One of my earliest encounters with perception and reality happened in 1956 in a locker room when I was 14 years old.
It was my freshman year in high school. We were all excited when we learned that the Minneapolis Lakers would be coming to one of the local schools in our area to play an exhibition game against the St. Louis Hawks. It would be the last exhibition game before the start of the season.
Two of the players that night had local ties to the area. Clyde Lovellette would be playing for the Hawks and Bobby Leonard for the Lakers. Lovellette played at Kansas and Leonard at Indiana. Lovellette and Leonard both were from Terre Haute, Indiana. They had gone to high school there with Lovellette going on to All-American status at Kansas and Leonard at Indiana. The Hawks also had Easy Ed Macauley, Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagen and Slater Martin. Man, this was going to be some night! The greats of professional basketball right here in our own backyard. We arrived at the game with our coach and the crowd was so large that they sat us, of all places, on the bench right next to the Hawk players. We could reach out and touch them.
I remember almost nothing about the game itself. But I do remember something that happened after the game. By some means our high school coach had it set up for us to go in the Hawks’ locker room after the game. I can still remember stepping into that hallowed ground as six foot, eight inch, Ed Macauley was taking off his jersey; and in his hand he held a cigarette. A cigarette, how could this be? He picked up a can, and it was not a can of diet Dr. Pepper, but was a can of beer. Hey, how can this be, basketball players don’t smoke and don’t drink, do they? (And don’t fool around with girls that do - sorry a little ditty there).
What I had always perceived and what I was now seeing did not match. I had a thing or two to learn about the real world, did I not? Perception and reality do not always appear on the same page do they?
Later (not too much later) I also leaned that also applied to many other areas of life than sports. Many.
November 1, 2010