1. This was also a reminder that great feats are built of individual blocks. Some of them you construct yourself. Some of them are gifted to you. Some should crumble under your weight but, for whatever reason, they don’t. Some of them fall from above.

Barcelona picked up all those blocks and built something beautiful and everlasting.

An epic night in the Camp Nou this week, when Barcelona produced that astonishing Champions League comeback. Gabriele Marcotti on ESPN puts it all into context.

2. The smile has not changed, as puckish as it always was; nor has the mischievous glint in Stanley Bowles’s sea-blue eyes.

I remember it all like yesterday, when Bowles bedazzled football, weaving, winding through a humiliated defence yet again, in the hoops of Queens Park Rangers, atop the league, back in the 1970s.

But at a pub in his native Manchester, Stan himself remembers none of this.

Ed Vulliamy in The Guardian, spends an afternoon with Stan Bowles, the brilliant former QPR player who is now suffered from Alzheimer’s, as his friends and family push for a testimonial year at the club.

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3. This is an ordinary looking small town. 20 odd thousand people, all the types of shops and pubs you’d expect, and a strong heritage in Kerry’s better known sport, Gaelic football.

The route to the complex really couldn’t understate matters more, a stroll through as quiet a housing estate as it gets to what is a nice but in no way out of the ordinary looking leisure centre.

Even once you get there, you have to walk around the pool side to get to the gym. It’s all so ordinary and arriving at 6.55pm for an 8pm tip, this seemed pretty sedate.


Emmet Ryan wrote for BallinEurope about going to Tralee to watch a basketball game and discovering the vibrant atmosphere Kieran Donaghy and Garvey’s Tralee Warriors are creating.

Gaelic footballer and basketball player Kieran Donaghy. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

4. The most exciting play in basketball somehow happens five times a game. It’s always Russell Westbrook grabbing a rebound or an outlet pass, then deciding to dribble 70–80 feet for another defiant layup.

Does he care how many opponents might be in his way? Not really. Westbrook pushes the ball quickly, skipping along the court like a gymnast building momentum for a double salto with a twist.

Right around midcourt, he throws on Terminator sunglasses and calculates the remaining dangers.

The most amazing athlete in the NBA or the biggest ball hog in history? The Ringer’s Bill Simmons on Russell Westbrook.

5. “Danny Cowley takes a deep breath and anticipates the moment when he will lead the first non-league football club in 103 years into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

“Facing Arsenal at the Emirates?” the Lincoln City manager says quietly just after eight o’clock at night in an empty Sincil Bank stadium. “Facing Arsène Wenger in the opposite dugout? A 60,000 crowd?

“The first game I managed at Concord Rangers [in the Essex Senior League in 2007] was watched by 62 people. Concord against Sawbridgeworth. We won 6-1.”

For The Guardian, Donald McRae interviews Lincoln’s manager Danny Cowley before their historic FA Cup quarter-final tie.

Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley Source: Mike Egerton

6. They gave Joe Cleary the nickname “Fire” because he threw the baseball so fast in high school.

Sometimes, to turn a buck for his struggling immigrant family during the Depression, he brought the heat as a ringer for the semi-pro Puerto Rican Stars, the pseudonym Jose Hernandez made risible by a shock of red hair, piercing blue eyes and the lingering vestiges of a faint Cork accent.

His journey through the foothills of the minor leagues was interrupted by World War II and a stint in uniform but in August, 1945, he finally got a call-up to the majors.

Dave Hannigan writes in the Irish Times, about Joe Cleary – the last Irish-born players to tog out in the major leagues – and 23-year-old Belfast native PJ Conlon could be the next.

7. Last September, Barcelona opened their first office in New York, and they decided to make a bit of an entrance. Outside the Waldorf Astoria where the club’s executives and officials were staying, the Barcelona flag flew alongside the Stars and Stripes.

At night, the Empire State Building was lit up in the club’s red and blue colours. Ronaldinho made a surprise appearance at a Bronx secondary school and played football with gawping kids.

Jonathan Liew in the Telegraph on how Barcelona became just another superclub.

8. Imagine, for example, the effects of letting Diego Simeone loose in that dressing room, barking and scrabbling and baring his teeth, given free rein to scrub from the decks all trace of weakness and Wenger-stained flaccidity. The results would at least be entertaining.

Barney Ronay wonders for The Guardian on the effects if Diego Simeone was let loose in Arsenal’s dressing room.

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone. Source: DPA/PA Images

9. The Mavericks fancied themselves gunslingers. McCloud, who averaged more three-point shots per game than two entire NBA teams after the shift to small ball, was dubbed “The Duke.”

Jim Jackson became “Wyatt Earp.” “He’s always shooting,” Williams explained to the Associated Press. Teammates called Kidd “Doc Holiday” and Lucious Harris—because “he’s so deadly”—gave way to “Clint Eastwood.”

Tony Dumas, an explosive athlete, naturally went as “Billy the Kid.” “He’s young and wild,” Williams noted.

Rob Mahoney for Sports Illustrated looks back at the ’95-96 Dallas Mavericks, an NBA team before their time.

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