Was the sports world better back in the 1980s? Or are we better off today? Page 2 has the answers, specifically looking at
• Weinreb: Comparing/contrasting cheating in the '80s versus today
• The ballpark experience
• The sports media
• The SI swimsuit issue
• Sports video games
• Superstar athletes
• Fantasy games
• Lakers vs. Celtics
A nation gawked. School librarians harrumphed. And me? I looked forward to the "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit issue the way Internet nerds eagerly await leaked Decepticon scale-model pics from the set of "Transformers 2." This was a big deal (largely because I was just hitting puberty). A really big deal (mostly because I would not interact with an actual real-life semi-naked woman for years to come). A mark-the-calendar, check-the-mail, sit-through-27-minutes-of-"Entertainment Tonight"-teases-until-they-finally-show-the-"making-of-the-issue"-clip big deal. (This changed dramatically when a buddy figured out the Playboy Channel descrambling trick.)
Pros: Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Paulina Porizkova. Oh, babes of yore! In my mind, you'll forever be frolicking on the beaches of Maui. Zowie!
Cons: Models wore genuine swimsuits -- semi-sensible one-piece suits, even! -- as opposed to bikinis made of South American coins and strategically-placed palm fronds. Also, too many (read: anything more than zero) annoying athlete profiles and game summaries. What is this supposed to be, a sports magazine?
Warner Bros/Fotos International/Getty Images
Christie Brinkley was the star of many a swimsuit issue.
Bigger, splashier and waaaay more commercial (and yes, such a thing is possible), chock-full of celebrity guest-model photo shoots, ads made to look like photo shoots, and the occasional smidgen of Roger Clemens' chest hair.
Pros: Clichéd, unintentionally humorous outraged letters to the editor remain a staple (and ought to be compiled into a book); greater model ethnic diversity; smaller/nonexistent bikinis; tedious sports stories split off into separate issue; two words: body paint.
Cons: Utterly devoid of original ideas -- another all-sand bikini? Pushin' the envelope! -- for whatever that's worth; did we mention Clemens?
VERDICT: Viva the '80s. Maybe -- probably -- it's just gauzy nostalgia, but the old-school swimsuit issue felt like a genuine cultural event, whereas the current iteration feels tired. Played out. Like a living fossil -- or perhaps a shambling cheesecake zombie, slouching toward irrelevance, propelled by past momentum and sheer advertising want-to. Blame Maxim magazine. Blame Maxim's 1,001 imitators. Blame Google search. In the here and now, the swimsuit issue is just another face in the scantily clad crowd. Did I grow up? Sure. But so did the world around me.
Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Patrick here.
2008 NBA FINALS
And then there were two -- the Lakers and Celtics. Who will win the NBA Finals? Let the games begin.
Daily Dime• Celtics win 17th championship title
• Did C's lose Regret Game?
• A little help from Kobe's friends
• Time for L.A. to go small
• The Finals Can't Shake Donaghy Mess
• Unlikely Game 4 comeback gives C's 3-1 lead
• Rondo's ankle could change L.A.'s game plan
• Kobe leads Lakers to Game 3 win
• Lakers need to attack the paint
• Lakers learn Powe's name in Game 2
• Time for Gasol to step up
• Lakers need better defense in Game 2
• Pierce sparks Celtics in Game 1 victory
• Expert predictions, clutch stats
• Pierce loves playing Lakers
• Celtics to meet L.A. in the Finals
Lakers vs. Celtics• Stein: Q&A after six-game "sweep"
• MacMullan: Pierce's long road to greatness
• Hollinger: From camp to champs
• Stein: Boston's big three shine
• Adande: Questions loom over Lakers' future
• Hollinger: Celtics commit to defense
• Scouts Inc.: Game 6 breakdown
• Hollinger: Farmer steps up in Game 5
• Sheridan: Late-game letdown for Celtics
• Stein: Lakers ready to make history?
• Adande: Greatness eluding Phil and Kobe
• MacMullan: Doc adheres to dad's lessons
• Jackson: Time for L.A.'s concession speech?
• Stein: Game 4 not Kobe's finest hour
• Adande: KG dominates Gasol again
• Hollinger: Rivers makes all the right moves
• Hill: Kobe's Laker legacy on the line
• Hollinger: Vujacic lends helping hand in Game 3
• Jackson: Jump shot Jesus has returned
• Stein: Lakers need to earn sympathy
• Adande: Lakers feel foul over whistle disparity
• Jackson: Leading role suits Pierce
• Adande: Kobe turns away from the pass late
• Stein: Pierce's knee key to rest of series
• Finals factor 1: Kobe Bryant
• Finals factor 2: Celtics Defense
• Finals factor 3: Paul Pierce
• Finals factor 4: Home-court advantage
• Finals factor 5: Battle of the benches
• Hollinger: Lakers offense vs. Celtics defense
• Broussard: Turning back the clock
• Adande: How did Kobe get here?
• Scouts Inc. breakdown: Lakers vs. Celtics
• Coaching comparison: Red vs. Phil
• Smith: Kobe's moving forward
• Scoop: Fiendin' for a ring
• Top 10 moments of Lakers-Celtics rivalry
• ESPN Classic schedule: Relive the rivalry
TrueHoop• TrueHoop: Finals reflections
• TrueHoop: Doc Rivers' redemption
• TrueHoop: Lakers got Rondo'd
• Tough night for Allen
• Game 5 live blogging
• Laker nation vs. NBA refs
• Pierce and the evaporating knee story
• Game 2 live blogging
• Coaxing Kobe Bryant into hero mode
• Game 1 live blogging
• Today's game isn't so different
Simmons• Notes from the C's winning night
• Boston's X factors
• Game 4 running diary
• Time for NBA Finals answers
• The C's and city both look good
• The Truth comes out in Game 1
• NBA Finals forecast
• Chat: NBA Finals preview
• Simmons: You want a piece of Kobe, Boston?
ESPN The Magazine• Sporting Equivalency: NBA Finals meets hip hop
• Broussard: Reporting from the NBA Finals
Fantasy• Join the fun of NBA Finals: Playcaller
Audio• Dish: NBA Finals recap
• Wyc Grossbeck on C's championship
• Ray Allen on how the Celtics evolved
• Bob Ryan compares '86 C's to current one
• Jon Barry credits Tom Thibodeau's team defense
• Game 4 reactions
• Rajon Rondo on Pierce, Game 2 plans
• Bill Walton on Celtics-Lakers history
• Dr. J on Finals, '80s hoops