Elgin Baylor’s new book, “Hang Time: My Life In Basketball,” might seem appropriate here.
A few months ago, Sal Valdivia of Beaumont shared the story about attending a youth basketball camp at the University of Redlands — early 1970s.
Baylor, one of the NBA’s greatest stars, was there.
Valdivia recalled the story because the Lakers had just dedicated their sixth statue – Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson and Chick Hearn – to Baylor outside Staples Center in early April.
Decades earlier, Baylor and another NBA Hall of Famer, Gail Goodrich, appeared at that Redlands camp, among others.
Valdivia, who spent time playing basketball at Beaumont High, coaching basketball at Beaumont High and, later, was an assistant at Mt. San Jacinto College, invited Baylor to his folks’ house for dinner after the last day of camp.
If you’re a Laker fan, this is quality stuff.
From Baylor’s recent book, there are lots of little nuggets.
Like this: “We couldn’t match up with Russell” – Talk between West and Baylor, referring to the Boston Celtics’ domination of the Lakers in the 1960s, led by Bill Russell.
Or this: Baylor recalls how Washington, D.C. area police forced his dad to punish his sister, Columbia, for an assault after she’d been called the N-word.
Even this: “I practice my shot for hours,” says Baylor … perhaps a lesson for the kids out there.
Years later, Baylor was in Beaumont.
The photos are there to prove it. Palmita Valdivia made tacos and enchiladas, beans and rice … plus, the adult beverages flowed.
Give or take a few days after his Staples statue was unveiled, Baylor’s book was released.
It’s Father’s Day Weekend.
Got a gift for Dad? Can’t think of one? It’s a customary moment in this corner to, perhaps, offer a helping hand if you’re short on ideas.
Sports books are good.
“Out of Bounds” is out there, another “frank” offering by legendary Hall of Fame running Jim Brown. He seems to have plenty of those. Be careful, parents. This book could be a little too frank. It’s for Dads only, perhaps?
“Unstoppable: My Life So Far,” by Maria Sharapova. This tennis star plays all over the world — Asia, Europe, Australia, South America, the U.S. — and when she peed into a cup with nothing to worry about, guess again. You begin to feel that organizations like International Tennis Federation is out to get anyone.
If “The Russian Five” sounds like a Kremlin-style basketball team, it’s not. This is how the Detroit Red Wings re-booted their NHL franchise. If it gets out there’s espionage, bribery and defections, this could be the next lead story on CNN or Fox, dubbed “Russian hockey interference.”
“I’m Keith Hernandez.” That Seinfeld line lifted the former MVP to even greater heights after his career in St. Louis and the New York Mets.
“Return of the King LeBron James.” Lots of insight and interesting twists about the planet’s best player. A little slow in some places.
“Coach Wooden and Me” might be the most refreshing of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s written works. Yes, there’s a lot he’s left out in this book, but the focus is on Kareem and Wooden. Being in the middle of Wooden and Muhammad Ali looks fascinating.
Books to be written, perhaps? With all that’s out there about USA Gymnastics being overly corrupt, I can’t recall any books by those medal-winning stars. Guess we know why now. They probably wouldn’t be expected to give us a hint about their pain. Expect a flurry of them to come out, I’m predicting.
Not that we’re making light of it all. Not only did those gymnastics have to overcome all adversity in competition. Now we know what they had to overcome out of competition.
Back to Baylor and the Lakers.
It’s curious that West’s had a couple books. So has Wilt, with Magic having a few out there. Shaq Uncut’s been out since 2011. Even Chick had one out. So Baylor’s almost certainly got to have one, too.
Next statue: Kobe Bryant?
Author Roland Lazenby, who also wrote “Michael Jordan: The Life,” has more recently penned “Showboat, The Life of Kobe Bryant.”
West, Baylor, Wilt, Magic, Chick, Kareem and, now, Kobe — it’s a day to rejoice with your grandfather’s Lakers, your dad’s Lakers, plus this current generation.
And maybe there’s a book out there that illustrates someone like, say, Tiger Woods’ dad. Written by Armen Keteyian. It’s called simply, “Tiger Woods.”