"Sure, I can
juggle," says Nevitt. "Sometimes Sondra and I will be shopping in the
supermarket, and I'll go into the frozen food section and juggle three tubs of
Cool Whip. I can imagine housewives telling their husbands that night, 'Honey,
you wouldn't believe what I saw in the supermarket today. A seven-foot-five guy
juggling Cool Whip.' "
Nevitt is full of
surprises like that. He jumps rope like Sugar Ray Leonard, and he loves to
bicycle and to fly stunt kites. He is a wizard at electronics and carpentry. He
recently assembled and stained a grandfather clock taller than he is. His
musical tastes run to big bands, Nat King Cole and classical. "I drew
Chuck's name for Christmas shopping this year," says his sister Lynne.
"So I asked him what he wanted. He told me he wanted an Itzhak Perlman
tape. Blew me away. His interests have gotten so wide since he got out of
school." Nevitt even does a fair impersonation of Lee Marvin singing
Wandrin' Star, from Paint Your Wagon. It's a particularly apt song for him.
Now, at least,
he's feeling at home in Houston. "I'm playing for the first coach who I
think believes in me, with a great bunch of guys. I just hope I can contribute.
I feel like a lucky guy." Talk about lucky. A few weeks ago, a thief broke
into the Nevitts' apartment, and among the items stolen was the championship
ring. Nevitt figured he had lost it forever. But then an anonymous caller
contacted the Rockets and asked how much he could get for the ring. The caller
obviously did not work for Mission Control in Houston: He left his phone
number, the police traced it, and the ring, along with a lot of other stolen
merchandise, was recovered. And that's pretty much the way Chuck Nevitt's
career seems to go. Gone today, here tomorrow.