NOBODY WANTS TO BE LIKE LANCE

Lance Armstrong's sad legacy hits new low

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Like so many others time and again, I gave Lance Armstrong a second chance. I watched Part 2 of ESPN's documentary on Armstrong, certainly one of the greatest athletes ever produced in Texas – maybe the greatest. I know, that's sounds weird, the greatest, but it's true. Or was true, until the 7-time winner of the Tour de France bicycle race was caught using illegal, performance-enhancing drugs and his accomplishments were wiped from the cycling record books.

Part 2 of Lance proved Armstrong even more despicable than Part I. Every time he opened his mouth, he was a bigger ass than 10 minutes ago, than a week ago.

I was looking forward to the Lance Armstrong documentary on ESPN. After all, The Last Dance, the series about Michael Jordan's final championship season, was amazingly captivating and reaped record ratings for ESPN. The premiere episode drew 6.1 million viewers.

One week after The Last Dance concluded, the premiere of Lance, about the life and time trials of the serial Tour de France champion, stunk up the Nielsens, blew a flat tire, with fewer than one million viewers.

Why the difference? The Last Dance revealed that Michael Jordan is a bit of nut case obsessed with winning, but never cheating. The Lance Armstrong documentary merely confirmed that Armstrong is a narcissistic jerk equally obsessed with winning, but always cheating. At one point in the show, Armstrong was asked if he wished to be relevant again. His answer: "I am relevant."

No, you're not. Next stop: Dancing with the Stars.

Another reason The Last Dance was a bigger hit than the Lance Armstrong documentary - in America, the NBA is a thousand times more popular than professional cycling. Love him, or, let's say not love him, James Harden is a superstar in Houston. LeBron, Steph, Giannis, Luka, Kemba, Kawhi and others are household first names in the U.S.

Nobody, in any sport, was more famous than "Michael" or "MJ" for even shorter. He was the brightest sports star, worldwide, of the past half-century. Yes, The Last Dance exposed his personality flaws and personal failings. He wasn't the most-liked teammate. Some suffered his acid sarcasm, one his fist. That only made the documentary more compelling. He won fair and square through talent and insane commitment to greatness. Most of the public, especially young people, really did want to "be like Mike." And when the dust cleared from his playing days, Michael Jordan came out the other side a billionaire, or close to it.

Another thing, Jordan never left the public stage. He is still one of the most successful brands in sports, and his logo is the all-time biggest sneaker-seller. There have been 26 different models of Nike Air Jordans. Last month, a pair of Jordan's game-worn sneakers from his 1984-85 rookie season sold for $560,000 at a Sotheby's auction. That's an all-time record for sneakers, but only slightly less than a pair of Air Jordans at Foot Locker today.

Lance Armstrong once graced a Wheaties box. He once was Barbara Walters' "Most Fascinating Person of the Year." Now, with the exception of himself, nobody wants to be like Lance. While cycling may be a popular spectator sport in Europe, here it's a non-starter, relegated to cable channels you have to pay extra for. The most interesting thing about professional cycling is listening to our local sports anchors pronounce "Tour de France" like Pepe Le Pew.

Come on, name the winner of the last year's Tour de France. I'll make it easier, name one person who competed in the Tour de France last year. Or the past 10 years.

I watched both parts of the Lance Armstrong documentary on ESPN. His claim of still being relevant … really? If Lance Armstrong were standing behind you at Target, would you recognize him? The documentary showed Armstrong crossing the finish line at the Tour de France over and over. Lance Armstrong today, at 48, doesn't look like that guy. It's been 15 years since his last yellow jersey, and except for a confessional with Oprah or a news story about settling a lawsuit, he's been out of the public eye, vacant from the sports pages. He's graying on the sides, heavier and his hair is longer and slicked back. He's still is good shape, better than anybody I know, but no longer that steroid-powered, pedal-pumping, steel cable of muscle from his racing days.

Taking nothing away from conquering cancer, Lance Armstrong simply is not a compelling figure. He's bitter that former rivals, who also were caught doping, are more celebrated in their countries than he is in America. After being discredited, he lost his endorsements and much of his fortune. He was fired from his own Livestrong charity. His legacy isn't cherished. He doesn't get a hometown discount in Texas.

In the documentary, Armstrong complained that every mention of his name usually is preceded by "disgraced." That just proves how disliked and unloved he is. Pete Rose cheated baseball, most of America thinks he should be in the Hall of Fame. Ric Flair, the "Dirtiest Player in the Game," is in the WWE Hall of Fame. Alex Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for the exact same reason that Armstrong was banned from cycling. Today A-Rod practically is the face of baseball.

Lance Armstrong was the best ever, now he's a never was, I'd say "you can look it up," but you can't. His triumphs have been erased from the cycling record books. He's just a famous liar, former cheater, and current awful person. Years ago, Trek told Armstrong he couldn't sell its bicycles. In 2020, nobody was buying his documentary.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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