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It Doesn't Get Any Better
Rick Reilly
August 20, 2001
My question is always simple: When were you happiest? The answer is always good.
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August 20, 2001

It Doesn't Get Any Better

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My question is always simple: When were you happiest? The answer is always good.

Jack Nicklaus: "Probably the day Barbara called and said, 'You're a daddy!' I was playing in a tournament in Cincinnati, but when I got to the hospital in Columbus, I said, 'Which one's mine?' They pointed to Jackie, and I fainted straight away. I passed out when all my kids were born. I learned to bring a pillow and smelling salts."

Yogi Berra: "The day I became a big league ballplayer. I drove up from the minors in my car. The first pitcher I caught was Spud Chandler. Man, I always wanted to be a big leaguer."

Martina Navratilova: "It was when I was nine, living in Prague with my grandmother. She would bring me sliced carrot salad so I could see the ball better. She didn't own a TV. We'd do crossword puzzles and listen to the radio. I was her golden little girl. She saw me play once in Dallas and passed away not long after that. I can never have those years back."

Chris Evert: "I'm 17 years old, I meet Jimmy Connors, and I'm in love for the first time in my life. We had all of Europe lying in front of us for the whole year. We played Wimbledon, Paris, Rome. I was escorted by my mom, and he was traveling with his mom, so we'd sneak out and go to, like, the Eiffel Tower. One time we snuck away to go to the Vatican. Jimmy went to confession. He came out and said, 'I had so much to confess, the priest told me to come back and finish tomorrow.' "

Larry Bird: "In 1986, for sure. I was happy as hell because I knew we [the Celtics] were going to win it. We simply were way too talented. Bill Walton was there. Robert Parrish was playing great. We just knew. Even in the Finals, we knew?

Pat Riley: "I can't think of any year when I've been totally happy. Even when you're winning, you're not really happy."

Kurt Warner: "It wasn't the Super Bowl season; it was two years before that. I got married, we got pregnant, and I got signed by the Rams. I remember Brenda and I had finally scraped up enough money to buy a house together, so we went out to a nice dinner. While we were out, I had a buddy come and throw rose petals on our walk. I had written WILL YOU MARRY ME? in Christmas lights on the house. Then I turned to her two kids and said, 'Will you all marry me?' and they all said, 'Yes.' "

Jim Brown: "The year we filmed The Dirty Dozen in London [1966]. It was such a scene, man. The film had so many stars in it, the Beatles and the Stones were hot, the civil rights movement in America was cooking. I'd just played in the championship game. Everybody thought I should still be playing, but I was very happy to leave the NFL on my own terms. I never had a serious injury in my career, never had an operation, brother. I don't walk with a limp now. My neck's not stiff. When I went back and watched my first game, I was smiling?

Mario Lemieux: "The year we won our first Stanley Cup, in 1990-91. I was coming off back surgery. I had spent three months flat on my back, plus I had a staph infection. I didn't know if I would ever walk again, much less play. I remember I took the Cup home that night. I took it into bed with my wife, and, well, I can't go on much further about that."

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