2002novemberdecember

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Repla~ ~

Rs Heard on Sports Spectrum Radio

Daau,~~~-Me;;iW~,Jh\Rtem~ wife and me, but I'm where I'm supposed to be. I'm excited to see what the future holds. OFFENSIVE LINEMAN. NEW YORK JETS

Dave Szott

through the Holy Spirit. I praise God for that. I hope that anything that anybody sees in me that is good gets bounced back to the deserver of the credit-and that's the Lord Jesus Christ.

On staying strong as a Christian in New Yorh City HEAD COACH, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Tony Dungy On what he might do if he had decided 110t to continue 011 in football

• I've done some youth work. We've been involved in a prison crusade ministry in Florida, and that's been fantastic. I've never been able to get totally immersed in a church. I would really enjoy teaching a Sunday school class or even just being a part of a Sunday school class each week during the fall. There are some things we could do, but it's not that time yet. QUARTERBACK, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Brock Huaa'd 011 playi,gfor To11y Dungy

• It all starts with the head coach. We have a blessing that not a lot of people have around this league-a head coach who is a humble man who knows who he is and who he was created to be. He's just a first -class person. When that leadership starts at the top, it can really work its way down. There are some great guys on this team and great spiritual leadership. Guys like Hunter Smith, our punter. There are some wonderful guys, and God has me right where He wants me. It's a way from home, and I've never lived more than 40 minutes from home so it's tough on my

• We have a great chaplain, Scott Abernathy, and he's had Bible studies during the off-season. Every Wednesday we get together. During the season, we'll have Bible study after practice on Wednesdays, and we have chapel on Sunday. It's tough in New York, let me tell you. It's a tough place for a Christian and for a Christian athlete to play and live in. It's a totally different environment, and you have to be up for the challenge. You have to be prayed up, and be prepared because there's a lot of different things that go on that don't happen in other parts of the country. It's been an adjustment. ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS

Ron Brown On finding the enthusiasm needed to coach young peojJle

• I can't say that enthusiasm gets conjured up, because you can get away with it for a while, but my enthusiasm comes from being full of God's love. As I wake up each day since I've become a Christian, I'm thrilled to get out of bed. When I'm out on the football field I feel God's pleasure. When I'm out there speaking on behalf of the name of Jesus Christ, I feel God's pleasure, whether it be coaching a young man or dealing with my family or out in the public square. God has His hand on me. That's nothing I can muster up. It's nothing I can do on my own power. I'm basically a shy, withdrawn person that God has just kind of brought out something in me that I don't know where it comes from- except

on things that are not going to pass away. You'll not always be in an NFL uniform. At some point, that's going to change. The only things that are going to last are your family, your relationships you build on the field, and your relationship with Christ. That's all you can take to the bank. Everything else is subject to change. So you need to start to build that relationship with Christ and rely on Him for strength. TIGHT END. BUFFALO BILLS

Jay CENTER, OTTAWA SENATORS

Mike Fis her 011 playi,gfor assista11t coad1 Roger Neilso11, afellow Christian who has baffled bad1 fmm ca11cer to co11tinue coachi11g

• I didn't know Roger Neilson too well before, even though we're from the same hometown. I like the way he carries himself. He's got a good sense of humor, and we're able to share our faith together and realize we're not alone. God is with us in the game of hockey. At the same time, we can have fun doing the job we love and still have a commitment to Jesus. I like the respect Roger demands from people, just the way he lives his life. It kind of rubs off on a lot of guys-especially the younger guys. It's tough coming in and playing with a lot of guys, and Roger's been excellent in that regard. WIDE RECEIVER, MIAMI DOLPHINS Ja~ne s

Mcl(night

011 maintaining the proper focus in life

• You've got to keep your mind

Rie~ners1na

On going thi'Ough contract tallls with his team

• There were some definite ups and downs during the offseason. I was under some pretty intense contract negotiations, and I think the Lord is teaching me to be patient and that He's got a purpose, a promise, and a plan for our lives. I really put my trust wholeheartedly in Him and what He has in store for me. So often we get

caught up in what we can do and try to do and how we can make our situation better. But the Lord wants to know how we are going to grow through that and how we can affect other people positively by what we're going through.

Hear It There First! If you haven't heard these and many other Christian sports fig ures on Sports Spectrum radio, maybe it's time to tune in for the first time. The program airs across the United States at noon Eastern time on Saturday. Call 1-616-974-2210 or go to www.rbc.netjstations to see where you can hear SS radio.

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Raising •canes

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Glen Wesley of the Carolina Hurricanes chronicles his team's move up to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring

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MANAGING EDITOR Dave Branon ART DIRECTOR Steve Gier GRAPHIC ARTIST Laurie Nelson ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS Julie Richardson, Debbie Mrller

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My, how the NBA has changed over the past couple of decades! Has it been change for the worse, or is the league still fan-tastic?

..;Just Getting Started ..

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General correspondence, Letter to the Editor, or Writer's Query {no unsolicited manuscripts, please) Mail: Managing Editor, PO Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml 49501-3566 E-mail: ssmag@sport.org Fax : 1-616-957-5741

Volume 16, Number 6 November-December 2002 SPORTS SPECTRUM MAGAZINE A DISCOVERY HOUSE PUBLICATION AFFILIATED WITH RBC MINISTRIES

Not Your Father's NBA

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David Robinson is calling it a career at the end of this season. In an exclusive Sports Spectrum first-person report, the Admiral talks about his NBA past and his post-NBA future

Leading Man

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In this script, Jason Johnson has the top role as he guides the Arizona Wildcats' offense

28

The NFL journey of Jessica and Danny Wuerffel has them in Washington as they continue their lifelong mission together

ADVISORS Michelle Akers, former US soccer star; Tim Cash, Unlimited Potential, Inc. Clark Kellogg, TV analyst, CBS college basketball Vince Nauss, executive director, Baseball Chapel Kyle Rote Jr. , Athletic Resource Management Alice Simpson, chaplain, Cleveland Rockers Bruce Smith, Hockey Ministries International Cris Stevens, LPGA Bible studies leader Chuck Swirsky, Play-by-play, liJronto Raptors Claude Terry, directo~ Pro Basketball Fellowship COVER PHOTO: William R. Sallaz / NBAEI Getty Images SPORTS SPECTRUM is produced 6times a year by Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml 49501·3566, which is affiliated with RBC Ministries, a nondenominational Christian organization whose purpose is to lead people of all nations to personal faith in Jesus Christ and to growth in His likeness by teaching principles from the Bible. Printed in USA. Copyright @2002 by Discovery House Publishers. Bible quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright@ 1973, t978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. SUBSCRIBER NOTICE: From time to time we allow companies to mail you information on quality resources. To decline these mailings, simply write or E-mail SS with this message: "No offers."

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BY MARK MORAN

Capital Steps

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BY RoxAN NE RoBBINs

Lee'd Stories Commentary on Sylvia Hatchell's tough love BY VICTOR LEE

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The Swirsk One-on-one with David Wheaton BY CHUCK SWIRSKY

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Champions Justin Rowe, Maggie Bowen, Ben Crane

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The Big Picture David Robinson

27 Pro and Con: "The BCS bowl is good for college football" BY TED KLUCK AND ALLEN PALMERI

30

Legends with Don Beebe

31

Straight Talk with Kevin Mawae

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Tough Love • When Nikki Teasley returned to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a few days after hitting the gamewinning shot that won the WNBA title for the Los Angeles Sparks, she walked into Sylvia Hatchell's office and wrapped her arms tightly around her former coach. "Thank you so much," she said. The long "thank you" could have been for refining her jump shot, sharpening her defensive skills, or teaching her how to attack certain types of defenses. But it was far more than that-it was a thank you for life itself. Two years ago Nikki Teasley was a wreck, a fractured woman. "My life was falling apart," she says. After three seasons she was perhaps the most dominant player in the Atlantic Coast Conference, averaging 14.5 points and six assists. But by the time she began preparing for her senior season, life had bottomed out. "Basically, her life was a mess in every aspect," coach Hatchell says. "She was having problems dealing with the stresses of life." Academics, personal life, public life, basketball- Nikki didn't like the way any of it was going. "I didn't like being 'Nikki Teasley' anymore," she says. Her mood swings were wide and disruptive. Coach Hatchell had a team to think about, but she had a young woman's life to consider too. In an era when many coaches press, press, press players to get maximum performance at any cost; at a time when players are

CRAIG JONt:S

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same as man's, and as Christians these men didn't have to succeed on the basis of what man says. When the NFL began showing interest, Williams, who played his college ball at Division I-AA Gardner-Webb, did the obligatory workouts, traveling at team ex-

pense to various cities. "One day I said to the Lord, 'This is a great opportunity, so if You want me to have the desire to fulfill it, give it to me: Then it dawned on me, 'What if the Lord does not want me to play?' "I told Him, 'If this is not what

I AlLSPORT

.._ Hatchell sparks Teasley. Sylvia Hatchell, who has been the women's coach at North Carolina since 1986, had five former Tar Heels playing In the WNBA last summer. But there was something special about what she did for Nikki Teasley of the LA Sparks.

sometimes disposable tools to help the coach and school rack up wins; it was time for Sylvia Hatchell to do the right thing: Help the person instead of the program. The coach decided that Nikki needed a systematic plan to rebuild her life, and that it wouldn't include basketball for a full season. The Tar Heels' best player sat out the 2000-2001 season, and the normally top-notch club struggled to go 15-14. "It wasn't about what was best for basketball and the program, it was about what was best for Nikki," Hatchell says. Counselors and doctors met regularly with Nikki, who spent

Turning Down the NFL • It's prime time in the NFL, and Rich Williams and Jason Burks could be right in the middle of it. Good money, high name recognition, plenty of fuel for the ego. But both said "no." In a culture

much of the year at home in Fredericksburg, Maryland, getting her perspective on life in order. She overcame depression and got her focus straight. She came back for 2001-2002 a renewed person. In early January, she sealed the renewal when Hatchell, a Christian, took the team to see The Power Team, a Christian strength exhibition team. · "When they asked if anyone wanted to give their life to Christ, she was the first one down there," Sylvia says. "One of my assistant coaches turned and looked at me and said, 'Coach, except for marrying Sammy, having Van [their son], and winning the national

championship, this has got to be the fourth greatest thing to ever happen in your coaching career." Now steady instead of unstable, Nikki led the Lady Tar Heels deep into the NCAA tournament, then became the top pick of the L.A. Sparks. She played like a veteran with the Sparks, displaying the calm excellence she had to fight for so hard. She was a regular at Sparks' Bible studies, and she returned to Chapel Hill immediately after the season to continue school. Teasley's story is one of delayed gratification-not a very popular concept in this culture-and proper priorities. As a Christian lady who often has to be mother before coach, Hatchell saw no choice but to sit Nikki for a season. The alternative: maybe Nikki makes it through the season and the team makes the NCAA tournament, and then her life totally falls apart. Or maybe it would have happened during the season. "My faith says I must have compassion for a person like Nikki," Hatchell says. "And the bottom line is, I love the kid. What was happening in her life was not Nikki's fault; she was a victim of society and circumstances. She was not a bad kid, so that's why I made the decision. If I didn't help her through this, who would? And I was at a place where we had the resources, the doctors, and counselors. "And aU during that season when we weren't doing that well, I had such a peace because I knew I had done the right thing."

that elevates athletes beyond reason and defines success in part by high profile and money, it may seem odd that someone would say "no" to the opportunity to play. But God's idea of success isn't the

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you want me to do, I won't do it: " And he didn't. "The only reason the decision was hard was that so many people around me were telling me what a great opportunity it was." Williams, projected to be drafted in the mid-rounds, told the teams not to bother drafting him. People often mention the money Williams likely passed up. The aspiring teacher and strength coach doesn't measure success in dollars. "''d rather help a million people than to have a million dollars in the bank," he says. "Money was never a big deal for me, and if I ever let it become that way, I'll feel like I sold my soul to the devil. The world offers false peace. I don't have to have an NFL career and a lot of money; that's not what true success is." Burks thought similarly after the 1999 season. A two-time second-team AU-ACC offensive guard at Georgia Tech, he wanted no more of football. "At that level of college football and in professional football, the game becomes more of a god," he said .. "It demands so much time it becomes an idol. Being a man of God, I could not let myself go to the point ofletting football be that idol. be that God; that would be forsaking my God. "Another factor is that I was tired of being judged-everything you do, everything you are, is judged by another person. You're not ever big enough, fast enough, or strong enough. I only have one true Judge, and I was tired of being judged by a man, by the worldly standards." Is Burks content? "Yes. Every once in a while I might wonder 'what if: But I have no problems with my decision. Money is great, but money is not the answer to aU problems." The point behind aU this is not that it's better not to play or to play-it's that there is a choice, that man's "obvious" isn't always God's "obvious." Sometimes it's good to see that there is a different way.

The Swirsk Goes One-on-One with David Wheaton Swirsk: In your prime you were one of the better players on the tennis tour. God gave you those skills, and you made the most of them. Who were some of the players you lined up against as a pro? Wheaton: I went out on the tour at a very interesting time. I turned pro in 1988, and that was in the age of guys like John McEnroe and Boris Becker, and even Jimmy Conners and Ivan Lend! were still playing. In the 1990s, we had this great genera· tion of American players such as Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, and Jim Courie~ guys who made a huge impact on the game. I was fortunate to be a part of all that. I played all these guys, which made the time I played tennis all the more special.

Swirsk: Let's talk about the women's game. The Williams sis· ters, Serena and Venus, have been dominating. Is that good for tennis? Wheaton: I think the Williams sisters truly create a lot of interest for the game of tennis. This is certainly a unique time to have two sisters be No. 1 and No. 2 in the world. There's a tremendous amount of interest in them and therefore, tennis. Swirsk: Is there a ho·hum aspect, so to speak because they are so dominating? Almost like a Tiger Woods aspect? Wheaton: It is a little bit. But it's also like they're elevating the women's game. They're taking it to a new level. The danger is that fans like to see new faces, and t hey don't like to see the status quo all the time. The Williams sisters are expected to win.

Swirsk: You won the high school CHUCK SWIRSKY state championship in Minnesota talked with former when you were in the ninth grade! pro tennis player The bar was raised early in your life. (1988-2001) David Swirsk: What about the men's game? How did you handle the pressure? Wheaton on Sports Wheaton: The men's game is in nux Wheaton: That's a good question, Spectrum Radio. from the American side because you You can hear Sports have Sampras and Agassi, who are because although I grew up in a Spectrum on Saturdays toward the end of their careers. Christian family, I don't think I across the United There's a little bit of a lull between really understood what it really States at noon Eastern them and the new guys who will be means to be a Christian until I time. Call616-974·2~10 Andy Roddick, James Blake, Marcly was 24. That's when I trusted to locate an SS station Fish- those kinds of players. I look for Jesus Christ as my Lord and in your area, or go to Savior. So how did I deal with it? www.rbc.net/stations. them to do well, but I don't think I think I dealt with it because I Chuck is the playthey'll do as well as the Sampras, had to at such a young age. By the by-play voice of the Agassi, Courier, Chang group. time I was 8 or 9, I was having Toronto Raptors. Swirsk: With you gone and Michael stories written about me, so I just Chang near the end, is there anybody adjusted through experience. But in tennis who could step up and talk about winning the state tournament in ninth grade faith and not be ashamed? is still a highlight of my tennis career. Wheaton: Unfortunately, I don't see any high level, high visibility Christian players coming Swirsk: Talk about making a commitment to up. It's a bit of an issue for now. One player Christ at age 24. who is a Christian is Brian Vahaly (Sports Wheaton: The interesting thing about my ten· Spectrum: May-June 2002). He's an up-andnis career is that for the first half of it I was a spiritual fence-sitter. In the second half, it was coming American. Maybe if he does well, he totally the opposite. I was a totally different can take the mantle. person. God made me into a new man, and I Visit David Wheaton on the Web at really saw both ends of the spectrum. When I www.davidwheaton.com was 24, through a number of events in my life, God brought me really low. He showed me that I was a sinner and that my priorities and my perspectives were not right. When I turned to Looking for daily sports news from Christ, I had a much better perspective-the a different perspective? right perspective on why we do anything, not www.sport.org just sports. It's to glorify God.

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SPORTS SPECTRUM · NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2002

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JUSTIN ROWE

Late Bloomer • Seven-footer Justin Rowe controls the paint for the University of Maine. But as a 6-foot-10 high school sophomore at Pioneer Valley Christian School in Springfield, Massachusetts, Rowe (rhymes with "now") wasn't much of a presence. An admitted terrible attitude and limited athletic ability kept Rowe on the sidelines during his first year of organized hoops. "I didn't think I'd be able to play at the college level because I started so late," Rowe says.

Six years and two inches later, the University of Maine senior is the most dominating defensive center in the America East Conference and one of the best shot-blockers in NCAA Division I. Last season was Rowe's first as a Black Bear after spending 2 years at Clearwater Christian College (CCC) in Florida under longtime Cougar coach Del Wubbena. In 2001-2002, Rowe finished third in the nation in total blocks with 121 and was tied for third with four rejections a game. Rowe shattered the UMaine single season blocks record of 80 and broke the single-game record with nine swats against Stony Brook. He earned first team AUAmerica East honors. The seven-footer was a force at CCC, recording highs of 29 points, 21 boards, and 11 blocks. In 2000, after 2 years at Clearwater, Rowe decided he would leave for a Division I scholarship at a northeastern school if the opportunity arose. That summer, Rowe got offers from Boston University, Quinnipiac, Wagner, and UMaine. A mandatory redshirt season during his first year at Maine helped Rowe adjust to Division I. Guidance from his Baptist minister father and other family members kept Rowe humble when he began dominating practices. Now, no matter how he plays, Rowe knows where to give credit for his burgeoning success. "I always try to give all the glory to God," Rowe says. "When I have bad games and feel responsible for a loss, I still say, 'God, thank you for this game: Praying to God gives me peace about it." - KEVIN GOVE <1111 Maine man. Justin Rowe led the Black Bears in shooting percentage, rebounds, and blocked shots in 2001 -2002.

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SPORTS SP EC TRU M - NOVEM BER · DECE MBE R 2002

MAGGIE BOWEN

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• It took the most disappointing event in Maggie Bowen's swimming career to show her clearly what God wanted her to do. Bowen, a Jackson, Mississippi, native and senior at Auburn University, came one place short when she finished third in the 200-meter individual medley in the 2000 US Olympic Trials. A few more tenths of a second faster, and she would have reached her dream and fulfilled aU those hundreds of hours of practice. Instead, Bowen was left on the outside looking in. "I found out that God wanted me to follow His plan, not my plan," Bowen says. "The Olympic Trials was the turning point of my career. He wants me to follow Him. God is in control. and He's going to take care of everything." Since losing that race in the Olympic Trials, Bowen has been unbeatable. She set NCAA, US Open, and American records in last spring's NCAA meet with a time of 1 minute, 53.91 seconds, breaking her own previous mark {1:55.49) in the 200 IM. Bowen has also won the Southeastern Conference championships and US Nationals and World Championships in that event. Bowen was named the SEC Swimmer of the Year. urm so thankful that things have worked out like they have," Bowen says. "God wanted my swimming to be different and I had to accept it and have faith to put it in His hands." Bowen also had success in the 400 IM. She won the silver medal in the World Championships in 2001 and

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.A. Tiger Beat. Maggie Bowen's accomplishments at Auburn and in world competition are astounding. She is the world champion in the 200-meter individual medley. She's NCAA champion in both the 200and 400-yard IM. She holds at least five Auburn records, and she's an eight-time All-American.

captured first place in the NCAA BEN CRANE and US National championships in 2002 . It didn't come easily. Bowen worked extremely hard, improving her training both in and out • Ben Crane is having the time of of the pool. She worked harder in his life, and it's not just because the weight room, ate better, and he's a PGA Tour player with his got more rest. "It was such a hor- card already secured for next year. rible feeling when I lost in the J For the enthusiastic Tour rookTrials," Bowen says. "It was a feel- ie from Oregon, playing golf at ing of disappointment and i the highest level is all the more heartache, a feeling I don't want i exciting because it's a chance to have again. I was determined to represent Jesus Christ on to get better, and with God's help, . a grander stage. I have." 'Tm feeling very blessed. It's a She has talented blooddream coming true," Crane lines as well. Her father, says. "It's been really neat Bo Bowen, starred as to speak into people's a running back at lives. It's great to be the University of in a position to tell Mississippi from people the reason 1967-69 with AUfor the joy I have." American quarterCrane reached back Archie Manning. the PGA Tour via Bo's father, Buddy, qualifying school last also played at Ole Miss fall. He won't have to and Maggie's other grandfaworry about Q-school for ther, Johnny Black, played at next year. His second-place finish Southeastern Louisiana. and $518,400 check from the - ROB ERT WILSON Verizon Byron Nelson Classic

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sealed his status on the Tour. In the final round of that tournament, Crane mixed the skills of a veteran contender with rookie exuberance. His excitement made him a crowd favorite and his 65 left him just two shots behind Shigeki Maruyama while bettering hard-charging Tiger Woods and playing partner Ernie Els. He topped that the following weekend by getting married. "It was so nice to play well before the biggest day in my lifeother than praying the prayer to accept Christ-knowing that I would be becoming one with my wife," he says of his marriage to Heather Heinz. "I didn't want to have missed five or six cuts and be thinking about that. I wanted to end on a high note." Crane, who came to faith at age 8

following the model of his parents, Doug and Katy, makes it a habit to memorize new Scripture with his caddie each day during tournaments. Ephesians 3:20 has been particularly special to him this season. "There is so much power in the Word of God," he says. "That is what kept me going through the tough times. God's given me a gift and allows me to play with enthusiasm." - TIM WAITS

T Ben there, done that. Ever miss a paycheck? Ben Crane went from March 10 to May 12 without earning any money. But he made up for it at the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic. Besides the Nelson win, Crane earned money in at least 12 other tournaments in his rookie year. ANDY LYONS /GEnY IMAGES



LONGTIME DEFENSEMAN GLEN WESLEY CHRONICLES THE CAROLINA HURRICANES' SURPRISING JOURNEY TO THE STANLEY CUP FINALS

BY LOIS THOMSON

Last spring's Stanley Cup Finals were billed as Hockeytown, USA vs. Mayberry, RFD. David vs. Goliath. Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed. And why not? The teams involved were the Detroit Red Wings, everyone's preseason favorite to win the Cup, and the Carolina Hurricanes, against whom the odds were 25-to-l. These same Hurricanes had been bounced out of the first round of the playoffs by the New Jersey Devils the previous year, and they faced the Devils again in the 2002 playoff's opening series. So how did the underdog Canes make it all the way to the Finals? Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley thinks he can explai n. "I believe our expectations at the beginning of the season were more or less unlimited," he says. "We had a lot of potential, and [when we got to the playoffs] knowing we got knocked out by New Jersey the year before put some fuel on the fire for us. We wanted to do well- it couldn 't have happened better to be playing the same team that beat us. We liked the match-up." They li ked the match-up so much that they beat the Devils in six games in the best-of-seven series. Except for the Devils' 4-0 whitewash in Game 3, all of the contests were close, and Carolina won the final two 3-2 in overtime and 1-0. The 34-year-old Wesley says his teammates weren't too surprised at the outcome. "Anything can happen in the playoffs," he says. "During the season, we had success against the top teams in the league except Ouawa. New Jersey was one of the hottest teams at the end [of the season], and all of our games were close-they could have gone either way. But after we beat them, we developed confidence. We knew that if we could get by them we could beat anybody. <11 Canadian s tandoff. Defenseman Glen Wesley from Red Deer, Alberta, looks to pass as left wing Red Wing Luc Robitaille from Montreal puts on the pressure in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

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.t. Back on the ice. Glen Wesley missed the last five games of the 2001·2002 season with a broken shoulder. However, his shoulder healed in time for him to play 22 games in the playoffs, including the Finals against the Red Wings.

But there was still a long way to go." Wesley said the team had a lot of respect for New Jersey when they played them in the opening round because the Devils had been to the finals the year before. "We needed to earn that type of respect to turn some heads in the league and make a statement we were for real." Their next opponent was Montreal who, led by their Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL's MVP) winning goaltender Jose Theodore, was one of the surpri se teams in the league. This series also ended in six games, but the outcome looked bleak for the Canes when they were clown two games to one and behind 3-0 in Game 4. But they came back to tie the score and wi n in overtime. "That was really a huge game to tie the series," Wesley says. " We were confident, but you also have to have some things go right. " Then he corrected himsel f. " You have to have a lot of things go right- we were basically injury-free, guys were playing up to their potential. You need that in the playoffs." The Hurricanes won the nex t two games to take the seri es against Montreal , and they were ready to face their next opponent: Toronto. "That was another team we really respect· eel," Wesley says. "That was probably the most physical, most difficult seri es we had. They have some big players, and they had three or four regulars out [with injuries], so they had a lot of

guys playing that we didn't know anything about." But that didn't prevent the Canes from disposing of the Leafs-again in six games, and again, all were close. With the exception of a 3-0 victory in Game 4, all were decided by one goal , and Carolina won two in overtime, including the clincher. "The games were close, and i f they had gotten any bounces it could have been a different series. But hard work pays off, and we deserved the opportunities we got."

e ll, guess whatMayberry was going to the Stanley Cup Finals, ancl heads around the league were turning. Not only around the league, but especially in Raleigh. "The atmosphere at home was absolutely incredible," Wesley says. " I played in a great hockey city in Boston, but these were two different scenarios. Over the past 3 years we had established ourselves as a good hockey market and turned a lot of Southern people into hockey fans. They couldn't thank us enough. People were tailgating before the games. They hung nags on the streets and the cars- all over the place. We earned the respect of the media. [The playoffs] put us on the map. A lot of people who didn't know anything about Raleigh got to witness some great hockey.'' It wasn't so long ago that even the

people in Raleigh didn 't know anything about hockey. The Hartford Whaler franchise moved to North Carolina after the 1996-97 season, even though a new arena in Raleigh wouldn't be ready for a couple of years. So for two seasons the team had to play in Greensboro, 75 miles away, and the average attendance during that period was less than 8,200. When the new arena opened for business, however, the fans started to come and the team improved as well. One of the biggest improvements came through the acquisition of center Ron Francis from Pittsburgh and his selection as captain. Francis, who helped lead the Penguins to two Stanley Cups in the early 1990s, added a considerable scoring touch to the Hurricanes and a whole lot of leadership. " Ron shows us a great example, and I think everyone follows his lead on the ice," Wesley says. "The key is we have to lay it on the line because our captain is doing it. He's a great leader in the dressing room too. He doesn't say much, but when he does speak everyone listens- that goes for the young guys and even us veterans. It's been a treat for a lot of us, a pri vilege to play with him, because we know he'll be in the Hall of Fame." Even the media wa calling the Canes' captain " Ron Fram.:hist:" throughout the playoffs as an indication of his value to the team. But Wesley, too, had a lot of leadership to offer. A nati ve of Red Deer, Alberta, the veteran clefenseman had 15 NHL seasons under his belt, including seven straight playoff appearances with the Bruins. Wesley was Boston's first pick-No. 3 overall- in the 1987 NHL draft. After seven solid seasons with the Bruins, he became the key player in a blockbuster trade: Wesley was sent to Hartford for the Whalers' fi rst-round draft picks in 1995, 1996, and 1997. Consideri ng that Hartford wasn' t a premier team at the time and its draft picks were likely to be high, it showed how much the Whalers coveted the rugged defenseman and the premium Boston demanded for giving him up. " Boston was a great hockey city," Wesley says. " I was treated well, and I still have a lot of friends there. I went to the fi nals twice and made a name for myself. But I was able to go to a team in transition, one that was rebuilding and didn't have an identity. That was

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one of the challenges I had to face." He admits that first season was difficult. " Hartford hadn 't made the playoffs for a few years, but they had a good outlook for the future. The organization wanted to win and that's where I wanted to be." Hartford was not a huge hockey market, and it had to contend with nearby franchises of the Bruins, the New York Rangers and Islanders, and the New Jersey Devi ls-all of which were more established and successfu l. " It was like being part of the Bermuda triangle," Wesley says with a chuckle. Wesley's steady play continued, but the playoff appearances didn't. ln his first 4 years the Whalers didn't make it to postseason play, but Wesley discovered something more important than playoff games-the importance of Jesus in his life. " I became a Christian while playing in Hartford," he says. " My wife had just lost her mom-she had been a Christian since she was a young girl- and started going to church again. We had two young kids at the time [Glen and Barb now have three children: Amanda, Josh, and Matthew] and I had an emptiness in my heart. " I had to look in the mirror and see how I wanted to be a better husband, a better father. I needed to make some changes. So I accepted Christ as my Savior. That was 6 or 7 years ago, and the Lord has given me a great platform to speak to young kids and neighbors and friends." Wesley says everyone faces trials, and that enables him to witness. " I give them an opportunity to look at themselves and sec what life is all about, knowing that we' re here on earth, bu t thi s is temporary. Heaven is eternity. I know that puts things in perspecti ve for me." He says Barb is an enormous ally. "She's a great supporter. When I struggle, she helps me with my walk with Christ. Without her I'd have a difficult time, and the kids have been great too." The 6' I" 200-pound lefty says his faith helped him to keep an even balance throughout the playoffs. Last season, the NI-IL allowed the teams to have chapel programs, which he attended. In that way he was a leader both on and off the ice. "My biggest thing is that I try to lead by example," he says. " If something has to be said I' ll do it , or l ' lltellthe younger players about the wars you have to

go through to be successful." The Canes' success continued in their quest for the Stanley Cup as the Finals got underway in Detroit. 1-lockeytown was stunned when Carolina came away from Joe Louis Arena with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game I, with Francis leading the way by scoring 58 seconds into the extra period. Wesley says the Canes didn't allow themselves to become overconfident following that initial victory. "A lot can happen in a series, and you have to keep an even keel. We knew in Game 2 they'd be better." Perhaps not better, but the Red Wings did get a couple of breaks and capitali zed on them. " That penalty we took late in the game got us in trouble," Wesley says, referring to a slashing penalty that gave the Wings a power-play opportunity. " It was I - I then, but they scored on the power play, then on the next shift they scored another one." Nicklas Lidstrom and Kri s Draper did the damage 13 seconds apart for a 3- 1 win. So the series was tied at one game apiece and heading to Raleigh. Then came the turning point of the Finals. " We were up 2- 1 and they scored, and then we played a tough overt ime," Wesley says. Despite the excitement of being at home and having the fans'

support, the Canes did lose the game-although it took three overtime periods. Brett Hull tied the score for Detroit at 2-2 wi th just 74 seconds remaining in regulation time, and then no one found the net again until Igor Larionov connected 56 minutes later. The loss was disappointing, but Carolina wasn't ready to give up. "We knew they had a lot of fi repower," Wesley says, "and we knew we had to keep to our game plan. We had been doing a lot of things right. When you' re going like that you ride the wave- we had good goaltending, good specialty teams. We had all the ingredients, but we fell a little short." Carolina lost the next two games 30 and 3- 1, and the Red Wings hoisted the Cup while the Canes went home to unwind for the rest of their short ened summer. Wesley has now been to the finals three times but has yet to skate away with the Stanley Cup. "The ultimate goal is to wi n, to get to that level. A lot of players don't even get that close," he says. " But l know one day I will get to drink from the Lord's Cup, if not the Stanley Cup."

"I had to look in the mirror and see how I wanted to be a better husband, a better father. I needed to make some changes. So I accepted Christ as my Savior:' - GLEN WESLEY

Lois Thomson is a freelance hockey writer who lives in Pittsbu1gh.

1•1 WNIIIT .JIIHT • The Detroit Red Wings won Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals when Igor La rionov scored at 14:47 of the third overtime period, beating Glen Wesley and the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 and ending the third-longest Finals game ever. Ironically, Hurricane defenseman Wesley was a participant in the longest overtime game as well. Wesley was a member of the Bruins at the time, when Boston faced Edmonton in the 1990 Finals. The opening game was played on May 15 in Boston Garden. The Oilers were a formidable opponent, having won fo ur Stanley Cups in the previous six seasons. The score was tied 2-2 as the game headed into the first overtime. And the second overtime. And the third overtime. Wesley, in just his third NHL season, had already scored a game-wi nning goal in the .&. Triple heartbreak. Goaltender Arturs lrbe of the division final series against Montreal, but Carolina Hurricanes misses the puck after Igor he missed an open net try in this particu- Larionov of the Detroit Red Wings fires the game la r match. Finally, at 15:13 of the sixth winning goal. Red Wing Mathieu Dandenault looks period, Petr Klima, who hadn't seen much on in the third overtime of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals as the goal gets past lrbe. ice time during the game, scored t he game-winner for the Oilers. Another memorable feature about this contest was that in the t hird overtime period, a power outage knocked out t he lights and broadcast systems, ca using a 25-minute delay. - LOIS THOM SON Edmonton went on to win the series and the Stanley Cup 4-1.


~-------------~----11---------------------------------------------------------------------------------A veteran basketball writer looks at the changing face of the NBA and how we are to respond to the new wave BY DARRYL HOWERTON

e cringe when we hear prom-to-pro 200 1 top NBA draft pick Kwame Brown steadfastly refuse to lift weights on a team where Michael Jordan, of all people, stmngly encourages it. The 19-year-old doesn't help matters when he talks about this indiscretion, saying, " I don't need to. I'm country-strong." We cringe when 2000 top NBA draft pick Kenyon Martin is suspended seven games for committing six nagrant fouls in one season, amassing $347,057 in fines and a nationwide rep as a young thug. We cringe yet again when backto-back-to-back NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O' Neal waits until September to have toe surgery, forcing him to miss a November's worth of games that he might otherwise have played. It reminds us of how we cringed a year earlier when fellow NBA All-Star Allen Iverson did the same thing, postponing surgery and missing all of November 200 I 's action. All of these things remind us of a story not so long ago in which a college star refused to cut his hair per the coach's rule, using America-i s-a-country-of-freedom as his justification. At that point the coach said, " I respect that you believe so strongly in this. I really do. It's a shame, though, that you won't be playing ball for us. It was nice having you here." The player? The legendary Bill Walton, who quickly bicycled away from the coach, the legendary John Wooden, and pedaled his mangy top to the nearest barbershop to comply with the coach's rules. That was 30 years ago. Wooden, commenting on the changes in today's NBA game, says that "on the whole" things really aren't so different today from how they were I 0, 20, or 30 years ago. ..,. Looking for love. Kwame Brown jumped into the NBA at age 19. Right, Kenyon Martin listens for cheers, which at times become jeers.

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"It's li ke everything in life," says the 92year-old Wooden, relaxing in his Encino, California home. "The changes in the game are good for some reasons and bad for others. With the large number of high school and underclassmen entering the NBA these days, it's lowered the quality of the game a little bit. The young players are not as fundamentally sound when they first come in the league. On the other hand, the athleticism we're seeing from these young players is something I've never seen before. There are more high flyers in the NBA now than in any time in history. "Maybe I'm an old fogey," he continued, "but I would sum it up li ke this: I0-20 years ago, there was not as good individual play as there is today. But then agai n, there probably was better team play on the whole, especially when you consider all the expansion that's occurred over the years. So li ke I said before, some good to go along with some bad." Wooden's approach to this topic is perhaps the best way. In life, there are few cutand-dried answers. The examples of players and messed-up attitudes that we gave you at the top of the story could easily be chalked up to spoiled NBA children, as many in the media do these days. But if you explore the other side- the players' perspecti ve-you' ll see where these players are coming from with their decisions. rown was no more disappointing stat-wise in per-minutes calculations than his highschool-to-pro lottery brethrenyoung men like Kevin Garnett (who, as the first of this movement, absorbed verbal and written abuse in every NBA city), Kobe Bryant (who tuned out coach Del Harris), Tracy McGrady (who was so homesick he stayed in bed for 18 hours on off days), et al. And when you see Brown giving up his summer vacation time to work out in Pete Newell's Big Man Camp in Hawaii , it makes his past indiscretions more tolerable. Martin translated his "thug" image into a man with "heart" with his courageous, tough, flagrant-foul-free playoff run that saw

& He's seen it all. Coach John Wooden sees some good and bad in today's NBA. He should know about basketball's past- he began playing college hoops at Purdue in 1929.

Old Names

from the Old Game ' Q

A Dynasty. Russell, Cousy, Auerbach, 1961.

A V

Mr. Clutch and the Pistol. Old guard vs. new-70's style: Jerry West and Pete Maravich.

f) The Doctor is in.

Julius Erving brought ABA flair to the NBA in the 80s.

0

The Glide and Magic. Clyde Drexler and Earvin Johnson, 1987. .

...andaBird. 1988: Larry vs. a Worthy opponent.

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RICK STEWART I A1.LSPORT


NOT YOUR fAT H ER'S N BA

r------------ ----------- ---- -- ------------- -- ------------------------ -- ------ --- --- --- ------------ ---- ----- --- --,, "THERE'S MORE MONEY FOR EVERYONE •••• PEOPLE WANT TCJ SHOW THEY'RE WORTH THE MONEY."

him give Shaq and the Lakers everything he had in the 2002 NBA Finals. In the case of Shaq, the big fell a put off his surgery, since it was careerthreatening, and because the three top specialists in the world all gave him conflicting advice. He wanted to make sure he was doing the right thing, rather than rush into a potentially harmful surgery: "So I could play again, so I could walk again." In a similar situation a year ago, Iverson put off his surgery so that he could get married and, like Shaq, took media abuse for delaying his surgery until after the honeymoon. Again, it's all a maHer of perspective. "Players today get a lot of criticism, but I think for the most part, we're seeing them make more efforts to get better than we did, say, I 0 years ago," says Milwaukee Bucks assistant Ron

IIITCHELL LA'I'TON I N8AE

Smits. Here is a future All-Star team led by 20-somethings Jermaine O'Neal, AI Harrington, Ron Artest, Jonathan Bender, Brad Miller, Ron Mercer, and Jamaal Tinsley. " I' m from that old school that you're talking about, so I know what it's like to see the changing face of the NBA," says Miller. "And as tough as it is sometimes to be patient with my young guys, when you see them learn, it makes everything all worth it. " Young players by nature are going to want to take short cuts. So for years, I've been harping on them how they' ve got to stay late for practice to shoot, condition extra, work out all summer long. At tirstthey didn't listen and came up with every excuse in the book. Now, this summer, I've seen them or heard about them finally following through. I believe

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outlaw zones in the first place," says Wooden. " It never should have been. The detractors said zones would hurl Shaq. It didn't hurl Shaq at all. Shaq is a great all-around player, and great allaround players adj ust to defenses better than average players." The anti-zone contingent pointed out how helping the defense would hurl offenses, although what they failed to realize is how many more fast-break opportunities would be created by a beuer equipped D. hat's probably the No. I reason the game had its finest season last year- with scoring rising, the pre-finals playo ffs being the most exciting tourn ament ever, and with more 20-something superJED JA009SOHN I ALLSf'ORT

r----------- ------------ -------------------------- --------------------------------------- ------------- ----------···1 ~ The wonderful wizard of awes. MJ came back to lead the kids by example.

Center: That's a wrap. Shaq Daddy toed the line for surgery, but not soon enough for some. Right: The real answer. Kobe and the Lakers have had all the answers 3 years running.

Adams, who calls in from Connecticut where he is working out with his team's star, Ray Allen. "The biggest change in the game is that there's more money for everyone, so there's a greater sense of responsibility involved. People want to show they' re worth the money. We're seeing a lot more stuff going on in the summer. There's more intensity in the pl ayers' workouts. There's more effort in everyone to get better. And it's not just the players; it's the coaches and assistant coaches too. Everybody is working harder." Reggie Miller, 37, is the leader of the youth-infused Indiana Pacers, so he too has first-hand experience at seeing the transformation of the new-faced N BA. Gone are methodical, fundamentally sound teammates like Mark Jackson, Antonio Davis, Dale Davis, and Rik

this year you' re gonna see big things from my guys, which is one of the most talented young teams in terms of talent that's ready to play now. And the main reason for that is the hard work and the experience they' ve gained already. When big-time talent meets experience, the game can only get beller." Recent NBA rules changes helped facilitate this. For decades, the league outlawed such basketball staples as the zone defense, fearing it would take away from players' athleticism. But when league officials finally realized there was so much athleticism in the game that nothing could slow it clown, that's when the scoring rose, wi th four teams averaging 100-plus points (only one did the previous season) and 20 teams besting the previous season's average of 93 points per game. " It was ridiculous for the league to

stars emerging than ever before in the game's history, showing everyone there is life after Michael Jordan. It was enough for ABC and ESPN to buy the NBA out from the clutches of NBC's stranglehold on the sport. All in all , last season's changing game showed the league's future was indeed bright. "Change is good," says Miller. "The young players come in here with all their bling-bling, and I gotta tell you, it is something I' m not used to. But I tell everyone they bri ng a freshness to thi s league that you don't really see in any other league. And I like that freshness in the locker room, on the bus, on the plane. It just takes some getting used to." The team out West that best typifies Miller's defin ition of " freshness" is the LA Clippers, another team that boasts a

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starting future All-Star lineup of 20somethings Elton Brand, Andre Miller, Lamar Odom, Michael Olowokandi, and Quentin Richardson. Despite being the laughingstock of the league in the '80s and '90s, the Clips have emerged as one of the Top I 0 draws in the league for their youthful enthusiasm, with attendance, national TV dates, and jersey sales being the main indicators of their ri sing status in the league. Their brand of ball may not be your father's NBA- baggy shorts, braids and tats, celebratory antennae-palms on head, and more fast breaks than Magic in his heyday-but it is a style that the entire NBA is quickly gravitating toward, thanks in large part to the ru les changes that encourage thi s type of behavior.

youthful energy we have here." L1st year alone, Gentry had to deal with problems such as coaxing future superstars Richardson and the sincetraded Dariu s Miles into playing reserve rol es; dealing with the 8-game suspension of Odom for testing positi ve for an illegal substance (marij uana); and handling the team suspension of Olowokandi, who was critical of management in anticipation of rocky contract negotiations thi s summer. "We're human, so we're going to make mistakes," says Odom, who only played one year of college ball. "Especially the young guys. Thankfully, we've been given a second chance, and we plan to make the most of it. I'll adjust to whatever environment I'm in. Had I been traded, I would have made the most of it. But I'm glad I stayed here

that clown, I think you see them take greater responsibility for their game. Like we were talking about before, they seem to be more intense about getting better in the summer than players I 0 or more years ago." Perhaps the best man to speak on thi s subject is Karl Malone, who probabl y works harder in the summer than any other NBA player. His offseason consists of mountain-man workouts of weights, hiking, and carrying lumbering equipmen t in the airy wildernesses in Utah, Arkansas, or any other backwoods place in America you can fi nd. " I don't have a problem with young players if they work," says Malone, 38. " I've worked out wi th younger teammates like Isaac Austin, Bryon Russell, Donyell Marshall, and DeShawn Stevenson and seen them get better

"THE DETRACTORS SAID ZONES WOULD HURT SHA[\1. IT D I DN'T HURT SHA[\1 AT ALL." -

.JOHN WOODEN

CATHERiNE STEENK£STE I hOAE I GETTY IMAGES

------ --------------- ---------------------------------------------------- -----------------------------------------, " I was looking forward to coming here because I know this team likes to get up and down the floor," says new Clipper point guard Andre Miller, who should do for LA what steady-handed Mike Bibby did for the Sacramento Kings last year. "Everyone loves to run here, from the guards to the big men. I can' t wait to push the ball up the floor to see what we can do." That's not to say that there aren' t growing pains along the way. Just ask Clipper head coach Al vin Gentry about it and see him roll his eyes as if to say it's not the easiest thing-teaching 19- and 20-year-olds how to be N BA pros. "It sure makes it easier when you have someone come on board like Andre who is 26, mature, and speaks with his play," Gentry says. "That 's the type of steady influence that blends in well with the

in LA because I think we have a great future here."

ometimes, as those close to any team wi th young players will attest, it's handling the present that makes things difficult. "The one thing that may be missing from these young players that you're talking about is the college professionalism we expect from players in their 20s when they come into the league," says Adams. "There's a maturity that's missing. J do think that makes for a dicier league where things are more erratic. "Before, players learned in college how to be professional in their approach to the game. With players coming out early, they have to learn a lot of that on the fly in the NBA. But once they do get

SPORTS SPECTR UM COV ERS A LL T H E SPO RTS . W£ BSIT E: http:Jfwww.sport.org

through hard summer workouts. I don't have a problem with the young players when I see them put the work in. I think all of the older guys feel the same way because we know they are the future of this league. We j ust want to make sure the game is played the right way." That seems to be the prevai ling opinion from basketball elders, who in spite of a fumbled turnover here and there, feel the game is in good hands. " I have many things to offer the young guys in terms of knowledge," says the Pacers' Miller. "But bottom line is, I need them just as much. They are not only the future of thi s league, they are the present too."

• Steady as he goes. Alvin Gentry at the Clippers' helm with one of his Whiz Kids, Quentin Richardson. Center: The professor. Reggie Miller is the old prof for Jermaine O'Neal and AI Harrington. Left: T-Ma c's shack: Tracy McGrady made himself right at home when he moved to Orlando.

Danyl Howertou covered the NBAfor several years for SPORT 111agaziue. He lives ill Chatsworth, California. SPOR TS SPECTRU M - NOVE MBER - DECEMBER

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BY DAV I D ROB I NSON W ITH DARRYL HOWERTON

he th ing I'll remember most about my career is how much I grew up as both an athlete and a man, not to mention how much I learned about what it takes trying to be the best. I really started to learn that mentality and that altitude at the I992 Olympics, being on the original Dream Team with guys like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. I learned by seeing how intense they were about their sport, about their training, and about their commitment to what they do. Up until that time, I always enjoyed basketball , but I always looked at it as a sport. You come out and you play basketball. You know, it 's fun, but that was it. But those guys took it to another whole level for me. lt wasn't just learning how to be intense and having commitment, it was also ~eeing the responsibility you have for your teammates. Seeing how the other guys look into your eyes, and how they feed off of what energy you have. And that's what I think I learned from them more than anything else-how to pursue perfection. I don 't know how else to describe it to you. There's a certain altitude that goes wit h excellence, and those guys had it. That was one of the things I had to learn. I've always had a lot of love for my teammates, but I learned I needed to put the1~1 in a position where they could be successful. Not everyone is talented in the --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------~ RICH CLARKSON

The

Admiral's

log

1965

1983

1987

AUG UST 6 • David born t o Ambrose and Freda Robinson in Key West, Florida

• Scores a 1,320 on the SAT College Board exa ms • Graduates from Osbourn Park High School, Manassas,

..,... Named College Player of the Year • Selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA draft MAY • Graduates from the US Naval Academy

OUR UNOFFICIAL DAVID ROBINSON TIMELINE:

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"J UST GE TTIN G STAR TE D"

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• Block party. During the 1999 NBA 'Finals against the New York Knicks, David Robinson (shown here blocking Chris Dudley in Game 1) blocked five shots in Game 2 and 40 shots in the 17 games the Spurs played. Robinson began the 2002-2003 season with 2,843 career blocks, fifth best of all-time.

same way, and you can't expect the same things from everyone. But you can expect consistency from everyone, and you can set that example of consistency for others to follow. When guys came to my team, I tiied to see every player's strengths and weaknesses. I made it a point not to ever put a guy where he's left out in the cold or embarrassed for whatever shortcomings he may have. For instance, Dennis Rodman had certain limitations, but he also excelled at ce11ain things. Playing beside him, there were ways I could make his job easier and I think he

enjoyed that. I don't know what he says, but I think he enjoyed the experience because he got a lot of attention, which he loves, and he got to do what he did best. I scored 30 points a night so he could go get rebounds and not have to score for us. He could get two points a night and still be right in the middle in the mix. Our team was very good, and I think that was something he enjoyed. Same thing happened with Tim Duncan. When he came here, I said, "Well, let's see what Tim does well." Obviously, putting the ball in the basket is something he does extremely

well, so I wanted to put him in a position where he could succeed. I no longer had to score for us to win. I just needed to go out there and make things happen on the floor- play defense, rebound. I had to make our talents really mix as well as they possibly could. I wanted him to have the utmost of confidence and take the pressure off him, because a lot of times young guys come in the league and people put all of the pressure on them to succeed. But this was still my team and my responsibility, not his responsibility. For those first few years, it really took

1988

1990

199 1

1992

SEPTEMBEROCTOBER

.... Named NBA Roo kie of the Year

JUNE

JANUARY 13

..,.. Leads US Olympic team in scoring

..,.. Marries Valerie Hoggatt

• David reco mmits his life to

J.., ROi CLARKSON

2 0

SPORTS SPEC TR UM • NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2002

COURTESY: SAN ANTONI() SPURS I PHOTO: OSCAR WilliAMS

Defensive Player of the Year


" JUST GET TIN G STAR T ED "

some of the pressure off him and allowed him to be himself. I think that was one of the keys to our winning the NBA championship in 1999. I am most proud of that team because all of us got the most of our abilities and came to a place where we bel ieved and trusted one another. That's a thing you' re always preaching to your teammates. I saw that team go from a little bit of turmoil earl y in the year where guys weren't believing in one another to a place where we were one- one heart, one mind- and we got it done. That's what I was most proud of. We didn't win that championship because we were that much better than everyone. We won that championshi p because we were all on the same page. We believed in one another. That right there to me is one of our greatest accomplishments, being able to come together. Avery Johnson is a perfect example of seeing someone get the most out of his abilities. He could go to a lot of teams, and guys wou ld just look at him and say he can't help us. But we believed in him, we loved him, and we encouraged him. He was my partner in leadership. I think that was important for his strength and his credibility. Guys needed to understand that I believed in him, and I think · that kind of helped him along. I think it was just a blessing havi ng a group of guys that really had one single purpose: to win games.

P

eople talk about my sacrificing my game for the good of the team, but I never really saw it that way. For me, it's always been about helping the team win. Back when I was scoring a lot of points and we weren't wi nning, nobody really cared about my individual accomplish-

ments. People may pat you on your back and say, "That was awesome. You' re averaging 30 points a game." I just thought, "B ig deal. We didn' t win it all." Same thing goes on today. Look at a guy like Allen Iverson. Great player, but you' re not gonna get your props until you wi n. Once you keep your eyes focused on what's important, then I think it all works out in the end. My MVP season in 1995 doesn't even compare to the championship season. Jt's funny when I think back on that time. It's funny because when God does stuff in your life, you really can't enjoy it as much as you would've thought you would- because you realize it wasn't you that did it. Going through that whole season, I just felt that I was doi ng what God gave me to do. I didn 't feel li ke I was so great. There wasn't anything that was really happening that I made happen. I was just playing. I was just doing what I do. I was in the place God wanted me to be and that's what I did. Afterwards, you don't feel like saying, "I'm so great, and I did this-this-and-this and I was awesome." No. Afterward, you look at it and you just say, "Lord, thank You. You are full of grace for allowing me to do this." You realize it was out of your hands. I thought I had played better in many seasons before 1995, and I always ended up second in the voting to Michael Jordan. It just goes to show, you can't control when you win championshi ps or awards. You just go do what you do best. I kind of felt the Lord had spoken to me 2 years before the 1999 championship that we were goi ng to win. I just felt it in my heart we were going to wi n one. It takes some of the glory out of it for you because you know it's going to happen. It's not like you' re

Carver Academy is David Robinson's pet project. It has blossomed into a

pre-kindergarten-through-eighthgrade independent school that specializes in teaching of the highest order for low-income families who live on San Antonio's East Side. "We have five basic pillars we teach the students: discipline, integrity, initiative, faith and service," says Robinson. "This was a concept I've always wanted to see instilled in kids. I've always been big on education, and coming from the Naval Academy, I love discipline. I just love the whole education process, the sense of being a part of something greater than yourself." Carver Academy is based upon a foundation of Judeo-Christian Scripture and values, and it uses the small-classroom setting to give students high-tech instruction emphasizing leadership, family values, and high student achievement. It helps the kids foc us on achieving greatness in whatever they choose to do. "That's what we loved about life in the military," says Robinson. "You didn't care about your salary. That wasn't what you were studying for. You were studying to accomplish something great. That was the heart I wanted to put in this school. The thing I'm most proud of is that the vision has been caught by all the teachers, administrators, and everyone here. The atmosphere here is so sweet toward doing something positive for those students." -DARRYL HOWERTON CARV ER ACADEMY FACTS

• • • • • •

Named after scientist and educator George Washington Carver Student/ teacher ratio: 15:1 School opened for the fi rst time on September 17, 2001 Total school capacity: 300 Initial contribution from David Robinson: $9 million Parents must commit to participating in the learning process

------------- --------- ------------------------------- ------- ----------- ------- ----------------------- -- ---- ---- -~

1992

1994

1994

1995

1996

JULY-AUGUST

FEBRUARY 17

• Records his only career quadru ple double {34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 blocks)

...... Named NBA Most Valuable Player

MAY

• Appears in his second Olympics

APRIL 24 • Scores 71 points

NOVEMBER

• Starts the David Robi nson Foundation

against the LA Clippers to lock up the NBA scoring title

DECEMBER 6

• Voted to the All-NBA First Team Voted one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of All-Time

COURTESY: SAN ANTONIO SPURS / PHO TO: NOREN TROTMAN

SPORTS SPECTRUM - NOV EMBER-DEC EMBER 200 2

2 1


" JUST GE TTIN G STARTED"

.a. Toy story, too. A true sign you're a success? The David Robinson official NBA large-headed toy, available at a basketball arena near you. If you live in San Antonio.

the one who's making it happen. You' re just doing what God gives you to do. So I was very relaxed going in. I enjoyed the season, I enjoyed the guys, I was faithful to what God asked me to do, and by the end of the season we had a team that was on one page praying together. Even when we were celebrating the championship, we were about to run out on the court at the Alamodome, and all the guys stopped and looked at me and said, " Let's pray one more time." That, to me, was one of the highlights of the whole year becau se I knew the guys understood the source of our strength. In preseason, a lot of guys came to our team and were like, "You guys pray? Man, you guys are punks." But by the end of the year, every one of them, to a man, felt that prayer and God was the strength of our team. To me, that was the glory of the Lord shining through. Like God was saying, "The champi· onship was not something you did. I blessed you because you were faithful to me." That was a great experience for me. A lot of guys on that team weren't there with me through I 0 years of losing before we won. They didn't really go through all the negati ve stuff, where I had to keep my faith and say, "Lord, why are we crashing?" At the end of some years, it felt like we were falling off a cli ff. It was terrible. It was always my team, so I was al ways the fi rst one to get criticized for our not winning. I' m not sure if everyone understood how blessed we were, how the Lord blessed us because of our faithfulness. It's not like a candy store where He is just handing stuff out. He blesses you because of His love for You and Your faithfulness to Him. I think a lot of times my teammates may not have

.a. Most Valuable Pair. With two MVPs (Tim Duncan 2002 and Robinson 1995), a strong returning lineup, and the addition of some new players (Speedy Claxton, Emanuel Ginobili), David likes the Spurs' chances in his last NBA dance.

fully understood those concepts, but I think they still appreciate the strength and the character God gave us. And God has definitely given our team a certain personality. Like it or not, it's stuck with us. It's like Jehovah Nisi (Exodus 17:15 KJV), which means " the Lord is your banner." He goes before you. People see Him before they see you. And that's kind of what it is with our team. Like it or not, when guys come here, that's what they see. I think the guys who've spent any time here genuinely appreci· ate the character and quality of hea11 God has put into this team. That is why I am really excited about this, my final season. I've been working out pretty hard and have put in a lot of extra work just to get strong and solid after coming off my back injury. But I see our team being at fu ll strength. Tim is the league MYP. Tony Parker had a great rookie season. We re-signed Bruce Bowen, Malik Rose, and other key

members of our team. And then we' re bringing in this kid, Manu Ginobili, who obviously has been the best player in Europe the last couple of years. We're defi nitely excited about him, especially seeing him lead his Argentina team at the 2002 World Championships and giving Team USA its first loss ever in these games. That is why it would be great to win a championship with these guys. And not just for us, but it would be great to win so that we could contin ue to rep· resent the city in a good, positive way. I don't know what God has in store for us this season. I really don't. But I know I' m on my knees saying, " Lord, another championship sure would look good." It would be great. And again, not just for us. I couldn't care less about my own reputation. I just want us to be in that place where we could j ust praise the Lord again. Be up on the center stage, praising God. Everybody else is drinking

JEFF CHRISTENSEN I AU.sPOAT

1996

1997

JULY-AUGUST

SUMMER

...,.. Becomes only American male basketball player to appear in three Olympics

...,.. Establishes the Carver Academy in San Antonio

W~ .

JED JAC06SOHN / ALLSPOAT

2 2

SPORTS SPECTRU M - NOVEMBER· DECEMBE R 2002

.,...,.,_.,,.,<_.. ........,.

=~-:::o.·.:.:-~-:=.:o..."":;:;..."':"~::.~':'.!:

.... -............. -·-_.._............ ~


Ll

KS LETTE

Love golf? Then Links Letter is just for you. This bimonthly magazine will bring you face -to-face with Christian golfers and their remarkable stories. From Pat Bates' return to pro golf after touchy neck surgery to the stories of top golfers such as Wendy Ward and Larry Nelson, you'll see firsthand the work of God in professional, college, and amateur golf today. You 'll also get golf tips, golf ministry news, and much more.

• To order the Links Letter, call us today at 1·800-90LINKS, or send an E-mail message to linksletter@linksplayers.com. We'll send you a free issue for you r review. The Links Letter is a publication of Links Players International, a ministry dedicated to equipping golfers to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world today.

champagne, prmsmg whatever they want to prai se, so why can't we get up there and prai se the Lord? From my point of view, my little perspective clown here, !think that would be great. It's up to Him. All we do is do what he calls us to do-be at the right place, do the right things, train hard, get ready, get my guys ready. I'm excited about it, especially since this is my last season.

M

any people are wondering, " Why stop playing now?" Simply put, I have two reasons that led me to retire. Reason One: I sat clown with my family and said here are our opti ons with this being the last year of my contract. We can decide we're going to pl ay for a few more years. I told them we might stay here in San Antonio or we might have to leave. I don't know what will happen in the future. We have an opportunity here, our 14th year, to decide what we want to do. Reason Two: I had to sit clown and really talk to the Lord myself and say, " Wh at do you want me to do?" Physically, I could play a few more years and ! could do a good j ob, but I

had to ask the Lord, " Is this what you want me to do? Spend the time here, stay here with this team and this community? Or are you ready to have me move on to something else?" I really felt the Lord was saying, " David, I' m preparing you for some other things. I' ll let you enjoy this basketball one more year, but really l have some other things l want you to get clone." Obviously, one of them is working on Carver Academy here (see sidebar). All of us at Carver Academy realize how great an opportunity we have to help some of the San Antonio kids who do not have access to a lot of good things. We put together this really nice campus, nice school, and a great environment for these kids so they can get away from their world where they don't necessarily get a lot of encouragement. And they can get in thi s campus and setting and excel. Really excel. Learn languages in kindergarten and first grade. And to press on and reach on for dreams they never thought would be possible. To me, thi s is exciting, 'to be around this community and these kids. I want to continue wi th that after my playing career. And also, l feel it will be time for me

1999

2001

JUNE 25 .... Wi ns the NBA championship as a member of the Spurs • Wins the Montblanc de la Cultu re Awa rd

• Receives t he NBA Sportsmanship Award JULY 21 • Signs hi s fi nal NBA contract with the San Antonio Spurs.

to start teaching and preaching. That's something the Lord has put deep in my heart. I don't know when exactly it is going to come out, but l know when it does, it's going to explode. I've known for years it's in there. A lot of preachers don't become preachers overnight, and teachers don't become teachers overnight. It takes years of preparation of the Lord really investing some things in you. You can't teach what you don't have and what you don't know. You don't become a teacher until you live. l know the Lord's trying to prepare me for whatever He has in store for me. l haven't jumped into it already because, as God says, teachers have the greatest responsibility (James 3: I). But to be honest with you, that 's where my heart is. l love teaching. I can sit all night and teach. l love it. It's something that energizes me. I love to see people growing in grace and understanding, and I think that 's where my heart has always been. It's an exciting time for me. It's funny too, because some people are treating this like an ending to my life story. But to me, to be honest, it feels like I'm j ust getting started.

2002 Terms: two years, $20 million SEPTEMBER 17 ~ Opens the Carver Academy

MAY 24 • Announces his retirement after the 2002-2 003 season.

SPO RT S SPEC TRUM - NOV EMBER·D ECEM BER 200 2

23


Arizona quarterback Jason Johnson wants to write scripts, but for now he's playing the role of a lifetime BY MARK MORAN

• If you wanted to write a Hollywood script about

the life and times of Jason Johnson, you'd have to get in line . .. behind Jason Johnson. He's crafting a very nice one of hi s own. Although the 6' 2" senior quarterback for the University of Arizona Wildcats has hi s sights set on the NFL, if that doesn't work out, he's got another plan. He wants to transform the Christi an fi lm industry. "There's definitely a market out there for good Christian fi lms," Johnson says with his characteristic enthusiasm. " Look how far Christi an music has come." Look how far Jason Johnson has come. Four years ago, Johnson was winging touchdown passes at 3-A Rogers High School in Puyallup, Washington. He threw for more than 2,400 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior year. He rushed for a half dozen more TDs. While he came by his talent honestly, he no doubt picked up a few tips from hi s grandfather, Frosty Westering. The 74-year-olcl Westering has more victories than any other NAJA coach does, with more than 290 victories in his coaching career. He has spent the last 20 seasons at Paci fie Lutheran University. Westering was instrumental in blending young Jason's passion for sports with the importance of faith. Johnson's success doesn't come as a surprise to Westering, who always saw the potential in young Jason. " He picks things up so quickly," says Westering. " You open him up and inside him is this heart and thi s savvy 2 4

.l

SPORTS SPECTRU M - NOV EMBER· DE CEM BER ZOOZ

and this intelligence. There's aj oy that Jason has." Westering credit s th at joy for Johnson's comfort and ease on the field. Westering taught his grandson a few tricks of the football trade, but he was sure to :~cc e n tu ilt e thllt his fai th in Jesus Christ can go hand-in-hand with athletics. "The spiritual element was just part of a li festyle. It was our family's li festyle. I think it was a natural thing." "The thing he taught me," Johnson says of his grandfather, " is that you don't have to have fear. So many times people play scared, scared of their coach, scared of fai lure, scared of living up to what other people think when in reality being a Christian gets rid of that fear. God already says you're worthy, you' re My son. And living like that has helped me be successful in pretty much everything I' ve clone." Johnson still begins each clay with a Westering intluence. A small plaque nex t to the sink in the bathroom of Johnson's Tucson home reads "As iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen each other." It's taken from the Proverbs, and Johnson lives it. How could he help but live by that rule? He saw. it put to use in one of Westering's storied PLU preseason football camps. Before each season,

Westering takes his players to the Oregon coast with just about everything but a football. Jason got to tag along most years. The camps are designed to help players get to know and rely on each other. "My grandpa used to tell me that you couldn't trust the guy next to you on the field until you know him off the field. And after one of Grandpa's camps, the guys really know each other." Johnson's older brother Chad, whom Jason revered growing up, led PLU to a national championship in 1999. But now it's young Jason in the starri ng role, having earned a 5-year scholarship to the U of A. After redshirting his first year and seeing limited playing time in his second, Johnson quickly cleared up any doubt as to whether he would be the Wildcats' starting QB. He spent this past spri ng honing his knowledge of coach John Mackovic's offense, solidifying his job, and hoping to improve on an impressive year last season. "We're expecting a lot from Jason," says U of A offensive coordinator Rick Dykes. "Statistically, he's one of the top three quarterbacks in the conference coming back." Johnson completed nearly 57 percent of his passes last year. He threw for 2,347 yards and 19 touchdowns, including the longest in PAC-I 0 history, 99 yards. "We are an TO SU BSCR I BE: CALL 1 · 300 · 283 · 8333


offensive conference, no doubt about it," says Dykes, "and heavy toward the pass. There's no question Jason is stronger. He's done a lot to improve his ann strength." The Wildcats have been picked to fi nish as low as 8th in the PAC-I 0. Johnson will need help

A Grandpa goes for 300. Heading into the 2002 season, Jason's grandfather, Frosty Westering, had 294 career wins in his college coaching career.

from his defense, which gave up a whopping 34 points per game last year (the highest total in school history), if the Wildcats are to finish much higher. On the other hand, Arizona could improve an already producti ve offense, retu rning a unit that averaged almost 30 points and 400 yards a game last season. The scrambling Johnson will have multiple weapons in his arsenal, including running back Clarence Farmer, who led the PAC-I 0 in rushing last season, and wide receiver Bobby Wade. Improving on last year's 5-6 finish will mean an even higher level of intensity from the already passionate Johnson. Two losses by a collective I 0 points kept the Wildcats ou t of a bowl game. "Our season was kind of a roller coaster season last year. And there were a bunch of heartbreaking losses." While Johnson wants to win, perhaps more than any other player on the field, he keeps the game in perspective. " In any sport, if your identity is in wins and losses and who you are as an athlete, then you're always gonna have highs and lows. But if your identity is in Christ, and in being a Christian, then what's true is what God says is true and not necessaril y what it says on the scoreboard. So, you don' t have to be facing the big highs and the big lows, because you know when you step off the field that God loves you and God thinks you're awesome anyway. Faith helps you keep football in perspective." Johnson has been gifted with an abundance of perspective. He always seems to be seeing three scenes ahead in the movie. That fact is not lost on SPORTS SPECTR UM COVERS All THE SPO RTS . WEBSITE: http,//www.spor t. o rg

SPORTS SPECTRU M - NOVEMBER 路 DECEM BER 2002

25


LEAD I NG MAN

A Jason's "A" game.

In the second ga me of the 2002 season, J ason J ohnson passed for 416 yards against Utah- 101 yards better tha n his previous career best.

opposing defenses, and his visionary grandfather saw it too. "He has that innate ability, like a chess player," says Westering, "to see things that other players don't see." Perhaps that ability makes him an effecti ve qua11erback. It's balanced by an equal amount of commitment. "God planted a firm foundation," he says. "It's what has helped me avoid so many of the pitfalls, drugs and stuff. Bad grades. I made the decision at basketball camp

of all places, in eighth grade when I asked myself the question ' Do I believe what my parents do j ust because they believe it or do I really believe it?' I made the decision then to follow Christ- and God, famil y, and sports have been the three constants in my life ever since." There's another constant when you' re an Ari zona Wildcat; the annual intra-state ri valry with the maroon and gold to the north: the Arizona State Uni versity Sun Devils. "I didn't understand it when I came here," Johnson says. "But you get caught up in it." Although Arizona finished with a losing record last season, the Wildcats did muster a 34-2 1 wi n against the Devils in Tempe. It was the first time in 3 years that Arizona had beaten State. And Johnson reveled in the win. While he protects the football at all costs on the field, off the gridiron, he's known as one of the most outgoing and generous people on the squad. When someone asking for money approached him on campus recently, Johnson reached in his pocket, pulled out a fi ve-dollar bill, handed it over and said, "Is that enough?" "That sounds like Jason," says Westering. "He serves others. He's a servant warrior. That's what joy is all about." It's an element of Johnson that doesn't surprise others who know him well, including his girlfriend of 4 years, Yeronique James. "People expect football players to be stuck up, and he's not," James says. "It's almost remark-

able to see someone put himself aside the way he does. That's just kind of how J is; he wants to give something to everybody. It makes me want to be more generous too." Johnson and James met their freshman year at the U of A, and at the time he didn't know he was a football player. "The nice thing," says James, "is that we complement each other so well. Sometimes he needs someone other than a teammate to talk to, and he helps keep me moti vated in my pursuits and studies. Whether they lose or whether they win, he's still there for me," says James. For now, he's busy juggling a relationship with Christ-based Yeronique, a college football career, and his studies (he's an A student). But in the not-too-distant future, he may have to add NFL consideration to that list. While his coaches say he doesn't possess the nat ural athleticism of some of the most highly sought-after athletes, Johnson clearly has the enthusiasm, dri ve, and intelligence to carry him to the professional ranks. "Sure l'dli ke to play in the NFL, if that's God's calling for me, but if I don't, it won' t matter because my identity isn't in being a football player. Playing football is just someth ing I do. Family is much more important. And God." That's a scri pt we haven't seen much from Hollywood recently.

Mark Moran is a freelance wriler who lives in Phoenix.

Family Tie s Glamour! Intrigue! International travel! Apply within. Shoes? Look elsewhere. • An American playing professional football in Europe will have a pretty amazing experience, but when it comes to getting the shoes he wants, he might need some help. ¡ Jason Johnson's brother Chad, who led Division III-A Pacific Lutheran University to a national title in 1999, is playing pro football on a German team named the Unicorns. He's one of just four Americans allowed on the team. Chad wanted to play pro ball in America, Jason says, but had knee surgery before he got that chance. As a water boy for coach Frosty Westering's PLU team, Jason Johnson grew up idolizing his older brother, watching him lead the team on the field and off. "It was always me and Chad and the team," says Jason. Back then, the elder Johnson QB had easy access to any shoes he wanted. "In Germany, it's a different story. He has a real hard time getting this particular model over there," Johnson says as he prepares a box of Nikes for the trip overseas. The enthusiastic, likeable Jason, it seems, would rather talk about his brother, who eventually wants to become a pastor, than about his own talents. Whether he's airmailing shoes to his brother in Germany or calling home to Washington to talk to his dad on the ever-present cell phone, Johnson is constantly nurturing his family ties. "You never know when this football thing might be over," he says. "My parents have been married 27 years, and I'm blessed to come from a strong family. It helps to keep everything in perspective." - MARK MORAN

A. Champ Chad. While playing for Grandpa Westering at PLU, Chad Johnson set a school record by firin g TO passes in 22 straight games. He led the Lutes past Rowa n (NJ) in the 1999 national title game 42-13.


Pro and Con ---------------

1"1'he Bowl ChampJ.oaship Series (BC:S) is good fc. college footbalL''

• If train A leaves Ball State University headed south toward Lincoln carrying 51 earnest young student athletes, and train B leaves the University of Nebraska carrying 90-plus pseudo-professionals, some boasting sub 4.3 40 times and extensive rap sheets, how badly will Ball State be humiliated? And how much will each school's athletic department earn in the process? Multiply each answer by pi and you have only begun to plunge the depths of the headache known as the Bowl Championship Series. The BCS is a complicated set of equations, symbols, and multiplications meant to bring order to the chaos of big-time college

• So what if major college football happens to be the only game east of Pasadena that does not use a playoff system to determine its champion? Since 1998, when this different way of doing things came into being, Tennessee, Florida State, Oklahoma, and Miami have risen to the top. While none of those teams had to get past two or three others consecutively in a playoff run, it would be hard to argue that they were not the best teams on the field in their respective seasons. The outcome, then, has been good. I will admit that 5 years of tweaking has been annoying, but it is to be expected. Think of the BCS as the latest model of computer.

run defense, and the football and reward red zone, we were Joe fan with an honleft to ponder terms est-to-goodness like "strength of national champion. schedule" and "marFor the modern gin of victory." sports aficionado, the BCS rankings system Gone is the sweet is equivalent to the debate of whether required Calculus class or not our beloved you had to take in State U would really ·college. You get tired be able to knock off Freelance writer, lansing, Michigan Miami. By trying to of reading about it. Contributor to instill order, the BCS you want to skip it ESPN, The Magazine has created more altogether, and you confusion and manwonder when you will "THIS IS aged to take the fun ever use it in real life. out of the chaos that The irony is that this PROBABLY was big-time college is probably as close AS CLOSE AS football. To wit, as Big Time College the BCS Web site, Sports will get to putBIG TIME ting the student back www.collegebcs.com COLLEGE in student-athlete, as answers such thrilling the BCS is clearly the SPORTS WILL questions as "How do I read the BCS ratings territory of the kid. GET TO page?" and "How with the skinny neck and big calculator. does this thing really PUTTING Of course, as with work?" Not exactly THE STUmost complicated the stuff that childproducts of academia, DENT BACK hood dreams are the BCS still left us made of. scratching our heads IN STUDENTNow, if you'll last year and making ATHLETE." excuse me, I'm going passionate arguments to sharpen a pencil about why Oregon deserved a and work out some story probpiece of the pie. But instead of lems. After all, it's almost Bowl talking about quarterbacking, Season.

You would expect the of America's grander bowl games. Some of manufacturer to improve it every year, these bowls go back right? You would to the early 1900s. expect last yea(s They are a wonderful model to be obsolete, part of our history. right? This is the I see the BCS as mankind's attempt world of high technology to which we have to build the perfect computer. It will grown accustomed. In never happen, but that context, then, Freelance writer, the dreamers and the can you see how the Raytown, Missouri BCS has gotten better? Former editor, Sharing programmers still Mankind is strugthe Victory magazine deserve a lot of gling with something credit. Are you here, and he is under "WE HAVE thankful for the contract to struggle BCS? Do you see it YET TO SEE as a work of art? with it through the 2006 Rose Bowl. We THE PERFECT On any given year have yet to see the three undefeated COMPUTER teams may overload perfect computer that never fails, and we are THAT NEVER the system. I still say certain to experience FAILS ... THIS stick with the BCS. What are you going a few more crashes IS MANKIND'S to do in a four-team and viruses in the playoff? Have two years to come. But SYSTEM. undefeated teams this is mankind's sysplay each other? tem. What else could WHAT ELSE That would create an you possibly expect? COULD YOU unfair advantage for This much-maligned POSSIBLY the other undefeatcontraption is trying ed team. to determine a true EXPECT?" Can you hear the national champion for college football while at the : sound of the BCS bird? He goes : "tweak, tweak, tweak." Don't same time maintaining and even enhancing the historicity : shoot him. Get used to him.

TED

ICLUCJ{

PHOTO COURTESY. TED KLUCK

SP ORT S SPEC TRUM COVERS ALL THE SP ORTS . WEBSI TE: http://www.•port.org

ALLEN PALMERI

PHOTO COURTES Y: FELLOW SHIP Of CHRISTIAN ATHLETES

SPO RTS SP EC TRUM - NOVEMBER -DEC EMBER

2002

2 7


---------------------- - ------------------------------------------------------------ -- ---- ------~

As Jessica Wuerffel accompames her husband

Danny on their journey

<?f service, the 2002 season takes them to the nation's capital city BY ROXANNE ROBBINS 28

• With the starting position hanging in the balance, Washington Redskins quarterbacks Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matt~ews, and Patrick Ramsey each took the stage during the final 2002 FL preseason game. Wuerffel's chance to secure the role came in the first half against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots defense. Operating behind a vulnerable Redskins' line, Wuerffel endured five sacks and three fumbles, and his half was over. The Redskins were behind, and the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner could only watch as Matthews nar-

rowed the score against the Patriots. In the stands, boisterous fans cast their vote to Redskins coach Steve Spurrier. It's that way every game. A player excels, and the fans cheer. A player struggles, and spectators unabashedly express their disapproval. Meanwhile the athletes' wives and families sit among those fans, inconspicuous unless their neighbors happen to figure out the relationship. Anonymity, however, does not shield family members from verbal attacks aimed at their loved ones. During one game, a wife became so angry she punched a rude fan .

"I wouldn't do that, but I confess there are times I reall y want to," Danny's wife Jessica Wuerffel says. "When fans in the stadiums say anything negative about Danny, my blood boils. It's difficult." It's part of the less glamorous side of being an NFL player's wife. "There are a lot of advantages that come with being in the league," Jessica says. "But you have to have a strong tomach to be able to go through it all. At any point in your NFL career you can be moved fro m one team to another. Contracts are not binding to the team. They can trade or release you at any point. When they do, the husband is usuall y gone within that day. The wife is left to pick up the pieces and move and find a new place to live." Relocating ranks as one of the Top 5 most stressful li fe events for anyone. In just their first 3 years of marriage, the Wuerffels have already lived in New Orleans, Green Bay, Chicago, Houston, and Washington. The couple also spent a season in Germany while Danny played with the World League. Yet despite I0 transcontinental and international moves in a short period of time, Jessica remains remarkably composed and optimistic. She explains that life in the NFL has taught her to expect the unexpected and to remember that God is in control. "I look at it as an adventure and ·as a roller coaster, both of which I love," Jessica says. "I love pretty much everything where I can ex plore something new. I don't go into any contract or NFL season thinking 'Okay, we're going to be here for the next 6 months.' I just go into it thinking, ' Well, we're here for a little while. And while we're here God has a reason for us, and I can't wait to see what it is.' Then when we go somewhere new I can't wait to see what that is either. So instead of dreading each phone call thinking this could be the moment we have to move, I look forTO SUBSCR I BE: CALL 1·800·283·8333

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m each city they move to they immediate-

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ly find a church home, preferably one that offers weeknight or Saturday services so Danny can attend. Jessica plugs ~ into Bible Study Fellowship. And they § both get involved with the team Bible studies. They are on the board of Pro Athletes Outreach, a Washington-statebased ministry that helps professional athletes and their families manage their off-field lives and grow in their relationships with Chri st. "PAO is one of the most valuable resources we' ve had in terms of financia! consultation," Jessica says. " It has touched the lives of athletes in more than 30 sports at this point. Their conferences give direction as to how to .._ Destin-y? After college, Jessica Krause moved to Destin, Florida, having never heard of Danny Wuerffel, whose family lived In Destin. A mutual friend handle your finances with family, hooked them up In June of 1998. On June 26, 1999, they were married. friends, and charities. PAO also teaches you how to handle your life as a Michigan, hoping to help the poor. ward to it thinking, 'Great, what do we celebrity. And for wives, how to handle get to see next?"' "After graduating from college with having a celebrity as a husband." a degree in social work, I pretty much Jessica and Danny savor experiThrough experience and ministries presented myself with a degree of ences like the one in New Orleans such as PAO, Jessica and Danny have when Danny had the opportunity to poverty," Jessica says. " I wanted to also learned to discern which minwork with the poor, and I figured that lead his teammate Billy Joe Hobert to istries they should invest their time and the only way to understand their plight Christ. Jessica describes it as such a resources in. The main recipient of was to be one of them. I dedicated momentous occasion that it made their personal outreach efforts has been every second Danny played with the myself to working with those who had the New Orleans-based Desire Street nothing. Three years later I married an struggling Saints worth it just to see Ministries. Founded and directed by that man's li fe change. Billy Joe and NFL player, and my life has changed a Danny's best fri end, Mo Leverett, his wife Danielle remain two of the lot since then. Obviously God has had Desire is penetrating the heart of one Wuerffel 's closest friends. different plans than I have. It's been of the nation's most troubled housing There was the time in Germany exciting to see the change of events." projects. The Wuerffels are so commitwhen Danny played in the World Now Danny and Jessica are equally ted to the ministry that they purchased committed to ministering to people League. Although Jessica was despera home in New Orleans and spend the ately homesick, she valued the team from all walks of life. off-season there helping with Mo and "It's often easier to see the needs Bible study that consisted of more than the Desire staff. that the poor have," Jessica says. half the players. And it was while over"Danny and I have the same mission seas that Jessica began to understand "Many wealthy people on the other in life, and that is just to do our all and that this world is not our permanent hand appear to have it all, yet they're to give our all for Christ," Jessica says. home. Her picture of heaven and what empty on the inside. They can't under"We know that every moment Danny it will be like to spend eternity with stand why they still feel like they're is on the playing field is for the glory missing something because they don't God increased. of God. Every time I make a phone call realize it's really Christ they need. Then it was on to the Bears in or every ministry I deal with, it's all for Chicago, where Jessica found that it's " In the NFL, often I see people the glory of God. All that we can do chasing fame, beauty, vanity and a lot possible to develop life-long friends while we're here is bring people to the of fun through the use of money. even when you live in a city less than a kingdom." year. And reflecting on New Orleans They've been given great resources at Roxanne Robbins is a freelance again, it was there that Danny and a very young age that most people writer who lives in the Washington don' t attain ever. And those that do Jessica started married life together a D.C. area. She's a regular contribwyear after being introduced by a mutuhave to work a very long time to get ing writer for Power Up!, Sports there. It's difficult to know what to do al friend. Spectrum's devotional booklet. with the money and your success ~ ~ ~

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Prior to meeting Danny, Jessica was living on the Florida panhandle working for the Domestic Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity division. She had accepted the job after graduating from Calvin College in Grand Rapids,

unless you have people helping you and directing you." To ensure they handle their own resources wisely, the Wuerffels surround themselves with people who offer godly counsel when needed. In

SPORT S SP ECT RU M COVERS ALL TilE SPO RTS. WEB SITE: http://www.•port . org

..,. Round trip. When football fans first heard of Danny Wuerffel, he was Steve Spurrier's main man in Gainesville. NFL stops for OW included New Orleans and Green Bay before reuniting with Spurrier.

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Legends

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Bq Mike Sandrolini CD.~g VlpW li.th Doa ...... --------------- -----------------------

NFL Football 1989-1997 t's not just a cute rhyme to Don Beebe, one of the fastest players in NFL history. Beebe has discovered that no matter what the sport, athletes really do have "A need for speed." Today, 5 years after ending his 9-season NFL career with Buffalo, Carolina, and Green Bay, Beebe teaches athletes how to improve their running fonn, foot speed, and lateral movement at The House of Speed. The concept for The House of Speed (Beebe's wife, Diana, coined the name) was first discussed during Beebe's last NFL season with the Packers in 1997. Beebe, who set an NFL record by competing in six Super Bowls, knew he wanted to work with children after he retired from football. "I thought that would mean football camps and maybe coaching high school football," he says. But one day he and his trainer, Dr. Jeff Schupp, began chit-chatting about how coaches at every level of athletics wished their athletes could run a little faster and jump a little higher but never spent time teaching them technique. "So I thought, 'Instead of doing football, let's teach kids how to run faster, and better,' " he says. House of Speed, Inc. got out of the blocks slowly, with five kids showing up at Beebe's first clinic. Now Beebe periodically sprints across the country to hold such clinics, and he is even the official speed consultant and speed instructor for his one-time football rival, the Chicago Bears. More often than not, however, Beebe sticks close to his home. He and his family live in Yorkville- a peaceful community in the illinois heartland and the hometown of Speaker of the US House of 30

.6. Super career. Don Beebe pulled down 219 passes for 3,416 yards in his 9-year NFL career with Buffalo, Carolina, and Green Bay. He was a member of the Bills for their four Super Bowl appearances, and he was with Green Bay in Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII.

Representatives, Dennis Hastert. Beebe normally holds either individual sessions or group sessions twice a week at Club 47, a neighborhood health club just off illinois highway 47. In addition to helping youngsters lower their 40-yard dash times, Beebe wants to boost their self-worth. "I say that I've seen in the 90 percentile where kids are just defeated," he says. "For me, it's kind of sad. I want these kids to understand what it's like to play sports and play with a positive COURTESY: 1-tOuSE Of' SPEED

scouts that day at WIU. Beebe, though, insists it was faith. "There's really no way I should have been in the NFL," says Beebe. "It certainly wasn't because of talent. I came from nowhere. I was putting up siding on houses for 3 years. I think the greatest gift that God has ever given me is faith, because there's no way I would have made it without it. "I have issues and problems like everybody," he continues, "but faith is something I've never really deterred from. I've always said, 'Lord, if someday I face a death in my family or a crisis of losing everything I have, hey, I've still got You. I know that's easy to say but hard to face. I honestly think I could face it and be okay." When Beebe speaks publicly, his tale grabs the attention of everyone in his audience, especially fathers. And that's when Beebe hits Dad with a message on priorities faster than when he caught up to Leon Lett in Super Bowl XXVII and knocked the ball out of Lett's hands just as Lett was about to cross the goal line. "I wrote a book [a few years ago] titled More Than a Ring,'' says Beebe, "because my life is more than winning a Super Bowl ring. In life, it has to be Christ first, your family second, your friends third, and then your job. "Where are you spending your time? Are you spending your time with your kids? Are you spending your time with your wife? Do you tell your wife you love her every day and kiss her goodbye? Do your kids see this? What you are at home is what you really are." No matter how fast you can go, it's important to slow down and consider this wise advice from the speedster.

attitude and have fun." Beebe's on the fast track as a speaker too. His is a rags-to-riches story about a guy who had a football scholarship out of high school, gave it up, worked construction for 3 years, then went back to play college football at Western illinois University. One spring day before his senior season, Beebe was walking across campus after class in a tank top, shorts, and sandals when he noticed some of his teammates being timed in the 40-yard dash by NFL scouts. Beebe didn't have access to a pair of sneakers, so he convinced his coach to let him run for the scouts in his bare feet. "I ran a 4.3-something," he says. A year later, Beebe turned in the fastest time in the 40 at an NFL combine, which led to his Freelance writer Mike Sandrolini being drafted in the third round lives in Naperville, fllinois. by the Bills in 1989. Some might say it was fate that House of Speed Web site: enabled Beebe to run for the www.houseofspeed.com

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Straight Talk with ...

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B_evia M_....e Center, New York Jets • Played in the Pro Bowl in 1999 and 2000 • Voted to the NFL AU-Pro team in 1999 and 2001 grew up as one of the popular kids. I was a star athlete. Everyone knew me. And I loved to have a good time. Basically, I partied, chased girls, and played ball. I thought my life was good-until 1996. That's when things began to change. On May 5, 1996, I received a call that would change my life. One of my brothers phoned to inform me that our older brother John had been killed in a car accident. I was devastated! John was just a year and five days older than I was. We shared the same friends, the same clothes, and even the same birthday parties. When I lost John, I lost my best friend. Shortly before John's death, he had begun to change. The girls, the drinking, the up-anddown attitude- all had gone by the wayside. John had become a Christian. Why would God allow someone who had gone through such a positive change in his life to be taken away? It made no sense. Two months after my brothers death, my wife Tracy and I found out that she was pregnant. I was going to be a daddy! In just a few weeks, we had traveled from deep sorrow to complete joy. But this made me question why God does the things He does. I started to read the Bible for answers. My wife Tracy and I also began attending a team Bible study in Seattle, where I played for the Seahawks. During the 1996 and 1997 NFL seasons, I learned a great deal about God and His Son Jesus Christ. I learned that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. I also began to learn a few things about myself. I began to understand that all of my possessions, and all of my accomplishments were God's blessings. Even my ability to play NFL football was given to me by God. I also recognized that I had not lived as God wanted me to. I was a sinner, and I needed Jesus Christ in my life. I realized that He died on the cross not just for the world-but for ME! But there was still a problem. I wasn't ready to receive all that God had for me. I still had

questions. Unfortunately, each answer led to an even harder question. Eventually, I realized that only God Himself had the answer. That's when Tracy and I began attending a church in our hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I made an appointment to meet with the pastor. He helped me understand the most important truth of my entire life. He helped me see that it was not a lack of knowledge of Jesus Christ that was holding me back, nor any unanswered questions-it was my lack of faith. I knew it was time to allow God to change me. More than a year had passed since my brothers death, and God had taken me on an amazing journey of exploration. Now it all came down to a conversation with God in a prayer like this: Lord, I confess to you that I am a sinner. I believe that You sent Jesus into this world to die for my sins. I tum away from those sins and ask for Your forgiveness. Cleanse me and make me new again. I acknowledge the resurrected Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for the eternal life I now have with You. Through the Holy Spirit, change my heart and my life that I may glorify You. Amen. I had finally repented of my sin and invited Jesus Christ into my life. God has changed my outlook on life. I have experienced joy in sorrowful circumstances, and I am strengthened by God's Word each day. It gives me insight into how to live my life, righteous and pure, as I strive to glorify Him. Though God desires perfection, He knows we aren't perfect yet. Even though I struggle with sin every day, the blood of Christ wipes those sins away. I know His love will never fail me. Do you know that kind of love? May I encourage you to put your faith in Jesus Christ today? Don't wait to have all the answers. You never will. Pray to God using a prayer of repentance and faith like the one I used. It will change your life-for eternity.

--·- - l"l'ee Booldet RBC Ministries would like to offer you a free booklet that talks about Jesus' death for us on the cross. Ask for Why Did Christ Have To Die? Write toSS Booklet offer, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. Ask for it by title and this number: 00202. Or read it online at www.discoveryseries.orgfq0202.


More than 40,000 Power To Win! h parti s ha been held during the past decadeleading to at least 50,000 decisions for Ch Hos ypu( own Power To Win! party around the SuperBash on January 26! Yo Power o Win! outreach kit includes a powerful halftime video, promotional mate rials, and other nistry esoilY.c:e._s to help you put on a super outreach. Call 1-800-BOWL-PARTY for moreinfor atio{ r visit www.powertowin.org

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