Today in Sports History: December 20th

12/20/2003 - Namath drunk on ESPN

Former Jets quarterback Joe Namath embarrasses himself in front of a live television audience. In an ESPN game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets, sideline reporter Suzy Kolber was interviewing the Hall of Famer about current Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, who some were already calling "the next Joe Namath." Namath appeared completely intoxicated and slurred his answer -- he then disregarded Kolber's next question and told her, "I want to kiss you. I couldn't care less about the team strugg-a-ling." A few seconds later he again repeated "I want to kiss you.''

Kolber then akwardly segued the interview to an end as Namath finished with an off-camera yell. Jeff Drake, an ESPN executive who was in the broadcast truck, later told the press, "If we had known definitively (Namath) was in that kind of state, we wouldn't have conducted the interview."

"I was full of some Christmas cheer, certainly too much. It was a festive occasion," said Namath, referring to an on-field reunion of former Jets players. "I wasn't trying to be rude and crude. I feel awful about what happened, for my family and the Jets. I've been in better Christmas spirits, no pun intended." "(Kolber) was a real pro. She handled it so well. I appreciate Suzy's professionalism. It could have really gotten out of whack."

In a statement released through ESPN the following day, Kolber stated, "Joe apologized, I accept. It's over." Namath later vowed to give up drinking forever.

12/20/2005 - Kobe scores 62 in three quarters

Think 81 points in a single game was impressive? Imagine how much Kobe Bryant could have scored against the Dallas Mavericks had the game not already been decided.

Facing the team that would represent the Western Conference in the Finals, Kobe outscored the Mavericks 62-61 through three periods, capped by a 10-point spurt in the final 86 seconds of the third. He scored 30 points in the third quarter and had already scored the most points in a single game in over 11 years. Yet with the Lakers leading by 34, Kobe Bryant sat out the entire 4th quarter. Bryant said it was a joint decision between him and coach Phil Jackson.

Most analysts weren't particularly thrilled that Kobe's night ended so soon. On the other hand, some argued that sending him out in a worthless game would have been running up the score and that he could've gotten injured. The consensus was that by not playing in the 4th, viewers were denied the chance to see Kobe go for 70, 80, or even 90 points. However, all would be forgiven just three weeks later when Bryant scored 81 against the Toronto Raptors.

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