October 29, 2009
Busted Racquet, the Yahoo! Sports tennis blog edited by yours truly, has been swamped for the past 48 hours with the news coming out of Andre Agassi's explosive new autobiography, including tales of the star's heavy drug use, his hatred of tennis and his violent father. But it was an excerpt about playing tennis with NFL legend Jim Brown that caught our eye this evening.
In an extended passage from the book appearing this week in Sports Illustrated, Agassi details how he and his father hustled the greatest running back in football history back in 1979, when Agassi was just 9 years old.
As Agassi recounts in his forthcoming book, "Open" (out Nov. 9), Jim Brown was at a tennis club in Vegas one day complaining to the owner about a money match that was cancelled. Agassi's father stepped in, told Brown that he could play his son and put up his house for the wager. Brown countered with a $10,000 bet instead.
After asking the 9-year-old some questions about his skills (Agassi told him he never loses) and getting warned by the club owner not to take the bet, Brown and Mike Agassi agreed that they'd set the amount after he and Andre played two sets. After dropping two straight sets by a score of 3-6, Brown politely declined the 10K wager and offered $500 for the third. He lost, 6-2.
"Sweat running down his face, [Brown] pulls a wad from his pocket and counts out five crisp hundreds. He hands them to my father, then turns to me. 'Great game, son.'
He shakes my hand. His calluses feel rougher - thanks to me.
He asks what my goals are, my dreams. I start to answer, but my father jumps in.
'He's going to be No. 1 in the world.'
'I wouldn't bet against him,' Mr. Brown says."
Remember that Brown is generally considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time. He is thought by many to not only be the best who ever played football, but is also considered to be the top lacrosse player ever too. There's little doubt that, even at 43, Brown was more than proficient with a racquet.
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