NOBODY WANTS TO BE LIKE LANCE
Lance Armstrong's sad legacy hits new low
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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