Searching For The Truth – V. Winners, Young and Old

Published June 14, 2001 – Cameron Citizen-Obserser

THIS JUST IN: While wondering where I can get my hair done and what happened to youth baseball in this town…

Whether you’re watching the NBA Finals for the concerts or the game shows, get used to it. Not only will NBC continue to avoid boring analysis from washed up coaches and over-zealous reporters, it will also continue to broadcast the Sixers and the Lakers in the NBA Finals for the foreseeable future.

They are the two best teams in basketball and neither one is getting any worse. As long as Shaq and Kobe play on the same team, it won’t matter if they’re on the same page. They are the two best basketball players in the world, period. I could be running the point for LA and we’d still win 50 games.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, is the best team in basketball because they have the best coach. If Matt Geiger, George Lynch and last year’s first round pick, Speedy Claxton (out all season with a torn ACL) were healthy, the Sixers wouldn’t have lost a playoff game until the Finals.

So let people tell you about the emergence of the Dallas Mavericks. Let people say the Milwaukee Bucks will be tough next year. That Chris Webber, whether he ends up in Houston or New York, will make a difference. Let people tell you that Michael Jordan will return and win his seventh ring. Let people talk all they want.

Just remember next year, when you’re watching Bill Walton vote President Clinton off the island during halftime of the Finals, you’ll still be watching Philly and LA.

Jennifer Capriati
Jennifer Capriati, 2001 French Open Champion

Derek Jeter is 26. Last week, Allen Iverson turned 26. Jennifer Capriati and Tiger Woods are 25. All are at the top of their sports, but which one is considered old? Here’s a hint: She just won the French Open.

For every high school senior or college freshman that declares for the NBA Draft, there are five 14 year olds that leave home to join a tennis academy or junior ice hockey program. No one said a word when Martina Hingis was winning Grand Slam events before she could drive a car, but everyone makes noise when an 18 year old decides he doesn’t want to wait three years to make his first million.

My friend always points out the case of Terrance Morris of Maryland. Two years ago, after his sophomore year, he was a guaranteed lottery pick. Now, he’ll be lucky if he gets drafted in the first round. Sure, he might have gotten his degree, but it’s not going to help in his chosen profession.

At 13, Capriati had her profession chosen for her: the savior of women’s tennis. With Chris Evert’s retirement the year before, Capriati became the poster child for the sport. She was good enough to make the semifinal of the French Open, but not good enough to handle the pressure.

Then again, maybe she just wasn’t old enough. She flamed out and became the poster child for talent wasted, ending up in drug rehabilitation after getting caught shoplifting. To see her jumping for joy last Saturday was the bright spot of my weekend. To rise and fall that far, only to get up and rise again is like a Greek myth, only she didn’t have to die in the end to achieve eternal happiness.

Ray Bourque is about as old as a Greek myth. Alex Tanguay of the Colorado Avalanche was six weeks old when Bourque started his career. It took two decades, but one of hockey’s greatest defensemen finally got to drink from Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Living in Boston for four years, I know first hand how much Bourque meant to that city. They love losers like no other city in America, just look at the Red Sox. But Bourque was a winner and they knew it. When he was traded to Colorado, it was only because the Bruins were nowhere near winning the Cup.

One Boston radio station actually put a billboard up in Denver, telling the team to win it for Beantown. When the final horn sounded last Saturday night, a cheer went up in Denver, but it was louder in Boston and that’s the truth.


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