I Sez: Not Quite Good Enough, Courtney Paris
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 11, 2009
I actually a fair amount of Courtney Paris’s final tournament run as an Oklahoma Lady Sooner, even flipping away from the Phillies’ home opener (not that that turned out to be particularly riveting television exactly) to see the game against Louisville, where Paris’s $64,000 wager of good faith came to a head. The really amazing thing was that it ended about as dramatically as I had had semi-predecited, with Okie guard Nyeshia Stevenson popping a potentially buzzer-beating and game-winning three off a missed Louisville free throw, setting up what could have been one of the most exciting moments in NCAA history–had it not popped out. Should Stevenson have tried to drive for a layup to tie the game instead of pulling up for the go-ahead three, especially after going 1-7 from long distance earlier in the game? It’s a question that she will, no doubt, be mulling over for the rest of her life–although not as much as Paris will, who stood to lose a cool 64k as the indirect result of Stevenson’s actions.
Well, thanks to IITS reader A.J. for pointing out that Paris has, predictably, wilted somewhat from her guarantee, insisting that the Oklahoma athletic department refused to accept her scholarship money back. Instead, Paris will be setting up a community fund of an indeterminate amount for the needy of Oklahoma. No surprise here–after all, that 7th pick WNBA money might not have been the windfall Paris had expected, as apparently her base salary will be somewhere in the low 40ks, and Court’s a little too old to still be doing the Ramen noodles diet (especially in a cultural hotbed like Sacramento). Besides, OU probably isn’t like the sixth-grade math teacher I had that gleefully knocked my test grade down ten points after I owned up to having a question marked correct that I had actually gotten wrong (no, Mrs. Machnichi, I have not forgotten), and doesn’t need the bad PR of forcing their legendary alums to go into hock
to pay back their ill-conceived delusions of grandeur.
Nevertheless, I feel like a great opportunity for the whole sports world was lost here. Paris seemed willing to put her money where her mouth was, and like 85% of the athletes who make such poorly thought out guarantees, she failed to deliver on her promises. OU could’ve made huge strides for all of sports fandom by holding Paris to her word, and invoicing the center for every dime that she promised. This would perhaps have been a too-great punishment for a merely overly-ambitious top-tier competitor, but the precedent it would set for bigmouthed athletes who think no one will remember when their outrageous claims fail to come to fruition would be damn near historical. Hell, they arrested kids for downloading music off of Napster to try to make an example–is that really any less reprehensible than making a high-profile college grad with an ex-pro football dad shell out a couple thou?
And it’s the kids who end up paying the price, really. Who will comfort the young Hornets fan after Rasual Butler guarantee a first-round victory over the Lakers, only to put up 6 ppg in a 4-0 LA sweep? Who will restore the Padres fan’s faith in humanity, after San Diego ends up a whole 30 wins shy of Chase Headley’s playoff promise? Not Courtney Paris, and not Oklahoma University, that’s for sure.