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These gestures were genuine

A lot of times sports are about a number, or a collection of them. Other times sports are about a gesture, as affirmed Saturday at the West Coast Conference Hall of Honor breakfast at The Orleans.

The number in regard to Loyola Marymount’s Bo Kimble was 35.3 — his scoring average that led the NCAA. The gesture was shooting his first free throw during the Lions’ memorable 1990 NCAA Tournament run with his left hand to honor fallen teammate Hank Gathers, who had collapsed on the court and died of heart failure during a WCC tournament quarterfinal.

The number in regard to Santa Clara’s Brandi Chastain was 192 — career soccer matches she played for the USA National Team. The gesture was whipping off her jersey down to her sports bra to celebrate scoring the winning goal in the 1999 World Cup and the opportunity to compete as a female athlete in front of 95,000 spectators.

The number in regard to San Francisco’s Bob St. Clair was nine — times he made the Pro Bowl as an offensive tackle for his hometown 49ers. The other numbers were 9-0-0 — the Dons’ record in 1951 when they still played football.

The gesture was rejecting a bid to play in the Orange Bowl when it insisted San Francisco leave its African-American players at home.

“We told them to go to hell,” said St. Clair, one of eight former standouts honored by the WCC in conjunction with its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments being held in Las Vegas.

The American poet Henry David Thoreau said a gesture can tell you more about a person than words can. The same holds for a gesture speaking louder than numbers.

But even a wizened philosopher living the simple life on Walden Pond would acknowledge that Loyola Marymount’s 149-115 victory over Michigan in 1990, the highest-scoring game in NCAA Tournament history, is still mighty impressive.

Kimble scored 37 that day and wasn’t his team’s high man. That was Jeff Fryer with 41.


■ GOD REST YE MERRY FOOTBALL FANS: The Maaco Bowl Las Vegas is moving from Tuesday to Wednesday, Dec. 22. But it’s still before Christmas, so fans and local retailers will remain happy. If Brigham Young is invited for the sixth consecutive year, hot chocolate vendors also will remain happy. Beer vendors are rooting for Wyoming to continue its turnaround.

■ THIS MUD’S FOR YOU: Those suffering from Olympic biathlon withdrawal might want to check out today’s “Muddy Buddy” at Lake Las Vegas in which two-person teams traverse a 7-mile obstacle course. One runs, one bikes. They switch. There is leapfrogging. Then at the end, racers crawl through a mud pit. And here I thought “Muddy Buddy” had something to do with ice cream.

■ THIS BUD’S FOR ME: Last week’s NASCAR race precluded mentioning that my favorite high school basketball player has called it a career. Budweiser Hawkins III scored 36 points in his final game for Trinity Christian School, a 103-66 loss to Lake Mead Academy in the Class 1A Southern League semifinals. A kid from Lake Mead scored 54 points. It would have been cool if his name was Sam Adams, but it was Littlefield.


■ CARROLL IS A GUY?: When Carroll Shelby, the auto racing pioneer, and Kim Kardashian, one of the Kardashians, were summoned to give the command to start engines at the Feb. 28 Shelby American NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, they were sporting similar expressions that said, “Who is this person standing next to me?” In terms of awkwardness, it recalled Rocky Balboa’s first date with Adrian, when they went ice skating.

■ NASCAR AT A STANDSTILL: “We’re sitting dead-butt still in traffic.” That’s how former racer Kyle Petty begins his weekly video on NASCAR.com. He was driving a rental car back to the Strip from LVMS — not after the Feb. 28 race, but after qualifying Feb. 26. The clock in the car said 7:20 p.m. By the time he rolled past the Stratosphere, it was 11:15. That left a lot of time for cracking dead-butt wise on people who attach No. 24 Jeff Gordon mudflaps to their SUVs.

■ NASCAR WITH A COLLAR: Might as well make it a NASCAR hat trick. One can always count on the brutally honest Juan Pablo Montoya for a swing and a miss. “Stop at Target on the way out to buy a polo shirt so I can have dinner at the Wynn,” JPM wrote on Twitter after the race. One can assume the dress code at Okada is more casual than one might have originally assumed.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352.

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