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Behind the Lines: Emanuel "Tiki" Mayben



As the gym cleared out Sunday night at Christian Brother’s Academy, another weekend series came to a close. Fans filed out, Players from both teams walked silently to the locker room and the lights dimmed on the Albany Legends home court. But as the weekend capped a series sweep by the Legends over the visiting Oregon Waves it also highlighted something else. A progression.

Emanuel Mayben started off his 2011 campaign with the Albany Legends in a state of flux. As the team struggled in it’s first few games to find it’s identity, no one player seemed to be in flux more than Mayben. An obviously gifted player with a bevy of skills that can instantly improve any roster in the IBL. But a player that seemed more concerned with proving his offensive dominance than letting the game come to him.

The Legends opened the season with a weekend series against the Kankakee Soldiers. Although the Legends won the weekend series 2-1 the one glaring absence was not only a 3rd win in that series, but the diminished playing time of Mayben.

Was this a message by Coach Ben Smith? Was this an attempt to right the ship with Mayben?

The answers to those questions are locked behind the doors in the Legends locker room and perhaps only Coach Ben Smith and Mayben know the answer. But now matter the reasoning, “the benching” had an effect.

While most players today would have sulked and become disgruntled, Mayben emerged with new focus. He emerged with a determination to make the changes himself.

There was never a question about Mayben’s scoring ability. But in the first few games of the season one could easily question his shot selection. As the Gary Splash came into town last weekend for a 3 game set Mayben started his progression. A mere two weeks after his benching Mayben showed a clear effort in moving the ball. He let his natural court vision take over. His shot selection improved, his control of the offense became more calm and Mayben started to shake off the early season frustrations.

Although the Legends weekend series record did not change (They went 2-1 against the Splash) there certainly was a bounty of change that was evident in that series. Mayben’s assists were up, shooting percentage improved and most of all he seemed to be becoming more comfortable with the offense and his role in it.

It was never a doubt in Coach Ben Smith’s mind that Mayben had the tools to be special. “Immediately from the get go he had the best vision with the ball in his hands. Tiki can do everything as a point guard. He’s going to be the one to give up the ball more often than not as opposed to trying to score”

With the faith of his Head Coach and plenty of Legends fans as well, Tiki built on a promising showing against the Gary Splash when the Oregon Waves came into town.

Mayben’s jersey says #8 on the back but there was a different #8 in uniform against the Waves. A player that we saw breaking through in the Splash series. A player no longer finding his way on the court but letting his natural ability take over without forcing or rushing it.

A few weeks ago we would have seen a frustrated Mayben forcing up shots and trying too hard to create something on the court. Not anymore.

In each game of the series Mayben let the offense flow, his shots come to him and involved other Legends unselfishly. In a league where players dream of the “next level” and many of which play in a manner that can at times be “me first”, Mayben showed professionalism, maturity and above all clear “Next Level” Talent.

“It seems like every game my teammates ask more of me and want me to bring more to the table” Mayben said. “They see how I can facilitate and set the offense up for everyone else. It felt good to let it go a little bit”.

Moving forward Mayben plans to continue to evolve and give the Legends what they need from him to win. He also understands the journey he has taken this season. “In the beginning I was coming off the bench to provide scoring. When Coach switched the lineup and gave me the starts so I could be the facilitator. I always feel like I can get mine when I wanted it, so scoring for me is not an issue.”

As far as the rest of the season goes Mayben admits he still has work to do. “I want to cut down on the turnovers. I’m not taking as many chances as I used to but I realize that sometimes I see things before my teammates do. So instead of trying to thread the needle so much I have to become more efficient”.

As the Legends continue their journey in the 2011 season it’s assured that there will be many trials and tribulations. Frustrations and growth. But as the journey continues we can count on one constant from here on out. Tiki Mayben may not flood the highlight reels on a nightly basis and he may not take over the League Leaders in scoring. But Tiki Mayben will be evolving into a true Floor General every game.

In a league of talented scorers and stat fillers, Mayben shows us that unique talent such as his is the true definition of “Elite Play” and as the old saying goes “the stuff Legends are made of”.

Be sure to become a fan of the Legends – Click Here




Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media and DiMoro Enterprises LLC. He is a former Contributor for Forbes and the Huffington Post where he covered sports, social media, and SEO. Anthony hosts the Anthony DiMoro Show podcast, and formerly hosted the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast'.

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25th Annual Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night, A Charity Knockout Event



Photo Credit: Monica Alvarez

The stars came out last night to give, show support, perform, and to continue to raise money and awareness in hopes of one day find a cure to knockout Parkinson’s disease.

Going back to year number 1, The first ever event was held at the Ritz-Carlton operated on a much smaller scale than today, which is now held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

At the very first Celebrity Fight Night With the help of Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, and the valley of the sun’s very own Louie Espinoza, Tony Baltazar, and boxing champion Michael Carbajal who by the way fought in the ring with over sized boxing gloves.

The ”Puttin on the Fists at The Ritz” first Celebrity Fight Night scored a knockout win and is STILL punching on through today for the Greatest Of All Time, The late great Muhammad Ali.

Last night I was honored to attend and speak to a few of the stars, one was NFL legendary kicker Nick Lowery, Mr. Lowery now spends most of his time at charitable endeavors and advocating for alternative medicine research and is also a spokesman for Kannalife, Inc to raise awareness for CTE and players safety in hopes of one day having intercellular “helmets,” like Kannalife’s CBD and KLS-13019, is so important to potentially treat the brain.

I asked Lowery what is his favorite Ali memory, and Lowery’s response: ” Taking Ali to the NBA All-Star game one year as we sat behind Jay-Z and Beyonce and watching Beyonce wave to Ali, Beyonce spoke to us, she is the sweetest person. Also taking Ali to the locker rooms and watching Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and all the other all stars turn into children at the sight of seeing their hero the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali walk through the doors, what an experience that was.”

In asking the very same question to R&B Singer Brian McKnight, ”I have so many Ali memories but my favorite was watching Ali knockout George Foreman at home with my dad. The odds were against Ali and Ali being the great fighter that he was he beat the odds and stopped a much younger powerful puncher in Foreman. You know, I am still a big boxing fan today, I enjoy watching Tyson Fury out of the current heavyweights.”

And what did legendary former champion boxer, Micheal Carbajal have to say? ”It’s truly an honor to attend this great event, at the very first one proceeds went to my 9th street boxing gym and now 24 years later it’s still going strong, a great charity”. Mr. Carbajal went on to talk some boxing with me,

Carbajal- ” You see Spence/Garcia?”

Me- ” Yes, it was brutal, what did you think?”

Carbajal- ” Not good for Mikey Garcia at all, but he is still my favorite current boxer, and he beats everybody at 135 pounds if he can make the weight there. Mikey would knockout Lomachenko in 4 rounds at 135.”

Me- ”Wow, you really think that? Both are great technical boxers but I can’t see a 4 round fight between them, so you really think it would only take Mikey 4 rounds to stop Lomachenko?”

Carbajal- ” I KNOW so!”

Special honorees for the evening include fabled American music producer and 27-time Grammy Award-winner Quincy Jones, Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the medical director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute and Renee Parsons of the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

“For 25 years, we’ve treated Celebrity Fight Night audiences to the world’s greatest entertainers and this year will be no different as we welcome Barry Manilow,” said Jimmy Walker, Founder of Celebrity Fight Night. “With the help of our celebrity friends and incredibly generous donors, we are once again excited to raise millions of dollars and make a difference in the lives of those who need our support.”

Individual tickets for Celebrity Fight Night start at $1,500 – $10,000.  To purchase tickets or to get more information on the event, please visit, or call (602) 956-1121.

About Celebrity Fight Night
Celebrity Fight Night has gifted more than $86 million over the past 24 years benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as several other worthy charities.

The black-tie event features a cocktail reception, silent auction, elegant dinner, and an exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items and experiences. Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 by Jimmy Walker and supports the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. For more information,

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Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23



Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.

“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”

Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.

Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”

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Kansas City Chiefs

Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl



It’s Championship Sunday and one of the NFL staples remain atop the league. The New England Patriots are appearing in their record 8th AFC title game in hopes of competing for a sixth title.

A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.

Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic ,  As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.

The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.

In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”.  Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?

I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.

Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.

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