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Happy 50th, Your Airness


It is in our human nature to mark important milestones in our lives, and on this day 50 years ago, Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born to Deloris and James Jordan in Brooklyn, NY.  I can say with almost complete certainty that when Mrs. Jordan looked down into her baby boy’s eyes for that first time that she did NOT see the future that was ahead of him.  At that moment, she probably just hoped to raise a good kid, and yet here we are 50 years later celebrating the birthday of one of the greatest athletes ever in the history of sports.  I tried to think of how to properly mark this occasion for a man who epitomized the words dedication, determination, strength, competitiveness, and perseverance as well as phrases like “love of the game” and “never quit” and “no obstacle too big.”  The best I could come up with was to post a few of my memories of him.

Happy 50th Birthday, Michael!

Happy 50th Birthday, Michael!

From North Carolina, At Guard, 6’6″, Michaelllllll Jorrrrrrrdan…

I'm not sure any single shot has ever made my mother as happy as THIS one did.

I’m not sure any single shot has ever made my mother as happy as THIS one did.

All the dunks over cars or people in my mind can't hold a candle to this one.

All the dunks over cars or people in my mind can’t hold a candle to this one.

Visual evidence of a proverbial monkey being taken off someone's back.

Visual evidence of a proverbial monkey being taken off someone’s back.

His second...yes, SECOND...Olympic Gold Medal.

His second Olympic Gold Medal.

Fear the tongue...that meant he was doing work and in you were in his way he was working you.

Fear the tongue…that meant he was doing work and if you were in his way he was working you.

My absolute favorite of all the shoes.  Who doesn't love a sneaker with patent leather?!

My absolute favorite of all the shoes. Who doesn’t love a sneaker with patent leather?!

No matter the criticism, I can never fault a kid for at least attempting to carry out the dream his father had for him.

No matter the criticism, I can never fault a kid for attempting to carry out the dream his father had for him.

Winning championship number 4 was just as emotional as championship number 1, but for completely different and horrific reasons since it was won on Father's Day.

Winning championship number 4 was just as emotional as championship number 1, but for completely different and horrific reasons since it was won on Father’s Day.

The Flu Game. Enough said.

The Flu Game. Enough said.

The Last Shot (in a Bulls uniform).

The Last Shot (in a Bulls uniform).

Yep...6 championships in 2 three-peats.

Yep…6 championships in 2 three-peats.

Hangin' with MJ at the house his house.

Hangin’ with MJ at his house.

With Phil Jackson.

With Phil Jackson.

And with The Dean.

And with The Dean.

And a few of my favorite videos.

“Be Like Mike” Gatorade Commercial

“Let Your Game Speak” Nike Commercial

Three “generations” of Michael Jordan’s

“Maybe It’s My Fault” Become Legendary Commercial.  My favorite of the series.

And the greatest Hall of Fame Induction Speech EVER…

Christmas Wishes

As the last few hours tick away on this Christmas 2009, I thought I’d hand out a few virtual presents.  These are the people out there on my nice list who deserve a little something extra in their stocking…and would if I could I’d turn these virtual presents into the real thing.

  • Coach Roy Williams: A Carolina team that understands when they listen to you and the rest of the coaching staff, things happen…good things…like winning ballgames. I give you a team that plays with a sense of urgency and desire that knows putting on that Carolina uniform is a privilege and it comes with a lot of responsibility and no guarantees.  Much is expected, but just suiting up doesn’t automatically get the wins.
  • Indiana Pacers: An understanding that there are 4 quarters in an NBA game and that you have to play all 4 of them including the 3rd quarter, which your team seems to have a mental block on.  So I give you a stifling defense and an offense whose shots fall. Oh and I’ll throw in a bit of healthiness for the players who seem to have chronic ailments.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: To the other 52 players on the team who voted Michael Vick their representative for the Ed Block Courage Award, I give you all common sense, cause right now you ain’t got the sense God gave a billy goat.  Showing up for work on time for the only team that would take him, is not courage, people…it’s called responsibility and shockingly, when you’re an adult, you have those…responsibilities.
  • Nick Saban: A media crew that understands asking questions like “what’s it feel like to be playing for a national championship?” is one of the stupidest questions ever imagined. And it’s not that you want them to act like the national championship isn’t a big deal, but that you want them to do a little better with constructing the questions they ask your players.  Or better yet…hows about we just get rid of the media altogether.  I’m certain that would make you the happiest person on the planet.  I’m gonna throw in a fully customized calendar for your PDA/Cell Phone/Blackberry that buzzes you a week prior to your wedding anniversary and keeps buzzing you until you prove to it that you’ve purchased a proper gift for said occasion because Ms. Terry has put up with a lot being married to you, I’m sure.  She deserves at least a little recognition on the day y’all got hitched.
  • Indianapolis Colts: I’d give you a 19-0 season, but I think y’all would rather work for it than it just be handed to you.  So what I’ll give you is to stop the media from asking y’all constantly if you’re going to rest until the playoffs or if you’re shooting for the perfect season.  How about y’all are going to walk on the field prepared to win the game presented to you at that time…and we’ll just let the media take that and shove it down their pretty little broken record throats.  I also give you health for the post season that hopefully leads to a little something shiny from Tiffany and Co. round about the first weekend of February.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Oh where do I start.  How about I give you Derrick Brooks back? I’ll also give you an ownership that cares about the franchise enough to stop playing games with it cause they think it’s fun to see what will happen if they do “X.”  It’s not a SimCity computer game, Glasers!  The great thing is that your true fan base still loves you and supports you.  They know where the real problem lies even if the local radio broadcasters have a gag order on talking about the elephant in the room.
  • Washington Redskin Fans: I give you Daniel Snyder’s head on a platter.  Period.
  • President Obama: A country of citizens with just a smidge more patience and understanding because Rome wasn’t built in a day and even still a lot of it is in ruins now anyway.
  • Congress: Oh wait…these gifts are for the people on my nice list. My bad.
  • Tavern on the Green: 100 more years in the restaurant business.  I’m sad you’re closing your doors on December 31st when I never got to dine with you.
  • Our Military Troops: A quick and safe return home to your loved ones and the certainty of knowing just how much the citizens of this country thank you all for your service to secure our freedom.

I think that about wraps it up (no pun intended).  I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and that Santa brought you everything you asked for.  2010 is gonna be great…just you wait and see!

Tyler’s Summer Vacation

Since being drafted 13th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2009 NBA draft, Tyler Hansbrough has wasted no time acclimating himself to the professional ranks.  A couple weeks after the draft, he played in the Orlando Pro Summer League.  He and fellow Pacer Roy Hibbert helped lead their team to an undefeated tournament, and both of them made 1st team all tournament.  Tyler averaged 18.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in the 5 game tournament.  In fact, he quite impressed the bunch of media types who are the only ones invited to these tournament.  I, on the other hand, was not the least bit surprised by his performance.  And, if you’re wondering, yes I did find the link on the Orlando Magic website to watch the games online and watched every single one of them.

Almost immediately following the summer league play, the organizers of the NASCAR Brickyard 400 announced that Tyler would be the grand marshal of the festivities waving the green flag to start the race.  This impressed me immediately because Peyton Manning was drafted first overall in the 1998 NFL draft and he didn’t get to wave the green flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway until after he’d won a Super Bowl.  Tyler simply gets drafted and they invite him to wave the flag.

tyler flag

In true Tyler Hansbrough fashion, he waved that flag with as much force as he does when rebounding a ball under the basket with four opposing players hanging on him.  You can watch the video below. The NASCAR race was his first to attend despite spending the last 4 years in the hot bed of NASCAR, North Carolina.

Following the race, the Pacers announced that they would be resting Tyler Hansbrough for 6-8 weeks because the stress reaction in his shin that plagued him at the beginning of last season had returned.  They are resting him in the hopes that he will be available for the full 82-game NBA season.  This stress reaction is one of those annoying injuries that seems like it would be a lot easier to rehab if the reaction was actually a fracture.  At least then he could heal the bone and rehab the leg that way.  I’m always concerned that if he rests it and then goes out there and plays like Tyler Hansbrough, the reaction will just keep returning.  But I’m assuming the NBA knows what they’re doing and I’m hopeful that this period of rest is more of a precaution and there’s not really as strong an injury as he experienced last season.  In his own words, he said that last year’s stress reaction didn’t actually go away until well into December.

I just keep reminding myself that Michael Jordan broke his foot his second season in the NBA and look how his career turned out.  Now, before you yell at me, I am in no way saying that Tyler Hansbrough is Michael Jordan or vice versa.  I’m simply stating that it’s obvious that an injury to start your career does not have to ruin said career.

All in all, Tyler’s had quite the productive summer.  The 6-8 week rest should make him immediately ready for training camp at the end of September and then preseason games.

It’s Official

After scoring 17 Monday, Tyler Hansbrough followed up with 23 points and four rebounds Tuesday against Oklahoma City.

After scoring 17 Monday, Tyler Hansbrough followed up with 23 points and four rebounds Tuesday against Oklahoma City. (Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images)

Pacers News Release | Indianapolis, July 8, 2009

The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday they have signed their No. 1 draft pick, Tyler Hansbrough, to a multi-year contract. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Hansbrough, a 6-9, 250-pound forward from the University of North Carolina, is the all-time leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 2,872 points. He is the only player in league history to earn First Team All-America and First Team All-ACC honors four times.

As a senior in 2008-09, he was named First Team All-America by Sporting News, USBWA, NABC and AP. He is the North Carolina Tar Heels’ all-time leading rebounder with 1,219 rebounds.

Hansbrough is currently playing with the Pacers’ summer league team which is participating in the Orlando Pro Summer League through Friday. The Pacers have won their first two games and play again on Wednesday (3:00 p.m.), Thursday (7:00 p.m.) and Friday (3:00 p.m.).

You can watch all the Pacers’ summer league games live on and be sure to visit Pacers Summer League Central for comprehensive coverage.

Too Soon for I Told You So???

I mean it’s only been 11 days since he was drafted, so maybe it is too soon to shout from the roof tops “I TOLD YOU SO!”  Nevertheless, I’m loving reading how shocked all these people are about how good he is at everything Coach Williams, his teammates, and us fans have said about him for the last 4 years.

Pro Summer League starts today and runs through the end of the week.  Every day at 3pm.  You can watch online here.

Hansbrough makes impression | | The Indianapolis Star

By Mike Wells

Contagious work ethic. Relentless. Tenacious.

It has only been a few days and he has yet to go against any of his veteran teammates in practice, but Indiana Pacers rookie Tyler Hansbrough has already made his presence felt.

Hansbrough, the No. 13 pick in last month’s draft, displayed the same qualities that made him an All-American at the University of North Carolina during the Pacers’ four-day rookie/free agent camp.

“I knew what we were getting when we drafted him,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “His work ethic is contagious. He just pursues the basketball and never gives up on a play. He can just put the ball in the basket because he knows how to make stuff happen.

“He plays with a great deal of passion. That’s why he’s a four-time All-American.”

Hansbrough used the camp to adjust to O’Brien’s coaching style. He said one of the biggest adjustments has been playing around the foul line, which is where the big men play in O’Brien’s pass-oriented offense.

O’Brien recently pulled aside Hansbrough and fellow rookie A.J. Price and told them it’s OK if they don’t know something because they’re “not supposed to know everything” as rookies.

“It’s been a long learning process for me,” Hansbrough said. “Getting a feel for what the Pacers like to do offensively and defensively.”

Hansbrough will get his first game action today when the Pacers start their five-day summer league in Orlando, Fla.

The Pacers found out early Hansbrough means business once he steps on the court. No laughing. No joking. No small talk. Just basketball.

“I haven’t seen him smile yet,” guard Brandon Rush said, smiling. “He’s so quiet. He cussed for the first time (Sunday), so that’s a sign of him opening up. He’s completely serious when he’s out there. He gives 100 percent every time he plays. He’s like the Energizer bunny. He’s going to be a good addition for us.”

Hansbrough’s energy will make the Pacers’ practices more competitive.

“He’s really aggressive,” center Roy Hibbert said. “He pursues the ball relentlessly. That brings the best out of us. If a rookie can come in here and do that it can help the team out as much as possible.

“We’ll see how he is when we’re 60 games into the season. As of right now, though, he’s doing real good and making his presence felt.”

Rush and Hibbert said they don’t believe the notion that Hansbrough isn’t athletic. They said their new teammate tried to dunk every time he got the ball near the basket.

“He’s definitely athletic,” Hibbert said. “The first day he was dunking everything. After like seven hours of practice his legs gave out a little bit. He goes after the boards and he’s just not letting the ball hit the ground. He can shoot, too. People will see what Tyler has to offer soon enough.”


final steps

Eleven years ago, a league commissioner stepped to the podium at Madison Square Garden in New York City and changed my sports life forever.  Thursday night, another league commissioner stepped to the podium at Madison Square Garden in New York City and changed my sports life forever, again.  Oddly enough both changes have landed me in the same place.  Eleven years ago, it was Paul Tagliabue when he announced that the Indianapolis Colts had selected Peyton Williams Manning with the 1st pick in the 1998 NFL draft.  Thursday night, it was David Stern when he announced that the Indiana Pacers had selected Andrew Tyler Hansbrough with the 13th pick in the 2009 NBA draft.  The NFL draft has since moved to Radio City Music Hall, but Madison Square Garden seems to be the place where people change my life.  Either that or the state of Indiana, and specifically the city of Indianapolis, is targeting its census growth towards me via professional league drafts.

Many years ago, I was a big NBA fan…a Chicago Bulls fan like nearly everyone else in the free world.  But it wasn’t just Michael Jordan.  Oh no…I had a Scottie Pippen jersey, and I knew every single player’s name.  I watched the parade rallies after every single one of their championships.  But sadly after the team was broken into pieces, it wasn’t the same and I cast the NBA to the side.  I stuck around in May and June every year to see the playoffs and who won the championship, and I paid attention to where former Tar Heels were playing, but other than that, I was just a casual observer.  Thursday night, I knocked on the door and asked if I could return to the party right around the time Tyler Hansbrough took the finals steps of his college career, which you see in the above picture.

For four years, all I ever heard was that Tyler would be a mid to late 20s pick.  That he’d be a player a team would find valuable in practice but not really helpful in a game situation.  That his game wouldn’t translate to the NBA.  That all remains to be seen even though (God help me) I share the opinion of Jay Bilas who has been one of Tyler’s biggest cheerleaders against the naysayers.  Until then, that player who can’t possibly be successful in the NBA was a lottery pick at lucky number 13.


Leading up to Thursday night, I had read a few reports during the pre-draft combine and the individual workouts with various teams.  It was comical to me as I read comments from league scouts, coaches, and executives who were just beside themselves with shock over his combine measurements and his agility tests and his workouts.  He was so much more than they thought he was.  Like Coach Williams, I keep shaking my head and laughing.  Most mock drafts had put him in the 12-20 range.  Some even had him going into the second round, which really made me laugh.  But by the time the actual draft rolled around, it had narrowed down to a lot of buzz about the Utah Jazz, two workouts with the New Jersey Nets, a long forgotten interest by the Chicago Bulls, and a solid workout with the Indiana Pacers.  In the end, I just wanted him to go to a team that would appreciate him, would help him become an even better player than he already is, and would be the best fit for him.  I think he has found just that in the Pacers.

His new teammates, his new coach, and his new front office staff (which includes former Tar Heel National Champion Sam Perkins) seem to think the world of him despite some very hateful comments by so called Pacer fans.  Larry Bird (president of the Pacers) especially appears to think he’s going to surprise a lot of people and prove a lot a people wrong even though Larry doesn’t really think he has anything to prove.  You see Larry Bird experienced some of the same criticism when he was drafted, and well, his career wasn’t too shabby.

Really no matter what you might think about Tyler’s game, he has worked his entire life to get to this point, and he deserves this moment and the benefit of his doubters.  Four years ago a scrappy teenager enrolled at North Carolina.  He didn’t look like much and the critics didn’t think much would ever come of him.  Four years later, that same scrappy teenager has become a muscular power forward bruiser with an incredible control over his body and is the leading free throw shooter in NCAA history, the leading scorer in ACC history, leading rebounder in the 100 year history of Carolina Basketball, a former consensus National Player of the Year, and a National Champion.  And now, he’s a lottery winner.  Watch his Introductory Press Conference.

Pacers Draft Hansbrough Basketball


Other Tar Heels drafted on Thursday night:


Tywon Lawson was drafted #18 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but was traded to the Denver Nuggets where he will back up and learn from one of the best point guards in the league, Chauncey Billups and be coached by former Tar Heel George Karl.

New Timberwolves Basketball

Wayne Ellington was drafted #28 by the Minnesota Timberwolves where he will apparently wear #19.  The Timberwolves have a crush on National Champion winning Tar Heel shooting guards as they chose Rashad McCants in the 2005 NBA draft.

Danny Green was drafted #46 by the Cleveland Cavaliers where he will join what is sure to be the most entertaining team next season as they had finalized a trade to get Shaquille O’Neal the morning of draft day.  Former Tar Heel Jawad Williams from the 2005 National Championship team also plays for the Cavs.