1990, Philly again. The eve of a regular-season romp between La Salle and Loyola Marymount at the Civic Center. The Lions' Hank Gathers sitting on a bench following a shootaround, his body taut but his brow furrowed, as he tries to describe how, notwithstanding a clean bill of health from his doctors concerning his heart, there is still...something...wrong....
1993, Tobacco Road. Meeting the families of Eric Montross and Grant Hill, both so rare in this sport, in that each has a dad still paired with a mom. And what moms: Janice Montross, waiting for a flight home to Indiana after one of her son's games, reading the memoirs of Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu. Janet Hill squeezing in an interview during a business trip to Manhattan. At the St. Regis. For tea.
1994, Charlotte, N.C. During the final seconds of the NCAA title game—and of my 11-year hitch—the ball coming off the hand of Arkansas's Scotty Thurman with a release so perfect a lawyer might have drawn it up. The ball tracing a huge and proud arc, and the basket being there to meet it.
Not a bad parting shot.