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Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Updated: January 29, 3:45 PM ET
The brazen bunch

By Gino Bona
Special to Page 2

Serena Williams knows what she wants and she's not afraid to tell the world what it is.

She wants a perfect year. All wins, no losses.

Serena proved herself to be the undisputed Queen of the Court in 2002. She won the French Open, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the hearts of millions with her catsuit at Flushing Meadows. Serena definitely put the "ow" in "meow," baby!

Serena Williams
Serena wants a perfect year. We're not going to bet against her.

But Serena wants to turn that purr into a growl by going undefeated in 2003. She got off to a great start last Friday night by capturing the Australian Open with a win over her sister, Venus.

(In fact, Serena has defeated Venus in each of the past four Grand Slam events. America hasn't witnessed this type of repeated sibling abuse on television since Wayne Arnold tortured Kevin on a daily basis!)

Is Serena ambitious? Yes.

Is she conceited? Perhaps.

Is she really the daughter of that guy who dances around the stands with homemade signs? I'm afraid so.

But bold declarations like Serena's are nothing new in the world of sports. In fact, brash pronouncements have been made since the beginning of time in every aspect of our culture. Sometimes the predictor looks like a genius ... and sometimes he or she looks as intelligent as Pat Croce's brother sifting through Allen Iverson's pockets in full view of a surveillance camera.

Serena's place in history hasn't been determined yet. However, there's no mistaking what happened to this brazen bunch.

Joe Namath guarantees victory in Super Bowl III
Long before guaranteeing victories became more commonplace than a bottle of Cristal on "Cribs," Broadway Joe stepped up and guaranteed a Jets victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Namath was a pioneer. A visionary. And the first athlete to pull off full-length mink on the sidelines.

Marion Jones
Jones had to settle for three golds and two bronzes at the 2000 Olympics.

Marion Jones shoots for five gold medals
U.S. track superheroine Jones publicly strived for five gold medals in the 2000 Olympics. Jones was well on her way to fulfilling her goal and, consequently, looking like Mrs. T by the closing ceremony. She won the 100 and 200 meters with ease before failing to be the longest jumper in her weakest event. She captured a bronze in the long jump and -- in her own words -- "The dream for five is not alive anymore." (Did you hear those rhymes? You flow, girl!)

Jim Fassel guarantees a playoff appearance for the Giants
In November 2000, Fassel stood before a slew of reporters and said, "This team is going to the playoffs." (The Giants were 7-4 at the time.) It was only one line in a lengthy rant that included metaphors about horses, trains, buses, and card games (somehow, he refrained from making any L.T. jokes). At the time, the G-Men looked nothing more than average and the media ate it up like Dom DeLuise at a Sizzler. I mean, Fassel's guaranteeing the Giants make the playoffs??? Yeah, right. And Avril Lavigne will get five Grammy nominations! But Fassel's Giants not only made the playoffs -- they reached Super Bowl XXXV. Sure, they got murdered by Ray Lewis and the Ravens, but Fassel backed up his bravado.

Christopher Columbus claims Earth is round
Whoa! Check out the big brain on Chris!

General Custer claims his Seventh Cavalry can win
It was 1876. Moonshine was divine, Little Bill ruled with an iron fist, and General George A. Custer claimed he could crush all the Indians on the continent. One summer day, Custer came across a large group of Indians along the Little Bighorn River. He ordered an attack and swiftly got annihilated. This moment scarred John Rocker's great, great grandfather for a long time.

White Star Line officials declare the Titanic unsinkable
It was a tremendous movie. Thank goodness it wasn't based on a true story.

Terrence Trent D'Arby claims he'll be bigger than The Beatles
It's pretty damn close, if you ask me.

The Eagles declare they'll never reunite
The Eagles broke up in 1981 and Don Henley vowed, "We'll reunite when hell freezes over." The band disregarded the weather forecast and got back together 13 years later for one of the most successful reunion tours of all time. The name of that high-flying tour and accompanying album, you ask? "Hell Freezes Over." This story begs the question, "A rock band that doesn't reunite, Don?" This would be the end of innocence, my friend.

Tom Berenger
Jake Taylor called his shot and the Indians beat the mighty Yankees.

Geraldo Rivera guarantees some serious loot inside Al Capone's vault
There was nothing quite like it back in 1986. Rivera cracked open Al Capone's vault during a live two-hour TV special and all that was found was a beer bottle. No money. No jewels. No bodies. To the man who broke Geraldo's nose with a flying chair many years later ... thank you.

The first President Bush promises, "No new taxes"
So he signed a bill that raised the federal income tax. Then -- nine years later -- we elected his son to The White House. Yeah! We showed him!

Jake Taylor calls his shot in "Major League"
He was too old, too slow and had two bad knees. In fact, Pee Wee's Radio Flyer had better wheels than Taylor. But he stood tall in the batter's box against the hated Yankees in the ninth inning of a decisive playoff game. Taylor looked at the pitcher and used his bat to point at the outfield bleachers. Oh yeah, he was going downtown, baby. But wait! Taylor faked out the Yanks and laid down a bunt. He chugged down the first-base line in slow motion (and you thought that scene was supposed to be in slow motion, right?) while the winning run crossed home plate. The Indians win the pennant! Jake Taylor is the hero! And Dorn's wife is sleeping around again!

Billy Hoyle rises up -- as promised -- in "White Men Can't Jump"
OK, so Woody Harrelson dunking on a regulation rim is as realistic as Denise Richards portraying a nuclear physicist in a Bond flick. We agree on that much. But Billy Hoyle dunking on the silver screen made millions of white folks do extra calf raises at the gym (Brent Barry even went on to win the Slam Dunk Contest). Hoyle couldn't dunk when he was given three tries, but he rocked the rack when it counted -- in a game. Nothing says, "You got spanked," quite like a white boy going backdoor for a game-winning jam. Especially when you're playing man-to-man defense.

For the past year, Gino Bona has been in a zone on his "Wink & The Gun" site, which can be reached at www.winkandthegun.com. E-mail him at gino@winkandthegun.com.