When senior editor Sandy Padwe was growing up in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., he often spent evenings at the 109th Field Artillery Armory in nearby Kingston, cheering on the local minor league pro basketball team, the Wilkes-Barre Barons, against such rivals as the Scranton (Pa.) Miners, the Elmira ( N.Y.) Pioneers and the Paterson (N.J.) Crescents. And he was sure to be present when such NBA teams as the Rochester Royals and the Syracuse Nationals came to town for exhibitions. "Those were real occasions," says Padwe, whose idol was Syracuse star Dolph Schayes. "That was my first taste of the NBA."
For Padwe, 48, who planned and edited the NBA preview that begins on page 46, rooting for the Barons was the start of a lifelong association with pro basketball. In 1963 he joined UPI in New York and was assigned to the local basketball scene. "Between Knicks games and college and pro doubleheaders," he says, "you could spend your entire week at Madison Square Garden. Joe Lapchick was coaching St. John's then. He used to take the writers to the Surrey Deli in Queens and tell us how he planned to play a team. He was very patient. He wanted us to learn the game."
Later, as a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Padwe covered classic Wilt Chamberlain-Bill Russell confrontations, notably the one in Boston's seventh-game win in the 1968 Eastern Conference finals, in which Philly's Chamberlain took just two shots in the second half. "I still think Russell psyched Chamberlain out," says Padwe. "It was a terrific game. At the time, Russell called it his most satisfying win."
In 1970 Padwe wrote a book on hoops, Basketball's Hall of Fame, and in 1972 he joined Long Island-based Newsday and began following Julius Erving, then with the Virginia Squires. Since coming to SI in 1977, Padwe has edited—in addition to pro basketball—pro football, boxing, horse racing and swimming. Away from the office, he enjoys the ballet and quiet weekends in the country with his wife, Daphne Hurford, author of a recently published book about male ballet dancers, The Right Moves.
Padwe was at Boston Garden for Game 2 of last year's Eastern Conference playoff series between the Celtics and the Chicago Bulls. "To watch Michael Jordan is to see how the game has progressed," says Padwe. "To see him and Larry Bird on the same court was an unbelievable treat."