Friday, February 24, 2012

A Slam Dunk

TigerBlog was watching "Nightline" on the night of April 6, 1987, back in his apartment in Plainsboro.

As an aside, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who was single in those days and who works in Mercer County now who didn't live in one of the Princeton Meadows apartment complexes at some point.

Anyway, watching "Nightline" was nothing unique for TigerBlog. This was back before the internet and 24-hour news cycles and cable news channels and all that, and in fact "Nightline" grew out of the Iranian hostage crisis with its debut in 1980.

On that night of April 6, 1987, Ted Koppel was discussing the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's having broken the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and one of his guests was Campanis, the longtime Dodger executive who had been close to Robinson.

As you probably know by now, Campanis said some pretty outrageous statements regarding the absence of blacks in managerial and general manager positions in baseball. To his credit, Koppel handled it about as flawlessly as anyone could have.

TB remembers being dumbfounded that somebody with Campanis' record, background and reputation could have said the words he was saying, and TB was positive he heard it wrong. In fact, he woke up his roommate at the time and made him watch the rest of the interview.

Not surprisingly, Campanis was forced out of his position with the Dodgers. Mention his name to anyone today, and the "Nightline" interview will be the first thing they say about him.

The interview became a huge issue obviously, even without the web to fuel the fire. And TB was about the only person who had actually been watching the show.

You know what else TB watched live? The 1976 ABA (not NBA, but ABA) slam dunk contest.

Back then, the dunk was a somewhat mystical event, and the coolest of the cool played in the ABA, with the red, white and blue ball and three-point shot.

The 1976 dunk contest featured the one where Dr. J. took off from the foul line and dunked, a first of its kind that has since been emulated by many, including most famously Michael Jordan.

Today, dunk contests are all over the place, from the NBA to college to even high school. These contests all follow the same basic format, and the idea is to come up with the most creative dunk, such as having Blake Griffin jump over a car with Baron Davis feeding him through the sun roof.

Or, as Iman Shumpert was planning to do this year, jump over a couch as Jeremy Lin pretended to be asleep, only to have Lin lob Shumpert the ball.

The Princeton Plays Pink commercial on was pretty creative as well.

In the commercial, women's basketball players Devona Allgood, Lauren Edwards and and Laura Johnson are sitting on the side court of Jadwin, appearing to chat among themselves. As the camera pulls back, Ian Hummer of the men's team leaps over the three of them and dunks.

Pretty creative stuff, no?

Both basketball teams are part of a huge weekend of sports, one that actually began last night with Day 1 of the Ivy League women's swimming and diving championships.

Between now and Sunday, at least three and as many as five Ivy champions will be crowned. If you're a Princeton fan, you're hoping that number is actually four.

To wit:

* the women's swimming and diving championships began last night at Harvard, where the host Crimson are the favorite but the Tigers can never, ever be counted out, not after having won 10 of the last 12 titles. Princeton also had a very good first day, as the Tigers sit just three points behind the Crimson.

* the indoor Heps track and field championships for the men and women will be held at Cornell this weekend. The Princeton men are a heavy favorite to win their fifth straight Heps title (between cross country, indoor track and outdoor track), while the women are in a group of schools including Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth

* the men's basketball team is at Harvard tonight and Dartmouth tomorrow night. While this game against the Crimson isn't quite as make-or-break as the Ivy playoff game last year, it might as well be. Harvard has one league loss (two weeks ago to Princeton at Jadwin Gym), while Penn has two and Princeton and Yale have three each.

Here's what Princeton needs to get a share of the title: win out and have Penn beat Harvard. Should Harvard sweep this weekend, then the Crimson would clinch a tie for the title and need to win one of two next weekend at Columbia/Cornell, which essentially is a sure thing, to get the outright crown. Should Penn win out, it knows it's assured of at least a tie for the title. That means winning tomorrow, of course.

* on the women's side, Princeton can wrap it all up this weekend. The Tigers are 9-0 in the league, while Yale is 8-2 and Harvard is 7-3. Should Princeton sweep this weekend, then Harvard would be eliminated and the best Yale could do would be to tie. Princeton needs to win two of its five remaining games to clinch a tie and three of its five to win outright. All of these come against teams Princeton has already beaten by at least 12, and four of them are against teams Princeton has beaten by at least 25.

Quite the weekend, no?

And oh yeah, lacrosse starts as well.

No comments: