The Most Memorable Sports Story I’ve Ever Seen

A good sports story is supposed to draw emotion out of the viewer. You need to make the audience attach to those involved, and give them a reason to care. That’s what makes a story memorable. It’s not always easy to make an everyday sporting event unforgettable, but sometimes the circumstances come together for an incredible story. I’ve watched a lot of sports stories over the years (and I’ve even put more than a few together myself) that just didn’t grab me. But, others have left a mark. There’s one story in particular about Louis Mulkey and the Summerville High School basketball team that I’ll never forget.

I saw this story when it was first aired on ESPN’s Outside the Lines four years ago. I’ve thought about it hundreds of times since (including recently, which reminded me to share this with you). I’m not going to bore you with anymore of my words, instead I’m going to let you watch the story. The two parts are about 14 minutes combined, but — trust me — it’s worth every second.

I can’t explain why this story (more than any other story I’ve seen) left such a mark on me. Maybe it’s Louis Mulkey’s dying words to his wife, “I love you.” Maybe it’s the amazing last-second three-quarter court buzzer-beater that dashed the Summerville basketball team’s hopes and dreams. Or, maybe it’s the fact that everything Louis Mulkey predicted years before, and everything the team fought for as a tribute comes true in the end. The story literally takes you from tears of sadness to tears of joy within a matter of minutes. It has a spot with me forever — and it drives me to tell great stories on television every day.

I hope you enjoyed the story of Louis Mulkey and the Summerville basketball team as much as I do. I’d love to hear from you about it. Leave a message below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out more great sports coverage on

The Joys And Pains Of Covering The Olympics

My name is Tim Lewis and I love the Olympics. I’m not afraid to admit it. I don’t care if it’s the summer or winter games; the Olympics grab my attention for two weeks every four years — and they refuse to let go. The competition, the athletes, the stories, the emotion — I love it all. The Olympics are what sports should really be about.

Tim Lewis KOMO In London

Me in front of an Olympic countdown clock in London

The Olympics do what most sporting events can’t — they flow out of the sports world into normal society. Take my mom for example: she won’t sit around watching Major League Baseball, but she’ll watch Olympic diving. If I say the name Albert Pujols in front of her, she thinks I’m making up some childish name; if I bring up Michael Phelps, she knows exactly who I’m talking about. The Olympics just seem to bring everyone, from all walks of life, and from every country, together like no other sporting event can.

My love for the Olympics started when I was a kid. I was absolutely addicted to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. I remember the athletes (speed skater Johann Olav Koss from Norway, figure skater Oksana Bauil from Ukraine, downhill skier Alberto Tomba from Italy, etc.) and the storylines (American speed skater Dan Jansen going for his first gold medal and, of course, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan situation). I watched countless hours of those Olympics, and was truly bummed when they came to an end. The next Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, couldn’t come soon enough.

That was then — this is now. There’s plenty of frustration covering the Olympics. I don’t say this to complain; I only say this to explain what I’m going through. NBC makes it impossible for local news stations to cover the Olympics. They pay a ton of money for the rights to the games, so I understand why they’re so protective. At the same time, NBC severely limits the Olympics’ reach. Ryan Lochte won the 400m individual medley yesterday afternoon (Pacific Time), and thanks to the internet and social media we all knew that right away. NBC didn’t show the race until their primetime coverage, meaning hours and hours and hours later. That just isn’t conducive to society today. Everything is immediate — not tape delayed.

The other thing that stinks about the Olympics is the restrictions on the highlights we can show. I have a sporstscast every night at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. I can’t show any Olympics highlights until NBC’s coverage of the games is done for the day. Their coverage ends at midnight — every single night. That means I can’t show Lochte — or anyone else for that matter — winning a gold medal until the following day. At that point, Lochte’s gold medal is really old news (and chances are he’s already won another medal in a different event by then). That means you won’t see me showing many Olympics highlights, which is unfortunate because these athletes deserve all the attention they can get.

Ariana Kukors From Auburn, Washington

Ariana Kukors (on the right in light blue) at her Olympic sendoff

Unlike professional athletes, Olympians only have a chance to shine every four years. That’s crazy when you think about it, especially when they have such a small window to qualify. Take swimmer Ariana Kukors for example: She made it to the 200m individual medley finals of the US Olympic Swim Trials back in 2008. Only the top two finishers in every swimming final advanced to the Beijing Olympics. Kukors finished third — just eight-hundredths of a second (less than the time it takes the average human to blink) behind the second place finisher. That was her tiny window, and she missed it. Kukors had to wait four long years for another chance. She made the most of her second opportunity though, qualifying for the London Olympics.

Stories like Kukors are what make the Olympics so special. We’re introduced to incredible athletes like American Lopez Lomong. A long-distance runner, Lomong was born in Sudan. At just six-years-old he was abducted by rebels during a brutal civil war in his country. After unspeakable treatment, Lomong eventually escaped from the rebels’ hands and ran for three days through the African wilderness toward safety. After making it to Kenya, Lomong lived in a refugee camp for nearly ten years, making him one of the “Lost Boys of the Sudan.” After writing an essay in 2001 about what he would accomplish if he lived in the United States, Lomong was given a chance to come to America. He became a citizen in 2007, and he’s now competing for the US in the 5000m race in London. How can you not root for this guy?

I won’t be glued to the television over the next two weeks, but I’ll definitely be watching the Olympics. I’m sure there will be several times I’m lured into watching an event I know nothing about like canoe slalom or water polo — it happens every Olympics. I’ll enjoy every second of those obscure events, say to myself “I should watch more of this when the Olympics are over,” never watch those sports after that, get reeled right back in four years later, and then start the cycle all over again. I guess that means I’ll always love the Olympics, but I’m more than OK with that.

Are you a fan of the Olympics? What is your favorite event(s)? Who is your favorite Olympic athlete? I want to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. You can also find me on LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest. In other words, you have no reason not to reach out. Let’s talk about the Olympics!

An Insiders Look At The Ichiro Trade

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know by now that long-time Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the New York Yankees. In a unique set of circumstances, the Yankees were in Seattle at the time of the trade, so Ichiro literally had to walk down the hall of Safeco Field to join his new team. And then, just an hour after he was standing in the Mariners’ clubhouse for the last time, Ichiro was on the field for the Yankees — in front of the fans that rooted him on for nearly 12 seasons.

Ichiro Trade Press Conference

The Seattle Mariners official press conference

I actually learned about the Ichiro trade when I was driving into work. I was originally expecting a fairly easy day at the ballpark, simply previewing the series opener between the Yankees and Mariners, but I quickly realized that wasn’t going to be the case. I walked into the newsroom and there was a definite buzz. Instructions immediately started flying in my direction, and I was quickly on my way to Safeco Field for the Mariners official press conference.

I’ve never seen so much media at Safeco before. Yes, I’m new to Seattle again, but I did an internship with KOMO radio in 2003 when they were the flagship station for the Mariners — I was at every M’s home game and I never witnessed anything like this. The interview room was packed with local, national and international reporters. Ichiro was very stoic (for lack of a better word — maybe straight-faced is better) at first and he sat with perfect posture. He spoke through an interpreter — only addressing the media in Japanese. Ichiro thanked the Seattle fans and said he was overcome with emotion when he thought about wearing the Mariners uniform for the last time. Suzuki requested the trade, something he started thinking about over the All-Star break. After 15 minutes or so, Seattle’s front office left the podium, and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi replaced them. Ichiro seemed to loosen up after that. He spoke louder, smiled and even started cracking jokes. He just seemed really comfortable with his new surroundings.

It’s not often a player in any sport is traded to the opposing team at their home ballpark. Ichiro said goodbye to his old teammates and then was suited up against them just hours later. It was honestly surreal for me to watch Ichiro take the field for the first time in a Yankees uniform (and it was even more unbelievable that it was happening at Safeco Field). He received an ovation from the New York and Seattle fans who were there to watch batting practice. Instead of hanging out with Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley and Chone Figgins, Ichiro was now joking around with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia. It was interesting to see.

The ovations didn’t stop for Ichiro all night. The crowd roared when his name was announced in the Yankees starting lineup (batting eighth, playing right field and wearing the number 31 — he didn’t want to wear 51 to honor former New York Yankees great Bernie Williams), they cheered when he ran onto the field to take his position in the outfield, and they rose to their feet when he made his first plate appearance. Ichiro, appreciating the gesture, stepped out of the box, lifted his cap to the crowd, and then bowed to the fans. It was a very emotional moment for anyone in the dugouts, in attendance at Safeco Field and watching on television. I honestly got chills when the Seattle fans started the famous ”I-chi-ro” chant — even though their former star was now trying to beat their beloved Mariners.

View From Safeco Field Press Box

My view from the Safeco Field press box for Ichiro’s debut as a Yankee

Ichiro finished the night 1-for-4. He got a hit in his first at bat, stole second, and was eventually stranded on base. Suzuki then popped out to second in his second at bat, grounded out to first in his third plate appearance, and then lined out to second in his last at bat. As luck would have it, Ichiro made the final out of the game as Jesus Montero flied to right to secure a 4-1 Yankees victory. Suzuki’s catch capped an all around crazy night at Safeco Field — unlike anything we’ll see again in the near future.

After the game Ichiro told me that it was a “tough day” and he was actually ”nervous” for the his first game as a Yankee. He said that he’s happy the trade is over, and now he can start to focus on baseball again. Alex Rodriguez never played with Ichiro in Seattle, but the two became friends over the years anyway. A-Rod (which is what the name plate says above his locker) called Suzuki a “rock star” and he says this should serve as a huge “shot in the arm for Ichiro.” A fresh start might just be what Ichiro needs too — he was hitting a career low .261 in Seattle this season.

I wasn’t surprised Ichiro was traded to the Yankees (or anyone else for that matter). I was only shocked by what the Mariners got in return for him. Here’s a quick survey — raise your hand if you’d ever heard the names D.J. Mitchell or Danny Farquhar before the Ichiro trade. OK…now raise your hand if you still have no idea who D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar are. Chances are we’ll never know much about either of these guys. Both are 25-year-old right-handed pitchers, and both are currently in AAA. Williams, who’s played all of three games in the big leagues in his career, has a 5.00+ ERA in the minors this season, while Farquhar is now playing for his third team this year. If Mitchell and Farquhar are remembered for anything; chances are they’ll be remembered as “the guys who were traded for Ichiro.”

Tim Lewis Seattle Safeco Field

Working hard at Safeco Field after the Ichiro trade

There’s a part of me that thinks it’s cool the Mariners honored Suzuki’s trade request by sending him to a winner. At 38, Ichiro is getting older, and his window to win a World Series is getting smaller. Suzuki is one of the best players to ever come through Seattle, and he kept the M’s on the baseball map even after several consecutive miserable seasons. He served his time in the Emerald City and it was time for him to move on. I do think it’s interesting that the Mariners just gave Ichiro away though. When I first heard about the deal, I expected to hear that one of New York’s top prospect was heading to Seattle — instead it was two minor league relief pitchers and cash. The M’s literally gave Ichiro away.

Covering the Ichiro trade is a something I’ll never forget. It’s always wild to be thrust into the biggest story in sports. We were all at the center of the baseball world. There’s nothing more thrilling in the television business than a huge, breaking story like this. I was there to experience everything firsthand — from a perspective that hardly anyone else got to. That’s why I feel like I have the best job in the world, and I’m happy to share my “inside” experience with you.

What is your reaction to Ichiro being traded to the New York Yankees? How weird was it to see Ichiro in a different uniform — playing against his old team? I would love to hear from you about this. You can leave a comment below, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. Don’t forget you can find more great sports coverage right now on!