Julius Erving, West Virginia, John discussed on City Lights
And about seven years ago, I was reading a biography of Julius Erving, who, if you don't know, it's a 70 Sixers. Player, former 76 years player and in it, he recounted a time when he was a young man and had a serious knee injury. And it was in a hip to ankle cast and you could do nothing but lay on the couch and watch television. And one day he sees Elgin Baylor playing and it something it gives him in an epiphany. Really, and he begins to mentally rehearse how he will one day play back the game of basketball, based on The modeling that he sees before him in Elgin Baylor, the this above the rim type of play, and he delights in the artistry and the creativity s So when I'm reading, that is about it for a thank you come. That's interesting. I know. I know a little bit about Bella. Look around a little bit more. So I listen to audio recordings. I watched a lot of videotape. Read books, magazines, older sports magazines and just built up a mountain of information about his early life. And then, of course, his his action in 1959 when he boycotted the game, and Charleston, West Virginia. Protest racial discrimination. So it came along slowly as most of these things do, But it was ah, wonderful, a story that really need to be told for young people. Would you talk about how you used the story of Elgin Baylor's life to correspond with milestones in the civil rights movement? Sure, I mean his action on January 16th 1959, where his Minneapolis Lakers, he was the 1st 1st Year player. He was a rookie NBA player, and in those days, the MBA only had 18. And it was You know, fascinating to imagine the kind of travel lives and they had much much different than today and they didn't really have a big fan base. But it was really the star of the team. But he was turned away at the hotel when they got to West Virginia and also turned away at restaurants and That was enough, he said. You know, I'm they can't just let me out of a cage like an animal to play the game and not treat me like a human being the rest of the time. And this was it was important in the book as I'm writing a text to make sure that it was Clear than other things that off the court outside of that fled Ext. Rosa Parks, the Wichita, Kansas, who counter sit ins and protests. Be desegregation of schools in the South. Um it's important to the young people know the context of what was happening and at the same time and that this You know, this was part of ah, larger movement of athletes and non athletes. But he was really the first pro athlete to stage a boycott. So all the modern day you know, protests and boycotts and kneeling at games that you see today really echoes back to this towel to Baylor sitting out the game in West Virginia. Yeah, Frank. Your dedication in the book reads to all the Children who love basketball as much as I love painting. You are illustrations are wonderful. And I love the picture where Elgin is airborne and part of the text reads. In one smooth move like a plane taking off, he would leap higher entire and higher. Has pulled by some invisible wire. Would you describe the picture you created for that? Wow, the pages describing it is we're talking about the way we have to go back to the crime page. And that is a page of the group of young individuals coming together and they're debating so I would call this the great debate. In this debate, going back and forth about bragging about who's better and Newsday's and who can do that? And who could do this and out of the blue? If you look for the back up, you're back. You see. Tells you he's doing a little cross over and coming up coming up approaching this. This group of draggers and trash talk is you know you have to try to talk trash. You just have to, and so instead of participating He proved them all wrong. It goes over everyone and goes over the gossip. He was over the nation's flies through the air. And he does this wonderful finger roll, and he just drops off gently into the hoop. And you have the background. You have the sun that is back and it's a silly way. He's trying to have a little bit of that basketball hoop in the background, and he's just showing above everyone, and that's just making sure that he and I believe this picture shows that he was different then. Even on the court. You would see in it. You mean that I participated in all that work? You all that back and forth, John. Of course you're gonna do it while you're on the court. But off the court, it doesn't make any sense is to prove who you are. On the court. I think that's what this picture shows. You also have a son behind. Timid it. Has a halo effect, almost like an angel. Oh, yes. Yes, And there's way to use the cinema playing up for that, And I believe it's for the fathers and sons and the people behind us that we're we're walking ahead of what I tapped Palate. We're all working while using what we grew up with from. We always were using our background, our family back on our heritage, not talents that were brought up. My talent came from my mother and my grandfather worked for artists. And so when you put your son in the background says, you're moving forward. We're moving forward, and that's what I feel like It's dust. Beautiful. Throughout the book, We see examples of Elgin Baylor's quiet dignity was he as Humble in real life. Yes, I think he was and is yes, he did. He did not. He liked to have his play. Speak for him. And it wasn't that he couldn't be chatty. I mean, if you read the interviews with his fellow players when they were traveling and whatnot, he was He was very talkative in a storyteller, but you know, on on the court, he preferred to let his play speak for him, and he really a shoud any sort of anyone making a big deal about how he could play and what he could do. I mean, even when you watch the film reels when he's being interviewed after he retired, and they they have. They're interviewing Elgin Baylor as he's watching his own film reels, and they're saying, Wow, look at what you could do. He will just say when Well, you know, they were probably other people do these things, But I don't know. You know, I just that just just what came to me at the time, So he's He's extremely He's very As we say in the book, it was it felt spontaneous to him and he was just a wonderful player, wonderful artist on the court, and I do think he continues to be humble..