Shake Hands With
March 13, 2006
LF Meets Wilt
On the “seeing a celebrity in the bathroom” topic from Thursday, I’m going to stretch the premise a bit, and tell you the story of meeting my childhood idol in a locker room.
As I have previously divulged, I have been a diehard Lakers fan since their majestic ’72 Championship Run. Wilt Chamberlain and West Virginia favorite son Jerry West (AKA- Zeke from Cabin Creek) were my idols, but especially so with Wilt…he was so much bigger than life, and in my young mind, his legend (100 pts in a single game?!) made him a god of sorts to me. In a box somewhere in the attic of my old house, my Mom has a glued pasta likeness of Wilt Chamberlain that I made in Baptist Sunday School as a wee lad of four. Making the number 13 in macaroni shapes is tough for a kid that age, but through the process of creativity and steely reserve, I was able to manage it.
Fast forward a year or two into the Christmas season of ‘74, and I'm nearly 7 years old. The family trip was to see my aunt in San
Antonio over the holiday Break. She was the manager of
some “nice” apartments where Red McCombs’ elderly mother lived. Red McCombs was a very successful car dealer, and the owner of the newly founded San Antonio Spurs of the ABA…he was quite a big wheel in the Alamo City. As a courtesy, my aunt checked
up on Red’s mom for him daily to make sure that she hadn’t fallen and couldn’t get up, and to reciprocate, Red would hook her up with various fringe benefits, including good deals on Chryslers, and courtside
Spurs tickets when I came to town, because I was (and still am) a hoops junkie.
The San Diego Conquistadors were in SA for a game during the holidays at the old Hemisfair Arena, and Wilt happened to be the interim head coach for San Diego at the time. This was my chance to see my Laker idol in the living flesh (my bedroom was wall-to-wall posters of Wilt, Logo, and the Bucks era Kareem/Lew Alcindor) and
hopefully get his autograph…I was beyond psyched. Our seats
were choice, center court about 5 rows back from the scorer’s table.
I was there with my 2 older sisters, the elder of which was
quite a looker back then. Six feet, blonde, blue eyes, full
lips, lots of curves...about in her mid-20s. This brother who
was seated behind the Conquistador's bench had been digging
on her with some eye contact, and eventually decided to come over and get his mack on.
Before you know it, we find out that he's one of “Wilt's homeboys,”
and he can hook me up with a trip to the dressing room after the game to meet
Wilt and get his autograph. It all seemed a ruse just to get in her pants, but she worked it properly and won favor with him in case he was legit, just so I could meet Wilt. I was on the verge of spontaneously combusting in my stadium seat.
The Conquistadors wound up losing badly, and as the final buzzer sounded, the big moment was upon me... time to meet the “Big Dipper.” Homeboy was good on his word, and escorted me to the visitor's dressing room. Upon
opening the door, it was a long, very narrow dressing
room with lockers along either wall, wooden benches in
front of the lockers, with roughly 4-5 feet between the benches, forming a narrow passageway through the middle. But there at the end of it all in front of a chalkboard stood Wilt the Stilt, talking Xs and Os to one of the players, illuminated by the chalkboard lights as if he were some sort of a shiny oversized double-knit polyester god.
Now as I was walking alongside my new friend in that long narrow area
between the benches towards the Holiest of Wilts, homeboy was calling guys out by name and giving brother fists and fives and shit along the way, and in doing so drawing some attention to us as we passed through. Keep in mind I was 6 yrs old, blonde-hair, blue-eyes, and barely waist high to many of these huge physical specimens in various states of undress.
For the sake of clarity, I must divulge that my Dad was a high school basketball coach at the time, and as a lad I was a permanent fixture in the gym during practices and games. I had already seen a fair share of penises en route to and from the showers, so it was no big deal for me. However, the school he coached at was very suburban, very Texas, very white.
And lo, as fate would have it, I walked right past some brother
right as he dropped his jock, and at least 6 inches of
flaccid, uncircumcised Alabama blacksnake seemed to leap out
at the side of my head from its’ mesh cotton trap. I swear I heard it cut through the air, like some sort of low-budget kung-fu movie, as it swooshed right by my ear.
Involuntarily, I whipped my head around to behold this marvel. My eyes went as wide as saucers, and I suppose my jaw hit the floor. Even as we kept walking, I craned my neck to stare at it some more as we went by…it was horrific…horrible and terrific all at once. If you had one of those Tootsie Roll change banks when you were a kid, and wondered if there was actually a Tootsie Roll that big, the answer is yes. Sweet Sainted Mother Of(©JK) Rocco Siffredi!!
A couple of other players on the team had noticed my predickament, and started to bust a gut laughing on the little white boy who got scared by “Player
X's” monster johnson. Then a couple of other guys noticed (including the owner
of said dick) and they began to guffaw as well. By the time
I get to Wilt, he is laughing too, and I just stand in front
of him and stare up at him, program and pen extended, agog with total shock and awe.
Wilt asks me my name, whereupon I somehow remembered and told him in a cracking and nervous voice. He signs my program, tousles my
tow-headed mop, acknowledges my newfound brother-friend with a 70s jive handshake and salutation, and sends me on my way.
As I then turn, I realize I must begin the long walk back towards yonder door, down this longest valley of freak schlongs. I keep my eyes firmly fixed upon the polished concrete floor before me, in order to avoid another such embarrassing spellbinding encounter. Yet this opposite action also gets a round of chuckles to my dismay. I then make my exit swiftly, clutching the freshly inked program hard against my chest, obviously traumatized, and in desperate need of the comfort of a tall glass of chocolate milk and a grilled cheese sandwich.
The new brother-friend returned me to my sisters waiting outside in the arena corridor, whereupon his overtures were stopped abruptly, and we made our way to the parking lot. He had been played for a sucker by my sister, but I suppose to him it was worth a shot for some o’ dat.
And although I was richer one much coveted Wilt autograph, I was also a bit wiser about the world and the way things are. Holy crap…I had met “The Stilt.”
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