"He is an absolute hedonist," says one of the Laker functionaries. "He loves steam baths and beer. When the typical NBA coach gets to a new town, he looks for the nearest bar. Bill looks for the nearest steam room. Then he looks for the nearest bar. In Cincinnati they call him Mr. Steam. He thinks nothing of taking two or three steam baths a day. But he loves life, this man. He's a joyful person. He gets a kick out of every breath of fresh air. And when he's drunk too much beer and smoked too many cigars and done too much hollering and his throat is raw, he quits for a while, and I say to him, 'Bill, I guess you're through with drinking and smoking for good, huh?' And he says, 'You nuts? I'm just waiting for my throat to get better so I can start up again!' The guys I feel sorry for are the ones that try to keep up with him. He's so big and strong it doesn't bother him, but what about them?"
"Well, isn't the whole idea of life to meet your responsibilities and enjoy yourself?" says Van Breda Kolff. "Too many of these coaches around the league don't seem to be having any fun. Look at them. They sit there on the bench and look like they're slowly dying. They've all got pretty good personalities, but they're all a little odd in their own ways, too, or they'd be in other jobs. Look at all the concentration that's involved, the intensity, and it lasts for 10, 11 months, counting practice and all. A coach has to be a little weird to take all that. I tell you: one of the toughest things about it is the sheer length. We used to play 25 games in college, but now it's up to 82 games in the pros plus exhibitions plus playoffs and you've got to be up for every one of them. And I'm wringing wet after every game. I don't care if we win by 50, I'm still a wreck, and I'm off to the nearest saloon as quick as I can get there. I can't imagine a coach not having a few beers after a game. To me, that would be the weirdest thing of all!"
The pro game began to reach Van Breda Kolff at the end of last season. "It was the first time I'd ever been tired since I started coaching," Van Breda Kolff said, sipping at a beer and slouching down in his seat. "Half the time you're on the road like a traveling salesman. You wake up in the middle of the night and you say, 'Where am I? Do we have to catch a plane? Is the switchboard about to call?' And then I wake up and look at my watch and it's 5 in the morning. I worry some more and the next time I look at my watch it's 6, and then it's 7, and five minutes before the operator's due to call me I fall into a deep sleep. I'm 48 years old now. I was 45 when last season started."