By Jeffery Armstrong
I am a big fan of the movie series Star Wars, having seen all five movies in the theater. The last chapter in the series, Episode III-Revenge of the Sith, opens in theaters today worldwide and I've already got my ticket for the late showing on Friday.
It seems like yesterday when my Mom took my sister and me to see the very first Star Wars way back in May 1977, when I was all of 10 years old. It's been a great ride, for sure. But did you all know that all five of these Star Wars movies have ties to sports in some way? That's right, Wookiee breath, they do. May the Force be with you as you travel with me into a sports galaxy far, far away...
Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope: Everyone in the NBA felt a new sense of hope when the league's most powerful Jedi Knight, Michael (Yoda) Jordan, retired in 1993. Each team felt it could win an NBA title without Yoda Jordan's dominant use of the Force. Rebel Alliance freedom fighter Hakeem Olajuwon and his Houston Rockets took control of the Force to win consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. How fitting for a team called Rockets to become the galaxy's best team at that time.
Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back: A former Jedi, Shaquille (Darth Vader) O'Neal, has turned to the dark side and along with the evil and strangely younger Sith Lord, Kobe (Darth Sidious) Bryant, joined the NBA Empire known as the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996, a squadron soon to be led by Phil (Count Dooku) Jackson. The Lakers, who hadn't won an NBA title since 1988, used the power of the dark side to venture to the top of the NBA galaxy, winning three titles from 2000-2002. They vanquished Portland's Scottie (Lando Calrissian) Pippen, Sacramento's Chris Webber (C-3P0, the nervous droid) and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson (R2-D2, the tough, battle-scarred little droid).
Episode VI-Return of the Jedi: Turmoil between Vader O'Neal and Sidious Bryant help young Jedi Knight Tim (Luke Skywalker) Duncan of the planet San Antonio and the Rebel fighters, the Detroit Pistons, to capture the last two NBA titles. Vader O'Neal finally tires of Sidious Bryant's evil ways and dumps him into the electrical pit, causing his Lakers to miss the playoffs this year. O'Neal rejoins the Jedi Knights, landing on the planet of Miami to team with rebel fighter Dwyane Wade to bring peace to the NBA galaxy.
Now, here is what happened in another sports galaxy farther away...
Episode I-The Phantom Menace: In an otherwise peaceful NFL galaxy, a wide receiver with a clouded past on the red planet of San Francisco, Terrell (Jar Jar Binks) Owens, seems to become a keeper of the peace like all Jedi Knights when he flees to the greener planet of Philadelphia. Unfortunately for Philly's Eagles, Owens' may succumb to the dark side later.
Episode II-Attack of the Clones: In this movie, the evil Patriot clones from the planet New England conquer the NFL galaxy by winning three of four Super Bowls. Patriot clone leader Bill Belichick (Senator Palpatine) proves to be a capable leader after being subpar for years on the ice planet of Cleveland. The Patriot Clone Wars will last a long time if no Jedi Knights, especially those from the planet of Pittsburgh, step up and defeat them.
Episode III-Revenge of the Sith: Will Owens submit to the dark side? Tune in during the fall 2005 NFL season.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .