Happy Birthday, Johnny Mac
John McEnroe won seven Grand Slam singles titles and nine more in doubles during his storied career. (Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated)
John McEnroe, winner of 875 singles matches and 77 titles, turned 53 years young on Thursday, which means it's as good a time as any for J-Mac to get a proper BTB tribute. That is, a collection of videos of him being awesome at tennis.
You'll notice that I've chosen not to bring in any Superbrat videos of McEnroe yelling at umpires, talking about chalk, or dousing the King of Sweden with water. Having just seen McEnroe in a doubles exhibition on Monday in San Jose, I've got a craving for McEnroe the Prodigy, not McEnroe the Entertainer.
The antics were fun, don't get me wrong, but I've always felt that they distracted people from the pure class that was McEnroe's tennis. His touch, his tennis IQ, his anticipation and creativity were marvelous.
1. The 1980 Wimbledon tiebreak: McEnroe may have eventually lost the match to Bjorn Borg 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6, but he won the fourth-set tiebreak 18-16, saving five match points. It's known as "That Tiebreak" for a reason.
2. Come and get it: McEnroe vs. Jimmy Connors was a dirty, back alley, brass-knuckling brawl of its own, but again, the fantastic tennis this rivalry produced often gets overshadowed by all the animosity between these two. Here's McEnroe drop-lobbing Connors to pieces. Just because he could.
3. The touch, the feel: A great compilation of silky smooth touch from the Merchant of Menace.
4. Symphony? More like a rock opera: Another great compilation, but this one with a soundtrack that left me a little baffled. At least drop in some Springsteen or something.
5. Fire and Ice: For all his brash, disrespectful and bratty behavior, McEnroe's relationship with Bjorn Borg was a glimpse into his softer side. I've always found that very sweet. Here's a clip from HBO's documentary on the two, Fire and Ice. You can guess which one's which.