Ah, there's nothing like the month of May to really make football fans feel close to their favorite team. We're officially at the point where tumbleweeds would be a compelling news item, so it's a probably a good idea to take a step back from the NFL and acknowledge the fact that three other sports (four if you count Nascar, and I am purely doing so because Kevin and Duke will be heartbroken if I omit that ... pastime) are currently in season. Hockey is actually my No. 1 fave sport (yes, more so than football), so I've been paying close attention to the NHL playoffs (loving the L.A. Kings right now, btw). I know most of you here are Heat fans (I promise to not make any more mention of flops, FBI refs or Miami's "improved" bench during this article. We're good. It's out of my system). Tex is a die-hard Texas Rangers fan, while Kevin has something like five favorite baseball teams (not sure how that's even possible or acceptable), and I am sure many more of you are big baseball fans. My point, you ask? I am getting to it! Patience, please.
(takes a bathroom break)
(returns three hours later with a half-empty bottle of Crown Royal)
My point is that there's a good chance some of your all-time favorite sports memories don't involve the Miami Dolphins (I just opened the gate for a crapload of jokes from Pats and Jets fans, didn't I?). I'll even go on a limb and say the Dolphins aren't anywhere near my top 3 for greatest sports memories. Part of the reason for that, of course, is because they just haven't been overly wonderful during the majority of my lifetime (I was born in 1984; I was in high school the last time the Dolphins won a playoff game); the other reason is because I am a sucker for the sports stories that typically trickle out of the NHL, NBA and MLB. Don't get me wrong, the NFL can be downright captivating, but the "meat market" aspect of the game sucks, imo. Honestly, these players we know and love have a very small window when it comes to competing at their absolute athletic peak, and that fact has always bummed me out. I almost feel like getting attached to a football player is like getting attached to a character in a Friday the 13th film--enjoy them while they're around, because some maniac is going to butcher them into oblivion right before your eyes. The NFL is fantastic, but its violence is a doubled-edged sword. We (myself included) crave the big hits, but God only knows how many of those "big hits" a player's body chemistry can endure before it's curtains for his career.
Anyway, I digress. I want to hear about a few of your favorite sports memories. You don't have to be Hemingway-like descriptive in your responses, but at least give me an idea of why that particular memory holds a special place in your heart. Examples? Sure, I'll bite.
Sports memory No. 1: Flu-ridden Michael Jordan goes upside the Utah Jazz's head in an ABSOLUTE must-win Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals
I still remember this game as if it happened yesterday. I was 13 years old and just days into my summer vacation following 7th grade. The Bulls took the first two games of that series (including an absolute choked-so-bad, you'll-remember-this-moment-for-eons performance by then-MVP Karl Malone in the closing moments of Game 1), but were unable to prevent the Jazz from grabbing games 3 and 4 at the noisy-ass Delta Center (a place with decibal levels equating to that of a large jet flying over your head). Thus, Game 5 was as pivotal as it gets in the NBA Finals.
And then the opening NBA on NBC telecast showed Michael Jordan walking into the Delta Center looking he had just been hit by one of those big rigs Malone enjoys driving around in his free time. Oh crap, our best player has the flu and looks like he may drop dead at any moment. Forget about Game 5. This series might be over.
But it wasn't over, of course. In fact, Jordan was just getting started. Despite the fact the Jazz were absolutely on fire in Game 5 (Malone, John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek and Shandon Anderson all played out of their minds that night), Jordan was better, dropping 38 points on an unsuspecting Utah team that clearly struggled with the fact that its dreams of an NBA title were being dashed by a guy who was in danger of crapping his pants and passing out on the hardwood. I still think that '97 Jazz team was the best finals opponent the Bulls saw during their six-title run, which makes the Flu Game as impressive today as it was 15 years ago.
I just realized that I am old. Let's move on. Anyway, share your favorite sports memories in the comment section. I'll post some of my favorite responses in a story tomorrow evening.