Legend vs. Legend: FanSince09 Interviews The Iron Sheik

Legend vs. Legend: FanSince09 Interviews The Iron Sheik

I love The Iron Sheik, and so do you.

Don’t even try to deny it.

If you were male and were born at any point during the 80s, you watched wrestling. No matter how sophisticated you like to think you are, you watched wrestling. Every Saturday, you tuned in for an hour of WWF Superstars. If you were allowed to stay up, you probably also watched Saturday Night’s Main Event. You bought all the merchandise. You had the magazines and posters. You most likely knocked a friend out cold by hitting him with one of those old school 8’ JLN action figures made out of solid, heavy rubber. And every few months, you’d go to the Spectrum for a House Show.

Before Monday Night RAW and monthly pay per views, the house show was king.  Title changes would rarely happen, but arenas would go nuts for the chance to see wrestling’s biggest names wrestle to count outs, no decisions and double disqualifications. We would go nuts for heroes like Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant, but secretly, we were there to see the heels. We wanted to see the bad guys get the crowd fired up.  And in my opinion, which is always correct, there was no better wrestling heel than The Iron Sheik.

Waving the Iranian Flag and often accompanied by his Soviet partner, Nikolai Volkoff, Iron Sheik would infuriate crowds by demanding they stand for the Iranian (or Soviet) national anthem, followed by a declaration “Iran Number One!” and spitting on America. In the post- Iran Contra Reagan era, this was red meat to fans looking for someone to hate.

Fast-forward 30 years.  Long retired from wrestling, The Iron Sheik has reestablished himself as a more than a wrestling superstar; he’s evolved into a full-fledged Social Media Brand.  Instead of pissing off arenas full of fans, Sheik is now famous for calling out celebrities and giving his daily thoughts on sporting events, politics and life.  Kids who loved to hate him are now adults who can’t wait to see what he’ll say next.

Even a legendary WWE Champion needs some additional exposure and knowing that I’m the voice of our Fanbase, Sheik and his representatives reached out for an interview: legend on legend.  Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to ask the hard hitting questions that the Philadelphia fanbase demands.

Sheikybaby’s answers are in caps, per his request.

FanSince09: Growing up, I used to go to WWF house shows at the Philadelphia Spectrum, where you had many great matches.  Do you have any special memories of matches or moments you had in Philadelphia?

The Iron Sheik: I REMEMBER I WORK WITH THE SLAUGHTER IN THE SPECTRUM. WE MAKE A LOT OF NOISE AND STEAL THE SHOW. I WAS HOTTEST THING IN THE BUSINESS. ALSO I REMMEBER I ONCE BREAK THE BACK OF THE JABRONI TITO SANTANA

Philadelphia was the home of ECW, which pioneered the hardcore style of wrestling.  What are you feelings about ECW? Do you feel Extreme/Hardcore wrestling has helped or hurt the business?

THEY TRY HARD THE INTELLIGENT JEW MY GOOD FRIEND THE PAULY VERY SMART HE MAKE GOOD BUSINESS. BUT YOU SEE ONLY ONE EMPEROR OF ROME ONLY ONE KENNEDY MCMAHON. NOBODY MORE INTELLIGENT THAN MY #1 BOSS AND THE WWF OR WWE.

You were the greatest heel of all time.  Now that wrestling has moved away from colorful characters and gimmicks, do you think there will ever be a heel as hated as you were?  Who do you think is the best heel working today?

ONLY ONE IRON SHEIK ONLY ONE MUHAMMED ALI ONLY ONE MICHAEL JACKSON. MY TIME I MOST BELIEVABLE BECAUSE OF THE HOSTAGE SITUATION. YOU CANNOT TRY TO DO SAME THING AGAIN AND ALL TV NOT SURE WRESTLING CHANGE. TODAY I LOVE THE BROCK LESNAR I LOVE THE CM PUNK. THEY LOVE THE BUSINESS AND RESPECT THE LEGEND

The Philadelphia 76ers recently drafted Arsalan Kazemi, their first Iranian born player.   What advice would you give him about being an Iranian sports star playing in the US?

OH BUBBA YOU ASK EXCELLENT QUESTION. THE ARSALAN GOOD ATHLETE AND HE FROM THE IRAN MY FIRST HOME. I HOPE HE WORK HARD HE TRAIN HE BECOME ONE DAY IRON SHEIK CLASS. HE NEED TO SHOW ME THAT HE READY SO I CAN RESPECT HIM.

Which is your favorite Rocky movie?  If you were cast as Rocky's opponent, would you have put Rocky over? 

BUBBA I LOVE THE ROCKY LIKE I LOVE MY GOOD FRIEND THE ROCK. ALL THE MOVIE GOOD BECAUSE THEY FIGHT WITH THE HEART LIKE THE LEGEND

There is actually a statue of Rocky at the Philadelphia Art Museum.  If someone made an Iron Sheik jawn, where would it be? 

HAHA, BUBBA MY STATUE BE EVERYWHERE. BECAUSE I HAVE MY FANS IN EVERY CITY COAST TO COAST THEY KNOW ABOUT THE LEGEND. I LOVE THEM FOREVER BECAUSE THEY RESPECT ME.

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776.   Which founding father do you think would make the best wrestler?  I’d go with Ben “The Body” Franklin.

HE GOOD GIMMICK MAN HE KNOW HOW TO TALK LIKE THE JESSE VENTURA. THEY KNOW ABOUT BUSINESS AND HOW TO MAKE THE PEOPLE LOVE THEM.

Do you like Philly Cheesesteaks?  Whiz, Provo, Swis or American?

OH I LOVE THAT SANDWHICH. I GET ONE WITH THE NASTY BOYS THEY SHOW ME. AMERICAN CHEESE MAKE ME HAPPY

Smh. Provo or Whiz were the only acceptable answers. I’ll let that slide, since it’s still better than Ben Revere’s first steak.

So Ock, besides wrestling, do you follow any other sports?  Are you a fan of any of the Philly teams?

I LOVE ALL THE SPORTS. I LOVE THE BASKETBALL THE PHILADEPLHIA PLAYER THE SPENCER HAWES HE RESPECT ME AND I LOVE HIM FOREVER. I LOVE THE FOOTBALL AND THE HOCKEY.

Lighting Round:  I’m going to list the name of some prominent Philadelphia entertainers and athletes, and you tell me whether or not they’re The Real.  

Boys II Men

HALF AND HALF

Will Smith

THE REAL

Roy Halladay

THE REAL

Donovan McNabb

THE VIRGIL

Coal Hammels

HE NO GOOD JABRONI PUNK. I DON’T LIKE HIM I DON’T RESPECT HIM BECAUSE HE THINK HE BIG DEAL I CAN BREAK HIS NECK PUT HIM IN CAMEL CLUTCH MAKE HIM HUMBLE.  F THE COAL HAMMELS

OK, that was the greatest moment in the history of our great sport and probably the highlight of my life.

Now, some readers may not know this:  You’ve taken to IndieGogo to fundraise for a documentary about your life.  What’s your goal with releasing the documentary?   

I WORK WITH MY AGENTS TO I PUT TOGETHER MY LIFE MOVIE. THIS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME BECAUSE THE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ALL ABOUT IRON SHEIK. THEY KNOW ONLY WRESTILNG SIDE. THIS WAY NO MY TIME TO LET THE PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THE LEGEND

You've raised a nice chunk of change so far, how does it make you feel to see so many wrestling fans that want to give back to you?

OH EXCELLENT. I LOVE MY WRESTLING FANS I LOVE MY TWITTER FANS. THEY SUPPORT ME AND THEY LET ME SPEAK WITH THE HEART. THIS WAY NOW MY TIME TO SHARE WITH THEM AND RESPECT THEM IRON SHEIK CLASS

The wrestling industry doesn't provide a lot of help or support for wrestlers once their career ends, do you think fundraising projects like this are a good way to help former wrestling superstars get by?

BUBBA, WRESTLING TOUGHEST SPORT. WE ON THE ROAD 300 DAY A YEAR WE HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELF ONLY WAY TO SAVE. NO TIME OFF BECAUSE YOU GET HURT YOU LOSE YOUR JOB. THIS WAY VERY DIFFICULT. I THINK ALL THE WORKERS NEED TO BE SMART THEY KNOW ONE DAY THEY HAVE TO BE SMART. NOW I HOPE THE FANS REMEMBER ME AND THEY HELP ME SO I DON’T BE FORGOTTEN.

What's next for you after the documentary?  

WE SEE WHAT HAPPEN BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE CALL THEY WANT TO WORK WITH THE LEGEND BUT I NOT IN GOOD SHAPE I NEED TO GET BETTER SO THE PEOPLE CAN SEE MORE OF THE IRON SHEIK

Everyone knows I'm a legend on twitter, but am I Iron Sheik class yet?  If not, how can I put myself over?

BUBBA YOU ARE A LEGEND BECAUSE YOU RESPECT THE LEGEND. THAT IS THE #1 RULE. AFTER THAT YOU RESPECT YOURSELF YOU ALWAYS BE HUMBLE YOU ALWAYS SHOW THE PEOPLE YOU ARE THE REAL. THIS WAY YOU BECOME #1. IF YOU DON’T YOU ARE BIG TIME JABRONI DON’T WASTE MY TIME

You can help finance The Iranian Legend: The Iron Sheik Story by donating here.

The Sheik is offering a variety of perks, but more importantly, the funds raised will allow Sheik to have ankle and knee surgery that will allow The Sheik to get back on his feet and pursue career opportunities.

Thanks to Magen Boys Entertainment for giving Sheik the chance to be interviewed by the voice of Philadelphia.   My inner 8 year old is marking out.

Previously: FanSince09's Lunch with Sixers CEO Adam Aron: A Troll's Remorse

You can follow FanSince09 on Twitter here. Photoshops by @_magowan, @ThePhilaPanda and @ZooWithRoy

Sixers' future payroll: Flexibility, Robert Covington prioritized over Nerlens Noel

Sixers' future payroll: Flexibility, Robert Covington prioritized over Nerlens Noel

As the Sixers were expending all of their energy Monday night trying to stay with the 50-9 Warriors, Nerlens Noel was down in Dallas contributing to a Mavericks win, their second in a row since acquiring him at the trade deadline.

In two games off the bench for the Mavs, Noel has played a combined 55 minutes, scored 15 points with 16 rebounds, two steals and two blocks, made 6 of 11 buckets and 3 of 4 free throws.

He's played crucial minutes down the stretch in both games for Dallas, helping them at the defensive end even on plays in which he doesn't affect a shot. His length, activity and paint-roaming ability is why the Mavs traded Justin Anderson and two second-round picks for a half-season of Noel and his restricted free-agent match rights this summer.

The Noel trade has already been analyzed to death at this point, so this won't be another examination of whether the Sixers got enough in return or what they should have done.

Since the trade was clearly about the contract Noel will receive this summer and the Sixers' unwillingness to allocate so much money to the center position, let's take a look at the Sixers' finances moving forward.

Next season's payroll
The NBA salary cap spiked to $94 million last offseason and is expected to take a smaller jump to about $100 million this summer.

As of now, the Sixers have $48,077,210 committed to the 2017-18 payroll.

* Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson are due $9 million each.

* Ben Simmons will make just under $6.2 million, and Joel Embiid will make $6.1 million.

* Jahlil Okafor is owed just under $5 million, Nik Stauskas $3.8 million, and Dario Saric $2.4 million.

* Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes and T.J. McConnell will all make between $1 million and $1.6 million.

* And the Sixers will pay $500,000 of dead money to Tibor Pleiss, who they immediately waived after acquiring from the Jazz last August for Kendall Marshall and a swap of second-round picks.

That leaves the Sixers with $52 million to spend.

How will they spend it?
Based on recent history, don't expect the Sixers to spend every last dollar in the offseason. They are focused on improving the team while not crippling its future, and Bryan Colangelo accomplished that goal somewhat this season by signing Henderson and acquiring Ersan Ilyasova early in the season.

The Bayless signing did not work out this year -- he's out for the season with a wrist injury -- but he's on the books the next two years at $9 million a pop.

Expect to see those kinds of moves made by the Sixers, unless they're able to identify a free agent young enough, good enough, and enough of a fit to sign to a long-term deal.

Guys who might potentially fit that description?

* Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Pistons
* Otto Porter of the Wizards
* Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Hawks
* Ian Clark of the Warriors
* Jrue Holiday of the Pelicans
* Jeff Teague of the Pacers (maybe)

Clark, Holiday and Teague are unrestricted free agents; the others are restricted. So if the Sixers were to offer KCP or Porter $80 million over four years, the Pistons and Wizards would have the opportunity to match. If they do, the Sixers wouldn't get them.

Of course, those teams would have to have enough money to re-sign them. That's where the Sixers' ample payroll space comes into play.

KCP and Porter seem like locks to get max contracts in the $20 million-plus per year range. Holiday and Teague may or may not get that much; it will be determined by how the point-guard market plays out.

Clark and Hardaway Jr. would require lesser commitments because they're currently role players with the potential to grow into more.

Joel Embiid's inevitable extension
The Sixers are going to need to max out Embiid in the near future. Although he's played only 31 games in three NBA seasons, those three years count contractually.

The last guaranteed year of Embiid's rookie contract is next season. After that, he's a lock to make $25 million per year, provided he's healthy. 

In similar positions, C.J. McCollum got $106 million over four years from the Blazers, and Hassan Whiteside got $98 million over four years from the Heat.

The Sixers could sign Embiid to such an extension before Oct. 31, 2017, but it wouldn't go into effect until the 2018-19 season. 

Looking ahead to 2018-19
Two seasons from right now.

The eventual Embiid max contract will not cripple the Sixers financially. They'll still have a lot of wiggle room.

Why? Because of how few long-term commitments they have. 

For example, Henderson makes $9 million next season but is then a free agent. So if Embiid gets $25 million per year, the net is $16 million of additional payroll once you account for Henderson's expiring deal.

If the Sixers trade Jahlil Okafor between now and 2018, that would trim $6.3 million more from their 2018-19 payroll.

So, looking ahead to 2018-19, the Sixers would have $55 million committed to Embiid (max deal), Bayless, Simmons, Okafor, Saric, Anderson, TLC, Holmes and McConnell.

Missing from that equation is Covington, who will be an unrestricted free agent that summer. If Covington keeps playing like he has, racking up steals, hitting threes, improving in the lane and defending the best perimeter player every night, he's going to be in line for a contract in the $15 million per year range.

So, for the sake of logic, let's add Covington's $15 million to that 2018-19 payroll and subtract Okafor's. That would put the Sixers at about $64 million of payroll commitments two years from now, leaving them around $36 million to $40 million of cap space to sign free agents.

In 2018, the Sixers theoretically will be closer to actually contending, and free agents will be more realistic and meaningful. 

This is why the Sixers traded Ilyasova, for example. He's a free agent this summer and could command an annual salary in the $12M to $15M range given the scarcity of available stretch-fours. If the Sixers kept him and re-signed him, they might not have enough money down the road to pay Covington, a younger and more important player.

That 2018 free-agent class is not extremely appealing -- it's highlighted by Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, Chris Paul, Paul Millsap, Greg Monroe, Derrick Favors, Avery Bradley and C.J. Miles.

A few of those guys, like Thomas, won't even reach free agency -- they'll be extended ahead of it.

Mentioning that only to point out that the Sixers' options in free agency this summer might be better than their options next summer.

So ... did they need to trade Noel?
Some think Noel is going to get $20 million per year in free agency. 

I personally think his contract will be more in the $17 million per year range, a figure in between the annual average salaries for Timofey Mozgov ($16M), Tristan Thompson ($16.4M), Joakim Noah ($18M) and Ryan Anderson ($20M).

In any event, it's going to be a pricey contract for Noel.

So, how would a contract of say, four years, $68 million for Noel have affected the future payroll numbers laid out above?

It would mean that with Embiid's max deal, with Covington re-signed to a higher number, with Noel here and with Okafor traded, the Sixers would have around $79 million committed to payroll, leaving them about $20 million free to spend.

That would be enough for one really good-but-not-great player. Or they could try to creatively move a few contracts and line themselves up for a great player. 

But consider then that in 2018-19, Ben Simmons will be in the position Embiid is in now. Simmons would be in the third year of his rookie deal and eligible for a max extension before Oct. 31 of that year.

The numbers just do not add up.

I hated the Noel trade because I thought they should have gotten more, but dealing him did indeed make financial sense.

If the Sixers chose to keep Noel and re-sign him, they could have had a 2018-19 core of: Embiid, Simmons, Saric, Noel, Covington, Holmes, McConnell, TLC, and either a few mid-tier free agents or one star.

That could be a solid core if everyone continues developing at their own rate and if Embiid and Simmons can stay on the court ... but the Sixers wouldn't have many options. The goal is a championship and that probably isn't a championship core.

The $17 million or so of savings from not keeping Noel will be very important then. 

In a way, the Sixers essentially chose Covington over Noel.

Rating the Rumor: Eagles 'In on' Alshon Jeffery

Rating the Rumor: Eagles 'In on' Alshon Jeffery

Ian Rapoport for the NFL Network reports the Chicago Bears are not expected to place the franchise tag on free-agent wide receiver Alshon Jeffery before the March 1 deadline. Meanwhile, league sources previously told Jason La Canfora for CBS Sports that they “anticipate” the Eagles “being in on” Jeffery should the 2013 Pro Bowler become accessible.

Put two and two together, and there are folks around the NFL who believe the Eagles will pursue Jeffery when free agency opens on March 9.

Yet while receiver is one of the Eagles’ two greatest needs this offseason, whether they should make a run at Jeffery and whether they can afford him might be two different answers. Getting another weapon for Carson Wentz seems like it will be the top priority in free agency, but doing so will not be cheap, and the club is up against the salary cap.

There’s little doubt the Eagles will reach out to Jeffery. Aside from the organization being known for always doing its due diligence with players, the 27-year-old is hands down the best option on the market. Over the 2013 and ’14 seasons, Jeffery averaged 87 receptions, 1,277 yards and 8.5 touchdowns per year. He’s dealt with injuries and a terrible supporting cast in the two years since, yet still managed to go over 800 yards receiving in each.

Jeffery has some baggage, specifically the four-game suspension for violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy in 2016. Despite everything, only nine active players are averaging more than his 72.2 yards per game, and only 10 better than 15.0 yards per reception. The talent is undeniable, and with a quarterback of Wentz’s caliber throwing him the football, the sky is the limit.

The Eagles absolutely should pursue Jeffery. Actually signing him is where this begins to get tricky.

For starters, the Eagles are currently sitting at an estimated $9.69 million under the cap, according to OverTheCap.com. Only three teams are in worse shape. There may be more moves to free up space in the coming days, which will help, although even if they get that figure closer to $25 million through a series of trades and releases, the numbers are tight.

Jeffery collected $14.6 million under the franchise tag in ’16, and while he might not see quite that much annually on his next contract, it’s not out of line with expectations. Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are all making $14 million or more per season. Jeffery may not have the body of work of those players, but as the top receiver available, the market will value him and be willing to pay as such.

That $25 million the Eagles can theoretically free up might be the best case scenario. It likely won’t be that, which means signing Jeffery would take up practically all of their cap space for ’17. Obviously, there are ways to structure a contract to push money into future years, and the case could be made the Eagles don’t need to sign any other free agents.

No matter how you slice it, there are some logistical concerns here. Until the Eagles shed some of those contracts and we can see what they’re working with, it’s difficult to envision how they win a bidding war against suitors with upwards of $50, $60, even $70 million to spend.

It’s not so much a question of interest for the Eagles. It’s whether or not signing Jeffery is realistic in the first place.

Rating the Rumor: We’ll see