The other day at Lakeside Golf Course at Toluca Lake, I ran into Tommy Hawkins, a long-time local broadcaster who also worked for years in community affairs with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Southern California Sportscasters Association luncheon.
“I broke Doug in,” he told Lisa Bowman, a former broadcaster by herself.
“You did?” she reacted.
“Just ask him,” responded Hawkins.
We nodded by having an amused smiled.
“How’d you break him in?” Bowman wondered.
“Introduced him around. . . revealed him the adult chat room ropes,” related Hawkins. “Assured him that Wilt (Chamberlain) wouldn’t bite their mind off. . .”
We nodded once again, and started thinking about the 1968-69 NBA period by which I became a wide-eyed, naive, energetic, young reporter assigned to cover a Laker group that do not only had Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry western, but less popular players like Mel Counts, Johnny Egan, Keith Erickson, Billy Hewitt, Freddie Crawford and, needless to say, Tommy Hawkins.
At that time, Hawkins ended up being a 32-year-old, 6-foot-5 reserve forward away from Notre Dame inside the tenth period when you look at the NBA, plus it would turn into their last one.
For a great percentage of the standard period, I became really the only journalist traveling with the 11-man Laker group, and became type of its de facto 12th guy.
Really, by mid-season I happened to be addressed as a result because of the players, and would play cards using them through the airplane trips and stay invited to own supper using them when on the highway and would drive the coach together with them into the arenas.
Tommy Hawkins certainly had been quite accommodating, as were the Laker broadcasters, Chick Hearn and Hot Rod Hundley, an inveterate skirt-chaser on a group filled with such kinds.
Blessedly, I became in a position to keep an affable relationship with the volatile Chamberlain after an extremely erratic come from which he took exclusion to one thing I’d discussed him when you look at the L.A. Herald Examiner.
“Wilt Chamberlain was the tallest spectator during the Forum yesterday evening,” is the way in which we exposed among the my tales in assessing Chamberlain’s listless work within a Laker loss.
Well, a few days later on, he arrived at me and said, “Who when you look at the (bleep) do you believe you are composing that (bleep)? across me personally when you look at the hallway regarding the Forum workplaces, looked down threateningly”
Because of the brazen disdain of youth, we pointed to my chin and said challengingly to him, ‘Go ahead, Wilt, hit me. I’m broke. The money is needed by me.”
Wilt Chamberlain regarded me personally with a wondering look, shook their mind, also handled a poor look, and strolled away.
He’d be certainly one of my closest buddies in the group from then on event, and I also can’t keep in mind what number of times that period therefore the next when we’d rent cars and drive around metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Boston watching the feminine scenery.
The advisor of the Laker group had been Butch van Breda Kolff, in which he and we possessed a strained relationship during that period because of my close friendship with Chamberlain, as did VBK and Chamberlain.
We took Chamberlain’s part on a few disagreements that are passionate had with van Breda Kolff that We made general general public, and Frank Deford also had written in a Sports Illustrated article that the Herald Examiner had been Chamberlain’s paper while the L.A. instances had been VBK’s, that has been accurate.
Nevertheless, despite our differences, van Breda Kolff never ever snubbed me personally, also welcoming me personally to have Thanksgiving supper utilizing the group in Philadelphia.
It absolutely ended up being so various in those times for a newspaperman than it is currently.
The Lakers now have actually their very own airplane, and article writers aren’t allowed to travel onto it.
Nor perform some article writers now carry on the group coach towards the arena, when I regularly did.
Nor do they drive the trains, when I did using the group from New York to Baltimore to Boston on a single journey.
Nor do they get back using the united team after games towards the resort, as I constantly did.
I’d scurry up to my room, lb out my story for a typewriter, then get a cab to your nearest Western Union workplace, where somebody would telex it returning to my L.A. workplace.
Chick Hearn constantly kept everyone loose with their sarcastic one-liners, and I also usually had been the receiver of those, since had been the dour Laker trainer, Frank O’Neil.
We played plenty of gin rummy games that season with Rod Hundley and Elgin Baylor, who was simply a card that is skilled and who additionally been certainly one of my senior high school athletic idols.
Into the sporting pages as he is now, Baylor was standoffish and guarded, but had a sense of humor he often kept hidden, while Jerry West was an affable chatterbox albeit most of his chatter never made it.
Chamberlain ended up being a loner whom went his or her own method off court, and I also can’t inform you what number of very very early night telephone calls on off times we received from Chamberlain welcoming me to possess supper I always readily accepted with him, which.
Chamberlain gained extensive notoriety later in the life as he stated in a guide us who knew him well and knew his proclivity for monumental exaggeration that he had sex with 20,000 women, a claim which inspired laughter from those of.
It absolutely was an enjoyable, giddy time because i’m not Jose Canseco and betray juicy tidbits that weren’t intended for public exposure for me, and there are countless stories I can tell but won’t.
The group would win 55 regular season games, also it needs to have won the NBA name.
Bill Russell would walk off the Forum flooring when it comes to time that is final might 5, 1969, as he would lead the Boston Celtics to a 108-106 make an impression on the Lakers in Game 7, yet again having the better of Chamberlain, along with Baylor and western.
Jerry West wept later, and, sheepishly, i need to acknowledge i did so for an instant, too, a reporter that is young up within the feeling of the dark minute of a group with that we had become therefore closely aligned.
Jack Kent Cooke, the Laker owner, would fire Bill van Breda Kolff a couple of days later on, and Joe Mullaney is the mentor the next period whenever we yet again chronicled the group.
The 1969-70 Lakers additionally would lose within the NBA finals in a casino game 7 into the ny Knicks.
But no rips arrived on the scene of my eyes following the setback.
The happy purity that suffused my soul through the entire past period had disappeared forever.