TIME golf

Michael Jordan Doesn’t Think Much of President Obama’s Golf Skills

Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets
Streeter Lecka—Getty Images Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets, watches on during their game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena on October 29, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

His Airness thinks he would destroy Obama on the green

Basketball great Michael Jordan has never played golf with President Barack Obama — but if he ever does, he thinks it would be a walk in the park.

“I’d take him out,” Jordan said Thursday, in a video interview with sportscaster Ahmad Rashad. “He’s a hack. It would be all day playing with him.”

When asked if he could play golf with anyone in the world, Jordan chose golfing great Arnold Palmer and the President. Though he’d likely struggle against Palmer, he had no such worries about Obama. “I never said he wasn’t a great politician,” Jordan went on to say. “I’m just saying he’s a s*** golfer.”

Those are some bold words about POTUS. But the 14-time NBA All-Star is known for his hyper-competitive streak on and off the golf course. Sports Illustrated‘s Rick Reilly once reported that after Jordan lost a game of golf to U.S. Olympic coach Chuck Daly, he got up the next morning and pounded on Daly’s hotel room door until the Dream Team coach agreed to a rematch. Jordan won.

TIME Sports

How Muhammad Ali Won the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’

Rumble in the Jungle illustration
Illustration for TIME by Robert Handeville An illustration from TIME's Sept. 23, 1974, fight preview

The historic fight took place 40 years ago, on Oct. 30, 1974

When TIME sent Nairobi Bureau Chief Lee Griggs to Kinshasa in 1974 to preview the Oct. 30 boxing match that became known as “The Rumble in the Jungle,” it seemed clear that the winning money was not on the favorite. The bout between reigning champion George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, who had previously lost the title after refusing to be drafted into the military, came with the biggest purse in sports history. Both boxers were guaranteed at least $5 million but — though boxing fans worldwide, and especially in the country then called Zaire, were rooting hard for Ali — it seemed clear that Foreman would be the one going home with the title. He was younger and strong and on a winning streak. He would back Ali into the ropes, where the older boxer’s footwork would do no good. TIME’s sports editor Philip Taubman predicted that the result would be Foreman in six.

When the fight actually went down — 40 years ago Thursday, after a delay of about a month from its originally planned September date — that did not happen. Though Foreman went after Ali just as predicted, the results were far from what had been expected.

Here’s what did happen, as TIME reported in the Nov. 11, 1974, issue:

Then, in the second round, the bee unexpectedly threw away the tactics of his entire career. Off his toes and seemingly off his rocker, Ali stood along the ropes, exactly where Foreman wants an opponent to be. Indeed, with his customary authority, Foreman started pounding punches against Ali’s midsection. Some of Foreman’s blows glanced off Ali’s arms and gloves, and none hit Ali’s face, but it seemed to be only a matter of time before Ali’s belly would turn to pulp.

Astonishingly, Ali seemed hardly concerned. As the fiercest puncher since Sonny Liston whaled away, Ali shouted taunts at Foreman. “You can’t hurt me!” Ali yelled. “You punch like a sissy.” Soon it became clear that Ali had constructed a trap. All summer and fall he had been developing granite abdominal muscles with a grueling regimen of calisthenics, spending an hour every morning hardening his gut by doing sit-ups with his legs held up at a 45 degree angle or while his limbs were pumping back and forth in a bicycle-pedaling motion. Now he was simply letting Foreman punch himself out against that iron flesh. “I wanted to make him shoot his best shots,” said Ali later.

That is precisely what Foreman did. In the sultry tropical night (the temperature was 86° and the humidity about 90%), Foreman’s punches soon lost power. Arm weary, he began to swing wildly, frequently missing entirely, spinning around on his own momentum like a worn-out drunk. Ali took advantage of Foreman’s slack defense by springing off the ropes time after time to jolt the bone-tired champ with lightning combinations to the head.

By giving up on the “floating like a butterfly” that had made his career, Muhammad Ali won the match in the eighth round.

Read TIME’s run-up to the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ here, in the archives: Violent Coronation in Kinshasa

TIME Baseball

Dynasty! San Francisco Giants Win It All

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven
Jamie Squire—Getty Images The San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Oct. 29, 2014

Madison Bumgarner finishes off the best pitching performance ever in a World Series, giving the San Francisco Giants their third World Series win in five years

Three World Series titles in five years? Yes, let’s give the San Francisco Giants their due. The Giants somewhat quietly won the 2010 and 2012 Fall Classics, beating the Texas Rangers in five games the first time, then sweeping the Detroit Tigers two years ago. But now that they’ve beaten the Kansas City Royals in a compelling Series that went the distance — the Giants nipped the Royals 3-2 in a nail-biting Game 7 — it’s time we revere the Giants, like we revere the late-90s New York Yankees, or even all those Atlanta Braves teams that won year after year, even though they only won a single World Series. Send Giants manager Bruce Bochy to the Hall of Fame.

Going into the 2014 World Series, many analysts dubbed the San Francisco-Kansas City matchup the “small-ball” series. And although there were some decidedly big-ball scores, like Kansas City putting up 10 runs in Game 6, and San Francisco scoring 11 in a Game 4 win, Game 7 fit the script. The Giants executed small-ball to perfection: they scored two runs on two sacrifice flies in the second inning. In the fourth, with the score tied at 2-2, big Pablo Sandoval advanced to third on a flyout to left field — left field! Pablo Sandoval! — and then scored the deciding run on a Michael Morse single.

And oh, how the Giants pitched. Well, starter Tim Hudson only lasted 1 2/3 innings, but Jeremy Affeldt, normally a late-inning guy, stopped any bleeding. Then came Madison Bumgarner in the fifth. No pitcher in history had a World Series like Bumgarner. He gave up one run in Game 1. He pitched a shutout on Sunday night. And here, on two days rest, Bumgarner had five more shutout innings in him. This, in an era of specialization, when pitchers just aren’t supposed to stretch their arms like Bumgarner did. Nuts, really. Crazy.

Bumgarner got some help in his first inning. Omar Infante hit a single to right, and Royals manager Ned Yost had the next batter, Alcides Escobar, sacrifice bunt on a 2-0 count. Bumgarner looked so shaky, but the charity out seemed to settle him down. Yosted.

And oh, how the Giants fielded. After Escobar’s bunt, Norichika Aoki sliced a line drive down the left field line. It smelled like a double. But Juan Perez was positioned perfectly, and he made a beautiful running catch. And two innings earlier, with a man on first and no outs, Giants second baseman Joe Panik dove to catch a grounder, flipped it to shortstop Brandon Crawford with his glove, and Crawford threw it on to first. The ump said Eric Hosmer was safe, but then after a replay review that should not have lasted as long as it did, Hosmer was ruled out. An unforgettable double play.

But it’s Bumgarner who we’ll always remember from this World Series. After Bumgarner retired 14 straight Royals, Alex Gordon hit a fly ball to center with two out in the bottom of the ninth: it tricked by San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco, who misjudged it. Perez chased it down at the wall, then bobbled it. Was Gordon going to tie up Game 7 on a ninth-inning, two-out inside-the-park home run? No, but he got all the way to third.

But then Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to hit a pop up in foul territory, off third: Sandoval squeezed it and fell to the ground. Giants win. Unforgettable ending. Unforgettable pitcher. Unforgettable team.

Read next: The 7 Greatest Trick Plays in Sports Movie History

TIME Baseball

World Series Game 7 Will be a Bullpen Battle

Kelvin Herrera of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on Oct. 15, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Ed Zurga—Getty Images Kelvin Herrera of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on Oct. 15, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Forget about the starting pitchers: The deciding game of the World Series may rest on the arms of Kansas City's bullpen trio and San Francisco's ace in relief

The Kansas City Royals are one game away from winning the World Series.

You know that baseball has had a spectacular postseason if you can write that sentence with a straight face. A franchise that for so many years wasn’t worth thinking about, that represented the big-market/small-market chasm that ruptured the game after the 1994 baseball strike, is really that close to a championship. You might not like Bud Selig, who is retiring as baseball’s commissioner early next year. And his baby, revenue redistribution from the richer teams to poorer ones like Kansas City, might not be a tonic for the Royals and their small-market brethren, as he’d like fans to believe. But those extra dollars haven’t hurt Kansas City. And if Selig hands out his last World Series trophy to the Royals, you’ve got to admit, that’s one hell of a way for him to go out.

Since 1979, nine World Series have gone the distance to a seventh game. In that time, no home team has lost a Game 7. So besides any residual good vibes from Tuesday night’s 10-0 Game 6 blowout of the Giants, the Royals have a bit of history on their side. The starting pitchers Wednesday are Jeremy Guthrie for Kansas City, and Tim Hudson for San Francisco. But if fans get lucky, the starters won’t have much of an impact on the game. No, for this game to be a classic, it needs to come down to a bullpen duel between Kansas City’s excellent—and rested—trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, and Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco’s dominant (but not quite as rested) starting pitcher who will be available in the pen tonight. Bumgarner totally shut down the Royals in Game 1 and Game 5. Can he make like Randy Johnson in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, and provide spot relief duty in the series-clinching game?

It’s only fitting for a small-ball series to come down to late-inning pitching.

Game 7s are all too rare in baseball. This is just the second World Series to go the distance since 2002. The Royals aren’t likely to win again easily. The Giants are going for their third title in five seasons: They have a dynasty at stake. The teams are too evenly-matched. From the beginning, pundits said this series had seven games written all over it, and for once, the pundits were correct.

Kansas City, and its bullpen fireballers, just need to close it out.

TIME Baseball

Jose Canseco Rushed to Hospital After Accidentally Shooting Himself in Hand

The former baseball star was reportedly cleaning his handgun when it went off, taking out most of his left middle finger

Former baseball star Jose Canseco was reportedly rushed into surgery late Tuesday after accidentally shooting himself in the finger at his Las Vegas home.

The former Oakland Athletics outfielder, who retired from the sport in 2001, was cleaning his handgun when it went off and was taken to University Medical Center, KLAS-TV Las Vegas first reported.

Canseco’s fiancée Leila Knight told the Los Angeles Times that doctors have already said he will never have full use of his left hand again. Knight said the middle finger of his left hand, which the bullet hit, would either have to be amputated or undergo full reconstruction surgery.

“I heard the gun go off and saw his middle finger hanging by a string,” she said.

Knight also took to the former player’s official Twitter account to update fans and well-wishers, saying he was still in surgery around 8.45 p.m. local time, soon after his daughter Josie used the social media site to let people know he was “safe and recovering.”

TIME Baseball

With World Series Game 6 Out of Hand Quickly, All Eyes Turn to Game 7

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Six
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images Tim Collins of the Kansas City Royals celebrates after defeating the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, on Oct. 28, 2014

Game 7 of the 2014 World Series started before Game 6 could find the door

KANSAS CITY — Eric Hosmer was asked how it feels to force Game 7 of the World Series, and what that feels like, and could he describe how it feels and explain his feelings, and nobody seemed to notice the bucket. It was at the Royals’ first baseman’s feet. It is silver. It sits between Hosmer’s locker and Terrance Gore’s. It holds three bottles of champagne and a bottle of Johnnie Walker. People have been sending liquor throughout this postseason. Hosmer has been saving it for the end.

The end is hours away.

Giants-Royals, Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, Wednesday night. If this doesn’t make you tingle, at least a little, then you have no use for baseball and probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote next week.

The anticipation began earlier than usual; in a sense, Game 7 of the 2014 World Series started before Game 6 could find the door. This is what happens when the home team, trailing the series 3-2, puts up seven runs in the second inning, as the Royals did. Everybody starts thinking about tomorrow night. Royals fans celebrated without worry. Giants fans threw out Game 6 like a piece of damaged fruit, knowing they could immediately reach for the next one.

Mostly, the managers knew they wouldn’t have to use their best relievers in Game 6, and that is one of many reasons this Game 7 is shaping up to be an epic. The Royals have a rested Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland lurking in the bullpen. The Giants have starter Madison Bumgarner, who could finish one of the best postseasons ever with some relief dominance on two days rest. Bumgarner doesn’t just have the Royals’ number. He has their bank accounts and e-mail passwords, and he changes the code on their garage-door openers because it amuses him.

With every Game 7 strike, each team will get a little closer to a seemingly unsolvable pitching force. When Hosmer was asked about the possibility of facing the new Mr. Octob(umgarn)er, he said, “Hopefully we have a lead before we get to him. That’s all I can say.” You can be sure the Giants are thinking the same thoughts about Herrera, Davis and Holland.

It should come down to those pitchers, throwing noise and fury, and that would be a nice change. What is worth saying about Game 6? Giants starter Jake Peavy had a rough go, which is not surprising because he has quietly been one of the worst postseason performers in all of sports. (Peavy now has a 7.98 playoff ERA, astounding for a guy who won a Cy Young award.) The Royals are resilient, but we knew that, too. They were assumed dead in their Wild-Card game against the A’s until they get up and punched the coroner in the face.

Hosmer said he was hanging on every pitch, regardless of the score, because of the stakes. He even hit one after calling timeout (the Kauffman Stadium crowd was so loud, he didn’t realize the TO was granted), then hit one that counted, giving him the rare at-bat when he was 2-for-1, for a perfect 2.000 batting average.

That was a fitting moment in an unusual series. This has been a sequence of lopsided games between evenly matched teams. The winning margin was at least five runs in five of the six games, yet the Giants have scored 27 runs in this Series and the Royals have scored 25, and those numbers would be probably be dead-even if the Giants had let Hunter Strickland pitch to two more batters. Each team has scored in double-digits once and been shut out once.

Hosmer said he “wouldn’t mind a lopsided one,” but this World Series deserves better than that, and it sure feels like we’re going to get it.

World Series Games 7 are rare treats. Baseball has only had one since 2002: the CardinalsRangers tilt in 2011, which had a Cardinals-have-got-this feel the whole way because St. Louis had won Game 6 in preposterous, dramatic fashion, and teams that lose games like that rarely recover. (The Rangers actually took a 2-0 lead to start Game 7, but it evaporated by the end of the first inning.) Game 7 in 2002 had the same feel to it — the Giants blew a 5-0 lead in Game 6 and seemed destined to lose Game 7 in Anaheim, and they did.

But the three World Series Games 7 before that were among the most famous games in baseball history. There was Luis Gonzalez’s broken-bat Series-winning single against Mariano Rivera in 2001. There was Edgar Renteria’s walk-off single for the Marlins against Cleveland in 1997, which Hosmer watched from the stands in Miami. And there was Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout against John Smoltz and the Braves in 1991.

Home teams usually win, but that’s not guaranteed. Game 6 losers usually lose Game 7, but that probably doesn’t apply here, because it’s not like the Giants lost in excruciating fashion, and with titles in 2010 and 2012, they don’t carry a huge burden for their city.

Nobody knows who the hero will be this time. Nobody knows who will have a bat in his hand with runners on-base and the championship at stake, or who will be on the mound. That’s the beauty of baseball. We just know that Hosmer will either open that alcohol and enjoy it forever, or stand and answer questions next to the saddest little bucket in America.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Baseball

3 Reasons Why the Royals Can Still Win the World Series

World Series - Kansas City Royals v San Francisco Giants - Game Five
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images Kelvin Herrera of the Kansas City Royals leaves the game in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game Five of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

Just trust the puppet chicken

Sure, the San Francisco Giants are an excellent baseball team and possible dynasty and all that. But come on, how can you not root for the Kansas City Royals? The team that had the longest postseason drought in all of major North American pro sports—this was their first playoff appearance since 1985—is trailing 3-2 in the World Series, with Game 6 back in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday evening. The kind folks from western Missouri and Kansas and other plains states deserve a Royals triumph—remember, this team lost 100 games in four different seasons from 2002-2006.

Here’s why KC can still win two straight games and pull out the Series:

Bumgarner in the bullpen… naybe

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has a 2-0 record this World Series, with a 0.56 ERA. How good a World Series pitcher is Bumgarner? The best of all-time, by one measure: Among pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings in World Series play, Bumgarner has the lowest ERA at 0.29. (Jack Billingham of the Cincinnati Reds has the second lowest, 0.36, from 1972-1976). The good news for Kansas City: Bumgarner, who threw nine innings of shutout ball Sunday night, is not scheduled to start in Tuesday’s Game 6 or Wednesday’s Game 7, if it’s necessary. Bumgarner has said he’s available to pitch in relief. So the Royals better smack around the starters: Jake Peavy Tuesday, and Tim Hudson Wednesday if it gets to that. Or if they see Bumgarner, they need to pray that he’s tired.

Ghosts of ’85

Since Kansas City won its last title in 1985, on nine different occasions a team returned home for a World Series Game 6 trailing 3-2, and needing to win two straight to close things out. Seven out of those nine teams accomplished that tough task. The Roylas can rely on their history for inspiration. In 1985, the team was three outs away from being eliminated in Game 6. But with the help of umpire Don Denkinger, the Royals rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat St. Louis 2-1. Riding that momentum, the Royals smacked St. Louis 11-0 in the deciding Game 7. If Kansas City can win tonight, history is on its side for Game 7: Since 1985, no home team has won a Game 6 in a World Series to force a deciding Game 7, and then lost Game 7.

Listen to the chicken

So all the Royals have to do is get to Game 7, right? Well, Kansas City fans, take comfort: In lampooning the trend of animals predicting sporting events, late night talk show host Conan O’Brien has introduced Chikpea, the World Series Predicting Chicken. The low-budget chicken puppet uses sabermetrics to make her selections, and last week Chikpea correctly picked Kansas City to win Games 2 and 3. On Monday night, Chikpea returned to Conan, and said that the Roylas would win Game 6, too.

So the Royals are sitting pretty.

TIME Basketball

The NBA Has More International Players Than Ever

Tony Parker
Tony Gutierrez—AP San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker is one of a record number of international players as the NBA season opens

As the season opens, 37 countries will be represented on team rosters

For those worked up over foreigners taking American jobs, the National Basketball League can provide some fodder. The league announced Tuesday that 101 players from 37 countries, a new record, will be on NBA rosters at the season’s start. The NBA champion San Antonio Spurs have the most foreign players, nine, leading the league in that category for the third year. Their U.N. roster includes Frenchmen Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, two Australians, a Brazilian, a Canadian, an Italian and the big man from the small island, Tim Duncan, who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The league’s foreign legion is led by 12 Canadians, who apparently failed at their nation’s preferred winter sport. France provided 10 players, Australia eight and Brazil sent seven. There are also 13 players from the former Yugoslavia, as those hoop crazy nations such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia continue to embrace the game.

There are just 450 jobs on the NBA’s 30 teams, which means that foreign players now hold 22% of them, up from 10% in the 2000-2001 season. Globalization is a two-way street, though. At least 80 Americans are playing soccer for foreign clubs.

TIME

How the Shot Clock Saved Basketball

shot clock explanation
TIME From the Dec. 2, 1954, issue of TIME

Before the 24-second clock, teams trailing in the fourth quarter could never pull off a win

As the basketball season begins this week, it’s hard to imagine that 50 years ago the sport was in jeopardy. Potential fans could expect low-scoring games with lots of free throw shots, little contact and a very boring final quarter. A team with a small lead at the end of the game would hold the ball for as long as possible, essentially stopping play. The only thing the losing team could do was foul, which they did, and the final minutes of all close games would be drawn out into a free-throw shooting match. No quick layups, no desperation threes, no buzzer beaters. Just free throws.

How bad was it? In 1950, the Fort Wayne Pistons squeaked out a win against the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18, a score that today only occurs in middle school junior varsity games. In a playoff game—a playoff game—in 1954, Syracuse beat New York 75-69, and 75 of the points scored were from free throws.

Unsurprisingly, nobody was buying tickets to watch a sport with even less action than baseball. Desperate, owner of the Syracuse Nationals Danny Biasone came up with a plan: a shot clock. Each team would get 24 seconds to put up a shot. If they didn’t, they’d lose the ball. They rule was put in place for the 1954-1955 season.

It was immediately effective: NBA teams averaged 93.1 points that season, 13.6 more than the year before. “The new rule…has made the pro game a better, faster, more exciting sport,” TIME Magazine wrote in 1954. “Under the new rule, in some games this year a team that was behind in the last quarter has managed to pull out to win.” Imagine that!

But not everyone immediately took to the shot clock. “Some college coaches (freezing is still very much a part of the college game) are eying it with misgivings,” reported TIME. March Madness wouldn’t be very mad at all without that clock. Luckily, college teams came around.

So as you tune in to the Dallas Mavericks tipping off against reigning champions San Diego Spurs Tuesday night, thank Danny Biasone for saving the sport of basketball.

Read TIME’s 1998 cover story about Michael Jordan, here in the archives: The One and Only

TIME Basketball

Exclusive First Look: LeBron James’ Debut Car Ad

Can the NBA superstar sell $66,000 cars?

Two weeks ago, LeBron James and Kia announced that they had reached a multi-year endorsement agreement for the Kia K900, the auto company’s first official foray into the luxury market. The MSRP for the K900: $59,900. The fully-loaded VIP version costs $65,500. Here’s a first look at the debut commercial spot, which will air Tuesday night during TNT’s coverage of the NBA’s opening night games.

Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications for Kia Motors America, says the car is an attempt to “change America’s perception about what a Kia product is all about.” Kia’s most popular model, the Optima, is a midsize car. Chaney says Kia wasn’t in the market for new endorsers until James’ representatives called Kia after the K900 was first released earlier in the year. James was familiar with the Kia brand: the Seoul-based manufacturer has been the official auto partner of the NBA since 2008, and is expected to announce the renewal of its NBA deal on Tuesday.

James has received a Kia for winning each of his four MVP awards (he has donated the cars to charity). James liked the look of the K900, so his reps asked if Kia could send him one to drive around. “When LeBron James says he’s interested in your luxury sedan, you’re happy to leave a car with him,” says Chaney.

Chaney says his research found that James ranked in the top 1% of celebrity influencers, even for older, more affluent customers who typically buy luxury cars. “He pretty much transcends the NBA, and connects with everyone,” says Chaney. “It’s a natural fit for us.”

Is it a fit for James? This is his first car deal: he likely could have hooked up with more established luxury brands. “You don’t think that LeBron James and Kia go hand-in-hand,” says Ben Sturner, President and CEO of Leverage Agency, a sports marketing firm. “Mercedes, Lexus would seem to make more sense. But if you look a little deeper, there are clear benefits for him.” Kia advertises heavily during the NBA season, so the deal broadens his exposure even more. More importantly, if James can help Kia establish itself in the competitive luxury car market, it speaks to his power as an endorser. This can become the “LeBron car.”

LeBron may have a much harder time moving $66,000 Kias than winning games with his new team in Cleveland. Kia sold just 1,106 K900s in the U.S between March and September; BMW sold 32,081 of its 5-Series sedans during that period, while Mercedes moved 43,071 E-Class luxury cars. But it’s still very early in the game: the K900 just hit the market in March. And even if LeBron doesn’t sell the top-shelf stuff, Kia can benefit from a trickle-down effect.

“If LeBron James can drive a $66,000 Kia,” Sturner says, “it’s OK for someone else to drive the $18,000 one.”

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