Wes Unseld's Green Chuck-Tease
At the pinnacle of “Bullet Fever”, I attended a game at the Capital Centre in the late 70’s.
For once, the Bullets were true contenders* and I worshiped every whirling-dervish move played out on the basketball stage by team-leaders Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. Wes was listed at 6 foot 7, yet he could contend with the best; Jabbar, Chamberlain, Walton, -you name it.
That evening, I started watching everything Wes did and pretty much ignored the rest of the game. As I focused in on Wes, while he confidently relayed outlet passes for long assists, I noticed a green glow on the fringe of his white Chuck Taylor basketball shoes. I wondered why in the world his shoes were different from the rest of the team’s. I whipped out my tiny set of binoculars and saw that these were grass stains on the fringe of his shoes! All I could figure was that Wes had cut the slightly wet grass in his yard, for a leisurely warm-up that humid afternoon before the game and came to the stadium continuing to wear the same set of white Chuck-T’s.
It reminded me of my own speedy grass-cutting adventures on
Whitefield St. in and how I would practically run with the lawnmower to hustle-up to get the chore done, so that I wouldn’t miss even one pick-up game, wherever the locals had gathered that day. Fairfax
Identifying with Wes this way, I thereafter thought even more of him than before.
In fact, it’s a trifecta slam-dunk; MVP in his rookie year, savior of the Bullets, and now operator of a private school in Baltimore, Wes is my favorite basketball player of all time.
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