The Duncan Banner


September 9, 2012

Best sports event I’ve covered? It was legendary

DUNCAN — In what now seems like a previous life, at one time my full-time gig in journalism was covering the World of Perspiring Arts. For 25 years, being a sports editor/writer was my only beat.

I was fortunate to work for publications — especially this one — that believed in extending sports coverage beyond the local level to college and professional sports.

Because of that, over the years I’ve been asked about my favorite sports coverage experience. It happened again the other day, when an old friend said, “Kaley, what was the best thing you covered as a sports writer?”

First, two disclaimers: 1. I apologize for the name-dropping you’re about to read; and, 2. trying to prioritize experiences as a sports writer is like asking me, “Who’s your favorite band?”

See, when the “Who’s your favorite band?” question arises, there’s The Beatles alone on an exclusive pinnacle — then there’s every other band and musician I’ve ever heard.

Likewise, when the sports event question is tossed my way, there’s getting to spend an afternoon with Mickey Charles Mantle — then there’s every other sports experience I’ve had.

Mickey Mantle was my first sports hero, and in 1982, I got to meet and chat with The Mick. Hanging with Mantle is the only time I ever asked an interview subject for an autograph; the only time I was so transfixed and tongue-tied I could hardly speak, let alone ask pertinent questions.

OK, now the parameters are set, back to the original question.

A press pass for sports events presents many unique experiences, like interviewing legendary athletes and coaches — Musial, Wooden, Staubach, Switzer, Sutton, Butkus, Magic, Michael, Brett, Knight, Herzog, Woods and a gaggle of greats in a dozen different sports.

I’ve covered two World Series, four Final Fours, the PGA Championship, the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and the U.S. Olympic trials. There have been bunches of Bedlams and at least a dozen Oklahoma-Texas games; a Rose Bowl and two Cotton Bowls; and three Big 12 Football Championships.

Can’t begin to prioritize all the exciting, dramatic high school, college and pro events at which I was in the press box.

But what was the best sports event I ever covered?

It was in February 1986, when I was on press row for the NBA All-Stars Weekend at Reunion Arena in Dallas. Specifically, “the moment” was the day before the All-Star Game, when the dunk contest and the Legends Game were held.

There was a stunning start on that Saturday, when 5-foot, 7-inch Spud Webb won the dunk contest. Webb’s final dunk — a bounce-the-ball-off-the-floor, grab-it-and-do-a-360 — remains one of the most impressive athletic feats I’ve witnessed.

The Legends Game was fun to watch, with the floor filled with former stars having fun but also reminding people of their great skills. But for me, at least, nothing matches what happened in post-game.

I went to the Legends locker room to do the interview thing, and immediately got wide-eyed when the first players I encountered were Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson. “Coos” and “The Big 0” were my first basketball heroes.

Got to share some laughs with Elvin Hayes, Cazzie Russell and Walt Bellamy. Then Larry Bird, who I’d met years before at Indiana State University, came over and handed me a cigar and we started chatting about our homes in Illinois and Indiana.

Before long, others had stopped to gab with Larry, and I looked up to find myself sharing cigars and hearing great stories told by Bird, Cousy, Robertson, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Red Auerbach. I thought to myself, “I’ve gone to ‘Basketball Heaven’. It can’t get better than this.”

But it did.

Heading back into the arena, I discovered Pete Maravich alone in the hallway. For about 20 minutes, I was locked in conversation with “The Pistol,” the greatest scorer in college basketball history and multi-time all-pro.

We talked some about basketball, then drifted into exchanging thoughts about life in general. Maravich spoke about the challenge of changing from being “Pistol Pete” into being just Pete Maravich. He was friendly and philosophic, and seemed to be comfortable in his new skin.

Two years later, Maravich had a fatal heart attack in a pickup basketball game. Having had an opportunity to get to know him just made the best sports event I ever covered even more meaningful.

580-255-5354, Ext. 172

Text Only
  • Territory impressive as well

    For the next seven days, the world of golf will focus on Edmond, Oklahoma in general and Oak Tree National in particular as the revitalized club and course hosts the prestigious 2014 U.S. Senior Open.

    July 6, 2014

  • Our division is not as dire as some insist

    Am having an Independence Day hangover — and no, it’s not because of any libation I may have consumed during the holiday weekend.

    July 6, 2014

  • Election shared few surprises

    There were no significant surprises or huge upsets in last Tuesday’s election,  but there were some twists and turns of interest locally and statewide.

    June 29, 2014

  • Other voices talk about us and our nation

    It’s almost Independence Day and I could wind philosophic and poetic about this country I love and into which I was lucky to have been randomly spawned.

    June 29, 2014

  • Technoman is relishing art of daydreaming

    Friends and neighbors, greetings again from 21st Century Technoman, and please forgive me if it seems I’ve been ignoring those of you who need a little human contact in their otherwise techno-dependent lives.

    June 22, 2014

  • However dubious, Cooter is a famous American

    His name is indelibly etched in the American experience. For generations, his reputation has crossed political, social, ethnic and regional lines.

    June 15, 2014

  • My father. My hero.

    As we approach Father’s Day, I am compelled to document what a wonderful Father I had and have.

    June 15, 2014

  • Military's mission is not babysitting

    It appears the Obama administration plans to house young illegal immigrant children at Fort Sill.  It’s unclear exactly how many kids are involved, but 600 were supposedly placed at Sill yesterday.  Most of the minors are 13 to 17 years old and generally come from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala.  Many are here because they already have a parent in the U.S. — and who also crossed the border illegally.

    June 11, 2014

  • Oklahoma Student Standards back to square one

    Has Governor Fallin done a disservice to the students of Oklahoma by signing HB 3399, which nullifies current Common Core State Standards (CCSS) of learning?

    June 11, 2014

  • Props to my guys for good taste in gifts

    Another special day for dads is coming up, and I’m proud to say that in the 22 years we’ve been together, my sons have done a remarkably good job of coming up with Father’s Day gifts I can really use.

    June 8, 2014


Tattoos are

Too prevalent
A fad
Don't care one way or another
     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.