#TBT Sports Blog Remembers The NBA Mailman Karl Malone

NBA Mailman Karl MaloneToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the basketball’s greatest players ever –  The NBA Mailman Karl Malone.

This Mailman never deposited letters in a mailbox or drove a United States Postal Service truck. For Utah Jazz fans, however, his delivery was always guaranteed on both ends of the basketball court.

A 2010 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee, The NBA Mailman Karl Malone lived up to his nickname during his 18-year NBA career because of his performance dependability.

Like the picture of the United States Postal Service eagle, the Mailman soared during his playing days. Malone ranked second all-time in NBA history in points (36,928), field goals made (13,528) and minutes played (54,852) before retiring in 2004.

As the top pick of the Utah Jazz in 1985, Malone played 18 seasons with the club. He teamed with fellow NBA Hall of Famer, guard John Stockton, to run the best pick and roll plays in the history of the sport.

The powerfully built 6’9” and 265 lbs. Malone was the complete basketball package. He delivered defensively and ended his career as the NBA’s greatest defensive rebounder. The Mailman also proved his reliability from the free throw line. He still holds the league record for attempts (13,188) and makes (9,787).

This two-time (1997 and 1999) NBA Most Valuable Player also won two Olympic gold medals. The first was awarded in Barcelona as part of the original 1992 Dream Team. He received a second in 1996 in Atlanta. Malone was voted as one of the NBA’s 50 all-time greatest players.

The Mailman Karl Malone Never Won an NBA Title

Although this 14-time All-Star never won an NBA Championship, Malone participated in the NBA Playoffs every season he played in the league.

Mailmen deliver in all kinds of weather. In Karl Malone’s case, rain, wind, ice, snow and even talented NBA players could never keep this power forward from succeeding on both ends of the basketball court.

By reading today’s #TBT sports blog, here’s hoping NBA fans will never forget the stamp of basketball excellence The NBA Mailman Karl Malone left behind upon his retirement.

When it comes to NBA basketball, fans should quickly remember that this Mailman always delivered.

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#TBT Sports Blog: Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski

MIKE Comic YazToday’s #TBT sports blog looks back on Carl Yastrzemski – one of the top 10 Major League Baseball players ever.

He was simply known as Yaz.

He’s also #7 in my FREE sports comic book Boston Sports Icons.

Yaz proved the best way to follow an icon on the same team while playing the same position is to become a Major League Baseball Hall of Fame legend, too.

That’s exactly what Carl Yastrzemski accomplished in 1961.

As a 20 year-old rookie left fielder for the Boston Red Sox, Yaz replaced the brilliant “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams.

Yaz’s strong work ethic, marvelous athleticism and unparalleled commitment to the game equipped him to escape the looming shadow of the beloved Williams’ incredible career. He, too, would become one of Major League Baseball’s best players ever.

After 23 years in the same Red Sox organization, Boston’s iconic #8 etched the following impressive numbers in Major League Baseball history books upon retirement.

Yaz finished 1st in total games played with one team, 2nd in total games played in MLB history, 3rd in total at bats, 6th in bases on balls, 8th in hits, total bases and doubles and 13th in career RBI’s.

Yaz Voted into Cooperstown on First Ballot

It’s no wonder he became a first ballot Cooperstown inductee.

Carl Yastzremski was the son of Polish potato farmers living in Long Island, NY. Yaz never forgot the promise he made to his parents to graduate from college. Few fans know that Yaz originally attended the University of Notre Dame, playing for the Irish on a basketball scholarship. Additionally, he had once broken NFL Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown’s Long Island high school basketball scoring record.

However, like Jim Brown, Carl Yastrzemski chose another sport in which to excel. Yaz left college in order to join the Boston Red Sox franchise as a second baseman. The club quickly changed his position from infielder to outfielder, but fortunately failed to convince Yaz to change his unusual swing.

As soon as he got his start in the big leagues in 1961, Yastrzemski became known for his unorthodox batting stance. The young left-handed hitter held his bat high over his head. This odd approach led to a dramatic arced swing in which fans almost expected to hear an audible swoosh.

Immediately, baseball players of all ages copied Yaz’s batting stance, but none experienced the same success as the young Boston Red Sox left fielder.

Yaz dominated pitchers at the plate. He compiled a .285 career average, belted 452 dingers, collected 3,419 hits in 3,308 games and hit for the elusive Triple Crown as the American League MVP in 1967.

Yastrzemski also excelled in the daunting environs of Fenway Park. He won seven Gold Gloves for being the best at his craft in spite of dealing with the dastardly 37’ wall, the intimidating and unpredictable Green Monster, in Boston’s left field.

An 18 time MLB All-Star, Yaz may be best remembered for more than his athletic excellence. He was an amazingly committed and loyal guy who did more than just play his entire 23-year career with one organization.

Carl Yastrzemski kept the promise he made to his parents after skipping out on his basketball scholarship at Notre Dame. Yaz made his family proud in 1966 when he graduated from Merrimac College in North Andover, Massachusetts.

With a big bat and a bigger heart, it’s easy to understand why this son of Polish potato farmers swings in at #7 in Boston Sports Icons.Boston Sports Stars and LandmarksClick on the purple cover above to safely download my FREE sports comic book titled Boston Sports Icons.

And, even while reading the book, you’ll almost hear the audible swoosh of Yaz’s swing!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!baseball footer

#TBT Sports Blog: The NBA’s Portland “Jail Blazers”

Portland TrailblazersToday’s #TBT sports blog looks back on one of the best, but most dubious nicknames in sports history – the NBA’s Portland “Jail Blazers.”

Professional sports team management often turns a blind eye to the bratty behavior of their athletes when they perform well for the team and bring in big bucks for the franchise.

However, the sports world may never again witness the “pa-role model” line-up of this group of knuckleheads.

They were the NBA’s infamous Portland Trail Blazers or “Jail Blazers” of the early 2000s.

Portland “Jail Blazers”

Better named the Portland “Jail Blazers”, the franchise featured a team of felons, alcohol abusers and potheads. They were talented but troubled athletes. These jailhouse jocks quickly angered the team’s loyal fan base. They damaged the City of Rose’s reputation around the league as a model championship organization and brought embarrassment to the franchise.

This star-studded Portland team was expected to compete for an NBA title. However, the Portland “Jail Blazers” imploded as quickly as these great athletes filled the lane on the fast break. Their names regularly showed up in the local police station’s arrest reports.

Instead of taking the charge on the basketball court, these troubled athletes were being charged in police offices away from the hardwood. Ruben Patterson was charged for felony domestic abuse. Zach Randolph was booked for driving under the influence. Qyntel Woods was charged with animal cruelty and marijuana possession. Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire received misdemeanors for marijuana possession.

The “Jail Blazers” Irritated Portland Fans

While still on the court, other “Jail Blazer” players irritated Portland followers. Lazy efforts and abusive comments toward teammates, refs and coaches created more problems for the team. J.R. Rider, Bonzi Wells, Nick Van Exel and Darius Miles further upset their own fans. As if enough petals hadn’t already fallen off this rose, the team’s flaky center, Shawn Kemp, left the team in mid-season to check himself into a drug and alcohol rehab clinic.

Since the outbreak of the Trail Blazers early 2000s reputation, the Portland franchise has rebuilt its once respected team. The organization has drafted gifted athletes who also possess off the court character.

Instead of blazing a path to the local jail, here’s hoping these players pioneer a trail for the City of Roses back to the NBA Finals.

Kudos, sort of, to the former “pa-role model” Portland Jail Blazers.

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#TBT Sports Blog: The NHL Golden Jet Bobby Hull

Chicago Blackhawks Bobby HullLike an easy open net goal, former Chicago Blackhawks great Bobby Hull effortlessly skates into today’s #TBT sports blog.

If you’ve ever visited Chicago’s United Center, you’ve seen his bronze statue standing proudly beside Bulls legend Michael Jordan and fellow Blackhawk great Stan Mikita.

Though he never actually skated inside this cavernous arena, Bobby Hull will always be remembered for what he accomplished as a Chicago Blackhawk, long before the team moved from the Old Chicago Stadium to its gleaming new home.

During his 23 year career, this legendary left winger played in both the established NHL as well as the then fledgling WHA.

Hull will always be wedded to the franchise that originally drafted him and ultimately lionized him with his life-sized likeness.

Bobby Hull Epitomized His Golden Jet Nickname

Between 1952 and 1980, Hull epitomized his Golden Jet nickname in more ways than one. The brilliant, blond haired Hockey Hall of Famer skated at an astounding 29.7 mph. In addition to his amazing speed on the ice, Hull recorded a 118.3 mph slap shot, making him the most physically gifted – and feared – hockey player of his generation.

Hull’s shot strength and banana bladed hockey stick proved such a lethal combination, especially for maskless goalies, that the NHL minimized the curvature of the sticks to reduce the danger (of his strokes / strikes).

Besides incomparable speed and a killer shot, Hull possessed an uncanny ability to put the puck in the net. In 1966, he became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, a feat he replicated another four times.

Hull led the NHL in scoring an impressive seven times, while accumulating career NHL total numbers of 610 goals and 560 assists in his 1,063 games.

Without doubt, Bobby Hull is best remembered as a Blackhawk for having won the 1961 Stanley Cup, two Hart Memorial trophies and three Art Ross trophies. In deference to the legend, the Hawks retired Hull’s famous #9 jersey, which he originally wore as a tribute to his own idol Gordie Howe.

Hull made hockey history following his earlier accolades and awards. In 1972, he eschewed the Chicago franchise to become the face of the new World Hockey Association. His decision also captured headlines because the Hartford Whalers signed him to the most lucrative hockey contract ever: $1.75 million over 10 years with a then-whopping $1 million signing bonus.

Hull went on to become the WHA’s greatest player ever. He scored a never before seen 77 goals during the 1974 – 75 season and led his squad to three AVCO or WHA championships.

There’s no doubt why The Hockey News named Hull #8 on its list of top 100 hockey players ever.

It’s also why The Golden Jet is revered as the most venerated hockey star in Chicago Blackhawks history.

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2 Cent Tuesday: FREE Comic Book – Best About Sports

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog gives sports fans the opportunity to safely download the FREE comic book titled Best About Sports.

The book offers 25 comics and chronicles 25 short stories on what I find best about sports.

All sports fans can agree that the subject of sports, any sport, will always trigger debate.

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

Animated, verbal altercations about any athlete and team embroil sports fans everywhere and foster what I believe is Best About Sports.

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.

Reference the Yankees & impassioned Boston Red Sox fans will appear out of thin air eager to engage in an animated verbal altercation.

Criticize Kobe and Lakers lovers will immediately compare the Black mamba to MJ as well as list Bryant along with Magic, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq and even Mikan in their long line of NBA titles.

Praise the Pack and surely Steelers, Saints and Patriots faithful will some how seek to metaphorically kick you right in your Cheese Head.

Wear a FC Barcelona jersey in public and you’ll quickly feel the glaring eyes of Manchester United hooligans lurking ominously nearby.

Yes, the subject of sports stirs the embers of conversations from yesterday’s nationally televised game as well as from championship games from several seasons ago. Fans who can’t remember what they ate for lunch have amazing recollection of events on the ice, hardwood, pitch, end zone or home plate from decades back and always seek outlets to share their passion, opinions and angst.

Best About SportsPlus, sports are universal.

Sports transcends religion, cuts through cultural ties, eludes ethnicity, ignores bank account balances and fails to distinguish between sex, weight, age and even familial allegiance.

Your team is your team. Not your dad’s, your sister’s or even that of your spouse. Your inalienable right as a sports fan is to root for whomever you want.

Sure, your choice may defy logic, strain family ties, break stereotypes and shatter urban myths, but it’s your choice, never to be forced upon you at any time.

The right to root for your team and your favorite player is buried deep down in your DNA.

It’s your privilege and your prerogative in spite of what others think. That’s why this book is so important to me. It’s the culmination of the top 25 things I like, no love, about sports.

My top 25 in Best About Sports includes names and teams, stadiums and sports, plus sights, sounds and smells. Click HERE to safely download.

Remember, it’s my book! My opinion. My prerogative. My top 25.

Enjoy Best About Sports and that’s my 2 cents!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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The Masters at Augusta National: A Tradition Unlike Any Other

Augusta National Golf CourseEach spring, tradition abounds at Augusta National Golf Club.

Sportscaster Jim Nantz’s instantly recognizable words, “a tradition unlike any other,” eloquently capture the essence of the golf’s most prestigious event.

One of four United States major golf tournaments held each year, the Masters is the only one hosted by the same private course.

Formerly an expansive nursery, Augusta National has flourished as one of golf’s most famous and highly sought out places to play.

The par 72 and 7,435 yard course has been continuously updated over the years to make it more challenging. Bigger bunkers, expanded water hazards and plenty of trees and shrubs have been carefully added.

In 2009 Golf Digest Ranked Augusta National America’s Top Golf Course

It’s no surprise that in 2009, Golf Digest ranked Augusta National the top American golf course.

Bobby Jones, famous for winning golf’s grand slam, is primarily responsible for transforming Fruitland Nursery into Augusta National Golf Club. Along with designer Allister MacKenzie and The Masters’ first Chairman Clifford Roberts, Jones set out to build his dream golf course and start a competitive golf tournament that would attract the best golfers in the world. The first Masters teed off in 1934 and has run successfully every year since except during WWII.

By every indication, Jones’ vision succeeded beyond everyone’s expectation. For more than 80 years, Augusta National’s gorgeous, challenging course has been painstakingly maintained and has attracted the best golfers on the planet to compete each year.

During its storied existence, The Masters has maintained many of the traditions that have been cultivated over the years.

The Masters’ Ceremonial Green Jacket

Most notably, each year the tournament winner receives the ceremonial Green Jacket. In keeping with deep rooted Masters’ lore that began in 1949, the previous year’s Masters’ winner presents the emblematic Green Jacket immediately after the tournament to the new champion at the course’s Butler Cabin.

Since 1952, a Masters champions’ dinner is held in the Crow’s Nest Clubhouse. Tradition holds that the defending champion gets to personally select that evening’s menu.

Beginning in 1956, CBS Sports started covering The Masters. It’s the longest standing, uninterrupted television sports programming contract for one network to maintain this lengthy and successful relationship with a premier sporting event.

Six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus called the par three, 155 yard 12th hole the toughest short hole in golf. Plus, the unpredictable swirling winds, Rae’s Creek and the overall length of the par four 505 yard 11th hole and par five 510 yard 13th hole contribute to the enormous difficulty of this gorgeous piece of golfing real estate.

In a 1958 Sports Illustrated article, golf writer Herman Warren Wind coined the name Amen Corner after Augusta National’s signature stretch of tough play on its 11th, 12th and 13th holes. He wanted to create a catchy nickname for this glorious combination of beautifully designed, yet extremely challenging holes.

Golf’s Amen Corner

Much like baseball’s Hot Corner and football’s Coffin Corner, golf’s Amen Corner was officially born at Augusta National.

Amen Corner at Masters Golf Tournament

Throughout the years, crystal vases and even larger crystal bowls have been awarded for player excellence. The beautiful glass trophies are awarded to those who score the lowest overall score, make a hole-in-one or demonstrate golfing excellence by recording a double-eagle.

The Masters’ rituals, steeped in the tournament’s unique traditions, differentiate the elite tournament from all others. In addition to being the only major golf tournament to allow for a highly dramatic, sudden death playoff to decide its winner, the Masters field remains the smallest on the circuit with fewer than 100 total participants.

Of the 90+ entries, The Masters invites the top five amateur players in the world to compete. In keeping with the event’s quirky traditions, the amateurs are allowed to spend their nights on the course in the Crow’s Nest Clubhouse.

Every great golfer has played in The Masters. The most successful have included Jack Nicklaus with six Green Jackets, Tigers Woods and Arnold Palmer with four and seven other champions to include Gary Player, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Nick Faldo, Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret with three blazers.

Each spring, golf fans around the world look forward to the sport’s most cherished event not just because of the incredible collection of golfers who compete.

But, golf enthusiasts pine for traditions that the annual Masters tournament at Augusta National evokes.

The event is truly “a tradition unlike any other.”

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FREE Book: College Basketball Comics

MIKE FREE College Basketball Comics by Jim SweeneyThe wildly popular NCAA men’s national basketball championship tournament descends upon fans every year.

From mid March through early April, college basketball fans are smitten by the sports world’s most popular annual event that the NCAA has brilliantly Trademarked March Madness.

College hoops junkies trudge around like zombies. They get through the day mumbling about stats, scores, match-ups, RPI ratings, regional brackets and overall strength of conference schedules.

They also can’t part with their remotes, dividing ESPN viewing time between jumbo televisions, smaller WiFi notebook screens and even tinier LCD screens on their pocket-sized iPhones.

This year’s tournament championship game tonight features #1 seed the Villanova Wildcats against a very hot #3 seed the Michigan Wolverines.

FREE College Basketball Comics

College basketball fans consumed by the annual NCAA tournament will enjoy this FREE sports comic book. Click HERE to safely download.

It’s filled with 25 of my all-time favorite NCAA college basketball comics. They not only capture special players from previous tournaments, but also lampoon tireless basketball clichés we utilize as part of our, at times, outdated sports language.

You’ll laugh at the guys clad in tuxedos and bow ties getting invited to the Big Dance and you’ll smile at a player attempting to remove an actual lid from the basket with a blow torch.

The Admiral, Phi Slamma Jamma, Fab 5 and more

You’ll recall the brilliant leadership of The Admiral and the amazing athleticism of Phi Slamma Jamma.

You’ll admire the poise of Louisville’s Never Nervous Pervis and the precociousness of Michigan’s Fab 5.

You’ll get a kick out of the nail biters in the stands and the tall guys who own the paint.

You’ll cheer on the little guy who takes the charge and empathize with the undersized team that came up short.

You may go mad like the Cameron Crazies or go crazy with Dickie V’s cliché laden basketball expressions.

So, cheer on your favorite team because when it comes to the NCAA college basketball tournament each March, your squad is certainly playing for all the marbles.

And, before there’s no tomorrow (see Chapter 25 to learn more), enjoy the book. It’s funny and, better yet, it’s FREE! Click HERE to safely download.

Note, whether you’re a Villanova Wildcats fan or a diehard rooter for the Michigan Wolverines, there are still plenty more MIKE Sports Comic Books available on Amazon.com.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: March Madness’ The Admiral David Robinson

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

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.

David Robinson Named One of the Top 50 NBA Players Ever

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.

David Robinson Led Navy to NCAA Elite 8 in 1986

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 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.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT March Madness Memory: Northern Iowa’s Al Farokhmanesh

NCAA March Madness Invited to Big Dance

Today’s #TBT sports blog rewinds the clock to 2010 when Ali Farokhmanesh of Northern Iowa emerged as that year’s March Madness Cinderella story.

Paving the way for unheralded participants in this year’s Big Dance like diminutive guard KJ Maura of UMBC, the Martin twins from University of Nevada and a collection of Ramblers from Loyola Chicago, Farokhmanesh set the bar way above the rim with his stellar play.

Here’s my blog from that year….

 

Can You Say Ali Farokhmanesh?

Can you say Ali Farokhmanesh (Ah’-lee Fa-rook’-ha-ma-nesh)?

After this past weekend, absolutely! Even if you’re only a casual college basketball fan, you’re probably proclaiming the name Ali Farokhmanesh everywhere you go.

As a matter of fact, with unabashed confidence you’re more than likely repeatedly rattling off the tongue-twisting name Ali Farokhmanesh, but you’re also spelling it, properly syllabicating it, and quickly correcting the butchery of those who stutter when they can’t make it past the first three letters of this stellar guard’s last name.

Ali Farokhmmanesh. The Rook to his team mates – is arguably the number one story in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the one player mostly responsible for manufacturing America’s first bout of mania during this Spring’s March Madness.

Expect Farokhmanesh-a-mania to flourish for at least another five fabulous days until the Sweet Sixteen resumes next Saturday in St. Louis. Little Ali’s created the kind of Big Dance buzz that rivals the likes of Cincinnati’s Big O’s scintillations of the early 60’s, Michigan State’s Magic’s mesmerizing moves of the 70’s, Jimmy V’s vanquishing the vaunted Phi Slamma Jamma in the 80’s, Duke’s dazzling Laettner turn-around in the early 90’s and the Cuse’s Freshman Phenon Carmelo’s captivation of college fans earlier this decade.

Ali Farokhmanesh. The only thing wrong about him is his six foot height generously exaggerated on the Northern Iowa Panther basketball team roster. However, in spite of this one accepted abberation, everything else is soooooo very right about this thick, hairy-legged, under-sized, midwestern kid with the receding hairline and barely pronounceable last name willing to take crazy, calculated, career-defining shots on the biggest stage during the biggest game of his life against heavily favored opponents before a national television audience.

Farokhmanesh: A Name Never to be Forgotten for a Lifetime of Big Dances

Ali Farokhmanesh. A name never to be forgotten for a lifetime of Big Dances. Forget the March Madness Heroes of NCAA Tournaments past. Move over, Magic (Johnson), Michael (Jordan) and Manning (Danny). Wipe Wilt (Chamberlain) and Walton (Bill) off your list. And don’t even challenge me with the name of Kansas’ Mario Chalmers. Ali has emerged as the Hero of Heroes and Prom King of the Big Dance…..even if he never makes it past the Sweet Sixteen.

Ali Farokhmanesh. Get used to hearing and seeing a lot of this alphabet soup of a name. Ali’s two tournament game heroics will be constantly replayed, analyzed, dissected, fawned over and endlessly enjoyed in our living rooms for all of America . . . at least until he and his Panthers lace ’em up again next weekend.

Ali Farokhmanesh. The reason why teams play the game . . . any game . . . is because even the number 1 seeded, more highly touted, athletically gifted, tremendously talented teams on PAPER must show up every night to take on unknown, over-achieving underdogs. But when the nationally ranked titans don’t show up, little-known Goliath-killer mid-major teams like Northern Iowa with unheard-of players like Ali Farokhmanesh rise up, seize the moment and write their own chapter in NCAA Basketball Tournament history.

Ali Farokhmanesh. Yup, I love writing this name as much as I love saying it. Thanks to this Iowa City native and Kirkwood, Iowa Junior College transfer guard for making my March Madness so memorable already.

Ali Farokhmanesh. All the best to you in St. Louis next weekend, Mr. Fearlessly Firing Shooting Guard with the twin fire hydrant legs, when your Northern Iowa squad squares off against another heavily favored team for a spot in the Elite Eight.

Trust me, at tip-off, sports fans across America will know who you are and will eloquently and effortlessly be able to say your name – Ali Farokhmanesh.

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MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

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

The Fab 5Today’s #TBT Fab 5 sports blog recalls one of the best freshmen classes in the history of NCAA college basketball.

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 also ranked among the top 100 high school basketball 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 Featured the Fab 5

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 College Basketball Favorites – baggy shorts, brash talk, black socks, bald heads and all.

MIKE NCAA Basketball FavoritesEnjoy reading about the University of Michigan’s Fab 5 and other great players and moments in NCAA basketball history.

Click on the blue cover above and safely download the book from Amazon.

Michigan Wolverines Jordan Brand/Nike fan gear at Fanatics.comFor NCAA hoops fans interested in authentic University of Michigan sports apparel, just click on the Fanatics ad above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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