When Nike decided it was time to dive whole hog into mega-athlete endorsements, it wasn't any surprise that McEnroe was the only tennis player they could possibly be interested in.
A couple of weeks ago I got to see McEnroe play in person for the first time since I was in the stands at Louis Armstrong Stadium at the 1981 U.S. Open Final. After spending an entire evening watching him play World Team Tennis for the New York Sportstimes against the Washington Kastles, it seemed clear to me that at least for one night, time had mellowed him.
Then again, maybe not.
Just a few hours ago, McEnroe defaulted in his opening match against Mal Washington at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, Rhode Island. McEnroe lost it in the second set, trailing Washington 4-2, when he disputed a line call, ultimately triggering three penalties that gave Washington the set at 6-2. I'll let Bob Larson's Tennis News explain the rest:
According to the Outback Champions Series Code of Conduct, match defaults are a four-step process, with the first violation resulting in a warning. The second violation results in a point penalty, a third violation - a game penalty and a fourth violation - a match default. McEnroe's three violations gave Washington the second set 6-2 (the point penalty giving Washington the game for a 5-2 lead and the game penalty giving him the set by a 6-2 margin.) As McEnroe continued his tirade, fans at the Newport Casino became vocal and restless and began to yell at McEnroe to continue playing. McEnroe responded to the fans with a visible obscene gesture which resulted in a fourth code violation from Brodeur and McEnroe's immediate default from the match.Now that my friends, would have been something to pay to see. But what's almost totally inexplicable, is that while McEnroe defaulted the match, he'll still be allowed to continue in the round robin tournament -- the organizers of which are probably thanking whatever higher power they worship for the oodles of free publicity McEnroe has generated for them.
The highest profile default of McEnroe's career came in the 1990 Australian Open against Michael Pernfors, but this isn't the only time Johnnie Mac lost his mind on the Champions Tour. The following video was taken back in March 2007, when McEnroe came unglued during a 2007 match against Pat Cash in Naples, Florida:
And if that's not enough, it can't get much nuttier than McEnroe losing it at a charity event -- a charity event! -- back in 2006:
At 49, the man is a tennis gift that keeps on giving.