Sunday State of Mind: February 13th-February 19th

Photo: Wallup

We are living in a post Super Bowl/current NBA All-Star Weekend era, which makes SSM a little more of a wild card these days.

A very special birthday, happened on Friday
A guy who played a little ball while in the NBA
Baseball not so much, but brave enough to try
Michael Jordan’s 60, makes me want to cry

Tiger made a cut this week, the Genesis Open
He won’t win the event though, dry spell won’t be broken
Was able to walk all four days, a good physical sign
Maybe a few more tournaments to get things back in line

Arizona/Florida, batting cages pop
Pitchers running to first base, off the mound they hop
Hope springs eternal, everybody has a chance
Spring Training has started, baseball fans will dance

Speaking of Spring Training, Jacob deGrom is back
Hurt after about an hour, got right back on track
When the guy is healthy he’s as good as it gets
But if he breathes a certain way his body’s on the fritz

Rough week for Purdue, on the basketball floor
Former number one has lost three of their last four
Top ranking in college hoops seems to be a curse
Crimson Tide lost this week too, put the top dogs in a hearse

Who Wore it Best? 29-20

Photo: Dr. Odd

We’ve arrived at an incredibly important edition of “Who Wore It Best.” In our latest, we’re digging into the roaring 20’s. Let’s find out together who made the cut in this extremely paramount, career-defining list.

29 – Eric Dickerson

Photo: SB Nation

His athletic excellence barely surpassed that of the rec specs. Dickerson put together the greatest single season rushing the football in 1984, going for an NFL record 2,105 yards. He wasn’t just a one season wonder, however. Before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, Dickerson was a five time first team All-Pro, four time rushing leader, has his number 29 retired by the LA Rams, and is in the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor.

Honorable Mentions: Adrian Beltre, Ken Dryden, Marc-André Fleury

28 – Marshall Faulk

Back to back running backs who played for the Rams and Colts. Much like Dickerson, Faulk both has his number retired by the Rams as well as being a member of the Colts Ring of Honor. Unlike Dickerson, Faulk has a Super Bowl ring. He also tacked on a MVP, three offensive player of the year awards, as well as three first team All-Pro selections.

Honorable Mentions: Bert Blyleven, Curtis Martin, Darrell Green

27 – Vladimir Guerrero Sr.

Photo: SB Nation

Vlad the Impaler was a 2018 Hall of Fame inductee. He earned his spot in Cooperstown after winning the 2004 MVP, hitting 449 career home runs while maintaining a .318 career batting average, and winning an incredible eight Silver Slugger awards.

Honorable Mentions: Eddie George, Scott Rolen

26 – Rod Woodson

Photo: SB Nation

Rod Woodson was one of the best ball hawks to ever do it; picking off 71 balls in his 17 NFL seasons. He was also a vital member of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens. All of this (and more) cumulated in an induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Honorable Mention: Wade Boggs

25 – Barry Bonds

Photo: CNN

Even before he went to the Giants and things…changed; Barry Bonds was one of the greatest players in baseball. In his seven seasons in Pittsburgh before moving to San Francisco, Bonds was a three time NL MVP, won five Gold Gloves, and five Silver Slugger awards.

Honorable Mention: Fred Biletnikoff

24 – Willie Mays

Photo: Pinterest

Absolute stacked number here, but Mays takes the cake. The stats are gawdy; 660 home runs, 1,903 RBI, and 338 stolen bases. Along the way Mays made 24 All-Star games, won twelve Gold Gloves, two NL MVPs, and a World Series in 1954.

Honorable Mentions: Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Ramirez, Rick Barry, Champ Bailey, Chris Chelios

23 – Michael Jordan

Photo: Yardbarker

Next question.

Honorable Mentions: LeBron James, Ryne Sandberg, Devin Hester

22 – Emmitt Smith

Photo: USA Today

Emmitt Smith did it all in his 15 NFL seasons. The league’s all time leading rusher (18,355 yards) won three Super Bowls, the 1993 NFL MVP, was a four time first team All-Pro, and lead the NFL in touchdowns three separate seasons.

Honorable Mentions: Clayton Kershaw, Elgin Baylor, Roger Clemens

21 – Deion Sanders

Photo: SFGate

The swagiest swag that ever swagged. Deion was, and still is, one of the most raw athletes we’ve ever seen. He wasn’t too bad on the field either. Prime’s got two Super Bowl rings, six first team All-Pro selections, and is a member of both the 90’s All-Decade and NFL 100th Anniversary Teams. Oh, and he also played in the MLB for nine seasons. He was a .263 career hitter, with 39 home runs, 168 RBI, and 186 stolen bases. Absolute baller.

Honorable Mentions: Roberto Clemente, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, LaDainian Tomlinson, Stan Mikita, Peter Forsberg

20 – Barry Sanders

Photo: Giant Bomb

The twitchiest running back we’ve ever seen, just absolutely stupid stuff. A combo Heisman winner and NFL MVP, the four time first team All-Pro ran for over 15,000 yards and almost 100 touchdowns. Pretty good for a guy who retired early.

Honorable Mentions: Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Gary Payton, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins

The numbers get lower, and the lists get better. How about 24 and 21 just absolutely cleaning house? All four major sports represented on each. This was a great edition of “Who Wore It Best,” and we can only assume the names will get hotter the next time around.

Praise Whatever Higher Power You Believe In – EA Sports NCAA Football is Back

Our long national nightmare is over, folks.

On Tuesday, EA Sports dropped a bomb on all of us with a Jordan-esque tweet:

This is such a sweet day for all of us who grew up with a Playstation, PS2, Xbox, or Xbox 360 in our adolescent bedrooms who would pop this bad boy in and be entertained for hours. From the Heisman Challenge in the 2013 version, to Vince Young (or QB#10 on Texas, wink wink) being essentially unstoppable, the NCAA Football franchise was a way of life.

Then 2013 came. Denard Robinson was the cover athlete of what would become the last edition of NCAA Football we would get for the foreseeable future. After a class action lawsuit by former NCAA players, production of one of the best sports video game franchises we had was shut down.

To be fair, the case had merit; how would you feel if your likeness was being used for millions of dollars of profit and you weren’t seeing a dime? That’s another conversation for a different day.

But we’ve somehow made it eight long years without a NCAA Football video game. We paid our dues, been patient, and we are finally being rewarded.

Today, we are all Andy Dufresne.

And William Wallace.

And Rocky.

Thank you, EA Sports, for bringing back something that brought so much joy to so many. We look forward to running the option to perfection on our consoles very soon.

LeBron James Saved “The Bachelorette” and We Should All Be Kneeling Before Him

There are a lot of LeBron James haters in our world today. You cannot count this blogger as one of them. I won’t spend time listing all of the good he has done on and off the court, because I would probably lose the majority of you as readers, if I haven’t already.

Simply put, people love to hate LeBron James. People also love “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise. The Venn Diagram of these types of people might be close to one singular circle.

That may have just changed.

The Los Angeles Lakers, lead by James, beat the Miami Heat in Game 6 on Sunday to win the franchise’s first NBA Championship since 2010. With this victory, two pillars of American sports and pop culture have finally crossed paths.

Bachelor Nation has been anxiously awaiting Clare Crawley’s season to debut for months, and they will be getting the first episode of the season tonight at 7PM Central on ABC. The rub here is that if LeBron had not lead the Lakers to victory in Game 6 on Sunday, “The Bachelorette” would have been pushed back another week to October 20th so the (now unnecessary) Game 7 of the NBA Finals could have been played.

That’s right, King James is such a gracious and humble ruler that he’s allowing Bachelor Nation their precious season when he could have easily taken it all away from us. The affable King has shown us all mercy in his ever compassionate, chivalrous, and amicable rise (again) to the top of the NBA. We should all consider ourselves so lucky. We are not worthy, King James.

So this is for all of you LeBron haters/Bachelorette lovers out there. Why don’t you take this generous favor bestowed upon you, and reconsider your feelings on your King. For the second best player to ever play in the NBA (we all know who the GOAT is), there is surprisingly a lot of room on the LeBron bandwagon. Join me, won’t you?

Best Traditions in Sports

Being a sports fan is one of the best things in the world. Putting your time, effort, and hope into something completely out of your control lets us as fans experience the highest highs and the lowest lows. Another great part of being a fan of a team is the traditions. This could be anything from a certain chant at a game, a simple “Go ____” when you see a stranger wearing your team’s gear out in public, or throwing out a hashtag on social media when the game starts to show support.

But what are the best traditions we’ve seen? In no particular order…

Notre Dame: Play Like a Champion Today

Photo: HuffPost

Say what you will about Notre Dame, this sign is great. Simple, succinct, and certainly motivational. Each of the Irish football players gives a quick tap to the sign before taking the field. The origins of this sign are a bit hazy, but former coach Lou Holtz reinstated the sign placement while he was head coach and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Sausage Race

In the early 1990’s, The Brewers began this gag as a virtual race on their scoreboard. Originally, it was only a three way race between Bratwurst, Polish, and Italian. In the mid-90’s, Hot Dog made his debut. The lineup became complete in 2006, when Chorizo was installed into the competition. Rumors have swirled that actual Brewer players have donned a sausage suit from time to time to join in on the festivities.

The Ohio State University: Dotting the I

At the end of every pregame performance from Ohio State’s marching band, they write out “Ohio” in script, as seen above. The ultimate honor for a marching Buckeye is to “dot the I.” The honor is typically reserved for an upperclassman sousaphone player, and was first performed in 1936.

Kentucky Derby: Call To Post

Can’t you hear this picture? Let me try and get phonetic here, it goes something like this:


This magic little diddy always gets me so jacked up, and makes me losing my annual Trifecta bet a little easier to accept.

The University of Iowa: The Wave

Self-imposed bias here, but this one might be one of the best traditions we have in sports today. Starting in 2017, after a social media suggestion, Iowa fans turned and waved to the patients at the top floor of Children’s Hospital overlooking Kinnick Stadium at the end of every first quarter. The kids often make signs and messages to put on the windows in a response to the fan’s wave.

It’s a truly moving tradition, and if you haven’t had the chance to participate or see it live, here’s a great example.

Chicago Bulls: Player Introductions

The slow building theme song, terrible CGI Bulls running through Chicago landmarks, Benny the Bull waving the Bulls flag at center court, absolutely iconic. If you were a team visiting The United Center in the 90’s, you were basically down by 10 as soon you heard this song come over the loud speakers. Unfortunately, the Bulls continued using this intro after the Jordan era, kind of watering down the tradition. This is one that should have been retired as soon as MJ, Phil, and the dynasty as we all knew it left town (speaking of the end of the Jordan era, if you haven’t checked out our review of “The Last Dance,” check it out here).

Touching a sign, blowing a horn, or simply waving a hand. All things that would seem to be normal activities. But when they are included in sports, these simple tasks can take on a whole new meaning that can be appreciated by competitors and fans alike. There are thousands of sports traditions out there, which ones did we miss?

Wildest Player/Team Late-Career Combos

The birth of #TompaBay got us thinking; what are the wildest player/team combinations we’ve seen in sports?

These kind of late-career transactions have happened for numerous reasons; a player got fed up with a coach/team *cough Tom Brady cough*, the team got sick of the player, or maybe the player was ring chasing or looking for one more payday with a big contract, and was willing to go wherever needed to get that money. Nothing wrong with that.

For whatever reason, the below combos make me feel quite uncomfortable:

Kerry Wood, New York Yankees

As a Cubs fan, this one cut deep. While I don’t hate the Yankees, Kerry Wood was who you thought of when you brought up The Chicago Cubs during his time in the majors. Kid K spent his best years (1998-2008) on the North Side. After singing a two-year deal with Cleveland, Wood was traded to the Yankees on July 31, 2010. He primarily worked as Mariano Rivera’s setup man.

Luckily for us Cubs fans, Woody came home after his half year in New York. He signed a one year deal to come back to the Cubs and end his career in the blue pinstripes instead of the black ones. The way it was meant to be.

Patrick Ewing, Seattle Supersonics

Patrick Ewing is arguably the best player in New York Knicks history. I’m not old enough to realize how great Walt “Clyde” Frazier or Willis Reed were, but seems only appropriate to throw them in the discussion with more current Knicks like Carmelo Anthony & Allan Houston. For such a “storied” franchise, this is actually a pretty brutal top five list.

On September 20th, 2000, one of the largest trades in NBA history ended Ewing’s 15-year run in New York. The trade included The Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and of course the Seattle Supersonics. Tough break for Patrick in my opinion; nothing against Seattle but I think the Emerald City would come in third place of places I would prefer to move if I had the choice between there, LA, or Phoenix.

Emmitt Smith, Arizona Cardinals

When Emmitt Smith was released from the The Cowboys in 2003 after 12 years in Dallas, he was the all-time leading rusher in NFL history. He had racked up 17,162 yards, scored 153 touchdowns, and won three Superbowls. He was a part of the “triplets” in Dallas with Troy Aikman & Michael Irvin. The guy was the Dallas Cowboys.

When Bill Parcells took over the Cowboys, he decided it was time for a change, and released Smith on February 26, 2003. I think we all would have been happy to see Emmitt call it a career at that point. However, he decided he still had some left in the tank, and signed a two-year deal with The Arizona Cardinals. What resulted were two forgetful seasons highlighted by his return to Dallas to play the Cowboys on October 5, 2003, where he rushed six times for negative one yard.

Shaquille O’Neal, Boston Celtics

The Big Shamrock! One of the cornerstone’s of the Lakers early aughts dynasty ended his career with the rival Celtics, tragic.

I think it’s fair to say once The Big Aristotle’s runs with The Lakers and Heat were over, it was pure ring chasing time for the big fella. Shaq’s tenures in Phoenix, Cleveland, and of course Boston were a bit hard to watch as his body began to break down.

The silver lining we can take from all of these stops are the nicknames that we were given along the way: Superman, The Big Diesel, Big Daddy, MDE (Most Dominant Ever), Wilt Chamberneazy, and my personal favorite from the Phoenix days…Shaqtus.

Randy Moss, Tennessee Titans

Photo: Fansided

Randy “Imma Play When I Wanna Play” Moss. One of the most supremely athletic wide receivers we’ll ever see. If you haven’t, I would suggest taking some time out and watching any highlight tape of Moss’ career, like this one. He was so good that his name became a verb. If you ever get “Moss’d,” you might as well hang up your cleats.

After setting records with Tom Brady in New England, things started to unravel for Moss. His second tenure with The Vikings lasted less than a month, he made six catches with The Titans in eight games, retired for a year, and played his final season with The San Francisco 49ers in 2012.

Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards

Not even going to talk about it.

More often than not, these late-career moves do not worked out well. While it’s nearly impossible in today’s business of professional sports for a player to spend an entire career with one team, loyalty is still something that can be appreciated. However, when the business side makes itself prevalent, we as fans can be given the gift of some hilarious and awkward visuals with players in new uniforms.

The Last Dance: A Memoir

I don’t think I need to go into much of an introduction for The Last Dance. However, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last five glorious Sunday’s in this current sports-free world of ours; the impeccably done 10-part documentary from ESPN/Netflix brought all of us more access into the Bulls dynasty, and more importantly Michael Jordan, than most of us could have ever hoped for.

If I hadn’t been so lazy and got this website off the ground a little quicker, I could’ve blogged episode by episode recaps. Instead, I decided not to summarize everything from each episode, but instead to jot down a few thoughts on one or two things from each of the 10 chapters.

Overall, this thing was obviously great. There was a lot I didn’t know, as the first three-peat happened early on in my life, and the second three-peat was basically when I was just getting into remembering sports memories. Let us reminisce on something that ended less than 24 hours ago, shall we?

Episode I

We get off to a pretty blazing start in the debut episode with some immediate character establishment, mainly pitting Jerry Krause (aka Mr. Swackhammer) as the ultimate bad guy. Krause infamously told Phil Jackson “I don’t care if you win 82 games in a row, this is going to be your last year here.” Bold strategy, Jerry.

I did find myself feeling a liiiiitle bad for Jerry Krause throughout watching this and subsequent episodes. The guy was physically such an easy target, and as with everything in his life, MJ was just unrelenting on the guy along with a lot of the other members of the team, that Krause was responsible for putting together. Also, the fact that he’s no longer with us to defend himself allows for some potential unfair representation within the documentary that he could have defended himself against. Alright, end Krause rant.

Episode II

The Scottie Pippen episode. What a story Scottie has, and I didn’t know the extent of it until this series.

The attention grabbing information with Scottie that we got early on in this episode was that despite being the clear cut Robin to MJ’s Batman, Scottie was only the sixth highest paid player on the Bulls, and the ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SECOND highest paid player in the NBA. For reference, there are 390 active players in a given season. Simply astounding that a player giving his team as much as Scottie did was seemingly so underpaid.

There’s always two sides to every story, of course. We learned that Scottie agreed to a long term contract with a lower amount of guaranteed money (7 years/$18M) early on in his career to secure himself and his family. This was before Scottie became “Scottie.” Our old pal Jerry Krause was infamously known for not renegotiating contracts during his time. Krause remained steadfast in this case, and it lead to some harsh grudge-holding on Scottie’s part leading up to the end of the episode documenting Scottie completely berating Jerry on the team bus. Not a good look, but definite foreshadowing to where things were heading.

Episode III

Ah Dennis, “The Worm.” This was the one I was really looking forward to. The evolution above could be the subject of it’s own 10 hour documentary.

The relationship between Michael and Dennis was super interesting. Rodman obviously was a guy who plays by his own rules and was going to do whatever the hell he wanted. Phil mentioned in the episode that Dennis gave off a 100% “could give a shit” attitude when asked if he would like to join MJ & the Bulls, and that the guy didn’t even stand up to shake Phil’s hand during their first meeting.

That attitude contrasted with the respect and amount he leaned on MJ as his leader was super interesting to me. The episode talked about a game that Dennis got ejected, one of the many. The Bulls were shorthanded to start with, and MJ was pissed. Michael and Dennis had a sit down after that game, (which would have been incredible to hear); after that chat, Dennis seemed to stay out of trouble (a very relative term, especially when considering we’re talking about Dennis Rodman here).

The episode wraps up with the infamous Dennis to Vegas mid-season trip. Dennis, Vegas, Carmen Electra. All that needs to be said there.

Episode IV

The fourth installment picked up with a continuation of the Dennis/Vegas trip. The best story that came out of this was that when Dennis (eventually) came back to practice, Phil had the team run a very common running drill; one where the team would run laps in a straight line, the whistle blows, and the guy in the back of the line picked up his or her pace to get to the front. If you’ve played sports at any level in your life, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

As the story goes, Michael tells the team to take it slow since…you know, Dennis is coming off of a 50+ hour Vegas bender.

The drill starts, the team eventually gets to Dennis at the back of the line, whistle blows…and Dennis takes off on a dead sprint that the rest of the team couldn’t keep up with. Incredible stuff, all before taking off after practice one a motorcycle with a Miller Lite in his hand (don’t drink and drive, folks).

Episode V

“In Loving Memory of Kobe Bryant” opened up episode five. I’ll be honest, I was hoping for a little more time spent on the subject. What we got was excellent, but I was hoping they would have gotten more meat off of that bone. One of the great quotes came from Kobe about MJ and his impact on his game and career.

“What you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him. Because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”

The respect between the two is obvious and palpable. It’s sad to say, but for me personally, there had been enough time since the helicopter crash that Kobe slipped from my mind a little bit. This brought me right back to how I felt on January 26, 2020; it made me incredibly sad, but also appreciative of what we were able to see between the two at the same time during this portion of Episode V.

Episode VI

This episode explored a lot of off-court issues that began to arise for Michael as his seemingly unattainable talent and success continued to skyrocket. Mainly focused on the 1992-1993 season in which the Bulls completed the first three-peat, the season came with plenty of drama. Leaks to the the press and gambling – what could go wrong?!

A book written by longtime Chicago journalist Sam Smith, “The Jordan Rules,” painted a pretty brutal picture of MJ. Verbal altercations with Krause and Phil, physical altercations with teammates, this one had it all. Michael thought Horace Grant, the rec spec king, was doing all of the leaking. This lead eventually to Horace leaving the Bulls for the Magic shortly thereafter.

As for the gambling, I’m impressed they addressed this as much as they did. MJ was, and is, known as world renowned gambler. We can see it in the documentary, the guy will bet on anything from golf to who can throw a coin closest to a wall. The entire gambling segment came to a head with one of the greatest quotes of all time.

Do you think you have a gambling problem?” – Connie Chung

“No, because I can stop gambling…I have a competition problem.” – Michael Jordan

A *chef’s kiss* response from the GOAT here.

Episode VII

This was by far the best episode for me, and quite possibly had the finest combination of visual, sound, and emotion to end an episode I’ve seen in a sports documentary.

That’s it; that’s all I have to say about that.

Episode VIII

Total insanity of a schedule during this episode, starting with a look back on Michael coming back to the Bulls after quitting baseball. He was out of basketball shape and unable to carry the Bulls through the playoffs like he normally would, and fell to an absolutely stacked Magic team with Shaq, Penny, and the aforementioned scape goat Horace Grant.

That following summer, Michael was filming “Space Jam,” but jumped right back into training. Because he’s Michael Jordan, he got a personal basketball court and full gym to practice and exercise when not shooting the movie. We got to see some of the pick up games of all NBA players that would come out and play, which was cool. Why was Shawn Bradley there, though?

Episode IX

A lot of great, emotional content in this episode. Some great stuff from the MJ/Reggie & Bulls/Pacers rivalry throughout the years, Steve Kerr, and Michael’s relationship with Gus Lett.

A few things that I thought were interesting during the Pacers session was that Jalen Rose legitimately thought the Pacers were going to end the Bulls dynasty. Hindsight is 20/20, but what an asinine thing to think at the time. Also, Larry Bird’s meeting with MJ after game seven, with the GOAT lovingly saying goodbye to Larry in the only way he could, with a hearty “You bitch, fuck you.” Another great moment on the long list of things we likely never would have seen without The Last Dance.

Episode X

A bittersweet symphony, the end of what has been a great run; and I’m talking about the documentary, not the Bulls dynasty. A lot of content to digest here on the final championship against the Jazz.

Another vacation for Dennis, this time IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NBA FINALS, who took a quick trip and a day or two off to wrestle with Hollywood Hulk Hogan and bust a few metal chairs over Diamond Dallas Page’s back. This lead to an incredible look at how the Bulls PR team snuck Dennis out of The United Center past 300 media members. Dennis was in a dead sprint and hopped in an black truck while the Chicago media unsuccessfully attempted to run after him and get any ounce of video or quote they could. Simply incredible.

The series wrapped up incredibly well around game six and the fairy tale ending of Michael having to take the entire team on his back (due to Scottie’s bad back) one last time, predictably ending with “The Shot.”

What was so frustrating at the end was Michael’s display of willingness to come back and try to go for the seventh ring. I agreed with MJ’s notion that if you offered that team a bunch of one year deals, including Michael, that they would have been able to bring everyone back and to make a run at the seventh championship. Michael would have had to do some serious convincing for Scottie, who did and deserved to get his big payday with the Rockets after the sixth finals victory, to come back for a run at seven.

In any event, ESPN/Netflix truly outdid themselves here. I hope we get continued super strong content like this. A truly impressive, yet incredibly difficult story to tell on an equally impressive and difficult time in the entire history of sports.