The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 11, 1997 - 11
ESPYs merge worlds of
the bold, beautiful, athletic
From Ali's touching moments
By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Writer
NEW YORK - Amid the chaos of the fifth-
annual ESPY awards last night, the worlds of sport
and entertainment united.
Green Bay kick returner Desmond Howard, who
only has branched into commercials in recent
weeks (e.g. Disney World), continued his impres-
sive run of television appearances by dominating
Howard, who attended Michigan for three years,
won in the categories of NFL Play of the Year and
overall Play of the Year, beating out Michigan cen-
ter Mike Legg's trick goal to record the latter
The recognition was nice for Howard, but his
acceptance speech focused on those who came
He thanked the "black pioneers (in sports),"
mentioning how they were role models to him
when he was growing up.
One of those role models was honored with a
special award, which drew a standing ovation from
a packed Radio City Music Hall.
Muhammed Ali, mentioned in numerous accep-
tance speeches last night, made a rare public
appearance to receive the Arthur Ashe Award for
ESPN presented a 5 112 minute tribute to the
former champ chronicling the illustrious life he
has led, following a moving introduction by actor
Slowed by Parkinson's syndrome, Ali rose from
his seat midway through the ovation and ascended
to the stage to accept the award.
Following the presentation, he was questioned
about his legacy as "the Greatest."
Immediately, Ali buried his head in his hands
and whispered to Poitier that "he prefers not to
speak about it." Parkinson's has been explained as
a disease which traps one inside his or her own
body. Ali shook and rocked back and forth as he
to Vitale's mouth, ESPYs fin
But signs of the old Ali were evident.
He began the press conference by doing a magic
trick in which he made a red scarf disappear in his
hand. The trick, while executed to perfection,
seemed symbolic of the here-today, gone-tomor.
row life Ali is living. His mere presence, however,
elicited intense applause among those in atten-
dance, only ceasing upon his request.
Seeing Ali in a fragile state was nothing
new, as it is how he has been known in recent
years, but that was always through a television
set and not close enough to shake hands. It was
a moment those in attendance will never for.
Evander Holyfield, the current champ, stood at
Not everyone was focused on Ali, however.
From the world of entertainment, Tyra Banks,
Yasmeen Bleeth and Bridget Hall made backstage
appearances, representing the world of fashion and
The odd couple award for the evening had to be
given to ESPN analyst Dick Vitale and Wake
Forest center Tim Duncan, who got into a debate
in front of the media.
When discussing his desire (or lack thereof) to
play for the New Jersey Nets, Duncan was rudely
interrupted by Vitale.
"Show me the money, Vitale said. "I'll be your
Thankfully Duncan put him in his place with a
"You can do all the talking," he said.
What Amy Van Dyken had to say drew more
than a few raised eyebrows.
The Female Athlete of the Year, Van Dyken was
asked if anything changed after her success in
"My luggage is a lot heavier with all those gold
medals," she said.
Sorry, but that's not going to get much sympathy.
Michigan's Mike Legg and his dad, Chuck, stroll the streets of New York City yesterday before attending the ESPYs at Radio City Music Hail.
Legg goes to town in New York
Continued from Page I
Legg was soon to be immortalized.
The goal was regarded by ESPN anchor Dan
Patrick as "the greatest hockey goal (he'd) ever
seen." A Swedish magazine, Inside Hockey,
As one of the many awards Legg has received in
recognition of his goal, the magazine flew him to
Sweden to accept the honor. But Monday night
08 an event which stood above all others for the
London, Ontario, native.
Legg's ESPY was announced in the pre-awards
show hosted by SportsCenter anchors Keith
Olbermann and Patrick. When describing the goal
to the audience, Olbermann explained it as "Mike
Legg putting the pizza in the oven."
The ESPYs, hosted by comedian Jeff
Poxworthy, continued a fifth year of honoring out-
standing, unusual and, fortunately for Legg, outra-
ous events in the world of sports. Despite not
iving the opportunity to give an acceptance
speech, Legg said he was pleased with the trip as
"I love being here," he said. "This city is not like
Surrounded by luminaries like Muhammed Ali
and Ray Charles, Legg was a part of select com-
pany, and he realized it.
"There are so many famous people in this
hotel," he said.
As a part of the package, Legg was assigned to
the hotel where many other presenters were also
staying. But that was only a part of the New York
experience for the Michigan senior.
As the rest of his teammates sat through classes
and participated in practice on campus, Legg was
getting off a plane and into a limousine, living the
life of luxury.
His first trip to the Big Apple was an experience
he won't soon forget. While marvelling at the
immense size of the New York skyscrapers, Legg
repeatedly commented on how unbelievable the
entire experience was.
The voyage to the Big Apple was not a trip Legg
made alone, however.
When he was informed that he could bring a
guest for the weekend, his father was an easy
The man who taught him how to skate also was
making his first trip to New York, and he stood in
awe of the sights.
"The buildings are so tall," Chuck Legg said.
"Everywhere you look, there's another one."
ESPN arranged all the travel plans for the visit
and handled Legg in a first-class manner. The net-
work outfitted the two guests with tuxedos for the
ceremony, passes to a party afterwards at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art and a fancy room at
the Omni-Berkshire Hotel.
Dressed formally for the black-tie affair, the
Leggs blended into the masses of bow ties, and
throughout the festivities, both men displayed sin-
ilar reactions to the awe-inspiring day.
Continued from Page 9
While the players were excited for Legg
himself, Michigan coach Red Berenson
summed things up from a more of a coach-like
perspective, i.e.: he took the company line.
"I've said all along I think it's great for the
kid," Berenson said.
"But more than that it's good for the sport,
it's good for college hockey and it's good for
Berenson, always looking to put Michigan
hockey on the map, even had a tip of his won
on how Legg should dress for the star-studded
"Should've told him to wear a jersey over his
tux," he said.
Legg was one of seven 40-point scorers on the nation's most prolific offensive team last season. He
scored the goal late In the third period against Colorado College that forced the game into overtime
Tyrdsong forced to fly coop at Northwestern
EVANSTON (AP) - Ricky Byrdsong was fired
yesterday as basketball coach of struggling
Northwestern but will remain on the job through
the end of the season - unless his players want
him to leave sooner.
"We are concerned with the lack of progress the
n's basketball team has made during the past
Nee years," Northwestern athletic director Rick
Taylor said at a press conference, yesterday. "The
university believes the program needs to be head-
4d in a different direction and that it is appropriate
ti make a change at this juncture."
Byrdsong, 40, did not attend the news confer-
ence but released a statement that he would let his
players decide whether he coaches the Wildcats'
final seven games of the season. They next play
Thursday at Ohio State.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you
ounter various trials knowing that the testing of
your faith produces endurance," Byrdsong said in
the statement, quoting the Bible.
While Northwestern's football program has
been one of the great success stories, the basket-
ball squad has gone from bad to worse.
Saturday's 56-44 loss to
Wisconsin dropped the
Wildcats to 6-16, including to
1-10 in the Big Ten, a record
shared with Penn State.
Now in his fourth season at
Northwestern, the easygoing
Byrdsong has a 33-72 record.
His teams at Northwestern
have been hard hit by transfers
Byrdsong Taylor said he would begin
looking for a replacement.
"We will do a very diligent search and come up
with a very good basketball coach," he said.
In February 1994, Byrdsong took his infamous
stroll, leaving the Northwestern team's bench dur-
ing a game at Minnesota, wandering into the
stands and slapping hands with Gopher fans and
After a leave of absence, Byrdsong returned as
Byrdsong, became the Wildcats' coach in 1993,
succeeding Bill Foster who resigned to become
interim athletic director.
Before coming to Northwestern, Byrdsong
spent five seasons as coach at Detroit Mercy.
Overall, his record is 86-159.
His only winning seasons were at Detroit in
1992-93, when his Titan squad went 15-12 and
first Northwestern team, which was 15-14 and
played in the NIT.
He spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at
Arizona, Eastern Illinois, Western Michigan and
Iowa State, where he played college basketball for
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