#TBT Sports Blog: Boston Bruins’ Bobby Orr

MIKE Comic 219 Bobby OrrToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers Bobby Orr, the Boston Bruins’ most celebrated hockey player ever.

In 1964 the Boston Bruins boldly gambled when signing a fresh freckle-faced 14 year-old from Parry Sound, Ontario.

The Bruins’ pick is my #5 choice in my new FREE sports comic book Boston Sports Icons.

Undersized at just 5’6” and weighing in at only 135 lbs., Bobby Orr lived with his parents during his first season with the Bruins’ Junior A hockey team, the Oshawa Generals.

Despite his small size, Orr’s incredible speed and amazing skill at such a young age failed to disappoint. The phenomenal prospect not only grew taller, gained strength and developed a keen awareness for the game. He also demonstrated a superb hockey ability that prompted the Boston Bruins to promote him just four years later. As an 18 year-old, he had matured into an immensely talented 6’ tall and 200 lb. defense man.

Bobby Orr quickly flourished in Boston, becoming a fan favorite and earning the respect of both teammates and Bruins competitors. Whenever he took the ice, #4 distinguished himself with an enviable all-around game. In addition to making hard checks and blocking slap shots, he showed his strength and toughness by moving opponents away from the net and even fighting when needed.

Injury Shortened Bobby Orr’s Stellar Career

Although his career was shortened due to nagging knee injuries, Bobby Orr’s name is immediately mentioned when fans discuss all-time NHL greats like Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.

Throughout his 12 year career, Orr displayed excellence on the ice. A speedy defense man with exceptional puck skills, Orr collected a closet full of NHL hardware during his days as a Boston Bruin.

Bobby Orr earned just about every regular season NHL award a player could receive: the Colder Trophy as the 1968 Rookie-of-the-Year; two-time Ross Trophy winner for total points in a season; three-time Hart Trophy recipient for MVP and eight Norris Trophy selections as the league’s best defense man.

Orr rightfully belongs in any conversation involving NHL’s all-time best players. His career highlights came in 1970 and again in 1972. In both years, he led the Bruins to Stanley Cup Championships and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Finals MVP.

Bobby Orr’s Career Highlight

Perhaps Orr’s most memorable career highlight is his overtime goal during Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. An iconic picture of an air born Orr with his stick raised in front of the St. Louis Blues’ goal after scoring the series winning goal is widely regarded as one of the top photos in sports history.

The Bruins rewarded their star by signing him in 1971 to the most lucrative hockey contract ever. Orr inked the first $1 million deal in hockey history by agreeing to play for five years at $200K per season.

Unfortunately, Orr’s hard charging style of play caught up with him. His fabulous career eventually succumbed to knee injuries and this incredible defense man retired in 1978.

The Hockey Hall of Fame wasted no time in recognizing this amazing athlete. It enshrined him into their illustrious family a year later.

A once small and undersized prospect, Bobby Orr became a force on the ice and a huge star for the Boston Bruins.

Boston Sports Stars and LandmarksIt’s no surprise that #4 easily skates into the #5 spot in my book Boston Sports Icons.

Click on the purple cover above to safely download my free sports comic book Boston Sports Icons.

Enjoy the read and feel free to share the ebook with your family, friends and co-workers.

In the free sports comic book, you can also read about other Boston sports luminaries like Tom Brady, Larry Bird, Big Papi, Yaz, the Old Boston Garden, Fenway Park and more. Each chapter chronicles the exploits of great Boston athletes and landmarks and also includeds unique sports comics extolling the Boston sports icons.

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Thanks again for reading my weekly #TBT sports blog.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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

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#TBT Sports Blog: Detroit Piston Guard Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson

Former Detroit Pistons Vinnie JohnsonDuring the Detroit Pistons 1989 and 1990 championship seasons, starting guards Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars were voted Most Valuable Players in the NBA Finals respectively.

However, muscular back-up guard Vinnie Johnson was the team’s Most Valuable Appliance.

That’s because all NBA fans knew Johnson as the Microwave.

According to NBA.com writer John Maxwell, “The Microwave was one of the most colorful and appropriate nicknames in recent sports history.”

The Microwave Nickname

Johnson’s instant offense and rugged defense, coupled with an irrepressible nickname, also made him the #1 choice in my sports comic book titled NBA Favorites.

NBA FavoritesSome basketball fans may think other NBA players or teams are more worthy than Vinnie Johnson to be #1 in this book, but remember this is my book and I loved the Microwave!

Vinnie Johnson earned the Microwave nickname as an electrifying scorer off the bench for the Pistons. Johnson was the great sixth man for the Pistons that brought immediate scoring off the bench. When entering the game, he never needed time to defrost. His energy level, or power, was always set on a microwave high.

During the 1985 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the favored Boston Celtics, Johnson scored an incredible 22 points in the fourth quarter during the Pistons’ 102 – 99 comeback victory. Johnson’s scoring led Celtics star guard Danny Ainge to remark, “If that guy (William Perry) in Chicago is the Refrigerator, then Vinnie Johnson is the Microwave. He sure heated up in a hurry.”

Before his kitchen appliance fame, the Seattle Supersonics drafted the Microwave as their number one draft choice in the 1979 NBA Draft. Johnson’s draft status was high following his amazing senior season at Baylor. The 6’2” and 200 lbs. guard played two seasons in Seattle before being traded to the Pistons. In Detroit, he remained with the franchise for the next 10 years. The Pistons eventually honored Johnson by retiring his number 15 jersey in 1994.

Vinnie Johnson’s NBA Playoff Highlight

This solidly built NBA guard finished his career in 1992 with 11,825 total points. His greatest NBA moment occurred with 00.7 seconds remaining in Game 5 of the 1990 NBA Finals. Johnson’s 15 foot game winning shot helped the Pistons defeat the Portland Trailblazers 92 – 90 and capture their second consecutive NBA Championship. Johnson was never named to an NBA All-Star team.

Yet, Vinnie Johnson’s Microwave label earned him top billing here in NBA Favorites. His clever moniker is sure to heat up and quickly decide any debate about whose nickname is tops in NBA history.

That’s because scores of NBA fans like me also loved the Microwave!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Inauspicious Debut of the Super Bowl in 1967

The Vince Lombardi NFL Super Bowl TrophyToday’s #TBT sports blog rewinds football fans’ love affair with the NFL Super Bowl way back to January 15, 1967.

That’s the day when the now most watched television event in American history made its inauspicious debut.

The initial metrics surrounding Super Bowl I pale in comparison to the pageantry and digital deluge that Super Bowl LIII will foster.

Given the NFL’s unparalleled growth into a $10 Billion+ per year enterprise, it’s hard to fathom that its 1967 experiment to pit the vaunted NFL against the upstart AFL in a winner-take-all championship game was not an immediate hit with advertisers and the general public.

Let’s replay the video and learn more.

Compared to the whopping $5 million per 30 second advertising spot that CBS Sports commands for SB53 coverage, Super Bowl I ads collected only $42,000 in revenue for each half minute spot. Per a FOX Business Report, the NFL will collect in excess of $500 Million in total Super Bowl LIII ad revenue.

In addition, the first Super Bowl was simulcast by two major sports networks. Both CBS and NBC held broadcast rights for the two (NFL and AFL) respective leagues at the time and reported a much lower than expected combined viewership.

Only 51.1 million American viewers witnessed the first big game on television, compared to an estimated 100 million fans anticipated to watch Sunday’s contest in Atlanta between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

However, a less than auspicious Super Bowl debut becomes evident upon greater scrutiny.

Securing a spot in the Los Angeles Coliseum for the historic SBI contest between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs was as easy as a chip shot field goal. A decent seat only set fans back $12. That’s right, just 12 bucks!

Amazingly, the 61,940 announced attendance in Los Angeles was nowhere near a sellout. More than 33,000 seats in the cavernous stadium were empty.

No wonder why the NFL can’t seem to locate the actual footage from Super Bowl I.

Super Bowl LIII Average Cost of Ticket

By comparison, StubHub claims that the average broker price for a Super Bowl 53 ticket commands $4,613. That’s correct! It now can take thousands of dollars just to enter the gates of the gleaming $2 billion+ Mercedes Benz Stadium where a well heeled crowd exceeding 75,000 fans is expected.

For those cash fat fans who can afford to get into the game, no expense is now spared on entertaining them. Instantly recognized super star entertainers, or at least their agents, vie for the unprecedented exposure SB53 affords individual brands.

But, Sunday’s SB53 entertainment featuring Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi is a far cry for the league’s first title contest, and it should be.

Back in ’67, the halftime entertainment comprised of the University of Arizona Marching Band, 300 pigeons and 10,000 balloons, along with Al Hirt blasting away on his trumpet.

Super Bowl: An American Cultural Phenomena

Certainly, the spectacle of modern era Super Bowls has morphed dramatically over the years to become an American cultural phenomena.

Today’s #TBT post recalls how television’s greatest single event has transformed over the course of the past half a century.

And, why, as football fans, we couldn’t be happier.

That’s because we’re all counting down the moments to Sunday’s SB53 kick-off.

Enjoy the game!

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MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: NBA Icon Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain NBAToday’s TBT sports blog remembers Wilt Chamberlain – one of the most iconic athletes of all-time – in any sport.

Few athletes so totally dominate a sport that their professional league must enact rule changes to make the games fair for the other 99.9% of the players.

Wilton Norman Chamberlain, simply known as Wilt, so altered NBA games that the league instituted new rules.

Today’s wider lane in the NBA and goal tending penalties were imposed because my #7 choice in Favorite Single Named Athletes vanquished all opposing basketball players.

Chamberlain overpowered basketball opponents whenever he stepped onto the hardwood. The 7’1″ and 260 lb. player effortlessly prevailed over all smaller, less physically gifted competitors. His towering size, strength, scoring ability and stamina empowered him to become the greatest player the NBA ever witnessed when he entered the league in 1959.

Wilt unanimously earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1960 for posting remarkable numbers of 37 points per game (a league best) and 27 rebounds per game. He continued his scoring assault on the NBA by leading the league in scoring for the six consecutive years.

Wilt the Stilt, The Big Dipper & Goliath

Also known as The Big Dipper, Wilt the Stilt and Goliath, Wilt reigned as an unstoppable force in the pivot – in spite of being regularly double and triple teamed during games.

This Philadelphia native and University of Kansas product now ranks as one of the NBA’s top 50 players ever. A 1978 NBA Hall of Fame inductee, Wilt’s gaudy NBA resume includes 13 All-Star selections, 4 Most Valuable Player awards, 11 rebounding titles and 2 NBA Championships. The first occurred in 1967 with the Philadelphia 76ers and the second in 1972 with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Wilt may best be remembered for becoming the only NBA player to score 100 points in a single game. On the memorable night of March 2, 1962 Wilt reached the century scoring mark against the New York Knicks in front of only 4,124 fans at the old Hershey Sports Arena. Ironically, the game was not televised. No video footage of that historic night was ever taken.

Wilt retired in 1973. His record included staggering NBA career statistics of 30.1 points per game, 22.7 rebounds per game and 4.4 assists per game. Oddly, his career FG% of 54.0 was higher than his FT% of 51.1.

Wilt Chamberlain & His NBA Nemesis Bill Russell

Wilt also battled his career long nemesis Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. Many sports fans regard this as the greatest individual rivalry in all of team sports. Russell’s Celtics bested Chamberlain’s teams (Warriors, 76ers and Lakers) seven out of eight times they squared off against each other in the NBA Playoffs.

Wilt’s incredible dominance as an NBA player prompted many NBA fans to root against this giant of a man. The fans treatment of him led Chamberlain to famously respond, “No one ever roots for Goliath!” Sadly, Wilt passed away in 1999.

Whether you were a fan of the Big Dipper or not, no one can argue that Wilt Chamberlain was truly a dominating Goliath as a basketball player and we can all celebrate the single named legacy of this NBA superstar. There won’t be another one quite like him – Wilt.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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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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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: The Late NFL Minister of Defense

NFL Hall of Famer Reggie WhiteToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers the late Reggie White, an ordained pastor and Hall of Fame lineman.

White brilliantly embodied his Minister of Defense nickname.

During a storied 15-year NFL career, this imposing defensive lineman known as the Minister of Defense delivered his football version of a fire and brimstone sermon by dominating opposing offenses.

Whenever Reggie White set foot on the football field, he constantly administered defensive pressure.

And, when away from the gridiron, he tirelessly catered to the needs of inner-city youth and those less fortunate through his work as a Christian minister.

Reggie White Rated #7 NFL Player Ever

NFL.com rated White as the #7 NFL player of all-time, and ESPN Sports Nation named him the greatest player in Philadelphia Eagles history. His storied career validates their lofty choices.

White graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1984 after being named SEC Player of the Year during his senior season. The Minister of Defense then played two years in the now defunct USFL with the Memphis Showboats, earning the 1985 USFL Man of the Year Award.

After the USFL folded, White proceeded to the NFL and starred for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1985 – 1992.

While in Philadelphia, The Minister of Defense proved why he personified his respected title. He was awarded the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and led the league in sacks in both 1987 and 1988. Philadelphia fans loved him, and the franchise retired his #92 in 2006, the same year he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Following his eight years in Philadelphia, White played for the Green Bay Packers from 1993 – 1998 before retiring in 2000 after one season with the Carolina Panthers.

During his NFL career, this Minister of Defense played as if his bully pulpit was his unstoppable bull rush into the offensive backfield. Plus, he reaped an earthly award by winning a 1997 Super Bowl XXXL title with the Green Bay Packers.

White ended his career as the NFL’s all-time sack leader with 198, a record subsequently broken by Bruce Smith of the Buffalo Bills.

The NFL “Minister of Defense” Passed Away in 2004

Sadly, the Minister of Defense answered to a heavenly calling when he passed away prematurely from a respiratory disease in 2004.

Reggie White is best memorialized by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, “Reggie White was a gentle warrior who will be remembered as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. Equally as impressive as his achievements on the field was the positive impact he made off the field and the way he served as a positive influence on so many young people.”

And all football fans, not just those in Philly, say, “Amen” about the NFL icon fondly known as the Minister of Defense.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!Football footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Former NY Jets QB Broadway Joe Namath

Hall of Fame QB Joe Namath

Today’s #TBT sports blog recalls one of the NFL’s most outspoken players – former New York Jets Super Bowl III winning QB Broadway Joe Namath.

Jazz singer George Benson crooned about the neon lights shining bright on Broadway. But, New York’s neon lights were never brighter than when New York Jets QB Joe Namath stole the spotlight during the 1968- 69 NFL season.

Just a short cab drive away from New York City’s theater district, Broadway Joe Namath was the main event at Shea Stadium where the New York Jets played.

Namath Featured in FREE Sports Comic Book

Namath talked big, played bigger and lived life even larger. That’s why he steps out on the stage in the #6 spot in my FREE sports comic book New York Sports Icons.

As chronicled in an HBO Sports documentary, Broadway Joe led his underdog New York Jets team to an upset Super Bowl III victory in 1969 over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Miami’s famed Orange Bowl.

Sherman Puckett, Namath’s teammate with the Jets, first called Namath Broadway Joe. Puckett saw how Namath loved the New York nightlife and the attention of the New York press.

Plus, Namath was not shy. He wore an assortment of full length fur coats on the Jets sidelines during games. This all happened before the NFL set specific rules on what NFL players could wear on game days.

In both his personality and appearance, Joe Namath was no member of the New York Jets’ chorus line. He was the highly costumed star and the central figure on his talented NFL team.

Broadway Joe Namath: Toast of the Town in New York City

And, in New York City, he was the toast of the town. Broadway Joe Namath began forty years ago the path of sports celebrity that today’s modern athletes like LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Eli Manning, Tom Brady and others have followed.

In addition to dominating sports and entertainment headlines off the field, Namath excelled on the turf too. NFL.com rated this two-time AFL MVP and five-time AFL All-Star among the top 100 football players of all time.

Though #12 last laced ’em up on the football field in 1977, Namath’s reputation still lingers, especially among New York sports fans.

Since the late 1960s, many Broadway shows have come and gone in New York City. But, the curtain has never fallen on one of sports’ most unforgettable celebrities – Broadway Joe Namath.

It should be surprise to see Broadway Joe Namath’s name at #6 on the marquee of New York Sports Icons. Click HERE to safely download the FREE book.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Best About Sports: Favorite Basketball Cliches

MRO 59 Raining 3sThis slam dunk of my top 10 favorite basketball expressions comes from a chapter excerpt in my book Best About Sports.

It would be crazy if the metaphoric and figurative ways we describe the game of basketball, whether in the NBA or at the NCAA level, actually came true.

However, somehow these clever basketball clichés have smoothly transitioned into our popular sports psyche.

Simply click on the yellow cover below to safely download the FREE book.

Best About SportsLet’s check out my list of favorite basketball cliches:

10. The guard has a really hot hand – Imagine the refs having to call the fire marshal to extinguish the hot hands of the shooting guards.

MRO 60 Hot Hand9. The big guys are camping in the lane – What a hoot it would be to watch a bunch of near 7-foot guys setting up a tent and unrolling sleeping bags inside the free throw line.

MRO 72 Camping in Lane8. The other team is burying 3’s – It would be funny to witness sharp shooting guards using shovels to dig big holes outside the three point arc – literally burying their 3’s.

7. The other team is raining 3’s – The sports comic at the beginning of this chapter featuring basketball players under their umbrellas perfectly brings this cliché to life.

6. The game clock is our biggest enemy – When your team is far behind and time is perilously ticking down, the clock seems to snarl and hiss – as if it were a real living, breathing enemy.

MRO 36 Clock is Enemy5. There’s a lid on the basket – This metaphor would be a riot if fans could actually observe poor shooting players with tools attempting to pry an actual lid off the basketball rim.

MRO 51 Lid on Basket4. The big guy owns the paint – Like chiseled muscle heads standing outside a night club, imagine some very tall, muscular player standing under the basket protecting the large cans of paint he just purchased.

MRO 62 Team Owns the Paint3. The losing team can’t throw the ball in the ocean – How pathetic a sight this would be to witness an entire dismayed basketball team standing on the beach. They’re helplessly shooting basketballs at the water beneath their feet, but the wind immediately blows their shots back into their hands.

2. The star player is carrying his team on his shoulders – Gotta have broad shoulders to do this one. The comic paints a pretty word picture of what’s happening here.

MRO 69 Carrying team on shoulders1. The team got invited to the Big Dance – In this throwback comic, every NCAA basketball team still plans all year to don bow ties and tuxedos to travel to March Madness’ annual Big Dance.

MRO 63 Invited to Big DanceLet me know at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you have a few favorite basketball clichés for my list of favorite basketball cliches.

You might see your favorite picks in my next book on what’s Best About Sports.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: The Old Boston Garden

MIKE Comic Old Boston GardenToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers the old Boston Garden.

Though the storied arena was demolished in 1998, its lore lives on and remains a beloved part of Boston sports history.

In addition to playing host to Stanley Cup Finals and multiple NBA Championships, the old Boston Garden may best be remembered for the incredible sports atmosphere it evoked.

The old brick building provided a huge home court advantage and incredible championship memories for Boston sports fans.

The venue created an energized and cramped atmosphere that housed raucous spectators rooting from boisterous balconies. Some fans even had to crane their around obstructed views to see what hey paid for.

In addition, the arena’s lack of air conditioning further contributed to the home court edge and legendary mystique of the arena. Melting ice and fog during spring hockey games and exhausted, wilted players during NBA Playoff Games combined for perhaps the most unique and antiquated venue in sports.

Originally Called Boston Madison Square Garden

Initially designed in the late 1920’s by boxing promoter Tex Rickard, the old Boston Garden was originally called the Boston Madison Square Garden. Named after New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, it cost $10 million to construct. The arena was the third in what Rickard hoped would become a chain of seven Madison Square Gardens located in major cities around the US.

Like its New York City namesake, Boston’s Madison Square Garden was developed as a then state-of-the-art, multi-use entertainment complex constructed over the city’s vibrant rail transportation hub.

The Boston Madison Square Garden stood above Boston’s northern bound train terminal, also known as North Station, which serviced the city’s Amtrak and Massachusetts Transportation Authority’s needs for destinations as far away as Maine.

Old Boston Garden: Home to Concerts, Prize Fights & More

Few would have imagined how popular the arena would eventually become. The original Boston Madison Square Garden lived through several name changes and played host to concerts, prize fights, ice shows, professional and collegiate hockey and basketball games and even the circus.

Elvis, the Beatles, the Jackson 5, Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead are just a few of the popular acts which performed in New England’s premier sports and entertainment arena.

The original Boston Garden’s first ever event pitted prize fighters Dick Finnegan and Andre Routis on its November 17, 1928 card. The fight drew a great opening night crowd which raved about their proximity to the actual ring.

Rickard bragged that there would be no bad seats in his house because the Boston Madison Square Garden “was built to see the sweat on boxers’ brows.”

Ironically, the fight’s attendance paled in comparison to the first hockey game ever played in the new arena only a few days later.

An exciting 1 – 0 Montreal Canadiens victory over the Boston Bruins shoe horned more than 17,000 spectators into the old Garden. The game unwittingly set a precedent that the Boston Garden would not only play host to premier boxing bouts. Hockey would also be right at home in this sparkling new showplace.

More than hockey found its way into this historic venue. Following its name change in 1936 to simply The Boston Garden, it became home to both the Boston Bruins and eventually the Boston Celtics.

The Old Boston Garden Famous Parquet Floor

In 1952 the arena unveiled its famed parquet floor. This uniquely identifiable playing surface differentiated the Boston Garden from all other NBA arenas. Plus, while sitting so close to the gorgeous floor, rabid Celtics fans for many years provided a huge home court advantage for the team.

Fortunately today in the gleaming new TD Garden, the same NHL and NBA championship banners hang as proudly as they did for years from the creaking rafters of the antiquated, original Boston Garden.

To read more about the Old Boston Garden and other Boston Sports Icons, click HERE to safely download my new FREE sports comic book.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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