Boston Celtic star Reggie Lewis collapsed during the first quarter of his team's playoff-opening 112-101 win over the Charlotte Hornets last Thursday night. The subsequent determination that he suffered from "cardiac abnormalities"—one report said that the hospitalized Lewis had a condition called focal cardiomyopathy—stirred memories of Hank Gathers, the Loyola Marymount All-America who collapsed and died of a similar affliction during a game on March 4, 1990. Lewis, 27, is out of the playoffs, and his six-year career may be in jeopardy.
Gathers's condition was known at the time he was stricken—he was taking medication for it—but when Lewis collapsed, it was thought at first that he had been hit on the head by Charlotte guard Kendall Gill. According to Celtic CEO Dave Gavitt, Lewis then was cleared to play by team physician Arnold Scheller. "Arnie examined him fully at the half and said to me, 'Reggie wants to play,' " said Gavitt. "I said, 'Are you 100 percent comfortable with that?' He said, 'Yeah. There's nothing there that I can determine other than maybe it's low blood sugar or just he's excited.' Then I saw the videotape where it indicated he hadn't been hit. I went back to Arnie again and said, 'Are you 100 percent sure? Because if you're not, I'll make the call right now that he doesn't play. Arnie said, 'No, let Reggie [make] the call. I'm confident that nothing bad can happen, but we'll keep a close eye on him.' "
Lewis started the second half, but when teammates noted that his legs were wobbly and informed coach Chris Ford, he was removed from the game. The next morning he was taken to the hospital to undergo tests.
May 9, 1993
A flashback of a far different kind was prompted by the death last week of Los Angeles Raider defensive back Dave Waymer. Waymer, 34, a 12-year NFL veteran, was stricken at his home in Mooresville, N.C., and an autopsy revealed traces of cocaine in his system. It wasn't immediately known whether the drug had contributed to his death—initial reports were that he suffered a heart attack—but Waymer presumably knew at least some of the perils of cocaine use. In 1982 former New Orleans Saint running back Mike Strachan was convicted of selling cocaine, and Waymer, who was with the Saints at the time, said in a newspaper interview that he had bought the drug from Strachan. But Waymer added, "The problem didn't go that far. I've got too much to lose."
The selection of Atlanta to host the 1996 Summer Games was a bitter blow to Athens, which as the site of the first modern Olympics, in 1896, had also bid to stage the centennial Games. Now, without a trace of irony, Atlanta organizers have expressed their intention to have the '96 gold medal Olympic soccer game played in Athens—Georgia, that is.
Lowering the Boom
Just when it appeared that the NHL was ascending from the sewer, Washington Capital center Dale Hunter dragged it back in last week by mugging New York Islander star Pierre Turgeon near the end of Game 6 of their teams' playoff series. Turgeon had just scored to give New York, which led in the series three games to two, a four-goal lead—game over, series over, bring on the Pittsburgh Penguins. As Turgeon joyously raised his arms and began to pump his fist to celebrate, Hunter blindsided him, slamming Turgeon into the boards. It was the equivalent of a football player's being speared by a frustrated rival after spiking the ball in the end zone.
The collision separated Turgeon's right shoulder, an injury that figures to keep him off the ice for the remainder of the playoffs. Hunter said he didn't know Turgeon's shot had gone in and was merely completing a check, an outrageous statement, considering that the 15,000 fans in the Nassau Coliseum were standing and cheering at the time and that Turgeon had begun his celebration. It also happens that Hunter has a long history of aberrant on-ice behavior; most recently, he butt-ended Islander captain Pat Flatley in the eye in Game 3.
The silver lining to the ugly incident is that it gives new NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was at the game, a chance to make an unambiguous statement about the NHL's altered attitude toward malicious play. For once the NHL appears to be serious about reducing fighting, which is way down in the postseason—from 12 fights in the first round in 1992 to five this year. Bettman can bolster the league's image by lowering the boom on Hunter, who was put on indefinite suspension while the NHL decided exactly how severely to punish him. As SI went to press, Bettman was expected to announce a suspension effective next season that would go well beyond the five-to-10 game bans that have been the norm in the NHL for such conduct.
By coincidence, the very day of the Hunter incident, Bettman's former employer, the NBA, announced a crackdown on fighting. Starting with the playoffs, an NBA player who so much as swings at an opponent will be tossed out of that game and the next one; previously a player who threw a punch and missed risked ejection only from that game. Also, any NBA player leaving the bench to join in a fight will now be assessed $2,500 (up from $500), and his team will be fined $5,000. It was the right move at the right time. Hitting Hunter as hard as he hit Turgeon would be another one.
Down and Out
After three tumultuous seasons, University of Houston football coach John Jenkins resigned last week amid allegations of NCAA rules infractions. Several Cougar players and two former assistant coaches, both of whom had been fired by Jenkins, alleged that he violated rules on the limits on practice time. One of the assistants also accused Jenkins of making an improper payment to a recruit. After his resignation Jenkins continued to deny the charges, but he did confirm reports that he had spliced footage of topless women into videotapes of his team's practices. Jenkins called this practice an "innocent attention-getter."
Bad taste came easily to Jenkins, whose wins at Houston included two in which the Cougars ran up scores of 84-21 and 73-3. But his departure was no doubt hastened by the fact that his record fell from 10-1 his first season to 4-7 in each of the last two years. He stepped down, after working out a $200,000-plus settlement with the school, only three weeks after the student newspaper, the Daily Cougar, first reported the charges against him.
Jenkins's penchant for secrecy contributed to his downfall. He refused to share details of his run-and-shoot offense with high school coaches, who responded by sending their players elsewhere. When the talent recruited by his predecessor, Jack Pardee, dried up, Jenkins's Cougars suffered the consequences.
This episode is another black eye for the Southwest Conference. Its new commissioner, Steve Hatchell, has vowed to revive a league that has been buffeted by cheating scandals, poor attendance and rumors that Texas and Texas A&M will follow Arkansas's lead and leave for other conferences. Hatchell's task will be made a bit easier by the departure of an operator like Jenkins.
Maybe you heard that Indiana Pacer rookie Malik Sealy lost his playbook last week at New York City's Kennedy Airport and that the 75-page tome wound up in the hands of radio talk-show host Don Imus. But unless you're from New York, you may not realize that of that city's eight million inhabitants, the acerbic Imus is the last one you would want snooping through your playbook. The Pacers were about to meet the Knicks in the playoffs, and an on-air Imus gleefully read excerpts from the playbook, interspersed with his own japes. Two examples will suffice.
On New York guard John Starks: "We can force him into terrible shots. Goes into a funk for stretches of the game." Imus's twist: "Ask about his sister."
On another Knick guard, Rolando Blackman: "Not a very good defender." Added Imus: "Will roll up into the fetal position."
The Knicks won the first two games against the Pacers, but the playbook affair wasn't a factor. Unlike football, in which playbooks are sacrosanct, basketball depends more on execution and reaction than on secret plays. Still, the incident clearly rattled Sealy, who called Imus while he was on the air and tried to shame him into slopping. Not a chance. "What's the problem with you?" Imus asked Sealy. "It's basketball, not cancer. You lost your playbook. Next time keep it in the bag."
They Wrote It
•Michael Wilbon in The Washington Post, blaming baseball writers' spats with players and managers on an excess of familiarity: "Oscar Madison [right] used to show up in the press box in the second inning with a hotdog hanging out of his mouth. Now, baseball writers show up in the dressing room at 3:30 for a 7:30 game."
Hey to the Chief
President Clinton was into his closing remarks last week during ceremonies in the Rose Garden honoring North Carolina's NCAA basketball champions when Tar Heel coach Dean Smith, belatedly remembering that his players had brought along a jersey with Clinton's name on it to give him, cut him off. Catching himself, Smith said, "Can you believe the nerve of me to interrupt the President?" Clinton gestured to a group of Congressmen who were present and said, "They do it all the time."
They Said It
•Tom Kelly, Minnesota Twin manager, explaining why he made pitcher Pat Mahomes walk off the field with him after pulling him during a 17-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers: "Then we would have to take only half the boos each."
•Drew Bledsoe, former Washington State quarterback, after the New England Patriots made him the top choice in the NFL draft, recalling that he once thought the No. 1 pick was someone special: "But now that it's me, it loses some of its mystique."
•John Brodie, on a fellow senior golfer's dieting woes: "Billy Casper [below left] has won titles at more weight levels than Sugar Ray Leonard [below right]."