- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"See, like Marion Jones and them--it's the same stuff they went to the Olympics with and they test them every f------ week. So that's why I know it works, so that's why I know we're not in trouble. So that's cool."
Bonds started 2003 more slowly than Anderson would have liked. In May he was hitting around .280 and was only fifth in the league in home runs. Anderson blamed a rare loss of self-confidence and intensity.
"He thinks the magic's gone, [that] he doesn't have it any more," Anderson said on the tape. "It's generated by his mind. He's afraid he's like losing it, but like I told him, he's way too nice. Talking to reporters, being way too nice--be an a------ again! Every time he's an a------, it just f------ works. He f------ plays good because he's being himself."
After the All-Star Game, Bonds broke out, as Anderson had predicted he would. For the year he hit .341 with 45 home runs and won his third straight Most Valuable Player award. The runner-up for MVP was the Cardinals' new star Albert Pujols, who was 23. It was as though Bonds were ageless--at 39 he put up better numbers than he had when in his prime with the Pirates; better numbers, in fact, than at any time before he hooked up with Anderson.
Early in the 2003 season, Bonds decided it was time for Kimberly Bell to disappear. His promise to buy her a house in Scottsdale, made so casually that night in spring training 2001, had created financial headaches for the multimillionaire athlete. By any conventional measure, Bonds was wealthy. But his pay from the Giants and his investment income went to his accountants, who paid his income taxes and child support, kept him on a strict allowance and wrote financial reports that his wife could see. If Bonds had used that money to buy a house in Scottsdale, the accountants would ask questions and Liz would find out. So Bonds had planned to use the cash from memorabilia sales and autograph sessions, where he received income in cash and didn't report it to the IRS. During the 2001 season he would sit in a hotel for hours, signing balls as fast as he could to raise cash for Bell's house. By the end of the season, Bonds had given her $80,000. She made a down payment on a house in Scottsdale, then quit her job and moved to the desert.
There were nothing but problems after that. In New York, Bonds had met a centerfold model from Eastern Europe, according to a source familiar with Bonds, and began flying the model instead of Bell to road games. Bonds was spending too much money on the model to afford house payments in Arizona. Bell became frantic as she went deeper in debt to keep up the payments. (She would eventually sell the house and move back to the Bay Area.)
The relationship unraveled on May 2, 2003, the start of a series against the Reds at Pac Bell. Bell said her flight from Arizona was late, and when she arrived at the room in the Westin Airport Hilton where Bonds was waiting for her, he was livid. She had blown his whole schedule for the day. She tried to apologize, but by her account, he put his hand around her throat, pressed her against the wall, and whispered, "If you ever f-----' pull some s--- like that again I'll kill you, do you understand me?"
Bell was frightened. He left, and she went back to Arizona two days later without seeing him. They saw each other once more, when the Giants were in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks at the end of May, and on his way out of town, he called her from the airport.
"You have to do something for me," Bonds said. "You need to disappear."
"What do you mean?" Bell said. "For how long?"