Tag Archives: Shane Battier

My Top 10 favorite athletes of my lifetime. Coach K does a fantastic “Black Lives Matter” video. And R.I.P Carl Reiner, a damn funny guy

So I did a fun exercise on Facebook the other day, one of these things where a friend “tags” me and challenges me to do one of those cool lists they had just done.
And I had a lot of fun with it, so I thought I’d share it here. My Top 10 favorite athletes of my lifetime. Would love to hear your input as well, dear readers:
1. Roger Federer: Huge surprise, I’m sure, to find him on my list 😊 Simply the most beautiful tennis player I’ve ever seen, and the greatest. Watching him compete in his prime is the most pleasure I’ve ever had watching a single athlete. He may not end up as the greatest Grand Slam champion of all time (pretty sure Novak Djokovic will pass him), but that’s OK, he’s still the greatest to millions of fans.
2. Mark Messier: Another shocker on my list, I’m sure. My all-time favorite team has only one championship in my lifetime, and he delivered it in 1994. When he arrived in New York in 1991, he completely transformed the franchise. An incredible captain and leader, Mr. Clutch had the best game by a Ranger I’ve ever seen, Game 6 against the Devils in 1994, when the Blueshirts absolutely had to win.
The picture of Messier when he first takes the Stanley Cup from Gary Bettman is one of ultimate joy; I’ve never seen a human being happier than he was at that moment.
3. Don Mattingly: My first sports hero. Younger people forget just how awful the Yankees were for much of the 1980s, but Donnie Baseball was always someone we could look up to. The lefty swing, the Gold Glove at first base, the incredible 1985 season when he almost won the Triple Crown … he was sensational.
4. LeBron James: Just an absolutely incredible athlete, and an even better humanitarian. On the court he is, in my opinion, the greatest basketball player of all time. Has had a dominating career, scoring, rebounding, passing and lifting his teams to three championships, including an improbable one for the starving Cleveland fans in 2016.
But his impact off the court has been even bigger. He built schools, he’s giving every kid in Akron who goes to his academy free college, and he’s taken on social issues and causes way, way more than other athletes of his generation have.
5. Billie Jean King: I’m cheating a little here because her career ended before I learned my ABC’s, but she’s always been a hero and idol of mine for so many reasons. A trailblazer and pioneer in women’s sports, she championed so many causes that were unpopular, and took on the sexist male hierarchy for decades. I’ve been lucky enough to meet her in real life a few times, and she has absolutely lived up to her reputation.
6. Shane Battier: My all-time favorite Blue Devil. Just a fantastic leader, all-around player and the most entertaining interview subject I ever had the pleasure of meeting. His defensive plays in the 2001 title game against Arizona were all-timers. When I covered him in the late 1990s at Duke he always sent us scrambling for our dictionary after post-game chats.
7. Usain Bolt: The most exciting athlete I’ve ever seen. I can’t describe the feelings of watching him in the Olympics: It was like seeing a person who was 2-3 levels more evolved than anyone else. His incredible 100-meter and 200-meter performances in Beijing were mind-blowing; he slowed up in one of the races at the end and STILL set a world record.
8. Curtis Martin: There is so much misery and sadness associated with my favorite NFL team, but for a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we got to see an all-time great. One of the very few Jets who never let me down, No. 28 was always so dependable, so elusive, and such a good teammate.
9. Henrik Lundqvist: The King. One of the best goalies in the history of the NHL, he singlehandedly kept the Rangers in so many playoff series, winning a bunch of them they had no business winning. He’ll never get a Cup, but man did he get close in 2014.
10. Martina Navratilova: On the Mount Rushmore of women’s tennis, she revolutionized the sport by being stronger and fitter than everyone else. I loved watching her play, and her courage in defecting from Czechoslovakia, and in coming out as a gay athlete long before it was accepted, will always make her a hero of mine.
**Next up today, I meant to share this powerful video on Monday but I forgot. I’m always proud to be a Duke fan and call Mike Krzyzewski a coach I greatly admire, but maybe never more so than after watching this video.
Three minutes of pure brilliance, in support of the Black Lives Matter Moment.
Just sensational.
**And finally today, a few words about Carl Reiner, whose magnificent life sadly came to an end Tuesday at age 98.
Reiner is maybe one of the funniest people who ever lived; the creator of so much great comedy. He created “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” did sensational stuff with Mel Brooks, directed “All of Me,” a truly underrated classic film, and much, much more.
By all accounts, Reiner was a decent man as well: Humble, gracious and kind to the end.
Michael Schur, a comedy writer and creator of “Parks and Recreation,” wrote this lovely tribute to Reiner, and if you need a good laugh today, I posted the famous “2,000 Year Old Man” sketch above.
The world is slightly poorer without Carl Reiner in it.

This Miami Heat win streak is nuts, and I don’t even care about the NBA. A man refuses to share ice cream with his woman. And the NYPD, “heroically” fighting pot

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Today, the Madness truly begins. These next two days are sports nirvana for me, as I plan to watch hour after hour of college hoops at one of the many fine watering holes here in New York City. If you hear on the news reports of a man thrown out of a bar for screaming too loud for a 14 seed to upset a 3, you’ll know it’s just me happy my Davidson over Marquette pick has come through. Enjoy the madness…

I care very little about the NBA mostly, except at playoff time and in those rare years my Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets, of course) are any good, like this year.

But I have to say, this Miami Heat 24-game winning streak has captured my attention like nothing else in pro hoops the last 10 years. I find myself checking NBA.com every day to see if they kept it going, not because I love the Heat (though I have gotten over hatred of LeBron over “The Decision”, and Miami does employ my all-time favorite Dukie, Shane Battier) but because a streak that goes on this long is just so improbable in pro sports.

I don’t care how good you are, and clearly the Heat are the NBA’s best: In a long 82-game season, filled with long road trips to Cleveland and Detroit and Milwaukee, every team is going to lose once in a while. It’s just inevitable; your top players have a bad night, the bench guys can’t bail you out, and the opposition and their fans are fired up to take down the champs.

And yet every time it’s looked like the Heat were going to tumble, they somehow pull the rabbit out of the hat. Wednesday night at Cleveland was their most Doug Hennig-esque trick yet (look him up, kids, he was a famous magician in the 1980s).

The Heat were playing in Cleveland, which of course still has all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings toward LeBron, and despite the Cavs playing without its top two stars, they amazingly led the Heat by 27 points in the third quarter.

Pretty much an insurmountable lead in 95 percent of NBA games. But because this streak has magical powers now, apparently, Miami came back and won.
They’ve now won 24 straight games, nine short of the all-time record.

It’s hard to not root this streak, or at least not be in awe of it. And oh yeah, this happened during the game, too; I hope this guy enjoyed his few minutes of fame.

**Next today, I thought this was pretty funny. Former NBA star Chris Webber, and the man all Knicks fans love forever, Isiah Thomas, used their analysis skills to explain how this fan at a recent game refused to share his ice cream with his lady friend. Pretty funny…

**Finally, yet another disturbing story about the ridiculousness of America’s war on marijuana, perhaps the stupidest “war” ever fought in U.S. history.

A recent report discovered that the NYPD spent one million hours making 440,000 marijuana possession arrests in the last 10 years.

Think about that for a minute: Think how much better and more effectively those 1 million hours could’ve been spent. Think about the REAL crimes that could’ve been prevented, or investigated, if officers weren’t arresting people for the victimless, mostly harmless crime of smoking pot.

Just ridiculous. The only upside is this story also says that Andrew Cuomo is talking about reforming New York’s drug laws, and decriminalizing marijuana in small amounts.

Wish the rest of the country would do the same.

Good News Friday: Coca-Cola promotes secret acts of kindness. A flash mob marriage proposal that’s awesome. And a dolphin that spewed a rainbow

OK, OK. I’m happy for LeBron James. An amazing playoffs, an amazing NBA Finals, and a truly worthy champion. I still think “The Decision” was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a big-time athlete do, but you know … the guy went crazy for a few months. He deserves this title.
And I’m even happier that my favorite Duke player ever, Shane Battier, has won his first NBA crown.
And now, on with the show… 

I start this week’s Good News Friday with this: Random acts of kindness are just about the best thing ever.
Coca-Cola, who long have been known for awesome advertising, has done something very, very cool: They’ve taken security camera footage from around the world and spliced it together to show things that we never seen on security cameras:

People being nice. And helpful. And happy. And taking a moment out of their day to find some joy. (Note: I read up on this commercial and 90 percent of these scenes are real; the other 10 percent have been re-enacted.)
This is my favorite commercial in a long, long time. Watch it and smile.

**If you read this space often you know how much I love creative and unique marriage proposals. Not sure if this one tops Isaac’s lip-dub proposal from a few weeks ago (nothing will ever top that one), but this one’s pretty good: A flash-mob proposal involving a high-school band in New York City’s Bryant Park. It gets good around 2 minutes in…

**Finally, a whale spitting out a rainbow. Illusion, or proof that Free Willy here has some magical powers? You decide (it’s at the :16 mark).