The Lakers have become the Clippers. The only difference is Kobe. Dr. Jerry Buss has become Donald Sterling. Buss is the boss, and to hell with logic and reason. He has run out of town the best executive and architect NBA basketball has ever known, Jerry West, one of the best NBA coaches of all-time if not the best coach, Phil Jackson, and the major impact center in the NBA today, Shaq O’Neill. It is ironic that the Lakers and the Clippers play in the same building. For all intents and purposes, the Lakers are now the Clippers, and they’ll now produce the same mediocre results, or less.
Story of the Week
CAL BEATS STANFORD
It is known simply as "The Play." It was an event so out of the ordinary that it requires no other name. The football season is quickly approaching, but nothing this year, pro or college, will come close to what happened on November 20, 1982.
The University of California Golden Bears hosted the Stanford Cardinal. This, to be sure, was and is a bitter rivalry. In addition, it was the last game of the season, and a post-season game invitation was on the line.
The game was hard-fought and close throughout. Near the end of the fourth quarter, Cal was up, 19-17. With the clock ticking, quarterback John Elway of Stanford engineered a long drive that left his team within field goal range with eight seconds left. Stanford kicker Mark Harmon booted a 35-yarder, giving Stanford the lead, 20-19, with four seconds showing.
Now the bizarre begins! Stanford players ran onto the field to celebrate, and the team was promptly assessed a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, thus placing the ball at their own 25 instead of the 40. In the Bears huddle, safety Richard Rodgers called the play to his receiving team, advising them that if the ball-carrier was about to be tackled, lateral it away. All the while, the Stanford band had gathered in the end zone, getting ready for the formal celebration. Stanford kicked to Cal.
As the Cal player picked up the ball, the four remaining seconds began to tick off. At zero, the jubilant Stanford band members rushed onto the field. One minor little problem; Cal was still playing out their kickoff return. After four Cal laterals, Kevin Moen managed to reach back and haul in lateral number five at the Stanford 25-yard-line. All that was between him and the goal line now were 144 members of the Stanford band.
Moen matriculated the ball ("matriculate" was a Hank Stram favorite) down the sideline, neatly sidestepped a tuba player, and ran through 15 other musicians on his way to a touchdown. In the end zone, he ran smack into a trombone player. Someone from Stanford had finally stopped Kevin Moen, but it was too late. There was a meeting of the officials. The wild and crazy play was properly ruled a touchdown, and the game was official. Cal had defeated Stanford, 25-20.
What I’ve often wondered is what the officials’ ruling would have been had Moen not scored. In my judgment, it was a clear case of interference by the Stanford band. I’d have assessed a flag against Stanford for it, and I’d have given the ball to Cal wherever the last Bears player went down and after the interference penalty walk-off for one final play. Now that would have been an even more interesting tale than the one that actually took place.
Last Week’s Trivia
In 1960, Floyd Patterson regained the heavyweight title by kayoing Ingemar Johansson, the man to whom he had lost his crown in his very last fight the year before. For good measure, Patterson defeated Johansson again in his very next fight in 1961.
Trivia Question of the Week
What one-in-the-same player was on deck when both Hank Aaron and Sadaharu Oh each hit his 715th. home run? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.