Friday, February 17, 2012

Question of the Week

Jeff, New Milford, NJ
Subj: Trade winds are blowing
Has the NBA’s leading scorer ever been traded during the season?

Absolutely, Jeff, but it’s only happened once. This rarest of all NBA transactions occurred for the first and last time on January 15, 1965 when Wilt Chamberlain was traded from the San Francisco Warriors to the Philadelphia 76ers for guard Paul Neumann, forwards Connie Dierking and Lee Shaffer and $150,000 in cash. The trade was necessitated by San Francisco’s perilous financial woes and Wilt the Stilt went on to complete the season with averages of 34.7 points, 22.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Although he only finished fifth in MVP voting that season, The Big Dipper went onto win the award three times in the next three years.


Linsanity continues to pick up momentum, as evidenced by last night's episode of the Late Show with David Letterman. Check out Dave's hilarious tribute to Jeremy Lin below.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life Lessons From Mark Cuban

Few entrepreneurs appreciate the value of marketing more than Mark Cuban. The owner of the world champion Dallas Mavericks, this outspoken billionaire regularly keeps in touch with his fans through Twitter and on Grab a courtside seat as he shares his frank insights on how to succeed in business.

It’s not about the Idea
A true man of action, Cuban believes ideas are secondary. “EVERYONE has ideas,” he says. “The hard part is doing the homework to know if the idea could work in an industry, then doing the preparation to be able to execute on the idea.”

Go to the customer
Cuban understands that even the greatest business plan will fail if you don’t connect with customers. “[You must] go to where the customers are rather than bringing customers to you,” he says. “Surprise me by being somewhere I don’t expect you to be.” Cuban has done just that by selling books, DVDs and movie soundtracks at all of his Landmark Theatres. It’s a simple idea that has made him millions.

Customers will let you know if you’ve gone too far
How do you know when you’ve gone too far with a particular idea? Cuban believes you’ll know by looking at your revenues. “Your customers will vote with their pocketbooks,” he explains. “If you go too far, they will tell you.”

Communicate with your customers
Whether chatting with fans during timeouts or responding to emails, Cuban has always made an effort to stay connected with his customers. “[You must] communicate with your fans or customers,” he insists. “They know we live in an ever changing world. If you tell them what you are thinking and why you are doing what you do... they will respect and support you more. Just be sure to be brutally honest.”

Make things easy on your customers
“In a world of so many choices, people are going to take the path of least resistance and do the things that are easy and enjoyable for them,” Cuban explains. “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Question of the Week

Stan, San Francisco, CA
Subj: Super question
Why do all the Super Bowls have Roman numerals?

Numerous theories abound, although most football pundits believe the antiquated system was chosen to make the game sound more historic and monumental. Others have also asserted that it was first used to establish a connection between modern day football players and ancient Roman gladiators. Whatever the reason, we should all be grateful that the NFL has decided to limit the use of Roman numerals to their biggest game of the year. Otherwise, can you imagine buying a Tony Romo jersey with a big IX on the back or a Devin Hester jersey with a XXIII directly beneath his name? Something tells me that practice would make football a lot less appealing in towns like French Lick, Indiana or Toad Suck, Arkansas.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Life Lessons From Don King

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying the fact that Don King knows how to generate hype. Blessed with the right combination of “wit, grit and bullshit,” this bigger-than-life boxing promoter has built a billion-dollar empire by giving customers exactly what they want in ways they never imagined possible. Pull up a ringside seat as he shares his insights on how to succeed in business.

Always give your best
Long regarded as one of the hardest-working men in sports, King has always believed in giving his maximum effort. “You have to go out there and make things happen for the people,” he says. “Show your appreciation for them being there and give them the best of your entertainment, capabilities and qualifications.”

Deliver the goods
Whether promoting the “Thrilla in Manila” or a back alley dustup between a pair of no-name street fighters, King has always tried to give fans their money’s worth. “You have to give the people what they want,” he explains. “When that happens, all you’ll hear is ‘when is the next show?’ I believe in promoting the people. That’s why I say I’m a promoter of the people, for the people, and by the people. My magic lies in my people ties.”

Create your market
A true maverick, King has never let the market dictate his strategy. “In business, you have supply and demand,” he explains. “All right, now, where there is no demand, you have to create it. And then you have to create a supply to fulfil that demand. Now you've got something to sell, something with which to make things happen.”

Concentrate on quality, not quantity
King has never been concerned when his fights end in a first round knockout, so long as the action is entertaining and memorable. “You go for the quality of the performance, not the longevity of it,” he says.

Never give up
In boxing as in life, King has always valued perseverance and resilience. “You're in it to win it, you can't give up, you can't give in and you can't quit, no matter what endeavour you try to take on,” he stresses. “It's always a struggle, no gain without pain... You can be the greatest guy in the world but if you ain't got no heart, you ain't gonna survive.”

Will Ferrell's Ballsy Performance

It may have taken a few years, but Will Ferrell finally put his degree in Sports Broadcasting to work this week when he announced the starting lineups prior to Wednesday's game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Chicago Bulls. Here are the hilarious results.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Question of the Week

Randy, Mount Juliet, TN
Subj: The harder they come
In your opinion, what are the hardest positions in sports?

Superb question Randy! After careful consideration I’ve chosen the three most challenging positions in professional sports and ranked them accordingly. Let me know if you agree with my selections.

3. Goalie – Imagine having to stop 100 mph rubber pucks with your crotch as foul-mouthed French guys smelling of poutine and stale cigarettes whiz all around you. It’s all in a day’s work for a goalie, the team’s undisputed rock and, quite literally, it’s last line of defense. Contrary to popular belief, goaltenders are often the best skaters and most skilled players on the team and they require amazing agility, instincts and hand-eye co-ordination in order to get the job done.

2. Catcher – There are few positions in professional sports that require as much multitasking as being a catcher. A good backstop must handle pitchers with radically different styles, know the tendencies of each opposing batter, throw out base stealers and be a tackling dummy in the event of a close play at home. As if that weren’t demanding enough, they also have to be fluent in Spanish and they spend up to two hours a game squatting like a bear relieving itself in the woods. With so much resting on their shoulders, it’s hardly surprising that so many former catchers go on to become outstanding Major League managers.

1. Quarterback – Arguably the most-skilled position in all of sports, a good quarterback must direct personnel, read and react to defenses and memorize and execute dozens of complex plays while trying not to get twisted into a pretzel by a masochistic 350 lb linebacker. If you don’t think being a pro quarterback is tough, just ask Chris Weinke, Danny Wuerffel, Gino Torretta or any of other former Heisman Trophy winners who have sputtered in the NFL.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Origin of the Gatorade Dunk

Sometimes the best product endorsements are the ones that happen organically. Take the Gatorade Dunk, for instance. A beloved form of victory celebration across the nation, this unlikely tradition began in 1984 when Chicago Bears defensive tackles Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael and linebacker Mike Singletary doused their head coach, Mike Ditka, following a big win.

"I stood in front of him as the game was still going on, and he was protesting, 'Get away from me,'" McMichael recalls. "He couldn't figure out why I was talking to him when he was trying to run a game. I actually had to grab his shoulders and hold him, and Dan came from behind and just doused him. That's when the Gatorade baths started."

Ditka’s rather frosty reception prevented the prank from becoming a tradition in Chicago, but it was adopted the following season in New York City, where Giants linebacker Harry Carson made a habit of splashing his head coach, Bill Parcells, after every victory.

"Coach Parcells was very superstitious," Carson explains. "If we did something one week and it worked, we did it again. So I kept the Gatorade showers coming, and by the end I think he started to look forward to it."

So did Gatorade. The brand received tons of free publicity every time Parcells was doused on national TV. Sportscasters began drawing attention to the ritual at the end of every game and fans even began creating their own handmade “Gatorade Dunk” t-shirts, hats and pins. “I [thought I'd] died and gone to heaven,'" says Gatorade’s former head of sports marketing, Bill Schmidt.

Gatorade understood a big part of the phenomenon’s appeal was its organic nature and happily stayed on the sidelines while the Gatorade Dunk took on a life of its own. "If a marketer ever tried to create that [Gatorade dunk] moment, it would look fake and phony and contrived," says Gatorade senior executive Tom Fox.

Interestingly, Parcells was part of advertising history again in 1987 when Giants quarterback Phil Simms became the first athlete to utter the phrase “I’m going to Disney World!” following New York’s victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Question of the Week

Noah, San Francisco, CA
Subj: Hindsight is 20/20
How many quarterbacks were drafted before Tom Brady?

Believe it or not, NFL personnel selected five other quarterbacks before the New England Patriots snatched Tom Brady with the 199th pick of the 2000 draft. Although each of those prospects was highly regarded at the time, the list now reads like a roll call for the witness protection program. The Jets selected Chad Pennington with the 18th pick, the 49ers selected Giovanni Carmazzi with the 65th pick, the Ravens selected Chris Redman with the 75th pick, the Steelers selected Tee Martin with the 163rd pick, the Saints selected Marc Bulger with the 168th pick and the Browns selected Spergon Wynn with the 183rd pick. If you remove Bulger and Pennington from the equation, the remaining signal callers have combined for 6 starts, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Brady, meanwhile, has started 159 games, thrown 300 touchdowns, won three Super Bowls and been named to the Pro Bowl seven times. As if that weren’t impressive enough, he’s also married to a supermodel and he impregnated a Hollywood starlet. Take that Giovanni Carmazzi!

Monday, January 30, 2012

I’m Going to Disney World!

Professional sports and advertising have always been close bedfellows. From the ubiquitous Goodyear Blimp to corporate signage surrounding playing fields, it’s nearly impossible to escape the clutches of Madison Avenue during an afternoon at the ballpark.

The relationship between sports and advertising is especially evident every winter when the Super Bowl’s MVP happily declares “I’m Going to Disney World!” in a hastily assembled 30 second commercial.

The tradition first began in 1987 when representatives from Disney approached New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms one week prior to Super Bowl XXI and asked him to utter the phrase if his team won the game. Simms declined, but the reps persisted and on January 25, 1987 he rattled off the now legendary line following the Giants’ convincing 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos.

“I didn’t think it would turn out to be what it is,” Simms now admits. “Everyone always asks, ‘how’d y’all do that?’ Well, when the game was over they turned the camera to me and I smiled and said ‘I’m going to Disney World.’ I couldn’t believe I was doing something like that on the football field. It’s fun to look back and know I was the first one to do it.”

The iconic phrase has been uttered by nearly every Super Bowl MVP since, with the possible exception of linebacker and murder suspect Ray Lewis, who was famously not asked where he was going when the Baltimore Ravens won the championship in 2001. Perhaps that’s because the phrase “I’m going to prison” isn’t quite as inspiring.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Question of the Week

Ray, Victorville, CA
Subj: The best of both worlds
Hey Ryan, my friend and I are having a debate. Do you think Bo Jackson could have made it into the Hall of Fame if he had concentrated solely on baseball and had stayed reasonably healthy?

That’s an intriguing question. Let’s examine Jackson’s production. Bo played for four full seasons before his hip injury, during which time he averaged 27 home runs, 76 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and 111 hits per year. If he continued at the same pace and played until he was 38 (an age at which many sluggers call it quits) he would have finished with career totals of 405 home runs, 1140 RBI, 300 stolen bases and 1665 hits. Putting those totals into proper perspective reveals that Bo would have been 43rd on the all-time homerun leader board, 162nd on the RBI leader board, 149th on the stolen base leader board and 423rd on the hits leader board. Bear in mind that Bo was also a big whiffer who averaged 151 strikeouts a year, so he also would have finished his career with 2,265 Ks. That stat is particularly relevant because it would represent the third highest total in major league history. In fact, the only players who struck out more are Reggie Jackson, who played for 21 seasons and Sammy Sosa, who likely won’t make it into Cooperstown because of his suspected steroid use. Given the fact that superior sluggers like Mark McGwire and Dale Murphy aren’t enshrined makes it hard to imagine how voters would allow Jackson to slip in. Let’s face it: Bo may have “known” cycling, soccer, cricket, surfing, weightlifting and auto racing, but I highly doubt he would have known what it feels like to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not Your Average Joe

Joe Paterno may be gone, but he won’t be forgotten. The legendary Penn State coach leaves behind a treasure trove of quotes that are sure to inspire future generations of athletes. Here are five of my favorites:

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good.”

“Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.”

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”

“Publicity is like poison; it doesn't hurt unless you swallow it.”

“It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weighing in on Prince Fielder

Congratulations to Prince Fielder. The larger-than-life first baseman has become one of the wealthiest players in Major League history after signing a nine-year, $214 million deal. That may sound like a lot of money until you realize that Fielder spends $20 million a day on breakfast alone.

I don’t want to insinuate that Fielder is overweight, but the last time he saw 90210 was when he looked down on his bathroom scale.

Kudos to the Tigers. Not every team is willing to invest in a player whose cholesterol count is 500 points higher than his batting average. However, you do have to question the wisdom of signing a slugger whose strike zone is roughly the size of Wyoming.

Hopefully it will all work out. But if it doesn’t, at least the Tigers will be able to use Fielder’s jersey to cover the infield during rain delays.

Elsewhere in sports, I was sorry to hear about the passing of Joe Paterno. It’s sad news for Penn State and even sadder news for LensCrafters. Apparently JoePa was just two days away from buying his first new pair of glasses in 73 years.

You’ve been a lovely crowd. Good night!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Question of the Week

Tony, Yakima, WA
Subj: Wilt the Stilt
Is it true that Wilt Chamberlain almost retired after his first season in the NBA?

That’s correct, Tony. The Big Dipper nearly hung up his size 19-shoes because he was frustrated with the way rival teams manhandled him beneath the basket. Former Celtics forward Tommy Heinsohn still recalls how he and his teammates would hammer Chamberlain in the post. "We tried to send him to the foul line, and in doing that he took the most brutal pounding of any player ever,” Heinsohn says. “I hear people today talk about hard fouls. Half the fouls against him were hard fouls." Luckily for fans, Chamberlain’s friends and family convinced him to give the league another shot and he went on to enjoy 13 sensational seasons before retiring in 1973.

Eat Your Wheaties

Sports and advertising have always gone hand-in-hand as companies have consistently turned to clean-living athletes to help boost their image and improve their visibility. That’s particularly evident when you look at the long and storied history of Wheaties.

The so-called “Breakfast of Champions” began its enduring relationship with jocks in 1934 when legendary New York Yankees infielder Lou Gehrig became the first professional athlete to appear on a box of Wheaties. The appearance came 10 years after Wheaties debuted on grocery shelves across America and it produced such encouraging results that the cereal continued to regularly feature baseball players over the next five years. By 1939, Wheaties had become so synonymous with America’s national pastime that 46 of the 51 players selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game were official Wheaties pitchmen.

The athlete with the most number of Wheaties appearances, meanwhile, is Michael Jordan. The five-time NBA MVP has appeared on the box 18 times, including three appearances with Dennis Rodman, one of the few players in the world flakier than the cereal itself.

Surprisingly, you don’t have to be a pro athlete to appear on a Wheaties box. The cereal has also turned the spotlight on big-game hunters, airline pilots, explorers, rodeo riders and even livestock breeders. So, maybe there’s hope for you yet!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MMA Fight Trivia

The world’s fastest-growing sport is now invading mobile with MMA Fight! Play against the computer or challenge a friend as you answer skill-testing questions about MMA organizations, famous fighters, memorable matches and noteworthy grudges.

This super fast-paced game tracks your progress with realistic fighter avatars who exchange bloody blows with each and every question. Get a question right and watch as your avatar delivers a vicious knee to your opponent’s groin. Get a question wrong and brace yourself for a punishing punch to the face. Each game features 3 30-second rounds of back-breaking, bone-crunching fun!

From hard-hitting action to red hot Octagon Girls, MMA Fight is full of all the things you love about mixed martial arts. Put some fight in your life with MMA Fight!

Question of the Week

Liam, Topeka, KS
Subj: March Madness
In your opinion, what was the greatest NCAA basketball team of all time?

Great question, Liam. I’d personally have to select the 1971-1972 UCLA Bruins. The team was loaded from top to bottom with lightning fast guard Henry Bibby, sweet-shooting forward Jamaal Wilkes, dependable banger Swen Nater and Naismith award winner Bill Walton, the prototypical college pivot. In addition to posting a perfect 30-0 record during the regular season, the Bruins also breezed through the NCAA Tournament en route to capturing their eighth national title. As if that weren’t impressive enough, the team also led the country in point differential by regularly walloping their opponents by a margin of 30.3 points per game.