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Life and Basketball

The Redemption of Woody Sauldsberry

Malik Yusef
Malik Yusef
Sauldsberry as a Harlem Globetrotter in the mid-'50s. The Globetrotters' comic, show-biz play grated on the more serious ballplayers on the team, he says, "so we stayed angry all the time."

Photo courtesy Universal Sports Academy

Malik Yusef
Sauldsberry gets adjusted to his artificial limb after surgery at Maryland General Hospital. Most of his right leg was amputated last year due to complications from diabetes.
Malik Yusef
Malik Yusef
Malik Yusef

By James Michael Brodie | Posted 3/28/2001

On the big screen next to the stage, a lanky 22-year-old wearing the uniform of the Philadelphia Warriors races up a basketball court, graceful as a gazelle. He takes a pass from teammate Tom Gola and buries a jumper from the corner. A moment later, he feeds an equally youthful-looking Wilt Chamberlain for an authoritative dunk. The next instant, he's grabbing a rebound and starting a fast break.

But Woody Sauldsberry is not paying attention to this montage of highlights from his NBA playing days, showing just over his shoulder as he adjusts his tuxedo and top hat and tries to memorize the last few lines of his speech. In a moment he will be inducted into the Black Legends of Professional Basketball Foundation's Hall of Fame, finally gaining from his peers recognition that has not been forthcoming from official channels.

Neither of these men are the Woody Sauldsberry who lay in a third-floor room at Maryland General Hospital a year ago, after diabetes forced the removal of his right leg. That Woody Sauldsberry--reclusive, frail, toothless, Howard Hughes scraggly--had reached rock bottom.

As a player on the court, Woody Sauldsberry was mean--Rasheed Wallace mean, Rick Mahorn mean, Dennis Rodman mean. Off the court, he was another kind of mean--a warrior in an era when NBA rosters were traditionally limited to two African-Americans and blacks played subservient roles to less-talented white stars. Sauldsberry took on the NBA power structure in the 1960s, refusing to bow, sometimes being right, sometimes being his own worst enemy.

He paid the professional price in the coin of obscurity. He paid a personal price that included near total isolation from those closest to him. In the months since he lost his leg, Sauldsberry's battles have turned inward. Now he seeks to make peace with who he once was, what the fight to become who he was did to him; what he gained and what he lost.

"I've never really thought about it before now," he reflects, sitting in his apartment in the Bolton Hill senior-housing complex Memorial Apartments. "You hit rock bottom and you feel ashamed. You don't feel you've been a success. Some of the answers I don't even have myself."

The Detroit-based Black Legends of Professional Basketball Foundation was founded by former Harlem Globetrotter John Kline in 1996. The foundation's goals include promoting and preserving the history of African-Americans in basketball and assisting older black players in financial need. Ultimately Kline hopes to open a museum to showcase the often-forgotten history of black professional basketball from 1900 to 1960, covering the pre-National Basketball Association era when black barnstorming teams like the Globetrotters and the New York Renaissance gained fame, and the NBA's early years when the league was largely segregated.

Sauldsberry was one of several inductees to the foundation's Hall of Fame this year, joining the likes of former Boston Celtic Thomas "Satch" Sanders, NBA/ABA star Spencer Haywood, and others. But it wasn't Sanders, or Haywood, or even legendary Globetrotter Marques Haynes who owned the spotlight on this February night in Detroit. It was "Sals" whom many had come to see. It was Sals who was at the center of many an old-school bull session, where locker-room banter was poured over conversations like so much syrup over flapjacks.

When the trash-talking was done, the conversations would evolve into discussions of family, of the illnesses each man had survived, and memories of those long gone. Soon, the talks grew more somber, more real. Chairs were pulled closer, words came quietly, eyes glazed over in melancholy. After all his years in self-exile, Sals was home again.

"Just those few years we had all been together made us very close," Sauldsberry said at the ceremony. "When we were together again, we were back where we all started. It was like we had never been apart."

For Sauldsberry, the induction weekend was a step back in time. Suddenly he was once again the 6-foot-7 forward from Texas Southern University, the two-year Globetrotters mainstay. He was the Sauldsberry who was named NBA rookie of the year in 1958, the contemporary of Elgin Baylor and Bob Cousy, the teammate of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. He was the guy with the awkward yet effective jump shot.

"I don't think that people realize what a talent Woody was," says Max Jameson, an NBA contemporary who was drafted the same year as Sauldsberry. "He made rookie of the year. But he picked the wrong time to be black. All they wanted him to do was defend somebody and get some rebounds. If they had run, he certainly would have been the centerpiece because he could run like the wind."

"He was the best forward I ever saw," says Charles "Tiny Brown" Ward, who traveled and worked out with the Globetrotters during Sauldsberry's tenure (although he never actually joined the team). "He could do it all."

But in those days, when the NBA was just beginning to make pro basketball a national sport, African-American players needed more than talent to stay in the game. "Woody was outspoken at a time when it was not popular for a black player to do so," says Cleo Hill, a teammate of Sauldsberry on the 1961 St. Louis Hawks (now the Atlanta Hawks). "They would call you a troublemaker. In those days, you were always expected to smile."

Woodrow Sauldsberry Jr. was born July 11, 1935, in Winnsboro, La. His father, Woodrow Sauldsberry Sr., moved the family to the Los Angeles suburb of Compton in 1937, in search of a better life than they could have in the Jim Crow, pre-civil-rights South.

"My mother worked in one of those sweatshops where they made clothes," Sauldsberry say of his father. "Later on in life she was a teacher's aide in grade school." His father was a laborer who worked in foundries and shipyards and performed odd jobs, such as janitorial and lawn work.

"At the shipyard, he was making more than he ever made in his life at that time," Sauldsberry recalls. "All I remember is California. I never went back to my hometown because there was nothing there to go back to. All of the family left for California. Some relatives moved to Oakland, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. Others moved to Chicago."

His basketball life began when he joined a team in the eighth grade; he had never really played ball, but his tall, lanky frame attracted a coach's attention. "I was fair. I thought I was good, but I was fair," he says matter-of-factly.

But his game improved rapidly and won notice. By 11th grade he was the star of the team at Compton Union High School. It was not his first choice of sports, he says: "I wanted to swim, but the coach came and got me."

That coach, Ken Fagan, led a team that went 32-0 in Sauldsberry's junior year and eventually built the streak to 53 straight wins. He also refereed Pac-10 conference games and often took his phenom to watch the collegians in action. Fagan envisioned his young star in a UCLA jersey, and another L.A.-area school, Pepperdine, offered Sauldsberry a scholarship. But a scout for historically black Texas Southern, Al Tabor, spotted Sauldsberry and recruited him for the Houston school.

"My father wanted me to go to UCLA, but he wanted me to stay at home. That wouldn't have even been like going to college," Sauldsberry says. "I went [to Texas Southern] because you could play varsity ball as a freshman. I would have gone to the University of Mars to get away from home."

Attending TSU took Sauldsberry away from home all right--into the heart of the deep South that his family had fled. In the early 1950s Houston was a city with Dixie sensibilities, as Sauldsberry quickly learned. When he and a couple of Texas Southern teammates went out to catch the new Marilyn Monroe flick, they found out that in Houston blacks and whites sat in different theaters. "So when the lady said we couldn't come in here, we said, 'Uh oh, welcome to Houston,'" he recalls.

Ed Adams, Texas Southern's basketball coach, had been a football star at Tuskegee University. He was a no-nonsense disciplinarian who believed in running his opponents out of the gym with a high-octane, fast-breaking style of ball, and he quickly gave Sauldsberry a far-from-home father figure.

"His whole family was educators. His brother was a principal, his sister was a schoolteacher. He was like a father image to me. Good man," Sauldsberry says. "He taught me responsibility. I was still a kid, and he was a taskmaster. I remember one night, we had a curfew and I went out to see my girlfriend. I come back to the room more dead than alive about 4 in the morning. When I come in the room, it was dark. I turn the light on, and he was sitting in my room like a giant. All he said was, 'All right, get your stuff.' He took me out to the track, got in his car, turned the lights on, and around that track we went until 8 that morning. Kids were going to class, and I was still running around the track. He told me to go take a shower, get something to eat, and I better not miss a class." That was the last time Sauldsberry missed curfew.

In his sophomore season, Sauldsberry helped Texas Southern reach the pinnacle of black hoops, winning the annual black-college championship tournament at Tennessee State University in Nashville and a spot in the 32-team National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament in Kansas City, Mo., as the only nonwhite team.

"By right, everybody that came to Tennessee was a champion of their conference," Sauldsberry says. "They should have gone to Kansas City too. All the other white teams were champions. They didn't have to eliminate themselves. But they did it that way so you only had one black school represented."

Texas Southern didn't win the NAIA crown, but Sauldsberry won the attention of scouts from the Boston Celtics and Minneapolis Lakers. They couldn't touch him; in those days, a player couldn't go to the NBA until his class had graduated. But there was no such restrictions on Abe Saperstein, owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, and he courted Sauldsberry with relish.

"He wanted me to come be a guest of his and sit on the bench," the player recalls. Sauldsberry was flown to Chicago, where the Globetrotters were then headquartered, to attend a game.

"At halftime, Mr. Saperstein came out and he gave me a wad of money--small bills, but it added up to a thousand dollars. It looked like all the money in the world to me at that time. I mean, $10 was a lot to me then. And he's talking to me, telling me all this stuff about going to Europe, and it sounds real interesting. But all I wanted to do was count this money."

Saperstein checked Sauldsberry into the Conrad Hilton in Chicago, where another $1,000, this time in an envelope, waited. Sauldsberry didn't know much about negotiating--only that you never take the first offer. "I didn't," he recalls, "though I really want to take that first offer."

And the young ballplayer needed the money. The previous year, he'd gotten his girlfriend back in Los Angeles pregnant. "She didn't say anything to her parents at first, and I didn't say anything to mine. Maybe we thought the baby was going to disappear, or whatever," he says. "So finally she had to tell them. I came home, because I was raised in a Christian way, and I said we'll get married and give the baby a name." They married in November 1954, and their daughter, Debra Irene, was born the following March. That May Sauldsberry joined the Trotters, signing a contract for $12,000.

"It was a good contract, but not so good when I heard later that we were supposed to be the highest-paid ballplayers in the world at that time," he says. " They had us advertised as making $135,000."

Sauldsberry was only with the team in New York for a day or two before the Trotters set off on a 32-nation tour. "That Saturday night before we left I went to see the play Mr. Wonderful, with Sammy Davis Jr. We took pictures backstage with Sammy because Mr. Saperstein was also a manager in promoting different entertainment. It was me and a few of the fellows. The rest hadn't gotten to town yet. Next day we went to London."

From the 1920s to the '50s, the Globetrotters and their rivals, the New York Renaissance, were the acme for African-American players. The NBA formed in 1949 but couldn't compare in popularity to the barnstorming black teams. Although they were already known for their comedy, showy shooting, and dribbling antics, the old Globetrotters, like the Rens, competed in world basketball tournaments and beat white teams in straight-up competition.

"The Globetrotters was the only place a black ballplayer could play at the time," says Carl Green, a native New Yorker who grew up watching the Rens and joined the Trotters in 1954, after spending a year at Winston Salem State University in North Carolina.

Life as a Globetrotter gave Sauldsberry, Green, and their teammates a chance to see the world. During Sauldsberry's two years with the team he visited more than 80 countries and played more than 500 games.

"We were promoted as exhibition basketball," he says. "We would start off playing straight basketball for about four minutes and then we would go into 'Showtime.' That's where the Lakers got the term. We'd put different gags on, and [Meadowlark Lemon] would do his [ball-]under-the-shirt routine. Leon [Hillard] would do his dribbling."

Lemon had succeeded Goose Tatum, the team's first great star, as the Trotters' showman. "Goose was known as the clown prince of basketball. And he was. He was the best that did it," Sauldsberry says. "Meadow had to work himself into that. And he got pretty good at it. He could play for his size, but he had to play center for the Trotters [as Tatum did]. Now he was only about 6-foot-3, so he couldn't have been in the [NBA] playing center. I never saw him play any other position. He wouldn't have even gotten a shot off in the NBA."

Growing up, Sauldsberry had watched the Trotters from afar and had admired their skill and showmanship. But he soon realized that being a Globetrotter meant playing minstrel to mostly white audiences who would tolerate watching a black team beat a squad of white stooges as long as everyone enjoyed a good laugh.

"We were comics," he says. "We played baseball [with the basketball], we played football and Leon would drop kick the ball--sometimes it went in the basket, sometimes it didn't, but it always came close. Everybody was too busy laughing to think racial thoughts, you know what I mean? I mean, even for the most bigoted guys, it was family entertainment for them and their kids."

"Those white guys couldn't beat us," Green says. "Abe would ask us to keep the score down. But we didn't."

It didn't take long for the show-biz side of the game to wear on Sauldsberry and teammates Green and Willie Gardner, all serious ballplayers. They weren't there for the clown ball.

"When we played serious ball, Meadow wasn't in there. He would come in and do the show part, and we would have to get a good lead because you would lose so many points during the show. We were putting it on for real during the game part," Sauldsberry says. "We wanted to play serious ball. That's the only way you would know how good you are. So we stayed angry all the time."

The "real" players vented their frustrations on one another--usually on the court. Sauldsberry's nemesis on the Trotters was forward Andy Johnson, a North Hollywood High and University of Portland standout. "With him also being from California, right away we were competing. . . . He was a trash-talker. He'd say some funny stuff." The two became fast friends, and faster adversaries.

"He would make you mad because he could talk stuff, and he could back it up because he was good," Sauldsberry says of Johnson. ""I could make him play me because he was a real strong guy and he was real fast. So I'd say to him, 'That gorilla stuff ain't gonna work on me. I'm gonna make you break your big clumsy ankles.' That's all I had to say to him. I don't care what he was doing, he would point to the court and we couldn't get there quick enough. It kept us in condition."

So fierce was their rivalry that it didn't matter where they were or what was going on around them. It was all about the ball. All the time.

"It was the first time we had ever been in Rome," Sauldsberry recalls of one battle. "It was a nice sunshiny day. We got in at night and me and Andy were arguing--I don't even remember about what. We couldn't wait till daylight to find an outdoor court to go play one-on-one. We got out there and we were out in the hot sun, our first day in Rome, and with all there was to see in Rome, and all the pretty women, the statues, we're playing one-on-one. That's how competitive we were."

"We were the same kind of people," says Johnson, who teamed up again with Sauldsberry on the NBA Philadelphia Warriors and now lives in Allentown, Pa. "We had the same heart."

When guard Mark Jackson was selected NBA Rookie of the Year in 1988, much was made of his low draft position. He had been taken 18th in the first round. But that's nothing compared with the league's underestimation of Sauldsberry,. The Warriors took him in the 1957 draft's eighth round. (The NBA doesn't even go that deep anymore, closing off the draft after two rounds.)

Sauldsberry's first game as a Warrior was an exhibition game in Baltimore. "I remember that game because Big Daddy Lipscomb, who played for the Baltimore Colts, was sitting in the crowd," Sauldsberry says. "He was sitting at courtside with a couple of girls."

Andy Johnson jumped to the NBA team with his friend, and into a world where black was not the dominant color. "Our rookie year was like going to a KKK meeting," he says.

By the end of the 1957-'58 season, Sauldsberry had established himself as a force on the court. He was named the league's top rookie--the second African-American to win the award, after Maurice Stokes in 1956. (In the four years after Sauldsberry's debut, top-newcomer honors went to Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Walt Bellamy; all are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.) In his sophomore season he was tapped to play in the NBA All-Star game, scoring 14 points and pulling down a pair of rebounds in 18 minutes on the court.

"I had heard a lot about Woody Sauldsberry before he came to Philadelphia," says Sonny Hill, a Philly teen-ager at the time who went on to an NBA and broadcasting career, working games for CBS. Sauldsberry watched the youngster on the court and told him, "You can play."

"To have a pro, someone you looked up to, say that . . . " Hill says, pausing at the recollection. "When I grew up, you couldn't think about the NBA. When a pioneer is with you, it means something."

In the early '60s, teammates Sauldsberry and Johnson were key contributors in helping Hill launch the Baker basketball leagues, which gave Philly youth a chance to hone their skills. "They were not only involved in the league, they were involved in the community," Hill says. "There was nothing I asked them that they would not do."

Sauldsberry left the Warriors in 1960 amid a contract dispute, but he continued to establish himself as one of the league's top players. In 1961, playing for the St. Louis Hawks, he was named the outstanding player of the Western Division playoffs.

There is some irony to Sauldsberry, one of the league's more outspoken African-American players at the time, playing for St. Louis--this was the franchise that in 1956 traded the draft rights to Bill Russell to the Celtics rather than add a black man to the all-white Hawks squad.

Sauldsberry had met Russell a few years earlier, when he was still a Globetrotter and Russell was starring at the University of San Francisco.

"He was a senior, and they [San Francisco] had just finished winning their second NCAA championship," Sauldsberry says. "He had an offer from the Trotters--they were trying to get him. The St. Louis Hawks had [Russell's draft rights]. At that time he was comparing offers. Abe had offered him some money. . . . Bill was a serious basketball player. I told him he wouldn't be happy playing that clown ball."

"If it hadn't been for Woody Sauldsberry, Bill Russell would have gone to the 'Trotters," Johnson says. "Russell should really thank him."

When the Hawks traded Russell to Boston for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagen, the young center made the jump to the NBA and led the Celtics to a string of championships (eight straight and 11 in 13 years) unmatched in professional sports history.

But despite his fame and accomplishments, Russell often found himself at odds with the racial politics of the time. In October 1961, the Celtics paired up with the Hawks for a preseason-exhibition road trip through Middle America. The tour would take the players through the heart of Dixie. Satch Sanders, a teammate of Russell's that year, recalled that he and fellow Celtic Sam Jones, both black, had been denied service at a coffee shop in a hotel in Lexington, Ky., the final stop on the tour. A similar incident had occurred at a restaurant in Marian, Ind., two days earlier.

"Those things happened in the small towns back then," Sanders told the Boston Herald in 1996. "I think a lot of times folks figured that we were just passing through and wouldn't bother us. But in Lexington and Marian, it was more confrontational. We just got together in someone's hotel room and [Russell] said, 'I don't think we ought to play.' You lived with this if you were black and traveling. It was not a new one on us. But the best thing you could do was to withhold services."

When the group went back to the coffee shop to address the matter, Cleo Hill says, the managers told them that since they were ballplayers the rules could be waived and they could be served. They refused. "We wanted to be served as regular citizens, not as members of the NBA," says Hill, then with St. Louis.

The seven black players on the teams--Celtics Russell, Sanders, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, and Al Butler and Hawks Sauldsberry and Hill--left the tour without playing that last game in Lexington. The game went on anyway, St. Louis easily beating short-handed Boston.

The incident struck a chord with several white Celtics. Frank Ramsey, who played his college ball in Lexington, was upset enough to organize some hometown friends, who wired personal apologies to the team, according to published reports. But there was no such remorse expressed in St. Louis.

"Cliff Hagen wanted the blacks fired," Hill says. "Our owner, Ben Kerner, said nothing. And about three weeks later, Woody was sent to the Chicago [Packers]," an expansion team that, after two moves and five name changes, is now the Washington Wizards.

Sauldsberry played the '61-'62 season for Chicago, but in the middle of the next season St. Louis lured him back to beef up for the playoffs; Sauldsberry was a top-notch defensive player the Hawks believed would help them neutralize the Lakers' electrifying Elgin Baylor. But he didn't get along with St. Louis coach Harry Gallatin, a rivalry Sauldsberry says stemmed from the latter's playing days. Sauldsberry acknowledges he didn't work very hard for Gallatin; within a month or so he was suspended for "insubordination," he says, and he simply walked off the team and out of the league.

By 1965 Sauldsberry was working as a sales rep for TWA, but Russell hadn't forgotten him. In 1965, the Boston star convinced Celtics coach Red Auerbach to add Sauldsberry to the roster for the coming season. He played sparingly, spending much of the season injured, but when the 1965-'66 Celtics won the NBA title, their eighth straight, he got his only championship ring. After that, he retired he good.

At first, life after basketball came on Sauldsberry's terms. He got a job with the President's Council on Physical Fitness, spending a couple of years as the organization's public spokesperson. Then the new American Basketball Association came knocking in the person of singer Pat Boone, who owned the Oakland Oaks franchise. But the job didn't offer the kind of money he wanted, and even if it had, Sauldsberry had grown tired of the game, tired of fighting the racial battles and contract disputes--tired of the whole business.

"I missed the game a little, but I didn't miss the frustration," he says. But if he had tired of basketball, he hadn't lost his taste for the jock life--the parties, the women.

In the late '60s, he started bouncing around the country--L.A. to St. Louis to Chicago, frequently working as a car salesman. He would do this for the next decade. "I lived everywhere but with my family," he says. The estrangement was nothing new--both Sauldsberry's marriages were short-lived, and for years afterward he saw little of his two children. (In addition to Debra Irene, he had a son, Woody III, with his second wife in 1958.)

When he'd had his fill of selling cars, Sauldsberry continued bouncing around, working odd jobs and pulling further away from the basketball world. And the basketball world--and the aura that surrounded being part of it--was pulling away from him. Every now and then, at a club or a party, with friends or other pro athletes, he'd get to play The Man, as he had been during his NBA days. But those were only cameo roles. The cachet that had come with being a hoops star was disappearing. More and more, Sauldsberry found himself alone--and, according to friends, taking less and less care of himself.

"I had heard that Woody had been doing some things that were not good for him," Sonny Hill says. "And I had heard that he'd been doing that for a long time." Hill declines to elaborate, and Sauldsberry himself will only generally discuss his life during this period.

Whatever downward spiral Sauldsberry was in, moving to Baltimore in 1986 at the behest of a woman he'd met in Philadelphia didn't get him out of it. He remained a night runner, hanging at the 32nd Street Plaza nightclub in Waverly and other local watering holes. He was clinging to vestiges of the jock life, and it was wearing thin. When the woman finally left him and Baltimore, he was alone. "I had no real reason to stay here," he says. "I just did."

His basketball heroics forgotten by all but the staunchest old-school fans, his name and fame long eclipsed by peers he battled on the court, Sauldsberry withdrew from the world. Even his closest friends lost contact. "He went into a shell," Sonny Hill says. "After being there for so long, he accepted that as a way of life."

Former Globetrotter teammate Carl Green, who now works with troubled teens in New York, says he understands why Sauldsberry chose the shadows. "When you see all the shit that we saw [in professional basketball], we knew how the game was played," Green says. "We were the bad guys. We were not the ones who would hang up under the owners."

About a year ago, Sauldsberry hit rock bottom. Dot Colvin, a longtime friend, got wind from one of his old girlfriends that something had gone terribly wrong with him. The ex asked Colvin to try to track him down.

"I didn't know where to start looking, so I called an old friend in California," says Colvin, who runs Neighbors United, a city-funded volunteer program, and has worked as a public-relations consultant to the Department of Housing and Community Development in both the Schmoke and O'Malley administrations. "He told me Woody was in a bad way, and he told me something else. He said, 'Let me tell you this about Woody Sauldsberry. Whatever mess he gets himself into, he will get himself out of it.'"

By the time Colvin found him, Sauldsberry was at Maryland General Hospital. "He had been admitted the night before I saw him," she says. "The doctors said he had collapsed."

The diagnosis was diabetes. One doctor said Sauldsberry's right foot had been so badly poisoned that he was leaving a blood trail when he walked. The foot would have to be amputated.

Sauldsberry waited a day, not ready to face what was ahead. "I said, 'Oh no, not yet,'" he recalls. The delay cost him more than half his leg. It was a wake-up call. Suddenly the choice to live or die was staring him in the face.

In the months since his operation, Sauldsberry has slowly begun to emerge from his seclusion. He started attending Charity's Way International Church, a modest house of worship located in the rear of a beauty salon at Baltimore and Eutaw streets. "I found a spiritual connection there," he says. "I found a way to connect with other people."

He has also reconnected with his son and daughter, who are helping him put together a group to foster an athletic and educational group for young people, the Woody Sauldsberry Universal Sports Academy. Sauldsberry talked up the venture as he accepted his award from the Black Legends of Professional Basketball in Detroit. "We want to get them out of their neighborhoods, beyond what they know," he told the crowd--just as he, as a young teenager, signed a contract that took him beyond what he knew.

"I've traveled all over the world, man. It's way past the time that I should be giving back to the community," he says. It's only one of the ways in which he is beginning to make peace with his past, to think about the constant battling that dominated his life both on the hardwood and off. He now wonders what his legacy could have been had he played the game a different way. He doesn't think he ever could have been a Chamberlain or Russell, "but I could have been better had I just played the game on the court. Sometimes I would do anything, wouldn't put up the numbers. I would like to do it over again with my mind more focused on the court. It would be nice to see what I could have done."

As he says this, there is a spark deep in Woody Sauldsberry's eyes--the hint of the 22-year-old, the rookie of the year. Awkward yet gazellelike. Raining jumpers from the outside.

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