Bill Cosby also has a house in Philly, so he and Camille become regular guests at our place. In the summers, we have parties every weekend, inviting Arthur Ashe, Grover, Teddy Pendergrass, Lynn Swann, Patti LaBelle, other Philly athletes like Mike Schmidt (Doug Collins's best friend), Harold Carmichael, Reggie White, Garry Maddox, and many of my teammates and Sixer staff. Billy Cunningham lives just up the street, so he and I are often at each other's houses, talking shop. Turq and I start to have these weekend afternoon events I call Hit, Sip, Dip, and Dine. That's a little tennis, a beverage, a swim in the pool, and then dinner.
Velvetine manicured grass that my friend John Havlicek might call Celtic green extends from the house an acre in every direction, to the stands of maples and spruce, green and going gold in the late summer. The treetops undulate in the afternoon breeze, their tips waving good-bye to the season. The oval pool, wrapped by a granite patio, is down a mossy stone path from our back deck. There are children in the pool, our own, our guests', their peals like aural confetti swirling around us. On the tennis courts behind me, I can hear a game in progress, the hollow thunk of well-struck shots, the grunt of a point lost. Turq is in the kitchen, working hard. She is a wonderful cook, her creations, usually hearty southern-style fare, are the reward after a hard day of play.
A man walks through this patio, along this deck, a glass of wine in hand, and he feels that he is somehow at the center of the world. He has beautiful children, a lovely wife, fine friends, and here around him is the evidence of that, every blade, every leaf, every splash: it is all a blessing that he never takes for granted.
But beneath that image, or around it, are the great strains of my life, and ahead of me, there is so much pain still to come. I have to admit I am no longer that shining example of promise and potential. I am now fully realized but that means I also have to admit that this is what success is, what it looks and feels like. I appreciate its every minute, but with success comes previously unconsidered problems and concerns.
One thing I am now confronting is how different my children's experience is from my own. Cosby had told me that nothing about growing up poor teaches you how to be a rich dad.
If you missed it, be sure to read Mark Jacobsen's excellent Dr. J story.
[Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated]