On This Day in 1985 Villanova Beat Georgetown for NCAA Title

MIKE sports comic - Villanova 1985 NCAA ChampsApril 1, 1985 marks a special day in NCAA college basketball history.

College basketball fans, coaches and pundits have claimed that on that day the Villanova Wildcats emerged as the closest a team has ever come to playing a perfect game.

Others have cited that April 1, 1985 marked the greatest upset victory in the history of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Games.

I’ve also chosen that epic 1985 Villanova Wildcats improbable 66 – 64 NCAA title game victory over the heavily favored Georgetown Hoyas in my new FREE sports comic book Philadelphia Sports Icons.

The iconic win captivated college basketball fans. At Lexington, KY’s Rupp Arena, Villanova captured its first ever NCAA men’s tournament crown under its likeable chubby coach Rollie Massimino.

Seeded #8, Villanova remains the lowest ranked team to ever win an NCAA title. The team bested #9 seed Dayton Flyers, #7 seed UNC Tar Heels, #5 seed Memphis State Tigers and #2 seed Michigan Wolverines to advance to the Big Dance’s biggest party.

On that special Monday night on April 1, 1985, Villanova played brilliantly against the previous year’s defending champion and dominating #1 overall seed in the field. Led by legendary coach John Thompson II, the Hoyas were odds on favorite to defeat the undersized and undermanned Wildcats.

Surprisingly, Massimino’s club was better and far more prepared than most pundits gave them credit. Villanova played a tenacious defense. Further, the team was battle tested by a very tough schedule in the nation’s best conference that year – the Big East.

With no shot clock in college basketball at the time, Villanova methodically shortened the game by stretching out each valuable possession. They played smart and shot spectacularly in a game that few people gave them a chance to win.

The Wildcats shot an amazing 79% from the field against a Patrick Ewing led Georgetown defense known for thwarting all their opponents’ offensive success. In addition, Villanova was equally as proficient from the free throw line where the team converted on 22 of 28 attempts.

Villanova’s center, “Easy” Ed Pinckney, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Not only did he outscore Patrick Ewing 16 – 14 in the title game, but he out rebounded the Hoyas center 6 -5.

Villanova was led by wing player Dwayne McCain’s 17 points. In addition, invaluable contributions were made by starters Harold Pressley, Gary McLain and Harold Jensen. Villanova’s starting five played most of the title game with little substitution.

Prior to this magical night, the Villanova had enjoyed a storied NCAA college basketball history with Final Four appearances in 1939 and 1971. The Wildcats also boasted Elite Eight appearances in 1978, 1982 and 1983.

However, April 1, 1985 would be the underdog Wildcats team’s night of destiny. Three decades later, the seminal victory still makes the city of Philadelphia and Villanova University alumni gush with pride.

That’s why the Villanova Wildcats, the 1985 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Championship Team, is also no upset surprise for the #6 spot in my sports comic book Philadelphia Sports Icons.

Philadelphia Sports Stars and LandmarksClick on the purple cover above to safely download my new FREE sports comic book Philadelphia Sports Icons.

Enjoy the read and feel free to share the ebook with others.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog: Never Nervous Pervis Ellison

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog is an opportunity for me to personally share my favorite March Madness performance.

And, it’s not about Christian Laettner’s last second dagger against Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Finals. Nor is it The Admiral David Robinson’s brilliant performances for Navy back in the 1986 tournament.

However, on this day back in 1986, a piano, tuba and trombone-playing freshman probably gave his best performance ever, not with a musical instrument, but rather with a basketball in his hand.

In the final minute of the 1986 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game against favored Duke, Pervis Ellison became a star. He earned the iconic nickname Never Nervous Pervis for doing what most shy teenagers still wearing braces on their teeth could never do. He excelled under immense pressure on national television.

The 6’9” freshman grabbed a missed shot and scored with 38 seconds left in the title game. Then, he calmly converted both ends of a one and one free throw opportunity with just 11 seconds to go in the championship contest.

Ellison’s heroic performance sealed the NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship for the University of Louisville and got him named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. He also finished the Duke game with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

former University of Louisville star Pervis Ellison

Never Nervous Pervis Ellison

While other teenagers would probably struggle under such pressure, the very calm and confident Never Nervous Pervis excelled.

Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recognized Ellison’s fantastic game by citing that the freshman was truly magnificent.

Ellison remained at Louisville for another three years. He finished his career as the only player in school history to total more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. He was also Louisville’s all-time career shot blocker and had his #42 jersey retired in 1989.

Never Nervous Pervis Ellison graduated from Louisville and became the number one overall pick of the Sacramento Kings in the 1989 NBA Draft. Injuries unfortunately slowed Ellison’s NBA career. His best season was in 1991- 92 when he was voted the league’s Most Improved Player for posting averages of 20.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

This Louisville star will always be remembered for his surprising heroics in the 1986 NCAA title game against Duke.

That’s when this calm and collected 18-year-old rightfully earned his never-to-be-forgotten basketball nickname – Never Nervous Pervis.

When it comes to favorite March Madness performances, that’s my 2 cents.

MIKE on sports!

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FREE Sports Comic Book: Philadelphia Sports Icons

Philadelphia Sports Stars and Landmarks

My newest FREE sports comic book chronicles the stories of iconic figures in Philadelphia sports history.

In addition to its predecessors – Boston Sports Icons and New York Sports Icons - Philadelphia Sports Icons is third in a series of sports comic books that recognize the history

Since the Declaration of Independence was signed here in 1776, the City of Brotherly Love has nurtured a rich and diverse heritage.

The home town of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall has also become synonymous with the birthplace of Chubby Checker’s twist and Pat Olivieri’s world famous cheese steaks.

Plus, other noteworthy Philadelphia foods have garnered national attention like Tastykakes, Italian hoagies and soft pretzels.

Legendary flag maker Betsy Ross’ name still stands as the city’s most historically celebrated. But, like the Founding Fathers who signed the United States Constitution in Philadelphia, Ross’ name is now mentioned in the same breath as other famous Philadelphians.

Dick Clark, W.C. Fields, Frankie Avalon, Will Smith, Grace Kelly, Pink, Boyz II Men, Tina Fey, Bradley Cooper and Richard Gere have all risen from Philly roots to international entertainment stardom.

Sports heroes have also afforded Philadelphia a rich heritage that rivals the celebrated of other great American cities.

In Philadelphia Sports Icons, I feature my favorite sports legends, beloved teams and cherished venues that have provided a common bond for this diverse, vibrant city.

The most dominating player in NBA history, whose very presence prompted universal rule changes in the game of basketball, soars into the first chapter of this book.

Blitzing into the next chapter is the NFL’s late Minister of Defense; he’s probably the most admired and successful football player in Philadelphia Eagles history.

The Cathedral of College Basketball comes next. It’s hosted more NCAA basketball games than any other arena in the country.

A former chubby NBA Hall of Fame player turned broadcasting superstar commands a colorful chapter all his own.

This Philadelphia Sports Icons book also revisits the improbable run of the 1985 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions – the Villanova Wildcats.

A mature boxer who evaded a life of crime follows next. I chronicle his flamboyant entry into the ring and his weight class domination even at a surprisingly advanced age.

With both front teeth missing, a diabetic quickly skates into the book as the city’s most beloved and decorated hockey player.

Next, a seriously chiseled third baseman steps up to the plate. This Hall of Fame slugger spent his entire career sporting a Phillies uniform.

Another amazing basketball player swoops into the book, too. He’s known for effortlessly flying above the hardwood where he operated so brilliantly with a basketball, instead of a surgeon’s scalpel, in his hand.

My #1 choice in Philadelphia Sports Icons also ranks as perhaps the most hated team in hockey history.

But, the two-time Stanley Cup champion can never be overlooked. The team embodied the toughness and brawn of this working class city situated between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers.

As a bonus, this book culminates with a chapter about the most famous fictional athlete of all-time. He’ll undoubtedly inspire you to run up a few flights of steps while pumping your arms in euphoria.

Enjoy my FREE sports comic book Philadelphia Sports Icons.

Feel free to share it with friends.

Write me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you think one of your favorite Philadelphia athletes or icons should have been included in this book.

So, grab a soft pretzel or order a cheese steak and start reading!

MIKE on sports!

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NCAA Basketball’s The Palestra in Philadelphia

MIKE sports comic - The PalestraPerhaps Philadelphia’s most revered sports venue, the Palestra is appropriately called the Cathedral of College Basketball.

Recognized as the birthplace of college basketball, this hallowed arena opened its doors on the University of Pennsylvania campus on January 1, 1927. On that seminal day, Ivy League rivals Penn and Yale tipped off in what would become the first of thousands of games held in this building.

Named after an ancient Greek rectangular enclosure, the sparkling new facility was designed to house 8,722 spectators. However, more than 10,000 excited fans crammed into the Palestra to witness Penn beat Yale 26 – 15 on its opening day.

Since then, the Palestra has hosted more NCAA college basketball games than any other arena in the country.

Since 1955, the Palestra has also served as the home court for the round robin of Big 5 college basketball games. Though not an official league or athletic conference, the Big 5 boasts five successful college basketball programs located within a 17 mile radius of center city Philadelphia.

Each year, the Big 5’s Penn, LaSalle, Temple, St. Joe’s and Villanova compete against each other in the city’s iconic Palestra. No other metropolitan area in the country can make the college basketball claim to have five programs this good, this close to one another and also this willing to schedule games each season.

In 2007, an ESPN Classic documentary chronicled the Palestra’s enduring legacy by featuring its iconic building and its storied basketball tradition.

In 2000, the Palestra enjoyed a welcome renovation and the addition of a Philadelphia college basketball museum.

The documentary highlighted the concourses surrounding center court of this beautiful brick building, with nearly a century of memories adorning the walls. Banners, trophies and even pictures of mascots capture die hard college hoops fans.

However, it’s the Palestra’s Hall of Fame that totally enraptures visitors. The glass enclosed photos and awards cases recognize Big 5 coaches and players as well as the city’s greatest high school player ever – Wilt Chamberlain – who hailed from center city’s Overbrook High which is just a short cab ride from the gym.

Worthy coaches such as Penn’s Chuck Daly, LaSalle’s Tom Gola, St. Joe’s Dr. Jack Ramsey, Temple’s John Chaney and 1985 NCAA National Championship coach Rollie Massimino of Villanova are also recognized.

The unique commaraderie of the Philadelphia college basketball coaching fraternity has long been admired. Traditionally, Big 5 coaches eagerly share game film on opponents whose schools were located outside Philadelphia. Ironically, or even admirably, this Big 5 coaching cabal would never offer coaching tips or game film on any of the Big 5 rival schools.

“Easy” Ed Pickney of Villanova, Jerome Allen of Penn, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant of LaSalle, Norman Black of St. Joe’s and Bill “The Owl Without the Vowel” Mlkvy of Temple are some of the best Big 5 players that laced ‘em up at the Palestra.

In addition to Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Eugene Banks are other high school prodigies who never played college basketball at the Palestra. However, they were known to ran up and down the pristine hardwood court during high school all-star and playoff games.

Because fans are able to sit so close to the court, the Palestra lives up to its billing as one of the best places to watch a college basketball game.

And, the plaque that greets Palestra visitors once they enter its hallowed basketball halls reinforces the aura of the place.

It reads: “To win the game is great. To play the game is greater. But to love the game is the greatest of all.”

I doubt few would argue.

Philadelphia Sports Stars and LandmarksThat’s why the beloved Palestra ranks #8 in my FREE sports comic book Philadelphia Sports Icons.

Click on the purple cover above and safely download the FREE sports comic book featuring the Palestra and several more icons in the City of Brotherly Love’s sports history.

MIKE on sports!

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ESPN Sports Center Da Da Da! Da Da Da!

ESPN Sports Center Da Da Da!Every sports fan recognizes this siren song to ESPN’s flagship show.

That’s right! It’s the clarion call, or ice cream truck music, for sports fans to tune into ESPN Sports Center.

This instantly recognizable six note melody is intoxicating.

It’s my inspiration for today’s iTunes and Stitcher Radio sports podcast.

MIKE on sports podcastClick on the yellow cover above to listen to the podcast.

The staccato sound of Da Da Da! Da Da Da! woos you to tune into ESPN Sports Center – no matter what you’re doing at the time.

Like a giant magnet from inside your big screen television, the jingle coaxes you to stop whatever you’re doing and start humming.

Fess up, sports fans, we’ve all murmured Da Da Da! Da Da Da! by simulating orchestra sounds with our mouth.

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve probably heard the tune every day since it was composed in 1989.

But, hardly anyone knows that we have music producer John Colby to thank for this masterful melody that serves as Sports Center’s iconic intro.

Yes, Mr. Colby, thank you for:

Interrupting dinner

Cutting off important conversations

Making me drop everything to watch the latest sports news – huh! – even if it’s the top 10 highlights from the qualifying round to this year’s Little League World Series.

Sure, the melody may have prospered for 50,000 shows.

But, probably like you, in order for me to become addicted to Sports Center, it only took that one – Da Da Da! Da Da Da!

Straight talk. No static.

This is MIKE!

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#TBT Sports Blog: The Admiral David Robinson

The Admiral David Robinson

Former U.S. Naval Academy Star David Robinson

Today’s #TBT sports blog rewinds the game clock back to 1987 when David Robinson was the rage during that year’s March Madness.

The highest rank in the U.S Navy that he ever held was Lieutenant Junior Grade. However, this former U.S Naval Academy basketball star will always be known by his notable nautical nickname, The Admiral.

While an NBA pro with the San Antonio Spurs, David Robinson won two Olympic gold medals, two NBA championships and a 1995 NBA Most Valuable Player Award.

In 1995 he was named as one of the 50 greatest NBA players in history.

Despite his professional and Olympic celebrity, David Robinson will always be remembered for his unexpected, brilliant college basketball career at the U.S. Naval Academy. That’s where Navy fans first saw him star as The Admiral.

Surprisingly, Robinson started playing basketball competitively as a high school senior. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy as a skinny 6’8” and 185 lb. freshman with very little basketball ability. He even needed special permission from the Navy to apply because he already stood taller than the military school’s maximum height allowance.

The late-blooming Robinson graduated four years later as a muscular, highly skilled 7’1” athletic center. Robinson left his mark on college basketball as the all-time greatest U.S. Naval Academy player.

In his junior year, The Admiral led the Midshipmen to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament, the school’s highest finish ever. During his senior season, he averaged 28.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game.

Robinson received college basketball’s two highest honors during his senior season. The Admiral won both the Naismith and Wooden Awards, given each year to NCAA college basketball’s top overall player.

Even though he was selected by the San Antonio Spurs as the overall number one pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, Robinson did not enter the NBA immediately after graduation.

Instead, The Admiral served two years of his required active duty in the Navy before joining the Spurs organization in 1989. He played for San Antonio during his entire 13-year NBA career and was elected into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson also ships in at #4 in all-time NCAA Basketball Favorites.

MIKE Sports Comic Book: NCAA Basketball FavoritesClick on the blue cover above to safely download the sports comic book from Amazon for only 99 cents.

This Naval Officer may have only worn the uniform of a Lieutenant Junior Grade during his service in the U.S. Navy.

But, whenever David Robinson stepped onto the basketball court, he played like the top ranking leader for which he was named – The Admiral.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog: Dick Vitale’s “Diaper Dandies” No More!

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Dick Vitale’s “Diaper Dandies” are no more!

That’s right. With more than 35 NCAA basketball games now under their belts, Vitale’s “Diaper Dandies” have grown quickly out of the toddler stage and have now become full fledged men!

As we approach the Sweet 16 Round of the annual NCAA Men’s College Basketball Championship, Dickie V’ once highly touted, precocious freshmen have grown up quickly and matured into experienced college basketball stars.

In today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog, I take a closer look at Dick Vitale’s well-known basketball expression – “Diaper Dandies.”

As a colorful sportscaster, Dickie V has always had a talent for coining popular, but sophomoric phrases. College basketball fans can easily recite and apply Vitale’s extensive, cliché-laden vocabulary.

Thanks to ESPN’s Vitale, fans understand that a P.T.P. is that special Prime Time Player. They also know who’s on everybody’s All Rolls Royce Team.

Even more, fans know a Dow Joneser is a talented up-and-down performer on the basketball court.

For a former coach who speaks in corny sentences, leave it to Vitale to connect baby diapers with highly recruited college basketball freshmen.

The term “Diaper Dandies” became famous when Vitale named Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant to this highly respect breed. His connection created one of the college sports world’s most recognized nicknames – the Diaper Dandy.

Dick Vitale's Diaper Dandies

NCAA Basketball Freshmen Diaper Dandies

Vitale generously applied the same “Diaper Dandies” label to this crop of fabulous freshmen, many of whom have enjoyed the opportunity to shine in this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Exciting freshmen guards D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State and Melo Trimble of Maryland may have both prematurely exited this year’s March Madness. But, their maturity and talent on the court were never questioned.

The same applies to those standouts who still remain in the running for college basketball’s biggest prize.

Blue blood programs Kentucky and Duke boast the most “Diaper Dandies” of those schools that remain in the Sweet 16 field.

Kentucky may showcase a deeper roster of fabulous frosh in big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles as well as fantastic first year guards in Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker.

However, three elite emerging newbies hail from Durham, NC’s campus and arguably are the best of the bunch when playing together. Perhaps the best frosh in the nation, Jahlil Okafur, is supported by two additional freshmen in standout guard Tyus Jones and multi-talented wing Justice Winslow.

Vitale may have labelled this group “Diaper Dandies.” However, at this stage in the season, nothing n their games remotely suggest that Kentucky’s and Duke’s freshmen haven’t shed the metaphorical diapers in order to compete as strong and talented young men for a national championship.

Now that’s my 2 cents!

MIKE on sports!

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Deadly Sports Language: New iTunes Sports Podcast

sports cliche backs against the wall

Team has its backs against the wall

The deadly language of sports is absolutely lethal.

It’s rich with dire references.

It overflows with clichés crying out for imminent death.

And, it serves as inspiration for today’s sports podcast on iTunes.

MIKE on sports podcast

Click above to listen to the podcast.

Also, like the sports comic that introduces this chapter, it makes you feel helpless – like your back is against the wall and a firing squad is poised to pull the trigger aimed at you.

Sure, sports’ deadly language may sound very depressing at times, but don’t blame me. Blame the morbid manner the media reports on its coverage of the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.

During my sports journalism career, I’ve spent plenty of time attending sports events and watching games on the big screen.

I’m routinely assaulted by the deadly language that sportscasters employ.

Tell me if some of these sports references don’t make you feel like you’re being clunked on the head by a coffin.

For example:

The QB made a fatal mistake, and he got buried by the linebacker.

When the batter failed to execute the suicide squeeze play, the base runner became a dead duck.

When time expired, it forced sudden death overtime in this life or death soccer match.

The opponents’ deadly 3 point shooting in the game murdered us.

Former Arkansas Razorbacks basketball coach Nolan Richardson captured a 1994 NCAA title. He attributed his championship victory to his team’s “40 Minutes of Hell” defense.

A couple of NCAA football teams play their home games in football stadiums known as Death Valley.

If the previous “expiring” expressions don’t bury you, consider these team nicknames that also comprise sports’ deadly terminology.

Remember these popular nicknames for pro sports teams from the past? The 1967 Boston Red Sox were referred to as The Kardiac Kids. The 1982 Miami Dolphins were called The Killer Bees. And, the 1927 New York Yankees were notoriously known as Murderers’ Row.

Even, NFL defenses bore similarly sounding titles. Consider the Minnesota Vikings’ Purple People Eaters, the Chicago Bears’ Monsters of the Midway and the Dallas Cowboys’ Doomsday Defense.

Finally, individual nicknames like The Undertaker, The Embalmer and The Executioner are separately profiled in Deadly Sports Stuff.

The deadly language of sports easily finds a place at #4 in my sports comic book titled Deadly Sports Stuff.

Deadly Sports StuffNow, do you get it? I could argue that sportscasters’ colorfully lethal language must change immediately.

However, it hasn’t killed us yet and it probably never will.

MIKE on sports!

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New iTunes Podcast on March Madness’ Missed FT Celebration

missed foul shot

Teammates congratulate shooter who missed free throw

Earlier this month, I posted a blog about one of the worst sights in all of sports. I coined the ridiculous spectacle the “missed free throw celebration.”

After watching the first couple rounds of the NCAA March Madness basketball games, I became exasperated and was led to record an iTunes sports podcast about the inexplicable behavior of this “poor shooting party.

MIKE on sports podcastClick above to download the podcast from iTunes.

Just tune into the March Madness games on CBS, TNT and TBS, and I guarantee you’ll to see countless “missed free throw celebrations.”

These “failed free throw festivities” occur whenever basketball players enthusiastically approach their brick-laying, free throw shooting teammate. They oddly congratulate him with high fives and generous pats to the butt after he just clanged an important freebie from 15 feet.

Doesn’t anybody else on the planet find this behavior ridiculous?

Why don’t announcers decry the dreadful display of celebrating ineptitude whenever a shooter misses a gimme from the charity stripe? Instead, they claim there’s a mysterious lid on the basket.

Imagine if MLB infielders sprint to the pitcher’s mound to bask in the embarrassment of a pitcher immediately after his last fast ball wound up 450’ away in the center field stands?

And, what if NFL players party-hearty with their team’s running back after he coughs up the football in the red zone?

You get where I’m going here. So, let’s stop the “missed free throw celebrations” before these pitiful parties spread to other sports.

I write more about the “missed free throw celebration” and other irritating things about sports in my FREE sports comic book called Wost About Sports.

Worst About SportsClick on the yellow cover above to safely download the book.

Also, feel free to share with friends.

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MIKE on Sports Podcast: The Zamboni Driver

Hockey's Ice Resurfacing Machine The Zamboni

Hockey’s Zamboni

Driving this clunky ice resurfacing vehicle would satisfy nearly every hockey fan’s fantasy.

Hoards of hockey fans have yearned to climb behind the wheel of this tractor and take charge of the ice.

The baddest maintenance vehicle in sports with a top speed of just 9 miles per hour, the Zamboni cruises into today’s MIKE on Sports iTunes podcast.

MIKE on sports podcastThe boxy Zamboni scrapes, collects, washes, resurfaces and smooths the ice for hockey games and skating competitions alike.

The monster machine sprays and then squeegees 140 degree water on NHL or biddy league hockey ice alike. Miraculously, it transforms once rutted and scarred ice into a shimmering surface that looks like polished glass.

Founded by Frank J. Zamboni in Southern California in 1949, the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine has become the standard throughout arenas around the world. Approximately 200 custom made machines, at a price of $75,000 each, are manufactured each year.

The Zamboni’s iconic fame has extended beyond the boards of the hockey rinks it resurfaces. It once featured in the classic sitcom Cheers when Carla’s husband Eddie supposedly got run over by a Zamboni.

In a Peanuts comic strip, a miniature Zamboni once cleaned the ice in a birdbath for Snoopi’s bird pal named Woodstock.

This heavy duty “bad to the boni” machine is dear to all hockey fans. Most have watched it perfectly restore chunks and grooves in previously pock marked ice, secretly dreaming they were ones behind the wheel.

To NHL or hockey purists, it doesn’t matter that the Zamboni moves along at a speed most people walk…backward.

Universally loved by hockey fans across the globe, it’s easy to understand how the Zamboni easily chugs its way into today’s MIKE on Sports iTunes sports podcast.

MIKE on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: University of Michigan’s Fab 5

The Fab 5

University of Michigan’s Fab 5

Today’s #TBT sports blog recalls one of the best freshmen classes in the history of NCAA college basketball.

It’s only fitting that I release today’s blog on a day that features a full day March Madness basketball game coverage.

Their Fab 5 nickname sounded more like the popular Beatles band from the 1960s. Instead, the catchy moniker heralded the most important recruiting class in the history of college basketball at the time.

The University of Michigan’s legendary Fab 5 recruiting class had four of the top ten 1991 NCAA basketball recruits. Their fifth recruit ranked among the top 100 high school players in the nation.

Members of the Fab 5 would all become future NBA players. Chris Webber was the nation’s #1 recruit. Juwan Howard was the #3 recruit in the country. Jalen Rose was the country’s #6 rated recruit prospect.

The Fab 5 also featured Jimmy King the #10 rated recruit and Ray Jackson, who completed the group at #84.

Under Head Coach Steve Fisher, the talented Fab 5 advanced to the NCAA Championship finals in their freshmen and sophomore years. In 1992 the team lost 71- 51 to the Duke Blue Devils, and in 1993 they suffered a 77- 71 defeat to the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The Fab 5 succeeded on the court at the University of Michigan, but the players left an even bigger mark away from the hardwood.

ESPN 30 for 30 Films told of the players’ influence in transforming the landscape of college basketball. Much of their story mirrored the cultural influence of London’s musical group the Beatles, referred to as the Fab 4.

This group of young basketball stars brought their own brand of style to the game. They introduced hip-hop music, baggy shorts, brash talk, shaven heads, black shoes and black socks into the then conservative culture of college basketball.

The totally talented bunch of athletes all left school early. They entered the NBA Draft and sparked a future wave of college athletes who would do the same for the NBA.

This recruiting class may be the best ever in college basketball. Yet surprisingly, they never won a national championship.

In addition, the University of Michigan was investigated for violating several NCAA rules. Unfortunately, the university later lost many of the wins and awards earned during the Fab 5 era.

Many fans agree that the Fab 5’s reckless actions hurt their legacy.

However, this group still stands in collective NCAA memory. They were the brash, entertaining, talented and most transformational group of athletes to ever step onto the hardwood of college basketball.

Like them or not, the Fab 5 deserves a spot in NCAA Basketball Favorites – baggy shorts, brash talk, black socks, bald heads and all.

MIKE Sports Comic Book: NCAA Basketball FavoritesClick on the blue cover above and safely download the book from Amazon.

MIKE on sports!

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Duke’s Cameron Crazies Happy with Blue Devils’ #1 Seed

MIKE Comic 33 Cameron CraziesAlong with the Kentucky Wildcats, Wisconsin Badgers and Villanova Wildcats, the Duke University Blue Devils start this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as a #1 regional seed.

And, Duke’s fanatical fans – or Cameron Crazies – couldn’t be happier.

Duke bested ACC rivals Notre Dame (who beat them twice) and Virginia for the coveted top spot in the South Region.

On Friday in Charlotte, NC, Duke will host the winner of today’s University of North Florida versus Robert Morris University game.

Thought the game won’t be played in the comfy confines of Duke’s on-campus Cameron Indoor Stadium, expect a large, but boisterous Duke student contingent of Cameron Crazies in attendance when the Dukies tip-off March Madness play only two hours away from Durham.

Duke’s Cameron Crazies are legendary. They’re wildly passionate about their basketball team. The student section at Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium has every right to go crazy. These college kids get to cheer on top national recruiting classes each year as well as the most successful head coach in college basketball history, Mike Krzyzewski.

The energetic and creative students, cleverly named Cameron Crazies, have helped provide a huge home-court advantage for the Duke Blue Devils during the school’s games in Durham, NC.

Duke only lost once this year at Cameron, an early season loss to Miami in January, thanks in part to its student supporters.

Since joining the program in 1980, Coach Mike Krzyzewski has developed the Duke Basketball program into one of the nation’s elite.

Coach K has led the Blue Devils to four NCAA Titles in 1991, 1992, 2001, and 2010, while coaching scores of future NBA players.

Coach K attributes the Duke Basketball program’s success not only to the five star recruits who have played for him. But, the noisy Cameron Crazies who have rooted for his squad at Cameron Indoor have made it a nearly impossible place for opposing teams to play and win.

Before students enter Cameron Indoor Stadium, they gather in the makeshift city of Krzyzewski-ville outside of the arena. There, clever chants are made up before the games begin inside the stadium.

During the late fall and winter many Cameron Crazies brave the harsh weather. They pitch tents to secure tickets to sold-out games against in-state ACC rivals such as University of North Carolina, Wake Forest and NC State.

Covered in blue body paint or dressed in funny outfits, Cameron Crazies fill the lower bowl of the stadium. With their creative chants, intimidating tactics and constant jumping, the student section creates an awesome atmosphere for the Blue Devils basketball team just inches away from the hardwood and the visiting team.

Whether you’re a Duke Blue Devil fan or you’re not the least bit crazy, it’s not too difficult to draw the conclusion that these Cameron Crazies are the best fans in college basketball!

Expect them to leave campus on Friday and make the 141 mile trek to Charlotte to cheer on their team which should have no problem advancing deeper into the South region into the Sweet 16 by Sunday evening.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog: Basketball’s Missed FT Celebration

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

My cup of basketball angst has burbled up and spilled over into today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog.

Though I touched on the topic not long ago, it just won’t go away. That’s why I had to express myself once again, but this time in a new podcast.

MIKE on sports podcastClick on yellow cover above to listen.

One of the worst sights in all of sports is the ridiculous spectacle that I call the “missed free throw celebration.”

Incredulously, we witness this “poor shooting party” whenever we watch an NBA, NCAA, high school or biddy league basketball game.

Just tune into ESPN this weekend, and I guarantee you’ll to see countless “missed free throw celebration.” Even during March Madness games.

These “failed free throw festivities” occur whenever basketball players enthusiastically approach their brick-laying, free throw shooting teammate. They oddly congratulate him with high fives and generous pats to the butt after he just clanged an important freebie from 15 feet.

Doesn’t anybody else on the planet find this behavior ridiculous?

Why don’t ESPN announcers decry the dreadful display of celebrating ineptitude whenever a shooter misses a gimme from the charity stripe? Instead, they claim there’s a mysterious lid on the basket.

Imagine if MLB infielders sprint to the pitcher’s mound to bask in the embarrassment of a pitcher immediately after his last fast ball wound up 450’ away in the center field stands?

And, what if NFL players party-hearty with their team’s running back after he coughs up the football in the red zone?

You get where I’m going here. So, let’s stop the “missed free throw celebrations” before these pitiful parties spread to other sports.

Worst About SportsBasketball’s missed free throw celebration so rankles me that I devote an entire chapter to it in my FREE sports comic book Worst About Sports.

Click on the yellow cover above to safely download the book.

Straight talk. No static.

MIKE on Sports!

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NCAA March Madness: Basketball Bracketology

MIKE Comic 1 March MadnessStarting this evening, NCAA basketball bracketology formally begins.

Bracketologists will have their pencils will be poised, their erasers ready and their theories thought out.

Immediately following the committee’s selections, brackets will begin filling out. By midnight, experienced Bracketologists will eschew sleep to compare picks with those of like-minded friends, co-workers and loved ones and even total strangers on the internet.

They’ll speculate about undefeated Kentucky, determined Duke,  rugged Virginia, always ready Kansas and never to be overlooked Villanova.

They’ll ponder the fate of a disciplined Wisconsin squad, an exciting Arizona Wildcats team and a little known sleeper in Northern Iowa.

They’ll postulate who will be this year’s bracket buster and whether Gonzaga could reach its first Final Four.

Every fan will have a hunch. Most will have theories. But, all will be mesmerized by the madness.

Yes, March Madness descends again upon a wanting college basketball crazed America.

Eager bracketologists, like those pictured in the above comic, best capture the exuberant fans that embody the maddening spring illness that totally envelopes NCAA college basketball fans each year.

Man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, former jock or just a fan, bracketology appeals to the masses and discriminates against no one.

Everyone can fill out a bracket. And, anyone can pick a Cinderella.

The avid and toothy college basketball fans in this comic are confidently filling in their NCAA tournament brackets.

It’s obvious they’re eagerly embracing the annual chaotic spring malaise of March Madness.

How fun. How exciting. How maddening.

Actor Alec Baldwin often asked in his clever Discover Card commercials, “What’s in your wallet?”

Well, let me pose today’s questions to both experienced as well as budding bracketologists.

Who’s in your bracket?

Let the madness begin.

MIKE on sports!

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FREE Sports Comic Book: New York Sports Icons

New York Sports Stars and Landmarks

In addition to famous former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, New York City boasts a colorful array of popular places and legendary landmarks. These include the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, Broadway, the Diamond District, Mulberry Street, Madison Avenue and Wall Street.

The Big Apple also stands alone as an American sports metropolis.

It plays home to 10 major professional sports teams – two each in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and now MLS.

The city that never sleeps is proud of its storied sports history. Its rich sports heritage comprises Hall of Fame athletes, championship teams, historic venues and even a little known urban sports legend.

My new FREE sports comic book New York Sports Icons pays homage to the city’s most famous and most admired.

This book recalls Broadway Joe Namath’s bold Super Bowl prediction and Mark Messier’s audacious Stanley Cup proclamation.

New York Sports Icons remembers the World Series heroics of a Messrs. October and November.

It also spotlights the illustrious careers of Major League Baseball’s greatest player ever and the sport’s most colorful catcher.

New York Sports Icons pays tribute to two heroes. One unexpectedly walked down Madison Square Garden’s tunnel and inspired his NBA team, while the other courageously walked across racially divided lines to change the game of professional baseball forever.

This book honors the storied environs of one of Major League Baseball’s most respected stadiums and the midtown Manhattan sports venue billed as “the world’s most famous arena.”

New York Sports Icons even includes a bonus chapter on a New York City playground legend who is regarded as the greatest basketball player to NEVER suit up in an NBA uniform.

Whether you’re from New York City, or just wish you were, be sure to enjoy the read and share this FREE sports comic book with friends.

And don’t ever fuh getta bout it!

MIKE on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: The Temple Owl Without a Vowel

The Owl without a Vowel

Bill Mlkvy – The Owl without a Vowel

This Temple University Owl may have been missing vowels in his unusual last name. But, it gave birth to one of the most inventive nicknames in college basketball history.

Lacking vowels aside, there was no question that whenever Bill Mlkvy stepped onto the court, there was nothing lacking in his game.

With the NCAA basketball tournament getting ready to dominate our lives again this year, I thought it would be neat to remember Mlkvy today in my #TBT sports blog.

Associated Press sports writer Ralph Bernstein first called Temple’s Bill Mlkvy The Owl without a Vowel. The sharpshooting Mlkvy’s five letter last name was comprised only of consonants. As a child, Mlkvy got teased at school. He even asked his dad to change the family name, but the odd spelling stuck.

Years later, as a highly touted high school senior, the crazy spelling of Mlkvy’s last name came into question. Legendary University of Kentucky basketball coach Adolf Rupp thought his assistants were spoofing him. He wondered how an East Coast prospect could possibly have such an unusually spelled last name.

Mlkvy ended up staying closer to home for college. He attended Philadelphia’s Temple University. It had a great dental school and Milkvy’s plan was to become a dentist after college.

At 6’4” and 185 lbs. this Owl without a Vowel soared at Temple. In 1951, he was named NCAA All-American First Team. Mlkvy enjoyed an incredible junior season. He led the nation in scoring with 731 total points and a 29.5 ppg average.

Among all NCAA players that year, the Temple Owl also finished second overall in total rebounds and assists.

Mlkvy is still remembered today for his March 3, 1951 performance against Wilkes College. The Owl without a Vowel poured in an incredible 73 points, the fourth highest total in NCAA basketball history, during the Owls’ 99 – 67 win. He scored a remarkable 55 points in a row for his team.

The Philadelphia Warriors selected Mlkvy with their first pick in the 1952 NBA Draft. Because of a conflict with his military status, Mlkvy only played one season with the Warriors and averaged just 5.8 ppg in his rookie season.

Mlkvy never played professionally again and opted to enter dental school instead.

Bill Mlkvy may not have enjoyed the lengthy professional basketball career that so many fans expected. However, older NCAA basketball fans will never forget the unusual spelling of this unusually talented player’s last name. And, they’ll always remember Mlkvy’s incredible 1951 junior season in which he tallied one of the most impressive statistical seasons in college basketball history.

This Owl without a Vowel may have been missing certain letters in his last name. But, when it came to the hardwood, there was nothing lacking in the Temple All-American’s stellar game that he regularly brought to the basketball court.

MIKE Sports Comic Book: NCAA Basketball FavoritesJust click on the blue cover above to safely download my sports comic book for only 99 cents from Amazon.

In addition to reading about Phi Slamma Jamma, Pistol Pete Maravich, Never Nervous Pervis Ellison, The Admiral David Robinson and more in NCAA Basketball Favorites, you’ll learn why this Owl Without at Vowel was such a hoot during his playing days at Temple.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog: Say It Ain’t Suh? on NFL Mega Deal

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced his intent to ink an unprecedented $114 million deal with NFL free agent and former Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Signing Suh to the mega deal will make the immensely talented, but highly controversial Suh the highest paid NFL defensive player in league history.

Suh’s stratospheric numbers will surpass those of arguably the best overall NFL defender J.J. Watt as well as most of the elite quarterbacks in the league.

So, here’s my two cents on the anticipated Suh signing.

Many NFL pundits praise the bold, but expensive move.

With Suh anchoring the defensive middle, the three-time 1st Team All-Pro DT should open up endless possibilities for talented, speedy pass rushers Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan to get into the opposing team’s backfield.

The 28 year-old Suh was credited with 8.5 sacks in 2014. He’s also regarded as one of the most top run stoppers in football. The defensively dominant Suh is that one player whom the NFL’s 28th ranked pass defense Dolphins desperately needs.

However, the Suh signing immediately found its distracters like me who screamed with “Say It Ain’t Suh!” disdain.

Prudent business-minded fans were incredulous. They claimed the super-rich deal tied up too much of the Dolphins salary cap and should never have been paid to a defensive player.

And, socially conscious fans belched at the culture of hypocrisy that still permeates all levels of the NFL.

During the past two years, the League of Denial has found itself immersed in concussion discussions. Plus, the NFL has been cemented directly in the eye of a never ending maelstrom of high profile cases involving Ray Rice’s domestic abuse, Josh Gordon’s drug suspension, Jim Irsay’s DUI, Letroy Guion’s weapons possession and even murder charges surrounding former New England Patriots’ TE Aaron Hernandez.

Though Ndamukong Suh has kept away from police blotters, he hasn’t shied away from less than complimentary media attention or regular correspondence from the commissioner’s office in terms of fines. The DT ranks as the most heavily fined NFL player with automatic pay withdrawals amounting to $165,000 over the past few years. The surly Suh is widely regarded is the NFL’s dirtiest player, and few can argue.

The now super-rich DT has been fined for stomping Packers’ Evan Dietrich Smith, needlessly and illegally blocking Vikings’ John Sullivan, kicking Texans’ Matt Shaub in the groin and manhandling QBs’ Jake Delhomme, Jay Cutler, Brandon Weeden and Andy Dalton.

Suh has demonstrated his undisciplined behavior both on and off the field. While at the University of Nebraska Suh was cited multiple times for vehicle infractions and even fined in his hometown of Portland, OR for being clocked at 91 MPH in a 55 MPH zone.

It will be impossible for Suh to live up to the enormous expectations on the field after signing a contract that guarantees him $60 million in the next three years.

When you add the violent streak he exhibits on the field with a propensity for undisciplined accountability off the gridiron, it only leaves me to question, “Say it ain’t Suh, Stephen Ross?”

But, it is your money, so spend it as foolishly as you please.

MIKE on Sports!

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MIKE on Sports Podcast Now on iTunes

MIKE on sports podcastMy new MIKE on Sports! podcast is now available on iTunes.

The MIKE on Sports! podcast is for every American sports fan who loves to laugh or learn something new about sports.

Check out the podcast for clever quips and fun loving factoids that ESPN and other sports networks fail to report.

I share great sports stuff that never really seems to grab the headlines on ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated.

My monologues side step last night’s scores, today’s standings and tomorrow’s big games.

Unlike Mike & Mike, Dan Patrick, Mike Francesa and Bill Simmons, I pontificate in two to three minute sound bites about nutty sayings, timeless observations and often overlooked peculiarities from our American sports culture.

Here’s where I scrutinize things like teams, nicknames, mascots, sports expressions, single named icons, famous sports landmarks as well as the sports world’s greatest sights, sounds and smells.

Plus, as an equal opportunity offender, I NEVER miss the chance to lampoon players, coaches and sportscasters when their words or deeds just beg to be skewered.

Subscribe, rate and review the new MIKE on Sports! podcast by clicking on the iTunes logo below:

iTunes - MIKE on sports podcastMy monologues certainly aren’t rocket science.

They’re just a fun way for me to voice my quirky, and at times, unconventional observations of things pertaining to sports.

You’ll love listen to my MIKE on Sports! podcast for good fun and better reporting on the best stories that you always knew existed, but had to wait for someone like me to deliver them to you.

Straight talk. No static.

This is MIKE (on sports!)

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NBA Atlanta Hawks Unveil New Dominique Wilkins Statue

Human Highlight Reel Dominique Wilkins

Former Atlanta Hawks’ Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins earned his Human Highlight Reel nickname for his non-stop, jaw-dropping highlights on the hardwood, or better yet, from ten plus feet above the hardwood.

The former Atlanta Hawks star regularly rose above his NBA peers as that one special athlete whose extraordinary athletic achievements merited the clever moniker.

But, beginning this weekend, Hawks fans will no longer look into the air to see the Hall of Fame athlete. Ironically Nique’s been grounded directly in front of the team’s home court.

A huge 13.5” tall and 18,500 lb. statue of Wilkins will welcome fans into Philips Arena in Atlanta.

The Hawks bronzed the face of their franchise and memorialized his likeness for his loyalty to the Atlanta organization and its fans.

Nique was quoted, ”Nobody loves this organization more than I love it,” Wilkins said. ”I bleed and breathe Hawks. Even when I played for other teams I felt funny, because I was a Hawk.”

This NBA legend’s hardwood exploits brought instantaneous expectation wherever he played. Wilkins never limited his game to just one incredible play per night. Instead, he consistently produced a film reel full of them.

As Dominique’s neat nickname suggests, the Human Highlight Reel defied gravity. He electrified fans with his high flying dunks every time he stepped onto the basketball court.

Wilkins won the NBA Slam Dunk Championship twice. Plus, his thrilling dunks from the 1985 and 1990 dunking contests are still regularly watched on You Tube.

A nine-time NBA All-Star and the 1985-86 NBA scoring champion, this University of Georgia product averaged 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game during the 14 seasons he played.

However, Wilkins will be best remembered for his powerful windmill dunks as well as his acrobatic ability to score from the most unlikely places on the court.

Wilkins currently works as an executive in the front office with his original NBA team, the Atlanta Hawks.

Atlanta fans hope he can transform his on-court success as a player into a future off-court Human Highlight Reel as one of the league’s top execs by assembling a team that competes for a future NBA Championship.

Now that would be a highlight reel worth watching!

MIKE on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: The NBA Rash Bruce Bowen

ESPN NBA announcer Bruce Bowen

NBA champion Bruce Bowen

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

He’s 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.”

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.

This pesky NBA defensive star for the San Antonio Spurs locks down a place in NBA Favorites at #7.

NBA FavoritesBruce 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.

MIKE on sports!

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