On June 17, 1994, news and the sports world collided. O.J. Simpson, the Heisman Trophy winner turned Pro Football Hall of Famer turned actor turned broadcaster, was the main suspect of the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ronald Goldman. Simpson was allowed to turn himself in by 11 a.m. PT, but he failed to do so. What ensued was a day-long search by the Los Angeles police to find Simpson, capped off by a car chase between LAPD and Simpson's Ford Bronco.
Meanwhile, the sports world was making history that would have been newsworthy anyway. June 17, 1994, was no innocent Friday. New York City was buzzing over the prospect of dual NHL and NBA champions, the FIFA World Cup made its debut on American soil, Arnold Palmer played his final U.S. Open hole and MLB was on the verge of its darkest hour.
The O.J. Simpson chase, along with the rest of the active sports day, created one of the most meaningful days in American sports.
June 17, 1994: What Happened Other Than O.J. Simpson Chase
Rangers' Stanley Cup Parade
Three days earlier, the Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup title drought with a 3-2 Game 7 win over the Canucks. On June 17, fans flooded the Canyon of Heroes to celebrate with Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Adam Graves and the Rangers. During the parade, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani exclaimed, "One more thought: Go, Knicks!" The parade took place just hours before the Knicks hosted Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Rockets at Madison Square Garden, site of the Rangers' clincher.
Arnold Palmer's Last U.S. Open Round
Palmer returned to the national championship one last time. The seven-time major champion was given a USGA exemption to play at Oakmont in his home state, Pennsylvania. Palmer's previous U.S. Open had been at Oakmont in 1983, and his first U.S. Open, as an amateur, was at Oakmont in 1953, won by Ben Hogan. Palmer's June 17 round marked his final appearance at the U.S. Open. Palmer finished his 36 holes at 16-over, 11 shots short of the cut. Palmer gave a salute to the crowd before an emotional press conference. A 24-year-old named Ernie Els won.
World Cup Opening Ceremony
In Chicago, Oprah Winfrey hosted the opening ceremony for the first (and so far, only) FIFA World Cup hosted in the United States. At a sold-out Soldier Field, Diana Ross gave a spirited performance and kicked the inaugural shot of the tournament. Daryl Hall and Jon Secada also performed.
World Cup Opening Games
President Bill Clinton spoke at the opening ceremony, which served as a precursor for the opening game as Soldier Field hosted a 1-0 German victory over Bolivia. The lone German goal scorer: Forward Jurgen Klinsmann. Spain tied South Korea 2-2 later in the day at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and the following afternoon the United States opened with a 1-1 tie versus Switzerland at the Pontiac Silverdome near Detriot.
NBA Finals Game 5 Tip-Off
In a piece two weeks ago, CBS Sports' Ken Berger referred to the 1994 NBA Finals between the Knicks and Rockets as "The Forgotten Finals" as it took place during Michael Jordan's baseball sabbatical. Then with the Knicks and Rockets tied 2-2 in the series, Game 5 on June 17, NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol was pulling his hair out next to NBA Commissioner David Stern. The world itched for O.J. coverage, while NBC was supposed to air the NBA Finals.
NBC's NBA Finals Coverage
The broadcast is remembered for the back-and-forth between commentators Marv Albert and Matt Guokas, pregame and halftime host Bob Costas, who was located in the arena, and NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw. All three updated viewers on the status of both stories, often with as split screens. Perhaps the most famous "missed" action came when the Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon and the Knicks' Anthony Mason tussled with each other while the NBC broadcast put its full attention on O.J., who also happened to be an NBC employee.
NBA In-Game Chatter
As for the players, their focus was perhaps not up to NBA Finals-level. In Berger's piece, Kenny Smith, who was a Rockets guard, said: "There wasn't Twitter; there wasn't Instagram. We're getting bits and pieces of what was going on. You just saw the televisions on the sideline and the chase going by. And I'm screaming on the bench, 'Hey guys, O.J.'s on the run!' And they're like, 'What?' " In the middle of the NBA Finals, we're talking about O.J. on the run."
Pat Riley Is Asked About O.J.
After the game, a 91-84 Knicks win behind a 25-point, 12-rebound performance by Patrick Ewing, a fan with a beer-filled cup came into Knicks coach Pat Riley's press conference and asked, "If O.J. cuts left instead of right, do you think he makes it?" The game scored a 7.8 Nielsen rating -- the lowest-rated Finals game since the Bird-Magic Era began in 1979.
Ken Griffey Jr. Hits 30th Home Run
In Kansas City, Ken Griffey Jr. completed a feat that would perhaps be more historic had it happened any other day. In the third inning, the Mariners' centerfielder belted a solo home run off the Royals' David Cone. The home run was Griffey's 30th of the season, making him the only player at the time other than Babe Ruth to reach the mark before June 30. Griffey hit 40 home runs in 1994, playing in all but one of the Mariners' 112 contests. The MLB season was canceled after August 11 due to a players' strike.
Donald Fehr Expresses Skepticism
At the O'Hare Hilton, Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Players Association, met with 55 players for the first time after the owners presented a proposal for a salary cap. According to a June 17, 1994, New York Times article, Fehr said he was "not confident" an agreement could be worked out during the season. The meeting set the wheels in motion to set up a vote for a strike date.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.