Archive for ESPN

Jimmy V

Posted in Sports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by macmystery

If you watch ESPN at all, you would have had to have been under a rock the past week and a half to miss the replay of this speech. Every year at this time, it becomes a nightly ritual on the network during the Jimmy V Classic.

On March 3, 1993, former N.C. State basketball coach and ESPN basketball analyst Jim Valvano gave this speech at the ESPYs after receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. His body was riddled with cancer and he knew his time was short.

And his speech was magnificent. It’s one of those television moments I never grow tired of seeing. I’m sure the people I work with don’t feel the same way.  I’m sure they get tired of me turning the TV up every night to hear the speech when ESPN plays it. I don’t care.

In the speech, Valvano said he hoped to survive long enough to present the Ashe award the next year, but it didn’t happen. He fell victim to his cancer April 28, 1993.

Though he didn’t live much longer, there are two themes in his speech that have endured.

First, he very poignantly suggested how one could ensure they live each day to the fullest:

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

Then he closed the speech with this:

“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.”

(Many mistakenly believe that his famous quote, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” came in this speech. It did not. It came two weeks earlier, February 21, 1993, at N.C. State’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Valvano’s 1983 NCAA Championship squad.)

Valvano’s entire speech can be found in a text version here.

I hope that should I ever be unfortunate enough to face an unforgiving disease like cancer, that I might have the grace and class that Valvano did.

Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award

A strange anniversary

Posted in History, Sports, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2009 by macmystery

I wouldn’t have even realized it if I hadn’t seen it on ESPN.

Fifteen years ago, today.

The slowest high-speed chase in history.

But you couldn’t stop watching.

It was Friday, June 17, 1994.

According to the ESPN report, it was actually a pretty big day in sports … Arnold Palmer’s final U.S. Open round, … a big Ken Griffey Jr. HR, … NBA Finals Game 5, … the New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup parade.

But if it hadn’t been the opening day of the World Cup, I may have missed any live coverage of that bizarre day.

What I saw of the slowest high-speed chase in world history I witnessed from a bungalow in the Bahamas. I was on vacation with my girlfriend, Eli, and her family. Her father was Italian and a huge soccer fan. The only reason we watched TV that day was so he could see the first day of the World Cup being held in the U.S.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

O.J. Simpson on the run. There was no way he did it. Had to be some mistake. He was framed, he was covering for someone. It had to be something else. O.J. Simpson? A double-murderer? No way.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt for quite some time. It was a sad story, in a way. But eventually I joined most sane people at the conclusion that he killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and the unlucky Ronald Goldman.

I remember where I was when the not guilty verdict was read, standing with about 50 others, including my friend Tyrone Walker, in one of the lounges in Clemson’s old University Union. A bunch of people cheered. A bunch were angry. A bunch, like Tyrone and myself, simply couldn’t believe what we had just heard.

Our security guard at the newspaper, Mr. Black, and I talked about that trial tonight. It’s amazing the things and people who have become part of the culture as a result of that tragedy. It amazes me how easy it was to list their names. Some were famous before, but most were about to get their five minutes …

Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark.

Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran.

F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz. And Barry Scheck.

Judge Lance Ito and Henry Lee.

Roger Cossack and Greta Van Susteren.

Mark Fuhrman and Kato Kaelin.

A.J. Cowlings, Fred Goldman and Denise Brown.

Robert Kardashian and Traci Adell.

Do you remember them all? And what they did?

Remember how many people covered the trial. I t made Court TV. Cosack and Van Susteren had a show that ran for eight years that never would have come into being if not for the trial. Van Susteren is still on the air.

Did you know, despite leading the police on that ridiculous chase, no charges were ever filed against Cowlings? In fact, O.J. was never charged with evading arrest, either.

It just seemed so surreal. O.J. Simpson running. I mean really on the run. I spent the rest of my week in the Bahamas certain that by the time we returned home, all this would be settled. Little did I know ….

And it all started for me, like most Americans, with those oh-so-familiar film clips of a white Ford Bronco making it’s way down a California freeway.