2 Cent Tuesday: FREE Comic Book Titled 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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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.

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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Friday Sports Funny: Baseball’s Pinch Hitter

MRO 79 Pinch hitterToday’s Friday Sports Funny that lampoons baseball’s pinch hitter pretty much nails it!

Talk about poor communication between the catcher and his coach.

The smiling, eager catcher in this comic believes he’s actually following his coach’s direction. He’s literally pinching the batter.

However, he’s wrong, and his coach is trying to correct him.

Obviously, the batter is a pinch hitter, or a substitute hitter, called on to provide a key hit during a critical time of the baseball game.

This comic is one of 25 included in my FREE sports comic book about baseball humor and many of the peculiarities of the sport.

FREE Sports Comic Book

Just click on the purple cover below to safely download the sports comic book titled Volume 2 Baseball Comics. Remember, the sports comic book is FREE.

MIKE FREE Sports Comic BooksOn a 26 man Major League Baseball team roster, there’s always one guy the team’s manager can direct to the batter’s box when some offensive firepower is warranted.

And, he’s the pinch hitter!

That person always needs to be ready to produce some late game heroics even after he’s been sitting at the end of his team’s bench for the past two or three hours.

MLB’s Best Pinch Hitter: Lenny Harris

None in Major League Baseball history was better than journeyman infielder Lenny Harris. He’s the answer to the baseball trivia question concerning who’s the most successful pinch hitter of all-time.

Harris’ 217 career pinch hits is still a Major League Baseball record.

And, it doesn’t appear as if any current player will surpass his mark any time soon.

Now Harris was truly a guy his team could call when they were in a pinch!

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#TBT Sports Blog: French FIFA Star Franck “Scarface” Ribery

FIFA football star Franck RiberyToday’s #TBT sports blog focuses on FIFA star Franck Ribery.

The former French National Team striker earned his nickname Scarface from the noticeable facial scars he suffered in a car accident as a child.

For years, Ribery has displayed frightening speed, chilling patience and a punishing style to scare his opposition on the soccer pitch.

The current Bayern Munich star’s facial scars have caused many to compare him to actor Al Pacino’s frightening character Tony Montana from the Scarface movie.

At 5’7”and 158 lbs. this Frenchman may look like a back yard brawler. But, his overall game is beautiful on the soccer field.

Franck Ribery Once Called “Jewel of French Football”

Legendary French midfielder Zinedine Zidane once called Ribery, “the jewel of French football.”

Ribery made his start on the European football scene in 2004 in France’s Ligue 1 with FC Metz. Then, he quickly emerged as a star for Marseille. This fast, tricky and fearless left wing twice became France’s Player of the Year in 2007 and then again in 2008.

Named to the French National Team in 2006, Scarface represented his country in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. He has earned 60 caps and scored 10 goals for France.

One of European football’s top overall players, Ribery signed with Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich in 2008.

While with the German club, Ribery’s outstanding play has been key in Bayern Munich’s success. The club advanced to the UEFA Champions League game in both 2010 and 2012 where Bayern finished as runner-up on both occasions.

However, in 2013 Ribery’s resilient Bayern-Munich club defeated its Bundeliga rival Borussia Dortmund to win the Frenchman’s first UEFA Champions League title.

Scarface’s Bayern Munich career has been slowed by nagging ankle and knee injuries. In spite of these problems, as of this writing Ribery has appeared in 223 games. He’s found the back of the net 73 times and earned the German Footballer of the Year Award in 2008.

Many football fans focus on the scars lining Franck Ribery’s face.

But, soccer Scarface’s energy, incredible pace and overall beautiful skill on the pitch have made him a sort of movie star like Al Pacino’s chilling character.

Not on the big screen, but in international football.

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2 Cent Tuesday: North Carolina vs. Gonzaga NCAA Title Game Ugh!

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday blog bemoans the surprisingly sloppy play in last night’s NCAA title game between North Carolina and Gonzaga.

Ugh!

Even before the completion of the Tar Heels’ 71 – 65 trudging victory over the Bulldogs, the luster from the annual event’s beloved “One Shining Moment” closing song had already begun to tarnish.

Few fans would disagree.

While confetti fell on the victors in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, fans continued to grumble about the underwhelming championship final. Their lament begrudgingly carried on this morning in tweets, blog posts and water cooler conversations.

Like quickly letting the air out of a Wilson basketball, last night’s title game expectation was instantly deflated. An anticipated clash of the tournament’s top seeds turned into a rec league slug fest replete with miscues. The game offered few stretches of excellent, unabated play. Marred by unnecessary whistles at times, the trudging title game witnessed 44 combined fouls.

In addition to questionable officiating, errant passing, poor decision making, missed free throws and a preponderance of air balls from otherwise excellent shooters dampened an electric atmosphere in the desert and soured an eagerly awaiting audience at home.

North Carolina & Gonzaga Marksmen Shot Blanks

For example, star marksmen from North Carolina and Gonzaga who were supposed to light up the cavernous arena with their stellar shooting, shot blanks.

The Bulldogs’ three leading scorers, Przemek Karnowski, Nigel Williams-Goss and Justin Matthews shot a woeful, combined 8 for 32 from the field. The Tar Heels’ acclaimed gunner – ACC Player-of-the-Year Justin Jackson – and his normally reliable teammates stunk it up behind the three-point line by firing an abysmal 4 – 27.

Besides the poor shooting, social media posts especially skewered the officiating. Several blatantly missed calls in the game, most notably the Kennedy Meeks’ jump ball tie up with 55 seconds remaining, flummoxed fans.

Meeks’ hand was out of bounds; however, the possession arrow was in the Tar Heels’ favor and as a result of the officiating error, UNC was able to retain the ball and extend its slim 1 point lead on a terrific Isaiah Hicks shot in the lane.

The refs played too big a role in last night’s championship contest. With so many touch fouls, more whistles were heard in University of Phoenix Stadium than in an aviary. Foul trouble plagued Gonzaga in particular as the Zags lost star freshman Zach Collins – a factor on both ends of the court.

Refs Should Let Players Play

I’ve always advocated that refs should let players play. But, last night, they didn’t. They intervened too often and adversely affected what had the makings of an excellent contest.

Quite simply, college hoops fans have gotten spoiled over the years with so many exciting, donnybrook finishes in which officiating was really never questioned.

But, last night the refs were seen and heard more often than I can ever remember in an NCAA title game.

North Carolina may have won yesterday’s title game, but college basketball fans lost when painfully watching a cumbersome contest which could have been avoided by letting the players play.

And, that’s my 2 cents!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NCAA National Championship Game: There’s No Tomorrow

Today’s “there’s no tomorrow” comic is overly dramatic, but it certainly proves a point.

College basketball fans can easily envision Gonzaga’s coach Mark Few and North Carolina’s coach Roy Williams standing in their respective teams’ locker rooms in front of a large calendar pointing to tomorrow’s April 4th date.

They can even hear both successful basketball coaches plead with their teams to recognize the importance of tonight’s game.

In the case of tonight’s NCAA men’s national basketball tournament, there’s really “no tomorrow” as the old sports cliche goes for either the Gonzaga Bulldogs or the favored North Carolina Tar Heels.

Tonight’s April 3rd NCAA title game marks the end of the season for both squads.

It’s also the culmination of one of the most exciting March Madness tournaments in recent memory.

As of tomorrow April 4th, no other opportunity exists for either team to bring home the NCAA championship trophy.

#1 Seeds Gonzaga & North Carolina Face Off

In addition, this evening’s exciting championship game showdown pits a #1 seed (Gonzaga) against another #1 seed (North Carolina) and demonstrates the excellence of two of college basketball’s best teams.

Until tonight’s 9:19pm EST tip-off, college basketball fans will speculate if either Gonzaga or North Carolina can outlast its opponent again as they did in their previous outings.

Other fans will ponder whether Gonzaga’s talented big men will dominate the inside as they did against their five previous opponents.

Whoever wins, the winning team will certainly have earned the coveted hardware. Each team has deserved to get to this stage in the tournament.

All hoops fans know about North Carolina’s remarkable run against a stacked field of ACC Conference opponents.

And, knowledgeable basketball junkies have said for years that the Zags have shed their Mid Major label years ago.

A Literal & Figurative “No Tomorrow” Game

There may literally and figuratively be “no tomorrow” after tonight as far as the NCAA tournament is concerned.

However, whoever wins this evening, both teams can celebrate tomorrow and in the years to come about their incredible success in this year’s March Madness.

Here’s hoping the madness continues for just one more night!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: NCAA Basketball’s Missed FT Celebration

missed foul shot

Today’s Friday Sports Funny lampoons a ridiculous and far too common basketball spectacle.

I’ve named the absurd sight the “missed free throw celebration.”

College hoops fans witness this sorry scene every time they tune into to watch a game.

During the NCAA basketball tournament, the sorry sight happens too frequently. It’s even prompted me to record an iTunes sports podcast about this “poor shooting party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#TBT Sports Blog: NCAA Basketball’s Phi Slamma Jamma

Houston's Phi Slamma JammaToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers Phi Slamma Jamma – the fabulous dunking fraternity that electrified NCAA college basketball fans in the early 1980s.

NBA greats Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler teamed with long, athletic and talented basketball teammates at the University of Houston to form the fictional dunking fraternity known as Phi Slamma Jamma.

Houston Post sportswriter Thomas Bonk first used the Phi Slamma Jamma nickname in 1982.

This fun phrase replaced the less popular label of Texas’ Tallest Fraternity. It married the high flying dunking style of basketball with Greek fraternity life found on college campuses.

The University of Houston Cougars quickly adopted the splashy, new nickname. They even proudly displayed the name on the back of their warm-ups during games.

Legendary Coach Guy V. Lewis

Phi Slamma Jamma teams were coached by legendary Guy V. Lewis who won 592 career NCAA games. Coach Lewis’ record included 27 consecutive winning seasons and five NCAA Final Four appearances.

During a time when college basketball coaches encouraged a more conservative style of play, Coach Lewis was a maverick. He shaped his athletic squads to use their speed, quickness and athleticism in a more wide open game.

Lewis even joked about how much he liked dunking because it was such a high percentage shot. Today, everyone dunks. Duh!

Under Coach Lewis, Phi Slamma Jamma appeared in three Final Fours between 1982 and 1984. However, they lost to the University of North Carolina in 1982, North Carolina State University in 1983 and Georgetown University in 1984.

In spite of the hype, the University of Houston Cougars team was made up of far more than dunkers who played frenetic playground style basketball.

Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Larry Michaeux & More

Phi Slamma Jamma members Olajuwon, Drexler, Larry Micheaux, Benny Anders, Michael Young, Alvin Franklin and Reed Gettys could not only run and jump, but they could win, and win regularly.

In perhaps their best year, the Cougars held the nation’s number one ranking for most of the 1982- 83 season. The team built an impressive 31-2 record before advancing to the NCAA Championship game. They lost on an air ball shot that NC State’s Lorenzo Charles tipped in at the buzzer. Charles’ basket secured the late Jim Valvano his only NCAA championship.

The Houston Cougars pioneered a highly entertaining and energetic style of basketball that NCAA college basketball fans had never before seen. Because of their exciting, up-tempo play, the Cougars ushered in a new norm for NCAA college basketball.

In addition to their above the rim wizardry, these dunking, scoring and winning Cougars, best known as Phi Slamma Jamma, may be college basketball’s best team ever to never win an NCAA title.

Shop for Thousands of Authentic Autographed College Basketball Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor hoops fans interested in authentic college basketball 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: Top 2017 March Madness Stories

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s sports blog spotlights five remarkable stories surrounding March Madness; i.e. this year’s NCAA national championship tournament.

Without doubt, incredible story lines that typically pervade March Madness coverage focus on last second finishes, heroic feats and dominating individual performances.

College basketball fans love reading about star players, brilliant coaches and underdog teams.

For example, college hoops fans will never forget Louisville’s “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison’s poise as a freshman in 1989, NC State’s Lorenzo Charles’ tip-in in 1983, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew’s amazing last second shot in 1998, Princeton’s epic upset of UCLA in 1996, Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson’s clutch free throws in the 1989 championship game and perhaps everyone’s personal favorite memory – except UNC Tar Heels fans – Villanova’s Kris Jenkins’ shot of the ages in last year’s final game.

However, I always enjoy the compelling stories behind the scenes and away from the hardwood. I love reading about unlikely team successes, circuitous personal journeys of players and coaches and indomitable wills of those who overcame injury or other adversity to emerge victoriously in “One Shining Moment” as so eloquently captured by the NCAA tournament jingle.

With that in mind, here are my stories on March Madness’ 5 top stories:

South Carolina Gamecocks

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks will make their Final Four debut this coming weekend. Few fans had them advancing far in their brackets. The team’s suffocating defense and stellar play from Sindarius Thornwell, PJ Dozier, Mail Kotsar, Duane Notice and Chris Silva proved college basketball fans, coaches and pundits wrong. Love this underdog story.

Gonzaga Zags

A second first timer to the Final Four, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are a mid-major no more. The Zags have quieted the skeptics who ridiculed the supposed weakness of their WAC Conference scheduled and intimated that wildly successful coach Mark Few could never advance to the national championship semi-finals. Way to go, Gonzaga and Coach Few!

UNC’s Luke Maye

Loved UNC coach Roy Williams’ mea culpa quip following his team’s dramatic last second victory over the Kentucky Wildcats this past week where a self-deprecating Williams confessed “how smart he was” to allow game winning shot makers Maye to “walk on” to his Tar Heels squad after failing to offer him a scholarship. Gotta love Maye’s never losing hope to play for UNC and his inexplicably emerging as last weekend’s March Madness hero.

LaVar Ball

This highly overbearing and terribly meddlesome father of electric UCLA freshman guard Lonzo Ball witnessed his son’s team’s departure from March Madness after rival first year Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox totally outplayed him in a Sweet 16 game. Sure, the elder Ball’s non-stop braggadocio irritated me, but we can all agree that it more than likely motivated a quiet and composed Fox to a 37 point outing against the Bruins, arguably the best performance in this year’s tournament. Thanks, LaVar! Just let your son play ball!

South Carolina Coach Frank Martin

The South Carolina coach has unwittingly become the college basketball community’s newest star. What fan hasn’t admired the amazing job he’s done this year with the Gamecocks? More importantly, upon listening to this guy speak, what parent wouldn’t what their son playing for him and what person wouldn’t want his leadership, poise, gratitude, level of commitment and desire for excellence to be replicated for all?

And, that’s my 2 cents.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Carrying Team on Shoulders

MRO 69 Carrying team on shouldersToday’s Friday Sports Funny focuses on a tiresome, but spot on sports cliche.

Though the saying can apply to any sport, it’s most often used to describe that indomitable athlete on the basketball court, especially during March Madness.

One of the most exciting things about watching the annual NCAA national basketball tournament is witnessing remarkable individual performances during pressure-packed games.

Whether it’s a future NBA star or not, you can count on ESPN to show continuous highlights of players who dominate and lead their schools to victory.

This comic drives home the point of those unique, single players who carry much more than their own weight during games.

While leading his squad to a thrilling victory, the dribbling player is literally carrying four of his teammates.

Stars Carry Teammates on Shoulders During March Madness

In every March Madness season, college basketball fans will be watching for the latest rising stars that can metaphorically carry a team on their shoulders.

Over the years, college hoops fans have witnessed broad shouldered stars like David Robinson of the Navy in 1986, Wally Szczerbiak of Miami University in 1999, Ali Farokhmanesh  of University of Northern Iowa in 2010, Jimmer Fredette of Brigham Young in 2011 and the incomparable Steph Curry of Davidson of Davidson in 2008 lead their undersized, undermanned and lower seeded squads on improbable runs deep into the NCAA field.

Enjoy NCAA March Madness again this year and be watching for another surprising break out star to capture the hearts of an awaiting public.

MIKE FREE College Basketball Comics by Jim SweeneyClick on the purple cover above to safely download my FREE College Basketball Sports Comic Book.

In addition to reading about a star player carrying his team on his shoulders, you’ll also see other basketball cliches come to life like prying the lid off the basket, ice water in her veins, big man owns the paint and more.

Enjoy the read, and most importantly, relish the madness as March is finally here.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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