HOT IN THE CITY

The summer of 1977…35 years ago, talk about crazy?

Time sure flies when you’re having fun, right?

On June 7, the day I turned 13 years old I was officially a teenager?

At the time, I had no clue as to what that meant.

In May of 1977, Star Wars opened in theaters. It’s too bad I have never seen the movie; nor was I interested. I was never a space opera type guy. But that George Lucas was one heck of a director!

In June, the Portland Trailblazers topped the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA finals. Who can forget Bill Walton and company knocking off Dr. J’s squad? Probably what most remember from that series was the fight in game two. Darryl Dawkins and Bobby Gross got tangled up but Dawkins, who was ready to fight landed a blow to his teammate Doug Collins. Maurice Lucas came charging towards Dawkins and the two were ready to throw down but nothing happened.

Just a day or two later my father stood me up. If you read the blog, you know he told me to be ready the night of my birthday for he was taking me to Shea Stadium to see the Mets and the Reds. We all know how that turned out.

On June 15th the Mets traded Tom Seaver to the Reds.

Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown.

In July, there was a City-wide blackout on the 13th, lasting 25 hours. “Christmas in July!”

Son of Sam was arrested up in Yonkers. How about that sick bastard going around shooting people?

The King, Elvis Presley died in August. One of the best of all time. To this day I get up off my ass and dance to “Jailhouse Rock.”

Just three days later Groucho Marx dies. I will never forget watching his show, ‘You Bet Your Life’ on a daily basis.  Any of the Marx Brothers movies had me laughing out loud.

It was also the summer when the New York Jets waived Joe Namath. The Rams picked him up and he was able to play four games for them.

In August, Lou Brock broke Ty Cobb’s record for most career stolen bases.

Last but not least, Reggie Jackson smacks three HR’s in leading the Yankees to the World Series over the LA Dodgers. Their first W.S.  in 15 years.

The summer of 1977, how can we forget it?

-Steve

HOOPS135@HOTMAIL.COM

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29 Responses to HOT IN THE CITY

  1. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    Oh, I can still see Reggie coming out of the dugout, taking his cap off and taking a bow- I remember at one point, someone made a video montage with the song “Fame” playing- and, damn, they DID name a candy bar after him, lol

  2. Willy Wickham says:

    The spring that year wasn’t too shabby either. Remember the guy who climbed the World Trade Center using gear he made that hooked into the window washer’s tract? I think his name was George Willig.

    • hoopscoach says:

      Willy,

      I believe his famous words were, ‘There’s only one way to go, and that’s up’ when someone told him to get down! LOL

  3. jimmyvac says:

    That was a crazy summer… the original sketch of the “Son of Sam” looked just like a guy on my 72nd Pct baseball team. One day, he and I are in his car with two girls and he pulled over screaming at the girl he was with to get out because she was checking out some guy. I remember thinking this guy is nuts!!!,,.,

  4. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    oh yes, Reggie came in under bad terms from that Sports Illustrated interview- he said, “Thurman, he thinks he’s the straw, but he can only stir it bad” (sic) and then he and Billy Martin tangled on national TV (not sure if it was that year, but I think so) but by the time he left, he was a hero- winning will do that- Mr. October, indeed

  5. Glenn Thomas says:

    I remember the Blazers beating the Sixers! The Blazers were down 2-0 in that series and went on a 4-0 streak to beat the Sixers. I had always loved basketball especially when played the right way and the Blazers (with so many young players) moved and passed the ball so beautifully like an art form. It was a victory for good basketball over individualistic bad basketball. Walton, Mo Lucas, Bobby Gross, Lionel Hollins, Johnny Davis, and Dave Twardzik come into my mind! Dr. Jack Ramsey was a tremendous coach and teacher of the game! Thanks for bringing that year 1977 and memory back Steve!

    • hoopscoach says:

      Glenn,

      Blazers win the title without a single player on the NBA All-First Team!

      • Glenn Thomas says:

        That’s amazing….Walton was not a high flyer but was simply such a good fundamentally superior player. I’m guessing that this due to the fact that this series was the time of the NBA-ABA merger for Mo Lucas and Julius Erving are in this series as was Caldwell Jones and George McGinnis. It seems the NBA was more concerned with the flash and high flyers than actually putting the best players on that NBA first team. Walton not being on that first team especially when he was healthy was a travesty in my opinion.

      • hoopscoach says:

        Glenn,

        This was the first year after the merger; and the Blazers first appearance in the NBA playoffs.

        Mo Lucas was taken in the ABA dispersal draft and Jack Ramsay was hired as head coach. Ramsay took over for Lenny Wilkins.

        Lucas was their leading scorer on the season. Walton led the league in rebounding.

        The Lakers were favorite to win it all that year but Portland swept them in the Western Conference Finals.

        Jabber, Hayes, Maravich, DT and Paul Westphal were named 1st Team All-NBA.

        It’s worth noting that Lucas and Walton both were named to the all-star game for the West.

  6. jimmyvac says:

    For about a year and a half, Walton played an all around game at center that would be tough to match, passing, defense, scoring,,, all around incredible.. that finals was about the team being better than individual talents.
    Useless trvivia: Babe Ruth and Elivs both died on August 16..
    . …

  7. jimmyvac says:

    Westphal was on his way to a Hall of Fame career until he got hurt.. He was averaging over 20 ppg 5 apg , shot 50 per cnet, played decent d… He could shoot medium range jumpers with either hand….

    • hoopscoach says:

      Loved Westphal with the Knicks…

      • Glenn Thomas says:

        I loved Westphal more in his prime when he got traded to Phoenix for Charlie Scott and then with the Sonics. He was hobbled by injuries by the time he got to NY often playing with a limp that resembled a gallop. He was one of the most intelligent players to have ever played the game with his court sense and situational awareness. Do you remember when he called that timeout in Boston when playing for the Suns when they didn’t have one? I believe Boston shot and made the one free throw on technical foul. Phoenix now down 2 get the ball at half court and hit a shot by I believe Gar Heard and send the game into an extra period! Unreal smarts!!!!

      • hoopscoach says:

        Glenn,

        YES!

        I read an interview where he said he got that idea from USC football coach John McKay.

        Call the TO, you get a technical foul but you keep possession and get to advance the ball to half-court.

        They were out of timeouts so they couldn’t advance after Boston scored.

        Brilliant idea from a high IQ player.

        Not many players would have the poise to think like that in such a dramatic scene!

        What’s amazing is that Westphal was drafted and played his first 3 seasons for the Celtics then he finds himself in a huge finals series with them!

        Happy 4th…

  8. jimmyvac says:

    I started following Westphal when he was with the Celtics.. he came off the bench and scored about 20…Before the injuries, he had great hops..the NBA had a horse contest and Westphal beat Super John Williamson with a two handed jam… Walton as a kid was a point guard bewfore his growth spurt which explains his passing.. Walton was really about 7 foot 3 not 6’11” as

    listed. If you see the 1986 Celtics championship photo.. (my vote best team I ever saw) Walton is significantly taller than Robert Parrish and McHale,,,,

    • hoopscoach says:

      Vackner,

      Paul Westphal never scored 20 PPG with Celtics. Jo-Jo White and Hondo got the starters minutes with Don Chaney coming off the bench.

      It wasn’t until he was traded to the Suns that he started scoring in the 20’s.

  9. jimmyvac says:

    Sorry.. meantto write scored 20 in a game .. Don Chaney wound up leaving the Celtics to go to the ABA with the Spirit of St. Louis.. was amazing after the trade that Celtics met Phoenix in the finals..Charlie Scott was a good player but if you had Westphal nad White in the backcourt, Hondon adn Silas at the three and four and Cowens at center, they may have won another tile or two in the 1970s…. Hope everyone had a great 4th@.

  10. Dan Leary says:

    Loved that Portland team. Walton was unbelievable. One of the smartest along with being one of the most talented players to ever play the game. It was a shame his career was cut short. Met him when I was in college when he was with the Celtics. I was at a Cetics practice. He towered over Parish, Rick Robey and the rest of the big guys they had. He was probably 7ft 1in, but only was ever listed as 6ft. 11in. Loved to watch the Celtics too with Dave Cowens. Talk about intensity. Also loved the way Jo-Jo White could stop on a dime and stick that J. Was playing in a summer league game in the Holy Name schoolyard when the lights went out that summer.

    • hoopscoach says:

      Danny,

      Great stuff.

      Remember when Jo-Jo filmed the Pro-Keds commercial at Ford?

      I almost had his mesh bag filled with gear; until a woman behind the scenes reminded him that he forgot it!

      Stay in touch!

      • Dan Leary says:

        Jo-Jo used to wear those green suede pro-keds. They were awesome. I remember that day with the commercial. Did you see the Dr. J clinic at Ford? He actually did some dunks for the crowd at the end. It was pretty cool.

      • hoopscoach says:

        Missed the clinic at Ford but I was able to catch him at Power Memorial.

        How about this; I went over to Manhattan at the age of 12! Alone….

    • Glenn Thomas says:

      A lot people remember Lenny Wilkens as a so-so coach. He (Wilkens) contributed to building that Blazer team until he was let go in favor of Dr. Jack Ramsey. Wilkens went to Seattle and brought the Sonics to the Finals tow years in a row in what I am guessing 1978 and 79 losing the tite to the Bullets and then coming back the year later by beating the Bullets. I guess having Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams in a backcourt made it wasy to coach along with John Johnson, Downtown Freddie Brown, and Marvin Webster!

  11. jimmyvac says:

    That Seattle team was great.. I think Lonnie Shelton was also on that team….
    Walton was at least 7’3=7’4… Wilkens was a great coach who had teams with little talent. When he had the talent he won….

    • hoopscoach says:

      The year was 78-79; Sonics won it all beating the Bullets 4-1.

      Gus and DJ were the starting guards; a great backcourt. Gus was amazing. ‘The Wizard’ who could score and share the pill.

      Sikma was their center (Marvin Webster was their starting center the year before when they lost. His only season in Seattle) Sikma was tough inside player with a nice mid-range.

      Shelton was the enforcer.

      Freddie Brown came off the bench. Paul Silas and JJ also gave them a lift off the pine.

      Very good team.

  12. jimmyvac says:

    I remember when Shelton was a rooklie with the Knicks.. he was a pretty good player.. Sikma had that awkward over the head jumper.. Gus was a great player , DJ was a clutch scorer and great defender.. I think small forward John Johnson led the team in assists when they won the title.. Paul Silas provided leadership, d, & rebounding….

  13. Glenn Thomas says:

    Steve, do you remember when we went and saw the Knicks-Bullets at The Garden and witnessed Shelton get into a scrap and knock out Mitch Kupchak? It was real fast almost like one punch. Shelton had a good year in his second year in NY and obviously played well with Seattle the next year when the Sonics were champions. I don’t remember Shelton having a long career. Off the court issues and I believe his weight and conditioning were also a factor. Can anyone chime in on this?

    • hoopscoach says:

      YES!

      GREAT CALL…

      As for Shelton’s career, after 2 years with the Knicks, I think he played for the Sonics for four, maybe five years and finished in Cleveland.
      Defensive guy; fouled a lot, rebounded and defended. He was the starting power forward on the Sonics title team.

      Tough SOB too.

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