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DALY: If world’s ending, I’ll be taking these sports memories with me
Suppose the Mayans were right. Suppose we do interrupt this program Friday to bring you the End of the World. A grim thought, I know. But then, so is the idea of another “rebuilding” season for the Wizards.
Anyway, as the meteor speeds toward Earth or the polar icecaps start melting like popsicles in the Sahara or (insert your own Armageddon here), what sports memories flash through your mind? Which ones have you secured on your mental hard drive forever? I ask because, well, it probably tells a lot about a fan, what he/she hangs onto and what he/she leaves out on the curb. In many ways, our sports memories R us.
Having given the question great thought — I’m on my second cup of coffee — I’ve decided on a few rules. First, for a memory to make the final cut, I have to have experienced it in real time. It can’t be something I saw in a highlights package or on delayed tape. This eliminates, for me, Bob Beamon breaking the long jump record by nearly two feet, the United States hockey team shocking the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics and Dale Earnhardt going into the wall. (Besides, Channel 7’s Renee Poussaint gave away Mike Eruzione’s decisive goal during a station break by telling me, with 10 minutes left in a 3-3 game, that Our Boys had won. I still haven’t forgiven her.)
Second, when choosing between two equally significant memories, historically speaking, the following tiebreaker will be applied: Did I witness either event in person? Being There always wins out over Not Being There. Obviously, you’re free to make your own rules — and to wantonly break them if you feel like it. After all, nobody’s going to be around to give you grief if the planet explodes.
Without further ado, then, here are the sports moments — some familiar, others personal — that would flash before my eyes in such dire circumstances. Why don’t I go in reverse chronological order, since that’s how they always seem to do these things in the movies, as a kind of rewinding.
• Tiger Woods‘ first Masters win: a record 18 under par — and a 12-shot cushion — at the age of 21 (1997).
• Duke’s Christian Laettner hitting a last-second shot to break Kentucky’s heart in the East Region final (1992). College basketball doesn’t get any better. (And I watched it with Wildcats fans at a Lexington, Ky., sports bar.)
• Bumping into Michael Spinks and his handlers as they were heading to his dressing room the night he fought Mike Tyson in Atlantic City. The look on Spinks’ face, swathed in a hooded sweatshirt, told you everything you needed to know about boxing — and him. He was there, but he wasn’t there. It was a look that said: Something bad might happen to me before this evening’s over. He lasted 91 seconds against Iron Mike (1988).
• Jack Nicklaus’ last Masters win: 30 on the back, 65 on the round, and his sixth green jacket at the age of 46 (1986).
• Mary Lou Retton flying through the air (en route to a gymnastics gold medal at the 1984 Olympics).
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About the Author
Dan Daly has been writing about sports for the Washington Times since 1982. He has won numerous national and local awards, appears regularly in NFL Films’ historical features and is the co-author of “The Pro Football Chronicle,” a decade-by-decade history of the game. Follow Dan on Twitter at @dandalyonsports –- or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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