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30 Years Ago: Shocking Death of Len Bias 0

Posted on June 19, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Len Bias was an All-American at Maryland.

Len Bias was an All-American at Maryland.

It is hard to believe that 30 years have passed since that shocking day in June of 1986 when one of the brightest young basketball stars of the day was suddenly went from a sports icon to a national symbol for the drug epidemic that seemed to be plaguing the country at the time.

During his college basketball career as a member of the Maryland Terrapins, Len Bias was known as one of the most athletic and talented players in the game and was expected to be an impact player for the Boston Celtics, who chose him with the second pick in the 1986 NBA draft.

Instead, his shocking death on June 19, 1986 became the impact moment for America’s war on drugs and led to harsher laws that negatively impacted the lives of many low-level drug users, a disproportionate number of whom were young black men, who were suddenly faced with mandatory prison sentences.

Even though the Internet was still nearly a decade away, in the days following the death of Len Bias information, much of it proving to be inaccurate, was coming out fast and furious from a national media that was surprisingly captivated by the story.

Even today, it is not typical for a sports event other than the Super Bowl, Olympics or some other large event or a major tragedy to cross into the general national consciousness. However, because of the shocking and abrupt nature of Bias’ death and the fact that drugs were involved at a time when the national “war on drugs” campaign was at its apex, the death took on a larger than normal stature. Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Video: Remembering Gordie Howe “Mr. Hockey” 1

Posted on June 12, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Mr. Hockey earned NHL All-Star honors in five decades.

Mr. Hockey earned NHL All-Star honors in five decades.

Before there was the “Great One” (Wayne Gretzky), the king of the hockey world was “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe. During a 32-year career that spanned parts of five decades, Howe, who passed away Friday at age 88, was a dominating performer and skilled performer who was able to compete at a high level even past the age of 50.

Howe joined the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL as an 18-year old rookie in 1946. During his 25 seasons in Detroit he led the Red Wings to four Stanley Cup titles while winning six scoring titles and six Hart Memorial Trophies as the league MVP.

During the 1968-69 season, at the age of 40, Howe scored a career-high 103 points (the NHL expanded from a 70 game to 76 game season in 1967-68).  He was named an All-Star in 22 of his 25 seasons with the Red Wings.

After retiring in 1971, Howe returned to the spot in 1973 as a member of the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association. There he played with his sons Mark and Marty and soon proved that he was still among the best hockey players in the world. He was named league MVP in 1974 (an award renamed the next year as the Gordie Howe Award). He also led the Aeros to two WHA championships.

He moved to the New England Whalers in 1977 and after the WHA folded the renamed Hartford Whalers joined the NHL in 1979. Howe, at the age of 51, played in all 80 games of the 1979-80 season while helping the Whalers make the playoffs.

In a fitting tribute, Howe was named to the All-Star team with the game being played at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Howe completed his career having been selected to NHL All-Star teams in five decades. Also appearing in that game was 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky.

Below are links to some of the great highlights of Howe’s career available on YouTube.

 

Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Videos: Remembering Muhammad Ali 8

Posted on June 04, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Though he had previously won an Olympic gold medal, Muhammad Ali burst on the scene with a stunning defeat of Sonny Liston and was the most recognized boxer in the world for generations.

Though he had previously won an Olympic gold medal, Muhammad Ali burst on the scene with a stunning defeat of Sonny Liston and was the most recognized boxer in the world for generations.

Though boxing legend Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74, images of his amazing career and life will live on forever in video and photos. Below are links to some YouTube videos featuring some of the greatest moments from his legendary career.

While Ali had many great “sound bites” and television moments, his time on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and most especially with Howard Cosell probably propelled him to superstardom as much as any other activities from within his career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Video: 1970 NBA Championship – Game 7 1

Posted on May 20, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Despite being injured in game five of the NBA Finals, Willis Reed made a dramatic appearance in the decisive 7th game to help lead the Knicks to victory.

Despite being injured in game five of the NBA Finals, Willis Reed made a dramatic appearance in the decisive 7th game to help lead the Knicks to victory.

As the current NBA season heads towards what promises to be an exciting conclusion, we are starting a new Sports Then and Now series looking at vintage sports videos by remembering one of the most dramatic moments in NBA Playoff history.

Heading into the decisive seventh game of the 1970 NBA Finals, the big question was whether New York Knicks center Willis Reed would be able to play against Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers.

After averaging 32 points per game in the first four games of the series, Reed suffered a leg injury early in game 5. Fortunately for Knicks fans, Walt Frazier scored 21 points and Cazzie Russell 20 as New York rallied from a fourth quarter deficit to win the pivotal game 107-100.

With Reed out of the lineup in game six, Chamberlain scored 45 points to lead the Lakers to a dominating 135-113 win to force a decisive seventh game.

Entering the final game, there was great question as to whether Reed would be able available to play.

In a famous scene, announcers Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman are talking about the availability of the 6-foot-11 center when he suddenly emerges through tunnel to roaring applause from the Madison Square Garden squad.

Reed then set the tone for the game by drilling two early baskets to give the Knicks a quick lead. Though he did not score again, Reed’s early presence lit the fire in the Knicks and Frazier took control of the game with 36 points, 19 assists and five steals.

New York went on to win 113-99 to claim their first NBA Championship.

Below is the YouTube video of the game broadcast. Enjoy!

Major League Baseball Honors Jackie Robinson Today 1

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 125 Jackie RobinsonOn April 15, 1997 Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig mandated an unprecedented edict. It was never before witnessed in any American professional sport.

Selig ordered all Major League Baseball teams to officially retire the #42 jersey in honor of Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson.

Selig’s historic move recognized Jackie Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his 1947 debut. On that day Robinson became the first black baseball player in the modern era to cross the color barrier that existed in the sport.

It’s hard for us to image today, but Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson’s bold, courageous decision to break the color line in 1947 opened the gates for other worthy, yet unfairly discriminated against, black baseball players.

Thanks to Robinson, other talented black baseball players quickly followed and begun playing on other previously all white teams in Major League Baseball.

As a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, #42’s fortitude also kindled dialogue beyond the baseball diamond when it came to our country’s ugly segregation policies. Many attribute that Robinson’s brazen baseball move of crossing the color barrier helped propel the long overdue and ultimately successful Civil Rights Movement.

The Movie 42 Tells Robinson’s Story

Robinson’s heroic and individually spectacular personal life story was told in the motion picture 42 (release date: April 2013). It chronicled Robinson’s struggles and success as one of America’s most respected athletes ever.

When he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 as a 28 year-old rookie, #42 overcame significant public scrutiny as well as regular cruel and unnecessary racial abuse. He was the target of ugly taunts, knock-down pitches and hateful insensitivity directed at him because of his skin color.

However, the Dodgers’ tough talking manager Leo Durocher took a firm stand in defense of Robinson. Also, legendary Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reece’s comment in support of Jackie Robinson will never be forgotten. While standing with his arm draped around Robinson’s shoulders, Reece said, “You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.”

The son of a Georgia sharecropper and a Southern California domestic laborer, Jackie Robinson immediately proved his mettle and demonstrated his athletic excellence. Despite the racial abuse he suffered, Robinson rose above the fray.

Instead of fighting back on the low ground, he immediately made an impact on Major League Baseball and quickly became a rising star.

Robinson was voted Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year in 1947. Soon after, he won both the National League batting title and the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949.

Jackie played his entire ten year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. A first-time ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Robinson’s career accomplishments included six all-star games, a World Series Championship in 1955 and impressive lifetime stats of a .311 batting average, 1,518 hits, 137 home-runs, 734 runs batted in and 197 steals.

In addition to being selected to Major League Baseball’s All-Century team, Jackie Robinson was named #44 on The Sporting News’ list of top 100 baseball players ever.

As a result of what he accomplished after formally hanging up his baseball cleats in 1956, this remarkable athlete became a cultural icon.

Robinson is widely admired and credited for overcoming other barriers beyond the baseball diamond. He broke additional color lines that existed in mainstream America at the time.

Jackie Robinson Broke Through Other Racial Barriers

ABC Sports hired Jackie Robinson as the first ever black sportscaster ever to cover Major League Baseball. In the late 50s, Robinson crossed a business barrier and became the first ever black Vice President of a major United States corporation when appointed by Chock full ‘o Nuts Coffee.

Before his death in 1972, Robinson accumulated a never-to-be duplicated resume as a distinguished retired athlete.

Besides his Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction, Robinson chaired the NAACP.

Plus, he received our country’s two single greatest non-sports related individual honors; i.e. the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

TIME Magazine named Jackie Robinson among the top 100 most influential people of the 20th Century.

TIME Magazine’s ranking not only honored a most worthy athlete, but also a courageous American who helped transition our country away from its ugly discriminatory past.

MIKE on sports!

Sports Collectables: Create a Smart Plan of Action Before You Start 2

Posted on March 21, 2016 by Katherine Taylor

sports collectiblesMany people are avid sports fans.  Some take the interest to the next level and invest in memorabilia.  Sports collectibles can take the form of sports cards, posters, autographs, game balls, helmets, etc.  For some it’s a hobby, but for others it’s a business and method of investment.  Regardless of your reason and end goal, here’s how to get started collecting.

Authenticating

If you’re serious about accruing a respectable collection, you’ll want to be sure that the items you buy are authentic.  When buying from other collectors and sources, be sure to get a COA or certificate of authenticity.  It’s an official document that verifies that the item is genuine.

Securing

There are no hard rules when it comes to collecting sports memorabilia, yet it’s beneficial to have structure.  For example, if you’re collecting for fun, decide on a niche such as collecting items associated with one athlete, team, or city.  Moreover, don’t buy based on emotion; if you’re collecting to resell, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a good price and the item will rise in price over time. Read the rest of this entry →

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