how little 10 percent of my grade really is and as long as I know I studied, the grade doesn't matter as much.”
Although the minimal value of midterms in contribution to students’ final grades can often be comforting, this fact has lead many students to question whether or not midterms are necessary in the context of our school. Since they count for so little – and really only affect those that are on the cusp of two grades – should they really still be required?
Junior Alex Beigelman doesn’t think so.
“Midterms are worth just enough to hurt someone's grade but very, very rarely does a midterm ever help boost a student's grade,” he said. “Therefore, I believe midterms are a real waste of time and energy. We could be using those weeks to cover more material, but instead we have to take hours upon hours to prepare for tests that are nothing more than a nuisance.”
Fellow junior, Sophia Heimowitz, agreed with Beigelman’s assertions.
“I understand the importance of remembering work from the beginning of the year and that retaining information is necessary to truly learn it, but I also don’t know if midterms are the best option,” she said. “I can’t suggest another way, but as my years in high school go by, I find that my interest and preparedness levels for the tests have fallen considerably.”
Although a major source of anxiety for many students, there are definitely some positive things that come along with midterms. Many students enjoy the long breaks in between tests, especially taking advantage of the open campus privileges that are offered during this time to go out to lunch with friends and even bring back some surprise presents for their teachers.
With these positive opportunities readily available to students during this stressful period, people are able to relax a little bit, something that is often long overdue for hardworking GOA students. Additionally, no matter what the ultimate results, some students look forward to finishing their tests and are eager to end the semester with a good attitude.
“I definitely was a lot more stressed for midterms during my first year of high school,” sophomore Sophie Goldman said, “but this year I almost looked forward to them since it meant we would have a break from our workloads and would have a new start in the second semester. It’s nice to finish a midterm and know that you’re done with the class for the semester, and that your work has paid off.”

Yalla Bye

Annie Cannon ‘17

As the lockers slam shut and a new mural joins the collection on the walls, the GOA Class of 2017 is beginning the new adventures of Neshama and internships. However, as they eagerly jump into these exciting, new experiences, they cannot help but look back at their amazing years at GOA with a smile.
Known as the grade that could never win a Spirit Week competition, the Class of 2017 is actually a grade of many talents.
The senior class boasted incredible athletes in cross country, girls and boys volleyball, girls and boys soccer, swimming, girls and boys basketball and girls lacrosse. Aside from their amazing skills, the seniors were true leaders on their teams, serving as captains and role models.
The Class of 2017 was also very involved in STEM activities, with dedicated members of the CodeRunners and the Science Olympiad team.
The senior class contributed greatly to the Arts Department as well. With many talented actors and singers, this year’s seniors were featured in theatrical productions throughout high school, often playing principal roles. The Class of 2017 also played an instrumental role in the backstage and stage management crews in many productions, dedicating their time to costume, hair and makeup crew, house management, set crew and props mastery. Many were talented musicians that lent their talents to the pit band and Shul of Rock, or just entertained their classmates during lunch and free time. The senior class was also very involved in choir, with a strong group of 12 senior choir members always ready to serenade their classmates and served as section leaders and choir board members. Additionally, the Class of 2017 had representation on the Arts Council, planning Arts in Action night and serving the GOA community.
A truly passionate grade, the Class of 2017 had many trailblazers in the area of student activities, with many students leading and founding clubs and chugim. Throughout their time in high school, members of this year’s graduating class founded Tabletop Gaming Chug, Board Games Club, Sign Language Chug, Military Awareness Club and the Breast Cancer Awareness Club. The Class of 2017 could always be found in student activity meetings, whether with the Community Clothing Club, the Science Enrichment Club, the Current Events Club, NHS, Student Council, or Israel Club. Seniors truly put their argumentative skills to use, with many joining Model United Nations and Mock Trial. A grade with many passionate writers, the class of 2017 had many participants in The Flame as well as Nuts ‘n Raisins.
Whether they've been at GOA since pre-k or ninth grade, the Class of 2017 has loved their experiences at GOA. They are extremely grateful for the amazing opportunities and experiences that GOA has given them and look forward to the new adventure that the second semester brings.

2017: The Year of the Unicorn

Aaron Lavitsky ‘19
To understand this year’s National Basketball Association season, you must first know what a unicorn is.
No, not the majestic beasts with horns and rainbows trailing behind them, but rather the “majestic beasts” of the NBA. A unicorn, in basketball terms, is something that no NBA fan has seen before – something so new and different that may be imitated, but will never replicated.
In context, some all time NBA greats like Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas or Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade are not unicorns. Although they have achieved immeasurable greatness and success in their careers, their games were not so unique that players could not replicate them.
Examples of NBA greats that can be considered “unicorns” are Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (the sky hook), Charles Barkley (6’6” 250 pound point forward who ran like a guard) and Magic Johnson (a 6’8” point guard and leader). These players’ games may be imitated – one might say that Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is the new, Greek version of Johnson and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is a more modern version of Barkley – but never replicated.
It is easy to miss out on all the unicorn-esque nuances in this year’s NBA season watching from a distance. Even in a season in which the inevitable Warriors-Cavaliers Finals rematch dominates headlines, there are so many interesting storylines that NBA fans have never seen before.
The James Harden point guard experiment, which has now been deemed a game-changing success, is one of these nuances in the league this year. The Houston Rockets guard shifted positions under the same coach, Mike D’Antoni, that helped legend Steve Nash win two MVP trophies in Phoenix and the Rockets haven’t looked back since. The Rockets have the third best record in the entire league.
The D’Antoni system has served as the prime example of the “pace and space” era of basketball, and both the Rockets and Harden have thrived because of it. Harden is currently third in points per game (29.1) and first in assists per game (11.3). The emergence of this system in this year’s NBA season has been unicorn-esque – like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
There have been many other unicorn-ish talents and performances around the league this season. Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia 76ers rookie center Joel Embiid, Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis highlight the list of young players bridging the gap between the old era of basketball and the new.
Embiid, Porzingis, Towns and Davis are the new mold of big men – players who can finish in the paint, shoot the basketball and play defense.
Antetokounmpo, however, is the definitive unicorn of this generation. His ability to play all positions, including point guard, while standing at 6’11”, is something that no one has seen before.
The Greek Freak is also a great example for foreign players everywhere. Most people can undisputedly say that Antetokounmpo is the best Greek player ever. He was passed up on by many teams in the draft and was considered too raw of a prospect to succeed in the NBA. He is now one of the best all around players in the league and could dominate the NBA for the next 10 years.
One of the most exciting storylines this season has been the triple double. The most triple doubles ever recorded in a single NBA season before this year was 48; there have already been 66 this season and we have only just returned from the All Star break.
The main reason for this is guard Russell Westbrook. The Oklahoma City Thunder guard has a chance to be the first player since Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson to average a triple double. His current per game averages are 31.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.2 assists.
Westbrook also leads the league in scoring and is having one of the greatest individual seasons anyone has ever seen, thrusting him into MVP honors contention alongside Harden, his former Thunder backcourt mate. By carrying his team every night, he has elevated the Kevin Durant-less Thunder into playoff contention. Westbrook exemplifies the nature of this NBA season – like nothing we have ever seen before and something we may never see again.

The King of the Fourth

Corey Blum ‘18
Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, also known as “The King of the Fourth,” is having a career year.
The 5’9” former University of Washington Husky has dominated the fourth quarter this season, garnering him the admiration of the league’s best. He has become the talk of the National Basketball Association and is called on frequently to make game-changing plays. Thomas is averaging a league-leading 10 points per game in the fourth quarter. When the fourth quarter starts, Boston knows it’s Thomas time.
Not only have his fourth quarter results been spectacular, but his 29.9 points per game average is behind only Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. The last Celtic to average 29.9 points per game for an entire season was Larry Bird, one of the all-time great NBA players.
Thomas has become what the Celtics have been looking for since they traded franchise legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Even if Thomas’ impressive statistics weren’t enough, he is doing it all standing many inches below his peers. He is an example of heart over height and has led Boston to the second seed in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thomas made his second consecutive All-Star game this year. Although he wasn’t a starter, he certainly deserved the honor, as he earned the most votes of all guards from the coaches and the second most votes from the players.
The reason he wasn’t named a starter was because he came in third in the fan vote. If Westbrook and Rockets guard James Harden were not each having such exceptional years, Thomas would likely be in the MVP conversation. As it stands, Thomas has been named Eastern Conference player of the week twice and player of the month once and is ranked fifth in MVP voting.
Last season, Thomas was doubted by many critics who wondered if he was good enough to be a superstar. As his game has improved, Thomas has put the haters to rest. Cavaliers forward LeBron James even said, “ [The Celtics] got a clear-cut star and that's Isaiah.”
Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, who was an MVP and prolific scorer, is one of Thomas’ biggest fans. The former 76ers point guard endorsed Thomas for the All-Star game; being six feet tall, Iverson understands the difficulties of being small.
Thomas has overcome a lot of doubt to become one of the most electric scorers in the league. His clutch nature has made him one of the most exciting to watch in the NBA. Thomas has an opportunity to become a Celtics legend; an incredible honor, as the Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in history.

The Best, Underrated and Overrated Rap Albums of 2016

Aryeh Lande ‘18

Top 5 Albums:
  1. “Coloring Book” – Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper, born Chancelor Johnathan Bennett in Chicago, is perhaps the greatest artist of 2016 – period. “Coloring Book” is a true testament to the rapper’s dominance in the music industry. His first album, “Acid Rap,” was considered an artistic experiment by many with its slow beats and soulful style. Now, with “Coloring Book,” Chance solidified his stake in the form he came to represent, bringing Chicago gospel music into mainstream rap culture. The fusion between typical beats and choral singing turned out magnificently and “Coloring Book” broke records, becoming the first digital-only album to win a Grammy. The musical style, mixed with lyrically clever bars, turns “Coloring Book” into something special. It offers such a wide variety of songs from hype music to calming renditions. Not only does Chance shine on this musical exploration, but also the rapper was able to revive the names of the past with appearances by sages of rap like 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, while utilizing singers like Justin Bieber and new age rapper Lil Yachty to create a diverse project. All in all, this album is nothing short of excellence.
  1. “The Life of Pablo” – Kanye West
What is there left to say about Kanye West that hasn't already been said by West himself? After a three-year hiatus from releasing music, the eccentric rapper, hailing from Chicago, lived up to the hype with the release of “The Life of Pablo.” Though it started off as a mess of controversial lyrics and antics, the album grew in popularity. After it was slowly digested by the public, a smashing hit emerged through all the craziness. It encapsulates West’s style and personality, with each track taking you through the mind of West and the brilliance that exists within. The man is all over the place, taking credit for Taylor Swift’s success, bringing Ray J into the mix, speaking about himself in the third person and having some moments of sincere contemplation, all to perfection; you can see why he lives up to his self-proclaimed title, a “creative genius.”
  1. “Bobby Tarantino” – Logic
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Why should I care about Logic?” Well, you should. This past year, Logic released his latest album in an attempt to follow the success of his previous album “The Incredible True Story.” In “Bobby Tarantino,” Logic is dedicated to getting away from the sci-fi world associated with him, bringing the story back to his roots. Much of the album grapples with his struggles as a mixed race child growing up in Baltimore. At the same time, Logic’s sense of fun and humor poured across the album with skits, giving dedicated fans nostalgic longings for past mixtapes. Unwavering, Logic’s flow dominated the reviews of commentators, as he proved why he deserves a place at the table of greats. Most importantly though, in 2016 Logic droppedFlexecution,” one of his best produced pieces to date. With its beat, vibes and overall quality, this album is a solid winner. It may never see Grammy nomination, but it does outdo every other manufactured rap artist and trap producer on the market.
  1. “4 Your Eyez Only” – J. Cole
On the heels of his own success, Jermaine Cole took an extreme risk with the release of this album. Much like Childish Gambino, Cole turned to a more soulful medium rather than sticking to his iconic hard style. Unlike Gambino, however, Cole took a quantum leap forward in his progression as an artist. The album unlocks a personal side to Cole. No, there are no club beats or hype tracks on this album, and yes, reviewers have a point in critiquing the lack of mass appeal of the album. Still, this album does not need a hit single, nor do critiques of its content seem to understand the album as a whole. It is an intensely meaningful meditation on death, society and the meaning of fame. The album is a work of art. Individually, the songs are nothing, but collectively the album speaks bounds, highlighting the weaknesses of an A-list rapper in an oddly twisted manner. What reads more like a vulgarity-filled poem for an AP English class is really an intentionally unsettling piece, blending Cole’s genius with his sensitivities.
  1. “Views” – Drake
Perhaps Drake is overplayed, and perhaps we’re sick of hearing his antics across the media, but the man can sell albums. No list of 2016 albums would be complete without “Views,” the album that brought you “Controlla,” “One Dance” and “Too Good.” Using catchy beats and a simple lyrical structure, Drake touches on mainstream issues, not really changing the music scene through content, but rather quality. Drake’s consistency and ability to make features flourish brings him to fifth on this list.   
“Prima Donna” – Vince Staples
With “Prima Donna,” the virtually-unheard-of rapper released his third album. Shaped by his roots as a Crip from Long Beach, C.A., Staples reminds us why he was named a 2015 XXL Freshman. His high-octane flow over a strong bass will leave your heart pounding. Maybe his lack of lyrical talent keeps him from rising to the top, but regardless, the dude’s energy shines through his pieces. Each song sounds like a new attack on a microphone, mixed with the creativity only military-grade LSD has been known to produce. Which may be surprising, considering the hardcore gangster is openly against the consumption of alcohol and other drugs after seeing its devastating effects on his childhood community. With notable features like A$AP Rocky, the album has the potential to thrive. Maybe not so deep in content, but it deserves much more exposure than it currently receives.   
“Islah” – Kevin Gates
He’s not the Nickleback of rap, but Kevin Gates is the most overrated rapper ever to grace the scene in the past decade. His lack of talent is astounding compared to his peers. His XXL Freshman freestyle was a failure – unsurprisingly – and his crutch of rapping autotuned, meaningless lyrics will catch up with him. There is no way he deserves the acclaim he has been receiving. “Lyrically disappointing” and “talent-parched” are adjectives never associated with good rap.

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