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OTL: The Legend of Ken Mink

Updated: March 19, 2009, 2:59 PM ET
By Wright Thompson
HARRIMAN, Tenn. -- After watching and reading about the legend of Ken Mink again and again, and after getting inside of it myself for months, it should make sense to me. I should know who he is. Only it doesn't and I don't.

I do, however, know the story of its creation by heart: five decades after being kicked out of school and off his team for a prank he did not commit, a 73-year-old former junior college basketball player decides to rewrite his own history. After a few days of nailing shots on his neighbor's driveway goal, he e-mails a bunch of Knoxville-area coaches. One of them, Randy Nesbit of Roane State, loves dreamers and offers the old man a second chance. In the home opener, the victory secure, Nesbit puts Ken into the game. That's when it happens, the Big Bang moment. In the months that follow, Nesbit and Ken and everyone else will tell this story over and over, first to local reporters, then to Conan and Regis, CNN and CBS, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times, polishing it until Ken Mink the Phenomenon comes to have little in common with Ken Mink the Man.

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