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 previous 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 ropes,” related Hawkins. “Assured him that Wilt (Chamberlain) wouldd bite his head n’t off. . .”
We nodded once again, and began taking into consideration the 1968-69 NBA period for 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.
During the time, Hawkins ended up being a 32-year-old, 6-foot-5 book ahead out of Notre Dame in their tenth period into the NBA, plus it would grow to be their last one.
For a great percentage of the normal period, I became truly the only journalist vacationing using 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 by the players, and would play cards together with them through the airplane trips and become invited to own supper using them whenever on the way and would drive the coach using them to your arenas.
Tommy Hawkins certainly ended up being quite accommodating, as were the Laker broadcasters, Chick Hearn and Rod that is hot Hundley an inveterate skirt-chaser on a group filled with such kinds.
Blessedly, I happened to be in a position to keep a relationship that is affable the volatile Chamberlain after a fairly erratic come from which he took exclusion to one thing I’d discussing him when you look at the L.A. Herald Examiner.
“Wilt Chamberlain was the tallest spectator in the Forum yesterday evening,” is just how we exposed one of many my stories in evaluating 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 might be composing that (bleep)? across me personally within the hallway associated with Forum offices, looked down threateningly”
With all the brazen disdain of youth, we pointed to my chin and stated challengingly to him, ‘Go ahead, Wilt, hit me personally. I’m broke. I want the amount of money.”
Wilt Chamberlain regarded me having a interested appearance, shook their head, also handled a poor laugh, and stepped away.
He’d become one of my closest buddies regarding the group from then on event, and I also can’t remember exactly how many times that period therefore the next when we’d rent cars and drive around towns 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 had a strained relationship during that period as a result of my close friendship with Chamberlain, as did VBK and Chamberlain.
We took Chamberlain’s part on a few passionate disagreements he had with van Breda Kolff that I made general general public, and Frank Deford also composed in a Sports Illustrated article that the Herald Examiner had been Chamberlain’s paper together with L.A. occasions 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 possess Thanksgiving dinner aided by the united group in Philadelphia.
It abthereforelutely was so various in those times for a newspaperman than it really is now.
The Lakers now have actually their very own airplane, and article writers aren’t permitted to travel onto it.
Nor perform some authors now carry on the united group coach to your arena, when I regularly did.
Nor do they drive the trains, when I did because of the united 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 returning to my L.A. office.
Chick Hearn constantly kept everyone loose with their one-liners that are sarcastic and I also usually had been the receiver of these, 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 card that is skilled and who additionally were certainly one of my senior school athletic idols.
While he has become, Baylor was standoffish and guarded, but had a feeling of humor he frequently kept concealed, while Jerry western ended up being an affable chatterbox albeit the majority of their chatter never ever managed to make it into the sporting pages.
Chamberlain had been a loner whom went his or her own method off court, and I also can’t inform you just how many very early evening telephone calls on off times I received from Chamberlain inviting us to have supper I always readily accepted with him, which.
Chamberlain gained extensive notoriety later on inside the life as he reported in a novel which he had intercourse with 20,000 ladies, a claim which inspired laughter from those of us whom knew him well and knew their proclivity for monumental exaggeration.
It had been 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 period games, and it also must have won the NBA name.
Bill Russell would walk from the Forum flooring for the final time on real latin brides sites May 5, 1969, as he would lead the Boston Celtics up to a 108-106 make an impression on the Lakers in Game 7, once more obtaining the better of Chamberlain, in addition to Baylor and western.
Jerry West wept afterwards, and, sheepishly, i need to acknowledge used to do for an instant, too, a reporter that is young up when you look at the feeling of a 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 season that is next we once more chronicled the group.
The 1969-70 Lakers additionally would lose within the NBA finals in a casino game 7 towards the ny Knicks.
But no rips arrived on the scene of my eyes after the setback.
The happy innocence that suffused my soul for the past period had disappeared forever.