FIRST, the girls. Think of Ana Ivanovic. She’s attractive, brunette, graceful, long-legged, was the former world No.1 and, in this tournament shown on SkyCable channel 33 (Balls), she’s the defending French Open champion.
Be honest: When you scan through the TV channels and, even though you’re not a tennis buff, happen to watch Ms. Ivanovic playing, don’t you put the remote control down then gaze and ogle at her beauty? Yes you do. Yes I do. Yes we all do.
How about the most famous woman athlete in the world? Do you know her? Her given name is Maria and, standing 6-foot-1 with long, flowing blonde hair and a pair of glittering earrings that dance by her side, don’t you watch her, too? Yes you do. Yes we all do.
Would you believe that, had LeBron James not made “LeShot” in Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the series today would have been 4-0? Yes, Four… Zero. A clean sweep by the Orlando Magic against the team who owns the regular season record, who embarrassed Detroit and Atlanta in the earlier playoffs, 8-0, and boasts of Player No. 23 who’s proclaimed as “Today’s Michael Jordan.”
Confounding? Hard-to-believe? Perplexing? Yes, yes, yes. For how did a team that was destined to reach The Finals (while Kobe and L.A. would struggle) almost got obliterated, 4-0? How?
He was stout, fleshy and portly. He was obese. Standing 5-foot-7, he weighed an overblown 228 pounds. Then. Today, eight years since his waistline exceeded 40 inches, he is slim, lean and slender. Best of all, he is snappy and fast. Among the hundreds of Cebu executives whose sport is running, he is one of the swiftest.
He is Steve Ferraren. His story began in 2002 when tragedy struck: his father died. The cause was diabetes and, when Steve spoke to his doctor, he was issued a hair-raising ultimatum: At 228 lbs., if he did not lose weight, he might face the same fate as his dad. Soon.
Fearful, Steve took action. Only 35 years old then, he vowed to trim excess poundage. But it wasn’t easy. Losing weight never is. And when Steve first ran around the Cebu City Sports Center, he said, “My maximum distance was only half a round at the oval.”
Lahug brgy. captain and race organizer Mary Ann De Los Santos (center)at the starting line minutes before the start of the Running MAD event which drew over 1,600 runners
Mary Ann De Los Santos (center) with Men’s 12K champion Mendel Lopez (2nd from left), runner-up Philip Dueñas (3rd from right) and Sherwin Manangil (2nd from right) with race officials Raffy Uytiepo (left-most) and John Pages (right)
Call it any adjective you prefer—“Amazing,” “Incredible,” “Breathtaking”—what transpired 24 hours ago at the Quicken Loans Arena in Ohio will forever be etched in NBA history. Down 0-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals, down 93-95 with the same length of time it takes to say “goodbye,” LeBron James does the unthinkable: He grabs the inbounds pass, spins around and, barely looking at the goal and with roughly 0.4 seconds left, unleashes a missile that dribbles against the rim of the basket and slides down the net.
Swoosh! Wasn’t that stunning? It wasn’t a Steven Spielberg movie—it was better; a real-life script with turns and twists that no one could have plotted and whose ending, wow, was spectacular and unknown until after the buzzer sounded.
Best of all, wasn’t that a Michael Moment? For while LBJ had accumulated a multitude of accolades—Rookie of the Year, MVP, scoring champion, Olympic gold medalist—he’s never had that one moment like MJ.
Now, this. The LeBron Moment. “The biggest shot I’ve made in my career,” he said. Hey, it may have been the biggest shot in all of the National Basketball Association.
Yesterday, like many of you, I watched part of the Lakers-Nuggets game. From start to near-the-finish, Denver led. They led 5-0 after the opening tip, led by 13 points during the First Quarter, led by 11 at half time, led by 7 points with 7:01 left. But, as we all know, the term led during the game is nowhere near the same as led at the end of the game. Because in sports, the beginning and middle are essential—but what’s most imperative and paramount is The End.
Take swimming. Many a backstroke swimmer has led Michael Phelps at the start only for the Olympic gold medalist to overtake in the end. The same with cycling. A few overeager pedalists sprint to the front when the starting gun is fired—only to evaporate towards the finish line.
Which brings me to Kobe. Is there any ballplayer who’s a better closer? Who, when the seconds are ticking and the enemy is bloodying you, stands up front, lifts his sword like King Arthur and bludgeons his way to victory?