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Daddy? What Were Sports in The 80s Like?

T.D.'s Extra Point

By Theodore D. Chuang

Twenty years from now, some kid--maybe my own--will ask me, "What were sports in the 80s like? What great things happened?"

Memories can be pretty foggy after 20 years. My sense of time, my ordering of events will be scrambled. I'll only remember bits and pieces, images and snapshots. But here's what I will say:

"The 80s were when Brad Park beat Buffalo in overtime. When the lights went out at the Boston Garden. When Terry O'Reilly hit the ref. Jim Schoenfeld, too. When the recreational refs in yellow jerseys officiated the Conference Finals. When the Bruins went over the boards in New York.

"It was the time of 'Krushelnyski on Ice, That's Nice.' When number 77 showed those of us who never saw number 4 what he was all about. Pederson to Middleton. Nifty!

"Trottier, Bossy and Gillies. Gretzky, Messier and Kurri. Stastny, Stastny and Stastny. Gretzky and any two guys.

"It was when the Bruins lost in the Forum. Then lost again. And again. Then they won, four games to one. The end of the jinx.

You Can Do Magic

"It was the decade of Larry and Magic. Forty-two points by the rookie Magic, playing center for Kareem. Larry hitting the banker to sink the Sixers in Game Seven.

"The eighties were when Philly won, and Boston told them to 'Beat L.A.' It was when the Doctor got his Ring. And when Dave Zinkoff last made that call, 'Juuuuuu-lius Errrrrrving!"

It was when Henderson stole the ball. Then M.L. did the same. And Larry, against Detroit. "It's picked off! Henderson lays it up and in! It's all tied up!,' Johnny screeched.

"Magic hit the hook in '87. Jordan scored 63. Jeff Malone hit that Fantastic shot running out of bounds at the buzzer. D.J. at the buzzer in Game Four, '85. Larry raised his arms in victory before the ball went through to win the Three-Point Contest.

"It was the time when Tree bit Danny Ainge. When Laimbeer roamed the plains. Maxwell did his rubber band act. Moses never got called for a foul. Parish never stopped running the floor. Len Bias stopped living.

"Yes, the 80s were when Fred Brown threw the ball to James Worthy and got a consoling hug from John Thompson. When Brown got a victory hug two years later. It was when Akeem wallowed in misery on the floor in Albuquerque, after Lorenzo Charles slammed home his answer to the Derek Whittenburg prayer. As big an upset as Villanova's, two year's later.

"It was the decade of Keith Smart from the baseline. Rumeal Robinson from the foul line. Danny Manning from everywhere. Andre Turner sinking B.C.


For two weeks, the Patriots were popular. 'Squish the Fish.' 'Berry the Bears.' Pat Sullivan hit Matt Millen. The jinx was over.

"The snowplow came on the field that decade to help John Smith. Rulon Jones sacked Tony Eason in the endzone. Ernest Gibson got burned. Grogan to Morgan. Steve Nelson walked off the field a winner.

"Montana to John Taylor. L.T. crunched Theismann's leg. Dorsett went 99 yards. Fridge on fourth-and-one. Landeta missed the punt. Kellen Winslow and Dan Fouts were better than Miami and their hook-and-ladder play.

"It was the time of Fumblerooskie to Dean Steinkuhler. When Irving Fryar dropped the ball in the Orange Bowl. A guy named Doug played that decade. There was a rainy day in Miami. He threw The Pass to Phelan.

"That decade was when Kirk Gibson hobbled up and swatted the Eck and the A's in Game One. Or was it Goose Gossage and the Padres? Don Denkinger and Dane Iorg beat St. Louis. The decibel meter broke at the Metrodome.

The Rocket

"Roger struck out 20. Dave Henderson saved the day. Twice. The Pru lights made a '1.' But Schiraldi, Stanley and Buckner did bad things. Wade Boggs cried. A lot of other people did, too.

"Spike Owen buried the Yankees with his single in '88. Yaz walked around Fenway one last time in '83. Jim Rice got a standing ovation that day. The Can went crazy.

"Borg and McEnroe went to 18-16. Lendl came back from 2-0 to take the French and break Mac. Martina and Chrissie.

"Leonard-Hearns. Hearns-Hagler. Leonard-Hagler. LeMond nipped Fignon on the last day. Salazar beat Beardsley by two seconds after 26 miles. Johncock beat Mears by a nose after 500 miles. Bruce Hayes somehow held off Michael Gross.

"Dan Jansen fell twice. Eric Heiden won five times. And an Impossible Dream came true for 20 American boys with sticks. Did Craig ever find his father?"

The kid will look at me and frown. Like you, he probably won't understand a word I say. But I understand every single one. That's what memories are all about.

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