SI Vault
 
Looks Aren't Everything
Rick Reilly
May 28, 2001
I'm going to bring an NBA legend into the room, and I want you to close your eyes while I describe him.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
May 28, 2001

Looks Aren't Everything

View CoverRead All Articles

I'm going to bring an NBA legend into the room, and I want you to close your eyes while I describe him.

Compared with the rest of today's superstars, he's small—mostly heart and scabs—but as tough as a '48 pickup. In his prime he was a wind-up toy who never stopped moving without the ball, busting through picks and elbows and knees as though he was trying to break the world record for bruises. He'd go 48 minutes most every game, usually nursing more injuries than an ER episode. He was a Nintendo-type scorer with a gorgeous jumper who considered being knocked to the floor part of his follow-through.

You're thinking Jerry West, right?

Wrong.

This guy was electric. He could carry an offense, a team, a city by himself. One night he would torch an opponent for 50 points and the next decide to beat the opposition with assists. He was unpredictable, unguardable and unforgettable. He had moves that could make your pupils dilate. He was the idol of millions around the world, one of the three greatest players of his day.

You're thinking Michael Jordan, right?

Wrong.

This guy seemed to be appreciated only by the fans who saw him night after night. He was shy with the press, yet honest as a Sunday confessional. He dressed the same every day and was mocked for it. He was the same man whether in front of the camera or in the line at the deli. He stayed true to his high school friends. He was a family man whose first move after he left the locker room was to sweep up his two small kids. He never let the fame or the money or the trophies change him.

You're thinking John Stockton, right?

Wrong.

Continue Story
1 2 3