Top Ten Local Sports Inteviews and Soundbites of 2010


During the past year or so, I've had the tremendous opportunity of
conversing with many of the most interesting and compelling interview
subjects in the world of sports. Across the spectrum in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, college football, college basketball and much much more.

Unless otherwise noted, these interviews are pretty much all
exclusive. It was impossible for me to truly rank these 1-10, as you'll
find most fascinating whichever game or personality you are most into.

And besides, narrowing a year's worth of work down to ten interview
subjects was difficult enough. Click on the title in bold to read the
whole interview feature.

Roy Williams UNC

the midst of the post game press conference I simply ask North
Carolina's Roy Williams about Harrison Barnes... and he explodes on ESPN

For video of the entire press conference go here

"Harrison's a freshman," Williams said.

"And I get sick and I don't mean to jump on anybody, but after
the first game we play, and he had six turnovers or four turnovers or
something like that, and ESPN does a special on how great he is. And
then he struggled a little bit and ESPN did something to me that was
very embarrassing to me today - put up that that a kid's 1,175 in
field-goal percentage in the country; that's just ridiculous. And then
somebody says, 'Well, if he hadn't have gone 0-for 12 against Minnesota, I'm sure he'd be in the top 1,000.'

Now I'm not getting on you, but that's sick. If you've got
enough balls to make somebody a big hero like that than admit you were
wrong instead of start picking on a kid. Now I had to get that off my
chest. But to answer your question."

Every newspaper in the Carolinas picked up on this and one of them changed the word "balls" to "gumption." Yes, I found that wrong and unintentionally funny as well.

Steve "Mongo" McMichael explains the Gestalt of "Conan the Barbarian" to me

When interviewing him, you can't really do Q & A with this 1985 Chicago Bears and Texas Longhorns legend.

He's too smart and interesting for that.

Instead, the process is like a more sophisticated word association
exercise. And the end result resembles the feeling of playing a radio
controlled boat game at an amusement park. You put an effort in towards
steering the vessel in the direction you want, but there's no guarantee
you'll get to your intended destination. And even if you do, it won't
be via your intended path.

About halfway through part one of this interview,
the extremely attractive PR/Special Events Director of the Hall of
Fame politely interrupts us to remind McMichael that he must join the
others and take the scheduled enshrinement class photo. The appearance
of this 9-9.5/10 elicits a classic "If I wasn't married"....etc. etc.
etc. line that was truly a "you had to be there" kind of moment.

And Mongo ends this flirtatious overture by telling himself, her,
and I guess me since I happened to be there, where his priorities truly
are these days. Full of pride, he proclaims that his two-year-old
daughter is in charge these days.

In part two
Mongo told me the primary reason he got into wrestling was to again
experience the transcendent thrill that accompanies walking out of the
tunnel and hearing the crowd, anxious to bestow adoration upon him, roar
in approval from his appearance.:

"Oh, there ain't no drug like that. When you walk out of that tunnel
baby, there's nothing in this f***ing world like that adrenaline rush,"
McMichael said.

"Lawrence Taylor won't find it in a pipe. No one's going to get it
filling up their vanity in a bathroom like Roethlisberger. And that
battle fatigue guys go through after you can't play no more, and your
career is over, until you come out of the fog with the hairs standing
up on the back of you neck- that's what that is. And it's like a

Ron Artest Extols the Virtues of doing your research, and community development

This was a wonderful 15 minute conversation, as most chats with
Artest usually are, and the conversation went back to an infamous
Sporting News article.

"You need to research better, ya'll take the easy way out, y'all woke
up, you ate your breakfast, got an email and just read and that was
it, you got to research more...The message was, I know you heard about
all the shootings in Chicago and all that stuff ,so you're a little out
of touch, but I'll bring you back in touch, the message was being able
to relate to those people so when they see a Ron Artest, they see a
guy who plays basketball. To the young kid they probably think I'm
untouchable, invisible, but I'm not invisible, so we're going to
Detroit, Chicago, L.A., all the roughest neighborhoods, share our
stories and work collectively with the youth- that's the research you
have to do," the Laker stated.


Clay Travis: Guru of College Football and Sexual Politics

So who is Fanhouse college football writer Clay Travis? Well, the guy who asked St. Tebow at his final SEC Media Day if he 1.) was a virgin and 2.) indeed saving himself for marriage. Travis also wrote a pretty forward-thinking piece on Cam Newton
a month or so ago. In our email conversation I asked him about "Man:
The Book," a tome he authored and how a generation of effeminate men
showed up:

"Ultimately, it's the triumph of men who think like this, "A woman would like me more if...

If you're a single man, once you allow a woman's thinking to dictate
your decision-making you become a pussy. Women don't want men to be
like them. The men who have the most sex don't even think about what
women want. That makes women want them."

Evan Turner complains to the media about Illini Trash Talking him

One of the unwritten rules of basketball is to never speak the actual
specifics of on-the-court trash talk (yes, Charlie Villanueva broke
those law). Turner didn't say exactly what the Illini said to him. But he did whine to the media about it.

Tom Izzo on the concepts of media accountability, Twitter, social media etc.

At Big Ten
Media Day, I recorded 40+ minutes with H to the Izzo, but only asked
three questions. We'll have more on this in the upcoming year, but
here's the gist of it from our podcast. Indeed, I felt like we were BFF that day.


Ozzie being Ozzie as we learn Mannywood is coming to the Chi

If Kenny came to you and said do you want Manny Ramirez yes or no?

"I don't know, because Manny hasn't played in the big leagues in a
little while. If Kenny asked me do you want Manny? I'm going to say
because they're going to being him in anyway (laughs). And I want to see
how Jerry Reinsdorf confronts the hair, it's ain't going to be my
f***ing department. I want to see that.

When asked if Manny is a defensive liability...

Don't talk to me about Manny, I didn't even see Manny in spring
training, and we played against him everyday. You give me Manny when he
was with Boston? Hey I'd take the limo (myself) to go pick him up. I
haven't seen Manny in a long time, maybe the scouts got a better idea
than I have.

Kenny Williams on the Manny Ramirez Rumors, on the very day they began to gather strength

"I feel like when I answer this question and I begin to expound on
it, somebody in this group is going to insert the words of a certain
player in my mouth and it's going to come out on tv and I'm going
to be like 'did I say that name?' You can ask it in all different
ways, but the answer to the question is still going to be: it does
me no good to speak on it, and the main reason quite frankly is,
this team needs to be focused on who's going to battle for them
today, not who's walking through the door tomorrow."

Adam Burish gets Candid About Hockey Groupies

Burish was asked at the Blackhawks
fan convention "What do you do when a fan approaches you and tries to
make out with you?" Burish half-jokingly (okay, probably not jokingly at
all) responded, "What does she look like?"

In order to finish response Burish had to first preface his response
"Is this G, PG, PG-13, Is this X? You need to direct me where to go."
The panel host, WGN's Steve Cochran, responded "Given the high amount
of 11-year olds and Grandmothers here, let's go with PG for now."

"There's some crazy female fans, you see them when you're on the road, but I have to give some of these girls some credit,
because they know what time you're getting in. I don't know what time
practice is half the time, but they know. They know what time I'm
getting in, they know where practice is. They know things about my Mom,
my sister that I don't even know. But whatever, it's cool, it's funny.
These girls aren't doing any harm, they're not disrespecting anybody.
Except for the ones that are knocking down your door at 4 in the
morning," Burish said regarding the stalkers and drunken groupies of the
hockey/">hockey world.


Burish under the media lights of the Stanley Cup

"It's bizarre. I was at the Cubs
game yesterday with my sister and some of her friends, and the whole
game people would come up and they want pictures and autographs. And as I
walked out, the whole section behind us stood up and started
clapping," Burish reported.

"Obviously, my sister told me you're not that cool. Don't start
thinking you're sweet here. But you walk down the street and people
stop. You go out for dinner and people are all around. And it's really
cool. More so because it wasn't like this two years ago, it wasn't a big

"And now, this team and these guys are a big deal around town. And
I'm excited because it's a fun group to be around, and the guys in this
room worked hard and they deserve it, and they're enjoying it," Burish

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports


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