Quick Takes


          I definitely do not have PMS. I have PNS, Post-NFL Syndrome. It happens to me every year at this time. I miss it already!


          My thanks to Jonathan Krost for the correction regarding last week’s trivia answer. Yes, John Elway is the only member of the Pro Football HOF to be enshrined as a Bronco. However, there are two players in the Hall who played for Denver but are enshrined as members of a team other than the Broncos. I correctly stated Tony Dorsett; he is in the HOF as a Cowboy. I completely forgot about the great cornerback, Willie Brown, who played for Denver and then Oakland, and was enshrined in the Hall as a Raider in 1984.


          I’d like to add an addendum to my feature story of 1-12-06. Lou and Rosemarie Rodophele made me aware of something I overlooked in that article. In a Quick Take, I covered ESPN’s list of all-time beautiful sports wives. And my feature story in that article was on Bo Belinsky. The Rodopheles, who were close personal friends of Belinsky, pointed out to me that Bo was married to a lady who most assuredly qualifies, namely the magnificent Jo Collins, Playboy centerfold in December, 1964. Jo would become the 1965 Playboy PLaymate of the Year. How ESPN overlooked Jo Collins escapes me. And what with Mamie Van Doren, Ann-Margret, Tina Louise, Juliet Prowse, Connie Stevens, and I'm sure more than one ETC., I’d like to have had Bo’s overflow!


          As soon as I post this article to my site, I’m leaving to join the same Lou Rodophele and Dick Williams for lunch. He’s the same Dick Williams who was a MLB player for 13 seasons, and a world-class manager for 21 years in the majors. He won 1,571 games as a big league manager, along with five pennants, four World Series appearances and two World Championships, and was one of the best ever. Dick Williams most assuredly belongs in the Hall of Fame. For terrific reading, I suggest “No More Mr. Nice Guy” written by Williams and Bill Plaschke, noted sports journalist with the L. A. Times.   


          Boxing’s foremost historian, Bert Sugar, ranks the 10 top fighters of all time:

1                    Sugar Ray Robinson

2                   Henry Armstrong

3                   Willie Pep

4                   Joe Louis

5                   Harry Greb

6                   Benny Leonard

7                   Muhammad Ali

8                   Roberto Duran

9                   Jack Dempsey

10                 Jack Johnson

I’ve written Stories of the Week about Robinson, Louis, Ali, Dempsey and Johnson. Next week’s Story of the Week will feature the legendary Henry Armstrong.


Is there nothing sacred in sports? If what we’re reading and hearing about the great Wayne Gretzky proves to be true, if he really is guilty of a cover-up involving an illegal sports betting ring, and/or if he himself was actually involved in the ring, his image will be smashed as if hit by a runaway Zamboni machine. I hope there’s nothing to it.     


Story of the Week



          An early measure of Hakeem Olajuwon’s awesome basketball potential was signaled by his choice over Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley as the top pick of the hometown Houston Rockets in the deep 1984 NBA college draft. Interestingly, the African native never touched a basketball until the end of his high school years.

          Hakeem launched his pro basketball sojourn as a mere half of one of the NBA’s most celebrated duos of all time. He teamed with prized 1983 rookie Ralph Sampson, each a seven-footer, to form the famed “Twin Towers” front line. Sampson proved to be one of the most dramatic busts in NBA history, but Olajuwon soared to new and unexpected heights. And a decade and a half later, the super-talented Nigerian had evolved into one of the supreme solo acts in league annals. He became one of the game’s most dominating big men of any NBA era.

          Despite having led Houston’s Cougars to three straight NCAA Final Four appearances, Hakeem was a mere basketball novice during his All-American collegiate years. The former soccer goalie had taken up basketball only three years before enrolling at Houston. He was still in the process of learning the game’s fundamentals at the same time he was earning his first NBA paychecks.

          The NBA career of Hakeem began with a bang, then elevated still further to a virtual explosion of rebounding, slam-dunking, and shot-blocking. As a 1984-85 novice, he averaged 20.6 points per game, and claimed the runner-up spot behind Michael Jordan in the top-rookie balloting. He was an extremely quick pivot man, leading his team in steals in seven of his first eight NBA seasons. In 1989, he established a NBA-first with over 200 steals and 200 blocked shots in a single season. He would soon be only the third player in NBA history to record 10,000 points and 5,000 boards along with at least 1000 steals, assists and blocked shots respectively. Only Kareem and Dr. J had reached such a plateau before Hakeem.

          In 1994, Olajuwon and his Houston Rockets finally arrived at the top of their game, winning the first of two consecutive NBA titles, and the league’s best center won regular-season and post-season MVP honors. He finished his NBA career with 1,238 games, 13,748 boards (11.1 per game), 3,058 assists, 2,162 steals, and 3,830 blocks. He totaled 26,946 points (21.8 per game. And a most impressive stat jumps out at me, namely the fact that Hakeem, for a big man, was not a liability at the foul line; he averaged 71.2% there.

When discussions take place about the NBA’s top centers ever, the name of Hakeem Olajuwon must be included in the conversation. Olajuwon became a NBA all-time “Top 50” selection.    


Last Week’s Trivia


          Who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers? Only one person played for all three teams. Gladys Gooding was the organist at Ebbets Field and Madison Square Garden for years. (A bit off-the-wall, but it’s a great question.)


Trivia Question of the Week


          What player struck out the fewest times per home runs hit than any player in MLB history? His K:HR ratio is the lowest of all time, a tremendous stat. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.