In Sports, Fame Is Fleeting

The year after his NBA playing days ended, an out-of-work Pat Riley went to watch the Lakers perform at the Forum, then attempted to walk into the press lounge, the traditional postgame gathering place for players, celebrities and the media.

Despite the fact that he was wearing a Laker championship ring from the 1971-72 season and had played in the league for nine years, he was denied entry.

Same old story in sports: It's here today, it's who tomorrow.

That point again is hammered home when looking at the deluge of year-end summaries on the tube and in the print medium. Just contrast them with the same pieces done a year ago and one realizes how quickly the transition game works in sports.

Dynasty has got to be the most overused word in the sports lexicon. Every year in almost every sport, it seems, a new champion is crowned amid grandiose claims of a three- or four-year reign of dominance, only to find this dynasty is about as stable as Madonna's marriage.

Even the guarantee of a four-year reign with the America's Cup turned out to be no guarantee at all.

Think about it.

A year ago, the New York Mets were smugly preparing to hold the the world championship for at least the rest of the decade, the New York Giants were preparing to do the same in football, the Lakers were supposed to be trying to find the pieces of an empire shattered by a Ralph Sampson prayer shot and people were praying that Sugar Ray Leonard wouldn't wind up in pieces in his impossible-dream attempt to return to the ring against Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

If it wasn't for Wayne Gretzky and Mike Tyson, there would be no stability at all in sports.

The story was the same locally. Cal State Northridge's football team reckoned it was finally headed for the playoffs, Cal Lutheran's team hoped it was finally headed for respectability in the Western Football Conference and Crespi High might have assumed it would hand Russell White the ball and in return he would hand the school a CIF title.

What happened? You hear that question a lot in sports. Comparing the prognosis for 1987 and the year-end review, you could ask it a lot.

So we will. Whatever happened to:

Marcus Allen.

Marques Johnson.

The NFL players' strike.

The NBA players' strike.

Mike Kane.

Gatorade showers.


Michael Spinks.

Leon Spinks.

Vinny Testaverde.

Phil Simms.

Gaston Green.

The Cleveland Indians.

Rusty Hilger.

Cal Lutheran football.

Reggie Miller.

Tony Dorsett.

The return of Pete Rose.

The arrival of Benoit Benjamin.

Hart High football.

Joe Morris.

The California Kickers.

Frankie Duarte.

The Kings.

Dick Motta.

Wimpy Halstead.

Golf without a Skins format.

Donna Duke.

The soccer explosion in America.

Ron Commans.

Ron Foster.

Tom Keele.

The Canoga Park High baseball team's bus driver.

Al Schoenberger.

Harry Kabakoff.

The Lazers.

Rocky Balboa.

The Conejo Valley swim complex.

Jim Plunkett.

Vince Ferragamo.

Vince Evans.

Moorpark High's salt-tablet craze.

America's Team.

Ken McMullen.

Alemany High football.


Duffy Waldorf.

Steve Alford.

Tiffany Chin.

The Raider commitment to excellence.

The Dodger way to play baseball.

Jerry Buss' financial problems.

The Ventura Gulls.

Howard Cosell.

Jim Biby.

Mervyn Fernandez.

Corey Pavin after February.

Boxing at the Sheraton Universal.

But enough of that. It's a new year. There are new stars on the horizon, new dynasties being formed.

And inevitably a new whatever-happened-to list. Same time next year.

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