Unless, of course, you started your countdown when, as legend has it, he hit a forty yard drive . . . at the tender age of two.
Really, he’s been on the average sports fan’s mind, since, oh, the opening round of last season’s British Open. He opened with a 63, missing a putt on the Road Hole, which would have given him one less. He ballooned to an 80 in round 2. He finished in a tie for 3d, with this bit o’ trivia. He’s never shot in the 70s in an Open on the Ye Olde Course at St. A’s.
Then there was his classic meltdown in the final round this spring at Augusta. You ever play golf on four straight days in Augusta? If so, you know: If the heat don’t get ya, the humidity will. It’s insufferable.
But, last week he didn’t wilt, grabbing Congressional by the short and curlies in the opening round of the U.S. Open and never letting go. Attempting to keep casual golf fans watching, NBC’s announcers were slobbering all over themselves with praise.
And thus he’s been proclaimed the Second Coming.
Okay, Tiger, the Third Coming. But don’t you just know that Eldrick’s dad is twisting in his grave, knowing that his son’s messianic journey has been sidetracked by a trick knee, an inconsistent swing and a johnson that knows no discrimination.
Anyway, young Rory now stands anointed. For better or worse. But certainly prematurely.
Give the kid a break. He won a big one. In grande fashion. He bounced back from a major choke job to do it. He’s got a winsome smile (and a sweet, sweet swing). He certainly did persevere, but, my header be damned, he didn’t have to wait that long to reestablish some cred.
I just hope he isn’t chewed up and spit out by the Star Maker Machinery. In the digital age, with too many folks — yeah, me too — clawing for your attention, we build ‘em up too soon, so we can shoot ‘em down just as fast.
By all accounts, Rory McIlroy will be no one hit wonder. But, hey, let’s be patient, and see before we’re talking about him in the same breath as Arnie and Jack. Let’s see if he’s as magic as Magic, not an emperor without clothes (or empire) like the last guy sports pundits proclaimed the Next Great Thing. You know, LeBron.
* * * * *
Which brings me to that team and players that actually won the NBA title. You know, the team from Dallas not owned by Jerry Jones.
Has there ever been a champion that’s received such a small share of pub after such a shocking victory as the Dallas Mavericks? (Alright, other than Boston’s Bruins, an afterthought in the wake of the Vancouver riots.)
Dirk Nowitzki finally turned out to be the player Rick Pitino thought he’d be. CRP was then the mahatma of Boston’s Celtics. He, as the story goes, intended to take the German with the 10th pick of the 1998 NBA Draft. Instead, Milwaukee took him a spot ahead, and in a pre-arranged deal, sent him to Dallas for, ahem, Robert Traylor.
Tell me, Don Nelson, how’d that work out for you?
And, the one story we have probably tired of is how the Mavs blew a 15 point lead in ’06, that, if held, would have given them a 3-0 advantage in the Finals against Miami.
Which meltdown fueled their patience and perseverance.
The wily vets turned this year’s Miami team into — as my grandma would say — hockfleish. Steady, Focused. Steely. Ready. It was a joy to watch the lesser talented but better team prevail.
Nowitzki, Terry, Marion and Kidd might fall apart from old age — athletically speaking — next season. But, right now, after a long wait and continuous striving, they bear this label: NBA Champions.
– Seedy K