37 Years Ago Today: 1980 USA Olympic Hockey’s Miracle on Ice

1980 Winter Olympic USA Hockey victory

On this day 37 years ago – February 22, 1980 – hockey’s Miracle on Ice happened.

It marked a national day of pride in America.

The 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team birthed a miracle in the highly competitive arena of international sports.

Known as the Miracle on Ice, an unlikely victory took place at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY and lifted America out of its funk.

 

During that precarious era in our nation’s history, the 1970s was a decade comprised of war protests, a Presidential scandal, and a troubling economy.

In the midst of those uncertain and depressing times, Americans were nervous and ripe for a miracle to lift their spirits.

And, then came along an unexpected special moment in sports history. The event produced one of the most amazing upsets the sports world has ever witnessed.

The 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team’s stunning win over the heavily favored Soviet Union National Hockey Team still stands as one of the greatest victories in the history of team sports.

This USA win remains an unforgettable highlight of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.

The semi-final match-up between the USA and the USSR not only paired two world super powers facing off against each other.

The game also featured a team of much younger American collegiate stars skating against older, better skilled and highly experienced Russians. These Russian players had been playing hockey professionally in Europe for many years.

The Soviets Dominated International Hockey

The legendary Soviets dominated international hockey. They captured gold medals at the four previous Winter Olympics and held claim to 14 of the past 17 World Hockey Championships.

The Soviets were major favorites. The scrappy Americans’ success in the semi-final would require a divine act to win.

Surprisingly, the Americans stayed close during the first two periods. Then, midway through the third period, the youthful Americans shocked the favored Russians. Captain Mike Eruzione found the back of the net past the Russian goalie and gave the USA a 4 – 3 lead.

The Russians found themselves trailing in the third period of this hockey game. They were unable to make up the American lead against a little known USA goalie named Jim Craig. Craig successfully turned back 30 shots that day against the otherwise superior Russians.

NBC Sportscaster Al Michaels, “Do You Believe in Miracles?”

With the Americans clinging to a one goal lead, the game clock slowly wound down. As the final buzzer sounded, legendary NBC sportscaster Al Michaels shouted, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

In the case of the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team, the unbelievable happened in Lake Placid, NY.

It became known as one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports.

This uplifting sports event that happened 37 years ago today will be forever remembered as the Miracle on Ice.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

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2 Cent Tuesday: Bye Bye, Boogie!

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Bye bye, Boogie!

Farewell, DeMarcus Cousins.

Sayonara, adios, auf wiedersehen, see ya!

Can we help you pack? Happy to see you go. Need a ride to the airport? Wow, the energy around here sure feels lighter.

That’s what Sacramento Kings fans are singing, chanting and discussing in Northern California.

After vehemently denying that they would never trade Kings’ gifted center DeMarcus Cousins, Owner Vivek Ranadive and General Manager Vlade Divac consummated a deal to send the mercurial All-Star to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Though many NBA fans think the Pelicans got the better deal in this transaction, I beg to differ. Distancing themselves from the immensely talented, ridiculously immature and painfully un-coachable Cousins is exactly what the Kings need at this juncture in franchise history.

Kings fans are happy. It’s even been reported that even team mascot Slamson the Lion did cartwheels upon hearing the news of the Boogie trade.

As a result of the surprising trade, the Kings can now rebuild. They can move forward without bags full of colossal Cousins cargo constantly weighing them down. The franchise publicly struggled over the past several years while waiting for Boogie to finally grow up. However, he never did and now that’s the Pelicans’ challenge.

Sacramento Kings Fans Believed This Would Be a Break Out Year

Following an impressive gold medal winning performance in Brazil last summer while being around consummate basketball professionals like Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and others, the Kings management waxed optimistic. Ranadive and Divac, along with hoards of expectant Sacramento fans, believed this would be a break out year for the club.

However, arguably one of the league’s top ten talents, Cousins failed to step up as the leader his team required. Sadly, Boogie continued to display poor judgment in how he acted on and off the court.

In addition to recording a league-leading 17 technical fouls, Boogie hit rock bottom with a public display of unsportsmanlike behavior by flipping off Golden State Warriors fans following a recent Kings upset over the NBA’s best team.

If you’re the owner of an NBA club, that’s not the type of behavior you want to see from a pending free agent whom you’ll probably need to pay upwards of $200M to keep in a Kings jersey. An easy choice to jettison the Boogie flotsam if you ask me.

Good luck in New Orleans, Boogie. It’ll be intriguing to watch you team up with another Kentucky alum Anthony Davis. Get close to the mature Unibrow.

Learn from your mistakes. Follow AD’s good mentoring. Work with him to be a leader, too, from whom your new Pelicans teammates can follow.

It’s a new day in NOLA for you. Make the most of it! But, for now. Bye bye, Boogie!

And, that’s my 2 Cents.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: These Guys Own the Paint

MRO 62 Team Owns the PaintToday’s Friday Sports Funny brings to life the oft overused sports cliche “these guys own the paint!”

When a basketball announcer reports that guys own the paint, you know exactly what he means.

Your mind immediately conjures up images very tall, muscular players standing protectively under the opponents’ basket.

The big guys are guarding the hardwood real estate within the painted lines on the court.

No need to even attempt entering their domain because they’ve surrounded the basket like protective sentinels.

Like the stack of buckets in this comic, these big men are blocking the basket.

In the case of this comic, it’ll be real tough to score against these guys. They figuratively – and literally – own the paint!

For more Friday Sports Funnies like the one above, safely download my FREE College Basketball Comic book.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Former NHL MVP Super Mario Lemieux

NHL great Mario Lemieux

Today’s #TBT sports blog focuses on a former Stanley Cup champion and incredible overcoming athlete.

My post blog centers on former Pittsburgh Penguins center Super Mario Lemieux.

Let’s take a look back at this hockey hero.

The likeable hero of the top selling video game series of all time was introduced during the rookie season of one of the most admired National Hockey League’s players ever.

Beginning in 1985, Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers reigned over video game sales. That same year, Super Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins began dominating NHL games with his speed, strength and superb hockey skill.

Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr once remarked that Mario Lemieux, nicknamed Super Mario, was the most talented hockey player he had ever seen. Lemieux’s excellence on the ice allowed him to lead the NHL in scoring six times. He also won the Hart Trophy three times as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Mario Lemieux: 1999 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee

A 1997 inductee to the Hockey Hall of Fame, big #66 finished his hockey career with 690 goals and 1,033 assists. He was the only player ever to score five goals in different ways in a single game. These goals included an empty net, power play, penalty shot, shorthanded and full strength.

The 6’4″ and 235 lb. French Canadian’s career highlights include an Olympic Gold Medal in 2002, a World Cup of Hockey Championship in 2004 and two NHL Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992.

Lemieux also won a third title in 2009 as Chairman of the Board of the same NHL team he played for, the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom he rescued out of bankruptcy.

The former Penguin battled injuries and illness that sidelined him for several seasons. Lemieux overcame back problems and a bout with Hodgkins disease to return to the ice after he had already retired. He proved that hockey’s Super Mario trumps any video game heroics and is much more than just a hockey hero.

Video game icon Super Mario may have shown off his heroics by successfully saving Princess Toadstool from her nemesis Bowser during their valiant Nintendo struggles.

However, ice hockey hero Super Mario Lemieux repeatedly showed bravery, courage and an amazing personal drive.

That’s why he effortlessly skates in at #1 in my sports comic book Favorite Overcoming Athletes. Click HERE to safely download from Amazon.

In addition to Super Mario Lemieux, you can read about Jason Kidd, Ian Thorpe, Jackie Robinson, Three Finger Brown, Bernard Hopkins and other amazing overcoming athletes.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Remembering NFL “Sweetness” Walter Payton on Valentine’s Day

Sweetness Walter PaytonHappy Valentine’s Day, sports fans!

On this special day in which we acknowledge the sweethearts in our lives, I thought my sports blog today should remember the extraordinary NFL athlete Walter Payton known as Sweetness.

The adjective sweet should never apply when talking football. Except, that is, when referring to Chicago Bears great Walter Payton.

Respectfully and singly known as Sweetness, Payton also rushes his way into #21 in my sports comic book Favorite Single Named Athletes.

Payton’s nickname personified the type of person he was off the playing field. The Sweetness handle was given to him because of the former running back’s gentle nature and engaging, caring smile.

Mike Ditka Said Walter Payton Was Best NFL Player Ever

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka called Payton the greatest football player ever. Ditka also said that his star player was even a greater human being.

Few would argue with Iron Mike for making such an audacious claim. Payton’s legacy stills looms especially large both on and off the football field.

During his celebrated 13-year career, Walter Payton held numerous NFL records. They included career rushing yards, career rushing attempts, most yards in a single game, most career 100-yard games, most 1,000 yard seasons and several others.

In addition, Payton was named to nine NFL Pro Bowls and won two NFL Most Valuable Player awards. His Bears team also won Super Bowl XX in 1985.

Sweetness’ most significant accomplishments may have taken place off the gridiron. That’s where he touched countless lives. Payton’s impact has been so profound that the NFL renamed the Man of the Year Award after Sweetness, who coincidentally received the league’s highest honor in 1977.

Payton and his wife Connie started a foundation that has brought national awareness to the growing need for organ donations. Sadly, Payton died in 1999 following a struggle with a liver disease.

It’s ironic that a tough Hall of Fame running back who only missed one game in his illustrious 13-year career – playing in the unofficial NFL Black and Blue Division – would be called Sweetness.

In the case of Walter Payton, the Sweetness nickname couldn’t be any sweeter. It also couldn’t be more deserving.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Clever Quote From FIFA Footballer George Best

FIFA footballer George Best

“Maradona good. Pele better. George Best.” ~ painted on a mural in Belfast, Northern Ireland

This funny, but clever quote is written on a wall to memorialize George Best, Northern Ireland’s flamboyant FIFA international footballer.

George Best was also known as the Fifth Beatle, a tribute to the iconic musical group The Beatles.

The former FIFA star died as an alcoholic in 2005 due to complications from a liver transplant.

 

Best’s undisciplined and extravagant lifestyle contributed to his demise as a player and also as an individual.

One of the many colorful quotes attributed to this Fifth Beatle reads, “I spent 90% of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I wasted.” The words were funny, but sadly, true.

The Northern Irish have idolized Best as the most gifted and entertaining soccer player ever.

That’s why the clever mural in Belfast, Northern Ireland reads, “Maradona good, Pele better, George Best.”

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#TBT Sports Blog: The NBA Rash Bruce Bowen

ESPN NBA announcer Bruce BowenKnown by his itchy nickname the Rash, Bruce Bowen scratched, clawed or chafed his way to become an NBA Champion.

Bruce Bowen is my pick for today’s #TBT sports blog.

Not only did fans love Bowen’s clever nickname the Rash, but they admired his tireless defending on the basketball court that helped his team win three NBA Championships.

Bowen did not get drafted out of Cal State Fullerton in 1993. Instead, he bounced around in his early professional basketball days.

After playing for teams in France and in the CBA, and later for the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, Bowen finally found a home for eight years with the San Antonio Spurs.

Bowen discovered his special skill with the Spurs. He established himself as a terrific, tireless defender. Spurs teammate Sean Elliott originally referred to Bowen as the Rash. Elliott cited Bowen’s irritating pressure on the other team’s leading perimeter scorer and said, “Bowen’s just all over you like a rash.”

Bruce Bowen: Five-Time NBA All-Defensive team

As a five-time NBA All-Defensive First team, Bowen was vital to the Spurs’ success. Not only could Bowen knock down three pointers from the corner, but he could also be counted on to annoy, hound and harass high scoring opponents like Ray Allen, Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant. A frustrated former Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson even called on the NBA to investigate Bowen for his overly aggressive play on his Mavs’ top scorers.

The defensive-minded Bowen blended brilliantly with his offensive-minded Spurs teammates Tim Duncan, Man Ginobli and Tony Parker. The Rash celebrated three NBA World Championships with Duncan, Ginobli and Parker in 2003, 2005 and 2007. The San Antonio Spurs organization recognized Bowen’s unsung contributions to the team’s success by retiring Bowen’s #12 jersey in 2012.

Bruce Bowen is now a well-spoken NBA talking head on ESPN. The bow tie clad announcer shares with sports fans how he became a key member of three NBA Championships teams.

Bowen laughs that his on-court talent, named after an unsightly skin irritation, ended up serving as his ultimate claim to fame – the Rash.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: There’s No “I” in Team

 MIKE Sports Comic: No "I" in TeamToday’s Friday Sports Funny – there’s no “I” in team – brings to life one of my favorite sports cliches.

The well known cliche may be old and overused. However, if you’ve ever played team sports, you’re certainly aware of the timeless coaching cliché – there’s no “I” in team.

And, if you embrace teamwork and understand selflessness on the field, court, rink, pitch or diamond, then you’ve probably recited the cliche a million times while playing or talking about sports.

The No “I” in Team Sports Cliche Applies to All Sports

This adage applies to team sports at all levels – from youth leagues all the way up to the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and FIFA levels.

In this comic, the hockey coach pointing to the chalkboard reminds his players that hockey is a team sport and that selfishness will always need to take a back seat for the good of the squad.

However, the well meaning coach also appears a bit confused.

He looks around the entire locker room to discover that the team’s name has been intentionally misspelled.

The overt misspelling underscores the belief that there’s no “I” anywhere in team – as well as in the spelling of the Cheefs name, too!

Write me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com and share with me one of your favorite sports cliches.

You never know. It just might make it into a future Friday Sports Funny blog.

I’ll give you credit, too, because it’ll be a collaborative effort, and I’ve always been a firm believer that there’s no “I” in team.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

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2 Cent Tuesday: New England Patriots’ Tom Brady NFL G.O.A.T.

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday states the obvious!

Congratulations to the undisputed NFL G.O.A.T. Tom Brady and his New England Patriots for their stunning 34 – 26 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday night’s Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas.

Leading the Patriots’ epic comeback, Brady showcased his football excellence once again when the game’s outcome mattered most.

Few football fans can argue that the 39 year-old quarterback is the sport’s G.O.A.T. or greatest of all-time following his flawless fourth quarter and overtime performance.

Tom Brady rallied his team from a dramatic 19 point fourth quarter deficit to earn his fourth Super Bowl MVP trophy, while captaining his team to a Lombardi Trophy for the fifth time in his illustrious career.

Tom Brady Accepts MVP Trophy From Roger Goodell

Brady also displayed unparalleled maturity and professionalism immediately after the game. That’s when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who suspended the QB star for the first four games of the season for purportedly deflating footballs to gain an advantage, ironically presented him with the game’s MVP award.

Brady traded no barbs with the sheepish Goodell while awkwardly shaking the commissioner’s hand and accepting the coveted trophy.

In addition, a humble Brady insisted that he was undeserving of the MVP acknowledgement and offered the award to RB James White who scored the winning touchdown in overtime for the Pats.

For a Super Bowl game that started slowly, Sunday night’s finish will be considered the best ever in the history of the championship game.

And, that’s primarily because of the guy directing the New England Patriots’ offense.

So, love him or hate. Cheer him or jeer him.

The New England Patriots’ #12 Tom Brady should be every NFL fan’s only choice as the sport’s G.O.A.T. or greatest of all-time.

Even the basketball’s Michael Jordan, hockey’s Wayne Gretzky, baseball’ Babe Ruth, track and field’s Usain Bolt and soccer’s Lionel Messi would unanimously agree.

And, that’s my 2 cents!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: NBA Icon Wilt Chamberlain’s Quote

Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain NBA

Today’s Friday Sports Funny recalls one of my favorite sports quotes from NBA Icon Wilt Chamberlain.

“Nobody ever roots for Goliath.” ~ Wilt Chamberlain’s response to how basketball fans often treated him

Wilt’s incredible dominance as an NBA player prompted many fans to root against this giant, or Goliath, of a man.

He so totally dominated his sport that the league enacted rule changes to make the games fair for the other 99.9% of the players.

Today’s wider lane in the NBA and goal tending penalties were imposed because of the way Chamberlain vanquished all opposing basketball players.

Wilt overpowered basketball opponents whenever he stepped onto the hardwood. The 7’1″ and 260 lb. player effortlessly prevailed over all smaller, less physically gifted competitors.

Wilt Chamberlain’s towering size, strength, scoring ability and stamina empowered him to become the greatest player the NBA ever witnessed when he entered the league in 1959.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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