Saturday, March 17, 2007


I'm going to make a long story short. I'm not so sure the tale I began on the last post is the kind of story best told on a blog. What I will do, to satisfy those who are curious, is offer a scaled down version of what happened next.

Basketball remained important to me. After I graduated I played in a church league. I had this real good friend. I'll call him Jody. He was a prep school guy whose father was a big wig who worked for one of the mills. Jody and I were the two guards on the team. One Saturday night, after our game was over and another game had begun, Jody and I were standing next to the gym's exit door. There was a fuse box on the wall. Jody said, " Watch this. " He opened the box and pulled a few fuses from their sockets. The gym went dark.

Jody and I snuck out the door, walked to my father's car and got in. We drove to Northampton.

This happened in 1965. Jody went on to college. I did, too, but failed miserably. Then I joined the Air Force. Jody and I kept in touch. After I was discharged, we started hanging around together again. He was living in Maryland.

I took a bus down there and spent a few days with my friend. This was in 1972. Basketball was still the glue that bonded us together. Jody's apartment was just a few miles from the University of Maryland. Maryland at that time was coached by Lefty Dreisell, a man whom my friend Jody may or may not have known better than most Terrepin fans.

Jody had two roommates. One of them was a student at Georgetown Law School. The other one was the future attorney's dumb ass kid brother. He was very tall and lanky. Looked like he might have played basketball in high school. His nickname was " Spider. "

Spider had long hair and a beard. He was about 22 and was not, as far as I could tell, gainfully employed.

Jody and his roommates hung out at a dive they called " The Vous. " That was short for Rendezvous. It was a bar that smelled of spilled cheap beer and old vomit. There was a pool table in the back room and a juke box. For a quarter you could hear John Fogarty sing " Bad Moon Rising, " The Alman Brothers and a Jim Croce tune.

What did we talk about there? To the best of my recollection we did not talk much about politics. Sure, it was 1972. Nixon was in the white house. Haldeman, Ehrlichman, too.

Jody's apartment was a stone's throw from the white house. He had his opinions about the politics of the time. But it was basketball that was on his mind most of the time.

He talked about Lefty. He talked about Tom McMillen. Jody and his roommates loathed McMillen.

" Squeaky clean, Dudley Do Right, " he said of the Terrepin player who went on to serve in congress after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Jody's roommate, the one who was going to law school, lived at the track. Loved the horses. Spent more time at Pimlico than he did in lecture halls at Georgetown.

One night, after downing some beers at a tavern in Georgetown, the four of us drove north to the Baltimore-Washington airport. This was a long time ago. My mind was clouded by beer. I don't remember it well...

But to the best of my recollection...

Our aim was to greet a young man, a freshman forward for the University of Maryland team. We arrived at the airport, parked the car and entered the terminal. The very tall young man was there. Jody introduced me to him. Then Jody's roommates talked to the tall, skinny young man.

Jody and I went to the mens room. When we came out, The tall young man was gone.

I wondered. What was this about? Why had we driven from D.C. to the airport just to greet this young player?

This was 1972. Drugs were part of the scene. Jody did everything under the sun, but not in my presence. He knew I was a Tom McMillen type, a squeaky clean guy whose worst vice was beer.

And Jody's roommates. One of them spent an inordinate amount of time at the track. He was a gambler. Spider? Who knew what he was up to?

Lefty Driesell was forced to resign from his Maryland coaching job after the drug related death of one of his players... This was in 1984. A long time after...

I have no way of knowing if there is any connection between what I've written about my friend and his roommates and the end of Lefty's career...

What I do know is this. Jody darkened that gym. Pulled the fuse out of the socket. My good friend loved the game, but he seemed, at least to me, to be someone who had mixed feelings about how the game should be played.

Maryland played Butler today in a second round game in the NCAA Tournament. My bracket pick? Butler.

Maryland lost.

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