2019 HALL OF FAME NOMINEE: Joe Neuenfeldt
Joe Neuenfeldt, our latest 2019 Hall of Fame nominee, is ripping the Ultimate Hoops Hall of Fame. He’s destroying and mocking all of it: our process, our committee, the 2019 nominees and the entire 2018 class in one of his must-read long-form blogs or his must-see YouTube videos.
At least that’s the movie playing in my head. It’s the perfect script. Somewhere, I hope Joe is reading it.
If I had to create the Mt. Rushmore of UH post-game interview immortals, it would be Neuenfeldt, Isaac Vogel, Reid Nelson and Luke Hanlon. Vogel, Nelson and Hanlon are classically-trained interview artists. Perfect timing, sharp delivery and always well-researched.
A Ultimate Hoops League post-game interview with Neuenfeldt was always more about entertainment, than information. Neuenfeldt blazed a new path of post-game interview style in UH: ask the question everyone wanted answered but was afraid to ask.
If you made a controversial play or were called for a technical in the game, Neuenfeldt would playfully shame you on camera. A few players even refused to enter Neuenfeldt’s on-camera lion’s den after games. Others would simply walk-off camera or cut the interview short if the questions crossed the line.
Neuenfeldt was also a prolific UH blogger. His weekly prediction columns and game recaps were always water-cooler talk the next day at the office. No player or team was off-limits from his ridicule and sharp analysis. If you had a bad game, Neuenfeldt would pounce. No writer in UH history generated more article comments, both good and bad, than Neuenfeldt.
In the early UH days, I was the editor for Joe’s articles before publication on uhlife.com. Some of his articles did cross the line, in my opinion, and I was forced to rewrite paragraphs or omit names. When I did, I heard about it.
TEXT FROM JOE NEUENFELDT: Just read my article online. Are you serious, Alan? You totally ruined it!!!!
It was Neuenfeldt’s style, swagger and passion for UH that elevated Ultimate Hoops Minnesota to its apex in Winter Season 2011. For his second UH act, Neuenfeldt moved to Las Vegas and served as League Coordinator in Summerlin, NV from 2012 to 2015. He built UH Summerlin into one of the largest and most-talked about leagues in the nation.
Each week he applied the post-game interview formula he perfected in Minnesota to his Summerlin league players. Within weeks, Vegas’ Chase Skinkis, and Travis “No Fly Zone” Scribner were UH Nation folk heroes.
Neuenfeldt had found his biggest stage, in the flashiest city in the world.
I hoped The Joe Neuenfeldt UH Show would run as long as other legendary shows in Vegas, like Penn & Teller or Siegfried & Roy. But in 2015, Neuenfeldt performed the ultimate mic drop, walking away from Ultimate Hoops for good, at the height of his powers.
Why did he walk away? I can’t speak for Joe. I think he was ready for a break- possibly a little burned-out? Certainly, he was growing frustrated with the increasing corporate policies and procedures I needed to implement to continue to scale the UH league within Life Time. Joe hated rules. He was about breaking them, which was a big part of his massive appeal.
Every Las Vegas National Tournament since Joe walked away, I hope he will magically appear and reclaim his UH post-game interview throne. I miss him. UH misses him.
I’m thrilled the Hall of Fame committee created a Contributor category to allow Joe and other UH media titans to get their just due. Without our contributors and media personalities, UH is just another recreational basketball league.
I don’t know if Joe will read this. (The irony of him not reading a blog post on uhlife.com is not lost on me). He’s not on social media so I can’t share the link.
Maybe I’ll send him a text?
TEXT FROM ALAN ARLT: Hey Joe, it’s AA. Congrats on being nominated for the 2019 UH Hall of Fame. Hope to see you in Vegas this May at the National Tourney. Everyone loves a comeback story. What will be your third act?