Mid-Southerner Barbara Rush supports her daughter’s athletic strides 12 hours away

Longtime educator Barbara Rush is a native Mid-Southerner.

GO GETTER --- Despite suffering a torn ACL her senior season at Lincoln High in Nebraska, Marla Overstreet overcame the mental aspects of her injury and recently earned a spot on Doane College's cheerleading squad. Overstreet's mother, Barbara Rush, is a teacher at Shadow Oaks Elementary in Horn Lake, Miss. (Photos submitted by Marla Overstreet)

GO GETTER — Despite suffering a torn ACL her senior season at Lincoln High in Nebraska, Marla Overstreet overcame the mental aspects of her injury and recently earned a spot on Doane College’s cheerleading squad. Overstreet’s mother, Barbara Rush, is a teacher at Shadow Oaks Elementary in Horn Lake, Miss. (Photos submitted by Marla Overstreet)

Among the things she missed about this area while spending years in Lincoln, Nebraska is the southern hospitality. On the other hand, Rush doesn’t shy away from the fact that she misses the progress her daughter, Mar’Lakuittia Overstreet, has made as a multi-sport athlete at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska.

“I am extremely proud of Marla’s had work and perseverance,” Rush, the cousin of former NFL wide receiver Landon Cox, told MemphiSport. “Her dedication and commitment have truly paid off for her. She strives to achieve both in academics and personal success.”

For the 21-year-old Overstreet, that she recently earned a spot on Doane’s cheerleading squad is among the reasons she has thoroughly embraced college life, let alone weathered the assortment of challenges higher education often creates.

For starters, Overstreet sensed that she would never partake in any form of athletics after she endured what undoubtedly was the most tumultuous encounter for a high school athletic standout.

Starring in both track and field and basketball for Lincoln High, Overstreet seemed well on her way to fulfilling her dream of landing a college athletic scholarship. Unfortunately, her senior year was mired by turmoil when the all-state dual sport athletic suffered a torn ACL during a game.

As Overstreet recalls, it was a devastating occurrence about which essentially changed her life, in large because she was Lincoln’s starting point guard and the catalyst of a team that was projected to make a lengthy postseason run.

The injury occurred when two players inadvertently collided into Overstreet’s knee. Consequently, she made repeated attempts to emerge to her feet and walk on the court on her own power. But to no avail, Overstreet was left grounded as a concerned Lincoln team looked on.

What they feared the most eventually had indeed occurred. Overstreet had in fact blown out her knee and was ruled done for the season. Prior to the freak injury, she hadn’t spent a significant amount of time on the bench in six years.

“The day I found out the news I was in my school trainer and (the team’s trainer) told me I had a phone call,” Overstreet explained. “I went into the office alone with the door shut. My doctor told me that the results came back and I tore my ACL. Hearing that was unreal and I broke down in tears. I decided that my love to play sports was over. I had and continued to have a lot of support.”

MOTHERLY LOVE --- Although she lives approximately 12 hours away in Horn Lake near Memphis, Barbara Rush (left) and her daughter, Marla Overstreet converse virtually daily.

MOTHERLY LOVE — Although she lives approximately 12 hours away in Horn Lake near Memphis, Barbara Rush (left) and her daughter, Marla Overstreet converse virtually daily.

While the rehabilitation progress was somewhat lengthy and brought about a sense of discomfort, Overstreet was appreciate of the strong support from her mother. Rush teaches at Shadow Oaks Elementary in Horn Lake Miss., which is roughly three miles from Memphis.

“My mom has been supportive all of my life,” Overstreet said. “From being at games to running me all over town as I kept myself busy, she also was as she was my transportation to most of the activities. I know regardless I have her support in whatever activity I wanted to get involved in. The hardest thing for me right now is being in Nebraska and my mom 12 hours away.”

Mom and daughter converse every day, whether by phone, text message, or Skype.

“It is great to get phone calls and I look forward to hearing her voice,” Overstreet said. “I feel as if I have gotten super emotional whenever I do see her when she comes to visit. Having parents that truly do care and support you no matter what is one of the biggest blessing in my life.”

Barbara Rush, who relocated back to the Mid-South three years ago, is the cousin of former NFL wide receiver Landon Cox.

Barbara Rush, who relocated back to the Mid-South three years ago, is the cousin of former NFL wide receiver Landon Cox.

Though she attends college in the nation’s heartland and her mom is back in the South, Overstreet said her mother’s continuous support is what inspired to her resume conditioning for athletics. It wasn’t along after doctors cleared her full recovery that she shifted her focus to cheerleading, thanks to a close friend who convinced her to try out for Doane’s squad.

“She asked me the day before and I said, ‘Why not, yes, I will go with you,’” Overstreet explains. “In life, I honestly believe it is important to take those random opportunities because you never know what the end result will be. One thing that worried me was the fact that I had not cheered in three years and here I was trying out for college. I had not jumped but because of my coach at Lincoln High and I had a great foundation. I truly did miss being involved on a team.

“Mentally I prepared myself as to not being afraid to mess up and I knew I would not be perfect,” Overstreet added. “Many of my friends that I spoke to were confident that I would make it. In my mind I believed and didn’t at the same time because I thought college cheerleading was out of the question with my one experience in high school. Being that I was going to try out, the night before I practiced a jump and knew that I was nowhere near the flexibility.”

She didn’t allow her lack of experience deter her from her newfound ambition.

On April 6, Overstreet fielded an email from Doane’s cheerleading coach that featured the official roster. Fortunately for her, her name appeared on it, effectively sealing the comeback of an athletic who, three years prior, sensed she would never perform on a team of any kind again.

Nowadays, Overstreet said she uses her devastating injury as a platform, of sorts, to inspire athletes who have endured a similar injury.

“Don’t take for granted the one body you have,” Overstreet said. “Take care of it because you’re not guaranteed anything. But use your talents that are given to you and take the opportunities that may come along.”

Worthy advice about which brings her mother to smiles, 12 hours away.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

PHOTOS: Top 20 Dogs at Memphis Redbirds’ Bark in the Ballpark 2014

On Sunday afternoon, the Memphis Redbirds celebrated their annual Bark in the Ballpark game where fans are encouraged to bring their canine friends with them for an afternoon of baseball at AutoZone Park.

With help from Twitter and Instagram, we’ve compiled a collection of the Top 20 Dogs from the Redbirds’ Bark in the Ballpark 2014:

Twitter: @cerrito
Email: kevin@memphisport.net

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MSL: 4.12.14 ‘Two Kevins, A Marcus & A Baby’

MSL presser

 

HOUR 1:

(Segment 1) Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter  recap the trifecta of Friday night sporting events in Memphis during a special edition of the Starting 3.
(Segment 2 )  Memphis Flyer Grizzlies writer Kevin Lipe calls in for his weekly segment to talk about his new baby Grizzlies fan and who to cheer for in the Suns-Mavs game.
(Segment 3) Redbirds emcee Maria Garay joins the guys in studio to talk about the new baseball season.

HOUR 2:
(Segment 1) Hang Up & Listen with every caller getting a entry in the drawing to be on the MSL team at Links & Laces Golf Tour.
(Segment 2) Dustin Starr joins the guys in studio to discuss the end of The Undertaker’s streak, the death of The Ultimate Warrior and the latest with Macho Grizz/Stone Cold Grizz/Ultimate Grizz.
(Segment 3) Woohoos and Boos. 

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito & @marcus__hunter.

PHOTOS: Macho Grizz invades FedExForum (Updated: 4/14/14)

Macho Grizz & Miss Grizzabeth both made appearances during the Arpil 4th contest against the Denver Nuggets at FedExForum in Memphis, TN.  The Memphis Grizzlies mascot seems to be paying tribute to the wrestling superstars who started their careers in Memphis, while trying to find his perfect entrance for his on-court antics.

Here are some pictures of Macho Gizz and Miss Grizzabeth:

 Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies

 

Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies

 

Photo Apr 04, 6 18 42 PM

Grizz has also recently impersonated Hulk HoganUltimate WarriorStone Cold Steve Austin & now “Macho Man” Randy Savage.  In another interesting tidbit, your Memphis Grizzlies are undefeated when Grizz dons wrestling gear for the evening.

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.

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VIDEO: Grizzlies Mascot Becomes ‘Stone Cold’ Grizz, Drinks Milk Instead Of Beer

Stone Cold Grizz

Just two days after paying tribute to The Ultimate Warrior at the Grizzlies-Heat game, mascot Grizz returned to his search for the perfect entrance onto the court at FedExForum. This time, the Grizzlies mascot was “Stone Cold” Grizz imitating pro wrestler Steve Austin. Unlike the original “Stone Cold,” Grizz prefers milk instead of beer.

Watch:

Twitter: @cerrito
Email: kevin@memphisport.net

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5 Things You Missed At The University Of Memphis Tigers Football Spring Game

tigers helmetThe much anticipated third year under University of Memphis head football coach Justin Fuente is underway as the Tigers annual spring game ended Friday night.  Fans are expecting the program to continue to grow under Fuente after it made much needed strides the past two seasons.

Fuente inherited an ailing Tigers program two years ago, and while he has not wowed fans with his own win loss record (7-17 in two seasons), he has made the Tigers more competitive in their contests.

Last season the Tigers were mere seconds away from victory against UCF (Fiesta Bowl game winners), Cincinnati, and MTSU (a TAM team rival).  If the Tigers could have scored a touchdown instead of settling for five field goals against Houston they might have won that game too, and let us not forgot how closely they played rival Louisville on the road.

In 2013 the Tigers average margin of defeat was 12.6 points per game, which is better than the previous three years’ of 17.9 in 2012, 26.3 in 2011, and 27.5 in 2010.

However, the close losses last season were just that. Losses, which amounted to a less than stellar record of 3-9 (1-7 in the American Athletic Conference).

Memphis and Coach Fuente are looking to put last year’s near wins behind them with a fresh start in 2014.  While the Tigers have been practicing for a while in preparation for their 2014 campaign, fans got their first up close and personal look of the team Friday night at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

It was a great atmosphere.  A reported 7,400 fans showed up to cheer on the hometown Tigers.  There were the usual bouncey houses for the kids before the game, and in an interesting spring game twist a DJ was on the field managing to keep the fans energized and into the game with an array of songs and mixes.

Yet, there other sporting events going on in the great city of Memphis Friday night as well.  It was opening day at AutoZonePark for the Redbirds, the Grizzlies were fighting for a playoff spot, and Grizz did this.  So, if you were unable to make it to the game here are 5 things you missed at the University of Memphis Tigers football spring game…

1.  
The improvement of the offensive line…
Now it could be because they were facing the “younger team” as Coach Fuente called them (the gray team was comprised of second and third stringers), but the blue team, AKA the starters, did an impressive job of blocking up front.  There were a few times that Paxton Lynch was forced out of the pocket, but by in large the starting offensive line did an a good job in pass protection.  Perhaps more impressive was the job that they were able to do in the ground game, allowing Brandon Hayes and others to look stellar on the ground during the scrimmage.  Opposing defenses sacked the Tigers quarterbacks 28 times last year, a number that should decrease thanks to experience and depth up front.  In all there are five linemen on the Tigers roster with starting experience for Memphis, and all of them started three or more games in their careers.   

2.  There are several returning starters and they look more comfortable in Fuente’s system…
In addition to the three returning starters on the offensive line, Memphis brings back six more starters on the offensive side of the ball.  Defensively the Tigers return eight players to make a grand total of 17 returning starters for the Tigers.  What does that mean for Memphis and why is that such a big deal?  It is simple, the longer you have been in a system the more things become second nature and the less you have to think about what you have to do.  It becomes more of a reaction and less of a thought process.  This allows football players to play faster and more freely.  The experience gap between the older and younger players was noticeable early and often.  Everything seemed to go the blue team’s way and early on the gray team looked discombobulated.  “The younger guys really got a taste of the level you have to play at, and I think that is important going into the off season,” Fuente said after the game.  No play exhibited this confusion for the gray team more than a fumble that was caused when a player in motion in the backfield collided with the tailback on a handoff before any defender was within five yards of the two.  Coach Fuente will have to lean heavily on those who have experience this year if the Tigers are going to snap their bowl game drought.

3.  Finally the offense is playing that up tempo style…
Again, this could be because it was basically the starters versus the second and third team, but the blue team’s first offensive possession resulted in a score in just over four minutes.  With nine starters returning on offense, Memphis is deep enough, skilled enough, and understands enough about Coach Fuente’s system to be able to really push the pace of a game.  “We got a long way to go to be what we envision here offensively,” Fuente said, “but at times we flashed something that has a chance to be explosive.”   Expect the Tigers to push the tempo more this year than they have in the past seasons under Fuente.

4.  Running back will be a real strength for the Tigers this season…
With Brandon Hayes getting an extra year of eligibility and Doroland Dorceus returning as well, the Tigers bring back 1033 yards from a team that rushed for a total of 1660 last season.  Granted Hayes had nearly half of the teams total (he ran for 860 yards last season), but expect Dorceus to be a major contributor to the run game also.  After an early fumble on the first drive of the game for the gray tem, Dorceus settled down and had one of the most explosive plays of the game with a 50 plus yard touchdown run.  However, make no mistakes about it Hayes is on a different level than the rest of the running backs right now.  One man cannot bring him down and he rushed for three touchdowns during the spring game. “It is great having Brandon back,” Fuente stated after Hayes’ outstanding spring game performance.  “Not just because he is a great football player, but because he of the person he is…he is a very comforting force to have… he is a pretty intellectual football player.”  A good ground game will certainly take more pressure off of Paxton Lynch and the passing game, which will help the Tigers young signal caller.

5.  Paxton Lynch’s growth at the quarterback position…
It has been five years since the Tigers have started the same quarterback on opening day for consecutive years.  This is a trend that should end this year with Lynch.  Arkelon Hall was the last Memphis quarterback to accomplish this feat during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.  Since Hall left there has been a proverbial revolving door of quarterbacks from Taylor Reid to Jacob Karam and a slew of quarterbacks in between (anybody else remember when Cannon Smith started against Mississippi State in the season opener in 2010?).  Lynch should be the opening day starter unless something catastrophic happens, and continuity at the quarterback position will be an immense help to the Tigers.  There were several good throws by Lynch Friday night, but what is most impressing is the fact that he did not turn the ball over.  Fuente was pleased with Lynch’s performance on Friday, but understands that there is still room for his redshirt sophomore to improve. “I think he continues to get better.  We have got to get better around him… he continues to improve from and learn from his mistakes.”  Here is hoping that all of the Tigers learn from their mistakes and make the 2014 season better than the seasons of the past five years.

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. Follow him  @Conradicalness for live tweets from games.

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VIDEO: Memphis Grizzlies Mascot Pays Tribute To The Ultimate Warrior

Grizz Warrior

As chronicled earlier this week by Chris Herrington on ESPN.com, it has become common place to see the NBA world collide with the pro wrestling world at Memphis Grizzlies home games.

On Wednesday night during the nationally televised Grizzlies-Heat game at FedExForum, mascot Grizz payed tribute to wrestling legend The Ultimate Warrior who died suddenly on Tuesday in Arizona.

Watch:

Twitter: @cerrito
Email: kevin@memphisport.net

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Grizzlies rush to LeBron’s defense in his decline to meet with St. Jude patient

Memphis Grizzlies veteran swingman Mike Miller joined the Miami Heat the same year LeBron James bolted Cleveland for South Beach.

FULL PLATE --- Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was heavily criticized after he reportedly declined to meet with St. Children's Research Hospital patient earlier this week. Grizzlies players Zach Randolph and Mike Miller were among those who defended James. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE Getty Images)

FULL PLATE — Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was heavily criticized after he reportedly declined to meet with a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patient earlier this week. Grizzlies players Zach Randolph and Mike Miller were among those who defended James. (Photos by Joe Murphy/NBAE Getty Images)

Among the things Miller deemed mostly intriguing about James is how he often went out of his way to give back to the community.

“He’s about as giving as I’ve ever seen,” Miller said of James.

 

Which, of course, is why Miller was among those who sensed there was more to James’ decision in declining to meet earlier this week with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patient Josh Hardy as reported by Memphis’ WREG News Channel 3.

Hardy was a recipient of St. Jude’s Make A Dream Come True. Among his wishes was to attend Wednesday night’s Heat versus Grizzlies game so he could watch James, his favorite player, in action. However, after a request by WREG through a Heat media relations representative to have James meet with Hardy, the two-time reigning league MVP reportedly declined the inquiry.

Still, Hardy was among the 18,000-plus witnesses in attendance and sat in a luxury suite to watch Memphis outlast the two-time defending champs, 107-102, and keep alive its playoff hopes.

Though Hardy didn’t get to meet James, he was given paraphernalia by the Grizzlies organization and got to meet Quincy Pondexter, his favorite player on the team.

Pondexter, the Grizzlies reserve shooting guard who is sidelined with a season-ending tarsal navicular stress fracture in his right foot he suffered in a December 7 game against Golden State, sat with Hardy during the game and gave him a basketball that was signed by his teammates.

Grizzlies All-Star power forward Zach Randolph was among the players who autographed Hardy’s basketball, although he said he wasn’t aware that James had declined to meet with the St. Jude patient until after shootaround Friday morning.

Memphis played host to the Philadelphia 76ers Friday at 7 p.m. CST.

Randolph, who in November was given NBA’s Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable efforts and contributions in the community, said James’ decision not to meet with Hardy could have been because of a conflict in his schedule. Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies was the last on back-to-back nights for the Heat, who hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Miller played three seasons with James and said he was a fixture in giving back to  the community.

Miller played three seasons with James and said he was a fixture in giving back to the community.

“LeBron does a lot,” Randolph said. He probably was busy. LeBron is a great guy. You know, he does a lot for the community and for the kids. So that’s (Wednesday’s decline) nothing. He’ll probably fly the kid to meet him.”

Miller, who re-signed with the Grizzlies in July after a six-year absence, also rushed to James’ defense, saying the situation likely was a misunderstanding.

“Knowing LeBron as much as I know I him, I doubt the information even got to him,” Miller said. “He takes all of those requests.”

Asked if he believed because the Heat played on consecutive nights was a factor in James having turned down a request to meet with the patient, Miller said, “I think he would have met with him still. I think with that, it had to do with a situation where he probably didn’t get the information.”

While Randolph and Miller wouldn’t say whether they sensed the controversy surrounding James has been blown out of proportion, both agreed the 10-year veteran and four-time league MVP’s track record is such that he is committed to giving back to underprivileged individuals. “He gets those request a lot,” Miller said. Believe me, when it comes to St. Jude and children and giving back, he’s going to do that.”

That James was labeled a “punk” and “thug” by several WREG viewers was unwarranted, Miller said.

“The bottom line is no one knows anybody,” he said. “Until you get to know somebody, it’s difficult to judge them. I reserve judgment on everybody I know.”

Andre Johnson covers the NBA for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

LeBron appears ready to pass league MVP crown to OKC superstar Kevin Durant

HEADS UP --- Miami Heat star LeBron James Heat goes up for his second of three first-half dunks in Wednesday night's 107-102 loss to the Grizzlies. Before the game, James spoke about the MVP race, saying Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant has been the "most consistent player" this year. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

HEADS UP — Miami Heat star LeBron James Heat goes up for his second of three first-half dunks in Wednesday night’s 107-102 loss to the Grizzlies. Before the game, James spoke about the MVP race, saying Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant has been the “most consistent player” this year. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Two world championships. Two NBA Finals MVPs. Two league MVPs.

Surely, the previous two seasons couldn’t have been any better for LeBron James, the NBA’s most celebrated player whom many have labeled the best on the planet.

However, when asked before Wednesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies about this year’s MVP race, James sounded like someone who seemed inclined to deliver a concession speech for the first time in three years.

“I think KD (Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant) has had one heckuva season and if he’s rewarded with the MVP, that’ll be great,” James said. “I mean, it’ll be awesome for him, for his family, whose done a great thing for him. He’s played MVP-type basketball.”

Still, the 29-year-old James, who’s won the award four times in 10 NBA seasons, seemed reluctant to say whether the league’s premiere individual hardware is Durant’s to lose.

“I don’t really get caught up into what people say,” James said. “At the end of the day, they have their own votes and they’ll go from there.”

Heading into the final week of the regular season, it appears all signs point toward Durant being the heavy favorite to possess the league’s MVP award. Through 77 games, Durant undoubtedly has been the NBA’s most efficient player, averaging a league-best 32 points per game. In addition, the seven-year veteran and five-time All-Star is shooting .505 from the field, which is best in the NBA, and shooting .875 from the free throw line, second only to Golden State’s Stephon Curry (.878).

Second only to New York’s Carmelo Anthony in minutes played (38.5), Durant emerged as the leading candidate to dethrone “King James” of back-to-back MVPs when he scored at least 25 points in 41 consecutive games, a streak that came to a halt in Tuesday night’s win at Sacramento. While Durant appeared relieved to witness the streak end, James, meanwhile, was complimentary of Durant’s display in recent months.

Asked if he felt Durant is the frontrunner for MVP, James, the NBA’s third-leading scorer said, “I would say he’s playing the most consistent basketball as far as MVP this year. I mean, he’s put up some great numbers.”

James' game-high 37 points Wednesday weren't enough against Tony Allen and the Grizzlies, who are fighting for their playoff lives. Miami's leatest setback dropped it a half game behind Indiana in the East.

James’ game-high 37 points Wednesday weren’t enough against Tony Allen and the Grizzlies, who are fighting for their playoff lives. Miami’s leatest setback dropped it a half game behind Indiana in the East.

 

Indiana’s Paul George, whose Pacers appear to be on a collision course to meet Miami in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, said while the winner of the MVP award is of “no concern” for him, he hinted that James still has a chance to make up ground.

 

 

“It’s up for grab,” George told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “It’s a lot of guys who are doing a great job. (Durant) is having a heckuva year.”

James’ teammate, Heat center Chris Bosh, on the other hand, was rather candid while chiming in on the league MVP race following Miami’s 107-102 loss against the Grizzlies. Bosh, in fact, believes James’ streak of consecutive MVP awards will end in the coming weeks.

“I don’t think so,” said Bosh, when asked if James has a legitimate chance of surpassing Durant in the MVP race. “I think they’ve made up their minds. But you know, no matter what happens, it’s easy for me to say it’s a trophy and you can’t win it every year.”

Although Durant will likely win this year's MVP award, James said his main focus is winning a third straight title.

Although Durant will likely win this year’s MVP award, James said his main focus is winning a third straight title.

What the Heat can accomplish as they prepare to defend back-to-back NBA titles, Bosh said, is use Durant’s likely dethroning of James as motivation, of sorts, once the playoffs commence.

“You can look for anything as motivation for sure,” Bosh said. “When you’re on top, it puts a big X on your back. So it’s not just (motivation) for LeBron, but for everyone.

You know, it’s a unique situation. I don’t know how (winning MVP feels). I never will.”

Regardless of who is named league MVP, James said his primary focus is to help the Heat accomplish the necessary things to ensure the franchise maintain the NBA’s most covenant award for a third consecutive year. In doing so, he said Miami will need a healthy Dwyane Wade back for what figures to be another intense postseason run.

Wade ran sprints on the FedExForum court roughly 90 minutes before Wednesday’s game, but sat out while he continues to recuperate from a strained left hamstring. It was the eighth consecutive game Wade has missed. In all, he has missed 27 outings this year.

Wednesday’s loss dropped the Heat a half game behind Indiana for the top spot in the East.

“It’s very important,” James said of having a healthy Wade in the lineup. “He’s one of Big Three. We’ve won two championships for the most part because we had our Big Three on the floor. When he’s out there, we’re a dynamic team.”

Andre Johnson covers the NBA for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Throwback Thursday: Remembering The Ultimate Warrior

Warrior

As the wrestling world mourns the death of one of the most popular and legendary superstars of all time, I can’t help but to think back at how I became an Ultimate Warrior fan.  The face paint, tassels, vibrant colors & the electricity and excitement he brought to each and every match – Ultimate Warrior was one of a kind.

This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to the very beginning.  It all started in Memphis, TN in 1985.  It was before the war paint, long hair & WWF Championship.  Like many other legendary wrestlers, Warrior started his professional wrestling career in the Memphis-based Continental Wrestling Alliance.  Warrior was part of a tag team known as The Freedom Fighters.  Teaming up with Steve Borden (who later became Sting), Warrior performed under his real name, Jim Hellwig.

Let’s pitch it to Lance Russel who is standing by at the desk to get a quick word with the debuting tag team.

The clip shows a different side of Warrior.  The calm and collected Jim Hellwig transformed into a raging, hyper-active comic book character two years later when he joined the World Wrestling Federation.  A mere three years later, Ultimate Warrior did the unthinkable and captured the WWF World Heavyweight Championship by defeating “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan.  In front of nearly 68,000 fans inside Toronto SkyDome at WrestleMania VI, Ultimate Warrior had reached the pinnacle of sports entertainment.  Not only is Hogan vs. Warrior my all time favorite WrestleMania main event, but that match single-handedly made me want to become a professional wrestler.

Warrior died on April 8, 2014 at the age of 54.  His untimely passing came just three days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.  After appearing at the Hall of Fame ceremony and WrestleMania XXX, Warrior made his first appearance on WWE Monday Night RAW in over 18 years.  That’s where he said his final words to the WWE Universe.  The very next day, Warrior died of an apparent heart attack.  He will truly be missed.

Fun Facts:   Jim Hellwig legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993, which is also the last name of his wife and children.  He had recently signed a new three-year contract with WWE to be an ambassador for the company.

 

“Throwback Thursday” is a weekly Memphis Wrestling post at MemphiSport.com.

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.

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