PRdaily.com recently posted a link to an article in The Wall Street Journal highlighting the top five over the top press conferences in the sports world. Delivering news bombshells has become something of a competition in its own right for pro athletes and their handlers, increasingly desperate for ways to capture the attention with announcements ranging from momentous to mortifying. Here are the top 5:
- Michael Jordan, Oct. 6th, 1993
Jordan’s announcement that he was retiring.
”I hope I don’t see too many of you guys in the future,” he said jokingly, flanked by his then-wife, Juanita, NBA commissioner David Stern and Bulls brass, including coach Phil Jackson. But he did surprise fans at the conference by suggesting he might “un-retire,” which of course he did, two years later, after a detour through minor-league baseball. He would lead the Bulls to three more titles in the late ’90s.
Magic Johnson, Nov. 7th, 1991
Johnson’s revelation that he had tested positive for HIV and was retiring from professional basketball.
Mr. Johnson, 32 years old at the time, had led the Lakers to five NBA championships in 12 seasons and had missed the first three games of the season with what was described as the flu. The build-up to this announcement was zero: He said he learned he had tested positive for the virus only the day before the conference. Mr. Johnson would also unretire for that season’s All-Star Game and again in 1996, playing 32 games for the Lakers.
Wayne Gretzkey, Aug. 9th, 1988
Gretzskey’s announcement of his move to the Los Angeles Kings.
Mr. Gretzky, who requested a trade from the Edmonton Oilers after nine seasons and four Stanley Cups, lost his composure midway through the conference, stood up and walked away from the microphones after referring to himself in the third person.
Kobe Bryant, July 18th, 2003
To proclaim his innocence after being charged with assaulting a 19-year-old woman who worked the front desk at a resort where he was staying while in Colorado for knee surgery.
“I’m a human being, I’m a man like everybody else,” said the Lakers star, accompanied by his wife, Vanessa, admitting to adultery but adding that he didn’t force the woman “to do anything against her will.” The case against Mr. Bryant was dismissed in 2004 because the woman was unwilling to testify.
Brett Favre, March 6th, 2008
No one knew for sure what Mr. Favre would say at his news conference in March 2008, as the 38-year-old had just come off one of his best years in the NFL, finishing second in league MVP voting and leading a young Green Bay Packers team to the NFC Championship Game. Confusing fans more, the Packers had reported weeks earlier on their official website that Mr. Favre would retire, but removed the announcement minutes later.
At the conference, a teary Mr. Favre said he didn’t think he had “anything left to give,” but reconsidered a few months later and decided to play another season with the New York Jets. He announced his retirement again in 2009…before signing that summer with the Minnesota Vikings.
Professional athletes have surprised us in the past with announcements of retirement, illness, and regret. Most recently the world was in shock with the announcement that Tiger Wood’s cheated on his wife and mother of his two children. Pro athletes continue to behave like the super heros we treat them as. Hopefully in the future we will see more inspiring, and eventful press conferences.