One of my oldest friends is a guy named Tim, and the last two days have bought back memories of a wonderful spring in 1978. Unfortunately, the memories have been rekindled because of the passing of key sports figures of that time.
“Our class is graduating,” I always say to Tim, as with each year it seems like people we knew have passed away.
One was Wes Unseld, who passed away Monday at the age of 74. It does not seem that long ago that Tim and I were long-haired students at Virginia Tech (much like we were last week until the barber shops opened again) and we were at his apartment, watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
For weeks we had heard that “The Opera Isn’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings” thanks to Bullets Coach Dick Motta, but we knew that day somebody would be singing. We watched on Tim’s 19-inch color television with no remote control and no cable (and don’t get me started on no computers or internet) but in our caveman-like accommodations, we were able to see that the Bullets had a slim 101-99 lead and the Seattle Supersonics had just fouled Unseld.
Back then, Wes was an incredible rebounder, but he shot free throws like I dance: not that well and not that often. He had only hit 55 percent of his free throws all season, but Wes was one of those players who just always seemed to get the job done when needed the most. He hit both free throws, and a few seconds later Norfolk State alum Bobby Dandridge slammed home a dunk and the Bullets won the deciding Game 7 105-99. Unseld would be named the Finals MVP.