Best Sports Coach - 1999
Readers' Choice: Pat Riley
There was a time when toy stores were small, friendly places where kids could dream and nag their parents for a couple of dollars' worth of playthings they might or might not receive. Now toy stores are sprawling, electronically engorged money traps where young people vie for coolness and make greedy demands. Sports, as the saying goes, is the toy department of life. And as with toys, traditions have been kicked to the curb. Rampant greed has practically become pro sports's selling point rather than the dirty little secret it should be. Athletes are celebrated, even worshipped, the way scholars and artists should be but rarely are. It's all hype. Downright nasty. The players simultaneously act like children and the eaters of children. The pecking order has broken down so that the employees are in charge and the customers (fans) always come last. These sad facts of life threatened to shatter the Miami Fusion soccer team this past summer when Ivo Wortmann came aboard as coach. Long-haired, long-in-the-tooth star player Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama took umbrage at the team's selection of Wortmann, and held his breath until he turned blue. Wortmann, obviously still living in a previous era, held his ground. El Pibe came crawling back. More recently El Pibe threw another hissy fit after Wortmann kept him on the bench longer than El Pibe deemed suitable. El Pibe now plays for Tampa Bay, and Wortmann has proven it's not whether you win or lose, it's who's in charge.