The Enumerative: Sport's Ignominious Quitters

Welcome to our incredibly innovative feature, The Enumerative. ↵Because lists are awesome, plus effective time killers, in this space ↵we'll provide a top five based loosely on something that has recently ↵occurred in the sporting world.
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When Oscar De La Hoya quit on his stool in between the eighth and ninth rounds of his fight this past Saturday night with Manny Pacquiao, it probably cemented what has been the most prevalent knock against De La Hoya almost since the start of his career -- that while supremely talented, he is anything but courageous. His camp has been insisting that it was not Oscar’s decision to stop the fight, and if you believe that I hope that you also understand that I invented the internet. Look, The Golden Boy is one of the most powerful men in all of sports, and he was completely coherent at the end of this fight. Whether he actually said the words, “I quit” or not, the fact remains that if he opposed the stoppage in any way, the fight would have gone on, no questions asked. ↵

↵But while Oscar going out on his stool to Pacquiao now adds to the ignominy of some of his past debacles in the ring, does it rank with the most ignominious quitting incidents in sports history? We shall see. The Large top five is after the jump. ↵

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↵5. Justine Henin in the 2006 Australian Open Final
↵Down 6-1, 2-0 to Amelie Mauresmo in the finals of the ’06 Aussie Open, Henin retired, citing stomach pains. In fact, it seems like she had merely come down with a severe case of Mauresmotitis. She was getting completely destroyed out there by a woman who was about to win her long-sought first Grand Slam title, and rather than play it out and letting her opponent have her due, Henin couldn’t take the humiliation for another second, so she quit. She’s the only woman ever to retire from a Grand Slam final. It was low. ↵

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↵4. Stewart Cink at the 2001 U.S. Open
↵Feeling that he needed to make par on the 72nd hole to make it into the eventual playoff of the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, Cink spent a long time over a 15-foot putt before pushing it just left and 18 inches past the cup. Disgusted, he stormed up to his ball and rushed the tap-in, missing that too, giving him double bogey on the hole. Not that it mattered, because he needed that par putt for the playoff, right? Wrong. The leaders behind him on the course, Mark Brooks and Retief Goosen, also went on to three-putt 18. If Cink had only kept his cool and holed that 18-incher, he would have made the playoff. He didn’t quit literally, but he did quit figuratively, and it cost him a shot at immortality. ↵

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↵3. Either Stef Djordjevic or Coach Nickerson in the Walnut Heights/Ampipe game
↵Take your choice on this one -- it’s all a matter of perspective. Did the impetuous Stef quit by going for the hit and not the ball and getting tagged with a costly pass interference penalty? Or did Coach Nickerson quit by running a play out of the end-zone with time running out instead of punting out of danger? In the end, it doesn’t matter. Walnut Heights lost to Ampipe on a freak play in the rain, and nothing ever will be the same again. (Check 1:51 of the preview below for the infamous “We didn’t quit, you quit” valediction.) ↵

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↵2. Scottie Pippen in Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semis

↵This was straight-up unbelievable, a celebrated professional athlete behaving like an eight-year-old. With the Bulls down 2-0 to the Knicks, two seconds left on the clock and the score tied at 100-100, Phil Jackson called a play for Toni Kukoc to take the last shot. Scottie found this so unacceptable that he refused to take the court. Pippen is exhibit B in what one instance of intemperate quitting can do to a career, because for all his many gifts and rings and glory, the first thing that many people think of when they hear his name is “quitter.” ↵

↵1. Roberto Duran: “No mas… no mas…”
↵Exhibit A is, of course, the one and only Manos de Piedra himself, Roberto Duran, whose mid-round refusal to continue in his fight with Ray Leonard in 1980 gave one of my proudest associations its moniker. The legend of this fight lives on to this day, with all sorts of apocryphal stories surrounding it -- Duran never actually said “no mas,” he had vicious stomach pains, he may have been poisoned, etc., etc. When you watch the fight, though, the truth of the matter is plain as day. Where Leonard had been foolhardy enough to brawl with Duran in their first fight, he was boxing the crap out of him in the second, embarrassing him with his speed and skill in a display that Duran, the ultimate macho warrior, found less than manly. So he quit, and ironically, saddled himself with a reputation as a quitter and a coward ever afterwards, this man who in every other fight of his life was anything but cowardly. (Check out the infamous incident below, complete with confused commentary from the heavyweight champ at the time, Larry Holmes). ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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