One person in Arizona sports deserves an Oprah sized farewell
Published: May 25, 2011 @ 10:25am
In this May 17, 2011 photo,Oprah Winfrey acknowledges fans during a star-studded double-taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular," in Chicago. The Oprah Winfrey Show influenced personal finances in big and small ways. Most obviously, the show regularly counseled viewers on major money matters. But the show also influenced everyday pocket book decisions. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
There are few things more powerful than a professional sports league. Greed, an angry spouse and the lure of the Kardashians to athletes are just a few that come to mind. They all pale in comparison to one name though. A name that makes grown women act like they're 14-year-olds in the front row of a Justin Bieber concert and men named Stedman act like they're caged pets.
That name of course is Oprah Winfrey.
Guys, I realize we're not Oprah's target audience and honestly I haven't seen an episode of her show since I was a prepubescent, thinner and a slightly less snarky version of the columnist you know now. With that said, unless you've been living under a rock or in a million dollar mansion in Abbottabad, you know that the talk show legend's
reign of terror brilliant career comes to an end this week. It's been all over the news, on every network. It is such a big deal that the taping of her farewell episodes even forced the NBA to reschedule Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Derrick Rose all got the flu and couldn't play, they wouldn't wield enough power to change the time, let alone the day, of a playoff game. That's power.
You're probably wondering what Oprah has to do with Arizona sports. Well here it is. Women across the globe are taking the loss of their favorite show tougher than Don Corleone took the death of Sunny in The Godfather. I'm pretty sure they've even been heard saying ‘look how they massacred my day time television schedule'.
Pat Tillman, just like he always was during his playing days, is in a class of above the rest. No one in any city or any sport will ever leave in the way he did or be tougher to say goodbye to than him. For that reason I'm not including him in this list.
Once you remove Tillman from the argument, the debate gets more interesting than the fact that the New Jersey Nets' Kris Humphries spent 18-percent of his career earnings on an engagement ring.
If I were a typical Arizona fan I'd probably say Luis Gonzalez was the most difficult to bid a fond farewell to. If you've read my columns before -- or the six paragraphs preceding this one -- you've probably gathered that I'm about as typical as a Lady Gaga concert (minus the odd costumes and sexual ambiguity). Gonzo had one great season, the most memorable play in Arizona sports history and was a fantastic ambassador for the city but it wasn't that difficult to say goodbye to him. When he left and pursued other playing opportunities, he was a shell of his former self who needed a cut off man between him and the cut off man.
Charles Barkley made it easy to say goodbye when he went all Charlie Sheen on Jerry Colangelo and the Suns organization. Too bad they got the NBA's equivalent of Ashton Kutcher to replace him (Mark Bryant, Loren Myers and Horatio Llamas all started games at power forward that season).
Some older fans may say a guy like Jeff Hornacek. Sorry, but when you are getting a superstar in return, saying goodbye to a decent shooting guard is easier than finding a bad joke about Donald Trump's presidential run on Twitter.
Kurt Warner was tough to say goodbye to but it would have been a lot easier if Matt Leinart had worried more about completing passes on the field than in the Scottsdale clubs. That, and in reality he had only two and a half good seasons in the Valley.
I'd argue that we've yet to encounter a situation where saying goodbye is truly difficult. It's coming though and it'll happen with the Valley's first love, the Phoenix Suns.
It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that we're just a few seasons away from having to bid farewell to a hall of fame talent that has been a major part of the organization for years. A man who has been a part of some of the fans most favorite memories.
It's not Steve Nash. It's Al McCoy.
When McCoy decides to hang it up he'll leave a major void in the ears and hearts of local sports fans. He's provided the soundtrack for every great moment in franchise history and has earned himself a spot in the hall of fame.
In my book McCoy is the Phoenix Suns the way Oprah is the cultural barometer for stay at home moms across America.
McCoy's calls have brought as many fans to their feet, screaming with pure excitement as Winfery's show ever has (although he's never given away cars despite having done a few commercials for dealerships).
For that reason when we finally have to say goodbye to the only voice of the Suns most of us have ever known, it will be just as big of a deal as the queen of daytime television hanging it up. And Al won't even need to postpone an NBA playoff game to do it.