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The sports nonfiction fix continues. This week I get to read about drugs, strip clubs, orgies on chartered planes, massive egos, Charles Haley’s enormous penis and, oh yes, football.
Here’s an anecdote about my brush with the famed Jeff Pearlman.
I had a couple of chance interactions with Pearlman when I was a lowly intern at SI. My desk was right next to one of the office printers (that’s got to be one of the worst places to sit in an office, only ranking behind a cubicle across from the bathrooms). Everyone had to stand by my desk to pick up their printouts. Most people would say a quick hello or strike a contrived conversation before leaving.
Pearlman was by far the most entertaining. He’d walk up to get his printouts, see me and simply say, “You’re fired.” Every time he came by the printer.
I took it well, an eager 20-year-old intern willing to take abuse from one of SI’s top reporters. Honored, in fact.
But I do get the last laugh. I borrowed his book from the library. Like he needs the extra royalties anyway.
My second Jordan book in three months. Halberstam delivers some incredible nuggets and anecdotes in the book. While “The Jordan Rules” was enjoyable, Halberstam digs deeper into the psyche and motivations of those Bulls teams.
The book did get me thinking about how things might have been different if the Sonics and Bulls had completed a Shawn Kemp for Scottie Pippen trade. George Karl wanted it, Jerry Krause wanted it. If I recall correctly, the deal was ready to be finalized on draft day on 1994 before then-Sonics owner Barry Ackerly got cold feet — bowing to fan pressure — and exercised his veto power.
If the deal had gone through, the Sonics’ starting lineup for the 1994-95 season: Gary Payton at point, Kendall Gill at the 2, Pippen as the small forward, Detlef Schrempf at the four, Perkins at the five.
I like that lineup, I really do. That’s a scary defense for any opposing team: agile, athletic, quick, versatile. Nate McMillan comes off the bench. Sure, the Sonics would be a bit undersized, but they make up for it by implementing a suffocating press initiated by their two floor generals, GP and Pippen. Karl’s dream team.
Offensively, Karl would have his favorite toys, a cadre of players who could bring the ball up or play off it. Back then (and now), Karl was all about playing uptempo; he relished a frenetic pace based on defense and transition offense. Pippen would step right in and fill the scoring void — the Sonics averaged 110 points per game that season — and create shots for every player on the floor.
The Supes lost to the Lakers in the first round that season. I blame the Tacoma Dome for the loss (the Coliseum was being renovated — poorly as we all found out — at the time). Tacoma is no place for NBA basketball (and neither is Renton). But what if we had Pippen instead of the Reignman? Cedric Ceballos would’ve been shut down, but Nick Van Exel still might vex GP. I might hop over to Whatifsports.com — my new addiction — to find out.
Of course, we can only play what if forever. Like, what if the Sonics were still in Seattle? Man, I miss my SuperSonics.
The truck driver might have been too eager to reduce, reuse and recycle today. I encountered this scene on my morning walk on Queen Anne in Seattle.
Good news: the Porsche suffered only a minor scrape on the right side of the rear fender. Better news: the Wicked Witch of the East was flattened and killed.