Good going, Dick, Rulon, Christy and Kenny and sorry to hear about Jerry’s passing. These are all Wyoming folks who have been in the national news in recent weeks. How could I have missed all this?
Oh yeah, we were wintering someplace 1,246 miles away. But as soon as we got home, there appearing on TV and in magazines (which piled up while we were gone), were national news stories involving Wyoming folks. It was at a level that seemed out of proportion for a state with just 565,000 people. So here goes:
- It sure felt good to settle into my favorite recliner in front of the cable TV. The Showtime Network was featuring its documentary The World According to Dick Cheney. The film largely mirrors much of Wyoming resident Cheney’s own book In My Time, but most folks are hearing this story for the first time.
The unrepentant Cheney says he would do it all again – meaning the Iraq war, et al. The show has been heavily promoted. And although reportedly not viewed in a favorable light by Cheney himself, I thought it treated him pretty well. The former vice-president voluntarily spent 20 hours in front of the camera. Many of Cheney’s critics cannot comprehend how the former mild-mannered Congressman could turn into whom they called Darth Vader while Veep to President George Bush. It has always made sense to me that both Cheney and Bush reacted to the 9/11 tragedies in a way that any normal person would react. You would be forever changed. And you would stop at nothing to prevent another tragedy of that type from occurring again on your watch.
- Later that evening, here comes Afton wrestler Rulon Gardner chatting up Olympic wrestling to Jay Leno.
Rulon is a legendary gold medal winner and did very well offering good reasons why the recently announced decision to eliminate wrestling should not happen. He claimed the marathon and wrestling were the first two Olympic sports. “How could you cancel one of those? he asked.
- While I was watching TV, a pile of magazines was on my lap vying for attention.
In the Forbes Magazine annual issue about billionaires, it was interesting to see Jackson Hole’s Christy Walton listed as the 11th richest person in the world with wealth at $28.2 billion. She is the widow of John Walton who was killed in the crash of a small plane in Jackson in 2005.
- There were big stories about Wyoming folks in Sports Illustrated.
Taking up an entire back page was an article about the amazing Kenny Sailors, the Wyoming basketball star who invented the jump shot. Kenny is 92 and still going strong. He led Wyoming to its only national championship win in 1943 and was featured in LIFE Magazine for his invention of that most common shot. He always said he invented it because, at 5-10, he could not have shot over his 6-5 older brother without it. People forget, which SI reminded, that Sailors was renowned as the best ball handler in the country. He was called “dazzling” in that LIFE profile.
- Another big story in Sports Illustrated was the death of one of the most prominent sports franchise owners in the USA.
Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, was referred to in that magazine as the “best owner” in all of professional sports. He won 10 NBA titles while owner. Few people know he grew up in Kemmerer, where it was reported he and his mother once had to stand in food lines. He also attended the University of Wyoming. His net worth at his death was $600 million. Not bad for a kid who once wondered where his next meal was coming from.
- A third story in Sports Illustrated was about a football kicker who is going to try to make the team at UW.
Nathan Noble is hoping to become the Cowboys kicker at the advanced age of 29. He is a former soccer star who headed off to two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. The magazine reported he consistently booms field goals from 60 yards away. He works out in little Versailles, KY. He is reportedly moving 1,200 miles to Laramie and hopes to walk on. Stay tuned on this one. This story was worth three pages in Sports Illustrated. It will be interesting to see how this plays out here in the land of high plains and strong winds.
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns and blogs at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.