Coaches get fired for all sorts of reasons, but John MacLeod of the Dallas Mavericks may have been the first to get canned largely because of substance abuse by his team's best player. Mavs forward Roy Tarpley, who first admitted to cocaine and alcohol dependency two years ago, missed 49 games last season after flunking a drug test, reportedly for cocaine. When Dallas failed to make the playoffs, MacLeod—not Tarpley, who, astoundingly enough, was rewarded with a lucrative contract extension during the off-season—was blamed.
Last month Tarpley was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He was suspended indefinitely under the NBA's drug aftercare program, thereby clouding the Mavs' outlook for this year. How did the Dallas management respond? It dismissed MacLeod, the eighth-winningest coach in league history. Lots of luck to MacLeod's interim successor, Richie Adubato. Both he and Mavs management should keep in mind MacLeod's parting words: "I can't control Roy Tarpley."
WARE IT IS
December 11, 1989
Houston quarterback Andre Ware edged out Indiana running back Anthony Thompson for the Heisman Trophy last week, even though 286 of the 743 voters left him off their ballots. Inasmuch as each ballot has room for three names, one has to ask: How could any voter not rank Ware—who set more than a dozen NCAA records this year, including single-season marks for completions (365) and passing yardage (4,699)—at least in the top three? Clearly, many voters refused to list him because Houston is on probation, which seems silly. Ware had nothing to do with the Cougars' probation and has suffered enough through his team's banishment from television and bowl appearances.
Although there were other deserving candidates, Ware was a laudable choice as the 55th Heisman recipient. As a fourth-year junior, he's eligible to turn pro. But he has been saying that he'll stay at Houston to play one more college season and get his business degree—and maybe a second Heisman.
A SHOWER OF SHOTS
For a golfer, out-of-bounds shots are frustrating, but for people who live near a course, they can be downright dangerous. In South Florida, where new courses are opening every month—many of them nestled in residential developments—course-side dwellers are being driven to extraordinary measures to guard themselves and their property against a rain of dimpled missiles. They're planting trees and hedges, stringing up high chicken-wire barriers and installing bulletproof windows. At the Golfside condominiums in Margate, one resident, Carmen Piccirilli, a retired motor vehicle inspector, was nearly hit three times while swimming in the community pool, which abuts the Carolina Club golf course. He now straps on a hard hat before doing his daily laps. "It's a fact of life. If you live near a golf course, you have to expect it," says Piccirilli of the bombardment.
Floridians fed up with such fusillades might consider the tactics adopted by Linda Rodvold, a housewife who lives near the Fisher Park golf course in Yakima, Wash. She has petitioned the county prosecutor to close down the city-owned par-three facility because it is a hazard to her family. She has collected 1,087 golf balls on her property in the last five years and says that balls have caused 22 dents and shattered three windshields in family vehicles and broken seven windows in their house. She and her husband, Skip, keep a map of their property on the wall and mark the spot of each incoming ball.
Two months ago the Rodvolds were awarded $6,250 in a civil suit against the golf course for property damage and "disruption of their quietude of domicile." They plan to continue their battle until the course is shut down.
RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB
The new football coach of the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks is Steve Axman.
OH, SAY CAN YOU PAY?
It costs a singer no more than a little embarrassment if he botches The Star-Spangled Banner while performing it before a U.S. sporting event, but Mexico is more protective of its Himno National de Mèxico. When Jorge Mu‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬±íz, a Mexican pop singer, forgot some words and got others wrong while singing the anthem before a boxing match in Mexico City recently, he was fined one million pesos—about $400—for "disrespect for national symbols."
•On Nov. 30, jockey Kent Desormeaux (SI, Dec. 4) broke Chris McCarron's record for victories in a year. After riding Gilten to a three-quarter-length win for his 547th first-place finish of 1989, the 19-year-old Desormeaux was given a shower of water, eggs, shaving cream and talcum powder in the jockey room.
•When the most recent International Chess Federation (FIDE) ratings period closed on Nov. 30, world champion Gary Kasparov of the Soviet Union had apparently achieved the highest rating in the game's history. Although the official list won't be out until January, Kasparov's rating should be between 2,790 and 2,805. The old mark of 2,785 was established by Bobby Fischer in 1972. Ratings are based on victories and the quality of one's opponents, and Kasparov's rating was boosted by his domination of a recent all-grand-master tournament in the Netherlands. "He's earned it," says U.S. Chess Federation assistant director Glenn Petersen. "There have been many great players since Fischer, but none has reached the stratosphere of Kasparov."
Cleveland guard Craig Ehlo recently mailed one of his Cavalier jerseys to a friend back home in Lubbock, Texas, to donate to a charity auction. "Nobody bought the jersey, so my friend kept it," says Ehlo. "They're not big basketball fans down there."
A short while later, Ehlo, who is averaging 15.5 points a game this season, autographed a pair of his game sneakers and gave them to the Massillon (Ohio) Boys Club to auction off at a fund-raising banquet. When bidding on the shoes opened, Ehlo, who was at the event, said, "Fifty dollars," to get things rolling. The crowd remained silent. Going once, going twice, sold—to Ehlo. He gave the good-as-new Avias, which retail for around $70, to a bus-boy in the banquet hall, and says that his auctioning days are over.
Xavier College Prep of Phoenix has produced the state high school champion in girls' golf for 11 years in a row. It's been a triumph for sisterhood.
Heather Farr, now on the LPGA tour, began the streak with titles in 1979, '80 and '81. She was succeeded by her younger sister, Missy, who won the '82 crown. The Draeger sisters, Colleen and Laura, won the title in '83 and '84, respectively, followed by the Gilbert sisters, Paige and Heidi, in '85 and '86, and the Carriell sisters, Lisa and Tricia, in '87 and '88. The champ this fall was Page Oeser, who, alas, is the youngest girl in her family.
Xavier, which has also won a U.S.-record 10 straight state team titles, is coached by a nun, Sister Lynn Winsor.
FIGHTING TO STAY AFLOAT
Phoenix investor Charles Keating Jr. has been in the news ever since the $2 billion collapse of his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association earlier this year. He has been hit with a $1.1 billion fraud-and-racketeering suit by federal banking regulators and linked to a possible influence-buying scandal involving five U.S. senators.
Almost unnoticed in the tumult is the fact that Keating's financial difficulties have jeopardized one of the nation's most promising swim programs. When federal regulators took over all subsidiaries of Lincoln's parent company, American Continental Corp., last April, they also assumed control of the $1 million American Continental-built Phoenician Swim Club complex in Phoenix, which was just opening. The U.S. swimming community had eagerly awaited the completion of the complex, which was expected to cultivate Olympians through top-notch coaching and state-of-the-art facilities.
The complex was Keating's pet project. A lifelong swimmer, he won the NCAA 200-yard butterfly title in 1946 while competing for the University of Cincinnati, and he later founded the highly successful Cincinnati Marlins club. One of his sons, Charles III, placed fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 1976 Olympics; one of his daughters, Mary Adele, a former national-level swimmer, is married to former swimmer Gary Hall, a three-time Olympian.
Led by Hall, who's club chairman, and head coach Pierre Lafontaine, the Phoenician club pressed forward even after the feds stepped in. In May, when the club received an eviction notice, coaches, swimmers and parents picketed and persuaded the government to revoke its eviction threat. The picture began looking brighter. The Phoenician Resort, a separate Keating-owned property in Phoenix, was making large donations to keep the club going. Swim team membership grew to more than 100, including Olympic gold medalists Troy Dalbey and Carrie Steinseifer.
In November, however, the feds seized the Phoenician Resort. They may cut off funds and leave the club without any income. Lafontaine says there's enough money saved up to cover expenses "for maybe two months. After that, unless we find a sponsor or some other source of income, we'll be out in the street."
Potential sponsors are wary because of the swim center's uncertain future—the federal regulators plan to sell it—and the stigma attached to anything connected with Keating. Nevertheless, club membership continues to grow. "We'll get through this somehow," vows Hall. "We're a feisty group."
The coach of the University of Toledo's women's basketball team, Bill Fennelly, knows that Fran Voll, his counterpart at Bowling Green, is his nemesis. "I finished runner-up to you in the regular season last year," Fennelly told Voll the other day. "I finished runner-up to you in the conference tournament. And I finished runner-up to you in the coach of the year voting. So I'd appreciate it if you'd stay away from my wife."
AN AMERICAN WINS BIG
In a feat of truly immense proportions, Hawaiian-born Sumo Wrestler Konishiki, weighing in at 488 pounds, last week won the Emperor's Cup, Japan's most prestigious sumo championship. The victory had the entire nation abuzz. Only one other foreigner had ever won the tournament: Jesse Kuhaulua, another Hawaiian, in 1972.
Strange as it sounds, the 25-year-old Konishiki (born Salevaa Atisanoe to Samoan parents) saw his triumph as a victory for thinness. After becoming a sumotori in 1982, he had eaten his way from 350 pounds up to 553—whopping even by sumo standards. By last December his knees were constantly aching, and he was losing so often that he was in danger of being demoted from the ranks of ozeki, the second-highest classification in the sport.
Fearing this, Konishiki took action. He checked into a Tokyo training center and went on a diet. "We tried to test his body fat," recalls Bob Beveridge, the American who runs the training center, "but we couldn't get the clamp around his arm. We tested his strength, and it was one-sixth that of a 60-year-old man."
Eating only fish and tomatoes, and swimming three times a week, Konishiki began to shed weight. His knees felt better, and his strength grew. By the start of the 15-day Emperor's Cup in Tokyo on Nov. 12, he had lost 65 pounds.
Sumo is a test of power and leverage. To win, a wrestler must push, slap or shove his opponent out of the 15-foot ring. Displaying surprising agility, Konishiki won 14 of 15 Cup matches, dispatching even Chiyonofuji, Japan's sumo darling, whose muscled 270-pound body sharply contrasted with Konishiki's folds of flab. After Konishiki beat 400-pound Kotogaume in the finals, a congratulatory telegram from President Bush arrived, and Konishiki was presented with prizes, among them 5,000 eels, which he presumably won't try to gulp down in a single sitting.
Konishiki wept. "My dream has come true," he said. He may become the first foreigner to attain the highest sumo designation, yokozuna.
Konishiki's victory capped a grand week for U.S. athletes in Japan. Earlier, former big leaguers Warren Cromartie and Ralph Bryant had been named MVPs of the two Japanese major leagues—the first time Americans have won both titles.
THEY SAID IT
•Jason Chaffetz, BYU placekicker, describing his position: "It's like being a ballet dancer—tight pants, a little contact and a whole lot of kicking."