Dancing Harry aka Marvin Cooper had all the dance moves to fire up Earl Monroe and the Baltimore Bullets in the late 60s and 70s. He placed a spell on the opposing team while The Pearl worked his black magic on the court.
The late Washington Bullets/Wizards’ owner Abe Polin and Wes Unsel share a hug during the teams first and only NBA Championship in 1978.

On the weekend of March 23, 2018 the Washington Wizards will celebrate their 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA World Championship team and retire Phil Chenier’s number. I will remember the 50th anniversary of “Dancing Harry!”

You won’t find Marvin Cooper’s name on the NBA or ABA’s All-Pro team or in its hall of fames, he was a player for the leagues back in the day. Or, perhaps, playa would probably be the best way describe him, but according to Mark Montieth (Pacers.com) he came along before that particular bit of vernacular entered the lexicon. Let’s just say you won’t find the name of “Dancing Harry” as a participant for the NBA Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks or the Indiana Pacers of the ABA in the archives of the two leagues.

His NBA career started in the Baltimore Civic Center in 1968 with an assist from Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe. Harry was a “Pioneer and Trail Blazer” in pro basketball when it comes to mascots as entertainment in the NBA–he was first.

Back in the ’70s, Dancing Harry would earn national notoriety and a couple hundred bucks by putting on a funky hat and a cape, or even just wear his street clothes, and come out of the stands to put a hex on the visiting team. Dancing Harry did exactly that during timeouts, he would stand near the opposing team’s huddle, turn sideways, spread his legs, jerk himself into a crouch, hold up his arms, point his fingers at the enemy players and shake his hands. He called it putting a “whammy” on them.

The Bullets , New York Knicks and Pacer’s fans went crazy, and the players enjoyed it. Dancing Harry first caught the eye of basketball fans in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland in the late 1960s. The Bullets were a promising team at the time, led by future hall of fame guard aka God, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and a supporting cast of future NBA Hall of Fame players, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson and Wes Unsel—it had the potential of being a dynasty aka Boston Celtics.
Earl and I wish our coach and mentor, Clarence Bighouse Gaines a happy birthday.

The team was occasionally seen on the NBA’s weekly telecast. Harry was a traveling salesman for Park Sausage, working up and down the East coast, and he supplemented his income as a singer in area nightclubs. He and Earl The Pearl Monroe a former NBA No. 1 pick out of HBCU Winston-Salem State became friends after he successfully hustled The Pearl in a Baltimore pool hall one day. Earl turned the hustle back into his favor, instead of paying Harry off in cash he gave him tickets for a Bullets home game. They struck up a friendship and Harry attended more games. The seats were close to the court, so he got into the spirit of the occasion and stood up to dance to the music during timeouts, some of the players noticed. Over time, one of them – he can’t remember which one – encouraged him to do something more than dance.

Harry graduated to putting hexes on referees during timeouts. He’d sneak up behind a referee and do his thing. The fans would laugh. The referee would turn around. Harry would play innocent and the fans would laugh some more. Eventually, he moved on to putting hexes on opposing players, and became a fixture at the games and a friend to several of the Bullets.

One day he was in New York with the team the morning after it had played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Bullets forward and future NBA Hall of Fame player, the great Gus Johnson told him he had just read an article in one of the New York newspapers that referred to him as “Dancing Harry”, it stuck.

In the meantime, Earl Monroe was named “Rookie of the Year” and revoluntionize guard play in the NBA with his dribbling and ball handling skills. His “now you see me and now you don’t magic with a basketball was the talk of the league and beyond. He was headed into the last year of his contract and he never forgot how he was tricked into signing his first contract his rookie year. He later described it to me as peanuts. He decided he wanted to cash in his chips in Baltimore and head to the Big Apple.

The Bullets were aware that he wanted his next team to be the Knicks. He got his wish early into the 1971-72 season. The trade send the Bullets into a decline. Earl was the catalyst of a roster of great and future hall of fame players that included, Wes Unsel, Gus Johnson, and Elvin Haynes. The rivary between the Bullets, the Celtics and the New York Knicks was NBA basketball at its best in the 70s.

By the way–the Bullets lead by The Pearl was “Show Time” long before Magic Johnson and the L. A. Lakers. An outlet pass from Wes to Earl started a fastbreak never seen before in the NBA. Elvin would be on one flank, Gus on the other and Earl in the middle. The end result would cause nightmares to opponents. The play would end with a behind the back pass from Earl to Gus or something similar. Gus would slam dunk the ball so violently the opposing players would be running to get out of the way. Earl’s trick bag was so deep he would have the fans screaming from the the top of their lungs. It was must see basketball.

Dancing Harry also shifted his allegiance to New York, because of Earl and the salary cap the Bullets had put on paying him for his services–was zero. He asked for permission to continue his act in New York. The Knicks management said no, but the Knick players would later say yes.

“One night they were losing to Boston by 20 points and Willis Reed asked me why I wasn’t dancing,” Harry says. ‘I told him and he said, ‘The hell with management, we’re losing.’ I jumped down and got on the floor and the place went crazy and the Knicks came back and won that game. They didn’t bother me anymore.”

Earl and backcourt running mate Walt Frazier would take the Knicks to the finals in 1973 and they would win it all in 1974. The Bullets would not reach the finals until 1976 with K. C. Jones, but they would run into a red hot Golden State Warrior team losing in 4 straight games. K. C. would be fired the next year and Dick Motto was hired and the Bullets would win it all in 1978.

NBA Hall of famer and Bullets’ super-star Elvin Haynes host Nike after party at the Hilton Hotel in downtown DC. Nike NBA promotion rep John Phillips and I look on as Elvin gives the welcome speech. Elvin visits Nike store in Georgetown to get his just rewards.

Thanks to the great Red Auerbach all was well that ends well. Red hired K. C. and he became the only black non-player head coach to win multiple NBA Championships.
Bullets head coach K. C. Jones and assistant Bernie Bickerstaff pay tribute to local high school basketball on Inside Sports. Red, K. C. and I have lunch at Ed Murphy’s Supper Club on Georgia Avenue, NW in Washington, DC.

Harry continued performing as the Knicks reached the NBA finals in 1972, and became a fixture the following season on their way to an NBA championship. Walt Frazier took him to buy some clothes so he would look the part. He even got a few endorsements. It was a few hundred dollars here and a few hundred dollars there, but it was all adding up. So was his fame, nationally, because of all the air time on television.

He was a free agent, so he worked games for whatever team would have him (and pay him). It so happened that on April 16, 1975, he had just put down his bag upon arriving at his residence in Baltimore after working a game the previous night for the New York Nets when the phone rang. It was Sandy Knapp from the Pacers office, calling to ask him to fly to Indianapolis – that night – for a playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs at Market Square Arena. His mother drove him to the airport, where he picked up his ticket and he flew off to the next gig, for a $200 fee, plus room and board.

The Pacers had finished the regular season with a 45-39 record, they upset San Antonio in the first round, and upset Denver in the second round. Dancing Harry’s performances brought fans to their feet, brought energy to the games and might even have intimidated some opponents – or at least distracted them.

The trip turned into a unforgettable 6 game series, it is still one of the most dramatic and emotional Pacer championship runs in franchise history. The San Antonio Spurs had finished six games ahead of Indiana in the regular season, but the Pacers won the first three games of the first-round series, including the first two in San Antonio. They lost Games 4 and 5, however, by which time bad blood was boiling between the two teams. Play was becoming increasingly physical, fans were becoming increasingly vocal and vulgar and Pacers coach Bob “Slick” Leonard had taken to threatening referees and Spurs coach Bob Bass in the newspapers.

The Spurs had won Game 4 by one point in Indianapolis before a rowdy crowd at Market Square Arena. Before Game 5 in San Antonio, the Spurs public address announcer “vilified the Indiana fans” according to the Indianapolis News and implored the Spurs fans to behave in a more civilized manner. They didn’t, and neither did the players. Spurs forward Rich Jones retaliated to an elbow from Pacers guard Kevin Joyce with a right fist to Joyce’s chin, and was kicked out of the game. The Spurs went on to win, 123-117, pulling within 3-2 in the series.

The teams flew commercial then, so the Pacers stayed overnight to fly out the next morning. That evening, Leonard called the Indianapolis Star’s Bill Benner and demanded to have a piece of his mind published in the next morning’s newspaper. “If that’s the way they want to be, then they’ve really asked for it. If they want to bad-mouth our team, our franchise and our city, then we are really going to go after them Wednesday night,” Leonard said. “I’ll take the microphone myself if I have to incite our fans. I want our crowd fired up and angry.

That’s the environment into which Dancing Harry was dropped into for Game 6. The Pacers’ front office members were pulling out all the stops, throwing a kitchen sink’s worth of symbolism at the Spurs. They passed out four-leaf clovers and rabbit’s feet to fans for good luck. They hung a ladder from the MSA ceiling over the aisle-way leading from the Spurs locker room to the court – forcing them to capitulate to the bad-luck omen by walking under it. They went to the workplace of media members and deputized them, and gave cowboy hats to the front office and stat crew members to wear at the game.

The finishing touch was Dancing Harry. His act didn’t exactly fit into a Wild West theme, but whatever. He was famous from his appearances on national television and certain to excite the fans. And he did.

The Pacers won Game 6 and the series, 115-100. George McGinnis, who shared league MVP honors with Julius Erving that season, finished with 32 points, 23 rebounds and 14 assists. Rookie Billy Knight scored 33 points on 14-of-22 shooting. Future Hall of Famer George Gervin led the Spurs with 34 points. It was just a first-round series, but it meant enough to Leonard that he had ordered champagne to be waiting on ice in the postgame locker room. The Pacers celebrated as if they had just won a championship.

“It was so invigorating,” Harry recalls. “When I came out (on the court), there was so much electricity in the air. Everybody was use to seeing me in New York. I had the fans in the palm of my hand. It was so annoying to San Antonio. George told me later, ‘Man, you brought the house down.'”

It was impossible to measure Dancing Harry’s impact, but who’s to say he didn’t help? The fans loved him, the players enjoyed the excitement and the Pacers had won. So, he was held over for the second-round series with Denver. Larry Brown had led his team to an ABA-best 65 wins that season, 20 more than the Pacers, and it had lost just two home games. The Pacers were going to need all the help they could get.

It was unclear from media accounts whether Dancing Harry was on hand for Game 1, but he was definitely there for Game 2. He had flown out on a private prop plane, separate from the players, with front office personnel. After losing the series opener, during which McGinnis bent a rim with a vicious slam-dunk, the Pacers won the second game, 131-124, to take homecourt advantage. Knight, left open for easy shots because Denver double-teamed McGinnis, scored 44 points on 18-of-22 shooting, and Billy Keller scored 21 in 23 minutes.

Harry’s fame was growing with each victory, and he was living up to it. He was taken to a clothing store at 38th and Illinois to acquire some more appropriate threads, which the Pacers paid for with a trade-out of tickets. He also got a theme song. Someone had suggested to Knapp the Leo Sayer song, “Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)” which had reached No. 9 on the U.S. charts in 1974, because it included lyrics about dancing. She agreed, and it caught on immediately with the fans.

“It was like Pavlov’s dog,” she said. “The crowd would practically salivate every time the song played. It became a conditioned response.”

For this round, the Pacers’ motto became “Hang ‘Em a Mile High,” Denver being the Mile High city and all. A mock funeral was held for the Nuggets before Game 3, and an effigy of one of the players, hanging from a noose, was lowered from the Market Square catwalk. The Pacemates packed toy pistols, wore white cowgirl hats and paraded wanted posters of some of the Nuggets players. Dancing Harry’s picture was on the cover of the game program. He wore a gold lame cape and gloves, a feathered cap trimmed with two rows of white fur, a gold turtleneck shirt and brown platform shoes.

The Pacers won, 118-112 to take a 2-1 lead. Late in the game, the victory assured, he grabbed the public address microphone and urged fans to buy tickets for Game 4. Afterward, he celebrated in the locker room with the players. He had become a virtual team member, a 32-year-old who had been around the NBA block a few times, with plenty of stories to tell shared them with the players.

“He was great,” Knight says. “Everybody loved him. He was a cool dude. He had fun with the whole thing. I didn’t think he took himself too seriously. He just enjoyed it and tried to entertain everybody.”

Even Leonard, an old-school veteran of the NBA, was caught up in the spirit.
“I think it’s great,” he told a Sports Illustrated reporter. “I know I’d hate to have Harry put his famous whammy on me.”

Harry and his whammy didn’t guarantee anything, of course, and too much celebration tends to bring bad karma. The Pacers were trounced in Game 4, 126-109, sending the series back to Denver. Harry went, too. He had, according to Knapp, a “phone fetish,” and could hardly pass one without calling someone. It so happened there was a telephone on the plane, so he called radio station WIBC and went live on the air. He also recorded a promo that was played throughout the playoffs. He called his mother, too, but she refused to believe anyone could make a phone call from an airplane, and told him he must have been drinking.

To Harry’s credit, he quickly spawned imitators. If a mascot could help a team win playoff games, the Nuggets weren’t going to pass up the opportunity. They trotted out Robota, “The Wicked Witch of the West,” to put a hex on the Pacers. Dressed in black, with long blonde hair, she stood nearby, seriously and silently, holding a broom, as they warmed up before the game. She also stuck pins in a life-sized cutout of McGinnis while standing next to a smoking cauldron at midcourt, and later stood silently behind the Pacers’ bench during the game.

It didn’t work. A sellout crowd of 7,483 in tiny Auditorium Arena watched the Pacers outscore the Nuggets 30-13 in the fourth quarter on their way to a 109-90 victory to go up 3-2. McGinnis scored six consecutive field goals in the period, two of them 3-pointers, and he and Knight combined for 55 points. By the end, the Denver fans were booing their team.

The Indianapolis fans, meanwhile, were wild about Harry. Before Game 6, a closeout game for the Pacers, both newspapers were in full Harry mode, featuring him in cartoons, photos and headlines. The Indianapolis News preview for the April 30 game carried the following awkward headline: Do Any Nuggets Care Even–
For One Last Whirl With the Pacers? The first letter of each word in the first line was bold-faced, spelling out “DANCE.”
The story began:
“Dancing. There’ll be plenty of it tonight at Market Square Arena.
“It will begin with Dancing Harry. He’ll boogie to the rockin’, stompin’ beat of Leo Sayer’s “Long Tall Glasses” a pop-rock tune that has become the unofficial theme song of the Indiana Pacers.”

Lyrics from the song were interspersed throughout the story. But just as in Denver, the home team’s buildup backfired. The Pacers lost, 104-99, before a record crowd of 17,421 at MSA.

Leonard didn’t blame Harry, though. Taking note of the Nuggets’ 31 foul shot attempts and the Pacers’ 13, he declared the game to be “the stinkingest job of officiating I’ve ever seen.”

“All you ask for is a fair chance,” Leonard added. “Well, we sure as hell didn’t get it tonight. Every call went against us. We didn’t get a blow all night. Let’s let ’em call ’em the same way Saturday night in front of their fans and we’ll see what kind of guts they have.”

Lost in the hysteria was that McGinnis had turned in what’s likely the only quadruple-double in pro basketball history, although not a desired one: He had 26 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and 12 turnovers
So it was back to Denver for the deciding Game 7. Harry went along once again, this time with a lucky stone given to him by Pacers’ president Tom Binford, who claimed it had belonged to the Apache Indian warrior, Cochise. When it was brought up to Harry that Cochise probably hadn’t been the luckiest of men, he responded, “Hey, Cochise never lost in Denver.”

The Pacers didn’t either, this time. Harry performed his whammies while the Denver fans booed and tossed coins. One even threw a whiskey bottle that landed at his feet. Harry’s impact on the Nuggets can’t be proven, but the play of some of the Pacers can. McGinnis finished with 40 points, 23 rebounds and eight assists, and Keller scored 23 points – 19 in the first half – as the Pacers held on for a 104-96 victory for the Western Division championship that set off another wild celebration. There was champagne in their locker room, champagne on their flight home and champagne (and other lubricants) at Leonard’s Carmel restaurant, where the party continued after the team’s arrival the next day, when hundreds of cheering fans greeted the team at the airport.

The season wasn’t over, but Leonard was calling it his most enjoyable with the Pacers because of the team’s “cohesion,” surpassing that of even his three ABA championship teams. They were moving on to the league finals against Kentucky, which had won 58 games during the regular season in the Eastern Division.

They were going to have to be patient, however. The Colonels’ arena, Freedom Hall, was booked and not available until May 13, meaning the Pacers would have a 10-day break between series. Kentucky would have an even longer wait, having been off since April 28. Two of the Colonels, Louie Dampier and Artis Gilmore, had driven to Indianapolis to watch and scout Game 6 against Denver, when the Pacers were trying to close out the series.

Harry stayed in Indianapolis during the break, but not at the Pacers’ expense. He had been put up in a hotel originally, but later met a woman who worked for AUL who offered him a place in her home. More than a room, actually. She became his girlfriend, although he was married and had an estranged wife back in Baltimore. He felt at home by now. He socialized with a few of the players, was a favored guest at parties hosted by the socially elite, was taken to the Speedway to meet the racers, and just generally reveled in Hoosier Hospitality.
“The whole city was open to me,” he recalls.

It was going to take more than a popular mascot to overcome the Colonels, though, who had clearly superior talent. Harry did his best, performing at home and road games alike. Leonard’s wife, Nancy, drove him to the games in Louisville in a borrowed RV, imagining what a police officer who saw them might think.

Just like Denver, Kentucky felt compelled to come up with its own mascot: Superfly. He was a 13-year-old boy, Michael J. Tolliver, who donned a white suit, hat, gloves, shoes and cape, carried a cane, and danced and tumbled to the delight of the fans. According to a Sports Illustrated article, he made Harry look “shabby” by comparison. The Pacers looked a little worn-out, too, as Kentucky won the series 4-1 for its first and only ABA title.

It would be McGinnis’ last game with the Pacers before he jumped to the NBA. It was the beginning of the end for Harry, too, at least in Indianapolis. He was brought back occasionally the following season, but without McGinnis the Pacers were a rebuilding team beyond the help of any mascot.

You won’t hear Marvin Cooper on the tips of many tongues of longtime Pacers fans, either. Harry conjured up an idea for an act and, all too briefly, made a name and a little money for himself before disappearing back into the fog of real world drudgery and difficulties.

Now he stands as a relic from a simpler time, when professional basketball was either more fun or more ridiculous than today, depending on your point of view.

NBA fans today are accustomed to non-stop professional-grade entertainment at games played at Capitol One arena in Washington, DC. On any game night you may find Young men jumping off trampolines, doing somersault and dunking basketballs between quarters. Halftimes bring everything from dogs tracking down and catching Frisbees to a woman riding a unicycle and flipping plates from her feet to the top of her head.

Dancing Harry would go on to take his act wherever it was welcome. McGinnis lined him up to work some games the following season for his new team in Philadelphia. He also worked that season for the New York Nets, the final one of the ABA’s nine-year history.

He became close friends with Julius Dr. J Erving, and was among those tossed into the shower when the Nets won their championship. He made an appearance for the Indiana Loves in the ill-fated World Team Tennis association at the Convention Center, too, annoying Ilie Nastase to the point Nastase chased after him with a tennis racket. He also accepted a few hundred dollars to perform for Dallas in a Monday Night Football game against Buffalo in November of 1976.

Dancing Harry’s star gradually faded, as the games became more serious and his act too familiar. Eventually, he was going to have to be Marvin Cooper again. It might have been for the best, anyway, because he was getting caught up in the fast-lane lifestyle of professional sports. He had quit his job with the sausage company before joining the Pacers to devote more time to being Harry, and to try to parlay his fame into a nightclub singing career. He was having fun, but he wasn’t getting anywhere.

“I thought it was going to last forever,” he says. “I was (written about) in Sports Illustrated three times, and in Time Magazine. I rode in limousines. I stayed in some of the best hotels. Got to meet a lot of people. I met so many people … the actors from (the television show) Good Times, Ed McMahon, Lou Rawls … John McEnroe loved me.”

Most likely, he’ll have to settle for appreciating his memories of a career that could never happen again.

The Wizards’ weekend celebration will bring members of the 1978 team from the North, South, West, East and parts unknown to honor teammates, front office staff and fans who remembered. I will remember WHUR Radio sports talk show host Ron Sutton. I am the last man in sports media personality standing from that era, but instead of looking back I am looking forward.
Ron Sutton and I hold down the Washington Bullets’ Capitol Centre press table in 1974.

This story brings me full cycle back to when Dancing Harry’s 1968 debut in Baltimore and the Bullets move from Baltimore in 1973 to Capital Centre in Landover and from Landover in 1997 to downtown Washington, DC. I remember when pro basketball was wild about Harry.

Thanks to Mark Monieth (Pacer.com)and the N. Y. Daily News



This ain’t April and this blog is not “April Fool.”

According to The Eonomic Policy Institute. It said, 50 years after a major study on inequality, no gaines seen for Black America.” In 1968 the Kerner Commission convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities. The Presidential Commission issued a report with a conclusion: America was moving toward two different societies, ‘One black, one white—separate and unequal.’

Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified “White Racism” as the key cause of pervasive discrimination in employment, education, and housing “There has been no progress in how African-Americans in comparision to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment, and incarceration, according to a report released in the last week of February—Black History Month.

In some cases Afro-Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination, as well as racial discrimination.

For example, 7.5 percent of African-Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared with 6.7 percent in 1968—still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.

The rate of home ownership has remained virtually unchanged. For African-Americans in the past 50 years. Black homeownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30 points behind the rate for whites, who have seen modest gains during that same time.

The share of incarcerated Afro-Americans nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016–one of the largest and most depressing developments in the past 50 years , especially black men, researchers found, African-Americans are 6.4 times more likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared with 5. 4 times as likely in 1968.
How much more praying do we have to do?

We have not seen progress because we still have not addressed the issue of racial inequality in this country,” said John Schmitt, an economist and vice-president of the Economic Policy Institute.

The wealth gap between white and black Americans has more than tripled in the past 50 years. according to Federal Reserve data. The typical black family had zero wealth in 1968. Today the median net worth of white families –$171,000–10 times that of black families.

The lack of economic progress is especially startling given that black educational attainment of both high school diplomas and college degrees has improved sigbificantlyin the past five decades.

Unless we can find away to get rid of this black skin and blend in with white folks, our children are in a world of trouble. To clearly understand why, for the past 50 years we have sat on our hands styling , profiling and singing “We Shall Overcome Someday!”

Black America you have “Widen Home Plate” to understand what I am talking about read my recent blog and don’t blame the messenger. https://theoriginalinsidesports.blog/2018/02/01/america-dont-widen-the-plate



“Just because you ignore me; don’t mean that I’m not here.”

–James A. Green, Pastor
Indianapolis, Indiana

TRAIL BLAZERS: “The road to success is not a path you find, but a trail you blaze”.

Washington DC ‘back in the day’ talk show host Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, Jr. would soon turn the nation’s capital into ‘P’ town with his on-air delivery, and off-air style. What is generally not known is that Harold Bell, in 1967, got his start in radio Sports Journalism on “Petey Greene’s Washington.” Oh, there were days of hammering out scripts on a manual typewriter, chasing down local sports teams and a variety of sports stars, and putting together a show that kept him, Petey and the DC market happy, humming and asking for more.

These days, Bell after close to five decades of making his debut (1970) on sports talk radio and changing the way we talk sports in America, he continues to write, interview and produce blogs titled: “The Original Inside Sports and Black Men in America.com”. He still makes the rounds of the DC market, whether it’s a Wizard’s game, or watching pee-wee football or talking with sports ‘newsmakers’, checking in with old friends, or keeping up his passion for helping Black youth to achieve their dreams behind the microphone and in the locker room. He still mentors a few young men by taking them out to learn the craft of Sports Journalism from the street and high school levels on up. He is the most decorated media personality in the country. Some of the sports media on air personalities who came through Inside Sports before their 15 minutes of fame include, Dave Bing (NBA),James Brown (CBS), Michael Wilbon (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (TNT), Sugar Ray Leonard (ESPN), John Thompson, Jr. (ESPN), Bill Rhoden (ESPN), Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. (ESPN), Grant Hill (ESPN) and Cathy Hughes (Radio & TV One) to name just a few.

Bell shows no signs of slowing down. His energy in the pursuit of truth on the court, on the field, or in the Game called life is well known. So well known, in fact that it drew the admiration of one well-known sports icon: Muhammad Ali. He met Ali on the campus of Howard University in 1967. Their unique relationship and conversations are now Legendary. Bell did the unthinkable more than 40 years ago in 1974…scooping ABC sports icon Howard Cosell, 60 Minutes’ Ed Bradley, and NBC’s Byrant Gumble. This was just days after Ali had become the heavyweight champion of the world again, in Zaire, Africa. The match was the iconic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ against then-undefeated champion George Foreman. The Foreman/Ali match up had Ali as the underdog. History was made that night in Africa against all odds by Ali. The interview focused on an unfiltered view of Ali’s life, immediately after one of the more crucial boxing matches of his career. It was a no holds barred interview real life, with Ali as he was.

Bell left the entire sports media world scratching their heads again in 1975. He became the first black to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4. His special guest was “The Greatest.”
There is a short “Teaser” of the interview on You Tube with an introduction by Emmy Award winning actor Robert Hooks, who is also a big fan of Bell’s and Ali. It’s a step back in time; to a time where reporting was made by heart, hustle, and ‘have mercy’. Bell makes the grade with this look at the champ. As Black History is being oppressed and told by others with hidden agendas, there is still hope that Bell’s piece of exclusive Black sports history will be seen by more eyes, and heard, by more ears. The late sports columnist Dick Heller of the Washington Times called Bell “The God Father” of sports talk, his sports media journey and one of a kind interview with Ali makes it difficult to call Heller a liar.

He has been called a lot of things by people who requested anonimity, but the one title given him that use to bother him, the word ‘Activist.’ He says, “I could not understand why using truth to power and being an advocate for children long before Columbine and Parkland made me a ‘Trouble Maker’? I am thankful, I have lived to see where being an Activist and Making Children First have become a part of the American landscape.” I have even called him ‘The Original Black Panther!’

To understand the mindset of Harold Bell, you would have to understand his heroes were not the black athletes he admired like Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Paul Roberson, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Muhammad Ali. His heroes could not run the 100 yard dash in 9 seconds, hit a baseball out of the park, throw a football 60 yards in the air or hit a jump shot. His heroes were black women, his mother, Mattie and his grandmother, Amy Tyler Bell.

Bell says, “It does not get any better than to sit on the Mountain Top with Ali

Mike Ramey is a Minister, Reviewer and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. He brings current and lesser-known titles to light to re-kindle a love for reading and thinking in a sea of modern technology. Feel free to reach him via email at manhoodline@yahoo.com. © 2018 Barnstorm Communications.

Lift up Christ and lay the sinner low. –C. H. Spurgeon


Assistant Chief of Police Tilmon O’Bryant DC’s first “Community Cop of the City.”
Mediating a truce on Harrison playground with boys in the hood in NW DC: Officer Charles Robinson of the 3rd District talk with me, Ricky Dargan and Kirby Burkes.
A Police Community Relations success story was when Mayor Marion Barry came up with the idea of ‘Cops and Robbers’ on the same team to ‘Play Ball’ together. Harrison Playground coached by me won the city championship.

NBC WRC-TV 4 aired a Black History Month special on Sunday February 25, 2018. The program looked back on the 1968 riots in Washington, DC without an eye witness account. NBC WRC TV4 relied on he say, she say to tell our story and history. I was on the U Street corridor during the riots for 4 days. I was working as a Roving Leader (Youth Gang Task Force) for the Department of Parks & Recreation aka the DC Department of Recreation.

There were no present day reporters working for news outlets in 1968. The stations were, TV-4, TV-5, TV-7 and TV-9. The print media outlets like the Washington Post and the Evening Star had all white reporters and none dared to venture out into the inner-city for a eye-witness news report during the riots.

Max Robinson, Jim Vance, Fred Thomas, Paul Berry were all hired after the fact.

The eye-witnesses seen and heard on the NBC Special “April Up Rising” were all frauds especially, Saundra Butler Truesdale who was seen being interviewed in Ben’s Chili Bowl. She was nowhere to be found. The exception was Mayor Walter Washington. He spoke with me and my co-worker NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Wood at 7th T Streets, N. W.
iN 1967 Mayor Washington made a bold move when he hired Patrick Murphy the former Police Commissioner of the New York City Police Department to overseen the DC police and fire departments. Mr. Murphy was known as “The God Father of Police Community Relations. One of the first things he did on his arrival was to make arrangements to meet once a month with The Roving Leader Program (youth gang task force). When the riots hit DC we were prepared to hit the streets. Thanks to Mr. Murphy and Mayor Washington many lives were saved.
Burtell Jefferson was the first black Chief of Police in DC and he followed Tilmon’s lead in reach back efforts in the community.
Mayor Washington and ‘Boys in the Hood’ gather on Bannecker Playground on Georgia Ave. after the riots. The Mayor told us that FBI Director J Edgar Hoover wanted to shoot looters on sight. His response to him, “Not on my watch!” He earned our respect forever.
Former U. S. Marshall and DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore and Chief Judge Gene Hamilton.

Luke was the first modern day U. S. Marshall appointed by the President of the United States. He joined Willie and I to walk arm and arm down the U Street corridor. The first businesses owners we spotted were Ben’s Chili Bowl owner Ben Ali and John Snipes. They were standing in front of the bowl with several other residents. Snipes came over to talk with me and Willie and Luke went over to talk with Ben.

Luke returned to tell us that Ben had received a call telling him to close his business. Luke was not a happy camper, he could not understand the order because there would be nowhere for the cops and military personnel to eat if all the restaurants were closed. He left us promising to return,

in the meantime, I had been summoned to the 3th District Police HQ by my friend “Mr. Community Policing”, Assistant Chief Tilmon O’Bryant. To my surprise he swore me in and gave me police badge and no gun. The badge was to assist me in getting through the police and military barricades being put into place around the city. I was not a happy camper with this idea, but Tilmon stroked my ego and send me on my way. He rose through the ranks as the civil rights movement was taking root in the nation. He was a tough-minded, but fair officer who spoke out on race issues. He was committed to his job. He withstood pressure and prejudice to become a leader. He encountered opposition when he moved to end segregation in the department even while some of the “Good Old Boys” didn’t particularly like what he was doing.

He began his career as a patrolman in 1947 in what was then the 2nd Precinct, a notoriously crime-ridden area of the city. Within six years, he achieved the rank of captain. His promotion came at a time when few black people held supervisory ranks in the department. It was widely believed on the force that that the highest position a black could attain was detective sergeant, a non-supervisory role. The so-called “Glass Ceiling” in the department never stopped him. In fact he shattered it, when he was named Assistant Chief in 1972 making him the highest ranking black in the history of the department.

In 1959, the police department installed a merit system for promotions that combined written examinations and supervisor’s ratings. Shortly after, Chief O’Bryant and then officer, Burtell M. Jefferson, started an off-duty study course in Jefferson’s basement for black officers interested in taking the promotion exams. In the first two years that the classes were held, 20 out of 21 of their “students” received promotions.

Burtell congratulates my brother Earl as he graduates from the DC Police Academy

When the city administration had difficulties attracting minority candidates to fill vacancies on the police force in 1968, it turned to Chief O’Bryant. He recommended that the times and locations of the tests be changed to accommodate the average worker. In his recruiting, Chief O’Bryant visited churches, civic associations and bowling alleys. His aim was to destroy the twin myths about police: “the department doesn’t want {blacks} and that {blacks} don’t want to be police officers.” In 1957, black policemen made up roughly 12 percent of the force. By 1969, the percentage had climbed to 30. Thanks to Tilmon.

Three months after he started his recruiting efforts, Chief O’Bryant was named commander of the 13th Precinct in my old neighborhood in NE DC, which had been heavily damaged during the riots that followed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in April of 1968. By then he had gained popularity from rank-and-file officers, as well as residents of the city.

In 1970, he became director of a newly created training and personnel division. His recruiting methods were innovative and sometimes controversial. It was his ideal to create an all-day radiothon to recruit cadets and dropped the minimum age to 20. Three years later, he was promoted to assistant chief in charge of field operations, becoming the highest-ranking black officer in department history at that time.
Kids In Trouble Police & Youth Gang Forum: Congressman Tom Davis (R-Va) and NFL legend Jim Brown are the co-host.

In the meantime, the Chili Bowl was allowed to remain open thanks to Luke calling President Lyndon Johnson and asking him to allow Ben’s to stay open to help with the feeding of the military personel and cops. The President gave Luke the okay and he called the Chief of Police and had the order rescinded. Any thing else is made up BS.

I was out there for 4 days and I never saw Marion Barry, Congressman Fauntroy, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Petey Greene or anyone from Lee’s Flower Shop and no one from Industrial Bank were on the U Street corridor during the riots. Snipes and Ben were always present. Ben’s Chili Bowl “Historian” Bernard Demczuk did not come to town until after the “April Uprising” but there he was acting like an expert witness on the black community? The Fake News account was orchestrated by NBC TV 4 who had no clue.

The rest of the “Usual Suspects” may have community ties, like Saundra Butler-Truesdale who was seen being interviewed in Ben’s Chilli Bowl telling lies about her community involvement, but was nowhere to be found during the riots. She was even quoted saying how change in the U street corridor has improved the lives of the black community. Evidently, she has not read the recent Washington Post story compiled by the Economic Policy Institute saying, “50 years after a major study on INEQUALITY, no gains seen for blacks!”

Some people will say and do anything to be seen and heard on radio and television. Most of these expert eye witnesses emerged after the tear gas and smoke had cleared. I am not sure about the body count stats that were given–my count was three dead, one on Minnesota Ave. NE and two in NW DC.

Another “Little known Black History Fact” as it relates to the media: The television format for 7 On Your Side was first heard on W-U-S-T Radio. Former WJLA TV 7 anchorman Paul Berry got the idea and concept for the first ever television consumer help program in a guest appearance on Inside Sports. I piggy-backed off of my mentor the legendary radio and television icon, Petey Greene. In 1967-68 I was the sports voice of “Petey Greene’s Washington” heard on W-O-L Radio on Sunday evenings.

Paul Berry made an appearance as a guest on my Inside Sports talk radio show in the early 80s. He was surprised by the number of phone calls I was receiving from my listeners asking me for advice and help. The problems would range from employment, politics, school, DC Superior Court Court, police harassment, sports, etc. The callers were all seeking my advice and assistance in these matters. One caller ask Paul for his advice relating to her boyfriend liking the Dallas Cowboys and she was a Redskin fan. She wanted to kick him to the curb. Paul took the 5th and she was not happy with his response. She than ask me if I was on her side and I said, “Lets see what the next caller has to say about that” and I took the next caller.

Paul and I co-host a Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Show

After the show Paul asked me if the calls were like that every Saturday and I said, “Always.” He thought I should expand the show to another hour, but I was happy with the one hour time slot. He also tried to convince me to leave DC and go to a smaller market and come back to one of the major outlets here in DC.

His advice went in one and out the other, there was no way I was leaving my home town of Washington, D. C. for parts unknown. Anyone who was someone would eventually find their way to the Nation’s Capitol and I was right.

Two months later I turn to TV 7 NEWS and there was Paul with 7 On Your Side. He had convinced the management at the station to allow him to bring 7 On Your Side to the airwaves and the rest is television history. Now every local television media outlet in America has a 7 On Your Side or something similar. It all started in Washington, DC on Inside Sports.

Paul became a big star in TV news and would spent decades in the news department winning several Emmy Awards. In the 90s in a contract dispute the station refused his salary demands and shown him the door never to be seen on local news again.

Melvin Lindsey, Jim Vance and Dave Dupree attend Kids In Trouble toy benefit.
Jim Vance and I volunteer at ‘The Roy Jefferson Reading Center’ on K Steet, NW

The print, radio and television media personalities that came through Inside Sports and Kids In Trouble in there first ever reach back efforts in the community read like a who’s who in media. The list include, the late Jim Vance (TV 4), Fred Thomas (TV 7), Maureen Bunyan (TV 7), Paul Berry (TV 7), Lark McCathy (TV 5), James Brown (CBS), Cathy Hughes (TV One), Michael Wilbon (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (TNT), Melvin Lindsey (WHUR Radio), Donnie Simpson (WKYS/BET), Bill Rhoden (ESPN), Larry Fitzgerald (ESPN), sports personalities who turned TV personalities, John Thompson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Adrian Dantley, and Adrian Branch. The only trail blazer and media pioneer to escape my community and sports talk show programs was the great television pioneer Max Robinson (TV 7).

The gang is all here: The Kids In Trouble Board of Directors.

Max and I were like ships passing in the night. We would see each other at press conferences and wave or blew our horns as we encountered each other on the then mean streets of DC . Max would later become the first black news anchor on national television. He co-anchored ABC World News Tonight with Frank Reynolds and Peter Jennings from 1978-1983.

Maureen Bunyan, Lark McCathy and Donnie Simpson during Foxtrapp toy drive.

There was a moment I will never forget, the popular CIAA Basketball Tournament was being played in Max’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I was sitting in the Marriott Hotel where I was staying and having breakfast one morning when I looked across the room and spotted Max. We went through our usual ritual and waved to each other and I kept on eating and reading the paper. The next thing I knew, I was looking up and he is standing in front of me. He said, “Come on over I want you to meet someone.” I followed him over to his table and he introduced me to his mom and dad.

The next words that came out his mouth left me speechless, he said, “Mom and dad I want you to meet my friend Harold Bell, he has the best sports talk show in Washington, D. C.” It was a very emotional scene for me, because it was like I had found a long lost brother and he was introducing me to our parents. I knew he was seriously ill and fighting several demons. Two years later he died. I have never forgotten that morning at the Marriott in Richmond, Virginia–talking about a kodak moment—Priceless with a giant in media–my friend Max Robinson.


Red Auerbach

NBA legend Red Auerbach and abolitionist John Brown had more in common than the color of their skin. These two white men stood up for black folks when they could not stand up for themselves.

John Brown for example, is famous for leading a small group on a raid against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an attempt to start an armed slave revolt and destroy the institution of slavery (sounds like Red Auerbach to me).

John Brown was born in Connecticut in 1800 and raised in Ohio, Brown came from a staunchly Calvinist and anti-slavery family. He spent much of his life failing at a variety of businesses–he declared bankruptcy at age 42 and had more than 20 lawsuits filed against him. In 1837, his life changed irrevocably when he attended an abolition meeting in Cleveland, during which he was so moved that he publicly announced his dedication to destroying the institution of slavery. As early as 1848 he was formulating a plan to incite an insurrection.

In the 1850s, Brown traveled to Kansas with five of his sons to fight against the proslavery forces in the contest over that territory. On May 21, 1856, proslavery men raided the abolitionist town of Lawrence, and Brown personally sought revenge. On May 25, Brown and his sons attacked three cabins along Pottawatomie Creek. They killed five men with broad swords and triggered a summer of guerilla warfare in the troubled territory. One of Brown’s sons was killed in the fighting.

By 1857, Brown returned to the East and began raising money to carry out his vision of a mass uprising of slaves. He secured the backing of six prominent abolitionists, known as the “Secret Six,” and assembled an invasion force. His “army” grew to include 22 men, including five black men and three of Brown’s sons. The group rented a Maryland farm near Harpers Ferry and prepared for the assault.

On the night of October 16, 1859, Brown and his band overran the arsenal. Some of his men rounded up a handful of hostages, including a few slaves. Word of the raid spread, and by morning Brown and his men were surrounded. A company of U.S. marines arrived on October 17, led by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart. On the morning of October 19, the soldiers overran Brown and his followers. Ten of his men were killed, including two of his sons.

The wounded Brown was tried by the state of Virginia for treason and murder, and he was found guilty on November 2, 1859. The 59-year-old abolitionist went to the gallows on December 2, 1859. Before his execution, he handed his guard a slip of paper that read, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” It was a prophetic statement. Although the raid failed, it inflamed sectional tensions and raised the stakes for the 1860 presidential election. Brown’s raid helped make any further accommodation between North and South nearly impossible and thus became an important impetus of the Civil War.

The black folks (NAACP) protesting the Boston Police Department for honoring Boston Celtic Coach Red Auerbach during Black History Month, should be reminded, “You don’t throw bricks when you live in a glass house!”
HBell, Red Auerbach and Earl Lloyd celebrate Black History Month

I remember when the black community in the late 70s was accusing the Boston Celtics of being the most racist team in the NBA on sports talk radio in Washington, DC. It was during an interview with Washington Post sports editor George Solomon on my Inside Sports talk show, I suggested that I write a column proving them wrong and I did.

I reminded black folks who didn’t have a clue, in 1950 Chuck Cooper of Duquesne University and a second team All-American was drafted by coach Red Auerbach and owner Walter Brown. Cooper would become the first black player drafted and signed by an NBA team. The NBA is now the most integrated pro sports organization in America. Despite that fact, the plantation mentality still lingers, but the Boston Celtics are no longer the bad guys. The NBA history today is a watered down version of the history that I lived.
Boston Celtic coach Red Auerbach and owner Walter Brown shake hands after drafting first black player, Chuck Cooper.

Red was the first coach to play five black players at the same time. He was first to hire the first black coach, Bill Russell and the first to hire a black General Manager, aka Bill Russell. During the tenure of owner Walter Brown and Red Auerbach the Boston Garden was a “Racial Free Zone.” The stifling racial strife in the city of Boston for the past several decades was not allowed in Boston Garden during Celtic games. When games were played in the garden the Redneck riff-raff had to check their KKK robes and hoods at the gate and replace them with shirt and tie, or blue jeans and tee-shirts. Boston Garden security had orders to show the exit to those who did not comply.

When the basketball hall of fame had forgotten the contributions of pioneer Earl Lloyd the first black player to play in an NBA game in 1950, Red, sports columnist Dick Heller and I reminded them. When Earl brought the omission to my attention and ask for my help, I invited Boston Celtic Hall of fame player Sam Jones, CBS/NFL studio host James Brown, WOL Radio One talk show host, Butch McAdams, Andrew Dywer and Christy Winter-Scott of The Round Ball Report to have lunch with me at Union Station to discuss a Game Plan to get him inducted into the hall of fame.

NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd

The timing could not have been better, the NBA All-Star Game was to be played in Washington, DC at the MCI Center in February 2001 and it was just a few months away. I laid out the plan to honor Earl during that weekend. First event would be in his hometown of nearby Alexandria, Virginia with a Earl Lloyd Day. There would be a youth basketball clinic and a tribute in his honor later that evening in Washington, DC at the historical Bohemian Caverns. James Brown had agreed to co-host the tribute with NBA/Playground Basketball legend Sonny Hill.
Sam Jones, HBell, James Brown and Earl Lloyd celebrate Black Histoy Month

In a conversation with James on our exit from Union Station he asked me, “Harold did you check with Abe Polin?” I pretended I did not hear him and I ask him to repeat himself and he did. I could not believe my ears, my response, ‘I don’t work for Abe Polin and he ain’t my father!’ He said, ‘OK’ and made his exit never to be seen again. The next time I saw him and questioned him about his disappearance. He said, ‘I don’t remember making that committment’ and he has been lying ever since.
CBS/NFL Studio host Jame Brown a benefactor of Inside Sports

“Harold has always been a voice for people who didn’t have a voice. He has always called them as he saw them. He has been an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other black broadcasters.” James Brown (NFL CBS Sports)

The evening turned out to be a winner, my ace in the hole was NBA Godfather Red Auerbach. There was a sabortage attempt, and I detected Earl getting a little weak in the knees, he regrouped when I told him Red Auerbach would be at the tribute. The tribute was a success and it was the only All-Star event Red participated in that weekend. Basketball royalty was in attendance, K C Jones, Al Attles, Earl Monroe, Phil Chenier, Jim ‘Bad News’ Barnes,Sonny Hill, Sam Jones, Wizards’coach Leonard Hamilton, and Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines.

Earl Lloyd was finally inducted into the Naismith Basketball of Fame in 2003 over fifty years later. Thanks to Red Auerbach, and the late Washington Times sports columnist Dick Heller without them Earl never would have made it, better late than never.

EARL & DAVE Scan0003
Earl Lloyd’s 2003 induction into the NBA Hall of Fame–NBA legend Dave Bing looks on.

There is a familiar warning, “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it!”

We were warned by the Kerner Commission in 1968 assembled to find out the reason for the disturbing uprisings in the inner-city. The Commission “forewarned that we were headed for two different societies, one black and one white, seperate and unequal” and here we are 50 years later.

The Kerner Report was released on February 29, 1968, after 7 months of investigation. The Report became an instant best seller, and over 2 million Americans brought copies of the 246 page document. Its finding was that the riots resulted from black frustration at lack of economic opportunity. Dr. King pronouced the report a “A Physician’s warning of a approaching death, with a prescription for life.” The prescription had no refills.

The Kerner Report suggested that one main cause of urban violence was white racism and suggested that white America bore much of the responsibility for black rioting and rebellion.

The report berated federal and state governments for failed housing, education and social-service policies. The report also aimed some of its hashest criticism at the mainstream media, “The press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men’s eyes and a white perspective.”

For the past 50 years black leaders, politicians, ministers, judges, educators, law enforcement, media personalities and especially my hero, Congressman John Lewis and the Congressional Black Caucus have sit on their hands singing, “We Shall Overcome” while doing absolutely nothing to improve the plight of the poor and down-trodden.

First, they made Bill Clinton “The First Black President” to keep hope alive and he did absolutely nothing. The first Black President Barack Obama took the country by storm and at last the caucus was singing a brand new song, “Free at Last!” By the time President Obama made his decision to attend his first ever Black Caucus Week End Dinner, his first words to them were, “Stop complaining.”

Enter surprise, President Donald Trump. His first words to Congressman John Lewis after Lewis called him a illegitimate President, “All talk and no action.” Trump’s response is equivalent to Obama’s shoutout to the Congressional Black Caucus. The problems that people of color are having were decades in the making, long before Donald Trump. You cannot lay all this BS at Trump’s White House, despite the fact he does have issues.

There is a familiar warning, “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it!”

Dotie and Red Auerbach they just didn’t talk the talk, they walked the walk.

Red and Dotie on Inside Sports share a laugh with telephone guest tennis icon, Jimmy Connors.

The Red Auerbach effect was evident in 2011, NBA awards were handed out to Ray Allen of the Celtics, the Player of the Year, Dwight Howard of Orlando the Defensive Player of the Year, and Coach Mike Brown of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Coach of the Year. Rookie of the Year was Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose and the Sixth Man of the Year was Dallas Mavericks, Jason Terry. The NBA’s leading scorer, rebounder, and assist leader, the recipients were all black. The footprints in the sand left by Red Auerbach and Walter Brown can still be seen all over the league.

Red Auerbach’s won-lost record in Human and in Civil Rights was nothing to sneeze at—-he was in a class by himself. The NAACP needs to read its own history, they honored Red in 1960 during Black History Month for his many contributions to human and civil rights. This is the same honor the Boston Police Department has bestowed on him 58 years later, where is the beef?

When I coined the phrase, to close my sports talk show in the 70s “Every black face you see is not your brother and every white face you see is not your enemy”, Red and President Richard Nixon were the inspiration.


How can we make February Black History Month and ignore the contributions of white folks? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Red Auerbach, and the Brown Boys, Walter and John–the common denominator, they freed a lot of people. My question to the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus—whats in your wallet?

Red has the last word / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeY-fuh0mV4



In the February issue of ESPN the magazine the cover story is title “The State of the Black Athlete!” When I opened the magazine and saw the editor-chief was a former Washington Post writer and go-fer by the name of Kevin Miranda I knew right away this was a Fake News Story. Kevin has no clue as it relates to the black community or to the black athlete. ESPN in Connecticut has long been the outpost for “Washington Post North.” Former Washington Post columnist Jill Nelson wrote a book titled “Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience” The book details her experience as a volunteer slave while writing for the Washington Post in the 80s.

I remember a Washington Post senior sports writer confiding in me that Sports Editor George Solomon ran the sports department like Adolf Hitler. Former columnist Michael Wilbon use to cry on my shoulder of how Solomon use to look over his shoulder and change his column. Former employees called the paper “The Plantation on the Potomac”. When one of their writers John Walsh hijacked my tag and title “Inside Sports” in 1978 I was disappointed but not surprised. Newsweek now owns the copy rights to Inside Sports and the Washington Post owns Newsweek. I guess you could call this the luck of the draw!

Let me tell you about The State of the Black Athlete in America and how much progress he has made as it relates to pro sports. An equal opportunity employer they are not, for example, when it comes to the hiring of blacks as coaches, managers and sharing ownership is almost non-existent. In 2018 there are four major sports franchises, the NBA, NFL, MLB and the NHL. Each franchise has 30+ teams and at the end of the day that is a total of 120 teams with a total of maybe 14 coaches and managers (give or take). There is only one Afro-American/Black owner among the 120 sports franchises. To call this a plantation is an understatement. NFL owners have locked out and blocked black ownership and stunted the growth of Black America.

Someone please explain to me why are there folks mad at NFL players for not standing for the flag during the playing of the national anthem in NFL stadiums? This protest was started last year when 49er QB Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and the racism taking place in stadiums across the NFL. Unarmed black men were and still are being used as target practice in police departments across America.

The media, politicians, and NFL owners changed the narrative to Colin Kaepernick was disrespecting military men who gave their lives for this country.

I don’t know how many of you are aware that the first professional athlete was a slave on the plantation in the early 1800s and he played without a contract and free agency was out of the question. The only difference is the modern day slave is paid millions of dollars to put his life on the line betting he won’t develop CTE and too many are losing that battle. The owners make billions of dollars to watch the mayhem from their sky suites with their wives and children safely out of harm’s way cheering on the slaves. This is today’s, “Good Old Boy’s Club” with their motto, “If you are black its best you get back, if you are brown you can stick around, and if you are white you are all right!”

Two of my favorite people, NFL Hall of Fame LB Sam Huff and Willie Wood both are victims of CTE.

Super Bowl 52, the final score on Sunday January 4th 2018 Philadephia Eagles 41 NE Patriots 33. The Price was still not right—let me explain.

On a Saturday morning 26 years ago January 25, 1992 Super Bowl 26, the Washington Redskins were playing the Buffalo Bills in the Hubert Humphrey Metro Dome. I interviewed Minnesota Spokesman columnist and talk show host Larry Fitzgerald Sr. He had become a regular on my Saturday morning Inside Sports Media Roundtable. His son Larry Jr. would often answer the telephone on those mornings and yell, “hey dad its’ Mr. Bell in Washington, DC. Now that same little 8 yr old Larry is now considered one the greatest Wide Receiver to ever play in the NFL and a first round ballot hall of fame player.

In that interview with Larry Fitzgerald Sr. We talked about the hiring of Dennis Greene the first black head coach for the Minnesota Vikings and the hiring of Clem Haskins as the first black head basketball coach for the University of Minnesota and one month later the university hires its first black Athletic Director, Dr. McKinley Boston. All these historical events took place 26 years ago.

Larry Fitzgerald remembers NFL Coach Dennis Greene and Super Bowl 1992


The first NFL world championship game was played in 1958, the participating teams were the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. It was the first ever sudden death overtime world championship game. The Colts beat the Giants 23-17. The game was called the greatest game ever played in the NFL. On the winning Baltimore Colt team, there were two players who wore the number 24, running back Lenny Moore and a brash rookie cornerback named Johnny Sample.

In 1959 the world championship game was re-named The Super Bowl, because the upstart AFL had wiggled its way into the league and they wanted a piece of the pie. In 1959 the NFL Green Bay Packers faced off against the upstart AFL champions, the KC Chiefs. It was no contest the Packers beat the Chiefs like a drum 35-10. In 1960 the Packers returned to play the AFL rep Oakland Raiders and it was no contest again, the final score was 33-14.

There was a black player who played in those two back to back Super Bowl games as a member of the Green Bay Packers, he was the co-captain of the team. He wore No. 24, his name was Willie Wood. Willie graduated from Armstrong High School in Washington, DC and he took his education to the next level by attending Coalinga Jr. College in California. He spent two years there and transferred to the University of Southern California.

It was there he became the 1st black quarterback in the school’s history. In 1958 he was a walk-on for the Green Bay Packers and a starter as a free safety his second year on the job. The rest is NFL history, he was named to 7 NFL All-Pro teams, led the league in interceptions and punt returns. Legendary coach Vince Lombardi called him “My Coach on the field.” He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989.

The AFL had been embarrassed the first two Super Bowls, but guess who was coming to dinner in 1969, the New York Jets and CB Johnny Sample, he was the co-captain and the Jets were given no chance of beating the NFL’s best, the Baltimore Colts. The AFL would finally get its revenge the Jets beat the Colts 16-7. Some have called this the greatest upset in American sports history! Jet QB Joe Namath was named the MVP but according to him his teammate Johnny Sample could have easily won the award. Willie and Johnny both wore No. 24 and were the QBs on the defensive side of the ball.

In that 1959 game against Kansas City, Willie broke open a close game with a timely interception thrown by QB Len Dawson and he returned it to the four yard line. KC was never able to recover.

Similar Johnny had a back breaking interception against QB Earl Morall and the Colts never recovered. Remember there was no love lost between these two teams, Johnny played for the Colts in 1958 when they beat the Giants in that sudden death overtime. Over a decade later Johnny can’t wait to meet his old team, he talked trash all the way up to kick-off and was still talking trash when the gun went off to end the game.

Lenny Moore was the other No. 24 who played in that 1958 sudden death overtime for the Colts. He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1956. He played 12 years in the NFL and he put the catch in the running back position. He caught so many passes out of the backfield the Colts creative a position that would later would become known as “the flanker back!” In the 60s the Colts were the deadliest passing team in the NFL with TE John Mackey, the great WR Ray Berry and Lenny Moore. The greatest QB of that era was a man they called The Ice Man—Johnny Unitas. Lenny scored a touchdown in a NFL-record 18 consecutive games starting in 1963 and continuing through the entire 1964 season, the streak ended in 1965. This record stood for 40 years until being equaled by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005. He was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times. Lenny was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1975.

Johnny Sample had the distinction of beginning and ending his career with championship wins in two of the most famous games in professional football history, he won a NFL championship (1958), a AFL championship (1969), and a World Championship (1969). He is the only player to play on two different World Championship teams in two different leagues. The NFL Baltimore Colts in 1958 and the AFL New York JETS IN 1969. In 1963 Johnny was playing for the Washington Redskins when his friend and teammate Gene Big Daddy Lipscomb was allegedly to have died from a drug overdose in Baltimore at a friend’s apartment. According to a press release from the NFL and Commissioner Pete Rozell the drug was heroin. Johnny disagreed because he knew Big Danny was scared of needles. He sued the NFL to clear his friend’s name—he won and lost at the same time. The NFL blackballed him from participating in anything connected to the league including the Hall of Fame. Big Daddy was like a brother to Johnny.

In retirement Johnny taught himself how to play tennis and went on to become the USTA No. 1 ranked player in the 45 and over age group. He organized and ran the largest youth tennis program in the city of Phila. He was a respected linesman on the pro tennis circuit at the US, French, and Australian Opens. These assignments earned respect and helped him to become the first black chair umpire.

willie wood
Lenny, Johnny and Willie were the first NFL players to reach back into the community to enhance the growth of inner-city kids using my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. as a vehicle as early as 1968.

In 1970 Johnny wrote a book titled “The Confessions of Dirty Football Player” in a Legends of Inside Sports Roundtable, I teamed him up with All-Pro safety Willie Wood, All-Pro WR Roy Jefferson, young CB JB Brown of the Miami Dolphins, sports talk show host Sonny Hill and celebrity host All-Pro NFL legend, Jim Brown. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzY5Mki8OVE / stay tune the screen goes blank for 2 minutes.

Johnny should be in the NFL Hall of Fame, I understand there is a move underfoot to petition the hall of fame. The problem, there are no Harold Bells, or sports columnist like the late Dick Heller of the Washington Times or Presidents of NFL teams with the mentality of NBA Red Auerbach to right these kinds of wrongs in pro sports. Today’s radio and television sports host and talkers like NFL/CBS studio host James Brown, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone, all came through Inside Sports before their 15 minutes of fame, they are all talk, but no walk.
Willie thanks the late Dick Heller for helping to get him inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame

Let us not forget Phila. native son ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and my mentor and Johnny’s good friend, talk show host Sonny Hill. I would think that Sonny would be leading the petition drive to get his friend inducted, but I have no clue! I know James Brown was once a close friend of Johnny’s daughter Evelyn. Elmer Smith is a former sports columnist of the Phila. Inquirer would be a great asset, that is a great foundation to get the ball rolling, but what do I know!
Someone might really need to throw a cold bucket of water on James to wake him up.

Note Worthy: There is a documentary titled “The First to Play” the life story of NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd the first black to play in a NBA game. The documentary is a scam organized by a scam artist named, Arka Senguta of Indian descent. He has already scammed thousands of dollars from NBA players as investors. He bounced several checks to his researcher in Alexandria, Virginia and has reneged on paying his office staff. I requested that my scene in the documentary be deleted.

The documentary is to be aired during Black History Month during the NBA All-Star Game. I have already alerted, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, San Antonio Coach, Greg Popovich, Michelle Roberts (NBPA), Michael Wilbon, James Brown, Mike Wise (ESPN’s Undefeated), Dave McKenna (ESPN’s Dead Spin), Sonny Hill, it looks and sounds like all my contacts are deaf and dumb with exception of one, but he is on an Island. I never had a major media platform to toot my horn. Inside Sports was heard on low-signal AM stations if you drove around the corner you could not hear my show. Despite the odds I still campaigned and help get two pro athletes inducted into their respective hall of fames. They were Willie Wood (NFL 1989) and Earl Lloyd (NBA 2003). They were both black balled and ignored by their peers and beat writers on the voting committee.

In the final analyst, The State of the Black Athlete, he is on a runaway train going to hell in a hurry with no station in sight.

You can read my Bleacher Report blog on Johnny Sample titled, “He was a Dirty Football Player—but he was a stand-up brother!” and my other blogs can be read on theoriginalinsidesportsblog.com and blackmeninamerica.com


John Scolinos was a hall of fame college baseball coach. He coached Pepperdine University from 1948-1960 and Cal Polytech Pomona University from 1953 to 1991.

This is one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read when it comes to making America really GREAT. If you are truly interested in making America GREAT, don’t ignore this GREAT presentation by the late GREAT Coach John Scolinos who takes us on a journey of truth to power.

The story is told by Chris Sperry a baseball consultant who develops players and amateur coaches, assists professional scouts, and counsels families of prospective college-bound student-athletes. He holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Portland, the same institution at which he served as head baseball coach for 18 years. His key interests are in player and personal development as they pertain to a life in and beyond sports. In January 1996 he attended his first American Baseball College Association Convention.

It all started in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s convention.
While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.
In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.
Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.
Then, finally …“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate
around my neck,” he said, his voice growing testy. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.” Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”
After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”
Another long pause. “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.
“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”
“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.
“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”
“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.
“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?” …………“Seventeen inches!”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in
the Major Leagues?”
“Seventeen inches!”
“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider
still, say twenty-five inches.’”
“Coaches…” pause, “… what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the
crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”
Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”
Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”
“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate, and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”
I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.
“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”
With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “… dark days ahead.”
Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”
And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and how to fix it.
“Don’t widen the plate.”

Note Worthy: Coach Scolinos was much like Muhammad Ali, He spoke truth to power. It was in the 1990s the Catholic Church was receiving significant media and public attention as it related to sexual abuse. The abuse included boys and girls, some as young as 3 years old, with the majority being between the ages of 11 and 14 aka Dr. Larry Nassar U. S. Olympic team. Education has spiraled out of control, discipline has become a thing of the past, grade fixing and violence has made it all but impossible for a child to learn in a safe environment. The parents are lost, the government and our preachers are looking for love in all the wrong places (the bank). Thank you to all the GREAT men and women who have inspired and touched my life as I have tried not to “Widen the Plate” against all odds. The question, “Have I made my community a better place than I found it–I tried! Thanks to Mike Ramey for bringing this GREAT and inspiring story to my attention.