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Basketball has been his life. As a 10-year-old in Rockville Centre on Long Island he would dribble a basketball everywhere he went, even to the movies. "I was on an organized team as early as the fifth grade," says Art, "but even before that I was always playing basketball somewhere, on the playgrounds, if not at school." He put tape over the lock on the gym door so that he could slip inside on Sunday and practice. Usually he would shoot alone, but occasionally, because he was tall for his age, older boys would invite him into a pickup game. It was here that his aggressive style began. "The most important thing I learned," he says, "was not to shy away from the basket."
In his three years at Oceanside High School, Heyman scored more than 1,500 points, setting a Long Island record, and as a senior averaged over 30 points a game and 25 rebounds. "We won the Nassau County championship," says the Oceanside coach, Frank Januszewski, "and Artie was the team."
Heyman was also an outstanding soccer goalie on an undefeated team, and he had scholarship offers in that sport. But even when basketball season was over, he preferred playing basketball to anything else. On Long Island there was always a summer league of some kind in operation—until the NCAA outlawed the practice two years ago—and Arthur would sometimes play as many as three games a day. The competition often consisted of the best college boys from the New York area, players like Tony Jackson and LeRoy Ellis of St. John's. "I figured out the other day that I have taken something like 10,000 showers," says Arthur. "When he showed up at Duke as a freshman," says Bubas, "Art had already played more basketball, against faster competition, than any senior I had."
He did not simply show up at Duke, of course. At one time or another, between 85 and 90 colleges offered him scholarships. It came down, finally, to a choice among St. John's, NYU, North Carolina and Duke. Art chose North Carolina and even went so far as to sign a grant-in-aid with Coach Frank McGuire. North Carolina then announced that Heyman would play there. When Arthur later changed his mind—a legal but slightly distressing action—the fuse for all the explosions that were to follow had been lighted.
Heyman is embarrassed by the recruiting hassle today, but there are several hundred other people quite willing to talk about it, most of them offering conflicting versions. The truth seems to be this: he signed with North Carolina because McGuire was a man of great charm, an excellent coach who had already recruited swarms of New York boys to play in Chapel Hill. "I don't think Artie really cared where he went to school," a friend says, "just so long as he could play basketball." His stepfather, William Heyman, a Long Island draftsman, cared, however. He got into an argument with McGuire and decided that Arthur would not play for North Carolina after all. Quite by coincidence, Vic Bubas was at this time preparing to sign a contract as the new head basketball coach at Duke. Not at all by coincidence, the day after Bubas signed he was sitting in the Playbill Restaurant of New York's Manhattan Hotel with Heyman.
"Art was one of the real plums," says Bubas. "You're doggoned right I went after him. It's a good thing, too. That season I didn't get anyone else."
There was little indication, at first, that the association would last. "Boy, was Artie cocky!" says Buzz Mewhort. "He had visited the school the spring before, and when we heard that he was going to North Carolina I don't think any of us were too sad. I remember we were walking around the campus, showing him the school, and we got into a discussion of basketball. 'Boy, I'd like to get you under the boards,' he told one of our guys. Later we found out that he was all right. And, of course, he doesn't have that chip on his shoulder anymore."
"I played a round of golf with him not long after he came to school," says a Durham businessman who is an ardent Duke alumnus. "He spent the whole round saying, 'What am I doing at Duke? This is no place for me.' It seems that some of his New York buddies had been writing him. 'I could be making some money at another school instead of playing here for nothing,' he said. You know, I don't think he meant it, even then. He didn't need the money. His dad was well off. It's just that he was only 18 years old and very unsure of himself. He was just trying to be a big man."
At Duke, Heyman grew up. It didn't happen all at once, of course, and Bu-bas, his assistant Fred Shabel, and Bucky Waters, the freshman coach, will bear scars to their dying day received in the service of helping Arthur Heyman age gracefully. "We didn't want to break his spirit," says Bubas, "but we couldn't let him take over the whole state of North Carolina either." Others helped, too, although their motives did not spring from the same source.
A North Carolina player named Dieter Krause ran halfway across the court during a freshman game and swung a haymaker that laid Arthur out as cold as an arctic char. "I really don't know what started that one," says a Durham reporter who was there, "except that Artie had scored 34 points and he just has a way of infuriating opposing players. He takes the ball through them like they weren't there and eventually they just can't stand it. Look what happened when he was a sophomore."