Imagine spending the better part of a weekend with the likes of Moses Malone, Rick Barry, Willie Davis, Dolph Schayes, James Donaldson, Don Heinke, Lucius Allen, C.J. Kupec, Jeff Mullins, Muggsy Bogues, Kevin Willis, Manute Bol, Rex Morgan, Cliff Robinson, John Durham, Nate Williams, Marvin Roberts, Jeff Mullins and Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Then, in walks Charles Smith, Levern Tart, Artis Gilmore, Mack Calvin, LeRue Martin, Walt Williams, Tom Burleson, George Tinlsey, Anthony Mason, Duane Causewell, Otis Birdsong and many other former NBA’ers. Man, do these names bring back memories or what?
Julius Ervin recently hosted the NBA Legends Of Basketball conference over a rain-soaked weekend in Atlanta and I was there to cover it. The events kicked off at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Buckhead with a welcome dinner and it was a pleasure to see these guys – many who played during different eras – greet each other. They are an elite group and it was very clear they are fans of each other.
They hugged, laughed, teased and told old stories about each other into the wee hours of the morning. One of the funniest moments Saturday night was Walt Williams’ reminiscence of one of his games against Michael Jordan and how MJ taught him a lesson by stealing the ball and welcoming him to the NBA.
Saturday night was the gala dinner with speeches, awards and music by Ken Ford. Don Cornelius would have been proud of how the retirees strutted, spun, bopped and danced down the Soul Train line. These guys are former big-time ballers who may not take it to the hole as fiercely as they once did but they can still take it to the dance floor.