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Why I’m a Dukie, congrats Bobby you earned this one

Let me take you on a little journey in the way back machine if I may.  I take you back to August 1992, Yanitelli Center in the campus of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City and The Bob Hurley Basketball Camp.   Hundreds of aspiring basketball players filled the 3 court gym that is the home of the St. Peter’s Peacocks that day, for a multitude of reasons, but the main one was Mr. Hurley’s sons were going to be there.

Being a Jersey City kid, who had never heard of Duke University until my Catholic School 4th Grade teaching mother had come home in January of 1990 and said that one of her former students was going to be playing on Channel 4 that Sunday against Notre Dame, was in fact pretty damn cool and exciting.  So the next day I walked into St. John the Baptist School and into Mrs. Sheridan’s 2nd Grade Class Room and said that my mom taught a kid who is playing basketball on Channel 4 on Sunday against Notre Dame.  It’s 1990, I’m 7 and I’m a Catholic School Student, of course the only College I knew were Notre Dame and Harvard and I only knew Harvard because my parents had taken me to Boston the year before on Easter break.  After making this statement to Mrs. Sheridan she looked at me and I thought she must think I’m nuts, but instead” Your mom taught Bobby Hurley”, huh who is all I could think.  I get home and said to mom, did you teach Bobby Hurley, she said yeah, and I said oh Mrs. Sheridan asked after I told her about him being on Channel 4.

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This may have been the first basketball game I had ever watched and immediately, I was hooked.  That week I started asking my parents and grandparents for anything Duke, t-shirt, hat, rubber basketball, but the holy grail was a #11 Duke jersey, I figured at that time I had a Phil Simms and Sean Burke one, why not get my favorite basketball players.  The jersey though would have to wait.

It was then that I began following Duke, hell I even learned how to spell Krzyzewski at 7, thanks Mrs. Sheridan for all the help on that one, if Duke was on TV, I had to watch them.  And this was in the days of only 1 ESPN, so imagine how hard it was then to find a Duke game on TV.   While kids in the neighborhood were Seton Hall fans after their run to the Final Four in 1989, I was a Dukie, while they pretend to be Michael, Larry or Magic, I wanted to be Bobby, the kid from Jersey City, the kid my Mom taught in 4th Grade at Our Lady of Mercy.

After Duke advanced to the National Championship game in 1990, Mrs. Sheridan asked me if my parents were going to let me watch Duke play UNLV that night, I said yes and she said make sure you get to bed right after it’s over, imagine that a teacher saying it’s ok to stay up late and watch a basketball game…  The next morning ass dragging after Duke got it’s ass kicked by UNLV, she asked me how I was and I told her I cried myself to sleep, because Bobby and Duke didn’t win.  ( Get off my back I was 7, you are allowed to cry at 7)  When it came time to pick number in Little League, I wanted to be #11, worked for Simms and Hurley, had to help me.  

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But getting back to the original story,  Mr. Hurley’s basketball showed one thing to me, I had no shot at the NBA, but I enjoyed playing the game and it was good exercise so why not at least get a little better to play with the neighbor hood kids.  Their had to be more than 100 kids at the clinic and everyone wanted to coached, by the reigning Most Outstanding Player of that year’s NCAA Tournament and the kid from Jersey City who a month earlier was playing games against Larry, Magic and Michael, we all wanted to be those guys and in the ShopRite on 440’s photo center their was a picture of Bobby next to those guys.  Now at this point, I had probably watched every single Duke game that was on TV since the 1990 season, I learned how to read box scores to see how well Bobby and the team were doing, and I am on the same building, let alone the same basketball court as him.  As the camp awards and prizes were given out, now I know there were 101 kids there, if for no other reason, my loving mother has broken my balls enough about, not winning a raffle prize to this day. I’m 30, it was 20 years ago, I’m over it.

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So after the camp is over Bobby gets mobbed, I work my way over with the help of my Mom and Bobby’s 4th Grade teacher to get my copy of Sports Illustrated with Bobby on the cover signed, which I still have, but I also own an 11×14 reprint that hangs on the wall of the Man Cave Studio.  After Bobby put his John Hancock on it, my mom said let me introduce you to his brother Danny.  Danny who I knew from watching the Sweet Sixteen game between Duke and Seton Hall, and it was even cooler seeing the whole Hurley family on Good Morning America back in March.  I told Danny he played a great game against Duke that night and thought that he was very good and I looked forward to watching him play the following year, he thanked me and we started talking and shooting around, he asked me where I went to school and said my Mom was his favorite teacher, something I hear a lot of, I only wish I had her. After maybe 10-15 minutes we said our good byes, mom snapped some pictures, still have this adorable one of Danny holding my sister, I thanked my mom for sending me to the camp and how great it was to meet my sports hero.

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The following Duke season led to Duke being ousted by Jason Kidd and California, but for my 11th birthday the elusive Blue #11 Duke jersey was mine, yes my version of a Red Ryder BB gun, I love that jersey and still have it.  But it was also awesome because Bobby had been drafted to play for the Sacramento Kings, no directv and league pass then, so Mom had promised me part of my Christmas present would be to see Bobby and the Kings play, since dumb-ass me screwed up my chance of seeing Bobby and Duke play against Rutgers in his Senior year, as long as I could keep my grades and act together, which I did.  I didn’t see Duke play live and in person until this past December against Temple and you know that scene in Rudy, when his Dad walks into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time, yeah, that was me seeing Coach K walk onto the floor.  What a thrill to see Bobby play against the Nets, I don’t remember if the Kings won that night, all I remember was that I was 10 rows on the floor cheering my 11-year-old heart out for “Jersey City’s Prince who became a King” as the late Ed “The Faa” Ford wrote as a headline of his column in the Jersey Journal, shortly after the night that would change Bobby’s career forever.

During the 1992 USA Basketball practices between The Dream Team and the college all-stars that were playing them to get ready to play in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Larry Bird had said that Bobby was a future perennial All-Star, Magic Johnson fell in love with his game and I think if  you ask His Airness, he would have loved to have Bobby run the point for his Chicago Bulls teams.  I remember waking up early on December 13, 1993 after going to the New York Giants game the day before and learning that both the Knicks and Bulls were rumored to be interested in trading for Bobby, who at the time was splitting minutes with Spud Webb.  As I turned on the TV in my room, I hear Sacramento Kings star Bobby Hurley was involved in a serious car accident and sustained life threatening injuries…….

BOOM, you hear that at 30 and you stop, think about being 11.  I went and told my mom and for the next 2 hours we watched TV trying to learn more, I was crying so hard, I didn’t go to school.  All I wanted to do was find out if my hero was OK   The Jersey Journal kept everyone in Jersey City, updated on Bobby’s condition,  I sent a get well soon card that same day, a few weeks later, a postcard came thanking me for the best wishes.

That year for Christmas, my Grandma, who hated seeing me so upset bought me a pair of ITZ sneakers which Bobby was endorsing, I got some other clothes from them which where really cool and I only wish they had survived.  I got my Sacramento Kings Bobby Hurley jersey for Easter which I just found in my basement…Score!

 

It was that summer though, he was on the comeback trail and playing in a Summer League game at St. Rose’s gym in Belmar, were I would be all of 5 feet form the end line of a game he was playing in against Anthony Mason of the Knicks.

Sports Illustrated wrote a great article on his road back, and the road back was completed the next fall, when Bobby returned to the Kings lineup.

Why did go all fan boy in this post, 1 reason, when I learned that Bobby was going to become the new Head Basketball Coach at the University of Buffalo, I felt that the journey was now complete.  I always agreed with The Faa on his headline, but I have an addition to it, “Jersey City’s Son who became a Friar, a Blue Devil, a King, a Survivor, a Grizzly, a Horse Owner, a Husband, a Dad, a Hall of Famer, is now in the Family Business, now isn’t that what a kid from Jersey aspires to be?”

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Separation of Church and State Conference AKA The Big East and Fox Sports Announce Partnership

Beginning in the 2013-14 Academic Year, the newly redesigned Big East Conference has announced a landmark 12 year media contract with Fox to be the lead media rights partner of the conference.  Included in the new contract will be 100 Men’s Basketball games, select Women’s Basketball and game certain Olympic Sports broadcasts.  Also, Fox Sports One will be launching a mobile app for computers, tablets and mobile phones which they will also have the rights for branded as “TV Anywhere”.

Here is the release.

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BIG EAST CONFERENCE & FOX SPORTS REACH EXTENSIVE, MULTI-PLATFORM MEDIA RIGHTS AGREEMENT

Rights Commence in 2013-14 Academic Year
Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament Coming to FOX Sports 1

New York – The Big East Conference, boasting ten institutions with tradition-rich athletics programs and FOX Sports have entered into a landmark 12-year multi-platform media rights agreement beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The announcement was made today during a press conference held in New York City attended by the presidents of the Big East’s member institutions, along with FOX Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer and FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Larry Jones. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The reconstituted Big East Conference now features Butler University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall are all founding members of the Big East, which began conference play in 1979. Villanova was added in 1980, while DePaul and Marquette joined in 2005. The official addition of Butler, Creighton and Xavier universities was also announced during the press conference today.

The agreement grants FOX Sports rights to all conference-controlled men’s basketball games, select rights to women’s basketball, all Olympic sports and extensive rights for highlights and to produce ancillary programming.

FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports’ newly minted national multi-sport channel which launches this summer, is slated to televise over 100 men’s regular-season basketball games next season. The network is also scheduled to carry the entire Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament each season, live from Madison Square Garden in New York City, the tournament’s home since 1983, and the longest-running conference tournament played at one venue.

“We applaud all the Big East schools for taking responsibility for their own destiny and forming what is clearly one of the top college basketball leagues in the country,” said Freer. “The quality of the competition is obvious. Five teams who will play in the renewed Big East next season are playing in this year’s NCAA tournament, and seven qualified for postseason play overall. We’re extremely proud and fortunate to offer college basketball of this caliber on FS1 next season and for many seasons to come.”
Added Father Dennis Holtschneider, President of DePaul University: “The New Big East is fortunate to have found a partner such as FOX Sports, which shares our intense passion for college basketball, and is committed to celebrating the student-athletes and the natural rivalries that make college athletics so unique and appealing for fans across the nation.”

In addition to this season’s men’s basketball success, schools in the new Big East are a basketball force annually, with a long tradition of NCAA tournament play. Over the years, the new Big East’s 10 member institutions have combined for well over 200 NCAA tournament appearances.

Also included in the agreement is a full array of “TV Everywhere” rights which adds to the robust content already available on FOXSports.com, one of the nation’s leading sports Internet sites and FOX Sports GO, a groundbreaking mobile sports experience for iPhone, iPad and Android devices launching this August in conjunction with FS1. FOX Sports GO offers more than 1,000 live games and events from across FOX Sports, FS1 and FOX Sports’ 22 regional sports networks, as well as scores, highlights, news, stats, and analysis. Live games and events are available to subscribers of participating cable, satellite, and telco providers at no additional cost.

Today’s announcement with the Big East Conference reaffirms FOX Sports’ long-term commitment to college sports programming. In the last two-and-a-half years, FOX Sports has procured multi-platform media rights associated with five major collegiate conferences: Big East; Big Ten (http://bit.ly/WIfGJL); Big 12 (http://bit.ly/U0xKaA); Conference USA (http://bit.ly/WIg0Z5); and Pac-12 (http://bit.ly/WIg4b5).

FOX Sports now boasts a comprehensive portfolio of college product, with approximately 2,000 marquee events showcased through national and regional platforms, including FOX Sports broadcasts, FS1, FSN, Big Ten Network and FOX College Sports. In addition to the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA and Pac-12, FOX Sports’ impressive roster of other conference partners includes the local rights with the ACC and SEC. FOX Sports also has multimedia third-tier rights agreements with Baylor, Florida, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, which include football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and additional non-game programming.

What We Know About The New Big East/Fox Contract

Now that the Catholic 7, err, Big East, err The Separation of Church and State Conference has 1 elected a new pope, 2 seen his inaugural mass,  the sports comes back to the front burner.

A special contribution to What’s Brewin from our friend Ken Fang of Fangsbites.com

On Wednesday, the TV deal between “The Catholic 7,” those basketball schools that broke away from The Big East and took the conference them with them, and Fox Sports will be announced.

Along with the announcement, three additional schools, Xavier, Creighton and Butler, will be unveiled as those joining the Catholic 7.

So before the press conference at the News Corp. World Headquarters in New York, let’s take a look at what we know about the new Big East contract with Fox:

  • The TV rights deal will reportedly be a 12 year, $500 million contract with Fox. It could grow to $600 million if the conference grows to 12 teams.
  • Games will carried on Fox Sports 1 joining the Big 12, Conference USA and the Pac-12.
  • The new Big East will carry on the tradition of Monday night games. A source says that Fox Sports 1 will spread the new Big East to other nights as well.
  • Fox is expected to sublicense games to other networks, most likely ESPN, however, this has not been finalized.
  • The conference tournament will be played at Madison Square Garden as part of another long-term deal.
  • No word yet on who will call the Big East on Fox Sports 1, however, it would most likely be Gus Johnson as the lead announcer for the Monday games and possibly the new Big East Tournament at MSG.

We’ll know more when the contract is made official on Wednesday.

Farewell to the NJ Nets

By Jim Hague, @ogsmar

I’ve been a sportswriter for almost 30 years now. I’ve covered everything under the sun, from lawnmower races to the Maccabiah Games, from Little League through high schools and colleges into the pros. I’ve covered the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals. You name it, I’ve done it.

Over those three decades, there hasn’t been a franchise I’ve covered more than the New Jersey Nets.

Covering the Nets was among my first professional responsibilities back in 1983, back to the days of Micheal Ray Richardson, Darryl Dawkins, Mike Gminski, Buck Williams and Albert King. Back to the days of Stan Albeck coaching with his high pitched voice. Albeck called me “Colonel” because he had a colonel in the Army that was a big man and resembled me.

It’s safe to say that I’ve covered the Nets more than 500 times over the last 30 years. I even traveled with the team on the road on several occasions for a few years.

Tomorrow night, I will cover my final New Jersey Nets game, as the Nets face the Philadelphia 76ers at the Prudential Center. As everyone knows by now, the Nets will move to Brooklyn for next season and become the Brooklyn Nets. Monday is the last time they will play in the Garden State.

There are some great retrospective pieces in both The Record and the Star-Ledger Sunday morning about the Nets and their 35-year history in New Jersey. It caused me to flash back and recall some of the moments I witnessed during my tenure covering the Nets.

It was an amazing run. I got to hear Dawkins talk about all the names he gave to dunks, talk about Lovetron, the fictional planet he was from. I got to enjoy the wit, wisdom and downright brilliance of Buck Williams, who still may be the nicest guy to ever play professional sports. I got to see my friend Mike O’Koren play for the Nets and later serve as an assistant coach with the team.

I was there when they somehow upset the defending champion 76ers in the playoffs in Philadelphia in 1984. I kept pinching myself, wondering if it was actually happening.

I was there when Richardson failed yet another drug test, banning him from the NBA for good in 1986, pretty much killing the solid run those Net teams of the 1980s enjoyed.

I was there when the late Chuck Daly became the head coach and offered his basketball knowledge on a daily basis, stuff that I just soaked up, and watched him get frustrated having to deal with Kenny Anderson and Derrick Coleman, who uttered the most famous phrase in the team’s history. “Whoop-de-damn-doo.” Derrick Coleman remains one of the toughest people I’ve ever had to deal with in professional sports.

I got to enjoy the wonderment of Drazen Petrovic, who became the most popular player in the franchise’s history, then saw it all end tragically when the sharpshooter was tragically killed in a car accident in Germany. I grieved with everyone else, because anyone who met Drazen loved him like a brother. He was that good of a guy.

I then had to endure the tough years, with guys like Chris Morris (although his show of making half-court shots in pre-game shoot-arounds was amazing) and Stephon Marburyand one bad draft pick after another. I attended practically every single press conference announcing those bad draft picks, seeing the team act with such hope and promise, but watching those positive feelings disappear as soon as those draft mistakes hit the floor.

I was there when Shaquille O’Neal brought down the entire basket at the Meadowlands. Not the rim, the entire basket, the frame, the metal standards. The whole thing. I was there when Bobby Hurley made his triumphant return to the NBA after his near-fatal car accident and was overjoyed to see him back on the court when it all seemed so impossible a year earlier.

I remember the John Calipari-era team, with characters like Sam Cassell, who was “Sammy being Sammy” long before Manny Ramirez. Cassell once used the four-letter F-word as an adjective, adverb, noun and verb in one sentence. Cassell was a true character and that use of the English language was very talented.

I remember dealing with Keith Van Horn, Kendall Gill, Lucious Harris, guys who I became more than friendly with. I had Jack Haley scream at me at Ramapo College because some editor at the Star-Ledger inserted that Haley was “Dennis Rodman’s babysitter,” something I had not written, but it appeared under my name and Haley was livid.

And I will forever remember the close relationship I developed with Jayson Williams, who despite all his legal problems, will forever be a generally wonderful man and someone who went out of his way to help anyone and everyone he ever dealt with. I grieved when Williams fired that shotgun because I still believe two men died that night, the victim Gus Christofi, and Williams himself. I can never repay the loyalty that Jayson gave to me through thick and thin, even through the passing of my brother and the end of my beat coverage of the team with the Ledger.
And the hours spent laughing at Williams’ great stories. They were endless.

I was there in Chicago when that team faced the unbeatable Bulls in the playoffs, but there was so much hope and excitement just making the playoffs.

Then, there was the trade to acquire Jason Kidd and the face of the franchise changing once again. There were the two great playoff runs, the incredible games with the Pacers and Pistons in the playoffs. There were great guys like Richard Jefferson, who I always looked forward to talking to, or even Kenyon Martin, when I wasn’t pissing him off with a tough question.

The Nets made it to two straight NBA Finals, which really was exciting to behold, seeing the Continental Airlines Arena buzzing with excitement.

There were the hundreds of trips to the team’s training facility in East Rutherford for practices, press conferences, you name it.

There’s been the tough times over the last few years, the losing, the patience needed to work with Deron Williams, who shows every day why a good guy like Jerry Sloan got frustrated trying to coach him. You can only write about losing for so long before it gets so incredibly stale.

There have been the friends I’ve made through covering the Nets _ fellow sportswriters, broadcasters, the Nets PR staff, support personnel, even the security people. My relationships with Dave D’Alessandro and fellow Jersey City boy Fred Kerber go back to those early days covering the Nets in 1983. The Nets’ official scorer, Herb Turetzky, has been a steadfast, happy smile all the way.

Some people are now gone. Petrovic, Chuck Daly, sportswriter Eric Mortenson. Four members of those early 1990 teams, namely Petrovic, Armon Gilliam, Yinka Dare andDwayne Schintzius, have all passed.

After tomorrow night, there won’t be any more games to cover in New Jersey. They will go to Brooklyn. Who knows if I will follow? No one knows what the future holds.

But I will forever embrace the memories I’ve enjoyed covering the Nets over the last 30 years. They’ve been a major part of my life, my career. Those thoughts and memories cannot simply move away, like the team will very shortly.

SportsGuyMike’s Today In Sports History June 22nd!

Today we have some baseball milestones & one NBA Champion.

1930-Babe Ruth ties a major league record by hitting five homers in two games and six homers in three games. The Yankee outfielder hit three homers in the second game of the
doubleheader yesterday, two homers in today’s opener and one more in the nightcap.

1930-Lou Gehrig hits 3 HRs in a game, Ruth hits 3 in doubleheader

1932-The National League finally approves the use of uniform numbers to identify players. Although some teams in the AL implemented digits on their jerseys on a regular basis a
few seasons ago, the Senior Circuit had refused to follow suit, probably as the result of the Cardinals being harassed by opposing players and fans when they wore numerals on their
sleeves in 1923.

1941-In their 5-4 victory over Detroit, the Yankees establish a new record by hitting at least one home run in 18 straight contests. Joe DiMaggio’s sixth inning blast not only breaks
the major league mark, previously held by the Tigers, but also continues his own consecutive game hitting streak to 35 games.

1962-Boog Powell becomes first player to homer over the center field hedge at Memorial Stadium. The Orioles’ first baseman goes deep off Boston’s Don Schwall, who gives up the 469-foot shot.

1982-Phillies’ Pete Rose moves into second place for career hits passing Hank Aaron with his 3,772nd hit. The historic hit is a third inning double off of Cardinal hurler John Stuper.

1987-After spending over two weeks training to make a comeback with the Mets, Tom Seaver announces his retirement. The future Hall of Famer ends his career with 311 victories, in
which 198 came wearing a Met uniform.

1990-Longest game in Toronto, Yanks beat Blue Jays 8-7 in 15 inns

1994-Hitting his 31st home run of the season, Ken Griffey Jr. breaks Babe Ruth’s record for most homers before July 1. Although the Yankee slugger needed only 63 games to reach 30
homers in 1928 and 68 games in 1930, Junior accomplishes the feat in the Mariners’ 70th game of the season.

1994-48th NBA Championship: Houston Rockets beat NY Knicks, 4 games to 3

SportsGuyMike’s Today In Sports History June 21st!

Some of the most interesting things around sports happened on this day. For Yankee fans all over the world, today was a very sad day in 1939 to say the least. Enjoy some of these other TISH bits.

1932 – Heavyweight boxer Max Schmeling lost a title fight by decision to Jack Sharkey. Schmeling’s manager, Joe Jacobs, exclaimed “We was robbed!”

1939 – Lou Gehrig quit baseball due to illness.

1942 – Ben Hogan recorded the lowest score (to that time) in a major golf tournament. Hogan shot a 271 for 72 holes in Chicago, IL.

1954 – Australian John Landy ran the mile in 3 minutes and 58 seconds. He was the second person to achieve the feat.

1963 – In St. Louis, Bob Hayes set a record when he ran the 100-yard dash in 0.09.1.

1970 – Tony Jacklin became the second British golfer in 50 years to win the U.S. Open golf tournament.

1997 – The Women’s National Basketball Association made its debut. The New York Liberty defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 67-57.

1999 – Pantera rode a float in the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Dallas. Pantera is responsible for the Stars’ theme song.