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"I do," says McKinney, "only the grapes are from California."
Claire whacks his shoulder. "Oh, you," she says.
After the orders are taken, Claire talks about how her husband's ordeal changed his life:
"I'd say that after a traumatic experience, especially a life-and-death situation, your life changes in a way that's hard to explain. In some respects I guess we feel we've joined the human race again. I mean, before Jack's accident we were living dream lives. When other people had accidents or tragedies I could sympathize, but I didn't completely understand. Now I understand. I'm grateful for what we have." She looks at McKinney. "I'm most grateful because—let's face it—I have Jack."
Claire says all this in a voice that is soft and reassuring, a voice devoid of despair or regret or melodrama. "Believe me," she says, "we have a good family, and we'll do well wherever we go. We'll make the most of it in Indianapolis."
Claire says she and Jack have been going together since high school ("C'mon, Claire," McKinney pipes up, "you were chasing me in grade school"). They have been married for 22 years. They still own a home in Portland, from the Trail Blazer days, and this very day sold their house in Palos Verdes.
If the relationship between Jack McKinney and Paul Westhead was unusually close, the one between their wives was even closer. In the restaurant, Claire is shown a newspaper clipping from the Los Angeles Times dated May 11, 1980. In it Cassie Westhead, Paul's wife, is quoted as saying, "I'm not a naive person, but I know our friendship goes way back, and when this is said and done, I think we'll be able to pick up the pieces. But they can't share our joy or successes, and we can't share their sorrow. How many times can you say you're sorry? It happened."
Claire glances up from the newspaper. A look of hurt crosses her face as she says, "You're asking me if I think we'll ever patch things up with the Westheads? I don't know. Cassie and I were very, very close, like sisters. Then this awful, unfortunate thing occurred." She pauses. The corners of her lips curl downward slightly, her eyes mist over. She continues, "It's like losing someone who's very dear to you. But that period of mourning is over." She stops abruptly, as if one more word will bring tears.
After an awkward silence the conversation shifts to the upcoming season. Claire hopes—and her look now is imploring—that "people will stop evaluating Jack, that stories like this one will be unnecessary, that people will allow Jack to do what he does best, coach, because he's a good one."
It won't be that easy. Early in the season McKinney will undergo intense scrutiny. If the Pacers start poorly, one coach predicts, some reporters will denounce him as "a semi-incoherent fruitcake who should be fired."