The great ones all have it. Call it heart or courage or simple pride, but when they seem to be furthest down is when they suddenly burn with their liveliest incandescence. Last week two of our greatest champions—Chris Evert Lloyd, 30, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 38—proved that splendidly. Both are nearing the end of their careers, both admit they are past their prime—and last week both faced down old foes with consummate grace. At the French Open in Paris Chris beat the nonpareil, seemingly unreal Martina Navratilova, 28, who's been the number-one ranked women's player for the past three years. Martina had won 17 of their last 19 meetings, and in turning the tables Chrissie sounded almost contrite. "Martina has given me goals," she told reporters. "I've been thinking about retiring but Martina has given me an incentive to stay in the game and practice and work on it."
An ocean away in Boston Garden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—set to retire after next season—was leading his L.A. Lakers to the NBA championship over the Celtics. Playing with an intensity seldom displayed in recent years, the 7'2" center won the series' Most Valuable Player Award and was the key to ending Boston's domination of the Lakers in championship play. (The Celtics have beaten the Lakers in the championship eight consecutive times since 1959.) "We finally broke through!" cried an exultant Abdul-Jabbar in the champagne-soaked locker room. "It was," he added, voicing a sentiment not limited just to Laker fans, "a historic moment."
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