#TBT Sports Blog: Muhammad Ali’s “Phantom Punch”

Formerly Cassius Clay

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers Muhammad Ali’s “Phantom Punch.”

On this day 52 years ago the reigning heavyweight champ defended his belt by beating former champ Sonny Liston in a highly anticipated rematch at the Central Maine Convention Center in Lewiston, Maine.

The fight’s quick and surprise ending was captured in an iconic photo (portrayed in my blog’s comic) of a victorious Ali standing over a fallen Liston prone on the canvas.

However, the championship fight was rife with conspiratorial dialogue.

Even today, the boxing world debates Ali’s “Phantom Punch” and shocking result of the 23 year-old Ali knocking out the very powerful Liston at the 2:12 mark of the 1st Round.

Boxing fans regard the bout as one of the most controversial in the sport’s history.

Many speculated that the Ali-Liston rematch was fixed and that Liston threw the bout out of fear and possible retribution from the Mafia or even the Black Muslim extremists who were threatening him.

Referre Jersey Joe Walcott Calls Fight

Referee Jersey Joe Walcott called the fight after Ali’s hard right caught the fierce and strong Liston off-guard. However, many postured that Ali’s punch was not powerful enough to fell a man of Liston’s size. That’s where the name “Phantom Punch” came into play.

Ali’s title defense propelled him to an extraordinary boxing career that begun only a few years earlieron an international stage at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

The young fighter won the gold medal in boxing’s light heavyweight division by defeating Zbigniew Pietrzykowski from Poland.

The victory helped catapult Clay in a career where he would eventually become an international sports superstar as well as controversial cultural figure here in the United States.

In Rome, the 18 year-old teenager from Louisville, KY Clay unwittingly captured another title outside the ropes. Because of his magnetic personality, Clay became known as the Mayor of the Olympic Village.

Clay’s outgoing personality was equally on display in Italy as his incredible speed and agility in the ring.

All sports fans surmised that the loquacious and gifted boxer was destined for greatness. However, few knew the overall magnitude of the boxing success, polarizing publicity and iconic celebrity that would eventually envelop him.

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest

The Greatest, The People’s Champ, Mr. Phantom Punch and The Louisville Lip are several nicknames that Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. acquired during his time as a professional boxer.

But, when people hear the name Ali, there is only one man who comes to mind. Appropriately, he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee into the #11 spot in Favorite Single Named Athletes.

There’s no surprise why Ali is a real knock out at #11 in Favorite Single Named Athletes – available for only 99 cents on Amazon.

Also, for boxing fans interested in authentic Muhammad Ali collectibles, click on the Sports Memorabilia logo below.

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MIKE on sports – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

2 Cent Tuesday: Why Baseball Confuses Me

confusing baseball termsToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog focuses on why the sport of baseball confuses me.

And, I don’t think I’m alone.

That’s why I compiled a list of befuddling bits of baseball banalities that probably confound you, too.

My list ranges from confusing baseball language to well known idiosyncrasies that comprise our country’s favorite past time.

Here’s my top 10 list of quirky baseball peculiarities that I find inexplicable at times and proving why baseball confuses me.

10. Why call baseball’s foul pole a foul pole when it’s located in fair territory? The reference reminds me of the late George Carlin’s comedic line about driving on a parkway and parking on a driveway.

9. Why’s a stolen base called a stolen base when the base runner never gets to take it home or even pawn what he just pilfered? Just call it a newly occupied base instead.

8. Why doesn’t Major League Baseball completely eliminate the on deck circle? Have you ever seen an on deck batter actually stand in the on deck circle? Grounds crews should just ignore the area completely and save their white chalk for something worthwhile.

7. Why do fans tolerate baseball’s heckler who’s got a real bull horn for a voice box with no off switch? Why does this bloviating and irritating fan think that behaving like a jerk is a good thing?

the heckler6. Why do rotund baseball managers insist on wearing team uniforms that look like spray-on Halloween costumes? You never saw Phil Jackson wearing his old Knicks short shorts on the Lakers bench?

5. Why do players insist on poking their packages and adjusting their private parts when every fan is watching the action on their over sized high def TV in the comfort of their living room?

4. At a unit cost of 75 cents a dot, why do TINY frozen Dippin’ Dots you can only get at a game put such a HUGE hole in your wallet?

3. Stupid baseball statistics. Who cares how many times lefties born in Midwestern states to blond haired mothers whose brother’s uncle’s neighbor’s insurance salesman’s sister played AAA for the Yankees in 1997 whiff during rain delayed night games in August?

2. Why do clueless fans always stand in the 7th inning belting out the tune “Take Me out to the Ball Game” when we all know they’ve been there in the park for the previous six innings?

1. Why call a catcher’s testicular protector a cup when no sane person would EVER consider drinking from it?

I’m certain there’s more readers can add to my list of why baseball confuses me.

And, that’s my 2 cents about why baseball confuses me.

I’d love to hear about some of the befuddling bits of baseball banalities that confound and confuse you, too. Email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com.

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comAlso, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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Friday Sports Funny: Unwritten Rules in Sports

Unwritten RulesToday’s Friday Sports Funny examines the two schools of thought relating to unwritten rules in sports.

Some fans love unwritten rules.

They revere them as time honored traditions that compliment the black and white regulations permanently etched in rule books.

Other sports fans like me revile them. We dismiss them as quirky superstitions and loosely interpreted gentleman’s agreements.

That’s why I recorded today’s podcast to let others know exactly how I feel about unwritten rules in sports.

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

Sure, breaking them is not illegal. But, unreasonable zealots claim that any unwritten rule transgression is both highly unethical & totally appalling.

However, a legitimate argument can be made that if unwritten rules are so important to be followed, then they should be written down.

In indelible ink!

In government, we don’t have unwritten rules of law. Otherwise, we’d have anarchy.

In physics, we don’t have the unwritten rule of gravity. If we did, planes would be falling out of the sky and a lot of people would get killed.

So, why on earth do we tolerate unwritten rules in sports?

If rules aren’t written down, then expect athletes to break them – repeatedly.

That’s right. Some jocks will totally disregard time honored traditions.

That’s exactly why rules in sports must be written down and chronicled forever. Yes, brow beaten into the hearts and minds of those who play, officiate, coach, report on or attend actual games.

Let’s rid the sports world of the anathema of unwritten rules – like:

…in football, explain to defenders that they can’t pile on Greg Schiano style when a team is talking a knee once the outcome of a game appears to have been decided.

… in hockey, make sure only Stanley Cup Champions know they can actually touch the Prince of Wales Trophy.

…in golf, instruct duffers to replace all divots, keep quiet when others are putting or driving, stand away from the pin and rake the sand traps they walk in.

…in basketball, tell a ball handler to dribble out the clock at the end of a game when his team has a 10 point lead.

…and, in baseball, now they lead all sports in unwritten rules, players need to know that they cannot:

* stand in the batter’s box admiring a home run and embarrass the pitcher.

* discuss a no-hitter in the making. Now, that’s sacrilegious!

* or pull an A-Rod and trot across the pitcher’s mound after just flying out.

OK, you get it!

Something has GOT to be done – fast!

Write down all the rules NOW!

Otherwise, sports will have more unwritten rules than actual written down ones and no body will know what the heck is goin’ on out there!

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comAlso, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Boston Celtics Great Bill Russell

Today’s #TBT sports blog recalls Boston Celtics great Bill Russell – the most decorated championship player in NBA history.

The former Celtics center collected an unprecedented 11 championship rings in 13 overall seasons, a feat that Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson never accomplished and LeBron James and Stephen Curry probably never will.

With pedestrian career numbers of 44% from the field and 56% from the free throw line, Bill Russell was never known for his offensive prowess.

Bill Russell: Greatest NBA Defensive Player

However, the 6’10” and 220 lb. athletic leftie is widely accepted as the greatest defensive player in NBA history and a stoic leader who epitomized winning.

As one of only seven players to ever win an NCAA, NBA and Olympic title, Bill Russell was voted one of the top 50 NBA players of all-time in 1996.

Russell won back-to-back titles with the University of San Francisco Dons in 1956 and 1957, a gold medal with the USA Olympic Team in Rome in 1956 and 11 rings as part of the incredible Boston Celtics dynasty.

Russell Involved in Most Successful Trade in Pro Sports History

In perhaps the most successful trade in professional sports history, the Celtics traded with the St. Louis Spirits to obtain Russell, Tom Heinsohn and K.C. Jones – three players who went on to be inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

While leading the NBA in rebounding four different times and serving as one of the leading shot blockers of his era, Russell dominated the defensive end of the court during his playing days. He sparred regularly with his Eastern Conference nemesis Wilt Chamberlain, one of the NBA’s leading scorers of all-time.

However, away from the hardwood Russell also soared. The NBA great displayed courage and aplomb 50+ years ago while seeking ways to heal our nation’s bitter racial divide. As the NBA’s first black coach, Russell served as a role model and inspiration for others of all races.

In addition to walking peacefully with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Russell spoke out eloquently against racism. His words are memorialized in a park near Government Center in Boston in several famous quotes etched in stone underneath his bronze statue. History recounts his contributions in working toward racial harmony in the same breath as football’s Jim brown and baseball’s Jackie Robinson.

Memorable Bill Russell Quotes

Russell’s unique quotes are very poignant. I am happy to include them in this post to fully appreciate the greatness of this 11 time NBA champion.

“Learning is a daily experience and a lifetime mission.”

“Never go out to see what happens. Rather, go out there and make something happen.”

“Imagination and creative thinking are the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they’ve always been done.”

For a relatively subdued individual with non-glittery offensive statistics during his 13 year NBA career, Bill Russell will be forever remembered as a true champion both on and off the basketball court

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comAlso, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: My Favorite Sounds in Sports

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog lists my all-time top 20 sounds in sports.

While consuming terrific NBA Playoff action this week, sports fans can also feast on the many baseball, soccer and hockey games available on television.

In addition to being grateful for the amazing plays and the smorgasbord of sights we witness while watching these games, sports fans should also be thankful that big games don’t merely satisfy our visual appetites.

As sports fans, we also eagerly drink in the alluring sounds that add to our experience as spectators.

Here’s my list of my favorite top 20 sounds in sports.

20. Swish of Net in Basketball

This is not only a beautiful sight. The sudden rippling sound that accompanies the dancing basketball net indicates that a sweet stroking shooter has just buried a jumper.

19. Eruption of the Home Team Crowd

A home court or home field advantage is never more evident than when diehard fans simultaneously erupt in boisterous applause. This thunderous din is a welcome sound whenever a touchdown in football, a basket in basketball or goal in hockey gives the locals a lead.

18. British Soccer Announcer Ian Darke

Few Americans know of this silky smooth British broadcaster. However, Ian Darke’s World Cup coverage for ESPN showcased an unparalleled skill that expertly, efficiently and poetically broadcasts soccer on the sports world’s highest level.

17. Crack of Bat in Baseball

The crack of the bat is undeniably one of the most beautiful sounds in all of sports. Whenever fans hear this sound, they turn in unison to see where the ball is headed.

16. Tee Shot Off a Big Bertha Driver in Golf

Seems like the after-socks of its reverberating sound can be heard miles away from the golf course.

15. National Anthem at Super Bowl

Always gives me goose bumps and makes me proud to be an American.

14. Crushing Hit in Football

The powerful collision of shoulders pads and helmets (ouch!) may sound like a car wreck at times, but the palpable sound nearly always leads to a replay that more than likely makes a Sports Center Top 10.

13. Starter’s Gun in Any Sport

Clearly determines that the action, whether in the pool or on the track, has officially begun and the cheering, howling and nail biting can now begin.

12. Hockey’s Shushing Sound

You know what I mean! Shushing sound a hockey player makes when he stops suddenly and sprays ice shavings off his skates.

11. Singing at an English Premier League Game

A wonderful British soccer tradition even when sung by drunken, unruly, off-key hooligans. I could never see Cheeseheads in Green Bay, Hogs in DC, Terrible Towel wavers in Pittsburgh or any other NFL team fans adopted this tradition in their city.

Anyway, I just love the singing, especially in the English Premier League.

Shop for Autographed English Premier League Collectibles and Memorabilia at SportsMemorabilia.com10. Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Okay, you’re lying if you say you haven’t used this legendary Indianapolis 500 starter’s saying before backing out of your garage.

9. Knock Out Punch in Boxing

Ouch! This immediately identifiable sound usually comes with a listener’s personalized grimace.

8. Pop of the Catcher’s Mitt in Baseball

Even if you’re seated in the most distant from the plate in Pigeon Heaven in a stadium filled with 50,000 fans, you can hear, almost feel, this beautiful baseball sound. Plus, with your binoculars, you focus on the catcher and look for the accompanying little puff of smoke arising from his mitt.

7. Silence After An ESPN DickieV Telecast

Dick Vitale may be passionate for NCAA college basketball, but his incessant screaming, Pollyanna platitudes and corny expressions makes me seasick. I usually mute the game.

6. Puck clanging Off the Post in Hockey

This distinctive sound always seems accompanied by a hush as fans in the arena know that the scoring of a goal was just missed.

5. Marching bands at a NCAA BCS Game

Love to watch perfectly aligned students in swanky costumes and plumed hats march in unison while playing tubas, clarinets, trumpets, xylophones and drums.

4. “Gooooooooooooooooooooooooal!”

We’ve all burst out in celebration and “borrowed” this infectious expression while watching a soccer match on television or scoring our own goal in a rec game or even fuseball at a local bar.

3. Hammond 3 Organ

Would never listen to organ music in my car or add it to my play list. But, hearing a Hammond B3 pipe out Take Me Out to the Ball Game at a baseball game or tickle the keys with an energetic dunt dunt dunt da dunt to get the crowd revved up at a hockey or basketball game is nothing short of a religious experience.

2. Hockey Horn

The perfect sound for a rough and tumble sport that sounds like a cruise ship is ready to dock in your living room.

1. ESPN’s Da Da Dunt, Da Da Dunt

Without doubt the siren song of sports guaranteed, when heard, to interrupt dinner or any conversation anywhere.

So ends my top 20 all-time favorite sounds in sports.

And, that’s my 2 cents!

Email me if I missed one of your favorite sounds in sports.

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor fans interested in authentic merchandise and collectibles, just click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer


#TBT Sports Blog: Boston Celtics Great Larry Bird

Former Boston Celtic Larry BirdToday’s #TBT sports blog features NBA great Larry Bird.

The Boston Celtics legend s revered in the same breath as other iconic Boston sports heroes – Carl Yastzremski, Bobby Orr, Doug Flutie, David Ortiz and Tom Brady.

Though he formally retired 22 years ago, Larry Bird is still idolized by Boston sports fans. That’s why it’s no surprise that the #33 jersey of beloved “Hick from French Lick” (Indiana) hangs from the rafters at TD Bank Garden in Boston.

Coincidentally, I spotlight this same NBA Hall of Fame forward in my FREE sports comic book – Boston Sports Icons. Just click HERE to download.

Chapter Excerpt on Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird

Fondly remembered for step back jumpers, swishing nets, non-stop jabbering and long white legs in short green shorts, Bird is best known for winning basketball championships in Boston.

Most notably, his single name recalls multiple NBA banners hanging above a parquet wood basketball court in Boston. And, his #33 jersey hangs proudly over center court with other Boston Celtics greats like Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Satch Sanders, K.C. Jones, JoJo White, Cedric Maxwell, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and Dave Cowens.

Larry Legend, the Hick from French Lick (IN) or simply Bird ranks is one of the most beloved basketball players in history. No first name or explanation is needed to identify the species of this once brilliant basketball playing Bird.

In 1978, Bird, along with Los Angeles Lakers’ legend Magic Johnson, battled in the NCAA Men’s Championship Game. The two forged the beginning of a basketball rivalry that would enrapture basketball fans for the next 13 years.

Voted college basketball’s best player as both the Naismith and Wooden Award recipient in the 1978-79 season, Bird finished his college playing days at Indiana State with a 30.3 career scoring average. He went on to play for the Boston Celtics who shockingly and shrewdly selected him as the 6th overall choice the year before they drafted him in the 1978 NBA Draft.

Bird’s ascent in the league was instantaneous. Not only did he live up to his initial billing, he soared past the Boston Celtics’ and NBA fans’ expectations.

In 1979, Larry Legend won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He also teamed with 7-footer Robert Parrish and 6’11” Kevin McHale to form one of the greatest front lines in NBA history. All three players were eventually elected into the NBA Hall of Fame.

During his career, Bird won three NBA Championships and three NBA Most Valuable Player Awards. A 12-time All-Star, Bird retired in 1992 with outstanding career numbers: 24 points per game, 10 rebounds per game and 6 assists per game. As his stats confirm, this deadly shooting Bird was regarded as both a highly skilled offensive player and a terrific rebounder.

During his entire NBA career, the blue collar Bird battled against his college nemesis Magic Johnson and established one of the NBA’s greatest individual rivalries. During the 1980s, Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers played as if their clubs were the only two NBA franchises competing for an NBA title.

Magic Johnson & Larry Bird Stories Rivalry

The storied rivalry between Bird and Magic is memorialized in books and television documentaries. That same rivalry is credited for having transformed the NBA into the wildly popular professional sports league it has become today.

The Bird and Magic relationship culminated in their playing for the 1992 USA Olympic Basketball Team in Barcelona, Spain. As members of the original USA Dream Team, Bird and Magic helped revolutionize the sport and became the first two global basketball icons.

Unlike his nemesis Magic Johnson who would become a household name, the intensely private Hick from French Lick chose a different way of living his life.

Despite Larry Bird’s private lifestyle, there’s no doubt this immediately recognizable, single named athlete has left an indelible mark on the sport of basketball. He continues in the game today as an executive with the Indiana Pacers organization.

Larry is certainly is one Bird who soared above his competitors.

Shop for Autographed Larry Bird Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor basketball fans interested in authentic Larry Bird or Boston Celtics merchandise and collectible, click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Team Turned a Corner

MRO 48 Turned Corner as teamToday’s Friday Sports Funny brings to life the oft used sports cliche – the team turned a corner.

Sportswriters, sportscasters and sports fans have all utilized the expression to describe how a purposed team can emerge from mediocrity to become a legitimate contender.

The sprinting soccer players comprise the perfect example as they’re turning a corner in more ways than one.

In today’s sports comic, an animated, whistle blowing coach encourages his players to push harder and run faster.

The team appears to be following the coach’s exhortations as the runners sprint down a steep road named Second Place and efficiently, and with great anticipation, turn onto Champions Way.

Not only have they just physically turned a corner as a team, but they are metaphorically turning in the right direction to greater success.

After all, the comic shows the runners passing the Victory Building and running toward to Champion Plaza.

This is the type of example you’d see on ESPN Sports Center when an UEFA Champions League, MLS or NCAA team turns a corner.

MIKE Vol 7 CleverPlus, this sports cliche is not limited to any sport.

That’s because NFL teams, college football teams, high school teams and even Pop Warner squads can all metaphorically turn the corner.

Today’s Friday Sports Funny, the team turned a corner, is one of 25 unique sports comics highlighted in my FREE sports comic book.

Just click on the purple cover above to safely download the book and feel free to share it with friends.

Also, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo below.

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comNote that if you opt to purchase a Sports Memorabilia product, we earn a small commission from each sale. So, thank you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: NBA “Iceman” George Gervin

Ice Man

Today’s #TBT sports blog highlights NBA “Iceman” George Gervin – one of my favorite NBA players ever.

An uncommon cool on the basketball court, coupled with an icicle thin stature, earned this NBA Hall of Famer the nickname The Iceman.

Silky-smooth George Gervin possessed a feathery shooting touch. He repeatedly made very difficult shots look easy during his high scoring ABA and NBA playing days. One of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, The Iceman’s brilliant stroke and dizzying array of shots made him impossible to guard.

At 6’7” Gervin was too long for shorter guards to cover as he easily shot over them. At 185 lbs. Gervin was also too quick and athletic for taller players to guard. He easily drove by bigger opponents and finished his drives with a stop-on-a-dime pull-up jumper, a fluid reverse lay-up or his signature finger-roll shot.

George Gervin Inducted into Naismith HOF in 1996

A 1996 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, Gervin was also selected as one of the NBA’s Greatest 50 Players and voted as a member of the ABA All-Time Team. Gervin’s storied professional career began after two years of college ball at Long Beach State and then Eastern Michigan University.

The Iceman earned a spot in 1972 with the Virginia Squires in the upstart ABA after hitting 22 of 25 three point shots during a tryout. Gervin played alongside the legendary Dr. J. with the Squires, but was surprisingly traded to the San Antonio Spurs in 1974 in a cash deal. Shortly after the trade, the Squires franchise folded.

The Iceman’s career flourished with the Spurs where he led the NBA in scoring on three different occasions – 1978, 1979 and 1980. He won his first scoring title in 1978 by dropping 63 points on the then New Orleans Jazz on the final game of the season. The Spurs retired The Ice Man’s #44 jersey in 1996.

After 14 NBA seasons, Gervin ended his career with 26,595 points and an impressive 25.1 ppg average. He carried an amazing 50.1% career shooting percentage. He also collected 5,602 rebounds and dished out 2,798 assists. A five-time NBA All First Team selection, The Ice Man was also voted to play in nine NBA All-Star games and won the game’s Most Valuable Player award in 1980.

Gervin helped transform the pro game into the fast-paced, high-flying sport played by highly skilled athletes today.

Because of his timeless, ultra cool nickname, The Iceman is featured in my sports comic book – Favorite Sports Nicknames – available on Amazon for only 99 cents.

Favorite Sports NicknamesThough today’s top NBA players may be cultural icons exuding super cool personas, let’s never forget that there will always be just one finger-rolling, rail thin NBA Hall of Fame player known for playing his game ultra cool – The Iceman.

Shop at NBAStore.comAlso, for NBA fans interested in authentic apparel and merchandise, simply click on the NBA Store logo above.

Please note that if you opt to purchase anything from the NBA Store, we earn a small commission. So, thanks.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: The Fat Lady Podcast

The sports world's fat lady.Today’s Friday Sports Funny dusts off the clever podcast I recorded last year about one of the most famous women in sports – The Fat Lady.

Definitely not an athlete and seemingly out of shape, a popular chubby chick sings her way into my new sports podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

This likeable large gal is the famous Fat Lady of sports lore.

She’s the elusive woman who is talked about, but never seen, at American sporting events that take longer than expected to finish.

How did she make this list among favorite non-athletes?

MIKE on sports podcastClick on the yellow cover to listen to Fat Lady podcast

Few sports fans know the genesis of how a pleasantly plump German opera singer became part of American sports culture.

Way back in 1876, the darling diva now known as the Fat Lady debuted on the German stage. She starred as Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner’s Gotterdammerung opera. Brunnhilde’s momentous 10 minute solo marked the close of Wagner’s seemingly endless 14 hour, four-part opera.

The American sports scene resurrected this singing sensation during a tirelessly long 1978 NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and then Washington Bullets. The crowd was frustrated by delays in the long game. Comparing the extended play to the famed opera, American sportscaster Dan Cook remarked, “This game ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

Cook’s innocent comment caught the attention of other announcers and fans. They quickly adopted this wonderful woman into America’s sports culture, employing her during lengthy games in all sports.

The Fat Lady Must Sing Before Fans Can Go Home

Despite the fact that nobody’s ever seen her, sports fans know this beloved beefy woman’s role. The Fat Lady must belt out a few bars before the game, match or meet can officially end.

Until this glorious gal exercises her vocal chords and marks the completion of endlessly long competitions, fans are obligated to remain in their seats.

Calling her the Fat Lady might sound insensitive. But, this super-sized soprano, who carries a spear and wears a metal breastplate with a horned Viking helmet, is actually very secure in her generous frame.

Thanks to Mr. Cook’s now legendary remark, knowledgeable sports fans understand that every overtime match, extra inning contest or ridiculously long game will only end – when the Fat Lady sings!

FREE MIKE sports comic bookOne more thing about this bountiful beauty, The Fat Lady, the subject of today’s Friday Sports Funny.

She’s also #1 in my FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports!

Safely download a pdf of the book by clicking on the purple cover above.

MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

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FREE Sports Comic Book: Iconic Sports Venues

The FREE sports comic book Iconic Sports Venues spotlights my favorite places in America to attend a game, regardless of the sport.

Steeped in tradition and offering unique contributions to sports history, these iconic venues probably figure prominently on every sports fan’s bucket list – not just mine.

Upon entering their storied gates or walking through their hallowed hallways, sports fans immediately drink in the festive atmosphere.

They also savor the fond memories housed within the famous arenas and stadiums chronicled in this book.

That’s because my prized picks in Iconic Sports Venues have hosted many of the most important American sporting events in the past century.

Rose Bowl: America’s Most Famous Stadium

The storied Rose Bowl may be regarded as America’s most famous stadium, and few will argue. It starts out as my first iconic sports venue.

Rose Bowl Stadium

This National Historic Landmark can be found in a gorgeous Southern California setting with the majestic San Gabriel Mountains hovering in the distance.

The Rose Bowl has also served as stage for Super Bowls, college football championships, Olympic Games, World Cup matches and even a hugely popular monthly flea market.

My next pick acts as a double treat. Two successful college football programs call the ominously sounding Death Valley home.

These venues are where rabid football fans cheer on their school’s nationally ranked teams in what can best be described as hostile, or deadly, conditions for the opposition.

Moving indoors, college basketball junkies beam whenever witnessing action inside these two hallowed halls of hoops.

NCAA Basketball’s Palestra and Cameron Indoor

Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium and the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra unquestionably rank as the two best old-school venues for watching top level NCAA basketball games.

The Windy City gifts avid sports fans with two beloved sports institutions. Chicago sports fans not only pay homage to our country’s fallen servicemen in the city’s spectacular lakeside location of Soldier Field. They also adore – and rightfully so – the friendly confines and ivy covered outfield walls of Wrigley Field.

Boston’s Fenway Park & The Old Boston Garden

Boston boasts two of our nation’s most venerable venues. During their long and colorful histories, Fenway Park and the Old Boston Garden have each furnished the Hub City’s sports teams with excitement, and most importantly, plenty of championships.

Rounding out this FREE sports comic book, America’s biggest metropolitan area gives us the multi-billion dollar Yankee Stadium, a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly ballpark built directly across the street from its historic predecessor.

Further south in Manhattan, located right in the heart of the Big Apple, sits Madison Square Garden. This locale is deservedly called the “world’s greatest arena.” The recently renovated venue is actually the fourth MSG in New York City history.

Lastly, in the bonus chapter, we visit the mecca of playground basketball – New York City’s acclaimed Rucker Park.

Iconic in its own unique way, Rucker Park closes out this book like a thundering slam dunk with pulsating music and panache, qualities that have made the urban venue so sublime!

Enjoy Iconic Sports Venues and feel free to share it with friends. To safely download the FREE sports comic book, simply click HERE.

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