I suppose my abiding interest in the game of basketball was reignited last year while watching the superlative play of Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. He led the Warriors to their first NBA title in many decades and was universally recognized as the MVP. This year, despite a nagging leg injury, Curry is once again the hottest name in basketball and is currently recognized as the spark plug of his team. His games are on Channel 812 on Cable Television.
Watching Curry perform is magic and reminds me of the legendary Bob Cousey. In Curry’s case, he is surpassing the once-regarded master of ball-handling. This comes because Curry is able to do with two hands what Cousey was only able to accomplish with one. Curry’s ambidexterity continues to amaze even the most enthusiastic fans of the sport.
Some of the major topics of kaffee klatches here locally are current sports, politics and the eternal question, “What brought you to Nevada in the first place?” When this question was first posed to me, I replied that it was because I could handle a basketball. The backstory to this is that because I had skipped the 4th grade in school, I finished high school a year early. During a long-ago Christmas party in Florida, I chanced to bump into one of my high school buddies named Hal Hayes. I asked him where he had been since his graduation from high school that year. He replied that he had garnered a football scholarship to the University of Nevada and he had returned home because his 18th birthday was imminent and he was going to join the Navy before he was eligible for the WWII draft.
When he, in turn, asked what I had been doing, I told him I had spent the summer in the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program at Auburn, Alabama. Since my return to Florida, I had managed to score the best job in town, which was delivering ice. (Those exciting times will be discussed in a future column.)
Hayes noted that since I had been a member of a championship high school basketball team and since I would not turn 18 until mid-May, he would call the Nevada coach and get me a full-ride basketball scholarship. I took his offer with a grain of salt, but to my surprise, three days later I received a telegram from Nevada coach Jim Aiken, offering me that full-ride scholarship with the added information that my Greyhound bus ticket followed.
On a lark, I decided to accept and since it was the middle of winter, my mother suggested I might want to wear a scarf in case it got cold on the cross-country bus trip. She proved to be right, as I arrived after midnight in Reno with the city covered in a foot-and-a-half of snow. Clad in a Palm Beach suit and penny loafers, I was ill-equipped to weather the elements.
I had arrived at a late hour because several of the bus connections, especially those in Salt Lake City, had been postponed because all available Greyhound stages were being re-routed to carry troops eastward for deployment to the European theater to fight the Battle of the Bulge.
Alone at the bus station, I had no idea where to go, so I placed a call to Coach Aiken and roused him from his slumber. He advised me to take a cab to Lincoln Hall, find a room and see him in the morning. When I told him I didn’t think I had taxi fare, he said, “Charge it to me.” Once in the cab, I received one of my most memorable salutations as the cab driver noted, “You’re another one of those tramp athletes that Aiken has brought to town!”