#TBT Sports Blog: 5X U.S. Open Champ Steffi Graf

Frauline Forehand Steffi Graf

Former tennis great Steffi Graf

As the U.S. Open swings into its second weekend of action in Flushing Meadows, NY, allow me to share today’s #TBT sports blog on the annual tournament’s only five-time women’s champion.

This statuesque blue-eyed blond burst onto the women’s world tennis scene in Germany in October 1982 at the ripe age of thirteen. She quickly began her dominance of the sport.

In addition to the poise, athleticism and enduring stamina that she displayed on the tennis court, Graf packed a powerful, precise serve to compliment an equally forceful forehand.

It’s easy to understand why Steffi Graf was labeled with the enviable tennis nickname Frauline Forehand and why sports fans around the globe who admired her knew this German simply as Steffi.

The 5’9” and 130 lb. Graf is arguably the greatest female tennis player ever. A native of Bruhl, Germany, Graf stayed atop the women’s world tennis rankings for an unprecedented 374 consecutive weeks.

In addition to 107 career singles titles, Steffi won an Olympic gold medal in Seoul, Korea in 1988 as well as 22 major tennis tournaments. Her wins included 7 Wimbledon titles, 6 French Open titles, 5 U.S. Open titles and 4 Australian Open titles.

Along with Australian Margaret Court, Graf is the only other female to win all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments in one year.

Unfortunately, ailing knees forced Steffi Graf into an early retirement at age 30; otherwise, she probably would have surpassed both legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in career wins on the women’s professional tennis tour.

Many may now recognize this graceful German beauty today as mother of two, respected Las Vegas socialite and philanthropist and Andre Agassi’s wife.

However, those in the know will always acknowledge Frauline Forehand as the greatest women’s player to ever pick up a tennis racquet.

That’s also why this famous female tennis player, simply known as Steffi, deserves the #3 spot in my book Favorite Female Athletes.

Favorite Female AthletesClick on the red cover above to safely download my sports comic book Favorite Female Athletes for only 99 cents from Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

Time For Denver Broncos’ Wes Welker To Retire

The Slot Machine

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker

Though no one ever questioned his intellect or his desire to play football, NFL scouts did think he was too small and lacked the necessary speed and athleticism to play professionally.

But, just like a casino slot machine can unexpectedly pay out big dividends, former New England Patriots’ and now Denver Broncos’ slot receiver Wes Welker proved all the so-called NFL experts wrong.

At just 5’9” and 185 lbs. the undersized slot receiver known as the Slot Machine defied all NFL odds and became a two-time NFL All-Pro first team wide receiver.

Wes Welker’s exceptional hands, great football instincts and consistent work ethic have served him well. They helped him become a five-time NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver and one of the league’s most popular players.

Expected to pay out big dividends as a Peyton Manning target in Denver again this season, it’s now time that the Denver Broncos’ slot receiver stops gambling on his own future.

Ironically, the tables have turned on Welker. NFL pundits now question his God given smarts and hope that he quickly loses his incomparable desire to play football.

Anyone with any football acumen believes Wes Welker should follow his next expertly run pass route – straight into retirement.

This past weekend, the scrappy slot receiver suffered his third concussion in less than a year. He left the gridiron with eyes glazed over and a seemingly uncertain football future.

However, by recent reports out of Denver, it appears as if Welker is still contemplating a return. That would be a huge mistake.

Unfortunately, Wes Welker would be gambling with his health and his future if he returned to the Broncos’ lineup. His shortsightedness could imperil his lifestyle and that of his family’s in the not too distant future.

“Every time you’re getting a concussion, it’s like withdrawing money from an ATM. And you don’t know how much money God has put in your account,” said Dr. Kevin Crutchfield, a neurologist and concussions expert who is director of the Comprehensive Sports Concussion Program at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore.

NFL scouts have certainly regretted overlooking Wes Welker in the 2004 NFL Draft. They never imagined the football jackpot this undersized slot receiver would become.

On the other hand, may the 33 year-old Welker never regret stepping away from the game at this critical juncture in his life before he gets his metaphoric bell rung again.

Based on the fearless way he plays, Welker will certainly get popped one more time if he puts on the pads.

Sadly, for an amazing NFL player aptly named after a one armed bandit, the Broncos’ Slot Machine’s luck may inevitably run out before he even catches his next Peyton Manning pass.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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TB Bucs Foolish to Sign Richie Incognito

MIKE Vintage logo

The newly transformed Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be foolish to sign NFL free agent Richie Incognito.

With respected new coach Lovie Smith, proven new General Manager Jason Licht and colorful new uniforms for its upcoming 2014 campaign, the metamorphosed Tampa Bay franchise would quickly mire itself in old ways by signing the disgraced former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman.

The new look Bucs should be seeking every conceivable way to jettison all vestiges of its ugly past off its instantly recognizable team pirate ship.

Instead, the team would unnecessarily haul aboard weighty flotsam that the Miami Dolphins wisely discarded from its team earlier this year. The Bucs’ ship would iimmediately find itself in rough waters with increased media attention and a burbling animosity in its locker room certain to upset Lovie Smith’s newly minted team chemistry.

Though NFL offices lifted Incognito’s misconduct suspension on February 4, 2014, that doesn’t mean that the nasty, ominous cloud surrounding Incognito has dissipated in any way.

And, if the Bucs actually sign the 6’3” and 320 lb. lineman, they’ll painfully find that a storm of discontent will find the Tampa Bay area.

For a franchise eager to put more butts in the seats of Raymond James Stadium, signing Incognito would furnish Tampa Bay area football fans with another reason to stay at home, hit the links or dig their toes into Gulf of Mexico sand.

Disgruntled fans like me would find alternative Sunday afternoon entertainment instead of supporting a racist jerk who pocketed more money last season than most ticket holders will make in a lifetime.

Incognito represents the dour image of a recalcitrant NFL player from whom the Bucs have been trying to distance themselves.

Just replay the video of how quickly and cheaply the Bucs parted ways with All-Pro CB and repeat batterer Aqib Talib. Or, watch the tepid response boorish Hall of Fame DT Warren Sapp received by Bucs fans when ushered into the team’s Ring of Honor last year.

Sure, Tampa Bay fans crave a winner, but at what expense? Bucs fans have grown weary of the tiresome behavior of bullies, bigots and blowhards. Yes, even the non-tipping Warren Sapp!

Tampa Bay fans want more Buccaneers like Gerald McCoy, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, John Lynch, Vincent Jackson, Mike Allstott and the late Lee Roy Selmon.

Forget about Aqib Talib, Warren Sapp, Mike Williams, Cody Grimm, Da’Quan Bowers, Eric Wright and other brazen Bucs who’ve either graced police blotters, failed to pay child support or acted immaturely, unwisely and unprofessionally.

Historically, one of the bottom dwellars in league attendance, Tampa Bay management has worked prudently to restore its enviable Super Bowl winning ways of a decade ago.

Licht, Smith and Glazer Family ownership are purposed to direct the Buccaneer football ship away from the choppy waters of its unenviable past.

However, they need to take heed.

An outcome far worse than watching a nightmarish cream sickle clad, winless NFL team play in the sweltering old Big Sombrero known as the “Yucs” could come ashore.

That would be the awful pain of rooting for a Lovie Smith led squad sporting swanky new high tech uniforms at beautiful Raymond Stadium with an insolent blocker anchoring its offensive line by the name of Richie Incognito.

Now, that would bring the old Buccaneer pirate mascot Bucco Bruce out of retirement, so he could cover his eyes with both of his hands!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!Football footer

NBC’s Bob Costas Featured in New Sportscasters Book

Olympics announcer Bob Costas

NBC Sports’ Bob Costas

The exaggerated image that starts this chapter perfectly, though comically, tells the story.

Though undersized and slight of build physically, Bob Costas metaphorically carries the largest and weightiest microphone among today’s accomplished sportscasters.

Skilled in covering a wide range of major sports events, Bob Costas has become America’s most trusted studio host in sports.

The fresh-faced, velvet-voiced Costas is an easy choice for me at #3 in my new sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters.

Favorite SportscastersHere’s an excerpt:

One of the sports world’s most decorated media personalities, Costas has evolved into a beloved talent for his eloquent delivery, interviewing aplomb and overall likeability.

As studio host of the past nine Olympic Games, Costas has earned his welcome in American homes as the prime time host of the world’s biggest athletic competition.

Because of the extraordinary respect Costas has acquired as an on-air personality, he’s been entrusted to perform duties not normally requested of a sportscaster.

Costas was chosen to eulogize two of our nation’s greatest sports heroes – former New York Yankees’ Mickey Mantle and former St. Louis Cardinals’ Stan Musial.

Fans trust Costas’ reporting and enjoy his insight. This broadcasting icon has collected 28 total Sports Emmy Awards for excellence in American sports journalism during his illustrious career.

As recently as 2014, Costas received the sports broadcasting industry’s most coveted individual award as Outstanding Studio Host – for the second time.

Costas also joined fellow hosts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Dan Patrick as the NBC Sunday Night Football broadcast team won the Emmy for Live Sports Series for the sixth consecutive year.

The National Sportswriters Sportscasters Association has awarded him Sportscaster of the Year a record eight times.

Costas got his broadcasting start with NBC Sports in the early 80′s and quickly developed one of the most diverse and respected resumes in the broadcast booth.

In addition to covering the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Costas has demonstrated his varied talents. He’s covered the NBA Finals, a World Series and multiple NHL Winter Classics.

His diverse background has included doing MLB play-by-play action and, of course, hosting NFL Sunday Night Football.

A natural pro, Costas has effortlessly exercised his strong, smooth voice as host for both NBC Sports Network’s Costas Tonight and MLB Network’s Studio 42.

Costas has also displayed an amazing breadth of poise, intelligence and savvy in his incomparable interviewing ability.

He’s sat down with the likes of a United States President and brazenly questioned a heinous Penn State University pedophile. He’s peppered a baseball cheater with questions about steroid use and salted the wounds of MLB legend Mickey Mantle who openly admitted his failings as a father.

And, he deftly and admirably handled a poignant interview with injured Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan.

Some sports fans at times may joke about the undersized man with the giant microphone.

However, no sports fans will disagree that the slight of build 5’7” tall Bob Costas stands exceptionally tall when discussions surface about the sports world’s top talking heads.

That’s why this broadcasting legend easily ranks as #3 in my book Favorite Sportscasters. It’s available for only 99 cents on Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Time Major League Baseball Stops the Spitting

Spitting in Baseball

Spitting in Baseball

The comic above may make your toes scrunch, but it speaks volumes about a vile habit in America’s favorite pastime.

Spitting in baseball is a Major League problem.

Appalled fans all agree spitting in baseball is awful and rightfully belongs in my sports comic book about what’s Worst About Sports.

While watching last night’s game on ESPN, the disgusting discharges emanating from eminent National and American Major League Baseball players seriously sullied my spectating enjoyment.

I know all of America agrees with me that baseball players, coaches and managers spit way too much.

The only thing more annoying than Tim McCarver’s minutiae or Joe Buck’s babbling about boring baseball statistics is seeing the sunflower seeds and spittle splattering the baseball diamonds of our country’s beautiful ballparks.

Major League Baseball needs to establish a No Spitting Policy immediately.

Look at other sports. You don’t see Lebron launching a loogie into the lane before attempting a free throw in an NBA game or Michael Phelps flinging phlegm into the pool before diving off the starting block in a big swim race.

Before losing its faithful baseball fan base to saliva-free sports, the Commissioner needs to halt the hurling of hawkers by expunging expectorating from baseball.

MIKE Top 25 FREE Worst About SportsRead what else is Worst About Sports in MIKE’s FREE book!

Click on the yellow image above and download the book for FREE.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NFL to Enact “Pay to Perform” Policy at Super Bowl?

The Vince Lombardi NFL Super Bowl TrophyNews surfaced this week about the NFL’s purported plans to enact a “pay to perform” policy for musical entertainers at its legendary Super Bowl Halftime Show.

The surprise announcement smacked of how small America’s biggest professional sports league has become.

For a sports entertainment entity that profits from multi-billion dollar television contracts, sizeable sponsorship packages and countless sales of overpriced $100 authentic pro football jerseys, the NFL has wielded some serious chutzpah!

My guess is that its audacious attempt will fail as miserably as the Miami Dolphins’ Garo Yepremiun punt in the 1973 Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins.

Simply, famous musical artists, really their management companies, will certainly sing a totally different tune if the NFL ever approaches them about belting out a few paid for bars at a future halftime show.

The NFL will find itself sacked on this horrible idea more quickly than a football fan can correctly say Jadaveon Clowney. And, sadly, the league’s avarice will be further exposed.

Over the years, celestial musical stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, U2 and Beyonce have graced the halftime stage of America’s biggest sports spectacle.

Last year alone, 115 million viewers watched Bruno Mars sing, dance and swoon during a 12 minute performance. Those who watched Mars perform live paid on average a whopping $2,795 for that privilege according to the Huffington Post.

However, the NFL argued that because of Mars’ performance, he directly increased lucrative sales on his Unorthodox Jukebox album and gained invaluable exposure for an upcoming tour. And, Roger Goodell and company now want a piece of future concert tour pie.

With last year’s national shared sales eclipsing $6 Billion for television rights, sponsorship and licensed merchandise sales, the NFL’s robust 2013 revenue is the envy of all other professional sports leagues in the United States.

And, with anticipated television contracts up for renegotiation, the flush league will only get richer. Critics ask whether the league needs an artist to pony up to perform or agree to share a percentage of future concert and tour revenues because of the 100+ million viewers it reaches during its halftime show?

The NFL already shakes down advertisers $4 million per 30 second commercial spot during its Super Bowl Games. How much does it believe it could “extort” from aspiring musical artists to augment its already enviable coffers?

I don’t envision the NFL’s “pay to perform” policy taking root. I actually see it sputtering as quickly as a Tim Tebow forward pass.

With a shallow idea like charging the likes of Rihanna, Katy Perry or Cold Play to take center stage at its next Super Bowl, the luster on the league’s glistening star has tarnished a little more.

Coupled with real concern over current and former players’ concussion issues, the paltry Ray Rice suspension for knocking out his wife in an elevator and ongoing problems involving alcohol and drug abuse amongst its ranks, the NFL cannot afford to take on any more public relations issues.

Its planned “pay to perform” policy at the next Super Bowl Halftime Shows makes the hugely profitable league seem oh so small.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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FREE Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports Book: Refs

Two Minute Warning in Football

The NFL Two Minute Warning

You can see them at every game in every sport at every level.

They never actually play in a game, but they’re most deserving of a spot in my FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports.

Why? Their presence is absolutely essential.

At #5 in my book, my choice is none other than the guys and gals who preside over games, blow the whistles, make the calls, enforce the rules and enact all the penalties.

They work tirelessly both indoors and out, in both good weather and bad, and during all hours of the day.

They never get to rest, but remain on their feet or skates for the entire length of their respective assignments.

In the blink of an eye, these non-athletes make critical decisions that can be carefully reviewed and callously criticized countless times on national television – often with the benefit of super slow motion and high definition cameras.

Acting as both judge and jury, they make crucial calls that can effect legacies, decide championships and even determine the future worth of player contracts.

Plus, their hazardous professions go completely unnoticed by the average sports fan. When working behind the plate, these non-players take fastballs off their shins. Also, they occasionally get steamrolled on the football field by 300 lb. linemen.

Too often, they find themselves checked into the boards by overly aggressive defenders and struggle to keep up with gazelles on both the basketball court and soccer pitch.

Few ever know their names.

They’re mocked, yelled at, glared upon, ridiculed and cursed.

Only referenced at sports events when their judgment is brought into question, these non-athletes never receive the credit they deserve.

Yes, they’re the zebras, the blind mice and the dastardly devils that may – or may not – blow their whistles in your team’s favor.

These officials, umpires or refs, maintain order on the hardwood, the ice, the pitch, the gridiron and the baseball diamond.

Without them, there would be no games at all.

FREE MIKE sports comic bookThat’s why refs are #5 in my book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports.

Safely download it for FREE by clicking on purple cover above.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: MLB Hit King Pete Rose

MLB great Pete Rose

MLB All-Time Hits Leader Pete Rose

On August 24, 2014 Major League Baseball records will reluctantly reveal that on that date 25 years ago Pete Rose was formally banished from America’s favorite pastime.

It’s hard to imagine that so many years have passed since that fateful day when MLB commissioner Angelo Bartlett “Bart” Giamatti banned the game’s all-time hits leader for life.

Recently, Rose has made headlines once again and has asked for forgiveness for his gambling transgressions because he wants back in the game he loves.

In today’s #TBT sports blog, I choose to acknowledge Pete Rose for the incredible player he was during his 24 years in Major League Baseball. So, I’ll let baseball fans and media critics argue whether or not baseball’s all-time hit king should be reinstated.

Here’s a chapter excerpt about Pete Rose from my sports comic book MLB Favorites.

…..Even during Spring Training, full throttle was the only way my #4 MLB Favorite played the game of baseball.

During a meaningless pre-season game, New York Yankees’ skipper Whitey Ford gave Rose the Charlie Hustle nickname when the Cincinnati Red bolted to first base after drawing a base on balls.

Playing with a “pedal to the metal” attitude every time he took to the diamond, Pete Rose lived up to his Charlie Hustle nickname. He remains one of baseball’s most famous players, even though he agreed to be banned from the game in 1987 after betting on baseball.

Because of his epic on-field baseball successes, Rose would have been a certain first ballot Hall of Famer. Surprisingly, his first minor league manager didn’t think very highly of his talent.

According to Daven Hiskey, writing for www.todayifoundout.com, Pete Rose’s first manager in the minor leagues once told the Reds that, “Rose can’t make a double play, can’t throw, can’t hit left handed, and can’t run.” But, Charlie Hustle proved him wrong. He eventually became one of baseball’s all-time greats and was named to Major League Baseball’s All-Century Team.

When he retired as a player in 1986, Charlie Hustle set numerous Major League Baseball records. In addition to being the game’s all-time leader with 4,256 hits, 3,562 games played and 14,053 at bats, Rose won more games than any other player in history – 1,972.

In 24 Major League Baseball seasons, Rose set records with 23 consecutive 100+ hit seasons and 10 straight seasons with 200 or more hits. Charlie Hustle ended his career as the most accomplished switch hitter ever, with 2,156 runs scored, 746 doubles, 5,752 total bases and 1,566 walks.

One of the best players in Major League Baseball history, Rose won three World Series titles with the Reds. He also won nearly every imaginable individual award: National League Rookie of the Year (1963), National League Most Valuable Player (1973), World Series MVP (1975), two Gold Gloves (1969 and 1970), three National League batting titles (1968, 1969 and 1973) and 17 all-star appearances.

Pete Rose proved to the doubters who mocked him that he possessed a lot more than grit whenever he laced up his baseball cleats.

When given the chance, Charlie Hustle bolted out of the batter’s box and sprinted his way into baseball’s record book.

He’s one of the game’s greatest players ever and my #4 choice in sports comic book MLB Favorites.

MIKE MLB Comic CoverClick on the blue cover above to safely download MLB Favorites for 99 cents from Amazon. Enjoy the read.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!baseball footer

Favorite Sportscasters Book: ESPN’s Chris Berman

ESPN Announcer Chris Berman

ESPN’s Chris Berman

You don’t need to be a swami to predict this ESPN legend’s inclusion in my new sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters.

Check out this excerpt about one of my top talking heads in sports.

My choice for the #6 spot is arguably one of sports media’s most respected and decorated television broadcasters.

Synonymous with the ESPN brand, Chris Berman started with the then fledgling network way “back…back…back” in 1979.

He appeared on camera just one month after the cable sports giant officially launched on air.

And, then, “Whoop!” His career was “gone” and quickly transported into the national spotlight.

Since then, no one ever questioned whether Berman “could…go…all…the…way” to stardom in the ESPN television studio.

Confident, witty and fun, the exuberant Berman with the booming voice – hence the nickname Boomer – became a trusted household name in sports reporting.

Sports fans were immediately addicted listening to the large (6’5”) sportscaster reporting on sports with a style unlike any other.

During the next 30 years, his format evolved into the standard that viewers watched every evening around dinner time.

These days, who isn’t smitten by the intoxicating sound of “da da dunt, da da dunt” that preceded Berman behind the desk?

ESPN exploited Berman’s magnetic and magnanimous television appeal. The network appointed Berman anchor of its now iconic Sports Center show. He’s also regularly hosted Monday Night Countdown, Sunday NFL Countdown, US Open Golf and Stanley Cup Final shows. Plus, he’s covered 30 Super Bowls and hosted ESPN NFL shows for 28 years.

Berman’s studio brilliance has earned him ten Sports Emmy Awards and six NSSA Sportscaster-of-the Year Awards. He’s also become a beloved broadcaster in US sports and entertainment culture.

Although he’s not an actor by trade, Berman boasts his very own entertainment star. In 2010, he received the rarefied symbol of celebrity on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The full-time television celebrity and part-time entertainment personality has eclipsed the bright ESPN cameras. He’s also appeared on stage with Huey Lewis and the News twelve times and has graced Hollywood movies eleven times.

Berman’s most popular films include Necessary Roughness in 1991, The Waterboy in 1998, The Longest Yard remake in 2011 and Grown Ups II in 2013.

All films aside, Berman’s best entertaining remains in the broadcast booth or in an ESPN studio.

Here, the talented talking head on sports may be best known for his litany of clever nicknames. These may be Berman’s most notable monikers: Bert Be Home Blyleven, Curtis My Favorite Martin and Roberto The Alomar.

In 2010, ESPN signed Berman to an undisclosed contract extension. In exchange, Berman pledged his loyalty to the network by indicating he could never work with another media company.

In typical Berman catch-phrase fashion, the iconic anchor quipped about wanting to be a like Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Walter Payton.

For this broadcast legend, retiring with the team he originally came in with would be the greatest honor.

With that said, what rumblin’, dumblin’, stumblin’ sports fan would ever doubt him?

Favorite SportscastersThat’s why ESPN’s Chris Berman is an easy choice at #6 in Favorite Sportscasters.

Download the entire book for only 99 cents on Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!Football footer

Favorite Sportscasters Book Features ESPN PTI Hosts

ESPN's PTI

PTI hosts Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon

My new sports comic book about my favorite talking heads in sports debuted on Amazon last week.

Here’s a chapter excerpt.

My #2 pick in Favorite Sportscasters features two of the brightest and most entertaining former sportswriters who’ve ever found their way into a television broadcast studio.

ESPN claims that sparring sportscasters Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon have made their PTI, or Pardon The Interruption, show the most successful of its kind in sports television.

So, as Tony Kornheiser likes to say, “Let me axe you something.”

Can any sports fan possibly name a better sports talk show?

What American sports fan doesn’t tune into PTI while preparing their nightly meal?

And, to borrow another likeable line from the show, “who’s ya boy!”

Is it Tony or Michael? Or, like me, are you a fan of them both, but not necessarily at the same time?

Who doesn’t side with the snarky Kornheiser one night only to flip-flop and support the more polished Wilbon the next night?

Since Pardon The Interruption debuted in October, 2001, the dueling duo has recorded more than 2,500 thirty minute episodes in a studio decked out with cardboard cutouts, bobble heads and memorabilia of famous sports celebrities.

Kornheiser and Wilbon agreed in May 2014 to continue their colorful quarreling and non-stop banter about sports for another few years.

Both signed multi-year contract extensions with ESPN and will host the network’s PTI program as well as contribute in other ways.

The Kornheiser and Wilbon pair entertains, educates and energizes sports conversation each night with dinner time commentary on ESPN.
These talking heads are smart, savvy and well versed about all things sports. Each cut his teeth in sports journalism at the Washington Post.

Born in 1958, the Northwestern alum Wilbon retired from the Post in December 2010 after decades covering college, MLB, NBA, NFL, Super Bowls and 10 Olympic Games.

In addition, Wilbon penned a column about the culture of sports for the Washington Post. He’s also edited Charles Barkley’s two latest books Who’s Afraid of a Big Black Man and I May be Wrong But I Doubt It. Both books were New York Times bestsellers.

The elder Kornheiser (born in 1948) graduated from Binghamton University and got his start in journalism writing for Newsday in New York and then the New York Times before honing his craft as an opinionated, sarcastic columnist with a touch of humor for the Washington Post.

Kornheiser also enjoyed national fame for two years in the broadcast booth on ESPN Monday Night Football. He still hosts his own radio show and retired as a writer and columnist after spending 20 years with the Post.

Peppered by clever questions by straight man Tony Reali, Kornheiser and Wilbon play off each other perfectly in the ESPN studio. They add insight, angst and color to expertly scripted segments Mail Time, Toss Up and Over / Under.

PTI is emblematic of bar room banter, work place chatter and casual conversation about sports covering all walks of life in America.

Sports fans may not like Kornheiser (which I can totally understand) or Wilbon (which I can’t fathom at all), but everyone agrees this pair knows its stuff.

Researched, passionate and poise, they deliver sports debate better than any duo in the broadcast booth.

As Wilbon said, “Tony and I agree more than we disagree,” he said. “We just get there loudly.”

Wilbon is absolutely correct. So, don’t forget that, Knuckleheads!

Favorite SportscastersTo safely download Favorite Sportscasters from Amazon, click on the red cover above.

Enjoy the read.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Best About Sports: In-Game Entertainment

NCAA sports mascotsAttending a big game is always exciting.

Feeling the excitement of the action or experiencing the pulsating pressure only steps away from the court, field, pitch or ice are definitely reasons to celebrate.

Professional sports teams and big-time college athletic programs are rapidly evolving into modern day versions of the famed Barnum and Bailey Circus. These pro teams and college programs eagerly compete for sports fans’ entertainment dollars.

Lots of time, talent, creativity and money are invested to ensure fans at the big game enjoy the experience and feel compelled to return to these modern sports world’s big top known as arenas and stadiums.

Today, I’d like to acknowledge in-game entertainment as one of my top choices for what is best about sports!

Favorite team mascots makes my list at #6, but there are plenty more choices to read about today.

Although entertainment styles may vary by venue and sport, similar fun and exciting elements seem to be used in stadiums and arenas across the globe. Here are my top 10 picks:

10. The nutty, crazy and zany – In addition to perky cheerleaders, I love all the other nutty, crazy, zany, creative things sports fans do at games to support their teams. That means jugglers, dancers, twirlers, tuba players, shirtless guys with painted faces in frigid weather, streamer shakers and the holders of big head cardboard signs.

9. The food – That means all-you-can-eat $1 hot dogs or famous taco nights where only a few bucks can buy you a hefty meal at a park or an arena. You can chow down all you want without ever having to do the dishes!

8. The tee shirt canon – Who can resist the excitement of watching an arena employee standing at courtside holding a mini rocket launcher to propel a $2 tee shirt about a mile away into the upper deck? And, what fan doesn’t love seeing guys in the upper deck risk their lives leaning over the rail to catch that free shirt that might not even fit. But who really cares?

7. Any inventive trick involving dogs – I’m a dog lover, and I absolutely love watching the amazing things our four legged friends can do. So, whether it’s a Frisbee catching dog on a basketball court, or a dog pulling a miniature wagon with a monkey in it on a football field, sports fans are always root for rover!

6. Team mascots and more – In-game promotions involving team mascots are always fun and bring out the best in local sentiment. If you’ve never been to Nationals Park in Washington, DC, you’ve the patriotic thrills of cheering for Tom (Jefferson), Abe (Lincoln), Teddy (Roosevelt) and George (Washington) in the Presidential Races.

Another one of my regional stadium favorites is the famous sausage races held at Miller Park in Milwaukee. It’s here that fans can cheer for their favorite Italian sausage, German bratwurst, Polish kielbasa or American hot dog. Everyone has fun backing their favorite racing wiener, I mean, winner.

5. Dunking gorillas – Sure they use a trampoline, but these fearless, acrobatic little guys clad in monkey suits always seem to wow the crowds by rapidly dunking basketballs in inconceivable ways.

4. The kiss cam –This roving lens always captures both tender moments and awkward interludes and blasts them across the big screen. Sports fans either are madly in love or in desperate need of counseling can relate to the startled looks of couples whose candid moments just got caught on the kiss cam.

3. Indoor pyrotechnics – The inflammatory dangers this form of in-game entertainment has been banned from just about every arena I’m aware of. But, few can argue that fireworks, smoke and lightning strobes in an arena during a big game is anything short of fabulous.

2. The Hammond B3 organ – You’ll never find organ music on my iPod’s playlist, but listening to the beats belted out by a Hammond B3 will always give me a rise during a big name. Sports fans will agree that a Hammond’s piping sound is beautiful music to our ears as well as our sports souls.

1. Jumbotrons – If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably found yourself in a trance during games gazing up at the Jumbotron in the arena or stadium instead of watching the actual game you already paid $75 to see in person. In-game entertainment on Jumbotrons is just that good!

In addition to in-game entertainment I highlight lots of other stories about what I believe is Best About Sports.

FREE Best About Sports

Safely download Best About Sports by clicking on the yellow cover.

Enjoy the read.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Worst About Sports: NFL Preseason Games

NFL Thumbs Down LogoThe subject of sports always triggers debate.

Pick a player, celebrate a team or remember a championship moment, regardless of the sport, and I guarantee that a lively discussion will quickly follow.

In a relative’s living room, at a neighborhood bar or around the office water cooler, the mere mention of a certain player or team will instantaneously ignite colorful conversation and more than likely ruffle some one’s feathers.

Sports fans not only articulate what they like about an athlete, a team or a game, but they also love to pontificate about what they abhor about them.

We can all agree that it’s our constitutional right, privilege and duty to vent over what we don’t like in the arena of sports just as much as we celebrate what we do like about sports.

I, for one, feel it’s my obligation to speak up and share about those players, teams, mascots, sounds or situations in sports that stoke my personal embers of distaste.

That’s why I penned the book Worst About Sports.

My commentary focuses on the universally irritating things in the world of sports like: spitting in baseball, grunting in tennis, stoppage time in soccer, non-sport sports like NASCAR, the supposed Olympic sport of curling, diva NFL wide receivers, tattoos, unwritten rules, flopping in soccer, steroids and the once mega-rich, but now retired, broke athletes.

However, I realized an obvious omission I inadvertently left out of my book, and I’m sick about it.

Preseason NFL football games should have grabbed one of the top 10 spots of the 25 total chapters I penned in Worst About Sports.

I arrived at that conclusion last night.

During Week 2 of the 2014 NFL Preseason, I wasted a few hours of my time tuning into what appeared to be sloppy disoriented intra-squad scrimmage games played in half-filled stadiums by players still unaccustomed to their team’s playbook while attempting to work themselves into shape.

During last night’s woeful exhibition between the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I vowed that I would never watch another NFL preseason game. And, who will blame me?

An inordinate amount of poor play contributed to my angst. Illegal procedure penalties, dropped passes, awful blocking, missed tackles, wrong routes and announcers who don’t even know the players in uniform gave me plenty of reasons to boycott NFL games until the season formally kicks off on NBC Sports on Thursday, September 4th between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

I’ll just need to write another book chronicling what troubles me about sports. In the meantime, safely download my FREE book Worst About Sports by clicking on the yellow cover above.

FREE Worst About SportsYou’ll enjoy my very own vituperative views on things I don’t like in sports because you’ve probably got most of them on your list, too.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Saturday Sports Cliche: Play Took Crowd Out of Game

MRO 35 Play Took Crowd OutToday’s “Saturday Sports Cliche” features a comic and chapter excerpt from my FREE book Clever Sports Comics.

This comic proves that actions speak louder than words whether on an NFL, NCAA or high school football field.

A fantastic play on the football field not only silenced the crowd in the stands, but ironically removed them entirely from the stadium.

What a great lesson for sports fans and athletes of any age.

If you want to silence the critics in your crowd, make sure you allow your actions do all the talking.

You might even make it on ESPN Sports Center.

MIKE Vol 7 CleverClick on purple cover for my FREE sports comic book.

Check back again same time next week for another illustrated “Saturday Sports Cliche.”

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Favorite Sportscasters Book Features ESPN’s Mike & Mike

ESPN's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg

ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike

Earlier this week, I launched a new sports comic book about my  all-time favorite talking heads in sports.

Kicking off the first chapter in Favorite Sportscasters is actually a pair of sportscasters. Here’s an excerpt from the book.

Enjoy…..

“What makes them different makes them great.”

The Mike and Mike ESPN radio show jingle speaks loudly and clearly when describing its popular, but polar opposite morning hosts.

The duo kicks-off Favorite Sportscasters in the same way these broadcasting Mikes have jump started our day at 6am weekdays for the past 16 years.

Like Abbott and Costello, Stockton and Malone and Brady and Welker, the unlikely pair of Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg have made a famously harmonious and successful team.

Similar to television’s Odd Couple Felix and Oscar, ESPN’s Mike and Mike snipe and quarrel while sharing opinions on sports issues.

The show’s signature segment – What Everyone’s Talking About – fosters the most animated sports debates you’ll find anywhere during morning drive time radio.

With views as diametrically different as the way they look, talk and act, the show’s duo engages and entertains listeners from coast to coast.

A former NFL and University of Notre Dame defensive lineman, the big and burly Mike Golic is a self-acclaimed “man’s man!” He talks tough and tries to act as tough as the rough and tumble professional sport he played for 10 years.

The show’s Grill Golic and Man-Up Question segments bring the best out of this big broadcaster and create much of the dichotomy that exists between the two hosts.

In contrast, the undersized and overly analytical Mike Greenberg is specifically described on the ESPN radio show’s web site as a nerd. I doubt if any sports fan – or Greenberg himself – would disagree.

This native New Yorker bleeds “gangreen” in homage to his hometown Jets. Little Greenie Weenie, as Golic likes to call him, looks about as physically intimidating in a sports uniform as the always overlooked NBA mighty mites Spud Webb and Muggsy Bogues once did in basketball shorts.

Golic and Greenberg are truly different, and they relish in their disparity. That’s probably why their radio show has resonated with fans since it launched on October 12, 1998.

Along with the show’s producer, the duo understood the universality of sports. They saw how sports transcends religion, cuts through cultural boundaries, eludes ethnicity, ignores bank accounts and fails to distinguish between sex, weight, age and even familial bonds.

They realized that discussing sports is for every fan to enjoy, no matter who they are and for whom they root.

Since their first show, Golic and Greeneberg have grasped that their listeners’ favorite sports team is totally of their own choosing.

They understood that their listeners’ team was not their dad’s, their sister’s or even that of their spouse. They knew that sports fans’ inalienable rights were to root for whomever they desired.

Sure, some fan choices may defy logic, strain family ties, break stereotypes and shatter urban myths. But, it’s still their choice, one that should never be forced upon them at any time.

Golic and Greenberg excel at getting their listeners to articulate their passion, angst and opinions.

The pair prods, pricks and probes the sports world’s most controversial issues, so that fans rise up and argue their case for their favorite player, team or coach.

That’s why there show is such a success.

Yes, Golic and Greenberg may be different, but so are we.

And, to borrow the Mike and Mike show jingle, “what makes us all different, makes us great.”

That’s why Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic make an easy choice at #10 to start my book Favorite Sportscasters.

Favorite SportscastersClick on the red cover above to read about other famous talking heads in sports like Chris Berman, Doris Burke, Bob Costas and others safely download Favorite Sportscasters from Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Broad Street Bullies’ Bobby Clarke

Former Philadelphia Flyers Bobby Clarke

Former Broad Street Bully Bobby Clarke

Even though my favorite hockey player ever once played for a team appropriately named the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s still difficult for me to fathom how quickly time can fly by.

Seems like yesterday that Bobby Clarke was skating effortlessly up and down the Spectrum Arena ice in Philadelphia in his orange, black and white #16 Flyers jersey.

But yesterday, I learn that the former NHL star, who hailed from tiny town of Flin Flon, Manitoba, celebrated his 65th birthday.

As a way of wishing this three-time NHL Most Valuable Player, I’m honoring Clarke today by making him the subject of my Throw Back Thursday sports blog.

Bobby Clarke personified old-school hockey. He played without a helmet and hit about as hard as any player who ever took the ice. The Flyers captain was easily recognizable by his wide, toothless smile, long curly blond hair and incredible skill on skates.

The 17th pick of the 1969 NHL Draft, Clarke played his entire career for the Flyers franchise. Even after retiring, Clarke continued with the organization for many years first as General Manager and most recently as a Senior Vice President. He’s still Philadelphia’s greatest player ever, holding team records in total points and games played. He also appeared in eight NHL All-Star games.

As the Flyers captain, Clarke excelled during the 1970s. In both 1974 and 1975, he led the notorious Broad Street Bullies to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.

Known for winning face-offs and for relentlessly checking opponents, Clarke also teamed with Reggie Leach and Bill Barber to form one of the best lines in hockey history. The Flyers’ LCB Line scored 141 goals in the 1975 – 1976 season and was instrumental in the Flyers’ championship seasons the two previous years.

Clarke also distinguished himself individually. The NHL awarded him the Hart Trophy three times as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

This 1987 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee’s greatest accomplishment may be the fact that he brilliantly played the rough and tumble sport for 15 years.

A diabetic, Clarke suffered several serious seizures early in his career. He was also prone to exhaustion and infection. The NHL feared that it wouldn’t be safe for him to play in the league.

But, #16 showed his resilience and proved the league wrong. Bobby Clarke strictly followed a diet to manage his diabetes and played brilliantly for a championship franchise during his lengthy NHL career.

That’s why this fearless Philadelphia Flyer also checks in at #9 in Favorite Flyers in Sports available for 99 cents on Amazon.

Book 12 Favorite Flyers in SportsClick on the red cover above and safely download Favorite Flyers in Sports from Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Tank McNamara Featured in Favorite Sportscasters Book

Tank McNamara

Cartoon Character Tank McNamara

Yesterday’s launch of my new sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters immediately captured sports fans’ attention and spawned complimentary comments regarding one of my surprise sportscasting picks for the book.

So, I’ve chosen to include a chapter excerpt today about the unexpected choice of my favorite cartoon sports commentator.

…..With a name that perfectly captures his comic strip persona, Tank McNamara barrels into the #7 spot in Favorite Sportscasters.

Boasting a 40 year run as a syndicated comic strip character, the big mouthed, broad shouldered broadcaster doesn’t need to bogart his way into this book.

Sure, I may have personally given Tank a mulligan – or two – or thirty when considering the behavior this bumbling, brash and bumptious local television reporter of comic strip fame. But, he’s a hoot!

His inclusion in Favorite Sportscasters stems from the brilliance of two men who brought this imperfect talking head on sports to life.

Until his 2012 passing, writer Jeff Millar and artist and now writer Bill Hinds gifted the American sports loving public with this magnificent creation.

Since 1974 Millar and Hinds have employed the overly confident Tank to lampoon the absurdity of sports.

However, the square jawed reporter, famous for his fumble mouth pronunciations like “norts spews” instead of sports news, quickly and frequently gets cut down to size.

Millar and Hinds expertly crafted the seemingly self-assured sportscaster into a buffoon of a former football player, beloved by readers of as many as 300 American newspapers.

In spite of his warts and easily deflated bravado, Tank McNamara remains a fan favorite. Loyal readers can easily recite the brute’s football bio from his fictional alma mater – Enormous State University – to the same #55 jersey number he wore as a college Sandcrab player and later as an NFL defensive lineman.

Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, the Tank McNamara comic strip seamlessly weaves commentary and illustrative artwork into American culture while furnishing a biting satire of today’s sports world.

From gambling to steroids, domestic disputes to felonious arrests and from breaking news on DUIs to sexual misconduct stories, Tank McNamara poignantly pricks all societal ills.

Tank’s snarky humor reaches its annual peak when creators ask readers to nominate their choice for Sports Jerk of the Year.

In the less-than-perfect world of sports entertainment, there is usually no shortage of candidates.

And, with a flawed former football player named Tank McNamara reporting on the winner of Sports Jerk of the Year, it’s easy to understand why this large likeable lunk easily finds his way into Favorite Sportscasters.

Favorite SportscastersClick on the red cover above to safely download Favorite Sportscasters from Amazon.

In addition to Tank McNamara, other sportscasting celebrities like Mike and Mike, Dickie V, Doris Burke, Chris Berman, Bob Costas and others are featured.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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MIKE Releases 35th Comic Book: Favorite Sportscasters

MIKE Small Circular BadgeNow available for download on Amazon is the recently released 35th MIKE sports comic book.

Favorite Sportscasters comprises my all-time personal picks for the ten best talking heads in sports.

My choices may be heard more often than they are actually seen, and their accents, broadcasting styles and deliveries may differ.

However, every sports fan’s viewing experience is enriched because of the classic commentary that originates from the broadcast booth by those featured in this book.

Action is easier to follow, statistics are better understood, complex plays are made less complicated and simple comments become more colorful when accomplished sportscasters like these call a game.

When my favorite sportscasters have the mic, pre-game predictions aren’t made, they’re decreed.

Insights aren’t told, they’re trumpeted.

Observations aren’t offered, they’re dissected and deftly delivered.

Moreover, inexplicable officiating isn’t further mystifying, but effortlessly elucidated.

Some of my picks possess voices that flow like liquid gold. Others boom loudly from the broadcast booth.

And, still others mis-pronunciate, in-articulate and mis-syllabicate.

In spite of their dissimilar sports casting styles and dramatically different deliveries, all of my picks are universally respected.

They include these favorite talking heads:

A team of broadcasting mics, coincidentally both named Mike, which has been kicking off our weekday mornings at 6am since 1998.

ESPN's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg

ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike

Another who has left a lasting legacy on the landscape of college basketball with corny clichés, a passion for his sport and boundless desire to help others less fortunate.

Dickie V

ESPN basketball announcer Dick Vitale

A grandfatherly pigskin pundit who’s become as famous for his loveable lisp as he has for his hair-brained hunches.

ESPN sportscaster Lou Holtz

ESPN College Game Day’s Lou Holtz

A boorish comic strip character who’s best known for his snarky humor and bumbling antics.

Tank McNamara

Cartoon Character Tank McNamara

A pioneering woman whose stellar background as a college athlete and personal excellence as a basketball broadcaster has rendered gender irrelevant.

NBA announcer Doris Burke

ESPN’s Doris Burke

An icon who unexpectedly rumbled and stumbled into his incredible broadcasting gig way “back…back…back” in 1979 when he joined a budding sports network.

A velvet-voiced and quintessential Brit who’s mastered his craft in the reporting of international soccer.

The undersized, but eloquent host of the past eight Olympic Games who stands like a giant in the broadcasting world booth and is welcome in every sports fan’s living room.

Two sparring sportscasters that not only keep me company, but also entertain me while I prepare dinner on weeknights at 5:30pm EST.

A spunky and chronically overweight Southerner who broke the molds in both professions in which he excelled and became an unlikely, modern day broadcasting legend.

Click on the red cover below to safely download from Amazon. Then, you’ll see the rest of the comics in the book and read about how the golden voices of sportscasting made our sports viewing so much more memorable and satisfying.

Favorite SportscastersEnjoy Favorite Sportscasters. Email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you think your favorite sportscaster was missing in this book because I might include him or her in a future book on sportscasters.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Dippin’ Dots: My Favorite Treat at a Game!

MIKE Vintage logoNo trip to the ballpark is ever complete without splurging on a cup of Dippin’ Dots for dessert.

For the uninitiated (and foodie famished sports fans out there), let me introduce you to this salivary sensation.

Dippin’ Dots are those awesome tasting, cryogenic frozen miniature ice cream pellets you can only purchase at a Major League Baseball game.

The tiny bursts of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and banana are awesome even though they deliver an instant brain freeze and zero in on cavities you never knew you had.

Personally, I just love Dippin’ Dots.

However, a little cup of these micro-sized treats compete with the cost of a monthly mortgage payment.

After all, paying $30 for parking, $50 for a seat in the upper deck, and $8 for a chemically-induced hot dog is painful enough. Yet, topping off your sports-induced economic suicide with a chillin’ cup of Dippin’ Dots can really set you back.

But don’t deny yourself this dream dessert delicacy! Just take some recession-proof advice from me.

In these times, you can justify the exorbitant cost of a Dixie cup-sized serving of Dippin’ Dots.

Just remember to pop those Dippin’ Dots one microdot at a time and don’t forget to eat the dots real slow. That way, at a unit price of 75 cents a dot, you can say you got your money’s worth.

Click on the yellow image and listen to my Monday sports monologue for an inventive take on my favorite treat at a game.

MIKE Reporting on Sports!MIKE  – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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A Pitching Duel in Baseball

MRO 78 Pitchers duelWebster’s Dictionary defines a duel as “prearranged combat between two willing participants with weapons according to an accepted code of conduct.”

A “pitching duel” in baseball is no different, and it’s perfectly brought to life in the sports comic featured above.

Allow me some license to explain Webster’s definition for this particular baseball scenario.

A pitcher’s duel is “prearranged combat” during a hotly contested Major League Baseball game.

The duel is usually conducted between “two willing and armed participants” or all-star hurlers with $100M long term contracts who  brandish fastballs, curves and sliders as their weapons of choice.

Finally, the “duel” plays out according to the “accepted code of conduct” known as the Major League Baseball rule book.

A pitcher’s duel in baseball is best evidenced when Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers squares off against CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees.

Furthermore, it’s witnessed when both talented aces hold the opposing team scoreless for nine innings.

In addition to a “pitching duel,” read about other clever comics in my FREE ebook on baseball comics.

Read about silly baseball expressions like “the runner got caught napping” or “the pitcher took something off the ball” or “I said pinch hitter, NOT pinch the hitter.”

MIKE FREE Vol 2 Baseball ComicsClick on the purple image above and download the book for FREE.

MIKE –  thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Ceremony

MIKE on Sports Badge

Sports hall of fame induction events always enrapture me. They beautifully celebrate worthy individuals with inspirational tales of unique personal accomplishments.

I’m helplessly attracted to these awards ceremonies because I love listening to the honored share how their individual journeys to the podium that night were only made possible by contributions of so many others in their lives.

Their recollections tug on my emotions and serve as soothing balm, extolling what’s good and pure and noble in life.

Tuning into last night’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield, MA was no different.

The annual gala both entertained and enervated me.

After listening to Mitch Richmond, Nolan Richardson, Gary Williams, Theresa Grentz (the Immaculata College spokeswoman), Bobby “Slick” Leonard and Alonzo Mourning pour out their genuine gratitude to a packed house at Springfield Symphony Hall and an expectant  NBA TV audience, my spirit was lifted.

The unending white noise of sports media outlets and their unquenchable thirst for ratings, viewers and web site clicks were immediately silenced. The non-stop reporting of their negative sports stories or their relentless unmasking of the dark side of sports were neither seen nor heard last night.

Quickly forgotten were NFL player suspensions, salary disputes, concussion lawsuits, recruiting violations and free agency speculation.

Way down stream were the forgettable images of Paul George’s gruesome leg injury in Las Vegas and Ray Rice’s vicious knockout punch in an Atlantic City elevator.

And, not even on my radar were the sordid stories of new PED allegations in baseball, match fixing in FIFA games or sexual assault arrests of far too many athletes.

Last night, good was on display. Purity of spirit was evident. And, truly noble things in life – respect, gratefulness and honor – were celebrated by hardwood heroes of varying races, sexes and ages.

For example:

Richmond tenderly acknowledged his mother and respectfully thanked coaches, teammates and those who contributed to his success.

Richardson captivated by sharing clever anecdotes as well as empowering stories of racial advancement in the college basketball coaching profession without demonstrating any bitterness.

Williams told of a circuitous path to coaching NCAA basketball that started with his first unanticipated college job as a soccer coach.

Grentz entertained with heartfelt remembrances of a tiny all-girls Catholic college from a by-gone era of basketball that unwittingly birthed new beginnings for the women’s sport.

Leonard gratefully thanked a litany of colleagues and friends whose paths he crossed in 60+ years in basketball and peppered his presentation with colorful ABA stories.

And, Mourning unintentionally stole the spotlight with his gripping tale of overcoming a life threatening illness to emerge as an NBA champion and a South Florida humanitarian and role model.

Mourning’s acceptance was certainly my favorite because of his candor, transparency and sincerity. The ferocious defender and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year exemplified my all-time favorite sports quote uttered in 2000 by Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former South African President the late Nelson Mandela.

“Sports have the power to change the world.”

Last night, Mandela’s famous quote, intended to extol the virtues of sports as an agent for moral integrity and positive social change, was splendidly on display. And, Mourning was not the only example of moral integrity to share his personal story.

Sports fans witnessed how the powerful, life changing stories of courage, conviction, friendship, ingenuity, overcoming, gratitude, etc. of all those inducted into the 2014 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame have positively touched the lives of so many for the good.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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