Another chapter in my life’s long and winding road began in 1975 when along with Mill Valley’s Dr Michael Gerber we started a Natural Healing Sports Medicine company, Performance Enhancement Program or PEP. I had made friends with several of the younger Golden State Warriors after a band (Sons of Champlin) I worked with played at halftime and after a game. These guys grew up listening to the iconic San Francisco group and came out after the game to hear them play. I took them backstage after the show to meet the band and a friendship was born. They shared over our time hanging out after games, having dinner, their less than stellar experience of the team’s medical approach. I had been studying alternative medicine for a while and suggested that approach and they wanted to learn more.
Our team was able to demonstrate the value of the PEP program during a presentation at the star PG Charlie ‘CJ’ Johnsons home in the Oakland Hills. Nine of the 12 players on the roster showed up and through a series of Kinetic energy exercises we were able to have most of the guys wanting to try it. Our offerings included Acupuncture, Nutrition, Supplements, Deep Massage/Bodywork/Kinetic Energy. Psychology and lotsa love.
We prescribed different programs based on individual history to enhance performance, daily recovery, long term fitness and how to quiet the mind from the pressures of their daily lives and competition.
We were independent contractors working with the players without the team blessings. In fact, even though our results were evident, eventually threats were made by higher ups in the front office, “stay away from our players” they were losing control over the body’s they owned. The players were revolting, refusing to be treated like pieces of meat…that’s another story.
This story is about a weekend I traveled with the team to Phoenix during the 1976 NBA Playoffs. There were games Friday night, Sunday afternoon and after the game on Friday we were all invited to Ricky Sobers house for a party. Ricky was the Suns starting point guard and loved by many for punching out Rick Barry during a game earlier that season. I knew Ricky from mutual New York friends as he grew up in the Bronx. A bunch of our guys were great friends with Ricky off the court, during games the competition was fierce, that’s another story.
Knowing we were going to party, I brought party favors along with my nutritional supplements I provided for the PEP players.
I flew into Phoenix late afternoon and arrived about an hour before game time. Exiting the airport, I saw the up-and-coming sports (now hall of Fame) announcer Brent Musburger and suggested we share a cab. He agreed, Brent new a lot about sports, had terrific stories, it was a great ride. I wasn’t prepared for the scene at McNichols Arena. I didn’t know Arizona was a Mormon state, no booze sold at games, whereas at Warrior games, we literally (thousands of people) smoked weed, drank beer in the open during halftime. I figured they got stoned before they entered the arena and were very, very hostile, and very straight! Now picture me, Bay Area stoner, floppy Panama straw hat, bright yellow (first of their kind) Oakley sunglasses, big Warrior button on my baby blue soft construction blazer lapel, jeans, orange Nike’s and carrying an anodized Halliburton large attaché case with party favors hidden inside.
I picked up a special pass provided by the players, found my seat, put the case under it and walked down to the floor as the team was shooting warm-up’s. It was about 15 minutes before game time. I chatted with the guys a bit and then decided to walk around the floor level before the game started. The hostility directed at me was as if I’d pissed on Brigham Youngs grave, it was Bad. Strolling along, kinda liking the bad boy #1 fan image of the enemy Warriors, I noticed that I was bring followed by two security (thinking it was for my protection) guards, it was weird. Approaching the richest section of the floor seats and the aisle up to my seat, I was confronted by this 300 pound, vein in neck bulging, redneck, who yelled at me “Go back to Oakland, we don’t want any drug dealers in Phoenix” I thought he was going to explode! It was all very surreal and was about to get much weirder. As I reached my seat, the two guards who’d been following me, were suddenly six surrounding me! Wow, they ordered me to get my bag and open it on the spot. I protested citing my team credentials etc. and they gave me an option, open it here, now, or I was being hauled down to their station in the sub-basement. I figured it wasn’t a good idea to be alone with this very agitated security group and proceeded to get my case and open it in public. My first thoughts were this could really ruin my weekend and the possibility of going to jail for 20 years if they find party favors was very real, like the guy sentenced to 30 years in Texas for possession of 2 joints. So, I grab my bag, put it on the floor surrounded by guards, spin the dual combination locks and flip the latches, the circle of guards steps way back. Hmmm, thinking to myself that’s strange, I quickly flip through the contents in the case, sensing no problem and silently praying as I snap the case shut and spin the combination locks closed, they’re satisfied with their investigation. Looking up at the apparent head guy, he simply says “thanks for cooperating, enjoy the game” wow, what just happened! I found out at halftime, seeing one of the younger guards I asked, “what was that all about”? His explanation starts with (go figure) my fashion look, saying they had never seen anyone that looked like me entering the arena, stashing my bag under the seat, leaving it there and walking away. He continues to tell me they had a bomb threat, found a bomb the year before…they thought I was a bomber!!! Now being in the clear, I asked what would have happened if they had seen pot in the case. His answer “they wouldn’t have known what it was.
Jail time averted, weekend intact, we won the game and off to Ricky’s place for the party. Pro athletes are Rock Stars, the women they attract are fit, intelligent and fine. I had status being part of the Warrior crew and that night met a beautiful woman inside and out, her name was Jimi Hendrix and that’s another story.