At the age of 73, Ken Mink has a lifetime of memories – many of which he can remember.
However, for a long time to come, Mink will be remembered as the oldest student to play college basketball.
Last year, Mink laced up his sneakers for the Roane State Community College Raiders in Tennessee, playing a total of 15 minutes in seven games. As a Raider he scored a total of five points, which works out to one point for every 14.6 years of his life.
“I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone except myself,” said Mink in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor. “I wanted to replicate a dream that got interrupted.”
Unfortunately for the senior – not college senior but actual senior – he’s been benched after the National Junior College Athletics Association ruled him ineligible to play.
The NJCAA’s ruling was the result of Mink enrolling in a course at another university without receiving permission from Roane. Mink took the course when he realized he might fail Spanish, which he did.
An appeal by Mink and Roane State officials has been denied.
I must admit that I’m a little confused. Since when did US schools start taking an interest in the academic performance of their athletes? Or is it just football players that can coast through prestigious schools because of their ability to run and catch a ball?
Perhaps if the shooting guard broke into double-digits on the scoreboard they’d look the other way. But I digress.
As interesting as this story is, it’s just one on a growing list of chronologically challenged athletes giving those young whippersnappers runs for their money. Through modern medical science, age is becoming less of a factor every year.
Just look at tennis. In 2003 Andre Agassi became the oldest No. 1 ranked ATP player in the sports history at the ripe old age of 32. Or there’s Martina Navratilova who in 2006 made it to the third round of Wimbledon at the age of 49, thereby making her the oldest woman to play professional tennis.
There’s also the Great White Shark of golf, Greg Norman, who made it to the final round of the British Open last year at the age of 53.
Despite having a belly similar to that of Jabba the Hutt, George Foreman became the Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1994 at the age of 45.
And don’t forget seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who at 37 is still one of the best. (Last month he finished seventh in the Tour of California thus proving that winning is not like riding a bicycle.)
For cryin’ out loud, there’s a track star, Oscar Pistorius, with no legs running with the best the world has to offer because of his high-tech prosthetic limbs.
Perhaps it’s for the best that poor old Mink won’t have the chance to carry on to the NBA because he probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with fast pace and high intensity trash talking in the pro-league.
Shaquille O’Neil, 36, another oldtimer of basketball, last Friday scored 45 points against the Toronto Raptors – his highest points gain in six seasons.
When Raptor Chris Bosh criticized the reffing, and in the process O’Neil, the Big Diesel said Bosh was “the RuPaul of big men.” (Which everyone knows is really Dennis Rodman.)
I’m sure Bosh will have some acrid response for Shaq the minute the 24-year-old looks up RuPaul on Wikipedia to find out who the hell he is.
In fact, I’ve got his perfect response here: “Shaq is the Kato Kaelin of basketball.”
Take that ‘90s throwback!
“I’m the only player who looks at each and every centre and says to myself, ‘That’s barbecued chicken down there,’” said O’Neil.
Well, Shaq, give Mink some years of senility and he’ll be saying much crazier things than that.
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