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Outside the Lines:
Orchestrating a Record
|Here's the transcript from Show 94 of weekly Outside The Lines - Orchestrating a Record
Announcer - January 13, 2002.
Mark Schwarz, guest host - Michael Strahan's disputed sack has been heavily scrutinized.
Brett Favre, Green Bay quarterback - I turned, and Michael was right there. And call it what you want, I'll take it.
Schwarz - Does the orchestration of records destroy their integrity?
Geno Auriemma, UConn Women's Basketball coach - No one was harmed. No one was diminished by this.
Schwarz - Four years ago UConn coach Geno Auriemma ignited a firestorm when he choreographed this basket for his star player.
Auriemma - Front page of "The New York Times"? We won a national championship and didn't get that.
Schwarz - 30 years ago, Florida flopped to put a Gator quarterback in the record books.
Fran Curci, former Hurricanes coach - They just fell forward and laid flat on the ground.
Schwarz - Should Denny McLain have served up a homerun ball for the Mick? Should Anthony Bowie have completed a triple double with no opposition on the court?
Today on Outside The Lines, arranging records, does it hurt the game?
Schwarz - Mark Gastineau did not appear to be appalled by the way Michael Strahan fell upon his long-standing all times sacks record, but some of Bret Favre's teammates were miffed that he seemed to choreograph a record for his golfing buddy.
In fact, a columnist in Atlanta dubbed it one of the most hideous acts in the history of sports.
If there is reason to believe Favre curled into the fetal position to allow his pal to pounce upon a cherished NFL record, shouldn't the league investigate?
The incident reminds us that many times the pursuit of records does not reveal character, it exposes it. The disputed sack is just the latest example, but by no means the most blatant case of orchestrating a record.
Brett Favre's belated Christmas present, Nykesha Sales' unguarded gimme and Florida's infamous Gator flop; all of them contrived efforts to help an athlete obtain a milestone. All of them transparent attempts to orchestrate history.
Much like Denny McLain's gift to his boyhood idol back in 1968. The Tiger's pitcher decided to help Mickey Mantle climb the all-time homerun ladder during the final series of Mantle's career.
Detroit led by five runs in the ninth when McLain shared his plan with Tiger's catcher Jim Price.
Denny McLain, 1968 AL MVP - I said I want you to tell Mantle to be ready. He said, what do you mean be ready? I said, you know, just let him hit the ball, but let him know that something is going on. He said, you mean cheat?
And I threw the first pitch literally on an arc, the ball came in on an arc. Strike one, Mantle takes it. He doesn't know what the hell is going on.
I throw the next pitch, Mantle takes it again for strike two. And I said, where the hell do you want the pitch. And he put his hand out about belt-high, in the middle inside part of the plate. I threw the ball there and he hit the home run.
Schwarz - 31 years ago, University of Florida quarterback John Reaves was 14 yards shy of Jim Plunkett's single-season passing yardage record. But with time running out, Miami, down by 30, was eating up Reaves' final opportunity. Gator's coach Doug Dickey called time out and ordered his defense to let Miami score. Hurricanes' coach Fran Curci was stunned.
Curci - As the ball was snapped, they just fell forward and laid flat on the ground, like an alligator. We scored easily, and then, boy, all heck broke loose. Our guys were really upset. They were embarrassed. I mean, a couple of guys were in tears.
And then when he did break the record, then they went into this here excitement again, which created even -- our guys were even more upset. And then at the end of the game, they jumped in that pool.
So, you could see, it kept mounting as to the aggravation that we were going through and the joy that they were having for their kid to break the record.
Schwarz - Nykesha Sales scored 2,178 points at the University of Connecticut, but the only basket that many will remember was this one, the one orchestrated by her coach, Geno Auriemma, after Sales had suffered a season-ending Achilles' tendon injury just a hoop shy of breaking the school's all-time scoring mark.
Sales passed Kerry Bascom-Poliquim, who Auriemma coached until 1991.
Kerry Bascom-Poliquim, three-time Big East Player of the Year - You know, I'm the record-holder. I have no problems with it.
Auriemma - Honest to God, if she would have said, Coach, I mean, that's not right. Then it would have been over.
Schwarz - Auriemma convinced Sales it was the right thing to do, then got his friend Villanova coach Harry Peretta onboard.
Harry Peretta, Villanova coach - I actually spoke to Larry Brown after that, who thought -- he said, I would have done the same thing, too.
Schwarz - Did Nykesha go along with this full-bore from the very start?
Auriemma - Well, again, you know, you're talking about a kid whose playing college and looks at her coach and says whatever my coach says must be right, so it must be right. Now, again, she never asked for it, never wanted it, and years from now I'm going to pin her down and go, tell me the truth, did you really want to tell me to go jump in the lake and didn't want to? I don't know, I'm afraid to ask her that question.
Schwarz - The local papers called it a farce. Auriemma heard someone on the radio call him a pig. Someone else referred to Nykesha as Soupy Sales.
It had become personal, and Auriemma was livid.
Auriemma - We're going to call people names because they insulted the game. I see. The game is more important than the people who play it. I doubt that.
Shanette Lee, former Villanova assistant coach - We felt that it was the right thing to do, and the look on her face, I can always remember exactly how she looked. And I can always say I helped someone else feel better.
Schwarz - Was it worth it?
Auriemma - Was it worth it? I felt good doing it. And I saw the look on her face when she made that basket, and her teammates ran out. That was worth it.
Bascom-Poliquim - You know, Nykesha is never going to win on this. You know, nobody is ever going to say she has the record. It's always going to be, well, there's an asterisk there, or she should have put her foot down, or she should have done this.
Records are made to be broken. If they weren't, they wouldn't be records.
Schwarz - But are they meant to be donated?
Bascom-Poliquim - That's for everybody else to decide.
Curci - The people that get involved in doing that sort of thing, make a mistake. Whenever you start orchestrating how it's going to end or what's going to happen to it, you've taken away what sports is all about.
Auriemma - In retrospect, after what she had to go through because of all that, I would have never done it.
Schwarz - Among our guests this morning, the Big O, Oscar Robertson, considered by many the best all around player in NBA history. For 17 years, he held the NBA assists record. He joins us from Cincinnati.
From his home in Minneapolis, we have Chuck Foreman, who set the NFL single season record for receptions by a running back back in '75. Chuck was on that field playing for Miami when Florida flopped.
And Cynthia Cooper. She was the MVP of the WNBA finals in each of the Houston Comets' four championship seasons. Cynthia, now the coach of the Phoenix Mercury. She joins us from the Valley of the Sun.
Cynthia, you saw the way Geno Auriemma now feels about the way his plan played out. Nykesha Sales wants nothing more than to get past this chapter in her life. She turned down our request for an interview. People were scarred by this. Do you think it was the right thing to do?
Cynthia Cooper, head coach, Phoenix Mercury - I thought it was the absolute right thing to do. I thought it was a great show of sportsmanship. Records are meant to be broken. Records show growth in that sport.
There has been a tremendous amount of growth in women's basketball, and that is just another example of it.
You can't have it both ways. You can't say that sports is so aggressive, it's too aggressive, it's too mean -- and then at the same time when someone makes a great gesture, a great show of sportsmanship, like this was, then you complain.
Schwarz - But Nykesha Sales did fall one point short. Her coach had opportunities to play her enough minutes in order to get to the point where she would have broken Kerry Bascom's record without that kind of help. Was it right to stop a game and get another team involved in it?
Cooper - Of course it was right. And the other team was involved, and they also showed a great amount of sportsmanship.
But remember, Nykesha Sales scored 2,100 points, over 2,100 points. He didn't orchestrate the 2,100 points. I mean, let's get over it. It was one basket, one bucket. Records are made to be broken, and every year some record somewhere is going to be broken.
I thought this was a great show of sportsmanship.
Schwarz - Now, Chuck, I know you felt differently about the way that your situation unfolded in the Miami-Florida game about 31 years ago, when Florida put its defense on the field while you were running a play with the Hurricanes. What was your reaction?
Chuck Foreman, former Miami running back - Actually, when I figured out what they were doing, I was totally humiliated. My teammates were humiliated. Tom Sullivan had the ball going into the end zone. I saw Sully turn around and kick one of the guys from the University of Florida. And then when we found out that John Reaves needed us to score to get the record, you know, my feelings were exactly like this.
My respect for John Reaves at that point changed. I'm not saying I didn't like John, but I didn't respect him because of the way he got the record, because the record, to me, still belonged to Jim Plunkett. The way John got the record is always going to be an asterisk there for me, and I will always remember the humiliation and the taunting and the things like that, that we received as a team, and Coach Curci will tell you and has told you exactly how we felt on the sideline.
I think records are made to be broken in competition, but not given to anyone. I think with the Sales incident, I mean, that is not a record. I think in hindsight she would never do it again, and that is why you don't do this. Even with the Brett Favre and the Strahan thing, it's all going to be, as far as I'm concerned, not considered a record.
Schwarz - Would you have felt differently had Doug Dickey instructed his players to pretend to tackle rather than simply fall on the ground to make it obvious they weren't?
Foreman - Well, I don't think any coach would tell anybody to pretend to tackle. You go out there and you play the game at 100 percent. If the guy makes the record, he makes the record. If he doesn't, he doesn't.
I mean, there's no room in this game for anything given to anybody. I don't care if they scored 2,100 points or 20,000 points. I don't think I ever saw Oscar Robertson do anything less than 100 percent, or myself, or you for that matter, Cynthia.
Schwarz - Oscar -- let's get Oscar in here for a second. Oscar, is there any merit to orchestrating a situation like this, where a player, who has done a great job, is just short and a coach tries to help them get the record?
Oscar Robertson, NBA Hall of Famer - The name of this show is Outside The Lines, isn't it?
Schwarz - Correct.
Robertson - Well, I think when you grow up, I know I'm speaking for myself, I grew up learning the same rules and understanding of the game of basketball and playing by the rules.
If these are not part of the rules -- but if somebody wants to say they want to get some young lady a point or if the team wants to flop down -- where is the NCAA when all this is going on? What do they think about this?
Because you look at what people do in the world of sports today -- they let the young people put them on pedestals and try to emulate everything they do. This is sending the wrong message.
But, yet, still years from now, it won't matter, because this young lady will still have her record, and I guess John Reaves will have the record, and it'll be certain stigmas attached to those things.
Cooper - No, they won't have those records. Those records will be broken by someone else. That's what sports is all about.
And guess what else -- the only reason Nykesha Sales would not do this again is because all of the negative publicity. All of the people putting their two cents in, telling her -- calling her names, calling her coach names, and saying that women's basketball has suffered because of this. Women's basketball grew because of the sportsmanship shown in that particular game.
Foreman - I don't know that women's basketball has grown. I think women's basketball has grown because the competition is better. I don't think her making that point has helped women's basketball at all.
Cooper - No, but it brought a lot of publicity to women's basketball, and that's how it helped it grow.
Foreman - It surely did, a whole lot of negative publicity.
Cooper - That's why she wouldn't do it again.
Foreman - Which they didn't need. That's right. And so that's why she's not on the show, because, you know, her coach and whomever else orchestrated this, instead of it being a positive in her life, it's turned out to be a negative.
Cooper - Well, it started out positive.
Foreman - And that's why records are for being broken in competition.
Cooper - It started out positive. It was a positive gesture.
Robertson - But, you know, you look at the situation that -- it was positive for what happened. But look at the way we are in life today. You know, you go through life learning rules and regulations. You can't just go out here if you want in an automobile and drive 150 miles an hour on the expressway, because you have rules...
Cooper - But people do.
Robertson - Yeah, they get caught and they pay for it. What happened in this situation...
Cooper - And Nykesha did.
Robertson - What happened in this situation with Nykesha which -- she has the record now. She's the one who is going to have to really decide. But there are a lot of people who like it and some don't like it, and that's what sports are all about. That's why they pay to go into the arenas and see the games played.
Foreman - You know, years ago, Oscar, I had an opportunity to break the triple crown, which is the scoring, receiving and rushing record in the NFL. I lost that by six yards. My coach wanted to know if I wanted to continue to do that and change our game plan. I said well, if I can get it in the competition while we're playing, fine. But don't change the game plan to get me the six yards, you know.
Cooper - And I totally agree with you. I totally agree.
Foreman - And so I lost out on that, and I would have been the first person to ever have done that.
Cooper - And I totally agree with you.
Schwarz - We have plenty more to discuss with Cynthia, with Oscar, with Chuck Foreman, and with Anthony Bowie, who is coming up a little bit later.
More with our guests. When we return, we'll examine other examples of orchestrating records, including an unlikely and unpopular triple double.
Anthony Bowie, former Magic guard - I'll take it anyway that I could have got it, you know, whether they're going to move over or whatever they going to do. You know, I'll take it.
Schwarz - Jerry Rice never did arrange for the defense to leave the field, but there may be a degree of manipulation to his streak of 241 consecutive games with a reception.
In September, Rice was shut out until the fourth quarter, when he grabbed this seven yard button-hook-up to extend his impressive record.
AC Green is the NBA's iron man emeritus, but when JR Reed broke his jaw in 1996, threatening his consecutive game streak, there he was, a game later, finding 68 seconds of playing time to keep the streak alive.
No one was outraged by AC Green's cameo, but later that year Orlando Magic swingman Anthony Bowie managed to infuriate both his coach and Detroit's Doug Collins with his zealous attempt to earn his first career triple double.
Bowie called time out with 2.7 seconds left in a blowout. In order to secure his 10th assist, Collins responded by ordering his Pistons off the floor to complete the loneliest triple double in NBA history.
Bowie - I'll take it any way that I could have got it. You know, whether they're going to move over or whatever they are going to do. You know, I'll take it. It's all the same.
Brian Hill, former Magic head coach - I thought it was totally uncalled for and it just is something that I regret and will look back on, and as I said, I apologize formally to everybody associated with the Pistons' team.
Schwarz - And now the author of perhaps the most unpopular triple double in NBA history, Anthony Bowie, joining us via telephone from Pern, Russia, where he now plays professionally.
Anthony, you got your triple double, but lots of folks left the floor with a bad taste in their mouths, including both coaches, the assistant's from the Pistons - was it worth it?
Bowie - To me, yes, it was worth it. You know, people can say what they want, and you know, think of me as a bad guy, but it was an opportunity for me. You know, I ended up playing the 48 minutes all the way out to the last second, that's all it was.
Schwarz - Do you understand why Doug Collins was so incensed and pulled his players off the court to make a mockery of what you were trying to do?
Bowie - Well, I can say it like this, that, you know, it wasn't organized between me and Doug or Brian Hill. It was one of those things that he felt that that's something he needed to do. And if he didn't want me to achieve that goal or that record, he could have kept his team on the floor and prevented me from making the record.
Schwarz - But even your own coach, Brian Hill, handed you the clipboard in the huddle and apologized to the Pistons afterwards. Is that really how far you wanted it to go?
Bowie - Well, I'm going to tell you that of all the things that made me feel bad was him handing me that clipboard. But even to that point, hey, what was done, was done. And that's something I have to live with, and that's something that, you know, many people felt that it was OK, and many people felt that it wasn't.
But, for me, the record is there and it's going to stay.
Schwarz - Now, Oscar Robertson actually averaged a triple double over a season in his career.
Oscar, you had a triple double the very first game that you stepped onto the floor as a rookie in the NBA. Do you understand what Anthony Bowie is saying about his only triple double?
Robertson - Oh, yeah, I can understand it to a certain point, but I think this -- and Anthony said something which is very true -- the Pistons' could have played hard defense and prevented this assist.
If you look at a lot of basketball games or football or what not, in basketball, often stars get back in the game to score a basket and it's not orchestrated. I think the difference here is that it was not orchestrated.
Schwarz - What was your opinion upon seeing the way Anthony Bowie obtained his first and only triple double?
Robertson - I didn't actually see it, myself. I just think that when you look at sports today, it's really a fans game. The fans want things to happen. They don't care about Oscar Robertson getting triple doubles a different way than the system counts them today. All they want to do is see their stars create, get into the press, and for their teams to win.
Schwarz - Anthony, do you understand why there was such a furor over you getting the triple double in the manner that you got it?
Bowie - Not really. Like I said, you know, you always hear the coaches say play to the last second. And, you know, for me, it was an opportunity, you know -- who knows, I mean, I may have never got to start again, but the opportunity for me was there, and I took advantage of the opportunity.
Schwarz - Would you do it again, in the same situation?
Bowie - Would I do it again in the same situation? If I got to play the whole 48 minutes out, yes I would. I mean, people can say they wouldn't do it again, but when you're in that situation, you just never know what you're going to do. You know, we can pretend that we're going to do certain things at certain times, but when it comes down to reality, you know, we don't know what's going to happen. We really don't know what's going to happen. So I probably would do it again.
Schwarz - Anthony, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you in Pern.
Bowie - Thank you very much.
Schwarz - OK. Anthony just finishing practice there, about ten hours away from our time zone.
Let's bring in Chuck Foreman, Cynthia Cooper, the Big O with us again.
Well, you heard Anthony Bowie. Cynthia, did he embarrass the game and the integrity of the game by doing that?
Cooper - Of course not. It happens all the time. You know, I scored 44 points in a game. I could have stayed in the game another 5, 10 minutes and scored more points. Coach asked me, did I want to stay in the game. I said no. I'm tired. Get me out of the game.
Sheryl Swoopes scored the first triple double in WNBA history. Coach Chancellor took her out of the game, put her back in so that she could get one more assist so that she could be the first female to score a triple double in the WNBA.
It happens all the time. I'm not saying that I would do it.
Schwarz - But what about calling a time out up by 20 points with less than three seconds left and your coach handing you the clipboard?
Cooper - Because you know what happens, what happens is this. Is that the player who is playing the game, they don't actually know that they are that close to a record. They're not aware of that.
The people on the bench, the coaching staff, the statisticians, all of those people know that. So you call a time out, you say listen, is this something important to you? Do you want to participate in this? Is it that important to you? And then the player can say yes or no and make that decision.
Schwarz - All right. From each of you, starting with Chuck, I want to get your bottom-line reaction - does orchestrating a record disturb the integrity of the game?
Foreman - I think it does. I think records are to be made and to be broken in the competition of the game and as the flow of the game goes. If the record is broken then, then it's OK. But if you orchestrate anything in any game at any time, then I think there should be an asterisk by the record. At all times.
Schwarz - Oscar, 15 seconds. Your thought.
Robertson - I think that -- I believe what Chuck was just saying a moment ago. Competition is really key and it is to the integrity of the basketball game, or football, or baseball game. If we circumvent these things, what message are we sending to the little fellows who are trying to come up and become future stars?
Schwarz - Oscar Robertson, Cynthia Cooper, Chuck Foreman -- I want to thank you all for joining us. A very lively discussion this morning. That's the kind we like.
Cooper - Thank you.
Schwarz - All right. When Outside The Lines continues, your reaction to last week's show on the sale of counterfeit merchandise busted at the Rose Bowl.
Schwarz - A week ago, our program included a segment on the copyright police busting counterfeit T-shirt makers at the Rose Bowl, which inspired this viewer mail from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - "As the music industry found out, when you rip people off by charging $15 to $20 for a CD, or the logo licensing industry earned by charging $20 to $30 for a shirt that may cost $1 to produce, people will find cheaper alternatives, legal or not."
If you want to write to us about this or any other program, the address for the on-line Outside The Lines is ESPN.com keyword OTLWEEKLY, for more on today's topics and our library of streaming video. Our e-mail address - OTLWEEKLY@ESPN.COM.
We'll wrap it up in a moment.
Schwarz - All of us here on Outside The Lines offer our sincere condolences to Outside The Lines host Bob Ley, who lost his mother early this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family on this difficult day.
I'm Mark Schwarz. Next on ESPN from the ESPN Zone in Times Square, "The Sports Reporters" with John Saunders.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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