|If you've watched any of the thousands of airings of this year's "Best of SportsCenter," then you may have caught the fifth annual NBs -- my initials, my awards, for the moments that changed the way Nick Bakay looked at the games we love so very well. Time constraints usually force my magical, annual hoodoo to be abbreviated for fluff pieces like the Yankees winning the World Series, but therein lies the beauty of Page 2 -- you get the winners who didn't make the cut!
So come on. Let's pass out the honors, while the entire sports world takes this opportunity to go get a beer -- or, perhaps, clicks their favorite bookmark for Internet porn.
Kicking things off, this year's award for REVIVING THE TIME-HONORED SPORTS TRADITION OF REFERRING TO YOURSELF IN THE THIRD PERSON. And the NB goes to ... me. I just did it in my intro. Oh, dear. What have I become? Let's move on to the next one!
THE 2000 NB FOR FORBIDDEN RITUALS? Always a hotly contested category, I'm under intense pressure from the commissioner's office to go with the NFL sanctioned "shushing the crowd," but I'm a maverick, and I have to give the nod to the "Bob 'n' Weave" -- $90,000 in fines make it wrong in all the right ways. And most pro athletes aren't willing to pay that kind of money for a dance, unless the Knicks are at a strip club.
Olden Polynice is arrested on accusations he used a fake police badge. He also commandeers an NB for I WONDER IF HE EVER USED IT TO GET FREE DONUTS?
HE'S SEEING MORE BATTERIES THAN THE ENERGIZER BUNNY. And the NB goes to John Rocker's return to Shea Stadium. He's a lovely man.
GET A GRIP ON YOURSELVES, THEY'RE ESPN PERSONALITIES, NOT MEMBERS OF N'SYNC!: And the winner is -- those two guys who get so excited when Dan Patrick calls up to order an ESPN Magazine fleecy. What's next? "It's Trey Wingo! Hold me."
Daniel Snyder charges 10 bucks a pop to watch his Redskins in training camp, then receives a mysterious package in the mail. Alarmed by strange noises emanating from within, wee Danny orders the package disarmed -- by a SWAT team water cannon. The wreckage reveals a soggy pile of stuffed toys -- and brings Snyder the 2000 NB for VAST WEALTH JUST GOT A NEW MEASURING STICK. Move over private jet, and say hello to personal access to a water cannon!
The BUT WE RAISED SOME MONEY FOR A WORTHY CAUSE NB goes to former Oriole
skipper Earl Weaver, who gets tired of the fat and drunk jokes at a roast in his honor,
and physically accosts retired underwear model Jim Palmer.
The Dodgers pile into the stands in hot pursuit of a stolen cap, and get physical with the bleacher bums at Wrigley. They also win an NB for FIGHTING A CROWD WITH A HIGHER BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL THAN THE ENTIRE RAT PACK.
GUESS WHAT? YOU'RE NEXT FIRST-ROUND PICK HASN'T EVEN BEEN BORN YET! And the NB goes to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
STOP THE PRESSES! In a public statement, Bob Knight admits to having an anger problem. Noooo ... you think?
And in a related NB, I HAD NO IDEA BOBBY KNIGHT WAS YOUR DAD. Sergio Garcia quits midway through a pro-am after accusing an amateur partner of threatening him in a dispute over yardage from the pin. To quote the young phenom, "Nobody hits me but my dad."
Bowden Bowl II shags this year's award for COLOR HIM FATHER, COLOR HIM LOVE -- UNLESS HIS BCS RANKING IS ON THE LINE.
SO DOES THIS MEAN WE CAN LOOK FOR POLITICIANS TO START TAKING FOLDING CHAIRS TO THE BACK OF THE NECK? Minnesota officials rule it is not a conflict of interest for Gov. Jessie Ventura to announce XFL games. They also approve the use of a triple suplex in marital disputes and nipple rings in the state assembly. They also get an NB.
HOW DOES BRITANNICA DEFINE "BALL GAG?" And the NB goes to Dennis Miller, who also takes home top honors for JOKE HANG TIME: Dennis makes a joke, we hear the sound of Dan Fouts and Al Michaels nose-breathing in stunned paralysis -- do I laugh? Top it? Or just freeze? 3-4-5-thud. A hang time that'd make Ray Guy proud -- hey, a reference joke! I'll fine myself for that.
Keyshawn Johnson says he's a star, and Wayne Chrebet's a flashlight, then gets held to one reception while watching Chrebet catch the winning touchdown in their showdown. But cheer up, you get an NB under the category: REMEMBER, KATHY LEE GIFFORD IS A "STAR," TOO.
The Rockies shower hundreds of millions of dollars to lure free agent pitching to the thin air of Coors Field. After breaking it down scientifically, they also win this year's NB for: THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY: THAT'S 1.3 MILLION EVERY TIME YOU HAVE TO CRANE YOUR NECK TO WATCH A FUNGO GO YARD.
I MAY BE OLD SCHOOL, BUT MY IDEAL CORNERBACK ACTUALLY TACKLES PEOPLE. Deion Sanders suggests his position be renamed "Deion," and gets burned on a deep route by his very own NB.
The Mets lose the Subway Series, but take home an NB for TOO BAD YOU CAN'T BLAME IT ON BEING A SMALL-MARKET TEAM. In a related story, the PLEASE STOP THAT NB goes to "Who Let the Dogs Out?" OK, fellas, they're out, they're long gone, and you're this year's "Macarena."
Regen Upshaw forces Josh Miller to be the first punter to seriously consider wearing a Plexiglass shield, Upshaw loses a week's pay, then picks up this year's NB for THE WORLD'S FIRST $29,000 FACIAL.
And while we're on the subject of perennial NBs, WOOOOOOO! Year after year, the Woooo! goes to the down home goodness of motor sports.
In a category traditionally dominated by the lumberjack finals, or whatever they call big men chopping down trees, this year's NB for ADMIT IT, YOU'RE REALLY JUST WATCHING FOR A POSSIBLE MISHAP goes to Roger Clemens and a broken shard of Mike Piazza's bat. I'll say it again: When the lumber starts flyin', it's just good TV.
By definition, THE FUN COUPLE OF THE YEAR NB serves a very important function: No matter how disturbing your own private life may be, they must make you feel relatively healthy. But who will take home the NB? Anna Kournikova and you in your dreams? Dan Snyder and Jeff George? Rob Johnson-Doug Flutie? Close, but the NB goes to former roommates Dennis Rodman and Maverick's owner Mark Cuban, who also gets the NB for DUDE, DID YOU USE MY TOOTHBRUSH?
And finally, Sebastian Janikowski is arrested for possession of a date rape drug, then goes on to a disappointing rookie season for the Raiders. On the bright side, he picks up an NB for DID HE USE IT TO PUT HIS FOOT TO SLEEP, TOO?
Here's to you, here's to all the winners. And if you didn't hear your number called, you know what to do: Get out there and do something strange so I can mention you next year!
Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at http://nickbakay.com.
|Olden Polynice didn't need any stinking badges to get an NB.||