"I've always been fascinated by the spoken word and its impact," says Jennings. "Most people don't realize the extent to which history has been influenced by great speeches."
Jennings plans to reprint 10 speeches, followed by an analysis of each explaining why it was significant. "My name doesn't exactly add immediate legitimacy to the project," he says, "so I plan to interview leading historians to get their perspectives." Two of Jennings' early choices are King's "I Have a Dream" speech ("It galvanized the civil rights movement," says Jennings) and Kennedy's address before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, in which he promised to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade ("It's not as well known as sonic of his others, but it had a lot more impact").
This week's question was particularly rough for two of our voters, Harper and Eddie Johnson of the Sonics.
"Man, I can't believe you want me to pick between two Illinois guys," said Johnson, who, like Harper, played his college ball for the Illini. This was the question: If Nick Anderson of the Magic and Kendall Gill of the Hornets, two versatile and dynamic swingmen who played together for coach Lou Henson between 1986-87 and '88-89, were available now, whom would you choose first?
The two Illini polices showed some guts by putting their answers on the record. Harper went for Gill (" Kendall's a little more consistent outside, and he's on his way to being a star"), while Johnson selected Anderson (" Kendall's going to be a better player, but he isn't as tough as Nick right now").
Gill won the overall balloting, with eight votes, while Anderson had six. Two voters, Scott Hastings of the Nuggets and Xavier McDaniel of the Celtics, said they could not make a choice.
Johnson lent some veteran advice regarding Gill's persistent complaints about his contract and his role in the Hornet offense behind Larry Johnson and rookie center Alonzo Mourning: "It all has to do with ego. If anybody would just sit Kendall down and explain that money and fame will come when they win, I think he'll be all right. He's much too distracted by what isn't important right now."