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Stephen Bardo Tells All In "Flyin' Illini"


It's hard to believe 25 years has passed since the University of Illinois men's basketball Final Four team was on the court.  The team known as the Flyin' Illini.  

That's also the name of a book by the former point guard of the team Stephen Bardo, who works now as a Big Ten Network analyst.  And it has ruffled feathers, with criticisms of some players and coaches.

"I didn't want people to go to Google or Wikipedia and find out information that's in the book. I try to do my job in college basketball by telling people something they can't see with their own eyes. And so I took the same approach in writing this book," Bardo said.

That included describing run-ins with fellow teammate Ken Norman and his stormy relationship with coach Lou Henson.

"I wanted to give people a sense that as special as that team was, there were still issues on that team. it wasn't all hunky dory," Bardo said.

"I'm please with the work and I'll let the work speak for itself," he added.

Bardo said most of his teammates have been supportive of him.  As for Henson, Bardo said he has been a "gentleman" to him. "He wasn't please with some of the things that were said, but he's always going to be a gentleman."

Credit Big Ten Network
Stephen Bardo

Bardo also does a lot of motivational speaking, both at the corporate level and to young people. 

"Here in Chicago where I live, the situation for young people, especially kids of color, is dire right now," he said. "So whatever I can do in my corner, I try to do it."

And Bardo weighs in on college athletes and paying them.  " Capitalism is the greatest system on earth.  it works everywhere in the United States except college athletics."

Bardo goes on to say more assistance, such as health care, is needed for athletes after they leave school.  He favors the idea of stipends. 

"We can figure out tremendous things in this country," he stated. "But we get dumb when it comes to college athletics and trying to look out for the welfare of athletes."

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