SI Vault
 
A Bad Trip
Gary McLain
March 16, 1987
The Downfall of a Champion
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 16, 1987

A Bad Trip

The Downfall of a Champion

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

I started meeting people, developing my own crowd. Everybody does that in college. I was definitely the ladies' man, hanging out with all the girls. And partying. As soon as I got high with one guy the word started spreading, until it seemed that everybody except the coaches knew I got high.

That was okay. Other guys on the team got high. We just had to watch ourselves. I figured that as long as I worked hard and played ball hard, everything would be all right. I would buy a nickel bag of pot here and there, a dime bag, sometimes. My friends and I would smoke it up. Freshman year, I smoked alone quite a bit, too. It wouldn't be until sophomore year that some of my teammates would smoke with me.

I wasn't given money, like players at some schools. But if I needed it I could borrow a few dollars from some alums. Not high-powered types. Just some guys I knew. Borrow, that is, while knowing that it wasn't really borrow, but, "Pay it back whenever." I was borrowing left and right. From students, too. Or I'd go down to the pizzeria, where I knew the guy behind the counter. I'd say, "I'll give you the money later," and never go back that night.

I also still had a very high regard for sneakers. Along with a couple of other guys on the team, I'd go to the basketball office when the coaches weren't around. We'd take the keys to the storage room and we'd each carry several boxes back to the dorm. We were wearing fresh sneakers almost every day. If money got tight, we'd sell the sneakers to people on campus. We were never given anything under the table, so we decided we were going to get what we felt was ours. We could get $30 to $45 for a pair of sneakers with CATS printed on the back of them. They were big-time things on campus.

We came close to being caught a couple of times, but never were. Eventually, the lock to the storage room was changed.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 1981 marked my first Villanova game, an exhibition against a team from Yugoslavia. I also did my first cocaine that day, in my dormitory room just a few hours before tip-off.

I was ironing the clothes I would wear over to the Field House when a couple of girls knocked at the door. I invited them in. We talked a while, and they said they wanted to do some coke. They had it.

I had been with people doing coke before and always resisted. But now, as I watched the girls doing it, as I was ironing, I had the music blasting, and I said to myself. Damn. I might want to try that.

I'd heard that guys who did cocaine before games played better. This was already an exciting day. "Yeah," I said. "Let me get some. Let me try a one-and-one."

I had seen people do this, stick a little spoonful of cocaine up each nostril. The girls said, "Are you sure you're going to be able to play?" I told them not to worry about it. Fear was one thing I lacked. Back then I always felt that I was in control of everything, so I knew I could handle a one-and-one, even before a game. As psyched as I was about playing my first collegiate game, the cocaine made me feel even more up.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19