June 22 - June 28, 1995

Assessing The Damage Following The Great Salvation Army Disaster of '95.

B y  T o m  D a n e h y



• The Salvation Army continues to suffer from the fallout of the Dallas Cowboys-San Francisco 49ers charity fiasco. As was reported in the dailies (in details too lengthy and convoluted to go into here), what was supposed to be an all-star gathering of famous pro football players in a gala banquet and basketball game turned into a public-relations nightmare when none of the Cowboys showed up for the banquet, prompting cries of outrage from many and incredibly tacky behavior from a few.

Everyone involved in this comes out looking nasty. It's safe to assume that the Salvation Army is blameless of everything except perhaps naiveté concerning the potential for crappy behavior among today's professional athletes.

I've known Dave Sitton, whose Enterprise Group helped put on the game, for 15 years, and he is a man of impeccable character. I have no doubt that Dave and the Salvation Army people did everything possible to make the game and banquet a success. Likewise the people from Wendy's, which sponsored the event.

That means the blame must fall on the shoulders of the NFL Alumni Charities of Arizona, the athletes themselves and the hangers-on who have the nerve to speak for them. Apparently, some Dallas-based sleazoid named Anthony Montoya misrepresented himself as being able to deliver some of the Cowboys to the banquet, and when that didn't happen, everybody just started pointing fingers.

And just to show you that there's no limit to human excess, some people are suing the Salvation Army, not only for a reimbursement for the banquet (at which the people consumed the meal) but for such things as the cost of a gown a woman bought to wear that night.

I'm sorry, but that's so damn tacky, even I'm almost at a loss for words. If I were the Salvation Army, I'd pay that woman the cost of the gown, less the dry-cleaning bill necessary to remove the funk from that night's use. Then I'd insist she surrender the gown, after which I'd auction it off to an artist, who could use it in a monument to cheapness.

Gee whiz, lady, have you ever looked up the definition of charity?

• Mike Bibby was in town the other night. The Phoenix Shadow Mountain High School senior-to-be, widely considered to be the best Arizona prep basketball player since Sean Elliott, was at the Salpointe Catholic High School summer league with some friends.

A few months down the road, Bibby will be back in that gym when Shadow Mountain travels to Tucson to meet the Lancers of Salpointe in what should be a matchup of two of the best prep basketball teams in the state.

Bibby has already verbally committed to the UA, despite some serious recruiting from his dad's alma mater, UCLA, and his dad's current employer, USC. It should be one of the biggest non-conference basketball games in Tucson in years.

• The Houston Rockets' second consecutive NBA championship was surprising, considering they entered the playoffs as only a sixth seed. It was the second consecutive year I predicted that whichever team won the Phoenix Suns' second-round playoff series would go on to win the NBA title.

It makes me wonder whether the Suns will ever win a title. They've been in a great position to do so each of the past three years. Two years ago, they won two of three games in Chicago in the NBA Finals, but couldn't win even one game in Phoenix. Last year, the Suns won the first two games of the Rocket series in Houston, then lost the next two in Phoenix.

Then this year, they blew a 3-1 series lead and lost two of the last three games at home. Sure, the loss of Danny Manning hurt the Suns, but they had enough to win it all this year, and they failed to do so. The window of opportunity is slamming shut in a hurry.

One good thing: At least the repugnant Orlando Magic didn't win the title. That would have been hard to take, all that talkin' and struttin'.

• I'm not with them.

At a press conference at the hospital where Mickey Mantle received his liver transplant, one of the doctors was asked by a reporter if the liver donor was still alive.

The doctor responded, "You're a sportswriter, aren't you?"

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June 22 - June 28, 1995

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