"I was going for a little speed, like an idiot, and I was going around the people like I was flying and I landed on my chest and face. Babe, I was shook up. My ears were ringing and my neck was burning. I got what they call skier's thumb."
Nicholson wore a white cast with his black tuxedo that week at the Academy Awards, when he failed to win Best Actor for Prizzi's Honor, but he was so happy for the winner of Best Supporting Actress, Prizzi's Anjelica Huston, that he cried. She is the daughter of Prizzi's director, John Huston, and she's also Nicholson's 13-year, live-out girlfriend. "That's all we wanted out of the night," Jack says. "Just wanted one for Toots [Anjelica]. Babe, I was hysterical."
But as much as Nicholson loves the Oscars, had it not been for Toots's nomination he might have dumped them for the Lakers-San Antonio game that night at the Forum. Nicholson would rather guest-host
Hollywood Squares for a week than miss a Laker home game. It's one of the six biggies—skiing and sex, art and acting, books and basketball—in his life, and nobody indulges his passions quite like Jack Nicholson. He spends at least three months a year in Aspen, has a reputation as a world-class womanizer, keeps a museum-quality collection of art in his house (the place is so stuffed that he hangs a Botero in the bathroom), is "one of the best actors Hollywood has ever produced," according to director Stanley Kubrick, can quote you everything from I Ching to Don King and, most of all, allows almost nothing to come between himself and his two $125-a-night seats at the Forum, three seats down from the visiting coach. And when the Lakers are on the road he's often there with them, front and center, wearing one of his 25 pairs of designer sunglasses. If he can't get to the game, the Lakers make him a tape—with Chick Hearn's broadcast voiced over—and express-mail it to him. Nicholson even has season tickets for the L.A. Clippers just so he can have a front-row seat when the Lakers play them.
He is the most famous, most visible, most audacious fan in NBA history. He has engaged coaches in yelling matches, was widely reported to have dropped his drawers to a Boston Garden crowd (although the story may have been distorted as it grew into legend) and so infuriated one coach that he tried to get the league to put a leash on Nicholson. And for all of that he is not just tolerated, he is celebrated, most recently in an award-winning NBA ad, for which he waived his usual (exorbitant) fee.
Nicholson is so good at what he does that he can practically foam at the mouth in the front row and not have to worry about what people will think. He is so rich that he doesn't have to pretend to be into opera. And he is so ribaldly rabid about his team that he has ventured into the Boston Garden, the very tabernacle of the Celtic faith, waving towels, giving the choke sign, gesturing obscenely to the crowd—and every year he makes it out alive. Two years ago, somebody outside the Garden was selling T-shirts printed with a garden-variety vulgarity and Nicholson's name: BLEEP BLEEP, JACK. Delighted, Nicholson bought them all. "I loved 'em," he says. "All my friends got one."
How can you hate a guy who buys up all your insults? Now that's disarming.
The truth about Nicholson is that if he weren't a movie star, he would probably be at the Garden anyway, screaming his larynx off, waving towels, giving the choke sign and worse. He's Jack Nicholson, illegitimate child, former horseplayer, ex-pickup-basketball rat from Neptune, N.J., and he's mooning the world.
And grinning his face off.
Koufax. Koufax kicks. He delivers. It's up the middle! It's a base hit! Richardson's rounding first, he's going for second. The ball's into deep right center. Davis's over to cut the ball off. Here comes the throw, Richardson's around first, he's going for second, he slides! He's in there! He's safe! It's a double! He's in there, Martini! Look at Richardson! He's on second base! Koufax is in big, bleepin' trouble! Big trouble, Baby! All right. Here's Tresh. He's the next batter. Tresh looks in. Koufax gets the sign from Roseboro. He kicks once, he pumps, he fires. It's a strike! Koufax's curveball is snapping off like a bleepin' firecracker! All right. Here he comes with the next pitch. Tresh swings. It's a long fly ball to deep left center! It's going, it's going, it's gone! (Mayhem.) Somebody get me a bleepin' wiener before I die! (More mayhem.) All right. Koufax is looking down at the great Mickey Mantle now! Here comes the pitch! Mantle swings! It's a bleepin' home run!
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Ad-libbed off a box score of the 1963 World Series.