You knew the end
was near. You knew the screen would soon go black and leave you in the dark,
wondering what the hell you'd just seen.
One Andre, two
Andres, three Andres, four. Five Andres, six Andres, seven Andres, more. Has
any athlete ever changed as much as Andre Agassi?
Sure, you'd watched
Tiger Woods change his swing, Michael Jordan change his sport. But who changes
himself? Metamorphosis is the rarest achievement in sports.
Why would a man
bother to change when he's got the American dream by the throat? Maybe it's
just too damn risky; what if it puts out the fire that forged his steel?
You traveled to a
lake in Texas 20 years ago to find George Foreman, fished with him for bass and
for the story of how he went from sullen menace to grinning Buddha. But even
George's transformation got an asterisk, because it came during his 10-year
hibernation from his sport.
All those years you
kept watching the Andre show, rebel becoming humanitarian, showman becoming
machine, style becoming essence. But something about all those images of
him--there were just too many, too different, too quick--made you keep waiting.
To trust the change. To be sure.
Finally, 10 months
before his announcement that he would retire after the 2006 U.S. Open, you
realized that the time to find out how Andre Agassi went all the way from there
to here was nearly gone.
So you started
Somebody at last
year's U.S. Open would surely know. "He's changed as much as anyone I've
ever seen," said Jim Courier, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion who'd
known Andre since they were teenagers.
like an atonement," said Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. Davis Cup captain.