Happy Thursday everyone, here's my Top 5 for August 9, 2012 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
So where do you draw the line? Cheating is bad, agreed. But how about if everyone else is doing it? South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh won the gold in world record time in the 100 meter breaststroke and he admits he cheated. He says he took extra dolphin kicks which isn't allowed, but he said everyone else does it. He reasoned, "If you're not doing it, you're falling behind." Can the swimming people go to the tape and take away his medal? I guess so, but by van der Burgh's reasoning they'd have to disqualify everyone. Then there's American cyclist Tyler Hamilton. He won gold in Athens in 2004. He told 60 Minutes that he was a doper and now the IOC is said to be stripping his medal before the eight-year time frame for action runs out. Isn't everyone "doing it" in cycling?
3. Finishing School
The other day I mentioned that only a small percentage of countries take home medals from the Olympics, so just the chance to compete is precious. Top 5 subscriber J.D. makes a great point. As a veteran, he's disgusted with American athletes who act disappointed during the medals ceremony because they "only" won silver or bronze. He didn't name names, but presumably he's referring to gymnast McKayla Maroney who moped on the medals stand after winning a silver medal. J.D. asks is proper respect "not even taught to young American ambassadors? Young athletes should be schooled on 'Olympic behavior.'" This is nothing new. In 2004, for example, I saw some of the U.S. wrestlers acting downright bratty when they didn't take home gold. J.D. makes a final point. "As Herb Brooks told that team of young NCAA dudes, some time in the fall of 1979: 'That name [and flag] on the front of your jersey means a helluva lot more than the name on the back.'"
4. Me Myself and I
As I noted, this week is the fifth anniversary of Barry Bonds becoming the all-time home run king. In an interview with MLB.com he said he belongs in the Hall of Fame, "There's no doubt in my mind." But he acknowledges that the writers could keep him out and he said that wouldn't upset him. He also said that he wishes he was better with the media. Ya think? When my producer once approached him at Shea about doing an interview, Bonds said "If you put that camera in my face, I'll slit your throat." What a guy.
People often ask what's the best part of my job? That's easy. Getting to meet your heroes. I got to meet the likes of Mickey Mantle, Jim Brown and Wilt Chamberlain just to name-drop a few. And check out today's birthday boys. Rod Laver was gracious enough to film a Sports Fantasy with me in Boston. One of the greatest of all time stood on a tennis court at Harvard and indulged a viewer for a couple of volleys. When the viewer thought he actually won a point, he hopped the net and shook hands with Laver. What a good guy. As for the other birthday boy, I got to work along side him on Boston Celtics telecasts as we traveled and socialized a bit. I once stood across from him on a tennis court and I saw that raw competitive edge that his opponents must have seen on the basketball court. So happy 74th to Rod Laver, and 84th to Bob Cousy... all time great, former co-worker and friend.
Happy Birthday: Two great Hall of Famers. Bob Cousy. 84. Rod Laver. 74.
Bonus Birthday: Actress Melanie Griffith. 55.
Today in Sports: The baseball strike ends with the playing of the All-Star Game in Cleveland. 1981.
Bonus Event: One of the biggest trades in sports history, Edmonton trades Wayne Gretzky to the L.A. Kings. 1988.
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