If the Toronto Raptors fall on hard times this season—and with a 4-10 record and a last-place position in the Central Division at week's end, they've begun the descent—they can turn to their backup point guard. They might not get double-figure stats from 5'10" Donald Whiteside, 27, who was averaging 1.9 points and 1.6 assists, respectively, but they are likely to get double-figure inspiration. On Oct. 3, the day Toronto's training camp opened, Whiteside was teaching physical education and theology at Leo High, a Catholic school in Chicago from which he had graduated in 1987. Whiteside was preparing a lesson called "the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church" when he got the call to come in for a tryout with the Raptors.
Whiteside made such an impression in camp that Toronto waived two former first-round picks (B.J. Tyler and Harold Miner), eating the final four years of Tyler's six-year, $6.8 million contract in the process. "Donald makes the right decisions, he shoots the ball, he defends," says Raptors coach Darrell Walker, who is giving Whiteside eight minutes a game. "All the things you want in a point guard."
Those skills were overlooked in the 1991 NBA draft, which occurred three months after Whiteside, then a senior, led Northern Illinois to a 25-6 record and an NCAA tournament berth. Thus began a four-continent odyssey for Whiteside that included playing stints in Kalgoorlie and Hobart, Australia; Caracas, Venezuela; Riga, Latvia; and Rockford, Ill.—where he stopped for an eight-game cup of joe with the Lightning of the CBA.
In '95 Whiteside, who majored in communications at Northern Illinois, gave up the chase—"He was tired of having people tell him he should be in the NBA but never getting a break," says his agent, Willie Scott—and took the job at Chicago Leo. He did play in the Chicago Pro-Am League last summer, and that's where, at Scott's request, Raptors scout Larry Thomas, the brother of Toronto general manager Isiah Thomas, came to take a look at him. Larry was sold when Whiteside burned Randy Brown, a Chicago Bulls backup guard, for 28 points. Whiteside hasn't had that kind of game in the NBA yet, but he does have the important job of backing up the Raptors' star, Damon Stoudamire, on a team whose general manager, a 12-time All-Star as a point guard, pays a lot of attention to the position.
"I feel I'm an inspiration to a lot of the kids at Leo," says Whiteside. "I told them that whatever you want is possible if you work hard enough and are patient. I've pretty much proved it to them."
Lamenting what he characterized as the unfair treatment he received from the media and from John Hirschbeck's fellow umpires after the spitting incident that just won't dry up, the Baltimore Orioles' Roberto Alomar recently told The Washington Post that he felt he had been "crucified the same way Jesus was crucified." He followed up that bit of hyperbole by saying of the umpires, "I don't think they should have blown [the spitting! out of proportion."
One of freshwater fishing's most hallowed catches, the world-record 11-pound, 15-ounce smallmouth bass caught by David Hayes in Dale Hollow (Ken.) Reservoir in 1955, has been declared a fraud. This fall the International Game Fish Association struck Hayes's mark from the record books after learning that unbeknownst to Hayes, his guide, John Barlow, had stuffed three pounds of lead weights into his bass before the fish was weighed.
Shortly after the fish was caught, Barlow, feeling guilty, confessed in an affidavit submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the reservoir. But the Corps, which has no jurisdiction over fishing records, ignored the mea culpa, and for four decades the record stood. Then this summer Eldon Davis, an assistant high school principal in Livingston, Tenn., hosted an outdoors festival and invited Hayes, asking him to bring his trophy fish to help drum up publicity. After several fishermen told Davis that the legendary bass appeared no bigger than eight or nine pounds, he began to smell something fishy. He started casting about in local fishing circles and dredged up the affidavit, which Barlow, now 80, verified.
The world record will likely go to John Gorman of Plainfield, Ind., who caught a 10-pound, 14- ounce smallmouth in 1969, also in Dale Hollow—without, it should be noted, the services of Barlow. Hayes, 71, took the loss philosophically. "I've held the record for 41 years, and I've had my fun," he told Bassmaster magazine. "I'm not going to lose any sleep."