Honorable Mention: DOLPH ZIGGLER
Dolph Ziggler Ric Flair Kevin Nash
Coming off of the recent Brand Split (between Monday Night Raw & The New Live Version of Smackdown) and the dominance shown by Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, The WWE has been getting a huge amount of press lately. And based on what I saw on the July 25th edition of WWE Monday Night Raw, it appears that somebody in charge has actually been listening to the moans and groans of it's more traditional wrestling fans. I mean I've gotta say that for the last ten years, the product has been increasingly hard to watch. But as of last night, on the first post-draft edition of Raw, the was a very noticeable air of change in the air. The vibe was darker, there was much more action, the promos seemed less scripted, and most importantly-there was less talking. Period. There is a new title (because the name is pretty corny, we will just leave that part out for now), and there were some really good matches throughout the show-but the most refreshing parts of the show centered around the well booked debuts of now former WWE NXT Talents Nia Jax and Finn Balor. And they even brought back the "squash match!" Finn balor's long awaited move up to the main roster more than exceeded expectations, as he ended the show earning earning a spot in the main event at next month's SUMMERSLAM against Seth Rollins. The best match of the night honors go to Sasha Banks, as she defeated Charlotte Flair for the WWE Women's Championship. Sasha is quite possibly the best female wrestler I've ever seen; and her wild tribute to the dearly departed Eddie Guerrero was hilarious! And for those that don't know Sasha is Snoop Dogg's niece, and Charlotte is the daughter of The Legendary Ric Flair. It will be interesting to see what happens to keep the momentum up on Smackdown Live, and beyond. But for now, let's get you familiar with some other other stars that you may want to check out soon...
Honorable Mention: DOLPH ZIGGLER
Dolph Ziggler Ric Flair Kevin Nash
For years it seemed that A.J. Styles would go down as one of the most talented wrestlers never to step inside a WWE Ring; but alas as fate would have it "The Phenomenal One" finally arrived. Debuting at The 2016 Royal Rumble, A.J. hit the ground running and hasn't slowed down yet. Wrestling with The Ring Of Honor & New Japan promotions since 2013, Styles is most known as the long time face of TNA Impact Wrestling. Not really fitting the traditional mold of The WWE, few ever imagined Styles would ever have his "Wrestlemania Moment;" but undoubtedly the fan reaction he has received has been a huge driver behind The WWE's recent shift into their current "New Era."
As a kid this self-proclaimed "Boss" would beg her uncle Snoop dogg to take him with her to WWE Events, and from there the seed was planted that would she that young girl grow into transitioning The WWE Women's Division away from short eye candy exhibitions to Eye legitimate wrestling. Sasha is still eye candy herself, but with a penchant for stretching out her competition in all sorts of MMA-style holds. She's got style like none before her; and just the night before I wrote this blog, Sasha banks would see years of hard work finally rewarded as she became the new WWE Women's Champion. In the past, the women's matches were considered a chance to get up and go get snacks. But with Sasha, and a few others we will mention shortly, times have certainly changed.
Having built up a huge following wrestling under the name "Prince Devitt" internationally, Finn Balor's made it's way onto the American Wrestling scene after a super successful run as a founding member in New Japan Wrestling's NWO/Type Faction "The Bullet Club." After a memorable run as WWE NXT Champion, balor debuted in spectacular fashion this week on Monday Night Raw. For those not yet familiar, Finn Balor comes to the ring showcasing an exciting combo of high flying moves-with the "strong Style" tactics Japanese Wrestling is most known for. And as far as his entrances, only The Undertaker could claim to rival that. And he saves his best for Big Events...
Savelina Fanene (aka Nia Jax) is a former model, and is the younger cousin of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. She's only been wrestling since 2014; but with the way she throws her competition around in the ring, she did need to stew around on the independent scene for years to get noticed. she arrived, She Conquered, She Excelled...
Like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe was one of the main faces of both The TNA Impact and Ring Of Honor Wrestling promotions. Currently The WWE NXT Champion, one can only assume that he hasn't promoted to the main roster so as to ensure that there is still a major draw to keep that brand as a viable and growing force that reigns above TNA & ROH. Joe also represents a trend of heavier set athletes that can really move around the ring, just as well as their smaller counterparts. Up until 2015, The WWE would have always passed these guys over. But now they are bonafied main event superstars...
Becky Lynch is a high energy European transport that came over to WWE in 2013. Along with Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Bailey, these ladies became known as "The Four Horsewomen" as they quickly became known for breaking the mold of what Women's wrestling had been up to that point. Not to say that all of their predecessors were wack-it's just that these ladies are that damn good!
Sesugh Uhaa made a name for himself in Japan's Dragon Gate promotion as "Uhaa Nation," before coming over to WWE as Apollo Crews. By all reports, the name is indeed a play off of Apollo Creed and Terry Crews (of whom he does somewhat resemble). At 6'1" and 240 pounds, it is amazing to watch crews do standing somersaults and come crashing down on his opponents. While most Black Wrestlers usually stay on the mid card, it does appear the company has bigger plans for Apollo Crews. Hopefully this will be the case. Especially after The Brand Split...
Not a lot of history to add here. Asuka, formerly known as Kana, doesn't speak much English. But with the way that she smiles her perverted "You Know You Just Fucked Up" grim at you (just before she kicks and twists her opponents all over the ring) she doesn't have to. Period.
Charlotte Flair is the daughter of The Greatest Pro Wrestler of All time. She was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated "Rookie Of The Year in 2014," and by May of that year, had captured The NXT Women's Title. Charlotte was called up to The WWE Main Roster and quickly captured the then-Divas Champion, and at Wrestlemania was crowned as WWE Women's champion (an honor she held for over a year, until being dethroned by Sasha Banks on the July 25th 2016 Monday Night Raw). While comparisions to her father will never go away, she has done an impressive job of building her own brand-while simultaneously taking advantage of the path that was laid before her. Expect her and Sasha to put on many more spectacular matches well into the next year...
Formerly known as "Kevin Steen," Kevin Owens has been wrestling since the age of 16 years old. Now 32, The former WWE NXT Champion spent most of the past year feuding with the likes of John Cena and Sami Zayn among others. Like most of the others on this list, Kevin Owens displays an impressive and wide-ranging skillset of moves usually not found in a 260+ pound wrestler. Like the others, Owens falls into a category that Vince McMahon would have passed over in times past. And like most of the others, Owens stands to get a major shot at the main event due to the Brand Split.
For most people that grew up in the 70's and 80's Pro Wrestling and Shaolin Kung Fu Movies were two staples that dominated television on any weekend, and for me both of those somewhat guilty pleasures would continue to be a part of my life right up to this day. I don't really get too much into toady's wrestling as much; but can (and do) sometimes spend hours at a time watching the old classics. Figuring I knew just about all there is to know about the different legends and pioneers, I have spent considerable time learning about the Black and Brown Faces of yesteryear that could have been so much more well known-if not for segregation and old racist attitudes in certain territories. People like Ernie "The Big Cat" Ladd, Bobo Brazil, Thunderbolt Patterson, The Junkyard Dog and many others were fan favorites and generated lots of money for the different promotions that they worked for; but were not allowed runs as World champions because by many accounts promoters feared that angry white fans might riot. In fact it wasn't until 1992 that a Black World Heavyweight Champion would be crowned, when College Football Hall Of Famer Ron Simmons would be Big Van Vader for The WCW World Heavyweight Championship Belt.
One pioneering name seems to have fell through the cracks; and it wasn't until watching last week's WWE Hall Of Fame Presentation Show that I first heard the name "Sailor" Art Thomas. Inducted as a "Legacy" entrant, Art Thomas broke into wrestling back in 1943. After finishing up his time in the U.S. Navy, Thomas had already made a name for himself as a Bodybuilder and was asked to wrestle some house shows. Possessing an amazing physique, crazy strength, and 6'5" 265 lb frame he quickly rose up the ranks. Billed as a former seaman, Sailor Art Thomas was also known to showcase much style and flavor-always dressed immaculately in either a business suit or a seaman uniform. As a fan favorite Art Thomas would earn many opportunities to challenge for The NWA World Championship Belt-including several memorable battles with The Legendary "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. In the 1960's Sailor art would move on to The then-WWWF and battle in Tag Team matches with Legends like Bobo Brazil and Bruno Sammartino. During the 1970's Art would move on again to wrestle in Canada, and would retire in the early 1980's. While working all over the country, Sailor Art Thomas was best known for his time wrestling in Chicago. Sailor Art would succumb to cancer in 2003. He was also known as "Seaman" Art Thomas, "Hercules," and "The Body." Without his hard work and sacrifice, so many others would not be selling out huge arenas today like The Rock, Booker T, and others have in more recent times. #SaluteThePioneers
While any look at NFL History usually features a glorious cavalcade of Black & Brown Faces dominating the gridiron, NFL Front Offices have sadly remained a White-Dominated Area in which very few Melanated Faces have been allowed into. Currently there are only Five Black Head Coaches (plus one who identifies as Hispanic) going into The 2016-2017 NFL Season. With the institution of The Rooney Rule, in 2003, the barriers impeding Black coaches from ascending into Head Coaching Roles seemed to be on the ropes-but in recent years those in power have figured ways around that rule. One area that has rarely, if ever, been called into question though is in the front office. In the entire history of The NFL, there have only been nine Black General Managers ever to be hired. The Baltimore Raven's Ozzie Newsome was the first, and arguably the most successful. On the job since 2002, Ozzie is an NFL Hall Of Famer (as a player) and has won two Super Bowls as General Manager/Executive Vice President in Baltimore. It goes without question that he will also be inducted into The HOF as an executive also. next came Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith in 2006, who at the age of 36 was the league's youngest GM. In 2007 The New York Giants promoted their Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese to General Manager (now serving as Senior VP & GM). That same year that Jerry Reese built roster would go on to win the first of two Super Bowl Victories won under his watch. Riding off of these pioneers wave of success, others would come and go; but few remained in positions as long as their contemporaries. Martin Mayhew, Ray Farmer, Rod Graves would all meet their endings over the last few seasons.
But as the new league calendar has now kicked in, alas there is hope for the future. Three NFL Franchises, each of which have been through at least a decade of mediocrity (in some cases worse), have found themselves ranked among those considered on the rise. Well, at least two of them. Who's behind these teams? Sashi Brown, Reggie McKenzie, and Doug Whaley...
Doug Whaley and Reggie McKenzie have actually been on their respective jobs, with the Buffalo Bills & Oakland Raiders for awhile now-but now the marvels of how they reshaped the rosters into respectable contenders has finally come into the light. Having worked as a personnel exec since 2011, Doug Whaley was promoted to GM in 2013-and was rewarded for his work with a four year contract extension after The 2015-2016 Season. The Buffalo Bills haven't been a playoff contender since the late 1990's; but thanks to his work, anything less than that would now be a disappointment. Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie took the then-unenviable job of bringing the Silver & Black back from the dead after serving as The Green Bay Packers Director Of Player Personnel from 1994 until moving on in 2012. That year, McKenzie inherited a team that had gone 4-12 the prior year and had traded away both of their First & Second Round Picks in the upcoming draft. Additionally, they had not made it to the playoffs since the 2002-2003 season. The last two seasons have had their bright spots, and have given Raider Fans something to hope for. And going into the new season, The Raiders appear ready to make the jump back into the playoffs. With a young, but well put together roster, much is expected from The Silver & Black for the first time in many years. That leaves us to the newest kid on the block, Sashi Brown. Recently hired as The Cleveland Brown's new General Manager & Executive VP Of Football Operations, the 39 Year Old Brown previously worked as General Counsel for The Jacksonville Jaguars-before being lured away to Cleveland. Unfortunately for Sashi Brown, The Cleveland Browns Organization has been downright bad for well over 20 years now-and has been the true picture of dysfunction since Jim Haslam bought the team in 2012. But as bad as things are/have been, the remake in progress for 2016 does have some believing that (like Their AFL Legacy Counterpart The Oakland Raiders) they may soon see brighter days ahead. Time will tell as to whether a larger Black Presence in The Front Office will lead to us seeing more Black Head Coaches on the sidelines…
Though nothing could ever match the excitement that runs through a true football fans veins when watching a real live game; there is still quite the adrenaline rush sparked during the first few days of a new NFL League Year. This past Wednesday March 9th marked the start of the new league year, and with it THE FIRST DAY OF FREE AGENCY!! For those unaware, many teams will make roster moves that will either push them into contender status or doom them to yet another year of mediocrity (if not longer). Some teams will pay way to much for unproven and/or washed up players, some will add players that might be good-but will be that cancer that destroys the team's chemistry, while smarter teams will take the more methodical approach of carefully adding depth to their lineup.
Unlike most years, this year didn't have a clear cut superstar that had teams gearing up for a bidding war-but that didn't lessen the amount of drama that would come on Free Agency Day One in the least. The biggest shocker, and longest running storyline, came out of Denver. With Monday's official announcement that Peyton Manning would be retiring, the plan had always been for Brock Osweiler to lead the Defending Super Bowl Champs into the future. But someone forgot to confirm that with him. Osweiler would instead head off to The Houston Texans, who signed him to a 4 Year - $72 Million Dollar Contract. So in the space of two days, The Denver Broncos suddenly found themselves without a quarterback. Then, as if they didn't lose enough blood there, the loss of their young superstar Defensive lIneman Malik Jackson will hurt for at least the next four or five years. Denver also lost Linebacker Danny Trevathan to The Chicago Bears & potentially could lose Running Back C.J. Anderson to Miami. It is pretty safe to say that The Broncos will NOT be back in The Big Game next year. Any move they make now will come from the standpoint of desperation-which can never be good.
To the exact opposite, The New York Giants & Miami Dolphins made several Blockbuster Level Moves to improve their chances of getting back onto the winning side of things. The Giants really weren't good on either side of the ball last year; but their defense was just plain bad. Knowing this, they added truly Blue-Chip Talent at DeFefensive Tackle, Defensive End and Cornerback. Some will question the amount of money they handed out in just one day; but adding former Rams Cornerback Janoris Jenkins ($12.5 million per year), former Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison ($9.25 million per year), And former Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon ($17 million per year) could definitely pay off in the end. They also re-signed Defensive End Jason Pierre Paul to a one year deal. Other than re-structuring Victor Cruz's contract, there haven't been any notable moves on an offensive that needs help-but perhaps they plan on addressing that in the NFL Draft. The Miami Dolphins addressed some defensive needs by completing a trade, with The Philadelphia Eagles, that brought them Cornerback Byron Maxwell and Linebacker Kiko Alonso. They also signed Defensive End Mario Williams to a two year deal worth $17 Million. The latter deal leaves some with questioning the logic choosing 31 Year Old Mario Williams over 25 Year Old Olivier Vernon (not to mention they also lost 24 Year Old Running Back Lamar Miller & will likely ask Cameron Wake to take a pay cut). Much like The Giants, The Dolphins still have multiple holes still needing to be filled on the offensive end of things.
Both The Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars showed signs that the future may be BRIGHT for them in the coming years, and BOTH made moves this week that may just accelerate that growth even more. The Raiders added former Ravens Guard Kelechi Osemele, former Seahawks Linebacker Bruce Irvin, and former Chiefs Corner Sean Smith to help push them ahead in a division that they can now realistically win. Just the Pass-Rushing Pairing of Irvin with Khalil Mack alone should be pretty damn exciting!! The Jags added the previously mentioned Defensive End Malik Jackson, bruising Running Back Chris Ivory, former Cleveland Safety Tashaun Gipson, and former Giants Cornerback Prince Amukamara to their squad. Staying The AFC South, The Houston Texans added the previously mentioned Osweiler & Running Back Lamar Miller & The Tennessee Titans got a glimpse of hope, not seen in quite some time, when they traded for former Cowboys/Eagles Running Back DeMarco Murray.
Other notable moves include:
• People are sleeping on Jameis Winston. I know the team sucks, but after a horrendous Week 1 performance, Winston’s 2405 Passing Yards & 15 Touchdowns (with only 9 INTS) is better than quite a few of his contemporaries. Back to back victories over The Cowboys & Eagles look pretty good on the resume-especially after throwing a Rookie Record FIVE TOUCHDOWNS on Philly!
• The Detroit Lions aren’t dead yet…
• The now 11-0 Carolina Panthers are scary good. The defense is bananas, and Cam Newton definitely deserves MVP serious MVP considerations. The craziest part is that few could name more than three stars on either side of the ball for The Panthers. No name, but damn good.
• With all of the talent lining up on Defense for The NY Jets, I had such high hopes for them. But at the end of the day, Ryan Fitzpatrick under center dooms the season of ANY team he plays for. Fast Start/Slow Painful Decline.
• The San Francisco 49ers will have the #2 Pick in The 2016 NFL Draft.
• The Tennessee Titans can’t beat anyone. Can you say #1 Pick in The 2016 Draft.
• The Jacksonville Jaguars “Color Rush” uniforms are hideous.
• The Arizona Cardinals are For Real! I wonder if The Titans miss Chris Johnson right about now...
Though technically Week 12 observations:
• It’s really bad in Big D. Can you say #3 Pick?
• Chip Kelly needs to take a long hard look in the mirror. Repeat after me, “I totally ruined a really good team. I am a f__k up.”
• The Green Bay Packers appear to be imploding. Excuse making is just not cool.
• Again, The Detroit Lions aren’t dead yet…
• The fates of The Pittsburg Steelers & Seattle Seahawks hang in the balance. Both have had really up & down seasons so far. Both have injuries to their top backs. And now, as they are set to face off this Sunday, we will see which always dangerous team will push through adversity & land in the playoffs.
• The NFL needs to reschedule one of Sunday’s games to Monday. Doesn’t even matter which one. Who really wants to see the Browns versus Ravens battle to decide who is worst?
Update: As of this morning, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe has announced his intention to resign from his post-effective immediately. The announcement came at the beginning of a "closed-door meeting" of the university's governing board-possibly at which he would have been fired anyway. While the wildly impressive work of Jonathan Butler & the Legion Of Black Collegians may never truly be acknowledged the way that they should, reality still says that Butler's ability to motivate the involvement of at least 30 of the school's 42 Black Football Players that was the game changer. This brilliant and rare chess move brought media attention that would have never have been received, and would have have an enormous financial impact to the University Systems bottom line. So proud of these young people!!!
In an effort to put the spotlight on several recent racially-motivated incidents that have occurred on The University of Missouri's Campus-and the school's failure to adequately address the issues-a union has been formed between Black Members of the Football Team & The Legion of Black Collegians. As a result, a number of players (including starting running back Russell Hansbrough) have announced that they will not be participating in ANY football activities until University President Tim Wolfe resigns from his post or is fired.
"The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere.'" "We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!"
There have been several incidents of racially-motivated harassment that have occurred on campus, since September. The most recent being the discovery of a Swastika made from from smeared human feces found in one of the residence halls. Feeling that university administrators have done more to downplay the incidents, as opposed to addressing them, Grad Student Jonathan Butler has begun a Hunger Strike & an online petition for the ouster of President wolfe has received more than 2,000 signatures. According to Twitter, the school's English Department has released a "No Confidence" Statement against the school's chancellor. The football team is currently in the midst of a four game losing streak, which would almost certainly impact the school financially. Let's hope this leads to more media coverage, as few media outlets have chosen to report on this so far. The issue did receive front-page status on espn.com, but I thought surely it would have been the topic of the day on "Outside The Lines." I am so proud of these young men & women and the stand that they are taking for justice. #ConcernedStudent1950 #FightThePower
Credited as the first successful player to go straight from high school to the pros, Three Time NBA MVP Moses Malone passed away today. The younger generation may not be that familiar with the legend that was Moses Malone, and some of the old heads may have forgotten, so let's go on a journey...
A true freak of nature, Moses Malone led his Petersburg High School basketball Team to 50 straight wins & Back to Back State Championships (1973-1974) before being drafted by The ABA Franchise Utah Stars in 1974. Though shorter and obviously much younger than the rival centers he would face at that time, Moses came in averaging 18 Points & 14 Rebounds per game during his rookie season. A couple of years later he moved on to The NBA's Houston Rockets and by 1979 had won his first of three League MVP awards. In 1981 he led an under-matched Rockets Squad to face The Boston Celtics in The NBA Finals, before going down in six games. Malone would go on to win his second MVP Award in 1982, before becoming every bit the Savior that The Philadelphia 76ers needed to finally get past The Celtics & Lakers. Making it even sweeter, Moses Malone predicted that they would sweep every team in four games apiece in route to The 1982-1983 NBA World Championship. His prophecy came just one game short of being true, as they did lose one playoff game before sweeping The Lakers in Four. That magical season would garner him his third NBA MVP Award. After a few more years in Philly, Malone would go on to play for The Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks & San Antonio Spurs before retiring in 1995.
Moses Malone was a 12 Time All Star in an era where you had to do more than just score & toughness was essential to your survival. Not only did he survive for 21 Seasons, he Dominated. He is currently in the Top 10 All Time for Points & Rebounds, and will never be forgotten...
Mainstream America never liked Allen Iverson. They always sought to bash him. Sadly a quick Google Search will yield way more stories about his past & present legal troubles, rumors about his finances, and stories about his bad reputation among NBA coaches. Rarely ever is he mentioned as what he truly is, which is one of the most dominant NBA players of all time. So with onslaught of coverage he's gotten recently after some writer claimed that A.I. was allegedly drunk when he made his infamous "Practice" rant, I figured now would be a good time to remind those that don't know (or forgot) just how good "The Answer" was...
Allen Iverson was the Only player to leave early from John Thompson's Legendary Georgetown Teams of the 80's & 90's and go pro. Upon getting to the Philadelphia 76ers, Iverson spent most of that time playing essentially as a One Man Team, but he never disappointed & and ultimately carried the team on his back to the 2001 NBA Finals. It's a wonder how anyone could possibly forget his playoff duels with Ray Allen & Vince Carter that season. As far as his well-documented troubles, an unbiased mind would uplift him as a hero for never giving up. Though he surely could have done a lot of things differently, word is that most of his money issues come from loyalty and overly generous spending for those in his inner circle. Perhaps that's why Reebok saw fit to put $32 Million in a trust for his later years. Hopefully more good fortune awaits this brother in the future...
Far too few know about her, but hopefully soon that will change. I first heard of Ann Wolfe years ago after watching an episode of "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" on HBO; but sadly her name remained under the radar for several more years. But in the buildup to the Canelo Alvarez versus James Kirkland fight, the question of how James Kirkland would fare without his mentor & trainer Ann Wolfe was a constant question coming from all of the big name analysts. And that question received a DEFINITIVE Answer Last Night as James Kirkland was absolutely destroyed over the course of three brutal rounds.
Now the fact remains that James Kirkland has two losses in his career, both Early Round Knockouts, and BOTH losses occurred when chose other trainers over the proven commodity that is Ann Wolfe!
Ann Wolfe was/is an ex-con, who rose from Poverty & Homelessness to become a Women's Boxing champion who held World Titles in five Different Weight Classes (three at the same time). Her career record was 24-1 with 16 Knockouts, and she was widely considered to be the Hardest Puncher in the history of Women's Sports (Boxing or MMA). Before that though, she served time for drug dealing & slept with her two kids in an Austin, Texas Emergency Room because they were homeless. And in her own words, she would "fuck Ronda Rousey up!" Her intense training style had been criticized as being too aggressive in the past; but now that it has been proven that her style clearly prepares fighters to endure & excel past any type of adversity, one can only wonder how many calls she will be getting from other potential up & coming stars... #Salute
Yesterday I posted a blog post saluting The Legendary Bill Russell as the First Black man to coach in Professional sports; but after being pointed in the right direction by a journalist that I have a great degree of admiration for, I went back to do my homework a little bit more. Somehow left on the back pages of history stands a monumental talent in the form of Coach John McLendon. Coach John B. McLendon, Jr. was the first Black Man to coach basketball at a Predominately White university, and the first Black head coach of any professional sports team.
A Student of Basketball's founder Dr. James Naismith, at The University of Kansas,
McLendon enrolled as the first black student in the school’s physical education department. he endured hostile/racially motivated treatment while enrolled, and was never allowed to play on the All-White basketball team. McLendon tried out for the team several times, but would be cut on each attempt. Upon graduation McLendon was hired as an assistant coach at North Carolina college (North Carolina Central). In 1941, he would become Head Coach, and in his first year as head coach, his North Carolina College Team would win the Negro National College Championship Tournament. McLendon is widely credited as the Founder & Pioneer of The Fast Break. McLendon's teams quickly became known for their Up-Tempo/Baseline to Baseline offensive & defensive play, superior conditioning, aggressive Defense and High-Scoring showmanship. The John McLendon coached North Carolina College Teams would go on to win Eight Black College Championship between 1941 & 1952. McLendon would be lured off to Tennessee A & I University (Tennessee State University). While there, the combination of McLendon's coaching & the play of The Great Dick Barnett would lead the Tigers to win Three Straight National Intercollegiate Championships (1957 thru 1959). No coach had EVER accomplished such a feat. It has been said that these were some great years for basketball, as the Tigers put on such an amazing show for what would quickly become a packed house of Integrated crowds. Coach McLendon would next move on to become The First Black Head Coach of a Professional Basketball Team in an Integrated League, as leader of the George Steinbrenner owned Cleveland Pipers of The american Basketball League (ABL). Quickly moving on from Steinbrenner's meddling, McLendon would again make history as the first black head coach of a majority white college upon taking the job at Cleveland State University. In 1969, he took the head coaching position with the Denver Rockets of the ABA, before retiring & spending the next two decades as a company rep for Converse.
Coach John McLendon was born April 5th 1915, and finished his coaching career with a record of 496 wins & 179 losses. He is also famous for the racially-groundbreaking 1944 "Secret Game" between Duke & North Carolina College. At that time intermingling of Black & White, of any kind, was illegal. Great care was taken to keep this event a secret, and this day would remain a closely guarded secret for the next 52 years (1996). McLendon's team trounced Duke 88 to 44. After that, they played an additional game (mixing the players from both teams together) and hung out in the dormitories together. Coach McLendon also coached at Kentucky State University & Hampton Institute. Today The John McLendon Award is presented annually to the Nation's Top Collegiate Head Coach (Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and JUCO coaches are eligible for the award). John B. McLendon, Jr. died in 1999 at the age of 84. Sadly few know anything about his contributions to the Game of Basketball. #Salute