Loose Balls: Easy Money, Hard Fouls, Cheap Laughs, and True Love in the NBA - Jayson Williams
Before signing me up, the Sixers' top guys met with me in a Midtown hotel in New York City. They heard I was fat, out of shape. They were worried about the broken foot, too. It was Harold Katz, then the owner, and Gene Shue, then the general manager. They wanted me to run up and down the hotel ballroom. They thought I might be damaged goods. I told 'em I understood their concerns, but I had a better idea. Instead of running up and down in a damn ballroom, why didn't I run up and down on a basketball court for them? I said, "We can go to a park by my house." They thought it was a great idea and we agreed to go on down there.
Harold and Gene didn't know it, but the park we were going to was down on the Lower East Side, right next to the school I went to, P.S. 137. And before we drove down there, I called the principal, and I told him what's happening.
So when we got to the park, he's let the whole school out early, and there's nine hundred kids in the park, surrounding the court, hanging on the chain-link fence, screaming and yelling and cheering, "Williams! Williams! Williams! Williams!."
And I'm running and dunking and jumping, up and down and up and down. I'm flying! It's like one of those bad made-for-TV movies. I mean, I'm two feet above the rim, scraping my elbows on metal. And the kids are screaming and Harold and Gene are happy about the whole thing. They're talking to each other.
"Holy smokes!" they're saying. "We got a steal with this guy!"
Harold and Gene spent the next two years watching me miss layups, stumble around, saying, "What the heck happened at that park? Was that an optical illusion or what?"
They told Charles Barkley they were confused, because they'd seen me playing about two feet above the rim.
Charlie says, "You seen who? Doing what? When?"
What Harold and Gene and Charlie didn't know is that the basket at that park is only nine feet high.