What’s Your Legacy? – David Stern, Joe Frazier, Joe Paterno

Posted: November 16, 2011 in Collaborative Posts

Where do these men fall along the Legacy Spectrum:

Swept under the Rug, Still Up in the Air, or Untouched?

I asked the three men to weigh in on David Stern, Joe Paterno and Joe Frazier. Here’s what they came up with.

Swept under the rug: Joe Frazier

I thought this was the easiest to characterize if we go from the perspective of the general public and legitimate sports fan because his lack of legacy is tied to the decline in boxing status as a meaningful sport.  E-i-C and I were joking about our dying sports but I realized that I hardly ever discuss boxing and Frazier is never brought up when discussing older boxing events aside from casual references to Manila.  How many people know the Thriller in Manila featured Frazier?  Not many today I would imagine.  His legacy, along with many other boxers, is lost with the sport.  The ship is sinking and people will only understand people other than Ali when they die.  Sad.

Still up in the air: David Stern

This is his second work stoppage and that means something.  The sport has gone through highs and lows with the on the court game (more favorable to point guards and anyone that can flop) than in the 80s and 90s, dynasties, apparent faux parity, and the threat of falling behind the American sports consciousness.  He represents all that is great and wrong about commissioners.  Also the threat of contraction looms large and that changes the game for Stern and the future.  His managing of the racial bounds of his sport and society (dress code) is really questionable but impressive given the time.

Untouched Legend: JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOE Pa

Investigation pending, if this is his only (broadly defined) blemish besides being an old man then his place is safe.  The Grand Experiment is the key in all this since the NCAA is holier than thou and Paterno’s focus on graduating kids, limiting access to seedy scouts, and also winning games cements his legacy.  His age and longevity helps soften the sting of this scandal but his record stands above all.

ALL II

Swept under the Rug: Joe Frazier

Conceivably, my argument for placing Joe Frazier in this category could end by just asking this one question: Prior to when Frazier was recently admitted under hospice care, when was the last time that you thought about Frazier?…Tick. Tick. Tick…The only time that comes to mind was when I watched the documentary Assault in the Ring on YouTube a few years ago and was somehow directed towards a documentary on the Ali and Frazier  “Thrilla in Manila” fight. Frazier was not neither charismatic nor compelling and as result, was not a mainstay in the minds of many boxing fans.

Still up in the air: David Stern

Since Stern became the Commissioner of the NBA in 1984, he has overseen a tremendous growth in the popularity of the NBA. Nevertheless, The NBA is in the midst of a second work stoppage and according to most reports, this work stoppage will more than likely last throughout the season. A missed full season will damage his legacy and could overshadow most of Stern’s good deeds as the NBA Commissioner.

Untouched Legend: Joe “Serial Rapist Enabler” Paterno

For most, Paterno’s reputation will remain largely in tact despite the gross negligence and lack of concern exhibited by Paterno when Mike McQueary informed him of Jerry Sandusky’s sick behavior. Paterno has amassed many victories and largely has been viewed as a beacon of scruples and as a result, his recent morally reprehensible behavior will not overshadow all his accomplishments. Paterno is the Godfather of college athletics and much like Marlon Brando, he will remain the most revered and respected figure in his respective domain.

Cheeks

Swept under the rug: Joe Paterno

This is not an issue of wins, libraries or donation. This is a moral issue. He protected, aided and abet a child rapist on his staff and allowed the man to roam the Penn State campus (allegedly). For such a heroic God-like figure, Joe-Pa was quite timid when it came to stepping up to the plate to defend this victims of former Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s alleged misconduct. No deity would allow this to happen. Furthermore, this may be the death sentence to the Penn State program for years to come. Worst of all, we don’t know how far this conspiracy reached. It can only get worse. Almost every one outside of Happy Valley are disgusted with Paterno.

NEWS: http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/38864/big-ten-takes-paternos-name-off-trophy

Up in the Air: Joe Frazier

Much like in life, Frazier’s death was overshadowed by the Penn State tragedy and even a brief revival of boxing as a major sporting a event. However, Frazier’s death does allow us a chance to hear his side of the story. Your casual boxing and sports fan will always think of Ali (much like Paterno) as an immortal infallible figure, but the more the public becomes aware of Frazier’s narrative, the more the we’ll be able to appreciate Smoking Joe. But to be fair, the chances of revisionist history of the one true beloved figure in sports is slim to none. However, with the acclaimed HBO documentary Thrilla in Manila and the Mark Kram book Ghosts of Manila, there’s a chance for Frazier’s legacy to grow.

Untouched: David Stern

At a time when Stern’s legacy could have and should have taken a hit during this current lockout. But it hasn’t. Somehow the players seem like the childish one’s who refuse to accept that they need to give in (not to mention, why aren’t any of these players wearing suits to these meetings and press conferences, someone should impose some sort of dress code to get these guys looking like professionals). Compared to Gary Bettman, Bud Selig, Roger Goddell and even Paul Tagliabue, Stern seems like the best example of a commissioner. Not to mention by injecting race into the discussion in a startling attack on Stern, Bryant Gumbel seemed to do the impossible, by making Stern a sympathic figure. Stern’s not going to step down anytime soon and with the 80s, 90s and the NBA’s revival in the post-Decision era, Stern will hold onto his reputation as professional sports’ best commissioner.

Bunk

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