Dale Ellis should've known better. Having played in more than
1,000 NBA games and having endured 10 times that many taunts
from spectators, the 38-year-old Seattle SuperSonics guard had
no business waging a war of words with the diminutive courtside
heckler at the Great Western Forum last season. But something
about this fan--the Pillsbury Doughboy visage, the
matter-of-fact delivery--struck Ellis as he guarded the Los
Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant on an isolation play near the wing.
"Work him, Kobe, work him," the familiar voice intoned, and then
the realization gripped Ellis like a 30-foot anaconda: Damn!
That's Cube dissing me!
We hold these truths to be self-evident: You don't pitch a
Diff'rent Strokes reunion to NBC. You don't invite Sergei
Fedorov to your daughter's Sweet 16 party. And you sure as hell
don't talk trash with Ice Cube, perhaps the most adroit lyricist
of his generation, who once rhymed subpoena with
Bosnia-Herzegovina. But Ellis, a fan of the rapper-actor-Lakers
fanatic, couldn't check himself before he wrecked himself. "Work
me?" the 6'7" shooting guard growled at Cube, who says he's 5'9"
but would probably need to puff up his Afro to get there. "S---,
let's see your puny ass get down here and play some D."
The capping continued during Ellis's next several trips down the
floor until Cube landed the knockout punch line: "Yo, Dale,
let's go one-on-one. Just make sure we hit the court in
June--'cause I know you don't show up come playoff time."
Ellis laughs at the recollection. "It's obvious he's a big fan,"
he says of Cube, "and I'm sure he can play the game."
May 23, 1999
Don't even get Cube started on that subject. "I can run a little
point, and I'm not afraid to shoot," he says. His music is
filled with less modest appraisals of his skills: In It Was a
Good Day, he boasts, "Last week I f----- around and got a triple
Like many of today's platinum sellers, Cube enjoys making
records, but he'd really rather be dishing to Chris Webber. He's
tripping, of course, but can you blame him? In an era in which
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders can release a widely
panned but highly publicized rap CD, gender-bending rebounder
Dennis Rodman can howl his lungs out onstage at a Pearl Jam
concert and legions of professional athletes are infiltrating
the music industry as performers, producers and label owners,
the prospect of a rapper throwing down for the Lakers looms as
the ultimate MTV cross-promotion. And don't think it won't
happen: Earlier this year one of the last players cut by the
Charlotte Hornets was a 6'4" guard named Percy Miller but better
known as Master P, whose rapping, producing, filmmaking and
business ventures made him $56.5 million last year alone. Asked
to evaluate Miller's game, then Hornets coach Dave Cowens joked
that he had to be careful because Miller "might be my boss one
Once as incongruous as hippies and showers, musicians and jocks
have converged to form a mutual adoration society. The
connections range from the fiery hookup between TLC's Lisa (Left
Eye) Lopes and Kansas City Chiefs receiver Andre Rison, to the
staggeringly improbable friendship between Jon Bon Jovi and New
York Jets assistant coach Bill Belichick. "Most musicians
respect athletes, and vice versa," says former NBA star Bill
Walton, whose strong ties to the Grateful Dead began a quarter
century ago. "The only difference is that musicians don't have
the physical ability to sustain violent collisions--unless it's
with the cops."
Athletes and musicians face common pressures at work (trying to
succeed in a group or team context while being screamed at by
some of society's most raucous spectators) and at play (they go
to the same clubs and sweet-talk the same strippers). Often,
their biggest turn-ons come from meeting one another. That's
typical of many celebrities, but athletes and musicians are the
ones living together on the edge. "Actors don't go through what
we go through and what athletes go through, from the travel to
the groupies to the constant interaction with the public," says
Smashing Pumpkins singer and guitarist Billy Corgan, a Rodman
confidant and a regular at Bulls games during the Jordan
dynasty. "A real strong similarity is the pressure of having to
perform on demand."
Some of the tightest bonds are between jocks and hip-hoppers,
who have taken up the rock-and-roll mantle of fame-flaunting,
drug-touting behavior. The rap game has seduced many
professional athletes, the most prominent of whom, Lakers center
Shaquille O'Neal, released his fifth CD last September. "When
you watch MTV, you can tell all the musicians want to be
athletes, and when you watch ESPN, you can tell all the athletes
want to rap," O'Neal says. "Remember, a lot of us came from the
They're certainly in a lot of the same places now. Jocks
routinely appear in music videos, and it's tough to attend any
big sporting event without stumbling over at least a couple of
MTV icons--from Cube, Snoop Dogg and Warren G (Lakers), to Sean
(Puff Daddy) Combs (Knicks), R.E.M.'s Mike Mills (Atlanta
Braves) and Mick Jagger (England's World Cup side). Last August
the New York Yankees clubhouse was invaded by the Boss--not team
owner George Steinbrenner but New Jersey-bred rock icon Bruce
Springsteen, who signed the guitar of Yankees centerfielder
Bernie Williams. Another Yankee, shortstop Derek Jeter,
reportedly had a short-term romance with singer Mariah Carey.
The Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson and the Sacramento Kings'
Webber are among the NBA standouts who own small record labels.
Aspiring hoopster Master P has taken the intermingling one step
further by becoming a player in the agent business. His No Limit
Sports Management represents Heisman Trophy winner Ricky
Williams and NBA comers Ron Mercer (Boston Celtics) and Derek
Anderson (Cleveland Cavaliers).
You don't have to be a Gen Xer, or even a baby boomer, to be
part of this harmonic convergence. The Three Tenors--Luciano
Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras--staged concerts in
conjunction with the last three World Cups. Shortly before their
performance in France this summer that preceded the championship
game, Carreras joked, "We're singing in Paris in the hope of
getting good seats at the final."
The domestic equivalent occurred this spring when country
superstar Garth Brooks pushed the concept of fantasy baseball to
new depths by going through spring training with the San Diego
It was the phattest hookup in the entertainment industry:
Celebrities and bigwigs came from all over the country to
witness an annual event featuring some of America's most gifted
and flamboyant athletes and musicians.
The 1998 NBA All-Star Game? Super Bowl XXXIII? Try the East-West
Classic, the Negro leagues all-star game staged in Chicago
during the '30s and '40s. Singer Lena Horne, boxer Joe Louis and
slugger Josh Gibson might have shared a table at a smoky club
while legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong blew his lungs out. On
game day Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker might have joined Count
Basie and Duke Ellington in marveling at pitcher Satchel Paige.
"Part of the motivation for making the all-star team was to get
to Chicago for that night with Satchmo and Satch," says longtime
Grateful Dead vocalist and guitarist Bob Weir, who is cowriting
and producing a musical about Paige.
When Weir and his collaborator, Michael Nash, interviewed former
Negro leaguers, the writers were struck by the confluence of
sports and music in black America. "It was a segregated world,
and you had two sets of cultural heroes who typically traveled
the same routes, stayed at the same hotels and partied in the
same clubs," Nash says. Such ties were less pronounced among
white athletes and musicians, but they did exist. Joey Bishop,
part of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, was pals with Los Angeles
Dodgers pitchers Don Drysdale and Ron Perranoski. Bishop told
the Los Angeles Times last summer that during his Vegas act in
the early '60s, he'd bring Drysdale onstage to sing, then send
him off and have reliever Perranoski deliver the final note.
In the late '60s, however, rock-and-roll became the voice of
rebellion, and sports became unhip. "The '60s were about youth
culture, and sports weren't peddled as part of that culture,"
says Will Dana, an assistant managing editor for Rolling Stone.
"Rock-and-roll sort of defined itself in opposition to the NFL."
Before joining the most famous hippie band in history, Weir was
a standout miler and football player for his boarding school in
Colorado. He got kicked out, he says, for being a rabble-rouser.
"In the '60s, music and sports were worlds apart," Weir says.
"People who were into sports were generally a little more
accepting of a regimented life and basically lived like
soldiers. I mean, who's gonna argue with Bear Bryant?
Musicians--if something didn't suit us, we'd make a little stink
or just not obey orders."
One of the few famous gym rats to bridge the gap was Walton.
While starring at UCLA during the early '70s, he played for John
Wooden--the emblem of button-down probity and old-school
authority--but got arrested during a campus protest against the
Vietnam War. Later, with the Portland Trail Blazers, Walton
really let his red hair down, becoming friendly with the Dead
and being peripherally linked to Patty Hearst's flight from
justice, which added new meaning to the term fast break. His
lifestyle earned him the scorn of sports traditionalists,
including many of his fellow players.
Sports and music got busy in the '80s for several reasons, most
notably money. Corporate America shed its square image and began
incorporating antiestablishment themes into advertising. The
emergence of MTV, which packaged sports as fast-paced, edgy
entertainment, helped convince advertisers that athletes could
sell beer and bun-hugging briefs on a huge scale to young
consumers. "Rock and sports are two of the most powerful selling
vehicles in the history of mankind," says Rolling Stone's Dana.
"MTV claims more credit for discovering this than it deserves--I
think Mountain Dew and the gear companies, which created the
images for athletes and then packaged those images, had a
On a personal level athletes and musicians found a common ground
more compelling than money. Mike Shumann, a San Francisco
sportscaster who was a 49ers receiver for three seasons between
'78 and '81, recalls hanging with Bay Area rockers Eddie Money
and several members of the Jefferson Starship during his playing
days. "The attraction was mutual," Shumann says. "The musicians
are all these little guys who were frustrated athletes, so they
had to join a band to be cool. And it wasn't cool to be a jock
back then, so the jocks had to find a conduit to cool, and that
was to hang with musicians. It was all based on trying to meet
The walls came tumbling down in the '90s. Even Rolling Stone
caved: Last July the magazine released a sports issue.
On a warm Sunday evening last June, the All-Star Cafe in Miami's
South Beach was packed with scantily clad revelers, most of them
trying to catch a glimpse of the roped-off second level, where a
private party hosted by former Miami Dolphins safety Louis
Oliver was raging. The gathering, a weekly happening, included
most of the Miami Heat's starting five, troubled former NFL
running back Lawrence Phillips and several other pro and college
athletes, along with a Playboy Mansionesque swarm of babes. Yet
the man who commanded the most attention was former 2 Live Crew
rapper Luther (Luke) Campbell, a 38-year-old survivor of the
Liberty City ghetto who got kicked off his high school football
team for mouthing off to the coach.
Bizarre as it might sound, Campbell, who in the early '90s beat
obscenity charges in Florida brought over the sexually explicit
lyrics in songs such as Me So Horny, had gone country club. He
now lives on a golf course in Miami Lakes, and on the cover of
his latest solo album, Changin' the Game, he's pictured holding
a golf club while clad in garish golf attire. Pointing across
the All-Star Cafe party at NFL veteran running back Terry Kirby,
Campbell boasted, "I take his money on the golf course all the
time. I could make a living off him, [New York Jets linebacker]
Bryan Cox and Hootie [singer Darius Rucker]."
But no amount of image softening will change Campbell's legacy
as college football's ghetto candy man. Soon after Miami became
a national power in the mid-'80s, forging a reputation for
showboating and intimidation, Campbell was the Hurricanes'
eminence grease, paying the players off and egging them on. He
befriended many of them, luring recruits into his sex-soaked
social scene and posting bounties for big hits on opposing stars
such as Notre Dame's Tim Brown. The handouts endeared Campbell
to legions of Hurricanes. The handouts were also against NCAA
rules. Campbell received an unexpected home visit from NCAA
investigators in 1995; that same year Miami officials told him
he was persona non grata. "I'm not even allowed to buy season
tickets," Campbell said. "But the players still find me, and we
hang out secretly. It's like they're cheating on their wives,
and I'm the other woman."
A muscular young man in a shiny red tank top approached the
table and gave Campbell a hug. Former Hurricanes quarterback
Ryan Collins was once at the center of a Campbell-generated
scandal. In the spring of '95, Campbell threatened to blow the
whistle on the Miami program if Collins were not named the
starter that fall. While refusing to go into details, Collins
admitted that Campbell's generosity went well beyond high fives.
"He was too good to us--that was the problem," Collins says.
"But Luke changed the way college football was played."
Campbell boasted that he added habanero salsa to a Velveeta
sport. "Until I got brothers wearing bandannas and s---, college
football was boring, every team was trying to be like Michigan
and Notre Dame," he said. "I changed the whole energy at Miami,
got kids dancing in the end zone, posing, the whole bit.
Everyone who lived in the inner city wanted to be part of that.
When I went out on tour I'd see hundreds of kids wearing UM
shirts. It was just like the Raiders back in the day--kids in
the hood could relate to that toughness, that physical play."
Campbell said he made one other contribution to football: "I was
the first musician on the sidelines. After that, Hammer showed
up at Falcons games when Deion was playing in Atlanta, and then
all sorts of dudes were out there pumping their teams. Then
again, every athlete these days thinks he can rap."
On March 6, 1997, two of the largest men ever to pick up
microphones had an unexpected rendezvous at Tattoomania on
Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Shaquille O'Neal and rap
star Christopher Wallace--to their fans, Shaq and the Notorious
B.I.G., or Biggie Smalls--greeted each other with a bear hug.
The previous summer the two entertainment giants had spent
several days together at O'Neal's home near Orlando, where
Biggie recorded vocals for a track on Shaq's CD You Can't Stop
the Reign. After exchanging what-up-yo's with Smalls, O'Neal
expressed concern for his friend's safety. Rap's East Coast-West
Coast feud had escalated dangerously, and many people believed
it had led to the shooting death of one of rap's biggest stars,
Tupac Shakur, the previous fall. Now the Brooklyn-based B.I.G.,
with whom Shakur had carried on a very public beef, was on enemy
turf. "Be careful," O'Neal told him.
"It's cool," Smalls replied. "I'm straight."
Three days later there was a big party in L.A.'s Miracle Mile
district. O'Neal had planned to attend, but that evening he fell
asleep on his couch. Early the next morning he was awakened by a
telephone call from his mother, Lucille. "Did you go?" she
asked. "They shot Biggie right outside. He's gone."
Taking up the entire length of a couch in an office on the A&M
Records lot in Hollywood, O'Neal, clad in a black suit with red
pinstripes, shudders at the memory. "I don't have time for beefs
or jealousy," he says. "I'm not on this earth to outdo anybody.
When it comes down to it, we've all got the Benzes and the phat
houses and these f------ suits. Why should I try to bogart
Some rappers believe O'Neal is fronting, that he owes his
success (including that of his platinum debut CD, Shaq Diesel)
to slick production and marketing. In 1995 rapper Coolio told
Vibe magazine that O'Neal should "stay on the court; he can't
rap." It's a decent bet, however, that none of those critics has
expressed that sentiment in person to the 7'1", 315-pound
dunkmeister. O'Neal, who entitled his latest CD Respect because
he wants to be accepted as a legitimate rapper, says, "I'm just
the first person to conquer both worlds. I'm not stupid; I know
not to pick bulls--- beats. If I come with some Bozo the Clown
stuff--like the Super Bowl Shuffle--I'll get laughed out of this
Shaq already has his props from Ice Cube, who says, "I think
he's legit." And Cube's not just saying that because he wants
courtside seats...although he does. As a kid growing up in
South-Central L.A., he lived and died with the Lakers, crying
whenever they lost a big series. "My father would always tell me
to quit it, that [Lakers owner] Jerry Buss was not putting food
on my table," Cube recalls. "It was supposed to make me feel
better, but it didn't work."
Cube has befriended a number of prominent athletes--he names
O'Neal, Ken Griffey Jr. and Raiders return man Desmond Howard
off the top of his head--but he has yet to be introduced to the
man he most admires. "If I could meet anyone in the world, it
would be Michael Jordan," he says. "Athletes are the only thing
that gets me pumped, period."
Jeff Ament thrusts his body through a mass of confusion, takes
to the air and lets out a primal scream. As usual, the Pearl Jam
bassist is establishing a furious tempo, only this time his
quintet is a group of pickup basketball players in a Seattle gym
rather than the preeminent band of the '90s.
Growing up in the tiny Montana town of Big Sandy, Ament, who
like Cube would need platform shoes to see eye to eye with
Stephon Marbury, fantasized about playing in the NBA. Instead he
ended up in a band of hoops freaks. There is no better piece of
rock trivia than Pearl Jam's original name--Mookie Blaylock,
after the NBA point guard now with the Atlanta Hawks. As Ament
sits in a Seattle restaurant devouring sushi with former Sonics
forward Frank Brickowski, he recounts the story: "We were
recording demos, and every time we'd take a break for candy bars
and sodas, we'd buy a pack of basketball cards. We got booked
for 10 shows with Alice in Chains and needed a name. Mookie's
card was sitting there, and our manager said, 'Why not make that
your name?' So we said, 'What the hell?'"
When it became clear that the band had a chance of hitting it
big, Ament felt a name change was in order because, he says, "I
wanted us to be taken seriously and not just be known as a jock
band." They didn't completely abandon Mookie, however. The band
titled its first album Ten--Blaylock's uniform number. That
album made Pearl Jam--and gave the band members VIP status in
the sports world. In November 1993, singer Eddie Vedder and Cy
Young Award-winning pitcher Jack McDowell, whose wives were once
roommates in San Diego, joined members of the band Urge Overkill
on a late-night and early-morning New Orleans party spree.
Vedder started jawing with a waiter in a French Quarter
nightclub, and a brawl erupted. McDowell jumped in and got his
head bounced off a curb. An ambulance arrived, but police
officers insisted on interrogating McDowell before allowing him
to visit the emergency room. This angered Vedder, who confronted
the cops and was cited for public drunkenness and disturbing the
peace. (He was later acquitted.) "Just another example of why
celebrities hang out together," says McDowell, now with the
Anaheim Angels, who sings and plays guitar for his own band,
Stickfigure. "We share experiences that people who aren't in
these worlds don't understand."
McDowell is one of the many athletes, including virtually every
SuperSonics player in the '90s, who have hung with Pearl Jam.
The band, which takes a fold-up hoop on its tours, has four
ardent Sonics supporters and Bulls fan Vedder, who grew up in
Chicago. Yet it was Ament who first befriended future Bulls
forward Rodman, after Slam magazine sent the bassist to
interview the basketball player of his choice during the 1993-94
season. Ament was stunned to learn that Rodman, then with the
San Antonio Spurs, was a big fan of Pearl Jam. Soon Rodman began
showing up at their concerts, and Ament and Vedder started
attending Rodman's games. "I know the stereotype of the
rock-and-roll lifestyle, but trust me, it's much more boring in
our world than in his," Ament says. "He's tried to teach us a
few things." Rodman's over-the-top exhibitionism has even rubbed
off a bit on the intensely private Vedder. The two vacationed
together in Maui after the Bulls beat the Sonics in the '96 NBA
Finals, and one night they were drinking wine at Moose
McGillycuddy's, a Lahaina nightspot, when the bar band broke
into a cover of Pearl Jam's Go. With Rodman pumping him up,
Vedder hopped onstage and belted out a three-song set with the
stunned musicians. (Things didn't go quite as smoothly last
summer during a Pearl Jam show in Dallas, when a shirtless,
shoeless, wine-swilling Rodman took the stage but had his
microphone turned off during a painful two-song vocal stint.)
Soccer and music have long been bedfellows, or at least
barhopping buddies, as anyone who followed the '98 World Cup
knows. Shortly before the tournament began, Scottish rocker Rod
Stewart, who had a tryout with a professional soccer team in the
'60s, publicly apologized for taking part in a late-night
drinking session at a London nightclub with flamboyant English
midfielder Paul Gascoigne, a bit of revelry that contributed to
Gascoigne's dismissal from the national team. Another English
player, midfielder David Beckham, who incurred a devastating red
card in his team's second-round loss to Argentina, is engaged to
Victoria Adams, also known as Posh Spice. Television cameras
showed Jagger swaying along with English supporters during the
game against Argentina, while Sting and U2's Bono and their
wives sat together in the stands during France's victory over
Brazil in the final.
"I'm consistently amazed by the rockers I meet who are
completely into soccer," says former U.S. team defender--and
guitarist--Alexi Lalas, whose popularity during the '94 World
Cup helped him get a deal with CMC International, an affiliate
of BMG. Lalas and his teammates met reggae star Ziggy Marley
when the performer invited them to a concert near the team's
Southern California training site shortly before the '94 World
Cup. Two years ago dreadlocked U.S. forward Cobi Jones visited
Marley in Kingston, Jamaica. The two ventured into the Trench
Town ghetto for a pickup soccer game, and Jones later put on a
youth clinic there.
As he sits in the incense-filled kitchen of his home in Miami,
Marley reflects on the passion for soccer he inherited from his
late father, reggae progenitor Bob Marley. Like Bob, Ziggy
frequently plays in pickup games. "For us, football and music go
I-and-I," he says. "Pele taught us that football is music. It's
all about the way you move. If I had a choice of writing the
greatest song ever or scoring a goal in the World Cup, I'd take
Ziggy's brother Rohan embraced American football, starting at
linebacker for Luke Campbell's Miami Hurricanes from 1992 to '94
and in 1995 with the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders. He has since
become the live-in lover of Lauryn Hill, the hottest star in the
music industry, with whom he has fathered two children.
Ziggy also enjoys basketball. After a concert last spring in
Chicago he hooked up with Rodman when the cross-dressing forward
showed up unannounced outside his tour bus. "Him cool," Marley
says. "I didn't like him before I met him, all that dressing up
and stuff. But he knocked on the door, and all the Jamaican
girls who were with us went crazy, so I let him in. He stayed
with us late, mon. I think he had a game the next day. He didn't
play too good."
They used to pop tabs of LSD as if they were Altoids and sing
lyrics such as, "It left a smoking crater of my mind / I like to
blow away." But nothing, not even Day-Glo paint, mesmerized the
Grateful Dead the way a 49ers game did. When the Niners rose to
prominence in the early '80s, going on to win five Super Bowls
in 14 years, the Bay Area-based Dead went along on the long,
strange trip, at least in spirit. "We're all pretty much
pathological Niners fans," Weir says. "Whenever we'd play a
Sunday or Monday-night show that coincided with a big game, it
was an issue. Let's just say there were some real long set
breaks, and if we couldn't watch the end of the game backstage,
our roadies would give us updates after every song."
If any band captured the spontaneous and communal joy of team
sports at their highest level, it was the Dead. Their entree
into the sports world came through Walton. "We were playing a
show in the mid-'70s," Weir recalls, "and this one guy about 20
rows back was standing on his chair, so some people in our crew
went out to tell him to sit down. When they realized he wasn't
up on his chair--it was just Walton--they gave him a backstage
pass so the people behind him could see."
The big man and the big band connected instantly, forging
friendships that have lasted a quarter century. Walton
accompanied the Dead on its trip to Egypt in 1978--"We climbed
the Great Pyramid together," Weir says--and of the hundreds of
performances Walton attended, one he remembers with special
fondness took place in 1986, when he was finishing his career on
a Boston Celtics team that went on to win the NBA title. The
Dead came to town for a series of shows; on the first night
Walton brought along teammates Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
"Those guys would drink beers two bottles at a time," Weir says,
"and their hands were so big, they could actually walk around
with two in each hand. Which was fortunate, because it took at
least four beers to get those guys buzzed."
The following afternoon at practice, Bird and McHale gave a
glowing review of the show, and Walton arranged to bring the
entire team to a performance. "Everyone came except Danny Ainge,
because his wife wouldn't let him go," Walton says of the
current Phoenix Suns coach. "Just before the lights went up,
Jerry Garcia looked over at Bird and gave him a little wink that
said, This is what we do. And then he went into an absolutely
ripping opener that blew us away."
In recent years Weir has become friendly with 49ers quarterback
Steve Young, for whom he has two ambitions: "With all those
injuries he's had, I would love to get him doing yoga. And I
play in this fairly serious flag-football league in Marin, and
it's my goal to get Steve to come to one of our games as a
As Weir strolls through the darkened woods of Mill Valley, a San
Francisco suburb just upstream from paradise, he reflects on his
most satisfying sports-related memory. In 1992, after announcing
that they planned to move to St. Petersburg, the San Francisco
Giants were purchased by local investors and stayed at
Candlestick Park. In what once would have been written off as a
twisted hallucinogenic fantasy, the Grateful Dead were invited
to sing the national anthem for the Giants' '93 home opener.
After a three-hour rehearsal Garcia, Weir and keyboardist Vince
Welnick took the field to a warm ovation under sunny April
skies. Never known for their vocal prowess, the Dead nailed The
Star-Spangled Banner and brought down the house. "It went a
whole lot better than I expected," Weir says, "and we were a
little taken aback. It was one of those American moments. I had
done a lot of environmental lobbying in D.C. during that time,
and it was so gratifying to know that certain conservative
senators were sitting there cringing while the media held us up
as this national treasure."
As Weir nears the front entrance to his home, his voice quivers
and his eyes get glassy, and it's clear that he has a more
important point to make about that experience. "There was a lot
going on that day," he says. "It was Barry Bonds's first game
with the Giants, and he went deep."
Louis Armstrong (right) sponsors a New Orleans semipro team
called Louis Armstrong's Secret Nine.
Dancer Bill (Bojangles) Robinson is best man at the wedding of
Pittsburgh Crawfords pitcher Satchel Paige. During Paige's days
with the Kansas City Monarchs, from 1940 to '47, Robinson
occasionally tap-dances on the team's dugout during games.
The Treniers release Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song), featuring a
cameo voice-over by the Hall of Fame outfielder. The single
isn't a hit; it never makes the Billboard R&B chart.
Five months before becoming heavyweight champion, Cassius Clay
releases an album, I Am the Greatest.
Celtics K.C. Jones (below) and Tom Sanders release their duet,
The Basketball Twist, as a single.
A few months after their victory over the Baltimore Colts in
Super Bowl III, four members of the New York Jets dub themselves
the Four Jets and fumble a country and western tune on The Ed
Sullivan Show. Later that year the L.A. Rams' Fearsome Foursome,
including Deacon Jones (below), sing on TV.
Attempting to produce a sound "like Wembley Stadium full of
football supporters," British glam rocker Gary Glitter records
Rock and Roll Part II (Hey!), which will become the most
ubiquitous--and annoying--anthem in U.S. sports history.
After winning the heavyweight championship, Joe Frazier hits the
road with a Memphis-style soul revue dubbed Smokin' Joe and the
Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley promotes 11-year-old batboy
Stanley Burrell to honorary vice president of the Oakland A's.
Sixteen years later, Burrell records the top-selling rap album
of all time, Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, under the name M.C.
Tennis great Jimmy Connors stiffly lip-synchs his part of a duet
with Paul Anka on the ABC-TV series Saturday Night Live with
Howard Cosell. In '82 Connors also does backup vocals on Lionel
Richie's song Tell Me.
In his song Hurricane, Bob Dylan proclaims the innocence of
former middleweight boxer Ruben Carter, convicted of a triple
murder in New Jersey in the '60s. Carter gets a new trial, but
he is again found guilty. His conviction was overturned in '85.
Reggae star Bob Marley injures his toe playing soccer in Paris.
Jamaican lore holds that this injury led to the cancer that
NBA center Bill Walton spends his off-season with the Dead on
their Egyptian concert tour. (Above, Walton jams with Dead
members last year.)
Richard Petty (below), Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison do
vocals for album NASCAR Goes Country.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, motivated by Willie Stargell and their
team theme song, Sister Sledge's We Are Family, win the World
The Chicago White Sox are forced to forfeit the second game of a
double-header after record-smashing fans get carried away during
the Disco Demolition Night promotion.
Kurtis Blow releases the song Basketball, one of rap's earliest
references to hoops.
The Chicago Bears' novelty rap, Super Bowl Shuffle, gets a
Grammy nomination for best R&B vocal performance by a duo or
Country musician Mike Reid, a former Cincinnati Bengals All-Pro
defensive lineman, is named ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year.
49ers Joe Montana and Dwight Clark backup Huey Lewis and the
News on Hip to Be Square single.
The Seattle grunge band Mookie Blaylock changes its name to
The Cure's Robert Smith requires promoters of European festivals
to schedule his performances so they don't conflict with World
While pitching in a game at the Orioles' fantasy camp in
Sarasota, Fla., Joan Jett gets Joe Durham, who had a brief stint
with the Baltimore Orioles in the '50s, to pop up.
Rap group Fu Schnickens invites NBA star Shaquille O'Neal to
perform with it on The Arsenio Hall Show. He briefly joins the
band as rapper Shaq-Fu.
Responding to boos prompted by his painfully off-key rendition
of the national anthem before a Chicago Bulls game, track star
Carl Lewis stops in mid-song and promises, "I'll make up for
it." He doesn't.
Tennis star Gabriela Sabatini sings with Jon Secada on The
Arsenio Hall Show.
Shaquille O'Neal releases his debut CD, Shaq Diesel, which goes
After an argument with her boyfriend, All-Pro NFL receiver Andre
Rison, rapper Lisa (Left Eye) Lopes of TLC sets fire to his
mansion in suburban Atlanta.
Rocker Rod Stewart pays $100,000 to have a soccer field built
next to his home.
Greg Gumbel meets his idol, Keith Richards, before a Rolling
Stones concert in Philadelphia. Gumbel, who calls the meeting
"the highlight of my career," is dumbfounded that Richards knows
who he is.
Hootie and the Blowfish song Only Want to Be With You includes
line, "I'm such a baby because the Dolphins make me cry." Miami
quarterback Dan Marino appears in video.
Boyz II Men perform at the San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl ring
presentation ceremony in Colorado.
Luther Campbell threatens to expose NCAA violations committed by
the Miami program if his friend Ryan Collins is not named the
team's starting quarterback.
Critically acclaimed jazz bassist and NBA veteran power forward
Waymon Tisdale signs a seven-album deal with MoJazz records.
Deion Sanders releases a rap album, Prime Time, featuring the
single It Must Be the Money. Five tracks include the words Me or
Prime in their titles.
Cleveland Browns coach Bill Belichick accompanies Jon Bon Jovi
on his group's European tour. Traveling on the band's private
jet, Belichick says, "My wife and I sat up in the front with Jon
and [his wife] and their young kids, and watched Barney."
Dallas Mavericks teammates Jason Kidd (left) and Jimmy Jackson
stop speaking to each other, reportedly because of their
competition for the affections of singer Toni Braxton.
Toni Braxton leaves her wallet in Dennis Rodman's tour bus after
an all-night party in New York City.
British rock band Oasis offers to sponsor its favorite English
professional team, the financially strapped Manchester City.
Blur's Damon Albarn scores a spectacular goal in a celebrity
soccer match at London's Wembley Stadium featuring two teams of
High schooler Kobe Bryant takes teen singer Brandy to his senior
Shaquille O'Neal forms his own record label, TWIsM Records.
Jake Trout and the Flounders, a band made up of golfers (from
left) Payne Stewart, Mark Lye and Peter Jacobsen (with manager
Tibby Torhorst), is joined in the studio by Stephen Stills,
Alice Cooper and Darius Rucker for the recording of the CD I
Love To Play, featuring golf-related spoofs.
John McEnroe marries '80s rock diva Patty Smyth and begins
performing with his own group, the Johnny Smyth Band.
Mike Tyson makes a cameo appearance in a video by rapper Canibus.
Oakland Raiders' fullback Jon Ritchie clips and then eats grass
from Jimi Hendrix's grave near Seattle. "I wanted to internalize
Jimi," he says.
Detroit Pistons star Grant Hill relinquishes his spot on the
U.S. Olympic qualifying team to avoid a conflict with his
planned wedding to singer Tamia.
Country superstar Garth Brooks spends spring training with the
San Diego Padres, delighting fans by signing thousands of
autographs but finishing with a .045 batting average.
Posh Spice and British soccer star David Beckham welcome their
first child, Brooklyn Joseph.
At Bruce Springsteen's induction into rock's hall of fame, Bono
praises the Boss because he "never embarrassed himself. No drug
busts, no blood transfusions in Switzerland. Even more
remarkable: no golf."
Getting in Tune
Many athletes have bestowed musical offerings upon the world,
and most of these efforts have been execrable. Says Smashing
Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan, "I give that stuff about as much
credence as an NBA star would give me if I tried to suit up with
the Bulls." Here's a quick look at what's out there:
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL Has his own record label and a slickly produced
new CD, Respect, in stores. If nothing else, Shaq surrounds
himself with talent.
JACK McDOWELL Stickfigure, fronted by the Anaheim Angels
pitcher, recently released its second CD, Feedbag, a raw but
melodic collection of what McDowell calls garage stomp rock.
"Our first record was slick and well-produced, and it didn't do
s--- in the stores," he says. "So I got pissed and made a
WAYMON TISDALE The former Phoenix Suns forward, who retired in
1996 after 13 years in the NBA, may be a better musician than
basketball player--he has been compared to big-time talents such
as Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller. "He's a killer bass
player," says A&M Records executive Dave Rosas. "He can throw
ALEXI LALAS A serious guitarist, vocalist and songwriter since
college, the Kansas City Wizards and U.S. national team defender
enjoyed little success with two self-released CDs. After gaining
fame as a player during the '94 World Cup, Lalas (below), a
heavy-metal aficionado whose own sound is more melody-driven,
has a four-CD deal with CMC International Records. His newest
release is called Ginger.
SCOTT RADINSKY The St. Louis Cardinals reliever's band, Pulley,
is a punk-rock outfit. McDowell, a former teammate of
Radinsky's, says Pulley's music is "somewhere between California
double-time punk and Green Day."
PETER JACOBSEN This golfer may be serious about his band, Jake
Trout and the Flounders, but you wouldn't know it from his CD, I
Love to Play, which puts golf-themed lyrics over rock melodies
by Alice Cooper (I'm on 18), Glenn Frey (Struggler's Blues) and
War (Low Riser).
To sample tracks from these athletes, log on to cnnsi.com/tunes.
When Miami became a power in the '80s, Luther Campbell was
paying the players off and egging them on.
"If I had a choice of writing the greatest song or scoring a
World Cup goal," says Ziggy Marley, "I'd take the goal."