Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
An article in which Steffi and a South Florida journalist commiserate on the then-sad plight of the Miami Heat basketball team. Steffi as a loyal-yet-forlorn fan....
My Hoop Dream: Steffi Vs. Martina
March 7, 1995 | Sun Sentinel
DELRAY BEACH — I see Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova in a little one-on-one hoops. I see Steffi whipping the old lady with her outside shooting. I see Martina muscling down deep for some easy baskets.
"Hmmm," Graf mused Monday. "Yes, it would be interesting. But I think she'd probably beat me up."
I don't know. The way Graf said "interesting," with a kind of faraway look in her eyes, I got the feeling the seed has been planted.
These are the two preeminent athletes in women's tennis today and it's no coincidence that two women with such adroit athletic skills in tennis would be so intensely interested in basketball.
The game has become, after tennis and soccer, the most international of sports.
Anyone who knows anything about Navratilova knows she was turned on to the game by former women's player Nancy Lieberman. She then used basketball as a cross-training exercise for tennis.
Graf's background in hoops is less well known, but she is no novice at the game, even if she hasn't shot it around in three or four years.
She learned to play growing up in Germany and when she was invited to Germany's Olympic training center to work on her tennis, she met and received some personal tutoring from the national team basketball coach.
Crazy about the Heat
How good is she? I don't know. I've never seen her handle the ball. But I've seen her play tennis enough to know that if she got serious about women's basketball, she'd be good. Damn good. Good enough to send Martina back to the Lieberman Clinic for some remedial work.
When Graf settled in Boca Raton nine years ago, her interest in basketball was heightened by the number of NBA games she could get on her TV set. And when the Heat started up, it took her, as she put it, "to a new dimension."
When she's not on the road, she shows up for Heat games more often than John Salley. And, yes, she goes as crazy as the fans in the cheap seats.
Only, she pointed out, there is a lot less to go crazy about these days at the Miami Arena.
Still, she said proudly, "I'm not giving up. I'm still going, no matter what."
Last week, she was at home in Boca with her parents, who are visiting from Germany. "We're watching the Denver game and the Heat comes from behind and I'm screaming in my seat," Graf says. "Then my mother gets into it. And the Heat loses."
Graf sags. She's living and dying with these guys.
Let 'em play at halftime
She is, to most tennis fans, generally unemotional. She goes about her business on court with clinical precision. When things don't go well, she doesn't throw rackets or kick the umpire's chair.
But at Heat games, she turns into Ms. Hyde. "That's one of the great things about America," she said.
You go to a game and the people sitting around you become your friends for a night. "They start yelling. `What's he doing?' Or, `Why did he take that shot?' And then I get into it. People are friendlier in the U.S."
You got to love the Heat a lot to drive down from Boca, about 55 miles away. But Steffi has given a lot of herself to these stiffs.
It's about time they gave something back. They don't have to put together a 10-game win streak. I'd settle for a Graf-Navratilova night.
Martina will be down here next month for the Fed Cup matches at Turnberry Isle.
How about the people running the Heat promotion department get on the honker and give her and Graf a call and set it up at halftime. First one to 15 by ones.
It will be better entertainment than the other show going on in there.