Did the NBA Investigate Earl Monroe For Point Shaving After He Scored On His Own Basket?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about basketball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the basketball urban legends featured so far.

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: Earl Monroe was investigated by the NBA for point-shaving due to Monroe making a shot on his own basket at the end of a game.

Earl “the Pearl” Monroe has a bit of an odd position in New York Knicks history. He was brought to the Knicks in a blockbuster trade in 1971 and paired with Walt “Clyde” Frazier to form one of the most exciting backcourts in NBA history. Both players were great ballhandlers and scorers, so they gave opposing teams fits. They helped lead the Knicks to the 1973 NBA Championship.

earlmonroe

The “odd” position Monroe was in is that he was the last of the championship Knicks to leave the team. Well past the time that the Knicks were any good, Monroe was still on the team. He retired from the NBA as a member of the Knicks in 1980. It was kind of odd seeing these medicore-to-bad late 1970s Knicks team, but with Monroe still chugging along as a member of the team.

Today’s legend involves a game a little bit earlier than that, during the Knicks’ mediocre 1976-77 season (when fellow future Hall of Famers Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier were also still on the team, as was Phil Jackson – Bradley retired after this season). After a March 1977 game against the Portland Trailblazers, Monroe was actually investigated by the NBA for point-shaving, all due to a bizarre shot that he made at the end of the game.

Read on for the details!
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

August 23rd, 2016 | Posted in Basketball Urban Legends | No Comments

Did an Olympic Fencer Cheat By Using a Rigged Epee?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the Olympics and Olympians and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Olympic urban legends featured so far.

OLYMPIC URBAN LEGEND: An Olympic athlete used a specially rigged epee to fake results during a pentathlon.

Forgive me for a reference that is out of date (and only getting more and more out of date as every day passes), but today’s legend reminds me of the long-running crime series, Columbo. The series was set up so that the beginning of each episode would show us the criminals seemingly pull off a “perfect murder” and then the rest of the show would bring in the seemingly ineffectual Lt. Columbo, who would solve the murder while we see the murderer du jour (almost always a well known actor or actress) go from confident (and almost always looking down their noses at Columbo) to, well, arrested for murder with an airtight case against them. A good deal of the episodes involved the murderers putting together some sort of convoluted contraption that would help them achieve their crime and by the end of the episode, the contraption often ended up as part of the airtight proof against the murderer. As time went by, it amused me to see these murderers continue to think that they could cobble together something to rival James Bond’s famous gadgets (“It is a pen that is really a bomb!”) without it backfiring on them. Then again, in the case of one of the most shocking Olympic cheating scandals of all-time, that it just what one Olympian tried to do – use a contraption to get away with the “perfect crime.” Only just like Robert Culp, Jack Cassidy and their ilk on Columbo, it backfired spectacularly.

Read on to learn the story of Boris Onischenko and his infamous épée…

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

August 19th, 2016 | Posted in Olympic Urban Legends | No Comments

Did the Original Winner of the 1904 Olympic Marathon Get a Ride in a Car During the Race?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the Olympics and Olympians and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Olympic urban legends featured so far.

OLYMPIC URBAN LEGEND: Of the first two finishers of the 1904 Olympic Marathon, one nearly died due to taking drugs designed to help him win the competition – and that’s the one who DIDN’T get disqualified.

In a sports world that has seen one Olympic skater attempt to have another skater (from her own country) crippled before the Olympics and seen countless star athletes revealed to have used some form of performance-enhancing drugs (like steroids), I suppose the events of the 1904 Olympic Marathon would not be that surprising. However, the sheer amount of scandal packed into one race is still quite notable, and one can only imagine the attention such a race would have received in the modern age of the 24 hour news cycle.

Of the first two men to cross the finish line in the 1904 Marathon, Thomas Hicks nearly died from using his era’s equivalent of “performance-enhancing drugs,” and he was the one who WASN’T disqualified. Fred Lorz’s journey to the finish line was even stranger than that, as it involved getting a ride in a car!
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

August 12th, 2016 | Posted in Olympic Urban Legends | No Comments

Were a Group of Ukrainian Prisoners Killed After Defeating Their Nazi Captors in a Game of Soccer?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about soccer/football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A group of Ukrainian athletes/prisoners of war were executed after they defeated their Nazi jailers in a game of football/soccer.

It is now nearly eighty years since the start of the Second World War, but stories of the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the war still resonate to this day. In the case of Kiev (in their language, Kyiv), the capital of Ukraine, the population was decimated during the war from 400,000 people to less than 100,000. While it might not have been specifically stated at any point, it appears evident that the Nazis’ plan was to cull the population of Ukraine to make room for eventual German colonization.

In such a terrible environment, the citizens tended to take their victories wherever they could, and in the case of the people of Kiev, their method of fighting back came in the form of football/soccer. However, like any other victory during war, their actions came with great risks. Today we shall take a look at the bravery of Start, City of Kiev All-Stars, and the awful price they paid for their bravery.
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

July 29th, 2016 | Posted in Soccer/Football Urban Legends | No Comments

Did Vladimir Nabokov Work an Actual Baseball Headline Into One of His Novels?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Vladimir Nabokov worked an actual baseball headline into his acclaimed novel Pale Fire.

Vladimir Nabokov was one of the most acclaimed writers of the 20th Century, both as a novelist (with his most famous work being 1955’s Lolita and as a non-fiction writer (his memoir, Speak, Memory, was one of the most acclaimed autobiographies of the century). While Lolita is both his best known and most celebrated work, his 1962 novel, Pale Fire, is nearly as revered.

pale-fire

Pale Fire is a uniquely designed novel. It is framed as a long poem by a fictional poet, John Shade, along with a commentary on the poem by the editor of the book, Charles Kinbote. As Kinbote examines the poem, he shares insights into Shade and, ultimately, Kinbote himself.

A much-discussed part of the novel is in lines 97-98 of Shade’s poem (emphasis added)

I was brought up by dear bizarre Aunt Maud,
A poet and a painter with taste
For realistic objects interlaced
With grotesque growths and images of doom.
She lived to hear the next babe cry. Her room
We’ve kept intact. Its trivia create
A still life in her style: the paperweight
Of convex glass enclosing a lagoon,
The verse book open at the Index (Moon,
Moonrise, Moor, Moral), the forlorn guitar,
The human skull; and from the local Star
A curio: Red Sox Beat Yanks 5-4
On Chapman’s Homer
, thumbtacked to the door

Later, Kimbrote explains the line thusly:

Line 98: On Chapman’s Homer

A reference to the title of Keats’ famous sonnet (often quoted in America) which, owing to a printer’s absent-mindness, has been drolly transposed, from some other article, into the account of a sports event.

Obviously, it is a reference to John Keats’ famous poem, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.” But is it also a real headline?
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

July 22nd, 2016 | Posted in Baseball Urban Legends | No Comments

How Did a Panty Raid Help Lead to Auburn’s First National Championship?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A panty raid helped lead to Auburn’s first national championship.

In 2010, Auburn University won the national college football championship by defeating Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game. It was the first national championship for the Auburn Tigers since 1957, when they were voted the National Champions in the Associated Press poll (Ohio State were National Champions according to the Coach’s poll). That 1957 Championship began with a number of controversies and ended with still more.

auburntigers

One of those controversies, though, might have been the key to Auburn’s season. In fact, you could argue that they might owe a great deal of their success that year to, of all things, a panty raid.
Read the rest of this entry »

Had Elie Wiesel Never Heard of the World Series When He Was Asked to Throw Out the First Pitch of the 1986 Fall Classic?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Elie Wiesel had not heard of the World Series when he was asked to throw out the first pitch for Game 1 of the 1986 Fall Classic.

We recently lost the world-renowned writer and activist, Elie Wiesel. Born in Romania in 1928, Wiesel spent much of his teen years in various concentration camps during World War II, where his mother, father and younger sister all lost their lives.

Some time after the end of the War, Wiesel was compelled to share his experiences during the Holocaust (a term that Wiesel popularized), and the result was the striking memoir, Night, which is one of the most powerful and popular books on the topic in the world (it has sold over 6 million copies).

Wiesel went on to write over 40 other books, both fiction and non-fiction. He was also a tireless activist for peace in the world, even winning the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace (one of the many, many awards and honors he received over his lifetime).

Wiesel lived in New York City from 1955 until his death this year. Wiesel’s interests were very much in the area of academia (he was a very well-respected teacher and lecturer) and he never had much interest in sports. That lack of interest came to an amusing head in 1986, shortly after he won the Nobel Prize.
Read the rest of this entry »

Was the Game of Soccer Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about soccer/football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The game of soccer/association football was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!

On April 23, 2000, three people died (and many more were injured) when thousands of fans pushed their way into a packed stadium in Morovia, Liberia to watch a World Cup qualifier match between Liberia and Chad. Less than three months later, on July 9, 2000, a dozen people died in a stampede following a World Cup qualifier between South African and Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In April 2001, stampedes killed 43 people in a match between the popular Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in South Africa and later in the month, stampedes killed 8 people in the Congo.

In May of 2001, police were called in when fighting began at the end of a match between two of Ghana’s best teams, Accra’s Hearts of Oak and Assante Kotoko, due to Assante fans throwing chairs and bottles on to the field in anger at the end of an Accra 2-1 victory. When police shot tear gas into the crowd, a stampede killed over 100 people. Just three days earlier, a fight broke out between fans at a match in the Ivory Coast, killing one person and injuring over three dozen more.

You might be wondering, “What is the point of mentioning all of this soccer-related death and violence from 2000 and 2001?”

I mention it because soccer/association football was nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.


Read the rest of this entry »

Did the First Song About Baseball Come Out Before the Civil War Even?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: The first published baseball song pre-dates the Civil War!

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is now over one hundred years old. And yet, that’s not even CLOSE to the oldest song about baseball!

Read on to see what was the first song ever published about baseball!
Read the rest of this entry »

Did Angry Edmonton Fans Burn Chris Pronger’s Furniture After He Was Traded?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about hockey and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the hockey urban legends featured so far.

HOCKEY URBAN LEGEND: Angry Edmonton fans burned Chris Pronger’s furniture after he moved away from Edmonton upon being traded.

Chris Pronger had a long career in the National Hockey League (NHL). He’s still technically under contract with the Arizona Coyotes, although he has not played since 2011 due to severe concussion symptoms, and since he’s 41, it is unlikely that he ever WILL play again, but I guess we’ll find out someday. Anyhow, the six-time All-Star defenseman was such a great player that he actually won the league’s Most Valuable Player award (called the Hart Trophy) in 2000, the first defenseman to win it since 1972!!

A star player for the Hartford Whalers and the St. Louis Blues, Pronger spent the majority of his career as a star in St. Louis. That was where he won his Hart Trophy. However, following the NHL labor dispute in 2005, a new salary cap system was put into place and the Blues could no longer afford Pronger. So they dealt him to the Edmonton Oilers. After signing a five-year contract with the Oilers, Pronger helped lead the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season with the team, where they lost the series in the seventh game.

pronger1

Pronger caused some controversy, however, when he asked to be traded after the season ended.

As you might imagine, fans in Edmonton were quite stunned. They get this big star, he signs a long-term deal, he helps them get to the seventh game of the finals and then he demands to be traded?

Edmonton agreed to his trade request, and dealt him to the Anaheim Ducks (where he eventually led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup championship in his first season there, further turning the screws in Oiler fans’ hearts).

Pronger spoke about the reaction of Oiler fans on Jim Rome’s syndicated radio show.

“Yeah, there’s obviously a few things that didn’t set well with me, for instance, taking the furniture that I had in my house and burning it, and having a ‘Burn Chris Pronger’s Furniture Day,’ that really did sit well with me very much. They burned my kid’s crib and things like that. When you hear stories like that it doesn’t sit well.”

Did that actually happen?
Read the rest of this entry »