February 8, 2008
While most of us have bid farewell to 2007, it's not too late for one final look back at the athletes, administrators and journalists who have given the arena of sports and sports betting such fabulous lip service over the past 12 months:
"I love gambling. It's fun. It's exciting. I don't want to leave all that money to my free-loading family... I want to be dead broke when I keel over."
--Charles Barkley, on HBO's Costas Now, expressing an opinion that undoubtedly is shared by many who enjoy placing a wager now and then
"The thing that worries me is that mafia types, like the Russian mafia, could be involved. That's potentially dark and scary. I think that's the side that people aren't really looking at with these match-fixing stories. Someone may have threatened the players and they are put in a situation. I'm guessing that could happen. That would make more sense to me than top players throwing a match for money."
--John McEnroe, proving he can be serious, weighing in on the tennis betting scandal
"It's too easy to issue rules that are on their faith violated by a $5 Nassau, sitting at a poker table, buying a lottery ticket. I determined going into a casino isn't a capital offense."
--NBA Commissioner David Stern, explaining why he wouldn't punish the more than half of the league's 56 referees who violated NBA gambling policies
"It is suspected that many of those enraged 2,200-pound bulls used in professional bullfighting are on steroids. Tell you what: You collect the urine samples."
--Greg Cote, The Miami Herald, expanding the doping crisis to rodeo
"As she smashes away in England, Sharapova has been rumored to be considered for two upcoming Bond films, 'From Russia With 40-Love' and 'You Only Fault Twice.'"
--Dwight Perry, Seattle Times, after learning that Russian tennis great Maria Sharapova's dream is to be a James Bond girl
"I forget, does BCS stand for 'Blind, Careless and Stupid' or 'Bulldogs Completely Snubbed?'"
--Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia football walk-on, after his beloved Bulldogs were left out of the BCS title game
"When you get robbed, they don't give you your stuff back."
--Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint, after his Dragons won 23 games, beat Syracuse and Villanova but still didn't get invited to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
"Good timing for UCLA to hire Rick Neuheisel as football coach. Too late to enter any college football bowl pools and too early for any NCAA basketball brackets."
--Elliott Harris, Chicago Sun-Times
"I used to dream about this as a kid. But I was always the one hitting the home run."
--Mike Bacsik, Washington Nationals pitcher, after surrendering record home run No. 756 to Barry Bonds, Aug. 7
"Boise State beat Nevada on Sunday night, 69-67. I am not talking about basketball here. It's the most points in a Division 1-A game in 70 years. I have a hunch the over-under in Vegas was not 137 points."
--Mike Downey, Chicago Tribune
"It's like getting tortured by a beautiful woman."
--CBS broadcaster David Feherty, on Zach Johnson winning the Masters with a score of 1-over par, April 9
"Let me ask you this: The Secretary General of the UN was sitting near me. Do we fire him because we don't have world peace? I mean, come on."
--Rev. Al Sharpton, explaining to The New York Times why the horrendous New York Knicks shouldn't fire Coach Isiah Thomas
"The individual skill of the player determines the outcome, unlike betting on the horses or betting on the lottery. It's not an individual betting against the house and that's an important distinction."
--John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, trying to end federal restrictions against playing for money online.
Pappas is wrong to denigrate horse racing where players do not bet against the house (the casino or race track just acts as an agent) but each other and where skill is as much a component (if not more) of success than in poker.