The Pro’s Pros: Jerry West and John Havlicek, 1969

Both are intense competitors. To say such is to use a cliché used too often about too many. The fact is, under pressure, some choke up, some do as well as they usually do, only a handful do better.

Billy McGill: Over the Hill, In the Valley, and Rising Up Again, 1977

McGill was back on the street. He called Walter Kennedy, then the NBA commissioner, asking whether he had any pension funds due him. He did not; he had not played long enough. “I called collect,” he said, “and I had to look around for a dime.

Sam Jones: The Little Stool That Could, 1962

“Let’s have the fellows who want to play basketball on one side,” said Bill Russell, “and the fellows who want to fight in another place.”

Ode to a Rookie Referee in Two Takes, 1967

Moser, about to hand the ball to the Celts’ John Havlicek, looked at the agonized Holzman—the Knicks were 16 points behind—and said firmly, “That’s enough,” without exclamation point.