Spurs at Lakers
NBC 9:30 PM No sooner does Charles Schulz announce his
retirement ("Auugghh!") than the NBA stages A Chucky Brown
Christmas. Will San Antonio's starting small forward discover
that the true meaning of the holiday resides not in which one of
these Western Conference powers is victorious but rather in
goodwill toward men?
SportsCentury Athlete of the Century
ABC 5 PM And the winner is...Justin Gimelstob!!! Uh, no. At
press time ESPN was keeping secret the order of the final
four--Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth--of
its 50 Athletes of the Century. Today's honoree deserves to be
named Athlete of All Time, unless someone has a 20-mile time for
ancient Greek marathoner Pheidippides that can persuade us
otherwise. All 50 profiles from this memorable series will be
replayed on ESPN2 starting on Thursday (7:30 p.m.) and
continuing on New Year's Eve (1 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m to
Williams World Challenge
NBC 4 PM Feeling hip and popular: Davis Love III, 35, who joins
in-crowd swingers Sergio Garcia, 19, Justin Leonard, 27, and
Tiger Woods, 24, today in the third round of this new 12-man
event (the fourth and final round takes place on Sunday on NBC
at 2 p.m.) that spans two centuries from the Grayhawk Golf Club
in Scottsdale, Ariz. Feeling left out: Scottsdale resident Phil
Mickelson, 29, who now has time to attend that New Year's Eve
Judds reunion concert at America West Arena.
Bud Greenspan's Kings of the Ring
SHOWTIME 10:05 pm "There are rare moments," says New Yorker
editor and Muhammad Ali biographer David Remnick in this
captivating 96-minute film, "when sports and politics
intersect." Noted Olympics chronicler Greenspan scores a
knockout by exploring such intersections in the careers of four
heavyweight champions--Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and
Ali. When Johnson, avatar of African-American dominance in
sports, died in an auto accident in 1946, one journalist said
that he "died crossing the white line for the last time."
Decades later Louis would be buried in Arlington National
Cemetery as a hero, and still later Ali would light the torch at
the Atlanta Olympics.
Florida State vs. Virginia Tech ABC 8 PM In the year 2000....
Conan: "Dick Van Dyke will turn abruptly toward the camera and
say, 'I'm a doctor, by gum, why do I keep diagnosing murder?
Especially for that last young man, whose only symptoms were
itching and burning.'" In the year 2000.... Andy: "The Hokies,
armed with a freshman quarterback and a linebacker named
Engelberger--each a second-team All-America--will contend for
the national title." In tonight's Sugar Bowl (page 50), the
Seminoles, with offensive missile Peter Warrick, take their
third shot at the national title in four seasons, while upstart
Virginia Tech will try to ride Michael Vick, tailback Shyrone
Stith (above) and an underdog's inspiration.
COLOR PHOTO: AP PHOTO/SCOTT K. BROWN
Enduring TV images of the 1990s. Best shots under pressure:
Michael Jordan (take your pick), Justin Leonard ('99 Ryder Cup),
Christian Laettner ('90 NCAA East final), Brandi Chastain ('99
Women's World Cup), Mark McGwire (homer number 62 in '98), John
Paxson and Steve Kerr ('93 and '97 NBA Finals, respectively),
David Gordon (Boston College placekicker who beat Notre Dame in
'95) and baseball postseason powerhouse Jim Leyritz. Worst shots
under pressure: Scott Norwood (Super Bowl XXV) and Jean Van de
Velde ('99 British Open). Best entries for a time capsule: '97
Bulls versus Jazz, Game 5 (Jordan flu game) and Tiger Woods's
'97 Masters win.
ALL TIMES EASTERN. SCHEDULES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.