Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17th, 1994

"We are witnessing a modern tragedy and drama of Shakespearean proportions being played out live on television," intones Tom Brokaw at the start of this 3 minute clip below. NBC broke into coverage of Game 5 of the NBA finals on June 17, 1994, to cover the surreal, low-speed car chase unfolding along the freeways of Los Angeles.  Football legend OJ Simpson was in the back of a white Ford Bronco holding a gun to his head, having been formally charged earlier that day with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole.

Because OJ is almost universally reviled today, it can be hard to remember how shocking this was at the time, and how legions of spectators gathered spontaneously along the route to cheer him on.  This clip contains audio of  OJ's conversation with an LAPD detective via cel phone during the drive.  The detective tries continuously to talk OJ out of killing himself.   ("I'm just gonna leave. I'm just gonna be with Nicole.") I'd never heard this before.

Earlier that day his long-time friend Robert Kardashian, who is better known posthumously today as Kim Kardashian's father, read a suicide note that OJ had left behind.  I've always remembered the penultimate line, "Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person."

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