By Bill Simmons
Page 2

THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 3, THE WINNERS: 1-3 | 4-7 | 8-11

THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 3, THE ELIMINATED: 1-6


FINALIST NO. 4
Name: Rich Levine
College: Colgate University 2002
Residence: Boston, MA
Current Job: Editorial Assistant
Age: 25

James Lipton: Tonight's guest has appeared at more than 100 pro and collegiate athletic events and in 25 years has viewed a stunning array of sports-themed movies. In this millennium alone, he's attended five ALCS games, two World Series contests and three Super Bowls. He also owns English AND Spanish versions of "The Air Up There" on DVD.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Rich Levine.

(Applause)

JLL Rich, three Super Bowls titles? One of those must be the favorite sports moment you've ever seen in person. Which one?

RL: That's far too difficult, James. It's like asking Danny Tanner to choose between DJ, Stephanie and Michelle.

JL: He was on last week. He chose Michelle. Now tell me your favorite.

RL: In that case, it's New Orleans. You know, you never forget your first time.

JL: Ahhh, February 3, 2002. Quite a special day.

RL: Yes, it was my 22nd birthday. Everything was idyllic. I saw one of the most historic upsets AND kicks in NFL history and both went the way of a team whose home games were blacked out for most of my childhood. They'd come so far. Did I mention my Dad and I bet the points AND the money line?

JL: Remarkable. Speaking of first times, is it true that "White Men Can't Jump" marked the first time you saw a topless woman on the big screen?

RL: Cute segue. Yes, seeing Rosie Perez's bare breasts was a coming-of-age moment for me.

JL: But that's not why it's your favorite movie.

RL: Of course not. I love half-court hoops and they captured that perfectly. You know, pick-and-rolls and backdoor cuts? Kadeem Hardison and Marques Johnson always crack me up and the Jeopardy twist is so absolutely ridiculous that it works. I've always considered Billy Hoyle and Larry Bird to be the Gloria Steinem and Susan B. Anthony of the modern Caucasian basketball movement.

JL: I heard your mother's an astronaut.

RL: Damn you, Lipton.

JL: Bahahaha! But now ... we come ... to Bo Jackson.

RL: (Dramatic pause) My favorite athlete. (Applause) Bo Knows Bo was the first book I read cover-to-cover. Everything just came so easily to him. When you listen to other athletes speak about Bo, it's like they're talking about some deity. A black-and-white poster of a topless Jackson, equipped with only shoulder pads and a Louisville Slugger, adorned the walls of boys' bedrooms in the 80s like Farrah Fawcett a decade earlier. I could go on forever ...

JL: Mmmm ... delicious. My research actually shows that your first book was Johnny Long Legs by Matt Christopher, but we'll move on. Let's finish with a question from the great Bernard Pivot: What do you think is the funniest moment in sports history?

RL: Wow, Pivot's a real piece of work. I've thought about this for a while now, and you know what? Najeh Davenport, an unsuspecting laundry basket and a massive case of diarrhea. That truly takes the cake. Absolutely unreal.

JL: Thank you, Rich. You are a Deee-light.


FINALIST NO. 5
Name: Matt Luckham
College: Northwestern University, 2004
Residence: Poway, CA
Current Job: Data Entry Clerk with aspirations of becoming a valet ... but laid off as of Monday, 1/31/05
Age: 22

1. What was your favorite sports moment that you've seen in person?
#21 Northwestern vs. #12 Michigan, November 4, 2000. In an "Instant Classic" featuring a combined 1,189 yards and 105 points, the Wildcats upset the Wolverines in heroic fashion. Abridged diary of the game:

2:00 p.m. -- By kickoff, I've been "pre-gaming" longer than the game will last.

2:09 -- Northwestern takes the lead on Zak Kustok's QB sneak.

2:10 -- The "OVER-RA-TED" chant begins. A little premature? Definitely. But we take advantage while we can.

3:28 -- Michigan leads 28-10 with 6 minutes left in the half after David Terrell scores his third straight touchdown. He will tear up the NFL.

3:43 -- Trailing 28-10 with 6 minutes left in the half, the "STATE SCHOOL" chant begins. If we can't beat your football team, we'll make fun of your institution because we're smug, private-school preppies.

4:02 -- Halftime score: 28-23 Michigan. I realize how un-cute our cheerleaders are.

4:50-5:30 -- Not feeling well. You know that feeling after waking up at 7 am for "kegs n' eggs," followed by beer pong and flip cup, sobering up mid-afternoon with a headache, swamp butt, bad breath, and B.O.? That's me right now.

5:31 -- Hey ladies!

6:28 -- NU trailing 51-46, 4th and goal, 1:38 left. Kustok finds Anderson wide open in the end zone but he drops it. I just threw up in my mouth.

6:30 -- Michigan takes over needing to run out the clock with a 1st down. A-Train breaks left (using L1) but fumbles! There is a god, and Darnell Autry be thy name!

6:35 -- Kustok hits Simmons for the go-ahead touchdown!

6:40 -- Time expires. Storm the field! College rules! Go U!

2. What's your favorite sports movie ever and why?
"The Sandlot." Two words: Wendy Peffercorn.

3. Who's your favorite athlete ever and why?
Tony Gwynn. He is the best hitter I've ever seen, and if someone comes along and tops him, I'll refuse to admit it. He made me realize that you can look like a rollie pollie and still be the best at what you do. To the future Mrs. Matt Luckham: We will name our first child "Tony" if it's a boy and "Gywnneth" if it's a girl. And my No Fear poster picturing Gwynn and his 8 silver bats that reads "It's not the bats ... It's the balls" will never leave our bedroom wall.

4. What do you think was the funniest moment in sports history and why?
Robin Ventura vs. Nolan Ryan.

(Insert your own "Don't Mess with Texas," "Who needs the Advil now?" "Who wants a noogie?" joke here.)

In closing, this quote sums up why I've been up all night writing this instead of looking for another job:

"Let me tell you something kid. Everybody gets one chance to do something great. Most people never take the chance, either because they're too scared, or they don't recognize it when it spits on their shoes."
--The Sandlot

Randy, Paula, Simon -- I ain't scared, and I see that spit on my shoes. Put me through to the next round.


FINALIST NO. 6
Name: Theresa MacDonald
College: American University, 2004
Residence: Washington, DC
Current Job: Unemployed
Age: 22

1. What was your favorite sports moment that you've seen in person?
October 2003 -- I was in Massachusetts for fall break. My Uncle Mark's rich friend called him to say he had three extra seats in his luxury box for Game 4 of the ALDS against Oakland. Marky invited my cousin Mike and me.

This whole game was amazing. 1.) Boston's win tied the series that the Sox later won. 2.) Papi broke out of his 0-for-a-blazillion slump with a clutch double. 3.) The Artist Formerly Known as Scott Williamson pitched two perfect innings. 4.) It was the first, and probably last, time I would ever be in a luxury suite. Mike and I were totally the slack-jawed Roswell friends from "My Super Sweet Sixteen."

[Me: "Holy crap! Did you feel the paper towels in the private bathroom! They feel like real cloth!"

Mike (opening his pocket): "I know! Look! I stole a bunch!"

It was a blissful day of wonder and innocence--"Cowboy Up" was at the height of its popularity, and I'm pretty sure I had never really heard of Aaron Boone. I'll never forget that win. Or this important lesson:

Me: "Seeing how rich people live really motivates me to work harder in life so I can have stuff like this someday."

Mike: "Are you KIDDING? If anything, it's teaching me to do nothing and just mooch off rich friends for the rest of my life, like we're doing now."

2. What's your favorite sports movie ever and why?
This question is difficult for me because I will watch any movie that culminates in a "big game" scenario. (We're talking ANY movie. Like "Little Giants" any movie). I'm not going to lie and say I didn't see Disney's "Miracle" movie multiple times during its first week of theatrical release, because good Catholic girls don't lie. In fact, I would have to say that "Miracle" might be my favorite sports movie, mostly because whenever I am in a bad mood or in traffic, all I have to do is shriek, "Mike Eruzione, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!" and all my problems disappear.

(I also have a little thing for "The Cutting Edge" because my sophomore year roommate and I wrote D.B. Sweeney a letter, and he actually wrote us back. I mean, in retrospect, I'm not surprised, because a.) he had nothing else to do, and b.) we put lipstick kisses on it and sprayed it with perfume. But he wrote us back a handwritten letter and gave us two autographed pictures from the movie. (Mine even had a coffee stain on it!) Want to know what DreamBoat Sweeney writes to college girls in a letter? Make me the intern and I'll tell you.)

3. Who's your favorite athlete ever and why?
Doug Flutie -- great guy, tasty flakes.

4. What do you think was the funniest moment in sports history and why?
When I puked in my brother's Mo Vaughn trash can. It didn't have a trash bag in it.


FINALIST NO. 7
Name: Lauren Silva
College: The George Washington University, 2003
Residence: Washington, DC
Current Job: Sports and Entertainment editorial aide at the Washington Post
Age: 23

1. What was your favorite sports moment that you've seen in person?
Schilling pitching in Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway: See round one of the Intern Contest.

2. What's your favorite sports movie ever and why?
"The Sandlot". Baseball at its purest, for-eh-ver.

3. Who's your favorite athlete ever and why?
Larry Bird. But when he was being named Rookie of the Year, I was being born. When he was winning championships, I was sitting on the floor in feetie pajamas. When I was finally old enough to appreciate No. 33, he had an ailing back and Reggie Lewis was running the parquet. Bird's my favorite athlete, but I can't write about him like he deserves to be written about. So I won't.

Instead we'll talk about Shannon Miller, the Larry Bird of the gymnastics world. In 1992, as Larry was singing his swan song with the Dream Team in Barcelona, Miller was launching her career in the same city. Like Bird she was quiet. Never the media darling, just a perfectionist infuriated by anything but the best. But she quietly saved team USA's medal hopes after star Kim Zmeskal choked. She quietly placed in three event finals. She was quietly robbed of the all-around gold, finishing second by the narrowest margin in history.

Quietly, she was pissed. Quietly, she trained harder. And quietly, she came back in 1996 to help the Americans to their first-ever team gold, picking up one of her own on the beam. She never bragged, she never cashed in, she just took care of her business and retired on top. I admired that. And so, rather loudly, bits of Shannon crept into my own life. I'd prance around the house, saluting fake judges and waving fake medals (do the math here and you'll realize I was way too old for this) until my dad yelled "Hey Twinkle Toes! Cut the crap!"

I didn't. It got worse. In high school (Read that again) my friend Cynthia and I made a "fake beam" in our basement, to exact Olympic specifications. Except it was made of masking tape. And stuck to the ground. One day, while "training" (I wish I were joking), I hit my foot on the TV stand mid-cartwheel. I crashed to the ground and re-injured the knee-cap I had just dislocated playing soccer.

My fake beam career officially ended -- loudly. But Shannon remained a quiet reminder of what an athlete should be.

4. What do you think was the funniest moment in sports history and why?
Sports history is a long time, filled with El Guapo disappearances and Randy Johnson shoving matches, Isiah trades and Shaq movies. There's irony -- like Duquette's "twilight" remark, and there's slapstick -- like A-Rod's trot to first base. So I'll stick with personal sports history, namely the time my dad was run out of a girl's youth basketball championship by an angry mob because he heckled a NINE YEAR OLD during her last-second free throws. Joke's on them, though. He was right. It was a BS call.


THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 3, THE WINNERS: 1-3 | 4-7 | 8-11

THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 3, THE ELIMINATED: 1-6




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