Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

Tom Brady — and more specifically: Tom’s Phone — has gotten a lot of heat recently for what may or may not be nestled snugly in that i-Phone inbox.  In case you somehow missed it: Tom has been suspended 4 games by the most powerful court in the land: The NFL.  While Roger Goodell was busy going all Judge Dredd out there on Patriots fans (*Author’s note: who shouldn’t be too worried about a rested, pissed off Brady coming back for the remaining 12 games of next year) the public at large has been wondering what was really in Tom’s phone.

While I don’t know what his phone might have looked like around the time in question, I have a pretty good idea of what Tom Brady’s inbox looked like this morning.  How do I know?  Because he decided he’d had enough of speculation and he wanted to turn his phone over to a serious journalist.  Let’s take a look at Tom Brady’s inbox:

Brady's Inbox

Pretty telling stuff.  And while there’s no direct mentions in there referencing anything we can presume to be guilt or innocence, it does paint a pretty interesting picture of what life is like off the field for Mr. Ugg.

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The news broke yesterday that Nebraska basketball player Walter Pitchford was skipping his senior season with the team.  It wasn’t to go pro.  Or transfer.  Walt P for Degree!  Yes, Walter Pitchford decided that he wanted to buckle down and pull a reverse-version-of-me and focus on schoolwork, seeking to obtain a business degree and launch a career.  Which is truly admirable.

But, in the wake of his leaving the team, Husker fans were left wondering if this was actually what happened.  Was Walt really leaving the squad just so he could focus on his academics?  He certainly seems like a smart dude, a guy that would be open and honest about his intentions.  But, damn it, do I love a conspiracy theory.  Here are my theories on the real reasons Walter Pitchford left Nebraska basketball.

1. Walt P for 1D

Walt1

As I’m sure all of you noticed, and were *totes devastated* by, Zayn from One Direction has left the group.  This leaves not only a big hole in one of the world’s most popular groups, and a gaping chasm in my heart, but a job opportunity.  Walt seems like an ideal fit for this Tween sensation.  He’s cool.  He’s got charisma.  And he fulfills the groups need for a minority.  Check, check, and check.  Also, think how much more fun the lyrics would be with Walt added into the mix:

The story of his life, he drives the lane
He shoots the three, makin’ it rain!
Your ankles. . .are bro-oh-oh-oh-ken.

Or something like that.  I totally don’t know the words to that song.  Really, I swear I don’t.

2.  Pursuing An Acting Career

True

Walt seems versatile.  A renaissance man, if you will.  So perhaps what he’s looking to do, here, is expand his brand a little bit.  I could see him starring in a gritty, brooding, police drama that’s all simmering tension and dark, twisted investigation procedural.  Now, if only we knew a wily, strange, philosophical dude that could play opposite the smoldering intensity of Walter Pitchford, True Detective.  If only we had someone. . .

3.  Working as a Full-Time Manager and Producer for his Boy Band, Terran Terran

Terranterran

I know, I know. Somehow I managed to throw together two idiotic conspiracy theories regarding boy bands in the span of 375 words.  Sue me.  Actually, don’t.  I’ve watched some of the Aaron Hernandez trial and my lawyers wouldn’t have the balls or the bank account to try to make deflategate jokes during the proceedings.

In all seriousness, I think I speak for all Nebraska Basketball fans when we wish Walt the best.  He may not be joining 1D or starring in an HBO series next to Tim Miles, but he did give us a magical run in 2014 that is hopefully still slingshotting our program forward with momentum, in spite of this year.

I’ll always remember Walt fondly for his electric shooting as a sophomore and his UFC looking post-move from this year’s crazy upset of Final Four team, Michigan State.

Also, forget “always having Paris” , I’m just glad we got to have this shirt.

img_4847

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(*Author’s note: it’s that time of year again.  One of my favorite sporting events is here once more: the Nebraska High School State Basketball tournament.  In what is becoming an annual tradition, I will be reposting my epic-length ode to the Lincoln High School 2003 State Basketball champions.  I have left the manuscript relatively untouched from it’s initial publishing from 2013.  However, I have attempted to add in some pictures and have combined those 3-posts into one, massive, piece.  Let’s all hop into the DeLorean, crank that bad boy up to 88 MPH and get our nostalgia on.)

PART I

The Lincoln High Links won a State Basketball title 10 years ago. The echoes of that victory still reverberate somewhere deep in my fandom. That title, even though it occurred during my sophomore year, attached itself to the narrative of my formative years at Lincoln High, a time period in my life that has truly become more gilded in my recollections the older that I get. It was a three game stretch in the early beginnings of spring, when the prairie pilot light for summer has only just been lit, and the icy fist of winter was loosening into a palm.

Capture

Was I on the team? Not a chance. I retired willingly after the boys of the Freshman “B” team took home the city title in 2002 and that was truly the ceiling for my basketball skills. Does it seem slightly ridiculous to still hold such a fond spot in my now semi-adult heart for a high school game from back when “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly was noted as “my jam!”? Say what you will, but these were important times in a burgeoning sports-centric mind.

I knew from an early age that I wanted to go to Lincoln High. My parents had decided that they loved the multicultural aspect of both of their sons attending a high school that had a veritable United Nations of different cultures, races, and ideology. My brother was two years older than I was and he proudly sported the red and black. I would soon follow suit.

From the moment I watched my first Lincoln High basketball game, I was hooked. I had loved basketball from the moment I first started following the NBA in 1996 and, seeing how good the teams were from Lincoln High – their speed, toughness, and a healthy mix of hero worship for the guys who I knew were so cool at the place I wanted to become cool– I quickly became one of their biggest supporters.

I watched in agony as they were bounced from 2002’s state playoffs by their arch-rival Lincoln Southeast. It was a painful display of the rivalry between both schools that I would come to embrace and to love throughout my years of high school.

This out-and-out fanaticism for the basketball team certainly didn’t lessen when I found myself a sophomore at “The High.” If anything, it gained in momentum. I attended home games, cheering wildly until my vocal chords had been Fran Dreschered. I attended road games, jubilantly howling like an injured baboon until my voice sounded like Bobcat Goldthwaite. Any games I could attend that year, I did.

The team had amassed a gigantic following of fellow die-hards like myself. Chanting, swaying, we would jump up and down until the bleachers appeared ready to collapse like a decrepit building on the San Andreas fault. And those were just for regular, middle-of-the-week games. When it became clear that The High was headed to State once more, the stage was set for a massive, recklessly crunk, exodus of near-hooliganism to find its way to the Devaney Center.

You see, at Lincoln High, basketball was a great uniter. It took sectionalized groups and gave them a common interest. It took the marginalized, the outliers, and put them in a crowd of students who, for four quarters, all knew exactly what it was that they similarly desired: a victory. Stereotypes were shed, biases sidelined, and “in crowd” was lost to the gymnasium-filtered air. A mass of black and red, shoulder to shoulder, lungful to lungful of screaming pride.

Lincoln High Basketball, circa 1920 (Photo courtesy of family old photos.com)

 

Lincoln High was never a bad school, but it suffered from a reputation around town as being a school full of thugs. This feeling of persecution, of misconceived judgment but those with their noses too high in the air to get a good view of the actual place, only served to ratchet up the intensity when the Links found themselves headed to the Bob Devaney Sports Center for State Tournament games. Make no mistake, it was Us V.S. Them (*Author’s note: capital letters intentional.)

There was a great rising motion occurring, the week of the tournament. A soft-malleted crescendo beginning in the hallways and parking lots. Subtle, at first, but gradually building from echo to white noise to simmering hiss. Like prairie thunder in the distance or the electric charge in the air after scuffing your socked feet across a carpet in dry, dry winter months. It was the school. It was preparing to shift. The school that week felt like a carefully laid beartrap being pulled back to lethality. It was cranking, cranking, and delicately positioning. We were anxious to hear the jaws snap viciously forward but first we had to sit through another Spanish class.

I realize, at this point, that this may seem entirely too dramatic; too prosaic. I get that. But you have to understand that, during this time, this was about to be the biggest sports events of my life. I had too much pride, too much passion invested in Lincoln High sports to take this moment lightly. Lincoln High sports represented not only me. It represented us. At least to a certain extent and I wanted desperately for that “us,” that “we” to emerge at the top of the heap. I wanted the band to look good, I wanted our student section to “win” by outcheering and out-taunting the opposition. I wanted the kids who carpooled into school together in rusted out death-on-wheels vehicles to show that this book wouldn’t be judged by its cover, but by its heart and passion, and fight.

All of these complicated, intrinsically Lincoln High feelings were tied to the impending showdown at State. Yes, I knew it was only a game. Yes, I knew that if we lost I would be completely fine. No, I didn’t care about rationalization or logic. It was high school sports at their core and, I would argue, at their best.

First up for the team was playing Central again. The same Central that the Links had beaten in the playoffs the year before, a game in which the Central coach lost all semblance of cool and ended up getting at least one technical foul. The Eagles ended up scoring another “T” at some point in the game and I remember being completely blown away at how cool and collected the Lincoln High bench was.

Emotions may have been running high, but head coach Russ Uhing was unflappable. He was serene. He was Lake Placid on a windless day. Central’s coach was Lake Placid re-runs on the SyFy channel. Uhing was a single candle-flame on the edge of a Spa’s bath, windlessly unflickering. Central’s coach was a dude smoking bath salts. It was a grudge match from the start. It was another proud school, with a storied past and a currently checkered reputation, and the game came right down to the wire.

The Links had to hit free throws in order to send the game into Overtime, where they eventually emerged victorious, winning 68-61. In a change of pace from the previous year, no technicals were handed out. Uhing was as calm in his team’s victory on this day as he always was. Phil Jackson, on his most mellow pipe-ful of Ganj while watching the sun set over his Montana ranch, couldn’t have been more Zen than Russ Uhing.

(Headline image courtesy of Omaha.com) (*Author’s note: I was too cheap to pay $2.95 for the full article.

The team had survived and advanced. They were moving on. We were moving on. I was about to get my parents’ permission to skip class. All was right with the world.

PART II

I’ve already discussed what led us to this point. I’ve covered my borderline absurd love for the Lincoln High Links’ basketball program, from my time spent proudly attempting to be the glue-guy for the Freshman “B” squad to my boyhood hero-worship of the near-missing teams of the early 2000’s. I’ve explained my penchant for hyperbole and the rose-tinted glasses that I have strapped to my face like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 1980’s rec-specs. However, before we go any further I have a confession to make. Right here and right now. I need to get this off my chest before I pick up by describing Lincoln High’s second round tourney game against Omaha Westside.

In the darkened, bleak years of 15-year-old stupidity(*Author’s note: otherwise known as 2003) I wrote a rap song about the Lincoln High basketball team.

There, I said it.

I’m not proud of this fact. Honestly, it’s taken me 10 years to admit as much publicly, and I feel like if I’m going to continually burn on things I need to be as honest as possible. The 2003 version of me had very-loosely held ambitions to break into the rap game. So I sat down one fateful day, put pen to paper, and cranked out what might be the worst rap song since Marky Mark dropped his pants in “Good Vibrations.” I’ll spare most of you the gory details of this Shel Silverstein, paint-by-numbers rap song. Titled, “Game Time at the High” it involved name-dropping our starting five, bragging about the 22” rims on the cars in the school’s parking lot and any number of other atrocities. It was, essentially, a war crime. I was foolishly convinced by some of my classmates that the song wasn’t that bad (*Author’s note: it was.) and submitted it to the school’s poetry magazine at their behest. I don’t openly support book-burning, but I desperately wish that someone would hunt down the copies of this dark, dark chapter in my life and Farenheit 451 the hell out of them. Moving on.

After we had beaten Omaha Central the mood could only be described as crunk. As a mofo. We sprinted through the parking lot, war-whooping like the racist extras in an Indians V.S. John Wayne movie, baying at the night air. We were feverish. Fervent. We were 16-year-olds with wings on our heels and adrenaline pumping through our veins like we’d just gotten Pulp Fiction needled right to the heart. We were beside ourselves. Not knowing what to do to celebrate this enormous victory, we leapt into our one-friend-who-got-a-car-for-his-16th-birthday’s car and peeled out. Directly into traffic.

Centralgame

(Headline image courtesy of Omaha.com) (*Author’s note: I was too cheap to pay $2.95 for the full article.)

 

 

Unfazed by the instantaneous gridlock that is Devaney Center parking, we bumped DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat” as loud as our speakers and ears could take it. (*Author’s note: I’m not entirely sure how a song from 1996 came to be my own personal anthem for Lincoln High’s miraculous run, but it absolutely was. I mean, it’s no “Game Time at The High”, but it was okay.)

In typical high school fashion, once we got out of the parking lot of the Devaney Center, we were desperately in need of some fast food and a place to hang out. We rolled into Runza, piling gleefully out of the clown-car-packed vehicle and an impromptu dance party took place in the parking lot. At some point we decided that the best way to consecrate such an amazing sporting event was to have one of our group attempt to bong an entire mini-cone full of Mountain Dew from the restaurant. They had given out the cones to help our students cheer, apparently, but I feel relatively certain that we weren’t the only ones misusing them. The Dew-bonger choked and sputtered and generally soaked his Lincoln High shirt in a sticky amalgamation of 47 grams of sugar per serving mixed with all the unholy chemicals that make Mountain Dew so damn Mountain Delicious.

Eventually we had to head home. Hoarse. Exhausted. Way too excited to sleep without first burning off some energy by playing Nintendo 64 for a while to calm my nerves. Finally beginning to unwind to the sweet, sweet goodness of Goldeneye I was able to take a deep, rattling, breath. The next day would be a day game. It would be a parentally sanctioned truancy bonanza. It would be a showdown between the Westside Warriors and the Lincoln High Links.

Having school the day of a state basketball tournament game is pointless. It’s like trying to study in a library while Kiss is having a debauched, insane concert two Dewey Decimal places over from you. My concentration was shot. Our concentration was shot. Even the teachers seemed ready to “come down with something” and split as quickly as they could. The dull, throbbing white noise, like the soft humming of industrial air-conditioning that had been building; that had been continuing to increase incrementally from way off in the distance at stage left? It was getting louder. It was nearly drowning out math and science and English and the droning of teachers clicking through their 4th power point of the day. The school was poised at the precipice. We were looking over the edge, with our parachutes strapped on at 10,000 feet up. We were. Ready. To. Jump.

For the Westside game I had to play with the drumline at halftime. It through my whole pre-game routine out of whack and, initially, left me in a foul mood since I wasn’t able to stand in the student section like I normally would have. However once it was game time, the jackhammering heartbeat, the swaying crowd full of friends and colleagues and casual-acquaintances-turned-high-fiving-best-friends was too much for me. I was swept away. After proudly strutting onto the court to perform with our school’s dance team, replete with Nelly-style Band-Aids under our eyes (*Author’s note: big ups, 2013, on leaving that weird trend behind.) and red and black camouflage bandanas, I was able to set my drum aside and focus purely on the action on the court.

And “action” is perhaps underselling how exciting the game actually was.

It was a back and forth battle. Both teams were scrappy, over-achieving units that had good coaching. They had a rabid student section that truly gave as good as they got. Almost. We shouted. We chanted. We attempted to will our boys to a victory against the invading hordes from Omaha. As the game came down to the wire neither team was able to pull significantly ahead. The Links gamely clung to their opponents, refusing to allow the opposition to pull away. Uhing was Freon. He was pre-Al Gore Ice Caps. The team never flinched. Hovering somewhere above the din, above the tumultuous Molotov Cocktail of our unbridled emotions, was a sense of calm.

The team. The coaches. They were oblivious to the bedlam occurring in the Black and Red mosh pit behind their basket. They were focused and hungry and full of flinty-eyed determination borne of hours spent shooting in stiflingly hot gyms, borne of suicides run from missed free throws (*Author’s note: I’ve seen both of these with my own eyes. I’ve been in the gyms at Lincoln High in the summer time and they’re Devil’s Oven hot and I’ve seen the looks of teammates when you’re responsible for making them run. Frankly? I prefer the heat.) and borne of a stiff, rigid pride that won’t let you turn your head away even if you fear the worst.

With time running down, the Links were down by 1 point. I honestly don’t remember who drove the ball, but I do remember that he missed. I remember that the ball seemed to hang for a crystalline moment, suspended in animation, softly perched upon the wishes and hopes of a bug-eyed student body in mid-air.

10 years ago, Nick Madsen went up and tipped in a shot. At the buzzer. For the win.

10 years ago the students of Lincoln High school volcanically erupted. Exploded into a massive, TNT-roar that ripped through our chests and nearly ruptured our vocal chords. Time had expired and Lincoln High had, again, managed to desperately cling to another victory. They had survived. We had survived.

Our student section was a joyous prison riot. I grabbed the closest student to me and shook him like I was a dirty cop, trying to force a confession. Screaming, leaping, jumping. The band wasn’t playing. The students weren’t worried about who they were suddenly grabbing. Parking lot beefs were suddenly turned to full-on bearhugs and some people merely stood in a stunned silence. Simply put, the moment escapes even my most desperate, breathless, re-tellings.

(*Author’s note: after I posted this, my brother was able to track down a YouTube video from Jarod Gilmore of the fourth quarter. Say what you want about the quality of video, in 2003 this was as close as you got to HD, but if you just listen to the noise you’ll understand how exciting this game was.)

We rocket-boosted out into the parking lot. Pouring out. Holding banners and flags and wearing red, black, and cowsuits (*Author’s note: yes. A group of students all got together and coordinated the wearing of cowsuits to the game. They held a banner that read, “Udderly Unbeatable” which I still find to be a stroke of genius even at age 26. You can never have too many fans in cowsuits, in my opinion, and they set the standard for bovine-crowd interactions. Eat your heart out, Chik-Fil-A.) we flooded out onto the concrete landings of the stadium sprinting at Usain Boltian speeds.

(Headline image courtesy of Omaha.com) (*Author’s note: I was too cheap to pay $2.95 for the full article.)

 

I still had track practice that day, and ran with red-dye in my hair and flecks of paint dripping down my face. If we would’ve had a meet that day, based solely on the adrenaline tsunami, I feel certain we could’ve shattered some school records.

We were in the championship game. After two spinal-spasming-ly close contests we had somehow come out with only one game standing in our way. We were to play Lincoln Southeast for the state championship. We would be coming face to face, head to head, crowd to crowd with our biggest rivals. It would be Montagues and Capulets with jerseys and a ball. It was to be Sharks and Jets without all that sissy dancing. We had one team to beat. We had the team to beat. We went home that night, joyful rabble-rousers, and prepared ourselves for the biggest game of 2003.

PART III

(*Author’s note: And here, after way too many words, is the final chapter. If you’ve read this far, you’re truly an endurance athlete.)

The weekend games are always the most fun in the state basketball tournament. Sure, it’s awesome skipping 2/3 of your classes for the day to paint up like a strange combo of Darth Maul and the least sneaky special ops soldier ever, but having nearly a full day to work yourself into a Seismically active, frothing at the mouth maniac? That’s what makes Saturday at the State Basketball Tournament better.

You have to understand the rivalry between Lincoln High and Lincoln Southeast at this point in time in order to better understand the intensity between the two teams and fanbases. In the early-mid 2000’s Southeast was a sports powerhouse. They were cranking out division I talent in football, basketball, and baseball. They were routinely among the top teams in the state in basketball, having lost in the previous year’s finals after offing the Links in a brutally tough game in the semi-finals.

LinkLHS.png

When Southeast and Lincoln High’s basketball teams met on the court, the intensity level would catapult off the radar. Students would camp out for games the moment school got out. Fights would break out, Principals would wade shoulder deep into student sections in an effort to keep the peace, and fire marshal’s would stop people from getting in at the door due to gyms being over capacity.

It was an old-school, bitter, rivalry that broke bonds and divided friendships. I knew several kids who were at Southeast. I thought they were great. Until it was game time. Then I would launch into a rapid fire shit-talking attempt to verbally incinerate them and they would immediately fire back. We would inevitably find ourselves on opposite sides of the court and I believed I was honor-bound to out-shout, out-taunt, and out-cheer whomever stood in opposition to the Red and Black freight train.

The games were always contentious. They were emotional slugfests that left your scalp tingling, your throat desperately calling for hot liquid, and your adrenal glands ready to go on strike. By halftime.

I honestly can’t remember if we beat Southeast that year. I vaguely recall losing to them, but I truly can’t be sure. (*Author’s note: I know, I know. I just spent 200 words talking up the games as completely unforgettable. What can I say? I’m old. I’m broken down. Maybe someone can refresh my memory, when this post comes out. In the meantime I’ll be crushing up Ginseng and snorting lines of it off my mirror in an effort to stave off my on-rushing senility.)

The bottom line is, when your whole rivalry is predicated on white-hot, liquid-magma, hatred for the opponent revenge isn’t really necessary for motivation. Ever game against Southeast, whether we won or lost, felt like it was a Quentin Tarantino revenge film reaching its gory climax. Dlinks Unchained, if you will. (*Author’s note: I apologize. That’s a little corny, even by my standards.)

As we mad-dashed our way into the student section for the game our rising action was becoming fully complete. Our deus ex machina was firmly in place. The slow simmer from part one that I had mentioned, that flickering spark? It was a boiling, raging, forest fire.

The distant timpani-roll that had been building sonorously since Thursday of that week was now a full on spastic, flaming drum solo so loud it resounded in your lungs. The tension wasn’t so thick you could cut it with a knife, it was so thick that you would need a logging crew to chainsaw their way through after using TNT to explode open fissure-like crack.

I was 16 and on fire with school pride; radiating with hope that my school, our school, could somehow continue their Nantucket Sleighride towards victory. I was fully prepared to howl with all my wolfen fury until my lungs exploded like a too-full party balloon that has landed underneath a stiletto heel. I looked left. I looked right. We were a pack. A rabid, heaving, viscerally charged mass of desperate, pitched longing. When the band struck up their notes we yowled with unrepentant fervor.

When the team was introduced I screamed like a Bieber-groupie getting backstage passes, hitting pitches and octaves that, even at 16, would have astounded auditory scientists. Fortunately, I was one voice among many, many, cheers and my own voice was swallowed up by the ever-increasing decibel detonation coming from the student section. It was death metal concert loud. It was shuttle launch loud. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the Devaney center as fiery before a game has even tipped before or since.

Once the game began our manic chants and hoarsely defiant screams filled the air. We wanted to pay back Southeast for the previous year. We wanted to assert ourselves as the basketball power in the city; in the state. We wanted vengeance.

LSE

Immediately things started going wrong for the Links. Shots weren’t falling. The offense wasn’t flowing. The team battled, to be sure, determined to outwork their slow start. Southeast started scoring. They were hitting buckets. They were rebounding. They had all the answers on defense. An icy finger of doubt slid down my spine; a creeping, uncomfortable caress.

Southeast seemingly had the answer for everything. There was a subtle riptide pulling at our ankles, tugging us out and away from our steel-mill-hot passion. We fought it. We kicked and screamed and tried to head against the current. Southeast just kept pulling ahead. As the first quarter was drawing to a close the Links still hadn’t hit a basket. Or a free throw.

I had completely depleted my repertoire of swear words at this point.

Desperately I searched for anyone who might be bi-lingual to bail me out with new cuss words but, upon Southeast scoring yet again I broke the search off and went to my tried and true, old school American curses. I was driven to inventing brand new f-bomb combos, stringing together obscenities like a foreign cabbie in rush hour who didn’t quite have a handle on the English language yet. The quarter ended with Southeast up 13-0. The Links had inexplicably been shut out.

Coach Uhing was liquid nitrogen. He was a human Polar Bear Plunge. The team fed off this calm.

(Image courtesy of Journalstar.com)

 

We did not.

Eyes bulging. Sweating like I had just gotten done playing in the game myself. Mind reeling. I was a meth-lab of emotions. I hadn’t given up. Oh, no. But I was drastically, stringently worried. I wasn’t sure what to do. I had never seen our team get blanked in the first quarter of a game. With Southeast up by 13 the lead certainly wasn’t insurmountable but it was sizeable.

The Southeast fans were on a rampage. There was blood in the water and they were hungry. They were Shark Week in HD, swarming viciously with their teeth out and their hands high in the air, high-fiving hard enough to amputate. I don’t blame them. They were thunderously pleased with their team’s performance, holding their distraction-balloons high into the air in the shape of zeros. They were the bellows pumping onto the hot, bitter coals of our would-be vengeance. They scored again at the start of the second half.

We found ourselves firmly strapped in on the front car of a cocaine roller coaster.

They had 15. We had nothing.

They had 15. We had each other.

We had our team. We had the immutable, foolhardy hope of die-hard believers, even though the light was flickering and the clock was ticking.

Our intensity rose. Combustion engine firing on anger and pride and that all-too-familiar feeling of our shoulder blades meeting the wall with nowhere further to retreat to.

Suddenly we scored our first basket. Then we scored another. We redoubled our fanaticism. Cajoling. Pleading. Fighter-plane loud as our boys engaged in evasive maneuvers in the on court dogfight. Basket by basket. Inch by inch. The Lincoln High Links were pulling themselves out of the freshly dug grave of a scoreless first quarter, zombies coming back once more. No longer was this a bloody stomping. This was Rocky in the 12th round, toe to toe.

To be honest, the rest of the game blurs a little to me from here. It’s like an epic watercolor that sort of ran together into a beautiful palette of colors and images. A big shot here. A big stop there. The team’s bench imploring the fans to keep the intensity level high. Uhing clapping calmly, as if he was at a mediocre theater production.

By the time we took the lead, we were in a state of delirium. The cadaver of the first quarter had somehow been Frankenstein-ed back to life. Stitched together, an amalgam of pieces playing their part, and lightning bolted to accelerating life. I’ve never heard the Devaney Center louder before or since. Lincoln High Alum, some of the proudest I’ve known, responded to our energy. Parents and students and players alike leaping to their feet.

We ended up winning the game, that day 10 years ago, by 5 points. Scoring 43 points in the final three quarters we were able to outlast the Southeast Knights. Though I never would have admitted it at the time, they fought valiantly. (*Author’s note: I can only clearly assess our rival school now, 10 years in the future, if that’s any indication of how heated our rivalry was.)

As the final horn sounded, anointing a new king in the State of Nebraska, we detonated. Mt. Vesuvius met Pompeii and our student section spontaneously combusted into madness. People were falling, crying, jumping wildly into the air. Insecure young men were hugging passionately and everyone, everyone, felt like we had just conquered the world.

It was 10 years ago. I was 16. And it still gives me goosebumps to recount the scene.

Our team, ever conscious of their rowdy and reckless fans, their hooligans, stood in front of the student section and let us buffet them with a joyful typhoon. Holding their jerseys up for all in the stadium to see. Lincoln High, they said. “Lincoln High” we screamed. Our pride was radiant.

Coach Uhing smiled.

The team climbed ladders and cut down nets. They were given medals and a trophy and an assembly where the entire school attended, cheering like lunatics for the guys that had finally brought home a state basketball title. They had blazed through collective, beating-as-one hearts, and etched their names in neon across the remainder of the school year.

They had done it. They had successfully climbed the mountaintop. They were Sir Edmund Hilary. And we fancied ourselves their Tenzing Norgays.

They had won for themselves. They had one for each other. They had won for black and for red and for the coaches who believed in them all along.

They had won for Lincoln High.

Whether or not they knew it that day, they had won for us.

(*Author’s note: the best part of writing this absurdly long, self-indulgent memoir has been all the people who have shared what their experiences at these games were like. Whether it was former players, former students, or anyone lucky enough to have been cheering for the Links that year, everyone was — and still is– moved by the victories.

If you made it through this rambling piece, feel free to offer your own testimony in the comments section. I was blown away by how many of us still care so deeply about this team and that time in our lives. I would love to know where you were when the horn sounded or what you were thinking when the clock hit zero. Thanks for reading. Go Links.)

Headlines

(Headline image courtesy of Omaha.com) (*Author’s note: I was too cheap to pay $2.95 for the full article.)

Headlines2

(Headline image courtesy of Omaha.com) (*Author’s note: I was too cheap to pay $2.95 for the full article.)

Russ Uhing

(Headline image courtesy of Omaha.com) (*Author’s note: I was too cheap to pay $2.95 for the full article.)

 

FIN

Tim Miles is having kind of a rough year.  After starting the year out with high expectations, and what appeared to be a program on the brink of wave-riding their way down a big Tsunami of momentum carried over from an incredible finish to the 2014 season, the Husker Men’s Basketball team has crashed and burned in Evel Knievel-like fashion.

Miles has tried coaching them up, slowing it down, guest speakers, and virtually anything short of hiring a voodoo priestess to come in and stick pins in Melo Trimble’s hair-doll.  (*Author’s note: he may have done that at some point, too.)  His latest desperate tactic has been locking the Huskers out of their locker room and posh traning facilities at the Hendricks Training Complex.

That means the players will have no smoothie bar, no shower heads with Bluetooth speakers and no players lounge which basically looks like Macauly Culkin’s house from Richie Rich.

So, with not a moment to lose, Tim is taking one last desperate move to fire up his team.  He’s pulling out all the stops to try to get his team motivated for the final few games of the year.  This is the leaked audio of his latest attempt: a stunningly dope rap track and music video.  The words to the song are listed beneath the song.

(Intro)

If you havin’ real problems, I feel bad for you, son.
I got 99 Problems but Hendricks ain’t one.

I got dudes brickin’ threes while I’m grabbing deeze
Haters up in stripes I call ‘em referees
Stinking up the Vault, yo I need Febreze
Bout to snap like a tendon in D-Rose’s knees
I’m from the great white North, more Dakota than Fanning,
Call me the GOAT like I’m Peyton Manning
Underneath this button up I’m built like Tatum, Channing
Taking more selfies than a girl who be tanning.
I’m catching all types’a shit from those Twitter Bros
And Walt P’s in the paint and he’s throwing Bos
Shavon’s so damn smart he’s worried ‘bout Microbes
And I can’t stop staring at Thad Matta’s nose.
I’m getting’ so emotional, startin’ to feel my feelings
And I still don’t know the damn difference between Australia and New Zealand.
From D3 to D1, Son, I Ain’t Dumb
I got 99 Problems, but Hendricks Ain’t One.
Hit me

99 Problems but Hendricks ain’t one
If you having real problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but Hendricks ain’t one
Hit me

Well it’s 2015 and I’m so, so def
But standin’ in my way? It’s the motherfuckin’ ref.
I got two choices, ya’ll, shut my mouth up or
Chase down that Douche and start to stompin’ on the floor.
Now I ain’t trying send ‘em to the free throw line
But I got a few dollars I can pay the fine
So he pulls me over to the side of the court
And I heard “Son do you know why I’m techin’ you for?”
Cause I’m nerdy and I’m pissed and you’re screwing my team
And you’re worried I’m bout to turn you into a Twitter Meme?
Should I head back to the Bench, to try to let off steam?
“Well you was getting too loud when you started to scream
Head back to your bench for I throw your ass out
“Now if you’ll excuse, me Tim, I’m goin’ over there to pout”
I ain’t going back to shit, all my gripes are legit
“Do you mind if I talk to those other ref a bit?”
Well the fans are all pissed and so’s the rest of my staff
And trust me when I say you don’t want Molinari’s wrath
“Listen, I’m probably shouting ‘Boom’ when I drop the T,
“Unless you take two steps back and away from me!”
Well I’m not backin’ up, this is turned to a mess
You’re reffing up this game like your name’s Carl Hess
“See how you feel when the league fines you a ton”
I got 99 problems but Hendricks ain’t one
Hit me

99 Problems but Hendricks ain’t one
If you having real problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but Hendricks ain’t one
Hit me

Now once upon a ‘bout a season ago
We were magma hot, straight smokin’ yo.
We were burning through teams: the passion, the drama!
Now we’re 4th tier news behind a bunch of Llamas.
With all the losses, the haters be hatin’
The best part of this year? Man, at least we’re not Creighton.
Yeah, sure, they might’ve beat us in the head to head
But that’s like being the deadest Zombie on Walking Dead.
We’re losing more than the pounds of Rick Ross
And this season’s ass backwards callin’ it Kriss Kross.
We’re fadin’ real hard at the end of the race
Why does Fran McCaffrey have such a punchable face?
And now come March, it’s our thumbs they’re gonna twiddle
And our fan base is dividing like Tom Crean’s hair middle
But next year Huskers, it’s eternal hope springs
And we’ll see what new guys and some 4 stars brings
Maybe we’ll learn to break a full court press
Beat it black and blue like that Twitter Dress
Or was that gold and white, yo my rap is done.
I got 99 problems but Hendricks ain’t one
Hit me

99 Problems but Hendricks ain’t one
If you having real problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but Hendricks ain’t one
Hit me

FIN

The NFL is known for being an all-powerful, narrative-vice-gripping, billionaires club.  So what usually happens when you get a bunch of super-rich white dudes together that are struggling to control their apparent image problems?  (*Author’s note: it’s called congress.  Hiiiii-oooooh! But Seriously. . .)

You get more even more secrets and ass-covering than even a paranoid Illuminati-crazed whacko could come up with.  At No Coast Bias we’re determined to crack the code and get the behind-the-scenes access that our readership demands.

This is where the NFL Combine comes into play.  The combine has turned into a multi-day hypefest that explodes onto our social media timelines with pictures of fat guys burning through more 40s than in a party scene for a Big Pun biopic, NFL fanbases losing their minds over the measurables of their favorite prospect, and a whole lot of super-athletes being judged by chubby dudes sitting at their office desks (Author’s note: see: Hatch, Chris).

But what about the lesser-publicized events that the NFL uses to try to judge a prospect?  Are there, in fact, secret “measurables” that only the innermost circles of the NFL Combine are privy to?  We dug deep and utilized our secret sources that are connected on the deepest levels of security to find out that there are, indeed, 4 additional events that the NFL tests for at their fabled combine.  Here they are.

1.  The 40 Lawyer Dash

40

This test is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  Given the NFL’s recent troubles off the field, this is a speed test in which prospects try to see exactly how quick they can lawyer up should they run into any kind of legal trouble.  How fast can that shifty running back from the Pac-12 manage to find himself a defense attorney?  Can that star linebacker from the SEC get to a prestigious, amoral law firm before TMZ finds out what happened?  This drill is carefully scrutinized by both electronic timing and several corrupt judges brought in to monitor the potential legal proceedings.


2.  The Character-Based Questionnaire

Character

We’ve all heard about the Wonderlic test and we’ve heard horror stories about players with checkered pasts getting questioned by directors of player personnel from various teams.  However, this year the NFL opted for one-question test that allowed them to identify any potential troubles that may occur when the players aren’t on the grid iron.  Because this year: what concerns do they have for you if you’re not Jameis?


3.  The Weed Brick Lateral

Dime-bag lateral

At this point, I’m not sure why this isn’t just a publicly held event like the other parts of the combine.  Every NFL player needs to have a fall guy ready and waiting to say, “Uhh. . .yeah, officer.  That is my weed.  Not the guy driving the Maserati’s.  Totally mine.  Whoops.”  This event tests the dexterity and fast twitch muscles of potential players who are required to quickly dump a brick of weed into the waiting hands of their less-financially-important homeys.


4.  The Goodell Says Jump, You Say “How High.” Vertical Test

Rog

This is, for all intents and purposes, the single most important phase of the NFL’s secret combine.  At least, it is to Roger Goodell.  And, if the man seated on the Iron Throne approves of your obedience and approves of your undying fealty, he will not put your name on the black list.  (*Author’s note: And, yes, that is supposed to be kind of a racist version of a double entendre)  If you deny swearing your blood-oath to the master and high priest of all of the National Football League, Goodell will recommend that are you immediately sent to the football hinterlands to languish in misery for all of eternity.  Or as the NFL calls it: you’ll get drafted by the Buffalo Bills.

FIN

. . .and just like that: **POOF** the season is over.

Last night was the culmination of all the hype and games and insanity of an entire 6 months of professional football.  NFL Commisioner, Roger Goodell, is probably pretty glad the season is over.  It was a rough one for ‘ole Rog and his neighborhood.  During all the business of the NFL’s ultimate game and the ultimate celebration of the NFL, Roger was inundated with messages from well wishers and haters alike.

Fortunately for you, we’ve partnered up with everyone’s favorite perv-hackers – you know, the ones who have made every celebrity cower in fear as they feverishly attempted to delete their sext messages from “The Cloud”— and managed to get just a snippet of some of the texts that were sent to Roger Goodell last night.


His son was among those checking in with his Dad on the eve of his big moment.

Jr.


It turns out that, even as commissioner, Goodell has a lot of say in the commercials during the Super Bowl.

Downer


He was in close contact with the halftime entertainment throughout the morning of the big game.

Katy


Johnny Football took time out from hitting the beer bong to shoot the Commish a nice text.

Football

 


 

He was still having trouble getting people to answer his questions, though.

waldo


He was even receiving texts from the mysterious great beyond. . .

Ghost


Even beleaguered former NFL running back, Ray Rice, was trying to get an audience with Goodell.

Ray

FIN

Over the last few days we’ve all become certifiable experts on PSI, ball inflation, and have found ourselves inundated with #deflategate and all the insanity the comes with an extra long week of NFL Super Bowl hype.  Yesterday, Tom Brady addressed the media and went into excruciating detail about the minutiae of how he picks out his footballs for use in the games.

He denied any and all allegations of tampering with the pigskin.  Tom Brady, according to Tom Brady, always has and always will play fair.  But you can bet that as soon as Tom stepped off that podium and headed back to his supermodel wife his phone was exploding with text messages.

Fortunately for you, we’ve partnered up with everyone’s favorite perv-hackers – you know, the ones who have made every celebrity cower in fear as they feverishly attempted to delete their sext messages from “The Cloud”— and managed to get just a snippet of some of the texts that were sent to Tom Brady last night.


A confused former Tour de France champion weighed in with his opinion on the matter.

Lance


Tom’s favorite Red-Zone Target wanted to extend his heartfelt support.

Gronk


New England Running back, and most ironically named human on earth, LeGarrette Blount reached out to offer his thoughts.

Blount


Tom’s long-time adversary fired off a quick, parody-song-laden text.

Peyton


Tom was even getting accidental texts last night!

Sherman


Tom received nothing but support from his long-time coach.

Belichik


A mystery texter weighed in with thoughts on a possible replacement, should Brady get suspended.

Tebow


Even the Dallas Cowboys had players reaching out to Brady.

Demarco


Even the defensive players from the Patriots were showing their support for their QB.

Vince


None other than the ‘Ole Gunslinger made a textual appearance on Brady’s phone.

Brett

FIN