Monday, January 15, 2007

Classic card of the Week




Greg Kite, 1991-92 Fleer

In 1991, before reaching the peak of his baseball career, Randy Johnson cut his mullet, traveled to Orlando, and joined the Magic. This move – though much less heralded – was basically the reverse of what Michael Jordan would do just two years later. However, there were some differences. For example, Jordan’s transition occurred when he had “nothing left to prove” in his chosen field of basketball (three consecutive NBA titles, two gold medals, various wristwatches). Johnson’s change of sport happened before he learned how to stop throwing 100 mph fastballs into the 2nd tier behind the batter’s box (152 walks allowed in 1991, seven dead seagulls). When MJ opted for baseball, he only changed uniforms, but when “the Big Unit” switched scenes, he changed everything, adding to the discreetness of his mission. Besides trimming his mullet-y mane, he also changed his name. “Greg Kite” was a combination of Johnson’s two favorite athletes: Greg Louganis and Tom Kite. (He always marveled at Kite’s putting stance, and Louganis’ ability to recover from serious head injury.) Johnson, like a chameleon, adapted to his new surroundings much better than Jordan ever did. While it seemed strange to watch a 6’6” guy, notorious for his dunking skills, flail helplessly away at sliders in the dirt, there were plenty of lanky, awkward big white dudes to go around in the NBA at this time. To Orlando Magic fans, the emergence of Greg Kite simply meant that the franchise had botched another draft pick. No big deal. But then, the unthinkable happened. The opposition started to contract “Greg Kite fever.” And it was deadly. Check the back of this card: “Kite is a seasoned guardian of the paint, using his ample body to bang, block and bruise opponents into submission.” Oftentimes members of the opposing team would simply refuse to go to the scorer’s table to enter the game, lest they be bruised into submission by Kite’s ample body. And funny how Kite is described as a “seasoned” guardian when his total “seasons” in the league equaled “not even one season.” That’s some serious math right there. “They must have me confused with Greg Ostertag,” Kite would later say, with a smirk. When he wasn’t blocking the opposition into submission, Kite was using his God-given ampleness to light up the scoreboard, averaging a whopping 3.2 points per game during the 1991-92 season. But Greg Kite knew who he was, and it wasn’t Greg Kite. Randy Johnson would reemerge into baseball as slyly as left, establishing himself as one of the most dominant pitchers of all time (until, of course, he arrived in New York). But the NBA was never the same. When the 1992-93 season opened in Orlando, whispers were heard throughout the home arena: “Where the hell is Greg Kite?” Little did they know, “Greg Kite” was thousands of miles away, beating opponents into submission. With his ample balls. Baseballs.



Greg Kite Fun Facts

Favorite Food: Fried calamari

Favorite Subject: Reading

Favorite Group: Pussycat Dolls

Favorite Movie: The Notebook

Favorite TV Show: Mama’s Family

Pet Peeve: Not being able to talk a real person anymore when you call customer service

Did you know?
Randy Johnson provided Esquire Magazine with a two-word review with regards to A.C. Slater’s lead role in “The Greg Louganis Story,” and it was this: “Nailed it.”

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