Upper Deck: Ivan The Terrible Meets The Mavs

In 1533, Ivan Grozny became leader of Russia. He was three years old, and already far more mature than many American reality television stars. Ivan became the first Tsar of Russia, the first Czar of Russia, and the first guy to have trouble spelling the word 'tsar.'

Ivan also garnered some considerable attention because of his interest in sports. Specifically, he was interested in Russian football, goat-herding, wrestling with his sidekick Boris Badenov, and pre-Dallas Mavericks basketball. ... which Russians claim was not invented by Dr. Naismith but instead by Vladimir Naismithov of Moscow in 1490, the same year he simultaneously discovered America.

Ivan was known for three things. First he had a really bad temper. He is rumored to have once killed a man just for answering his cell phone during a movie. It may seem like a heinous act deserving of such punishment, but remember cell phones and movies had not been invented yet.

The second thing Ivan was known for was his interest in architecture. He had St. Basil's Cathedral built in Moscow a cathedral designed by the renowned architect of the time, Postnik Yakovlev. There are many stories that say that Ivan was so pleased with his new cathedral and wanted no others built to rival it, so he blinded the architect. This caused the other architects of the time to only design really ugly looking buildings. The fact is despite the stories, Ivan did not blind Postnik. The full story on this later.

The third thing Ivan was known for was his basketball. And, what he was known for was the fact he was horrible, perhaps the worst player in the history of basketball, dating back to a prehistoric basketball precursor sport called 'Put the Rock in the Cave.

The people of area were of course really into basketball mostly because television had not been invented and it would be several years before a young Simon Cowellovic would introduce "Russian Idol.''

The fact that Ivan was not good at basketball became more and more obvious to the basketball fans of the era, in fact, after a string of eight particularly bad games when Ivan only had more than one basket once, the local fans began to give him the nickname "Ivan the Terrible.''

Ivan, though, would hear none of it, and he insisted there was nothing wrong with his game despite missing shots by 40 feet and on one occasion, throwing the ball out the window of the gym where it was carried away by a flying squirrel named Rocky, resulting in the first cold war with Moose and Squirrel. Ivan claimed that people's negative feelings about him were strange, confusing, and hurtful. All, he wanted was to play the game and be worshipped by reality television fans.

Ivan continued to be really, really bad on the basketball court, and against the rival Irkutsk Lakers he had a game that was so bad that scores of fans including the above mentioned Postnik voluntarily blinded themselves by wearing woolen bags over their head anytime Ivan was in the game.

Over the years, this practice has come to be known by its Russian term as 'Pulling an Odom.'


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