"No way they can retire my jersey, 'cause when I leave I'm taking all my jerseys with me. They're going to have to come to my house and ask me for a jersey they can hang up."
"Yeah. They gonna ask for all of 'em."
No sooner do the players check into the hotel than they must dress for practice. If the game is that night, it will just be a shoot-around. If the game is the next night, they will go full-bore for two hours.
Back at the hotel after practice, convention delegates from, say, the Colorado Farm Bureau gaze in puzzlement at the dozen giants milling around the lobby in forest-green Milwaukee Buck warm-ups. Eventually, everyone drifts upstairs for a shower and some rack time.
If it is an off night, some players might hit their favorite restaurant—if they have one—for a good meal. Dandridge enjoys discovering new places to eat in New York. Carter is a soup freak and also digs the ribs and shrimp at Trader Vic's in Seattle. The Boston seafood houses are very big. But most of the young Bucks are thankful for a night off and a room-service dinner, television and a good night's sleep. Winters is content to stay in his room with a book. Smith, Brokaw, Bridgeman, English and Nater seldom leave the hotel.
The Bucks arrive at the arena two hours before game time to avoid crowds, get taped and relax before warming up. Some arenas, like those in Denver and Cleveland, have comfortable dressing rooms for the visiting team. Chicago Stadium's is like a mausoleum.
After the game the players are so charged up that most need at least a couple of beers, some music and lively company to settle down. A few hook up with local friends or relatives. Some socialize with a home-team player they know, e.g., Buckner with Denver's David Thompson, Winters with Indiana's Kevin Joyce. A group of Bucks usually follows Davis to one of the places he has found. Jon McGlocklin, an eight-year Buck veteran and now the TV colorman, arrived at one spot in Denver, looked at the motorcycles and pickup trucks in the dirt parking lot and said, "I know this is a Mickey Davis place."
Davis was waived a couple of weeks ago, but bequeathed to his teammates this partial NBA guide to his favorite places: Club Ninety-Nine in Boston, Friday's in Houston, Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans, the Anchorage Bar in Portland, the Penn Bar in New York, The Fifth National Banque in Phoenix, The Pelican in Denver, Sans Souci in Atlanta, Walter Mitty's in Kansas City, Sam's Attic in Indianapolis, and his two four-star joints—Dunleavy's in Detroit and The Annex near Los Angeles where you can get a frosty 32-ounce mug of Coors for 80�.
One thing about a road trip: the longer it is, the sweeter the homecoming. When the Bucks land back at the Milwaukee airport, the girl friends are there and the wives and the tiniest of children waiting to climb into the arms of huge men like Smith and Dandridge. Some of the players and wives are going to the Junior Bridgemans' for dinner. Others will relax at home. Practice will begin at 10 o'clock sharp next morning.
The Bucks will be home for a while, then leave again. On Christmas Day.