There’s little doubt that Hank Aaron’s triumphant gallop around the base paths after hitting his 715th home run is etched in the mind of the most devout sports fans. Same goes for the fireworks and unfurled banners after Cal Ripken made his record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game official.
Heck, these types of individual accomplishments are what makes sports great.
That’s why I (and probably many others) did a double-take when I saw footage on SportsCenter of an injured Nykesha Sales tossing in an uncontested lay-up. The Connecticut forward, who was a deuce shy of her school’s all-time scoring record, ambled below the hoop while members of her team and opponent Villanova looked on.
After Sales scored her 2,178th point, there was a group hug at center court. Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma later said the contrived basket was “his gift” to his star senior all-American, who tore up her right Achilles’ tendon four days earlier.
Auriemma’s co-conspirators were Villanova coach Harry Perretta, the athletics directors of both schools and conference officials.
Word has it this cast of clowns is plotting an encore: Getting the Denver Nuggets to throw injured former Gophers guard Bobby Jackson on Michael Jordan tonight so His Airness can eclipse one of the NBA’s most coveted watermarks — Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game.
Seriously though, the whole Sales fiasco made a mockery of the game and wiped away the integrity of records. No one pulled a similar stunt when Kerry Bascom-Poliquim set UConn’s original mark.
But it’s safe to say the rules have changed.
“But she would have easily broke the record if she wouldn’t have been injured …” is the weak justification offered up by supporters of the move.
Tough cookies; injuries are part of the game.
While we’re at it, we might as well bring back Bo Jackson and clear the football field or have a pitcher throw him some cupcakes so he can break the touchdown and home run marks. Who knows, he could have done it if he hadn’t been injured. He was only about 126 touchdowns and 600 homers shy, but remember how highly touted he was out of college.
A little far-fetched? Not a chance.
What would’ve happened if Sales needed more than just two points? If she needed three, would coaches have let her stand outside the arc until she knocked one down and then allowed Villanova to even things out? Maybe the real game could have gotten underway by halftime.
One, two, 10 … use whatever number you like, it all adds up to nothing in my book.
— Brian Bakst is an associate editor at The Daily. He welcomes comments at [email protected]