“Love me Tender.’’
Huh? I asked Bjorn Borg over the noise, as he was jabbing his elbow into my ribs.
“If you write about this. I sang “Love me Tender.’’ OK?
Uhh. What are you supposed to do when you’re standing in a sports bar in Wichita, Kan., talking to your childhood sports hero?
Well, let me get back to that story in a minute. Bjorn Borg is back again. Two books and an HBO documentary are out now telling his story. His and John McEnroe’s. It was one of the great all-time rivalries in sports. But it lasted only 14 matches. Each won seven.
I don’t read a lot of sports books. And oftentimes, I like to take two or three books with me on the road to have a little variety, depending on my mood. At this moment, I’m going back and forth between two books:
One is Matt Cronin’s “Epic: John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and the Greatest Tennis Season Ever.’’ The other is Stephen Tignor’s “High Strung: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and the Untold Story of Tennis’ Fiercest Rivalry.’’
Surely you can see the variety. One mentions Borg first in the title and the other mentions McEnroe. Now, on Saturday we get the HBO Documentary “McEnroe/Borg: Fire & Ice.’’
I know Tignor and Cronin, like both, respect both. So far, these are both excellent books, though I’m a little disappointed to hear that Borg’s famously low pulse rate might not have been true. It was a great day in my teen years when my doctor suggested I wear a medical tag around my neck telling people that my pulse was 45, 46, or whatever it was. If I passed out or something, people might think I’m dying.
It was my connection to Borg.
That and my $8 Fila socks.
Well, I also used the Bancroft Borg racquet, which was a beautiful thing until the laminated throat would start breaking apart. Once, the head fell off. And while I was a big Borg fan, I’ll admit I did switch to the Dunlop Maxply McEnroe after that. Still, the looping topspin forehand and two-handed backhand were almost Borg-like.
With all this Borg talk lately, my wife dragged out a picture of my old high school tennis team. And it’s uncanny: I looked absolutely nothing like Borg. Continue reading