By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Round 3 was a "Let's get to know you" round. We asked the remaining contestants to answer the following four questions in 500 words or less:

1. What was your favorite sports moment that you've seen in person?

2. What's your favorite sports movie ever and why?

3. Who's your favorite athlete ever and why?

4. What do you think was the funniest moment in sports history and why?

One other note: I know we announced 16 finalists last week, but Emily Gamelin dropped out for reasons unknown (replaced by Mike McManus), and I decided over the weekend that I made a mistake with Lauren Silva, so we allowed her back for another round. That made 17 finalists for this round. Eleven advanced.

Without further ado ...

THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 3, THE WINNERS: 1-3 | 4-7 | 8-11


Name: Matt Bank
College: Dartmouth College, 2004
Residence: New York, NY
Current Job: Structured finance paralegal
Age: 22

Someday Botox will be to movies what steroids are to baseball. We'll discover health risks, pretend we didn't know anyone used it despite overwhelming visual evidence, then watch Mike Greenwell try to wrest the 2002 Best Actress Award from Nicole Kidman.

In the Oscars' honor, my plastic-faced winners:

1. What was your favorite sports moment that you've seen in person?
The award goes to a November 1991 Celtics-Bulls game. I was visiting all the banners and smelly hallways of the Garden for the first time after watching the classic Johnny Most moments of bygone days on VHS: Cousy running out the clock; Havlicek's steal; "BEAT LA!" I was 9 and didn't grasp the Bird-to-Jordan passing-of-the-torch cliche, so my dad and I just sat enthralled watching two legends on the parquet like Frank and Chong Li in "Bloodsport".

2. What's your favorite sports movie ever and why?
Nominees included "Necessary Roughness", "Sudden Death," and "Bull Durham" despite the notion of Susan Sarandon's sexual exploits totally giving me the heebie-jeebies, but every time I stayed home sick from school I devoured "Michael Jordan's Playground". Gratuitous clips of John Paxson sporting a hearty John-Holmes-porn moustache were exhilarating, and the flick ended with a peculiar music video starring a bunch of guys with Jheri curls and wife-beaters. Were they a dance troupe? The supporting cast of "House Party"? We're not sure, but MJ's reassurances so thoroughly convinced me that becoming an NBA star meant simply a few hours in the driveway that I shot 300 jumpers everyday for a solid two-and-a-half weeks.

3. Who's your favorite athlete ever and why?
Rickey Henderson's ego was endearing; Junior Griffey's swing is practically regal; Dale Sveum hit .236 and now runs people into sure outs -- all notable achievements. But every guy has a friend who's always scoring babes, winning everything, and so charmingly befuddled that his buddies relish having him around. Tom Brady's that guy, so it's hurtful hearing him described invectively like "overrated" and "boring" instead of with appropriate adjectives like "dreamy" and "totally sweet". How can't you root for this guy without suffering from some inherent resentment of another's success? Admittedly, I hate sushi, Harry Potter, lettuce, Colin Quinn, and trying on pants -- all big cultural winners -- but Tom's different, and anyone who hopes he fails is just jealous he's not helping them pick-up chicks.

4. What do you think was the funniest moment in sports history and why?
Worthwhile humor requires more than kicks in the groin; there have to be injurious consequences for some social condition. For example, Chris Anderson's Dunk Contest abomination set the Brent-Barry-White-Men-Can-Jump movement back at least two decades, and Reggie Miller's 1987 flat-top led to the Bel Biv Devoe backup singers seeming way less cool. Both were hilarious, but nowhere near the Gold Club trial, where athletes testified to promiscuity, racketeering, and other run-of-the-mill behavior. For me, the gold nugget was Andruw Jones' testimony that two women in his room were "doing lesbian action" and, when asked what he did, Andruw deadpanning, "Both of them." Count it!

Congratulations to all the winners, especially Andruw Jones.

Name: Chuck Bell
College: Ithaca College
Residence: Kenmore, NY
Current Job: Grant Writer
Age: 29

1. What was your favorite sports moment that you've seen in person?
1999 All-star pregame. It's the first time my uncle and I have been to Fenway together since 1986. The greatest living players gather on the field and my uncle's face is more alive than I've ever seen it. He's beaming while telling me about watching Willie Mays play; and by the time Ted Williams is mobbed at the mound, we are in complete awe. Speechless, we share one of the great moments in sports history.

If only John Madden were there to say, "This is what it's all about, right here."

Game Bonus: Pedro blows away five future hall-of-famers.

2. What's your favorite sports movie ever and why?
"Vision Quest". This one brings me to my high school wrestling days. The team gathers, as usual, the night before a tournament to "feast" on salad and watch the movie. I feel an intense optimism about tomorrow's matches. After all, if we can root for the loathsome Matthew Modine then anything is possible.

"Vision Quest" has one of the all-time great 80's soundtracks, featuring Red Rider, Journey, Tangerine Dream, and Madonna. It's also loaded with comedy (intentional and otherwise) ranging from Louden sniffing Linda Fiorentino's panties, to the ridiculousness of his dropping two weight classes to wrestle Shute, a beast who carries telephone poles up stadium stairs. Yet somehow the movie still has the ability to pump me up. The wrestling scenes are good, the lead-up to the showdown match is gripping, and the adrenaline rush is real.

Bonus: 22 year-old Daphne Zuniga

Double Bonus: "You can't hold your mud!"

3. Who's your favorite athlete ever and why?
Ellis Burks. The mere mention of his name transports me to a perfect day at Beehive Field in 1985. I'm devouring a hotdog and listening to my dad rave about the new guy with all the tools to be a star. I've never been this close to professional athletes, and now I'm watching Ellis as he steals a base, doubles, and hits a ball farther than I ever thought possible.

Watching Burks play over the years, I couldn't help but feel my coming of age as a baseball fan perfectly coincided with his coming of age as a player. Plus, my financial security has long been tied into his performance, since I own about 432,000 of his rookie cards.

Bonus: His commitment to the mustache.

Double Bonus: Spelled backward, he's "Sille Skrub."

Triple Bonus: Schilling (without provocation) announced on WROR that Ellis is the "best hung" member of the 2004 Sox

4. What do you think was the funniest moment in sports history and why?
April 30, 1998 -- Knicks v. Heat. I'm surrounded by Knick fans in the college dorms watching Alonzo Mourning mop the floor with a feisty Jeff Van Gundy who's "protecting" his players while draped on Zo's leg.

Bonus: Van Gundy, looking more disheveled than usual, muddles through the post-fight press conference

PS: I just put in my two week notice at work.

Name: Kevin Cott
College: University of Georgia, 2002
Residence: Atlanta, GA
Current Job: law school student
Age: 24

Not to overstate this, but my entire life has been in preparation for these questions. I feel like Alan Henderson going on Injured Reserve for the first time.

1. What was your favorite sports moment that you've seen in person?
I've never been in attendance for one of my teams winning a championship. But in 1996, I went to a regular season Hawks game when the eventual 72-10 Bulls came to town. Our seats were located right next to the visitor's tunnel, and I sat down just in time to see the Bulls emerge. It caught me completely off guard, and never have I been more awestruck. Kerr led them out, Harper followed, and right in the middle of the bunch was Jordan, regally flanked by Pippen in front and Rodman galloping behind. Jackson walked about ten steps after the team, gangly and awkward, yet with an unmistakable presence. It was just one of those unexpected moments where sports seem larger than life. A minute later, my Dad sat down and I tried to explain what he had just missed. I couldn't fully explain it then, and probably can't do it now, but I'd be lying if I chose anything else.

2. What's your favorite sports movie ever and why?
"Hoop Dreams". I've rewritten this section so many times that I fear for my sanity, yet each time it reads like an overly pretentious movie review. So I'll just go with this:

"People always say to me, 'when you get to the NBA, don't forget about me.' Well I should've said back, 'if I don't make it to the NBA, don't you forget about me.'"
-- William Gates

3. Who's your favorite athlete ever and why?
I hesitate to use him again, but it's Kenny Anderson. Because although I believe that Michael Vick really did throw that ball out of the stadium, it's still not the same as the blind faith I had in my athletic heroes as a kid. I lived and died with that Lethal Weapon Three team, and as a ten year old who wholeheartedly believed that it was his destiny to become an NBA point guard, Kenny Anderson was a god to me. He could do anything he wanted with a basketball. When he came out in the '91 draft, I immediately became a Nets fan just to follow him. He had a few promising years, but eventually faded into mediocrity. The guy was a comet. But there's no athlete that I've ever wanted to be more, and that's the test to me.

4. What do you think was the funniest moment in sports history and why?
Mark Cuban running out on the court during a fight, only to stop halfway and hold his hands up as if to say, "Sorry about that, Cubes thought he had to throw down for a second." Roughly the equivalent of having the two baddest dudes from your high school get into a shoving match, only to see Screech come out of nowhere to regulate.

THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 3, THE WINNERS: 1-3 | 4-7 | 8-11