Wayne Gretzky at 50

wayne-gretzky-SI-1988.jpgSpeaking of milestone birthdays, Wayne Gretzky turns 50 on Wednesday. This will be noted with some wistfulness in Canada, where they have been following his feats since he was about four and where he is the country's top athlete ever. He's pretty much also the most accomplished sports pro to play for a Los Angeles team, though I guess a case could be made for Kareem. (Favorite stat: Gretzky would be hockey's top all-time scorer even if you don't count the goals he scored.) Anyway, the Globe and Mail in Toronto talks to Gretzky:

Nobody likes to face death straight on. For me, I’m no different than anyone else. You worry. You want to be around to see your kids grow. You want to see and meet your grandchildren. You want your kids to be happy. But in my life, the only time I’ve really thought about that was when Ace Bailey [died] in 9/11.

Him and I spent a lot of time travelling together and he used to comfort me when we flew. [Gretzky was a notorious white-knuckle flyer]. He was always the one telling me ‘don’t worry,’ etc. etc. And then, to find that he was on one of the planes that went into the World Trade Center, that was the one death that really hit me; and got me thinking, ‘wow, what’s going on?’ ”

Bailey and fellow Los Angeles Kings scout Mark Bavis died on board United Airlines Flight 175.

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