Passing down my love of the Globetrotters

Harlem Globetrotters 2

I became a basketball fan early growing up. I was seven when I latched on to the Los Angels Lakers and their gangly point guard, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Like most 80s and 90s kids I became a fan of Michael Jordan, too. I was lucky to grow up in the “golden age” of the NBA and watched as many games as I could and followed many of the stars of the time.
However, my first basketball heroes didn’t play in the NBA. I vividly remember at 5 watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports and being mesmerized by the Harlem Globetrotters. I became familiar with them from Saturday morning cartoons and loved watching them when they were on ABC.
I loved the ball-handling tricks, and being a kid, I loved the antics. The way the players went through women’s purses and threw water into the crowd, and then confetti. I was a big fan.
As I grew older, I perfected Larry “Gator” Rivers’ trick of dribbling with the basketball and sliding on the floor while continuing to dribble. I could also almost spin the ball on my finger.
In third grade, I nearly got in a fight over the Globetrotters … Read more >

Hill signs with Ohio State as high school coach noticeably absent


Photo by Gavin Lesnick North Little Rock’s K.J. Hill signed with Ohio State Wednesday.

North Little Rock standout receiver K.J. Hill signed with Ohio State University Wednesday without his high school coach, Brad Bolding, present. Rumors have swirled about Bolding’s job status for weeks, and his absence at the school’s signing day event was telling.
While North Little Rock School officials are mum on Bolding’s stratus, Hill and his stepfather Montez Peterson made it clear any alleged wrongdoing by Bolding didn’t include the recruitment of Hill contrary to rumors that have circulated on social media.
“They swear [Bolding] gave me money, but I didn’t get any money,” Hill told a throng of reporters shortly after he inked with the defending national champion Buckeyes. “That’s what they say. “People say he gave me money … I don’t know what the real situation is,” Hill says. “It’s all good, though.
“I’m not worried. People swore I couldn’t sign, but it is all good.”
North Little Rock’s silence and Hill’s decommitment from Arkansas last month has only fueled speculation that Hill’s recruitment is tied to Bolding’s troubles.
“Everything that we have done as parents and K.J. has done have been on the up … Read more >

Why I’ll Never Forget Ernie Banks

AP Photo
On a cold  night in 2002 I had a great chat with Ernie Banks and an encounter with Sammy Sosa.
AP Photo On a cold  night in 2002 I had a great chat with Ernie Banks and an encounter with Sammy Sosa.

AP Photo
On a cold night in 2002 I had a great chat with Ernie Banks and an encounter with Sammy Sosa.

It was a frigid, late mid-April evening in Chicago in 2002. As I hopped off the L train on the Northside, my heart leaped. A Cubs fan since elementary school, I was beyond excited to finally visit Wrigley Field.

However, I was also on a mission. I was a sports writer for the Pine Bluff Commercial, and as a condition of my five days of working vacation, I was asked by my editor to write a column.

The Cubs granted me field access with the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, and my plan was to write about the showdown between sluggers Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.

I wasn’t naive enough to think I could get an interview with either superstar, so as I walked down the concrete steps onto the freshly manicured grass behind home plate, I tried to find a neutral party that would have a good take on both superstars.

My eye caught Joe Carter behind the cage watching the end of batting practice. Carter, a one-time Cubs player and hero for the Toronto … Read more >

Reflections on the great Razorback road trip


So, Justin Acri, Pat Brradley and I survived our Razorback road trip to Iowa and are now firmly implanted in our every day routines. After arriving home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I’ve had some time to reflect on one of the more epic trips I’ve taken.

Iowans love vanity license plates
I hadn’t pondered much on this in the 24 years I lived in the state. After eyeing our 1,000th different vanity tag, Pat made the observation, and Justin I agreed that a lot of Iowans have personalized plates. Of course, Pat’s favorite was Justin’s father Frank’s plates that read ‘F ACRI.’ If you don’t know why that’s funny, drop me a line.

Thick-or thin-crust pizza, I’m in
On Wednesday night, Justin, Pat and I and Justin’s college-aged brother and roommate struggled to take down two large pizzas at Great Plains Sauce and Dough Co. in Ames. Nestled in downtown Ames, it is a tradition. The pizza comes on thick crust and is piled high with cheese and toppings. The cheese and toppings kept me from eating more than three, and I should have stopped at two.
Contrast that with Fong’s Pizza in Des Moines that features … Read more >

Lots of smoked meat and a nostalgic gyro


After a big cheeseburger and loaded pizza on Wednesday, I  didn’t even think about food until around 6 p.m. Thursday.

As I mentioned in this space, we planned a trip to the iconic Ames smoked meat joint, Hickory Park. We arrived about two hours before the Iowa State versus Arkansas game, and the lobby was packed.

However, Hickory Park is equipped for large crowds with a huge dining area and an army of staff. We only waited on a table for about 15 minutes. In about another 20 minutes, I had a plate of smoked half-chicken and four ribs.

While Arkansas has Iowa beat withimage a variety of sauces, Iowa smoked meat is pretty darn good. The chicken was meaty, smoky and flavorful. The ribs were prefect, too. It was way too much meat, but since I don’t know when I will return, I ate most of  the ribs and chicken with some beans and sweet potato fries for good measure.

I wouldn’t have needed anything else to eat, but Justin Acri went for a taste of nostalgia, and I joined him after we hung out in campus town after the game. As an ISU student, Acri was a regular … Read more >