Quick Takes


    A judge recently scheduled an April 2 trial date for jailed Michael Vick on two state felony dog fighting charges. Vick's lawyer, Lawrence Woodward, requested a jury trial during the 5-minute session.
    Vick is being held at a Warsaw, Va., jail after surrendering on Nov. 19 to begin serving time for a federal dog fighting conspiracy conviction. Vick faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 10 in the federal case.
Vick has apologized to the NFL, to the Atlanta Falcons ownership, management and players, to his family, his friends, and the kids who viewed him as a role model. He left out a group that deserves his apology more than anyone else, namely all the defenseless dogs he and his sick pals tortured and murdered for six years.


    Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Their teams were crazy to sign them. These guys brought nothing but negative baggage with them. Result……………they are the best receivers in the NFL, and are directly responsible for the success of their respective teams. It appears at this point that they’ll be opposing each other in the 2008 Super Bowl on February 3rd. Who’d have thunk it?


    On December 8, 1940, the Chicago Bears beat the Washington Redskins, 73-0, in the NFL Championship in Washington. It still stands as the worst defeat in NFL history. Several weeks earlier, the Skins had beaten the Bears, 7-3, on a close call by the officials. Washington owner George Preston Marshall had made a big thing about the Bears and owner George Halas, calling them cry-babies and quitters. On December 8, the enraged Bears scored 21 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, and purposely kept it going. At the final gun of the title game, a reporter in the press box remarked, “Marshall just shot himself.”


Story of the Week



    Julius Erving was born in Hempstead, Long Island. His father left the family when Julius was only three. His mother worked as a domestic to support her three children. The family lived in a public housing project, and life was difficult, but Mrs. Erving worked to instill a sense of self-worth in her children, and young Julius realized his gift for basketball could be a ticket to a better life.


    When Julius Erving was 13, his family moved to the town of Roosevelt, Long Island. There, Julius maintained a high academic average and played on the high school team, all-county and all-Long Island teams competing in state-wide tournaments. Erving acquired the nickname "the Doctor" while still at Roosevelt High. His teammates would later alter this to "Dr. J."


    The basketball coach at Roosevelt High, Ray Wilson, introduced young Julius to Coach Jack Leaman of the University of Massachusetts. After high school, Erving entered the university, where Ray Wilson was hired as assistant coach the following year.


    At Massachusetts, Erving broke freshman records for scoring and rebounding, leading his team through an undefeated season. The next year, he had the second best rebound tally in the country. Over the summer, he joined an NCAA all-star team touring Western Europe and the Soviet Union. He was voted most valuable player on this tour.


    Julius Erving left the University to go professional after his junior year. He is one of only seven players in the history of NCAA basketball to average over 20 points and 20 rebounds per game.


    In 1971, Julius Erving began his professional career with the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association. The ABA was fighting an uphill battle to gain the same recognition enjoyed by the more established National Basketball Association (NBA). Julius Erving, or Dr. J, as fans now called him, did more than anyone else to win that recognition for the new association.


    In his first pro season, Dr. J. ranked sixth in the ABA in scoring, third in rebounding. He was voted ABA Rookie of the Year at the close of the season. The following year, he led the ABA in scoring, averaging 31.9 points per game.

In 1973, Dr. J. attempted to sign with the Atlantic Hawks of the NBA, and found himself in the middle of a complicated legal wrangle. The Squires claimed he was still under contract to them, the Milwaukee Bucks claimed draft rights to Erving under NBA rules, and his old management sued him for damaging their reputation by trying to break the Squires contract. The affair was finally settled out of court. Erving remained with the ABA to play for the New York Nets.


    Once again, Erving led the league in scoring and led the Nets to an ABA championship, winning four-out of-four games against the Utah Stars. In the first of these games, Erving scored 47 points, sparking comparisons with the greatest players of all time.


    In the 1974 season, Erving suffered from knee pains and was forced to wear special braces on the court, but it didn't stop him from another spectacular season. On his 25th birthday, he scored 57 points against San Diego.


    After being voted Most Valuable Player in the ABA form 1974 to 1976, Dr. J. moved to the Philadelphia 76ers of the national Basketball Association. He remained in Philadelphia for the last eleven years of his pro basketball career. He was MVP of the NBA in 1981. He led the 76ers to a NBA championship in 1983.


    When Dr. J. finally retired in 1987, he had scored over 30,000 points in his professional career; he is one of only three players in the history of the game to achieve this feat. And he is one of the few players in modern basketball to have his number retired by two franchises; the New Jersey Nets (formerly the New York Nets) have retired his No. 32 jersey, and the Philadelphia 76ers his No. 6 jersey.
**He was considered the main catalyst for the NBA's absorbing the ABA in 1976.
**He won the first-ever slam-dunk competition at halftime of the 1976 All-Star Game.
**When he retired, he ranked in the top five in scoring (third), field goals made (third), field goals attempted (fifth) and steals (first).
**He was the only player to be named MVP of both the ABA and the NBA.
**Enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.
**Named to NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.


Last Week’s Trivia


    A bit of a change of pace from my usual trivia questions. What is Reinhold Messner’s claim to fame? He is the only climber in history to scale every mountain on earth above 8,000 meters. FYI, that = 26,250 feet. There are 14 mountains that high in the world, and he’s done them all. In case you’re wondering, I haven’t done any, but I’ll consider it in my next lifetime.
    Dennis Cler writes:
 Reinhold Messner is regarded as the greatest mountaineer ever.  He is the first to climb Mt. Everest solo and without oxygen.  He considers the use of oxygen, previously laid fixed ropes, etc as using unfair means to get to the top.


Trivia Question of the Week


    Who holds the record for the most grand slam homers in one season? When? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.