Monday, July 31, 2006

Pete Sampras: The Scottie Pippen of Tennis

What if Scottie Pippen, instead of sitting out the last 1.8 seconds against the Knicks in that playoff series, simply decided not to play in that game at all. What if he said “Screw it, Dude, let’s go bowling,” and never stepped on the court. Neither sitting out of the last 1.8 seconds of a playoff game nor blowing off an entire playoff game is acceptable in sports – not to real athletes and not to fan communities – but sitting out the last 1.8 seconds can be written off as being hotheaded and stupid. Not playing the game at all is just pathetic and shows a lack of cajones. Scottie Pippen did the former. Pete Sampras just did the latter.

Pete Sampras screwed over the Newport Beach Breakers in the World Team Tennis championship match this weekend. After helping the Breakers beat the Springfield Lasers in the wildcard match, Sampras played hooky from the Breakers’ semi-final match against the Sacramento Capitals. He dodged a bullet there, as the Breakers snuck past the Caps, 19-18. Unfortunately, that bullet was apparently shot from a book depository, as it came back and knocked the Breakers out in the championship match. The Philadelphia Freedoms beat the Breakers, 21-14 on Sunday. Sampras didn’t step on the court once.

I don’t know if Sampras’ presence would have been the difference between winning and losing, but at least he should have shown up. What he did shows a complete lack of balls, and I don’t mean the male-only kind. I mean the kind that any competitor has when he or she genuinely wants to be the best and is going all out for it. Whatever stones Sampras had back in his Wimbledon days, well, he must have dropped them on his trip to the WTT. He’s gone Scottie Pippen on us, and the Breakers and the Breakers’ fans are screwed over because of it.

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