Menu

Full Court Press

When it comes to drama, viewers have a plethora of choices from which to choose: movies, theater, news and sports, to name a few.

But it's been professional sports that have provided some of the most surprising attention grabbing moments of late.

Under a gorgeous Philadelphia sky Sunday afternoon, Phillies pitcher Kevin Millwood (search) delivered Major League Baseball's first no-hitter of the season.

On the ice, the National Hockey League is hosting its annual quest for theStanley Cup (search), with the improbable Mighty Ducks of Anaheim contending for the game's highest honor. The Ducks' season is playing out not unlike the Disney movie that the team is named after.

The National Football League provided a glimpse of the future with the NFL draft (search), and the National Basketball Association is seeing some its most exciting playoff games in nearly a decade, with overtime wins being the norm rather than the exception.

All of this last weekend alone!

And even though injured University of Miami star Willis McGahee broke down and cried after being picked in the first round by the Buffalo Bills — a testament to his borderline miraculous rehabilitation just four months after suffering a devastating knee injury — the quintessential moment in sports happened before the tip-off of Friday night's Portland Trail Blazers/Dallas Mavericks playoff basketball game.

During the singing of the National Anthem, 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert (search) froze midway through "The Star Spangled Banner." Grasping for the words that refused to come, some 20,000 fans became restless and loud.

Riding in like a knight in shining armor, Blazer coach Maurice Cheeks (search) put his hand on her shoulder, and picked up the tune. Soon the audience joined in on the duet, and a thunderous applause filled the arena with those final words, "And the home of the brave."

Even though his Blazers would lose that night, and whatever the outcome of their season, Cheeks is the undisputed champion of the world.

Sportswriters love to stretch the boundaries of sports journalism. Statistics abound. Mountains are made out of molehills. Controversy is culled from seemingly meaningless comments or missed plays. That's the name of that game.

This is one of those moments sportswriters should relish. It deserves to be remembered for a long time to come.

It is an example of what true sportsmanship is. Here was Maurice Cheeks, professional basketball coach, and a former superstar player in his own right. There was Natalie Gilbert — trembling with stage fright, frail from the flu and tender from age.

She looked for help. He was there. And in her eyes as she looked up to him, one could see the awe of the millions of kids who year in and year out, look up to sports stars as role models and heroes.

Natalie's little bout of stage fright provided an opportunity, not just for the NBA, but for all professional sports, to show why they're worthy of so much attention.

Mo Cheeks' simple act of selflessness defines sport. It defines champions. Charles Barkley (search) and all of his ilk, pay heed. You've just been schooled.

Mike Straka is the project manager for FOX News's Internet operations and contributes as a features reporter and producer on FOX Magazine (Sundays 11 p.m. on FNC) and as a reporter and columnist for FOXnews.com. 

Respond to the Writer