Boxing legend Ali, who turned 67 Saturday, is scheduled to be an honored guest at Monday’s Bluegrass Ball, a celebration sponsored by the Kentucky Society of Washington. That same night, Hall of Fame baseball player Winfield is narrating a documentary on the Negro Leagues that will air on the MLB Network, coinciding with the King holiday.
Winfield also plans to be at the swearing-in — or perhaps the parade, depending on the tickets he was expecting to receive.
“It’s just a unique time and place,” Winfield said. “My wife and I felt we should be a part of this one.”
One sports figure doesn’t have to fret at all about tickets or invitations. Oregon State men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson is Michelle Obama’s brother, so he’ll have a prime spot at the Capitol to witness the historic moment.
Of course, it’s easier for retired sports figures and those whose sports are out of season to make the inauguration than those who have a packed schedule of games to work around. New York Knicks and former Chicago Bulls guard Chris Duhon, who used to play pickup games with Obama in the Second City, is one of many basketball players frustrated that his day job won’t allow him to attend the ceremony in person.
“It was something I was looking forward to,” Duhon said. “If I had the time, I would have gone. But again, my obligations are to this Knicks team. I’m just going to sit on my couch to watch it.”
Viewing parties and ad-hoc get-togethers are planned for teams and fans wherever they happen to be Tuesday at noon. The Chicago White Sox even sent out a release proudly announcing that their mascot, Southpaw, has a spot on the Illinois float in the inauguration parade.
For the truly bizarre, there is Philadelphia 76ers guard Andre Miller, who couldn’t be bothered to vote and has a “whatever” view of politics. Yet, because some friends of his ended up with tickets, he said he is planning to skip practice Tuesday — risking a probable fine from his team — to attend the inauguration and one of the balls later in the day.
“I’m conservative. I’m whatever, basically,” Miller said. “Yeah, I would have voted for Obama. But I keep my views to myself. I’m still excited.”
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Czech Tomas Berdych snapped a run of 11 consecutive defeats by world number one Novak Djokovic to reach the semi-finals of the Rome Masters before Rafa Nadal was stretched to the limit against David Ferrer on Friday.
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