A TOWERING REMINDER
Sydney erects the Olympics' first permanent memorial to the
Israeli athletes slain in Munich in '72
SCORECARD scolds, scowls, scoffs, praises and prattles, but
rarely does it preen. Forgive us, then, for congratulating
ourselves just this once.
Three years ago Sydney Morning Herald columnist and former
international rugby star Peter FitzSimons was sitting at the
Olympic double-trap shooting event just outside Atlanta, leafing
through one of the issues SPORTS ILLUSTRATED published daily
during the 1996 Summer Games. FitzSimons came upon this
SCORECARD reference to the IOC's failure to commemorate the 11
Israelis who were murdered by terrorists during the 1972 Munich
Games: "While the IOC is naturally loath to hark back to the
darkest incident in Olympic history, it is astounding that over
six subsequent Summer Games, the organization has virtually
ignored the victims. No permanent memorial, no mention in the
opening ceremonies, no nothing."
FitzSimons clipped the item and sent it to Geoff Levy, a
businessman he knew in Sydney, along with a scribbled
note--"Geoff, what about this?"--and later wrote a column on the
subject. Levy enlisted a group of his fellow Jewish businessmen,
and last Friday the result was unveiled on Olympic Plaza.
October 24, 1999
The plaza, which can accommodate more than 300,000 people per
day, will be the focal point for crowds during the 2000 Sydney
Games. It is lined by 19 lighting towers, each dedicated to a
past host city of the Summer Olympics. On the stanchion of Tower
14, the Munich 1972 tower, two plaques--one of blue glass and
one of stainless steel, set at an angle to give the impression
that the glass is floating--are etched with the names of the
slain Israeli athletes, coaches and referees, along with a verse
from the Bible in English and a traditional prayer for the dead
"They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions," reads
the verse from II Samuel. "God of compassion," petitions the
Hebrew passage, "let them find shelter in the shadow of your
wings, and may their souls be bound up in the bond of
Thanks, Pete. Thanks, Geoff. Now back to our regularly scheduled
scolding, scowling and scoffing. --Gary Smith
SIMPSON'S 911 CALL
O.J. Tackles Miami Vice
Slug this police story O.J. Simpson: To Serve and Protect. Last
April, Simpson tangled with a mugger in the parking lot of a Los
Angeles golf course--he claims he bit the guy and grabbed his
handgun--before calling in the LAPD. On Oct. 10 the Juice dialed
911 again, this time from his girlfriend Christie Prody's
Miami-area town house. "We have a problem here," Simpson told
the police operator. "I'm trying to get a girl to go to rehab
who's been doing drugs with Pedro Guerrero."
When the operator asked, "Is anybody hitting anyone right now?"
Simpson said, "No, no, it's nothing like that."
"Does anybody have any weapons?"
Then, after a brief disconnect, the police called O.J. back.
"Oh, she left, and I don't know what to do about it," he said.
"She got mad.... Now she's loaded out of her mind in her
Mustang, driving around town somewhere. I don't know her
driver's license, but she needs to be stopped."
Two Miami-Dade Police Department officers were dispatched to
Prody's house in West Kendall, Fla., where they found Simpson
alone. According to the cops' report, he said that he'd been
arguing with Prody and that she was under the influence of an
unknown substance: "Out of concern for Ms. Prody's safety Mr.
Simpson called 911. Ms. Prody then fled the scene in an unknown
Prody, 24, and the 52-year-old Simpson had recently been out on
the town in Miami with Guerrero, the former Dodgers and
Cardinals slugger who was recently charged by the DEA with
conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute it.
Authorities say he agreed to underwrite a purchase of 33 pounds
of cocaine. Guerrero, who was indicted last week, was
unreachable for comment.
Prody's mother, Cathy Bellmore, feels only contempt for O.J.
"Simpson would like to cloak himself in a new role as a Good
Samaritan, but I believe he will never be a Good Samaritan in my
daughter's life," she says. "If Simpson really wants to help
Christie, he should leave her alone." Bellmore labels the 911
call "bizarre" and says she fears it was spurred by "jealous
Prody and Simpson now say that she wasn't the woman he was
referring to in his distress call. According to Simpson it was a
woman named Pinky, not Prody, who had gone on a two-day drug
binge with Guerrero.
The only ones to get busted in the latest Simpson case are
officers Ralph De Jesus and Lonnie Allen, who responded to the
911 call. They drew desk duty last week pending an investigation
of their behavior that day. After checking Prody's town house
for signs of trouble, they handed O.J. a domestic-violence
brochure, then asked him to pose with them for a souvenir photo.
Run from Daylight
Did the pressure of being a first-round NFL draft pick make
Dimitrius Underwood try to kill himself? Underwood (below), the
defensive end out of Michigan State who deserted Vikings camp in
August, then signed with the Dolphins and slashed his own neck
last month at the Lansing, Mich., home of his twin daughters'
mother, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or manic
depression, sources close to him say. The condition, which is
treatable with drugs, can lie dormant for years and then spur
sudden, sometimes violent acts. "These things usually show up
when people are in their 30's, when the stresses of life have
really built up," says Texas A&M psychology professor Arnold
LeUnes, "but it could well be that the stress of being a
first-round pick provided the same level of disturbance."
Underwood, 22, seems to have been ducking the spotlight for more
than a year. His roommate at Michigan State remembers him as a
player who punished himself to gain an edge on the field. "He
would run the campus at midnight with ankle weights on," says
Jonathan Walker. "He said he knew the guys that he played
against weren't doing that." But at some point Underwood may
have lost his desire to excel. He sprained his ankle and didn't
play a down for the Spartans last season, though he was cleared
to play after the fifth game. "People told him that if he didn't
play he'd be nothing more than a third-round draft pick," Walker
says. "But he said, 'What's the use of coming back if I'll go in
the first three rounds anyway?'"
Underwood declared for the draft last December, but Kevin
Jursinski, his first agent (he has had two others), sensed his
client's disquiet. After the agent hired a personal trainer for
Underwood and mounted a p.r. campaign to boost his status in the
eyes of NFL scouts. "People started talking about him going in
the late first or early second round," says Jursinski. "We sent
him stuff off the Internet saying so. The next day he fired us.
Weird--we give him great news, and he terminates us. Was he
afraid of success? There's no other way to explain it." (His
current agent told SI that Underwood was unavailable for comment.)
The Vikings took Underwood with the 29th pick of the first
round. "After the draft he changed," says Walker. "He stayed in
his apartment alone, just reading his Bible."
Since his Sept. 26 suicide attempt Underwood has been undergoing
treatment in the mental health ward of a hospital in central
Michigan, where doctors want him to stay while his condition
improves. Walker visits his friend every few days. "He told me
he knows he's sick and that he wants to get better," says
Walker. "He said he wants all the attention to go away so he can
just be Dimitrius again. He said he would like to come back,
play pro football and be the Rookie of the Year."
Scoring with Wilt
Joe Ruklick knows something you don't about 100 and 20,000--two
numbers that define Wilt Chamberlain, who died last week at age
63. Ruklick, the Philadelphia Warrior who got the assist on the
final basket in Chamberlain's 100-point rampage against the New
York Knicks in 1962, recalls every detail of the night he fed
history, and he says that most accounts of that play are wrong:
The Big Dipper's last score was no dunk.
"New York was desperate not to have Wilt score 100," says
Ruklick, 61, a 6'9" former backup center who's now a reporter at
the daily Chicago Defender. "The Knicks pressured Wilt off the
inbounds pass, and it came to me. Richie Guerin was about to
foul me when I saw Wilt bump a defender off his hip. He put up
his hands and shouted. I made a two-handed pass, and Wilt rolled
the ball off his fingers into the basket. The shot was not a
dunk, like so many people think. Wilt didn't want it to be. He
didn't want to show anybody up--that wasn't his style."
But it was Chamberlain's style to fabulate a little, says
Ruklick: "Once he said he'd driven his new Cadillac from Los
Angeles to Philly in 26 hours. When somebody pointed out that
he'd have to average more than 100 mph, not including the times
he stopped for gas, Wilt said, 'I never stopped. My car has
auxiliary gas tanks.'" According to Ruklick, his friend was also
stretching the truth by bragging in his book A View from Above
that he'd had sex with about 20,000 women. Ruklick says
Chamberlain complained to him that the boast had cost him
millions of endorsement dollars. The true figure, Wilt admitted,
was closer to a mere 10,000.
Purists aren't the only ones who love quaint little Fenway Park.
The place has just 33,455 seats--a fraction of the number of
fans dying to get tickets when the Yankees came to Boston last
week for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the American League Championship
Series. "We could have sold at least 60,000," said Red Sox CEO
John Harrington, whose club, in keeping with postseason policy,
controlled about 80% of the tickets at Fenway. (Major League
Baseball took the rest.) With demand outstripping supply by 2 to
1 or more, there was bound to be some serious arbitrage--or
scalping, as noneconomists call it.
With the advent of E-commerce, scalping is no longer limited to
sidewalks and classified ads. One fan sold four $65 box seats to
last Saturday's Pedro Martinez-Roger Clemens matchup for $12,100
on ebay, a 4,554% profit on a $260 investment. But he might
regret it: The Red Sox surfed the Web last week, trying to track
down anybody offering playoff ducats for resale. "Anyone who has
resold even a single ticket to these playoffs will have his
season tickets taken away permanently," said Boston p.r.
director Kevin Shea.
The scene was different in Atlanta, where the Braves' first four
postseason home games averaged 7,605 empty seats at 50,062-seat
Turner Field. Proud Atlantans offered up excuses ranging from
high prices ($27 regular-season tickets marked up to $60 for the
playoffs) to midweek afternoon game times that made it tough for
working stiffs to get to the ballpark. In any case, on Sunday
morning it took less than 30 seconds to buy four $45 tickets to
a prospective seventh game of the National League Championship
Series at Turner Field--first pitch, 8:12 p.m--on Ticketmaster's
All of which made October less than peachy for Georgia's would-be
scalpers. One ebay seller offered four tickets to each of the
first two games of the National League series for a minimum bid
of $262. That was $218 below face value. There were no takers.
Great's Greater Than Greatest
It was the pep talk battle of the millennium. In the
cardinal-and-gold corner: the Greatest, Muhammad Ali. In the
blue-and-gold corner: the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Last Friday
night, on the eve of the Notre Dame-USC game, Ali pumped up the
Trojans at their hotel in Michigan City, Ind. Gretzky did the
same for the Fighting Irish at a rally in South Bend. Ali's
bluster should have prepared Southern California for a blustery
day, but during a cold and rainy second half USC folded like a
butterfly. The Irish scored 22 second-half points to skate past
the Trojans 25-24.
The Braves' closer sprints in from the pen, hocks big gobs of
spit, throws 97 mph and dishes out abuse to his abusers. "If we
suck so bad, why can't they beat us?" John Rocker barked about
the Mets when New York rowdies taunted his team. Most Mets fans,
he said, "aren't even human." Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said
Rocker has a problem with fans who get in his face, but win or
lose, Rocker made October rock.
Amount baseball spent on political lobbying in the first half of
1999--more than the NBA, NFL and NHL combined.
Assessed value of Dodger Stadium, $6 million less than L.A.
pitcher Kevin Brown's seven-year deal is worth.
Percent decline in the price of Indians stock on the day after
the Tribe lost the Division Series.
Shots on goal in NHL overtimes under the four-on-four rule, up
from 3.69 at the same point in '98.
Three-game pin-fall of Vince Wood of Moreno Valley,
Calif.--bowling's third sanctioned perfect series.
The Clippers' Derek Anderson by Percy (Master P) Miller--whose
No Limit agency represents Anderson--during L.A.'s 112-102
victory over the Raptors. In the fourth quarter Miller fouled
Anderson, who hit both free throws.
Former Phils star Lenny Dykstra, 36, with sexual battery and
child annoyance against a 17-year-old girl who works at his Simi
Valley, Calif., car wash.
Marvin Wood, 71, coach of the Milan (Ind.) High team that upset
Muncie Central to win the 1954 state hoops title and inspired
the movie Hoosiers.
The NHL's Panthers, Blockbuster and Coca-Cola, which won't have
to pay hockey fan Randy Giunto after an appeals court ruled that
his shot in a $1 million promotion stopped dead on the goal line.
A nylon stocking Marilyn Monroe is said to have worn on the
night she married Joe DiMaggio, for a minimum of $1,000 from
Mastro Fine Sports Auctions, which claims the owner of the
Clifton Motel in Paso Robles, Calif., fished the stocking out of
a wastebasket in the newlyweds' room.
Sean Broome of San Francisco kept a low profile on Sunday in the
Cascade Cruiser, one of 40 solar-powered cars that left Darwin,
Australia, for Adelaide in the five-day, 1,870-mile World Solar
Challenge. The craft, from Solar Motions of Fremont, Calif.,
tops out at more than 60 mph, but an early crash left it
eclipsed by the leaders after Day 2.
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
A mock riot in Rotterdam to test security for next year's
European soccer championships was cut short when a group of real
hooligans showed up wielding stones.
"They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions," reads
one plaque, quoting from the Bible.
They Said It
REV. DR. O.C. SMITH
Speaking at a memorial service for Wilt Chamberlain after last
Saturday morning's earthquake: "There goes Wilt again, dunking