She Has IT!

January17/ 2000

… I am a Chauvinist.  Is that still a word or did it go the way of “rotary dial” and “corfam”?  When I see a female athlete the first thing I notice is “how pretty is she?”.  Maybe decades from now no one will “see” skin color in the NBA or physical attractiveness of athletes but it’s 2006 and I notice.  So shoot me. … saying that … Ivory Latta transcends that concept to be THE most compelling individual in women’s basketball since Pat Summitt first shattered a backboard by just staring at it. … If that doesn’t interest you, we’ll talk about Ol’ Roy and the “but I wish …” factor.

    I told you a few weeks ago that “The Tar Heel Tadpole” was SPECIAL.  She is getting specialer and specialer.  BobLee is declaring her a socio-sports phenomenon.  I’m talking Mary Lou Retton nailing the 10 on her vault at the Peter Ueberroth Olympics.

    I never rail against Title lX like many do.  A How Come: Why do “Titles” and Super Bowls use roman numerals?  In a neo Cro-Magnon sort of way it presents interesting challenges to the rocket surgeons and brain scientists that run college sports.  They “deal with it” like lazy public school administrators counter public opposition to endless school bond referendums … threathen to kneecap kindly Miss Crabtree in front of her 3rd grade class. … Rescind Title lX or “twelve male wrestlers will be put to the sword”.

The cornucopia of girls’ sports programs are cool.  Why not?  Girls are people too.  Just because idgits on message boards don’t flop around like epileptic flounders when a field hockey team loses, doesn’t mean girls’ field hockey doesn’t deserve to exist.  Hell, it validates it.

For as much as I criticize UNC, I think it’s terrific that UNC sponsors so many intercollegiate sports programs.  That UNC now has individual “assistant” football coaches’ salaries exceeding the combined operating budgets of most of these programs is “interesting”.  Yes, I do understand the concept of “revenue producing”.

That girls have opportunities to compete in organized athletic programs is one thing.  That I should be chastized for not caring to spectate is another.  When it becomes compelling with an Ivory Latta I will.

Which would “you do” – drive 20 miles and pay $10 to see a Nationwide Tour men’s golf event or to see Michelle Wie?  Celebrity fascination says “Wie wins” hands down over Joe Pro from Kokomo..

I’ve followed college level women’s basketball casually since the old AIAW days and Nancy Lieberman and Carol Blazejowski … Yikes, that name will win you a few bar bets.  There have been a number of fine “women basketball players” … Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Sue Bird, etc etc etc.  I doubt Ivory Latta is as “good a player” as any of them.  I would not “pay” to see any of them play basketball.  I would pay to see Ivory Latta Be Ivory Latta.

Remember I’ve already acknowledged I’m a terminal chauvinist … the term “women’s basketball player” resonates like “male kindergarten teacher”.  Sure men CAN do it but nowhere near as good as women can.  Women can play basketball … but not as well as men … at the higher levels of high school or college competition.  Ivory Latta would not average 18 ppg against the UNC JV team … but I would still pay to see her play against them because Ivory Latta has IT.

The IT Factor.   … I have a good friend who took his son to an audition to be in a commercial last Fall.  The young boy is NOT the next Tom Cruise.  In fact his dad says “he looks like Alfred E. Neuman”.  When the casting director saw him he said “Oh Yes … he’s the one!”  He has IT.  He’s testing for two movies and a TV series.

Some very fortunate politicians have IT.  IT got Bill Clinton thru land mines and death traps that would have destroyed most any other politician.  Stacy Keibler has IT but her IT is the much more conventional “Hubba Hubba It” than Ivory’s IT.

I mentioned women athletes and their physical attractiveness.  Rail all you want to all you Betty Friedan disciples … we men will still notice.  Having said that, Ivory Latta is certainly not a Anna Kournakova or FloJo or Chrissie Evert or even Serena Williams in her cat suit, but the camera is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. She transcends traditional gender classifications.  Do elves come in boy elves and girl elves?  Are there boy and girl leprechauns.  An Ewok in Nikes?

In the mid 80s I had a co-worker who was a closet pedophile.  He went bonkers over Mary Lou Retton in her Olympic glory.  I don’t know if he would entertain such thoughts about Ivory.  The mind of a pedophile is not a place I much care to visit.  I have no doubt that the creep would gargle razor blades for a cup of Michelle Wie’s bathwater. 

Yes, Ivory Latta is an exceptional women’s basketball player leading a very good UNC Women’s Basketball team.  I don’t know if Ivory can “play at the next level” but the WNBA’s current fan base consists of players parents and more dykes than the Zider Zee.  That league should pay Ivory just to run out at every game and “just run around” in that delightful “one mph short of out-of-control” manner she has. 

I am at a loss for more words to describe Ivory, this sports personality phenom.  Run don’t walk to see Ivory Latta either in person or on TV.  Even her name has IT … like “Tiger Woods”.  If her name was Latisha McIlvanney it would not be the same.  “IVORY LATTA” is like “MIA HAMM” … IT is a “marquee name”.


    In a follow-up to The Joy of Roy … remember my blockbuster column last year about “the problem with Skip Prosser” is that there is nothing to HATE about him … and so much of ACC fandom is based on pure unadulterated hatred for rival players, coaches and fans.  There REALLY isn’t anything to hate about Skip this season unless one is a Deacon with dilusions of grandeur based on “if Jesse Haddock’s golf teams could do it in the 70s why can’t we win it all in basketball too”.

Deranged Wuffs and Devils are working overtime to conjur up something nefarious about The Blue Messiah.  He will at some point say, or sorta kinda say, something that rival fans will turn upside down and replay while listening to the Beatles’ Abbey Road album that PROVES Roy was an accomplice in kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.  I have incredible confidence in the conjuring power of The ACC Lunatic Fringe .  

For now, there is NO “but I wish …” factor with Roy.  The phrase “hold your nose and vote for”  was used by loyal Democrats in electing Bill Clinton despite his rap sheet.  Every Duke fan I know winches when K’s profanity propensity is mentioned.  They say “but I wish he would clean up his language”.  He won’t do it, so all are resigned to it.  Closer to home, I have many Conservative Carolina Fat Cat pals that winched every time YOL did his “Coach Super Liberal” stuff … they loved YOL but “wished he wouldn’t” strut his politics so overtly. … with Ol’ Roy there is no “but I wish …” YET.

In the petri dish of Triangle-area sports, the public dissection of any area sports celebrity is 24/7.  The bigger they get the deeper and more intense the investigation to find the personality vulnerability.  If the subject doesn’t cooperate, hell, they’ll just make up something … 

   My favorite in the Urban Legends & Slander pile of crap was always “Mickie Krzyzewski is running a brothel out of the golf pro shop at Hope Valley Country Club”.  THAT was creative.


 … RIP to “Chester” … Dennis Weaver has joined Kitty and Doc in the celestial Dodge City.  Barney, Kolchak, and Chester … The Grim Reaper collects another trio of fine actors from the baby boomer archives.  Something to discuss with my pal Paul Savage next month in Palm Springs.  Paul was head writer for Gunsmoke for many years with tons of stories.


 Swagger’s Stumper

What was “Chester’s” last name?


 Dennis Weaver starred in Stephen Speilberg’s first film.

 If You can name it you earn the coveted “I’M IMPRESSED” from BLS


    Mizzus Erskine Bowles, the former Crandall Springs, is CEO of Springs Industries.

   It’s UNC v Duke in March so that must mean it’s Swagger & Schwarzeneggar in Columbus.  BobLee will be VIPing w/ The Guv/Terminator/Conan this weekend at Arnold’s global summitt on physical culture.  Always some surprises in store.  Knowing Jim Lorimer, he might even fly in Stacy Keibler.  FWIW … absolutely no one I’ll be with will care about UNC v Duke, but me.  It’s a small world but not that small.




   Speaking of Michelle Wie … BobLee will be with her (and Paul Savage) next month at Rancho Mirage.

   Terrific time at Matthews Rotary on Monday.  I was a good boy and did not use my Jim Black material until the “after-party”.   

   Sharks that have been officially Jumped … “Clever jokes” about Brokeback Mountain and the sport of curling have both joined “_____-gate” in the graveyard of cultural drollness.  

   Franklin Street vs Main Street “went platinum” in it’s first four hours.  That was a SSays record … thanks to one and all. 

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