When I was playing those hoops games with the Yankees players in the winter, Gene Michael got me a tryout with the Chicago Bulls. They were playing in the Garden against the Knicks and had a practice session. So, I go in and dressed with them, then we did drills, took some jump shots and had a little scrimmage. I was the point guard on the backup team. Artis Gilmore was the center, Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier were their guards. Well, I’m from Jersey, so I’m brash. We talked some stuff, and then I drove down the middle and hooked it up over Artis for a basket. Artis looks at me and goes, Don’t come back in here with that crap again. But I’m cocky now. So after a little bit I’m going to go down the middle again. He smacked that ball and kind of knocked me down. When I looked up all I could see was the bottom of sneakers. I rolled out of bounds. He looked at me and said, I told you not to come in here with that crap again.
It was pretty cool because my mom used to come down early when we were in batting practice. She would always meet me at the same spot by the away dugout. The guards began to know her. That was pretty cool because she became somewhat of a celebrity. That made me feel good because she was getting some attention. Well, we had lost to the Yankees in the playoffs three years in a row and had one year off to think about it coming up against them again. So, a lot of things are going through your brain. Are we good enough to beat the big boys from New York City? Are we going to catch a break? They always seemed to rise to the occasion. They always got the key hit. We would hit a ball hard, but right at someone. What I remember about this year is that we were really excited to play them We had beat the Yankees more during the season that year than any other year. So, confidence-wise we knew we could beat them. I knew they were worried about me getting on a lot, and I knew I needed to have good games. If I got on and did what I needed to do, then George was going to do what he needed to do and everybody was doing their job.
We won the first game 7-2 at Royals Stadium, and in the second game we got one of those breaks that the Yankees always seemed to get. We’re leading 3-2 in the eighth. Dennis Leonard is pitching for us, and Willie Randolph is on first with two outs. He could run pretty good. Bob Watson hit a ball down the left-field line. I had played left so long I knew it was going to hit off the wall and bounce back instead of hug the wall. So, I ran to a spot where I thought it was going to bounce. It came right to me, and I just turned and threw. I didn’t even take a step, I just threw it. The ball went over the first cutoff man’s head, which was a blessing in disguise for us. That’s when the Yankees third-base coach, I think it was Mike Ferraro, sent Willie home. The ball came right to George, and George turned and made a great throw to Porter and we got him at home. That helped us win game two, and then we went to Yankee Stadium. What I remember most about this game was how quiet it became in the seventh inning when George hit that home run against Rich Gossage. We were behind 2-1, and had two outs. I hit a double off Tommy John, and then the Yankees brought Goose Gossage out of the bullpen. U.L. (Washington) hits a single to second base. Now, I’m on third and U.L. is on first. George, who’s had this spectacular year, comes up against Gossage.
The Chicago Bulls Photo Gallery