Forgive, but never forget
So, I think I'm finally cool with Sports Illustrated, just a week after they snubbed the World Champion Phillies for a generic NFL Midseason Report cover across the country. Like the post title says, forgive but not forget. Sure, some of it may have to do with the fact that they've named my Heels the #1 team in the land (hey, when you go to Delaware, you need a big program to pull for come tourney time.)
But, this week's college-football preview issue is littered with Philly references that go beyond Chester's Tyreke Evans leading Memphis to the No. 11 spot as a frosh, Nova closing out the Top 20, and Temple grabbing a tourney spot (31). (They have Cornell, not Penn, taking the Ivy.)
No, it goes beyond that.
Like the throwback SI Vault story on Earl "The Pearl" Monroe playing at 12th and Columbia back in the day.
Of the multitude of players who have come out of Philadelphia in recent years—Chamberlain included—it is doubtful that any has been held in such esteem at home as Monroe. He is sovereign in the all-pro Baker League, the toughest summer wheel in the country. The Baker floats to various locations, but no matter where it goes Monroe's fans follow it.
The hub of the action is at 12th and Columbia, in the gym that stands behind the Hope Baptist Church on the corner. The gym is fairly new, but it is windowless and dimly lit, and on an oppressive summer night the cement block walls stifle the humanity pressed against them. Still, nobody is unhappy. Everyone is there to watch Earl Monroe go into his magic act.
The faithful arrive early. Monroe, as has become his custom, arrives fashionably late, usually around the end of the first quarter. His presence is signaled by a knowing murmur that swells to a tremorous rattle. The fans cannot see Monroe, but they can feel him, and as he nears the court the buzz increases.
"Magic's here, Magic's here," it goes, sweeping the gym. Monroe has been called more nicknames than any other athlete—and not one of them is a phony alliterative or geographical title invented by a P.R. man. He is called Pearl as much as he is Earl. And Magic, too, a lot. Also he is Doctor, Slick and Batman, and underground he is Black Jesus or The Savior.
A bunch of whiners complaining that they've had it worse than pre-parade Philadelphia. (Psst, yo, Cleveland and San Diego, talk to us when you have four sports that make you a, you know, real city.)
A piece about Philly writer Buzz Bissinger kinda making peace with a blogger he tore into before. (I'm still with Buzz, for the most part.)
And, of course, yet-another mention of Eagles' WR Hank Baskett marrying Hefgal Kendra Wilkinson. Am I the only one that finds it odd that Hef will be hosting said union?