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Greetings from The Booth!
Great to be back in the Booth this week after my annual “Winter Break.” With the Super Bowl now history, and a bit of a lull in the sports world, I thought I would celebrate the anniversary of one of the greatest sports upsets in history. It was this week in 1980 that the USA Olympic Hockey Team shocked the mighty Soviet Big Red Machine in the Lake Placid Games. It was one of those events that you remember to this day what you were doing and where you were when you watched the delayed ABC broadcast that night. The USA team was made up of college kids and was given no chance to beat the de facto professional juggernaut Red Army team from the USSR. It was a game for the ages, capped off by Al Michael’s famous line “Do you believe in miracles…Yes!!!” as the final seconds ticked down.
Yesterday, I went back and listened to the Kurt Russell speech from the movie “Miracle,” in which he portrayed USA coach Herb Brooks. We all know that movies take a bit of license in re-creating historical events, but this speech is one of the greatest in sports movie history. It would be certainly number one on my list. With that said, here are my top 3 sports movie speeches of all time:
1. Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks in “Miracle”: Did Brooks really give this speech word for word? Probably not, but when Kurt Russell (as Brooks) delivers this pre-game talk to the USA hockey team on the big screen, I immediately want to skate through a brick wall–and I don’t even know how to skate. “This is our time” still gives me goosebumps!
2. James Earl Jones in “Field Of Dreams”: This would actually be 1A on my list, if not alone at the top. Those of us that love baseball have no doubt tried to put that love into words, and no one does it better than James Earl Jones. “The one constant through all the years, Ray…is baseball” is part of one of the most beautiful soliloquies ever delivered on the big screen.
3. Al Pacino as Tony D’Amato in “Any Given Sunday”: Oliver Stone’s effort to expose professional football on the big screen may have been panned by some critics and athletes, but D’Amato’s “inches” pre-game speech to the fictional Miami Sharks is, to me, the highlight of the movie. Makes me want to put on pads and go hit someone.
(Honorable Mention) Gene Hackett in “Hoosiers’: I had to include basketball, and is there a better underdog story than “Hoosiers?” Hackett’s pre-game talk to his high school team is not fiery, but in his understated way, he makes his team believe they can overcome all odds and shock the Indiana basketball world. Get a box of Kleenex for a true-life story that is worth revisiting this time of year.
There ya’ go. I’m sure you have your favorites, so let me know about them. Now…Go out and win!!!