The King James Version Bible mentions mother and mothers 256 times, whereas it mentions father and fathers 1,547 times. It surprised me but it indicates the father’s primacy and the father’s potency.
In his LSU debut, basketball player Pete Maravich incinerated Tampa for 48 points. Maravich dribbled down court behind his back at top speed, drilled 30-foot jump shots, rifled passes one way — while looking the other way — and slingshotted behind the back half-court passes teammates caught in stride and converted into scores.
Who sowed the seeds that birthed such a rarity? His father and former college and professional basketball player, Press Maravich, was a basketball coaching lifer and a basketball visionary. Press often shot baskets in the backyard tantalizing Pete, who’d be watching. Pete pleaded with Press to let him shoot. Press, maintaining his strategy, rejected him. Once Press sensed Pete was ravenous to play, he left the ball by the hoop.
Thus Pete’s obsession began.
He and Press transformed the game’s entertainment value. Sports Illustrated’s Curry Kirkpatrick said, “But at the top of his game, when he was smoking out another outrageous 50-point night, absolutely nobody, no time, nowhere, approached Maravich.”
My father, Joe Greenwood, worked at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company; he made extraordinary BLTs and potato pancakes; and he operated an income tax business. How I remember the strangers who thronged our house.
I remember when my mother, Rose, drove my brother Glenn and I to pick him up from work. Lunch bucket toting men clogged the street adjoining the plant. Some scurrying on shift and some scurrying off shift. That scene comforted me like a plate filled with hot, creamy mashed potatoes and gravy. It said, “Dad’s working to take care of us.”
Marvin Gaye employed his velvety tenor to sing these unforgettable lyrics to a forgettable movie. “There’s only three things for sure; taxes, death and trouble.”
My father padded around the house in his socks, no house shoes and a sport magazine shoved in one rear pocket and a western novel stuffed in the other, that’s for sure.
He dropped the sport magazine; I picked it up and the glossy cover mesmerized me. I devoured every word. My father also read Akron Beacon Journal columnists Tom Melody and Dick Shippy.
My father assigned weight to their words and their opinions. The power words contained, the emotions they invoked and their ability to persuade intrigued me. It’s blossomed and now I’m a columnist. Thank you, Dad.
In Game 1 of the 1985 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics battered the Los Angeles Lakers, 148-114. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, flailed and fumbled his way to 12 points and three rebounds. The media batted him like a piñata and buried him.
The next day Abdul-Jabbar sat in the front row for the film session; he usually sat in the rear. Laker coach Pat Riley said, “His body language said, ‘Let me see all of my mistakes. Let me see the horror show.’”
Before Game 2, this proud man humbled himself. He asked Riley — a rule stickler — to break a rule and allow his father, Lew Alcindor Sr., to ride on the team bus. Cowered by self-doubt, Abdul-Jabbar needed his father’s presence and his father’s strength. Years later, Riley envisioned Alcindor Sr. and Abdul-Jabbar sitting together, not talking much, staring ahead — the son, gaining strength and reassurance.
Abdul-Jabbar’s 30 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks tied the series, which the Lakers won in six games. Abdul-Jabbar, assisted by his father, won the Finals MVP.
Three fathers bestowed three gifts upon their three sons.