ANTICIPATING THE END
It's not altogether surprising that the Chicago Bulls appear to
be crumbling from within. Dynasties tend to do that. What is
confounding is that the Bulls seem so eager to hurry the process
along. That was never more apparent than at the opening of
Chicago's training camp last week, when most of the Bulls' key
figures seemed to be looking forward not to pursuing their sixth
NBA championship in eight years, but to dismantling the club at
Coach Phil Jackson, 52, who signed a one-year contract in July,
said that "it would take wild horses to drag me back" to the
team after this season. General manager Jerry Krause indicated
he wouldn't provide so much as a Shetland pony to keep Jackson
in town. "This is it," Krause said, "the final year."
Krause and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf have been cavalier
about the prospect of Jackson's departure, though it could very
well cost them Michael Jordan too. Jordan, 34, reiterated last
week that he doesn't want to play for any coach other than
Jackson. It seems just as certain that forward Scottie Pippen,
32, will leave when he becomes a free agent next July 1. Chicago
has had him on the trading block for nearly three years and has
given no indication that it wants to re-sign him.
Krause provided an insight into the arrogance of the Bulls'
front office when he implied last week that players and coaches
are only secondarily responsible for Chicago's success.
"Organizations win championships," Krause said. To that Jordan
replied, "I'd like to see some of those organization guys step
out there and play."
If the Bulls' strategy is to compensate for the loss of Pippen
(and Jordan) by acquiring a top free agent next summer, as is
widely believed, that plan suffered a serious blow last week
when Kevin Garnett signed a six-year, $125 million extension
with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Antonio McDyess was traded
from the Denver Nuggets to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have a far
better chance of re-signing McDyess than the Nuggets did.
Krause and Reinsdorf have created a lame-duck atmosphere that
could affect the Bulls' attitude this season. Already, Pippen's
handling of a lingering soft-tissue injury to his left foot has
been called into question. Does he need surgery, or is he no
longer willing to play in pain for a front office he feels has
failed to show him respect? Add Pippen's uncertain status to the
facts that the Bulls still had not re-signed forward Dennis
Rodman at week's end and sixth man Toni Kukoc was still nursing
a sore right arch, and Chicago's dynasty looks fragile before
its time. "It's a bad way," says Jordan, "to end an unbelievable
SAY IT AIN'T SOLD
Seventy-six years after Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned
Shoeless Joe Jackson from baseball, the Supreme Court of South
Carolina has ruled that Jackson's will--bearing what is perhaps
the rarest signature in American sports--is to remain locked in
government archives. Jackson, who died in 1951 in Greenville,
S.C., was, it seems, not only shoeless but also nearly
letterless. He often signed an X rather than his name. Experts
say that his will would fetch more than $100,000 from collectors.
The document became a bone of contention in 1993. That was when
the American Cancer Society and the American Heart
Association--primary beneficiaries of the estate of Shoeless
Joe's widow, Katie, who died in 1959--sued Greenville County and
probate judge C. Diane Smock for the right to substitute a
certified copy of the will for the original. They claimed that
his will had become Katie's property upon his death and should
therefore have gone to the charities.
But in its decision last month the court disagreed, upholding
two lower court opinions to the effect that the will is a public
record and, as such, belongs to the state. The court further
ordered that the document be held under Greenville County's
control for as many as 75 years and then archived with the state.
While it's unfortunate that two charities were deprived of a
possible source of revenue, the ruling, which will help the
state avoid a rush of heirs claiming wills as personal property,
doesn't mean that Shoeless Joe's John Hancock is forever lost to
public view. "Anyone who wants to see it can come to the
courthouse and put in a request," says Greenville County
assistant attorney Jeffrey Wile. "If the charities got it, the
will might have ended up in a basement somewhere. We didn't want
that, and the law simply didn't permit it."
SHORT OF THE GOAL
Before playing Jamaica at Washington's RFK Stadium last Friday,
the U.S. had averaged 1.5 goals a game in six World Cup
qualifying matches, an output that most of the American players
figured would rise now that the full U.S. squad was healthy and
playing together for the first time in 10 months. Instead,
Jamaica earned a stunning 1-1 draw that, for the U.S., marked
the low point in a 10-game qualifying tournament for the 1998
Cup. With the tie, the U.S. remains in third place, with 10
points, behind Mexico (14) and Jamaica (12) in the grouping of
nations from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The match confirmed what had previously been painfully evident:
Eric Wynalda, who scored on a penalty kick in the 49th minute,
is the only U.S. forward who doesn't get the yips in front of
the opponent's goal. During qualifying, coach Steve Sampson has
started no fewer than seven players besides Wynalda at the
forward position, and not one of them has scored. Against
Jamaica, Sampson chose as his second striker Ernie Stewart, who
netted the winning goal against Colombia in World Cup '94.
Stewart whiffed on his best scoring chance only minutes into
Friday's game and ran himself out of several other opportunities
by overdribbling. "We just need to pull the trigger," says
Sampson. "The players try to make that perfect final pass, when
what we need to do is test the goalkeeper more."
So the search continues. Sampson raised the likelihood of
Forward Audition No. 8, for Joe-Max Moore, who's coming off
surgery on his right ankle. The U.S. has a daunting qualifier in
Mexico City on Nov. 2, followed by potentially challenging
matches in Vancouver against Canada and in Foxboro, Mass.,
against El Salvador in the succeeding two weeks. It will likely
need at least one win to qualify for a third straight Cup.
A BABE SINCE BIRTH
The Most Valuable Player of the International Softball
Association's over-35 World Tournament, held earlier this month
in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was a 40-year-old catcher-designated
hitter for the champion Perkins Roofing team of Cincinnati. He
hit nine home runs in six games, including one that his manager,
Craig Perkins, says, "must've gone 600 feet, I swear." Such
deeds are hardly surprising. The man stands 6'4", weighs 300
pounds and his name is Homer Ruth.
In a feature on the sports world's endangered species (SI, Sept.
29), we labeled the dropkick a "dodo bird." Well, in Burleson,
Texas (pop. 14,000), a town 13 miles south of Fort Worth, folks
are doing their part for ornithological preservation. In the
second quarter of Burleson High's Sept. 26 homecoming game
against crosstown rival Joshua, after Burleson had scored a
touchdown to go ahead 27-0, coach Bobby August told senior
kicker Joey Biasatti to try drop-kicking the extra point. "I'm a
history buff," says August, who had had Joey practicing the kick
all week. "I know we always get a lot of old alumni back for
homecoming and--no disrespect intended--I figured the old
geezers would love it."
Sure enough, when Joey took the snap, bounced the ball off the
turf and booted it through the uprights, the crowd of 6,000
responded with a standing ovation. "People kept coming up to me
and saying they couldn't remember the last time they'd seen
anything like that," says Joey, a highly recruited prospect
whose father, Tony, kicked--but didn't drop-kick--for TCU in the
1970s. "Coach says any time we get up by 27 points, we can try
For several years college basketball coaches have complained
about the largely unregulated summer camps and tournaments that
now serve as the primary showcases for high school talent. They
point out that these events, sponsored primarily by shoe
companies, have diminished the importance of the high school
season and the influence of the high school coach while
inflating the power of camp organizers who have no educational
ties. Now, an overhaul of the frenetic summer circuit appears at
On Aug. 18, USA Basketball announced plans to organize a series
of summer camps for high school players. That prompted the
National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), which is a
member of USA Basketball, to propose to the NCAA that Division I
coaches be forbidden to attend any out-of-season events other
than those run by accountable institutions: USA Basketball,
state high school federations, the National Junior College
Athletic Association or FIBA, basketball's international
governing body. Players would still be permitted to attend camps
and tournaments sponsored by Adidas, Nike, the AAU and other
organizations, but without Division I coaches on hand to eyeball
the talent, those events would lose much of their appeal to
USA Basketball's executive committee was to present its
summer-camp proposal to its board of directors during meetings
in Colorado Springs on Monday and Tuesday. A pilot program for
the sanctioned camps could be in place as early as next summer.
Not surprisingly, those who have benefited from the wide-open
summer circuit aren't embracing change. Says Sonny Vaccaro, who
operates the Adidas ABCD camp in Teaneck, N.J., "Who gave them
the wisdom to say that we who run summer basketball are the bad
people and they're the good people?"
But George Washington coach Mike Jarvis, who is president of the
NABC, sees the overhaul as inevitable. "If we don't devise a
program that will work for the good of the game, somebody else
will do it for us," Jarvis says. "We're the guardians of the
game, and it's our responsibility to do this."
A BAD CALL
Of all the low moments in the Chicago White Sox' 1997 season,
one was particularly disturbing to Doug Rader, the Chicago third
base coach who resigned last week. Rader recalls a mid-August
home game when Sox vice chairman Eddie Einhorn phoned the dugout
from a team box to--we are not making this up--dictate that a
Chicago pitcher leave the ball on the mound rather than the
infield grass at the end of the inning. Einhorn, a part-owner of
the club, had made a small bet with a buddy that that was where
the ball would end up. "It was the seventh or eighth inning of a
game we're trying to win, and a game we didn't win," Rader told
the Chicago Tribune. "But after the game [Einhorn] came down and
was laughing about it."
Einhorn was not available for comment, but according to White
Sox publicist Scott Reifert, Einhorn "realizes it was
inappropriate, and it won't happen again."
Minutes that Addyston, Ohio (pop. 1,200), was without police
protection while the lone officer on duty drove Bengals
quarterback Jeff Blake home to Cincinnati after Blake was
stopped for erratic driving.
Percentage of her salary represented by the $100,000 that Texas
Tech women's basketball coach Marsha Sharp gave Tech to help
fund an academic building.
Age, in years, of the two girls set to meet in a sanctioned
amateur boxing match in Stoke-on-Trent, England, before the bout
was canceled when one backed out.
Average weight, in pounds, of Japan's top sumo wrestlers,
prompting the head of the sumo federation to chastise them for
being "too fat."
Weight, in pounds, of U.S.-born Konishiki, the heaviest sumotori
Pennies delivered by armored truck to Charlotte Motor Speedway
by driver Rusty Wallace in payment of a $5,000 fine levied by
An NFL mail-order catalog declares that the league's new line of
team-themed body-care products will help fans "feel the power of
America's #1 sport." Let's hope that a little scrub will also
help keep America from "feeling the power" of those fans.
You could call them Pennsylvania's small wonders of the NCAA,
football mighty mites who have proved to be tiny terrors for
opposing defenses. A look at some of the littlest starting
running backs in Division III has turned up some big numbers and
gotten us wondering just what's in the water in the Keystone
Matt Helwig, sophomore, GETTYSBURG
5'6", 168 pounds 49 carries, 368 yards, six TDs
"Smaller guys like me look to [5'8"] Barry Sanders for
inspiration," Helwig says, "but Barry Sanders' thigh is probably
bigger than my waist."
Leon Payne, sophomore, WIDENER
5'2", 155 pounds 88 carries, 555 yards, seven TDs
"They used to call me Shorty," says Payne (right). "I've always
told 'em, 'I may be short, but my heart's real big and my mind's
Matt Wichlinski, junior, SUSQUEHANNA
5'6", 190 pounds 88 carries, 645 yards, 10 TDs
Nicknamed the Claymont Cannonball, Wichlinski has "all the
essential elements: speed, strength and wiggle," says Crusaders
coach Steve Briggs. "The only thing he's missing is size, and if
he had that, he probably wouldn't be playing here."
Last month the IOC granted "permanent recognition" status to
ballroom dancing. Baron de Coubertin may be cha-cha-ing in his
grave, but there's still a step or two before dance sport, as it
is also known, makes the Games. The IOC meets next month to
discuss Olympic prospects for 20-plus recognized sports. Dance
sport comprises two disciplines:
...and Latin American.
SCORING EARLY ROUNDS
Though the sport's scoring methods are still evolving, judges
have recently employed a point system similar to that used in
SCORING THE FINAL ROUND
In each discipline the six best couples will engage in
There might also be an all-around competition.
A note to dancers: Punch will not be served.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
The Italian rugby team Lazio has signed Jessica Rizzo, an
actress in hard-core sex films, to sponsor the team and has
adopted the promotional slogan "Have a great scrum with the porn
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman, when asked the difference
between his level of performance and that of Metallica, his
heavy-metal heroes: "They play great every night."