I fell in love with basketball watching the NBA in the 1970s.
Long before I preferred to watch and write about college basketball, the professional game quickly rivaled baseball, my first love, and nearly eclipsed my passions for American football.
Walt Frazier and the New York Knicks, to be exact, triggered this hoops hysteria for me, along with Pete Maravich and the red, white and blue basketball of the American Basketball Association. Continue reading
As he nestles into his mid-30s, Roger Federer is picking his spots to shine on the tennis court and extend his career.
Federer may have surprised himself when he claimed the Australian Open crown in January in another epic match against Rafael Nadal, his great rival.
At the same time he called that win in Melbourne one of the most special of his career, Federer also privately was contemplating retirement. Continue reading
When Frank Deford signed off this week after 37 years of Sweetness and Light, his regular sports commentary on NPR, I thought it strange that there was very little public or media reaction.
Then I remembered it’s been more than a year since his weekly contributions were cut back to a monthly basis, partly because of the public radio outlet’s push for diverse voices, and not long after a churlish outcry over his segment on media coverage of women’s sports.
The asinine “shoot the messenger” posturing from new media hipsters (including rife usage of “mansplaining,” the ridiculous concoction of an easily triggered millennial media) brought to mind a letter I wrote to Deford years ago, before today’s snarky web kidz were born, when he was the editor of the late, great The National. Continue reading
When “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’ wildly entertaining and revealing oral history of ESPN was published in 2011, it seemed that the so-called “Worldwide Leader” in televised sports, which included a distinctive brand of sports journalism, had grown too big to fail.
In addition to its heavy variety of live programming, ESPN had become a behemoth across the North American sports media landscape to include radio, documentary film production and high-end television and web journalism that was the envy of the profession. It was the only place where many talented, ambitious sports journalists wanted to be.
After all, ESPN.com had grown into a sportswriters’ paradise because of the emphasis on dogged reporting and stylish writing, just as the Internet was maturing, and as print media outlets were discarding some of their best, and most expensive, bylines. Continue reading
Acclaimed for his books about Vietnam, America in the 1950s and 1960s, the automobile and media industries and the civil rights movement, David Halberstam was killed 10 years ago today while working on a sports book.
He was 73 at the time of his death in a car accident in Menlo Park, Calif., on his way to interview retired quarterback Y.A. Tittle about the 1958 NFL championship game.
That classic at Yankee Stadium between Tittle’s New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts was a hot topic for authors at the time. A year after Halberstam died, Mark Bowden published “The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL” and dedicated the book to Halberstam. Continue reading
Long before they were a respectable, much less dynastic, NFL franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a treasured civic institution in western Pennsylvania, largely because of founder Art Rooney and his son, Dan Rooney.
Dan Rooney died this week at the age of 84, and his contributions to his community are just as important as how he helped shape the NFL in the years after the Steel Curtain dominance of the 1970s.
Later in life he served as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland under former President Barack Obama before returning to his position as chairman of the Steelers.
After 65 years, St. Anthony High School, located near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in a gritty urban New Jersey setting, is closing its doors.
Basketball journalist Adrian Wojnarowski’s 2005 book “The Miracle of St. Anthony” went beyond the hoops success forged by Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr. to detail the academic and life-saving exploits of a scrappy institution run by Felician nuns in Jersey City.
While the most famous graduates of St. Anthony are Hurley’s sons—Bobby, the NCAA championship-winning point guard at Duke in the early 1990s and current head coach at Arizona State and Danny, the head coach at Rhode Island—the school turned out many young graduates who never starred in any sports. Continue reading
It’s been 20 years since Tiger Woods took the golf world by storm at The Masters, and he’s just written a book about the experience as another tournament approaches in Augusta.
Woods, who turned 41 in December, continues to battle long-term injuries that may prevent him from competing again at The Masters next week. It’s been nine years since he last won a major tournament, and the last time he slipped on a green jacket at Augusta was 2005.
In the midst of the last decade, Woods was primed to achieve his ultimate quest of surpassing Jack Nicklaus as the all-time leader in major victories.
The 2009-10 season in college basketball was notable not just for the shocking run by Butler University to the NCAA championship game, but for what the Bulldogs represented. “One Beautiful Season” is the book that explains the deeper challenges and connections of the small-conference game that have fed the beast of March Madness.
Kyle Whelliston, creator of the now-shuttered Mid-Majority blog, was a passionate troubadour of the little guys for a decade (2004-14), traveling across the country (in often harrowing fashion) to capture the essence of the game played at the grassroots level, and whose best teams finally gave the bluebloods a lethal threat.
His self-published book grew out his blog and other freelance work, including a brief association with ESPN that ended in controversial fashion.
It’s been more than two decades since Pete Carril coached his last basketball game at Princeton University, and not long after the signature win of his distinguished career: A 43-41 upset of defending champion UCLA in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament.
The so-called Princeton Offense, associated with deliberate half-court strategy, back door plays and low scoring, was quite the counter to the athletic, fast-breaking high-octane “programs” of the major conferences.
However, it might have been a first round NCAA tourney loss by Princeton a few years before that embodied what so many saw in Carril and a style of play often regarded as out of fashion, if at times necessarily effective. Continue reading