To writers who cover hockey and basketball playoffs there are two kinds of series: tough and tougher. According to Peter Carry, who has been on the road since March 29 with the NBA and ABA, a tougher series is one that involves a West Coast team. Last year during the semifinals, he flew from New York to Los Angeles to Boston to San Francisco and back to New York, all in 48 hours.
Mark Mulvoy, SI's hockey writer, is a six-handicap golfer who tends to judge the Stanley Cup playoffs by the available courses. This year's final, he says, is a golfer's dream. "In Boston I can whip down to the Cape courses on the off days, and in Philadelphia there are Merion and Pine Valley."
Carry and Mulvoy have traveled more than 100,000 miles apiece since the start of their seasons, so the playoffs are merely a test of their early conditioning. One weekend in April Mulvoy wrote a story on the Rangers (SI, April 29), working overnight at his home in Rye, N.Y. He delivered it by messenger at 9 a.m. Saturday to Hockey Editor Ken Rudeen, then played in the opening-day tournament at Apawamis, his home course, and later drove into Manhattan. He parked at Penn Station, caught the 5:30 p.m. Metro-liner to Philadelphia, took a cab to The Spectrum, watched the Flyers destroy the Rangers 4-0 and caught a bus back to New York. He picked up his car and was home in Rye at 3 a.m. By 9 a.m. Sunday he was in his office writing an addition to the Ranger story, and by 2 p.m. he was home again to watch the Bruins and Black Hawks on TV. "On Monday," he says, "I rested a lot."
Carry also sees his logistical problems as challenges and is at the peak of his competitive form during the playoffs. Two weeks ago he won a big one. It was 7:30 a.m. Sunday and the problem was getting from Salt Lake City, where he had just finished writing his Utah-Indiana story (SI, May 6), to Milwaukee in time for the start of the first game of the Bucks-Celtics series at 1:30. "I had it figured that if the plane to Chicago was on time, and if I could rent my car and be out of the O'Hare parking lot by 12:15, I could be in Milwaukee in exactly one hour and 15 minutes, in time for the tip-off."
However, April 28 was a fine spring day and everybody in Chicago was enjoying it at 35 mph on I-94, all of them in front of Carry. He made Milwaukee's Kilbourn Avenue exit 10 minutes behind schedule—just as the game broadcast began on his car radio.
Bent but not bowed, Carry sprinted from his car into the arena. "The first thing I hear is tumultuous applause," he says. "I realize I'm saved. They are giving Kareem Abdul-Jabbar his MVP award, and the crowd, which won't stop clapping, has delayed the start of the game. I not only make the tip-off, I have time to buy cigarettes."
And both men had time to cover all the action for this week's issue, Carry on page 34, Mulvoy on page 84. As you read this, they are back on the road again.