15 Times Real Life Overtook Sporting Events

There have been many times when the games we love were overshadowed by an event that was tragic and unexpected. Probably more than you would think. I have come up with a list of 15, and surprisingly left out a number of others. Preseason football games were wiped out for one reason or another. Regular season NFL schedules have been adjusted due to conflicts with playoff baseball games. We’ll declare them part of my “Honorable Mention” list.

I am excluding strikes and lockouts. Since I was not born until 1977, I am not including WWII or JFK’s assassination. The NFL played that Sunday (immediately following JFK’s death), but games were not televised due to assassination coverage. Some college games were postponed a day earlier. As I stated, not everything made the list. You might recall another game. This article is already very long. As the kids say, don’t at me. My decision was to only list events from the past 35 years, and I decided to list them in chronological order.

Here they are:

1. Giants-Athletics World Series (Earthquake,10/89)

Allow me to set the scene. It was a Tuesday night. I went to return my Hulk Hogan VHS tape at Video Visions. The World Series had shifted sites for game 3, and San Francisco was minutes away from hosting Oakland. At least that’s what was scheduled to happen. You could imagine my surprise when I found Roseanne on ABC after returning home. This made no sense. What happened to the World Series? Soon I discovered that an earthquake had caused a delay. Well, surely they would start momentarily. Everything seemed fine. People quickly realized that there was extensive damage, and the game was postponed. San Francisco would finally host the game more than one week later. A 49ers game was moved to Stanford Stadium. Since I mentioned Hulk Hogan, a WWF show scheduled for October 20 was also postponed. It took place on October 25. The Canadian Earthquake debuted on television a short time later, but his attack on the Ultimate Warrior actually happened on October 2.

2. NBA Playoffs (L.A. Riots, 4/92)

The suddenly underdog Lakers were playing their first season in more than a decade without Magic Johnson. I liked several players on the team, and told my neighbor we had to somehow get them into the postseason instead of those boring Rockets. An improbable late-season run culminated with an overtime victory in game 82. I found out about their win from Steve Somers after midnight. WFAN didn’t have an update anchor overnight back then. Flashes were recorded, and the host came on when they ended to report late scores. The Lakers then won a thrilling third game against Portland to stay alive. A fantastic watch on youtube. Ernie Johnson had studio duties, but Fred Hickman was preparing to go on as host of Inside The NBA. Announcer Pete Van Wieren, who called the action with analyst Hubie Brown, said that the Lakers would be back in their home building for a fourth game in that series.

It didn’t happen. Riots had already started outside, and game 4 ended up getting moved to Las Vegas. Although game 4 was already scheduled to be in May and finally took place on May 3, the rioting began on April 29. It was already happening during game 3. Fires were set after officers accused of police brutality were acquitted. Similarly, a Clippers contest scheduled for the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was also postponed. Game 4 of their series was played in Anaheim.

3. NBA Finals (Pursuing O.J. Simpson, 6/94)

This is the only example on my list where a sporting event took place as planned. However, NBC either split the screen or completely removed it. I could go off in a million different directions about how ridiculous it was for this to be covered instead of a Knicks-Rockets NBA Finals game. Today, the contest would be moved to an alternate channel. In fact, it could easily be shown on ESPN because ABC has replaced NBC. Even if basketball was still on NBC, one of their cable channels could show the game. Years later, WNBA fans had to suffer. NBC aired coverage of the John F. Kennedy Jr. plane crash. This injustice for basketball fans didn’t get quite as much attention. Anyway, basketball fanatics in New York listened to Rockets-Knicks on WFAN. Houston won in 7, but the Knicks prevailed on this night to take a 3-2 series lead.

4. NHL Playoffs (Columbine, 4/99)

An unspeakable tragedy occurred in Colorado 21 years ago. It took the lives of 15 people and injured more than 20 others. Sadly, school shootings have become almost commonplace in subsequent years. This was at a time when communication was just starting to take off on computers. Teenagers were away at college and messaging people. It really scared a generation of kids, and also scarred them. Although the Rockies and Nuggets had their original schedules adjusted, the major change in sports was with Colorado’s NHL team. The Avalanche were preparing to open up at home against the Sharks. That first round pairing was delayed, and it opened in San Jose. The Avalanche won twice in California to start it off. This series had been changed to a 2-3-1-1 series instead of the typical 2-2-1-1-1 format. Colorado came home and lost a pair before winning the final two games and advancing. Round two was the same story. Six games were played between Detroit and the Avalanche. There were five road wins. Once again, only game 5 was won by the home team. Colorado eventually fell to Dallas in 7.

5. Various (September 11, 9/01)

We all know what happened in 2001. I certainly don’t need to tell people in New York about the terrorist attacks. As it relates to sports, football games were postponed for one week. Similar story with baseball. Week 18 was added to the NFL season for Week 2 games. 2002 had our first February Super Bowl. Shea Stadium was used as a staging area for volunteers and supplies. Personally, I had just started working in New Jersey. My boss called and told me to stay home. In the days and weeks that followed, I drove to and from work. That George Washington Bridge view was forever changed. As years went by, I could see the tribute beams. I had never experienced anything like this. It would be many more years until things were so strange again. Unfortunately, that time is now.

6. Dolphins-Chargers (Wildfires, 10/03)

A scheduled game between Miami and San Diego was moved to Arizona. This game was televised by ABC on a Monday night. Wildfires in California forced the move. Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego was used as an evacuation site. The Dolphins won 26-10. Neither team reached the postseason that year. Miami went 10-6. San Diego finished tied for last. The Chargers and Raiders each lost 12 of their 16 games.

7. New Orleans Saints (Hurricane Katrina, 8/05)

Although numerous hurricanes have impacted sports and most notably the NFL, few if any hurricanes that hit the United States drew national coverage like Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans played no regular season games at their usual home in 2005. It sustained significant damage, and also was used as a shelter for those who did not evacuate. The Louisiana Superdome closed for about a year. It finally reopened when the Saints hosted Atlanta in 2006. New Orleans was victorious in an emotional game that was televised nationally on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. I chose to only use one spot on my list for a hurricane. People from this area obviously remember Hurricane Sandy. It also caused extensive damage. The local sports postponement was an NBA game between the Knicks and Nets.

8. SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament (Tornado, 3/08)

The third of four scheduled games on March 14, 2008 at the Georgia Dome was in overtime when the building was struck by a tornado. Alabama and Mississippi State completed their overtime following a delay, but remaining games for this tournament were played at Georgia Tech’s home court. The Kentucky game against Georgia was postponed to March 15, and the Bulldogs prevailed. Georgia then won another Saturday game hours later before defeating Arkansas on Sunday. The Bulldogs captured their conference tournament to earn an unlikely NCAA Tournament bid in unique and bizarre fashion. Georgia was given a 14 seed. They entered SEC Tournament action with a 13-16 record before the amazing run. Xavier ended Georgia’s season when they met in their first round game on March 20.

9. Minnesota NFL (Snowstorm: Roof, 12/10)

Brett Favre’s record streak of consecutive starts ended when he was inactive for the Giants-Vikings game in 2010. Snow caused the teams to play at Detroit’s Ford Field. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome’s roof collapsed. One week later, Minnesota played an outdoor contest against Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium. Favre sustained a concussion. That was his last NFL game.

10. Vikings-Eagles (Blizzard, 12/10)

Maybe this team was cursed. After having two games moved following their stadium’s roof collapse, the Vikings headed to Philadelphia for their game against the Eagles. Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency for Philadelphia. The December 2010 North American blizzard caused a rare Tuesday NFL clash. This was the 20th Tuesday game in NFL history, but the first since 1946. When they finally played, new Vikings quarterback Joe Webb ran for a touchdown to help Minnesota upset Philadelphia.

11. Numerous (Boston Marathon Bombings, 4/13)

The Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics all had their schedules impacted by the Boston Marathon Bombings (and subsequent manhunt) in 2013. When baseball finally returned to Fenway Park, David Ortiz made a passionate speech. It was memorable, and also profane. On April 28, a Senators-Bruins game was played after all other NHL regular season contests were completed. This game needed to be played for seeding. Playoff pairings were not finalized until after Ottawa upset Boston. The Celtics only played 81 games, which might have been important if you made an NBA futures wager. Kansas City played a doubleheader at Fenway Park on April 21. That Sunday doubleheader was scheduled because of a postponement two days earlier.

12. Jets-Bills (Snow, 11/14)

Ford Field hosted an unexpected football game on a Monday, again. In the fall of 2014, an extreme weather event moved the Jets-Bills game to Detroit. This happened four years after the Giants and Vikings were moved from Minnesota to Michigan. Both nights featured a Ravens road win. Baltimore beat the Saints in New Orleans on this night. Houston fell at home against Baltimore in the scheduled 2010 ESPN game. Baltimore beat Houston 34-28 in overtime, and apparently the magic number was 34. Ironically, the Ravens defeated New Orleans by a score of 34-27. As for the Jets, they lost 38-3. Both New York teams being involved in these games that were moved to Detroit is another coincidence.

13. White Sox-Orioles (Unrest, 4/15)

In 2015, Baltimore hosted the first ever Major League Baseball game played with no fans. This was because of civil unrest in Baltimore. The White Sox were defeated by a score of 8-2.

14. Clippers-Lakers (Calabasas Helicopter Crash, 1/20)

News of Kobe Bryant’s death broke just before the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. It made for an awkward atmosphere. The next scheduled Lakers game was against the Clippers, and that game was postponed. Players didn’t feel like playing their NBA games. Kyrie Irving chose not to play for Brooklyn. Even announcer Mike Breen talked about how he didn’t feel like working.

15. Everything (COVID-19, 3/20)

The actual sports postponements in this country didn’t start until March. We can only speculate on when things will return to normal. It goes well beyond sports. Still, seeing events that had taken place annually for decades get postponed or canceled has been shocking. At this time, we can’t put final numbers on deaths or postponements. Life is changing by the day. Sports will be appreciated like never before when they finally return.

My Latest Victim: Chris Lopresti Shows Alarming Lack of Basketball Knowledge on WFAN

Monday morning marked the return of Jerry Recco to WFAN’s Boomer and Gio program. Gregg said it was good to have him back. It certainly was. Chris Lopresti had been filling in for Recco. This included taking his place on the brief show that comes on for about 15 minutes at approximately 5:45 with Al Dukes. I have often felt that there was a certain dislike or even hatred of basketball when Lopresti worked. He seemed to be dialed in when talking about hockey. Sometimes people who like the NHL are not NBA fans.

Last year, when there were two days off after Golden State and Cleveland played their series opener, Lopresti seemed angry or disgusted when talking about the series schedule. It is a television thing. Saturday is an awful night for ratings. I have looked back at NBA Finals dates for the last 30 years. There was not even one game on a Saturday. For years NBC went with a Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday schedule.

ABC then took over. They went Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday for years after that. Both Cleveland and Golden State were coming off quick victories in the previous round. Wondering why two off days were scheduled without travel was not crazy. I guess it was mostly his history of discussing basketball that made me notice and remember this.

Finally, my proof and validation came last week. The game that was taken off for O.J. and the chase came up. Lopresti was not sure if it happened during the NBA Finals. This was June 17, 1994. ESPN aired a special about this day and how various events were taking place. For years people have discussed what happened. Lopresti didn’t know if it took place during the Conference Finals. Why would they only be in round three during the second half of June?

In fact, he mentioned the Western Conference Finals. I’m pretty sure New York is not located in the western part of our country. Yes, it was Rockets-Knicks. New Yorkers who are not even Knicks fans should have some basic knowledge of this. Especially if you are working at WFAN.

This is one of the most shocking and disappointing things I have ever heard on the radio. More importantly, I have been vindicated!

O.J. Simpson Is Living His Best Life

O.J. Simpson is out here y’all, and enjoying life since being released from prison on October 1st. The 70-year-old is reportedly shopping around to give his first exclusive interview for a wad of cash, but hasn’t found a bid to his liking yet. The Juice has gotten around though, playing golf and taking pictures with fans.

There’s even a report that surfaced today from a jailhouse snitch saying that O.J. had a scheme to murder the Goldman’s to avoid the $33.5 million he owes them, according to RadarOnline.

A photo of Juice posing with two Instagram models has gone viral since it was posted by them on Tuesday to social media when they ran into the former Heisman Trophy winner at a Las Vegas mansion where the girls in bikinis were shooting a commercial when O.J. asked for a photo. Simpson was sporting some white kicks, a polo and khaki shorts like he was straight off the golf course.

 

Ever since TMZ caught up with O.J. 5 hours out of his release he hasn’t been recorded speaking to the public. Check out some O.J. sightings that have been documented on social media over October since he’s been a free man. Someone needs to get this man’s thoughts on Jay Z’s “The Story of O.J.”

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The Juice Is Loose: O.J. Speaks For The First Time As A Free Man, But What’s Next?

Orenthal James Simpson is officially a free man after being let out of the Lovelock Correctional Facility during the early hours of Sunday morning. Reportedly, the Juice is en route to Naples, Florida even though Attorney General Pam Biondi wrote a letter against Simpson’s return to the sunshine state saying, “The specter of his residing in comfort in Florida should not be an option. Our state should not become a country club for this convicted criminal.”

TMZ even caught up with Simpson in the back seat of a truck, as he spoke for the first time as a free man at a random gas station. When asked how it felt to be out of the pen the former USC star responded, “Man, how in the world? Y’all been stalking me? Jesus, man. I’m in a car for the last five hours, so how do I know how it feels to be out?”

According to the New York Daily News, Simpson gobbled down two number fours from McDonalds in his first meal that hasn’t been prison food in the last decade. The 70-year-old’s lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, relayed to the outlet, “He said, It’s better than prison food, but it’s not what it’s all cracked out to be. He was happy to be eating something on the outside.”

Even though it’s been more than 20 years since he beat the trial of the century, I’m still enamored with the O.J.’s next move. In hopes Simpson once again becomes a public figure, I laid out some potential options in July when he won his parole hearing. His name is still making headlines, heck the last year’s 30 for 30 O.J: Made In America took home an Oscar.

1. Podcast/Blog –

Simpson admitted to taking a computer class in jail to get better with the technological times. The former Buffalo Bill loves to talk and with the crazy experiences he’s been through people will definitely want to listen. He could do this from the comfort of his home. We need you on Twitter, Juice!

2. NFL Analyst on FS1 – Mr. Simpson has experience with broadcasting appearing on Monday Night Football as a color analyst from 1983-85. Could Fox Sports do the unthinkable for a ratings boost? Pair him with Skip Bayless for the culture.

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3. Paid Appearances –  The best way to make money, I would love to show up to places I’d go to anyway and get paid to do it. Now I’m not saying you’re going to see the 70-year-old turning up at Drai’s in Las Vegas, but maybe going to celebrity golf tournaments to play. I could also see him going the motivational speaker route talking to kids at schools or troubled youth in prisons and rehabilitation centers.

I know a lot of these are far-fetched as I see social media exploding with hilarious potential opportunities for O.J. like collaborating with JAY Z on “The Story Of O.J.” remix. Maybe prison has humbled and he really just wants to be enjoy the rest of his life with his family and playing golf with friends while riding into the sunset. Whatever he plans on doing, I hope he finds happiness after all the craziness his life has endured. It’s tough to separate this current case from the famous trial in the 90’s that resulted in the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, but he paid his dues for the Vegas robbery’s hefty sentence.

The Juice Is Loose. #OctobersVeryOwn #TheStoryOfOJ

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