One Year Later: ESPN Networks To Pay Tribute To Ali

Photo Credit: Eric Thayer for ESPN

ESPN and its networks will pay tribute to legendary boxer and revolutionary Muhammad Ali Saturday on the first anniversary of his death.

The tribute to Ali begins at 4 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2 with Ali’s Dozen, a documentary about Ali.  The coverage continues at 5 a.m. with Ali’s 65, a documentary marking Ali’s 65th birthday by looking at his life and career in and out of the ring.  The network will also carry other programming including Ali’s 1974 match against George Foreman and his 1975 match against George Frazier throughout the day.

Next Sunday, June 9, coverage continues on the eve of the first anniversary of Ali’s passing on ESPN with a special edition of E:60E:60 Ali’s Last Round airs at 9 p.m. The documentary focuses not so much on Ali, but the man who drove Ali’s casket through the streets of Louisville, KY—Hamilton Porter on the procession’s roughly 20-mile route.

Porter is the fourth generation of his family to work at A.D. Porter and Sons Funeral Home, the funeral home that handled Ali’s funeral.

Tributes to Ali will be available not only on television but online, too. writer Tom Junod’s article The Greatest, At Rest can be read online now.  The article follows those who handled Ali’s funeral from the funeral home to those closest to him.  It can be read online now here.

ESPN Boxing writer Dan Rafael’s Muhammad Ali memorabilia is also being presented online for audiences to see here complete with commentary on each item by Rafael.

Along with Junod’s article and Rafael’s presentation, has also culled all of its Ali-related articles from the past year in one place here.

More information on the ESPN networks’ Muhammad Ali tributes is available online now at:










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‘Sports Detectives: Season One’ Is A Winning Debut For Smithsonian Channel Series

Courtesy: Smithsonian Channel/Public Media Distribution

Early this month, Public Media Distribution and Smithsonian Channel partnered to release the first season of the network’s new sports history-based series Sports Detectives on DVD.  One part History Detectives, one part 30 for 30 and one part Expedition Unknown, this introductory season will appeal to any sports and sports history buff. That is due in no small part to the sports that it covers over the course of its episodes.  The stories that are presented within each episode are just as important to discuss as the sports that are covered.  The transitions that are used in the two-part episodes round out the season’s most important elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the season’s overall presentation.  All things considered, Sports Detectives: Season One is, overall, a winner for any sports aficionado.

The debut season of Smithsonian Channel’s Sports Detectives is a presentation that will appeal to sports buffs of all ages.  That is due in no small part to the sports that are covered over the course of its 300-minutes.  From the first disc to the second, the series covers all of America’s major sports.  There are two stories from Major League Baseball, two from the National Football League, one from the National Hockey League and one from the National Basketball Association.  They are not the only sports that are covered in this collection.  NASCAR fans get a nod with a story focusing on the legend of Dale Earnhardt’s pink K-2 Ford driven early in his career, one for the horse racing fans out there and even one focusing on the boxing world.  Simply put, those behind the series made sure to reach out to fans of as many sports as possible with these stories  The only downside here is that there is no listing of the stories inside or outside the box.  Even with that in mind, the inclusion of stories from most of the sports world’s major arenas (yes, that bad pun was intended) is in itself plays a big part in the program’s overall presentation.  The fact that the series has yet to touch on soccer (yes, that bad pun was intended, too) gives fodder for more stories.  There are certain to be stories from the worlds of golf and tennis, too.  That is not even mentioning the college sports realm, too.  Keeping that in mind, this gives plenty of material for at least a second season.  Keeping all of this in mind, the sports that are covered and the sports that could be covered in a second season of Sports Detectives show why they are pivotal to the series’ first season.  They are, collectively speaking, just part of what makes this season so enjoyable for sports lovers.  The stories presented within the episodes are just as important to discuss in examining this season as the sports presented within the episodes.

The stories that are presented within each episode are so important to discuss because of the history that each story presents.  The stories also don’t always result in a clear answer either.  The story of Muhammad Ali’s Olympic Gold Medal supports both of those statements.  Audiences learn through this story about how he represented his country at the 1960 Olympics, only to allegedly throw it in the Ohio River upon his return to the U.S.  The alleged incident happened, according to the story, after he was denied service in his still segregated home city of Louisville.  Not to give away too much here, but the story is never fully solved despite the lengths to which the investigative team of Kevin Barrows and Lauren Gardner go to try to solve the mystery.  That the story isn’t solved actually adds to its interest, leaving one wonder if there is any validity to Ali’s story or not.

The story of Ali’s missing 1960 Olympic Gold medal is just one example of the importance of this season’s stories.  The story of Lou Gehrig’s baseball bat is another prime example of the importance of the season’s episodes.  This is one of the stories that is solved.  The investigation here finds a bat that was in fact once in the hands of the baseball legend.  The revelation that someone out there has a bat that was in fact once held (and used in a game) by the legendary figure is in itself incredible.  The history behind the bat is just as interesting.  It is just one more of the stories that shows the importance of the stories featured in this season.  There is also a story centered on famed horse Secretariat’s saddle cloth that is just as interesting.

The story of Secretariat’s supposedly missing saddle cloth is another one that results in the mystery being solved.  What is so interesting in this story is the revelation of how easily it could have and did go missing in the commotion following Secretariat’s win in one of horse racing’s biggest events.  The story keeps audiences engaged because of the twists and turns that it presents as it eventually leads to the discovery of the saddle cloth.  Those twists and turns keep viewers wondering right up to the eventual discovery if it will turn up.  Again, it is just one more example of why the episodes’ stories are so important to the season’s overall presentation.  The story of a flag brought to the ice after the famed “miracle on ice” Olympic matchup between the U.S. and Russia, the location of an NFL Champion’s ring and that of a famed basketball are a few more examples of why this season’s stories are just as important to discuss as the sports that are covered in examining the season’s overall presentation.  As important as the stories presented in these episodes are to the season’s overall presentation, they are not the last of its important elements.  The transitions used in the two-part episodes are important to note, too.

The sports and stories presented throughout the first season of Smithsonian Channel’s Sports Detectives are both key elements to discuss in examining the season’s overall presentation.  They are not its only key elements to examine either.  The transitions that are used in the season’s two-part episodes are important in their own right to the season’s presentation.  The transitions used in said episodes are so important because they are so smooth. The case of the missing NFL Championship ring and the missing “Immaculate Reception” is a prime example of that statement.  Those behind the lens picked all of the right moments to connect one story to the other, thus keeping the story moving.  It is clear in watching the episode that the choices were made not only through the discussions but also through the shots.  This same approach was used in the episode focusing on Dale Earnhardt’s K-2 Ford and Secretariat’s saddle cloth and in the episode focusing on Lou Gehrig’s baseball bat and Kirk Gibson’s home run ball.  Those smart transitions will certainly keep audiences just as engaged as the stories themselves.  That is because they enhance the stories, thus making them all the more engaging.  When this element is set alongside the show’s actual stories and the sports that are featured, the whole of the elements makes this season of Sports Detectives a win for sports buffs of all ages and tastes.

Sports Detectives: Season One is a winning start for Smithsonian Channel’s new sports-based series.  That is due, as already discussed, to the diversity of sports featured in the season’s two discs and 300 minutes.  The stories at the center of each episode are just as important to discuss as the featured sports.  The transitions that are used in each episode (or more specifically, the editing in general) is the finishing touch to the season’s presentation.  Of course one could also argue the interviews, footage and pictures used in each story are important in their own right, too.  Those who point out those elements would be right, too.  All things considered, the debut season of Sports Detectives leaves no mystery why it is a winning presentation.  It is available now and can be ordered online via PBS’ online store.  More information on Sports Detectives and other Smithsonian Channel series is available online now at:










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Presenters, Attendees Announced For 2016 ESPYS Broadcast

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Next Wednesday night is the biggest night of the year for the sports world.  That is when ESPN hands out its annual sports awards, the ESPYS.  It was previously announced that WWE Superstar John Cena will serve as host of this year’s gala.  And now more information has finally been revealed about the big show.

Organizers with The ESPYS have finally made official the early list of presenters and attendees for this year’s ESPYS broadcast.  The presenters scheduled to appear at this year’s awards broadcast is (in alphabetical order): Chris Berman (ESPN Sportscaster), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors),Skylar Diggins (Dallas Wings), Lisa Leslie (retired WNBA player), David Oyelowo (Queen of Katwe), Usher Raymond IV (Hands of Stone) Lindsey Vonn (American World Skier), Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls), JJ Watt (Houston Texans) and Zendaya, among others.

The celebrities and athletes that are currently expected to appear at the ESPYS includes but is not limited to: Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Kobe Bryant (retired NBA player), Eric Hosmer (Kansas City Royals), Kerri Walsh Jennings (professional beach volleyball player), DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers), Sydney Leroux (FC Kansas City), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Peyton Manning(retired NFL player), Von Miller (Denver Broncos), Danica Patrick (NASCAR driver), JR Smith (Cleveland Cavaliers), Abby Wambach(retired professional soccer player).

Along with all of the regular awards and other happenings, there will also be a very special tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who just recently passed away.  NBA legend and NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Adbul-Jabar will be part of the tribute.  Crown and the M.O.B. will be the house band for the length of the broadcast.  There will also be a special performance by Andra Day.

The ESPYS will air next Wednesday night on ABC at 8pm ET.  It marks the second consecutive year that the annual awards gala has been held on ABC.  It will be televised live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  More information about this year’s ESPYS broadcast is available online at:









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ESPN, Grantland Premiere New 30 For 30 Short

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN


ESPN and Grantland have premiered the latest in the network’s 30 for 30 shorts series.  Ali: The Mission can be viewed online now at  The short, which is narrated by music star John Legend, follows boxer Muhammad Ali’s 1990 mission to free hostages being held in Iraq.  Ali’s mission in question took him to Iraq and a face to face meeting with then dictator Saddam Hussein.  Ali met with Hussein to try and negotiate the release of Americans who had been taken hostage after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  The hostages in question were being used as “human shields” to try and prevent American forces from striking the region.  Ali’s mission was a success, bringing home a total of fifteen hostages.  And six weeks afterwards, the U.S. embarked on Operation Desert Storm on January 16th, 1991. 

When asked about Ali and narrating this latest short, Legend said, “There are so many stories and myths out there about The Greatest, but this one struck a personal chord with me as I don’t know that people today are even aware of Ali’s immense philanthropic work or this specific mission to Iraq before Desert Storm began.”  He went on to share his thoughts on being part of ESPN’s latest project saying, “Entertainers and athletes are often blessed with a platform from which to improve the world, and it was an honor for me to be the voice of this film showcasing the incredible journey Ali made that changed the lives of these hostages forever.”

The new short was directed by Amani Martin (Benji, HBO’s Brooklyn Dodgers, The Ghosts of Flatbush).  It features interviews with and stories from the hostages themselves.  The individuals in question will share their stories and reactions to everything that unfolded through Ali’s negotiations with Hussein.  It can be viewed at now at or at ESPN online at

To keep up with all the latest news on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, fans can go online to and

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