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June 17th, 1994 Brett Morgan
June 17th, 1994 Friday June 17th, 1994 was an amazing day in the history of American sports. Arnold Palmer played in his final U.S. Open, in Chicago the World Cup began for the first time in America, the Rangers paraded their first Stanley Cup in 54 years through New York City, Ken Griffey Jr. continued his soon to be cut short quest for the Major League Baseball single season home run record, and the New York Knicks battled the Houston Rockets in game 5 of the NBA Finals in Madison Square Garden.

I remember the last event because I was trying to watch the game while O.J. Simpson was leading Los Angeles police on a slow speed chase to his mother's house in a now infamous White Ford Bronco. NBC kept cutting away from that game. Remember, this was the 90s when playoff teams hated each other. Pat Riley's Knicks had pushed the physicality of the game to its limit. No team would score over 93 points the entire series. It was an intense playoff battle featuring my favorite sports team playing at their apex in a pivotal game. It was Ewing versus Olajuwon, the battle of the great centers. There was a shootout between the two erratic scorers, John Starks Vernon "Mad Max" Maxwell. There were two stoic power forwards, Charles Oakley and Otis Thorpe, with other big bodies like Charles Smith and Carl Herrera called on to battle down low. Mario Elie and Anthony Mason were spark plugs off the bench. Cagey veterans Derek Harper and Kenny Smith battled at point guard. Younger and less established players like Greg Anthony, Hubert Davis, Sam Cassell, and Robert Horry stepped onto the stage.

At 13 years old I was so frustrated that I couldn't watch my team play. I am still frustrated by that day, but for a different reason. Without prior experience I am hesitant to say that this was a turning point for American culture. I don't really know if there was ever a media circus of this magnitude for an event so inconsequential. Yes, two people died. But I do feel that the event so was horribly overblown that it speaks poorly of our media and our culture. Simpson was a beloved athlete and celebrity, but did he deserve this level of attention? He played football years ago, acted in some movies, and starred in Hertz rental car commercials. People lined the streets to watch A.C. Cowlings drive him down the highway. Every news station was covering it without interruption. The southern California airwaves were so overwhelmed that helicopter feeds were getting crossed. Bob Costas carefully explained to basketball fans that NBC was going to try to broadcast this game even though everyone was more concerned with the unfolding drama. Tom Brokaw called it an American tragedy. For the love of god, it was a car chase in LA.

Watching the clips of the great sporting events that took place on that day brought a smile to my face even 17 years later. I was too young back then to be cynical about professional sports. It was a reminder of the great pagentry of sports. We may put too much emphasis on what athletes do in this country, but the joy and exhiliration we obtain from it feels right and deserved. Watching the news clips from that same day and the sick fascination people receive from the misery of others embarrassed me. I can't say for sure, but I feel like that day - combined with the soon to be instant and vast information the web would soon make available - was the start of a increase in American lust for celebrity worship, pointless gossip, and destructive personal scandal. This 30 for 30 episode did a great job of portraying that.
30 minutes
This product was released around June 2011 by ESPN
I consumed this around July 2011
More: June 17th, 1994
Posted by: Jeff Egnaczyk at: 8/24/2011 10:43:50 PM

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