"You know who's got what. I'd do fine."
Pippen has played one-on-one with Martin, his boyhood friend. The most recent time they played was during the summer at a camp that Pippen runs at Central Arkansas. Good game, too. Martin, who works for the Veterans Administration in Little Rock, was hitting the jumper and was even with Pippen with one basket left. Pippen rolled past him and dunked. Was that nice to do to a friend? Dunked. Martin says that is the way life goes. Some people keep on growing. Some people stop at 6'3". He says he does not mind, except when he sees Pippen miss some easy jumpers. A pro should not miss shots as easy as that.
The two friends are featured on a commercial for AT&T, a pleasant spot that mentions Pippen's coming trip to the Olympics and his memories of playing basketball when a character named Big Harold was controlling the local court. The commercial has the right mixture of home and going away, making it. Pippen likes to go back to see his mother, who lives in the new house he bought for her, and to see members of his family. He has a couple of brothers who have moved to Chicago, close to the action, but most are still in Hamburg. His brother Billy has a son who is 6'5". Came to the camp. Six-feet-five.
Jones, now the assistant athletic director at Central Arkansas, tells Pippen every year that the key to Pippen's success was drinking the water at the school, which came straight from the Arkansas River. Dyer says he tells the same thing to all the recruits. The school finished second in the NAIA tournament last year. Pippen is not sure what the key was. He simply grew. He worked hard, and he simply grew. He has kept his ears open and continued to grow. He has been blessed. Wayne, his high school coach, tells the juvenile-fiction story to his players. He says the lesson is not to quit. The odds are long, maybe a million to one, but success can come. He has seen it happen.
"All those guys who were out there trying to make it," Pippen says, "I guess they wonder, How did he do it? The answer is, I don't know. I guess it just happens."
He works now with his tickets, trying to figure out arrangements. Who should sit with whom? Who gets the better seats this year? Who got the better seats last year when the Bulls made their annual visit? Jordan talks about golf. He played during the morning, shot a 76 on a tough country club course. The pro at the club even signed his card. See?
The other Bulls are in various phases of dressing for the game. Pippen and Jordan sit. A Chicago sportswriter sees them and joins the group.
"Michael," he says, "you lead quite a life."