The ol’ times of Purple and Gold In the Southern California Sportscasters Association
During the Southern California Sportscasters Association luncheon last week at Lakeside greens at Toluca Lake, we went into Tommy Hawkins, a long-time neighborhood broadcaster who additionally struggled to obtain years in community affairs aided by the l . a . Dodgers.
“I broke Doug in,” he told Lisa Bowman, a broadcaster that is former.
“You did?” she reacted.
“Just ask him,” responded Hawkins.
We nodded with an amused smiled.
“How’d you break him in?” Bowman wondered.
“Introduced him around. . . showed him the ropes,” related Hawkins. “Assured him that Wilt (Chamberlain) wouldn’t bite their mind off. . .”
We nodded once again, and started taking into consideration the 1968-69 NBA season by which I happened to be 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.
During the time, Hawkins ended up being a 32-year-old, 6-foot-5 book ahead away from Notre Dame in the season that is 10th in NBA, also it would grow to be his last one.
For a beneficial part of the normal period, I happened to be the sole journalist traveling utilizing 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 become invited to own supper using them whenever on your way and would drive the coach together with them into the arenas.
Tommy Hawkins certainly ended up being quite accommodating, as were the Laker broadcasters, Chick Hearn and Hot Rod Hundley, an inveterate skirt-chaser on a group full of such kinds.
Blessedly, I became in a position to keep an affable relationship with the volatile Chamberlain after an extremely erratic come from that 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 in the Forum yesterday evening,” is just how I launched one of many my tales in evaluating Chamberlain’s listless work throughout a Laker loss.
Well, a few days later on, he arrived at me and said, “Who in the (bleep) do you believe you may be composing that (bleep)? across me personally within the hallway for the Forum workplaces, looked down threateningly”
Because of the disdain that is brazen of, we pointed to my chin and stated challengingly to him, ‘Go ahead, Wilt, hit me personally. I’m broke. I would like the amount of money.”
Wilt Chamberlain regarded me personally having a wondering appearance, shook their mind, even handled a poor laugh, and strolled away.
He’d become certainly one of my closest buddies regarding the group from then on event, and I also can’t keep in mind what number of times that period plus the next when we’d rent cars and drive around urban centers like Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Boston watching the feminine scenery.
The advisor of this Laker group had been Butch van Breda Kolff, in which he and I possessed a strained relationship through that period as a result of my close friendship with Chamberlain, as did VBK and Chamberlain.
We took Chamberlain’s part on several disagreements that are passionate had with van Breda Kolff that We made general public, and Frank Deford also had written in a Sports Illustrated article that the Herald Examiner ended up being Chamberlain’s paper plus the L.A. Times had been VBK’s, that was accurate.
Nevertheless, despite our differences, van Breda Kolff never ever snubbed me personally, also welcoming us to possess Thanksgiving supper with all the united group in Philadelphia.
It abthereforelutely was so various in those times for the newspaperman than it really is now.
The Lakers now have actually their plane that is own article writers aren’t permitted to travel onto it.
Nor perform some article writers now continue the united group coach into the arena, when I regularly did.
Nor do they ride the trains, when I did with all the group from ny to Baltimore to Boston on a single journey.
Nor do they get back aided by the united group after games to your resort, when I constantly did.
I’d scurry up to my space, lb out my tale on a typewriter, then get a cab towards the nearest Western Union workplace, where somebody would telex it back into my L.A. workplace.
Chick Hearn constantly kept everyone loose with their sarcastic one-liners, and I also frequently 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 had been a skilled card player and whom 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 adult friend finder a sense of humor he often kept hidden, while Jerry West was an affable chatterbox albeit most of his chatter never made it.
Chamberlain had been a loner whom went his very own method off court, and I also can’t inform you what number of very very very early night telephone calls on off times I received from Chamberlain welcoming us to possess supper with him, that we constantly easily accepted.
Chamberlain gained extensive notoriety later on inside the life as he advertised 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 a great, 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 season that is regular, plus it must 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 obtaining the better of Chamberlain, also Baylor and western.
Jerry West wept afterwards, and, sheepishly, i have to acknowledge used to do for a second, too, a reporter that is young up into 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, and Joe Mullaney is the mentor the next period whenever we once more chronicled the group.
The 1969-70 Lakers additionally would lose within the NBA finals in a game title 7 into the nyc 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.