DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED
We have a winner. All you guys looking to be James Dean or John
Belushi can retire the act. The sweepstakes of self-destruction
is now over, the contest for talent squandered is closed. So all
you guys hoping to live fast and die young, you just might as
well put down your needles, cork your bottles and garage your
Porsches. We've got the guy who figuratively (and only
figuratively) can't be caught.
We've got Roy Tarpley, as tragic a figure as can be found this
side of the grave. He might seem small potatoes to some of you
younger kids. Who'd he ever rape? How many years did he ever do?
If he's so dramatic, why's he still alive? And it's true, there
is a misdemeanor quality to his rap sheet, speeding tickets,
disappearances from the team, some domestic violence. Worst
thing he did? Put an iron to his girlfriend's stomach last year.
But you older guys know what Tarp gave up. You remember him
coming into the NBA in 1986 as a kind of 7-foot point guard. He
could run the wood, do all the little things, and still swat
Hakeem off the floor. Everybody agreed he was the next
can't-miss player. The Dallas Mavericks couldn't pay him enough.
May 24, 1998
Through drinking and drugging, he threw it all away. Has anybody
ever squandered so much? The fact that he landed in jail on May
13, for failure to appear in court on an assault charge stemming
from another incident, is neither here nor there. Just a
reminder of where he once was. Less than four years ago, in his
third second chance (three more than less talented power
forwards get), Tarpley was given a $26 million contract to
return to the NBA. Now he's looking to make $10,000 bail.
What happened was, Tarpley proved too much even for our 12-step
society, a culture so confident in its rehabilitative powers
that failure is interesting, irresistible almost. Even in
sports, where there's nothing so popular as the comeback, he'd
lost his place. Redemption--you younger guys need to remember
this--is all too dependent on your speed in the 40, your
fastball, your vertical leap. Steve Howe earned his resurrection
as a Yankee because his arm survived cocaine addiction, not
because the rest of him did. Maybe Lawrence Phillips will go to
the Pro Bowl and get a spread in PEOPLE. But that will depend
more on his legs than his head.
It won't happen for Tarpley. He's 33 now, out of the league for
good, $20 million short of that $26 million and moving
helplessly toward the fringes of society. What glamour remains
is in the arrest report, where he stubbornly lists his
occupation as "pro athlete," his employer unknown. What you
younger guys need to wonder is, how much longer can he do even
that? --Richard Hoffer
A HEPCAT HEAVYWEIGHT
Sign in Hoboken, N.J., proclaims the town to be the birthplace
of both baseball and Frank Sinatra. His hometown was hardly the
only close connection to sports for Sinatra, who died last week
of a heart attack at 82. Indeed, his eponymous golf tournament
was scheduled to tee off on Thursday in Palm Springs. Ol' Blue
Eyes wasn't much on the links, but he was the ultimate player.
During the 1940s and '50s, when Toots Shor's was the liquid
center of the Manhattan sports world, Sinatra was best buddies
with the restaurateur. It may have been in Shor's watering hole
that Sinatra met Leo Durocher. They grew so close that the Lip
once wrote "Frank Sinatra" on the next-of-kin line on a hospital
form. (Later, another baseball skipper would keep a Sinatra wall
in his clubhouse office; yes, Tommy Lasorda loved Sinatra, too.)
On the November evening in 1954 when Joe DiMaggio broke into an
apartment in West Hollywood in an effort to catch his wife in an
extramarital affair, Sinatra was with him; alas, they chose the
wrong room. It wasn't long after that caper, by the way, that
Sinatra himself got romantically involved with Marilyn Monroe.
(It first happened in the kitchen, according to at least one of
his biographers, but that's another story.)
One of Sinatra's early movies was Take Me Out to the Ball Game,
a forgettable baseball musical also starring Gene Kelly. Sinatra
played for the Wolves, probably an inside joke. His real-life
team was the Swooners, a charity softball squad for whom he did
a few turns in 1947.
Sinatra achieved his greatest sports fame, such as it was, in
the boxing ring. On March 8, 1971, he was at Madison Square
Garden, wearing a LIFE photographer's credential, for the first
Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier bout. Sinatra got the cover and five
photos inside the next week's issue of the magazine. About three
years later, at age 59, Sinatra, wearing a prizefighter's robe
and a you-can't-lay-a-glove-on-me attitude, stepped into the
Garden ring himself. Howard Cosell, then at the height of his
blusterous fame, did the introductions. The concert was billed
as The Main Event, a comeback for the Chairman of the Board,
whose album sales had been getting crushed under an avalanche of
acid rock. "I've had some of my best fights here," Sinatra told
the sellout crowd. Then he went out and killed.
HE'S SPORTY AND SCARY, TOO
David Beckham, a midfielder for Manchester United, was named
Britain's most overrated soccer player in a recent survey of
fans. That is entirely fitting since Beckham is engaged to Posh
Spice, a member of Britain's--and maybe the world's--most
overrated pop group.
Point Guard Absolved
BAD RAPPING IN KENTUCKY
Last month Kentucky point guard Wayne Turner pleaded guilty to a
reduced charge of failure to file an accident report after
admitting to Lexington police that he was driving when a car
owned by his godfather was involved in a hit-and-run accident
last September (Scorecard, May 11). Turner paid $97.50 in fines
and court costs, and the case--which, as the Fayette County
attorney's office acknowledged, had gone unprosecuted for seven
months so Turner could finish the season without
interruption--appeared to be closed.
It was reopened last week. As media attention heated up, Myron
Anthony, a freshman forward, admitted to Wildcats coach Tubby
Smith on May 8 that he had taken Turner's car without
permission, and that he, not Turner, was the driver in the
September accident. Last week, after taking a polygraph test at
the request of county attorney Margaret Kannensohn, Anthony
pleaded guilty to one count of leaving the scene of an accident
and was sentenced to a $250 fine and 50 hours of community
service. Charges against Turner--who says he didn't know until
Anthony came forward that Anthony had used his car on the night
of the accident--have been dismissed. Turner's lawyers said that
his client, who faced a strong circumstantial case, had pleaded
guilty only to avoid standing trial.
But questions remain. Why did Anthony, who would not comment,
stand silently by as Turner took the rap? Smith confronted his
players sometime in April with Turner's claim that he wasn't
driving and that his car was probably taken without his
permission by a teammate. Why couldn't someone in the Kentucky
program have found out who the real culprit was? How will Smith
or university authorities discipline Anthony?
No one in Lexington could be happier with the coaching job that
Smith did in winning a national title in his first season. The
off-court performance of some of his players, however, has
hardly been of championship caliber.
CALL THE SWING DOCTORS
The next time you hear a kid say, "I'm Tiger Woods," duck!
According to a report delivered at the annual meeting of the
American Association of Neurological Surgeons in April, in the
four months following Woods's 1997 Masters victory, doctors at
Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., were confronted
with a spate of "pediatric cranial injuries due to golf club
Explains Deborah Benzil, the associate director of neurosurgery
at the center, "Kids, excited by Tiger, were taking golf clubs
out into their yards, swinging away and hitting each other in
the head." Benzil and her colleagues dubbed the rash of
accidental clubbings--four fractured skulls, all among boys ages
six to nine who were watching their friends swing--the Tiger
Woods Syndrome. All four underwent surgery and have recovered.
Since delivering their report, the doctors have heard from other
neurosurgeons of similar Woods-inspired mishaps. "We obviously
don't blame Tiger for this," says Benzil. "But as golf gains in
popularity, especially among youngsters, it is important to
raise awareness of the safety issues."
Kids, can you say, "Fore!"
AN UGLY COACHES' CORNER
Much predictable tsk-tsking followed the decision last week of
high school All-America Al Harrington to declare for the NBA
draft. Peering into coaches' offices at a few universities last
week, one couldn't help but think that Harrington made a wise
Take what went on at St. John's, where last season Fran
Fraschilla led the Red Storm to its first winning season (22-10)
and first NCAA appearance since '93. But not all was what it
seemed: On May 13 St. John's announced that it and Fraschilla
had ended their relationship because of "fundamental differences
over the management of the basketball program." It's possible
that what school officials found most intolerable about
Fraschilla was his performance off the court. Last Saturday
Newsday reported that on two occasions Fraschilla allegedly
dropped his pants after practice to taunt his players for their
lack of cojones. Fraschilla's agent, Craig Fenech, denied the
Then, too, Fraschilla had itchy feet, a common malady. Despite
the fact that he had two years left on a St. John's contract
that was paying him more than $450,000 a year, Fraschilla had,
during three weeks in March, engaged in several conversations
with Arizona State. (The Sun Devils eventually hired Rob Evans.)
St. John's athletic director Ed Manetta denied that the contact
was a factor in Fraschilla's dismissal, but the campaign
certainly didn't please the folks at St. John's.
Elsewhere, a lawsuit filed by former Boston College coach Jim
O'Brien against that school for slander and breach of contract
was settled, but not before O'Brien did damage to his reputation
as a fair-play guy. O'Brien, now at Ohio State, had claimed that
the B.C. admissions office, under director John Mahoney,
operated "with an apparent bias against African-Americans," a
thinly supported charge that B.C. president William Leahy
denounced as "reckless and irresponsible."
O'Brien left B.C. two years ago, angry over admissions policies
that he says unfairly thwarted his recruiting. He also battled
with Leahy, who was quoted in The Boston Globe as saying that
O'Brien "couldn't be trusted." Regardless of whether either
contention is valid, his claim of racism was out-of-bounds, as
even he acknowledged in a post-settlement statement. "I know
that Boston College and John Mahoney are not racist, nor does
the complaint allege that," O'Brien said. He raised the race
issue, he says, to bolster his contention that he suffered
"public contempt and ridicule" and damage to "his business of
coaching basketball." Really? O'Brien is now making an estimated
$650,000, about twice his salary at B.C.
Another lawsuit, this one by Clemson coach Larry Shyatt, was
filed last week against the University of Wyoming, where Shyatt
had fulfilled one year of a five-year coaching contract before
bolting last month. Shyatt is disputing a clause in his deal
with Wyoming that required him to buy out the remainder of his
contract should he terminate it early, a proviso that Wyoming
president Philip DuBois characterizes as "a prudent reaction to
the unfortunate trend of coaches achieving success at the
University of Wyoming and then breaking their contracts to take
the next best offer."
In his lawsuit Shyatt says that Cowboys athletic director Lee
Moon assured him that if Clemson tapped him, the buyout clause
would not be enforced. Now Wyoming wants its money--which
amounts to $382,849. Gee, isn't it terrible that Harrington
won't be partaking of the wonderful purity of college sports?
--That overweight Little League pitchers draw hope from the
masterful performances of those big league big boys, David Wells
and Kerry Wood.
--That George Foreman and Larry Holmes, who have signed for a
fall fight, had met up before their ages and waistlines were in
the upper 40s.
--That Jose Canseco, who passed Joe DiMaggio and moved into 43rd
place on the alltime home run list, take over as Mr. Coffee.
Yearly savings, in dollars, as a consequence of the Dodgers'
closing their executive dining room, a corporate perk offered
continuously since the franchise's days in Brooklyn.
Taxes, in dollars--dating back 10 years, to his playing days in
Montpellier in the French First Division--that Colombian captain
Carlos Valderrama paid to be allowed to play in the World Cup.
Sit-ups that 265-pound Karl Malone does daily in his off-season
workouts, which help keep his waistline between 32 1/2 and 33 1/2
Condoms, each emblazoned with the World Cup mascot, Footix, that
FIFA plans to sell to raise money for charity.
Horses auditioned by producers to play Shergar in an upcoming
movie on the 1981 English Derby winner who was kidnapped two
years later and never seen again.
Amount, in dollars, raised by the first offering of shares (at
$3.38 per share) in Italian Serie A soccer team Lazio on the
Milan stock exchange.
WHO SHOULD BE THE CLIPPERS' FIRST PICK?
Logic dictates that the Clippers trade the pick, but they would
probably swap it to reacquire Stanley Roberts. They should take
Olowokandi, a raw talent from England who developed
exponentially while at Pacific. The 7'1" Olowokandi provides a
potentially marquee presence for the Clips, who haven't had a
good young center since, well, ever. Maybe someday he'll even
rival Shaq as a monument on the L.A. skyline. --Tim Crothers
This is your lucky day, Clips. The answer to your dreams is
Bibby, the point guard from Arizona. The best way to rebuild an
NBA team is to fill two key positions: center and point guard.
Since this draft doesn't offer a no-brainer big man like Tim
Duncan--the best center available, Olowokandi, is a
project--Bibby is the obvious choice to bring excitement, hope
and maybe even fans to the Sports Arena. --Jackie MacMullan
Marion Jones's 10.71-second 100-meter dash last week in Chengdu,
China, electrified the world of track and field. No, it wasn't a
world record--it was simply within shouting distance of the
mark, the otherworldly 10.49 run by Florence Griffith Joyner in
1988. Women runners in this decade have struggled to crack the
alltime top five performances in the 100, 200, 400 and 800
meters, most of which were run in an era when, it's become
clear, performance-enhancing drugs were rampant, though there's
no proof that Griffith Joyner was a user. By contrast, the men
have spent the '90s rewriting the lists.
Number of Top Five
Event Times Run Since '90
100m 1 5*
200m 2 4*
400m 0 4
800m 0 3*
*WORLD RECORD SET SINCE 1990
If you believe the stories, no roundballer ever performed more
magic on the playground than Earl Manigault (right), who died
last week at age 53 of heart failure. Considered by some experts
to be the best player never to make it to the NBA, Manigault was
a prominent figure during New York's asphalt golden age of the
1960s and '70s. Herewith is a profile of Manigault and some
others against whom he threw down on the mean streets.
Legend has it he...
Could take off from foul line and perform 720-degree dunk.
Long battle with heroin addiction kept him from college ball.
Failed tryout with ABA Utah Stars in 1971.
[Legend has it he...]
Had 71-point game, alltime record in Rucker Tournament,
playground hoops showcase.
Turned down one-year, $50,000 Lakers deal in '71 because he was
making big bucks dealing and playing on the street; did time 14
years later for drugs; now lives in Harlem.
[Legend has it he...]
Pulled off alltime play-ground move, tomahawk-dunking over Wilt
NBA banned him for eight years for unsubstantiated
point-shaving allegations; after getting chance at 27, he was
four-time All-Star during seven-year NBA career.
[Legend has it he...]
Intimidated even aerial acrobats like Hawkins with his
Played one season with Harlem Globetrotters; died in traffic
accident while driving a cab in 1980.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
A California construction company is building houses that
include a room known as the Fort, a "harmless getaway," as the
company's brochure puts it, for men "to hang out, smoke cigars,
watch sports on TV, work out, shoot pool--guy stuff."
THEY SAID IT
Lakers coach, expanding on forward Robert Horry's description of
L.A.'s attack in Game 1 against Utah as a "Wizard of Oz
offense" with no heart, no brains and no courage: "Yeah, and no