Where stars sit on sports sensibility spectrum
In sports, sometimes you really do need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Yesterday’s up is today’s down. Last year’s bum is this year’s hero. For those who have had trouble keeping score, here’s an update.
— LeBron James, Good Guy: People who stopped cheering for him in 2010 when he made “The Decision” and even those who never cheered for him at all have jumped on the King’s bandwagon. He’s putting on one hell of a show in the NBA Finals, and, no, it’s not a one-man show but no superstar has ever demonstrated more drive to carry an underdog team to a title.
And, yes, some who may have had the misguided notion to pick Golden State to sweep the Cavaliers are quietly clapping. Those who can’t watch James without shouting “He’s no Michael Jordan” aren’t diminishing James in any way. It doesn’t matter at this point. In five years, let’s finish that discussion once and for all.
— Tom Brady, Bad Guy: The NFL has decided he may be one of the worst human beings of our time because they have a hunch he privately encouraged a couple of equipment men to lower the air pressure in footballs. We’ll find out this season if he’s even capable of completing a pass with a properly inflated ball, but we won’t know that until after the Cowboys play the Patriots in October due to Brady’s suspension … unless Bob Kraft slipped Roger a twenty the last time they spoke.
— Alex Rodriguez, Good Guy: He’s apologetic, he’s saying all the right things and, although he turns 40 next month, his year off has somehow restored his swing (11 HR, 28 RBIs, .272 batting). The Yankees haven’t really figured out how to handle his success. GM Brian Cashman has been winning fan approval by dumping on A-Rod for so long, the fact he is now a key player on a first place team is baffling to Yankees management.
Fans just want to see someone who can hit these days. With 665 career homers, if he starts to approach Babe Ruth’s 714, watch out. He’ll make Roger Maris’ bad guy status in 1961 look childish.
— Tiger Woods, Sad Guy: Shoots 85 on Saturday, goes out by himself on Sunday morning at Jack’s Memorial tournament, an event where he used to name his winning margin. He and Alex Rodriguez differ in age by about five months. It was unthinkable a few years ago that A-Rod would be going strong at 40 and Tiger would be this close to being done. It’s not crazy any more.
— Josh Hamilton, Good Guy: No one was booed louder in Arlington, Texas, the last two years. No one has received bigger cheers this season at Globe Life Park although they lasted for just one weekend. Hamilton is out for a month now, and who knows if he’ll have another series like he did against the Red Sox. He provided a little thunder before Joey Gallo came along and said, “I’ve got this.”
— Hope Solo, Bad Gal: The U.S. women’s goalkeeper is a reminder that it’s not a great idea to go on national TV and claim your status as a victim of domestic violence if there’s a police report out there that says the exact opposite. It’s a challenging story because we’re used to women being the victims and we don’t know quite what to make of it when they appear to be the perpetrators. It will be interesting to see if this hangs over the U.S. team that did almost nothing to investigate these charges.