(Des Moines, IA) Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley, a member of the National Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame, made sure he was near a television set Sunday night.
“I caught the last part of the Knicks game…the last six minutes when it was iced,” Bradley joked with reporters Monday.
Bradley was a New York Knick for ten years. In his rookie season in ’67, he “endured boos and jeers from the Knicks crowd” according to Bradley’s biography on the Internet. Bradley stayed with it, eventually scoring 10,438 points in his career and helping the Knicks win N.B.A. championships in 1972/73 and 1969/70.
One of Bradley’s connections to the present-day Knicks team stems from his days as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Knick center Patrick Ewing, once a student at Georgetown, served as a summer intern for the U.S. Senate’s Finance committee.
“He ended up marrying the daughter of a woman who worked in my office,” Bradley said. “So, I’ve followed him on a personal basis.”
Both men have been active in the N.B.A.’s union. For seven years, Bradley was the Knick’s representative to the players’ union. Ewing is now the president of that union.
“Once a Knick, always a Knick,” Bradley said. “I would really like for (Ewing) to win a championship. He deserves it. He’s the ultimate worker.”
That is often the way Bradley is described, as a guard who constantly ran the floor, looking for an opening.
Now, Bradley is in a different arena, politics, and he spent his Memorial Day attending a Veteran’s memorial service in Des Moines, then paid a visit to a Veteran’s Home in Marshalltown, Iowa.
“I think this is a day where we reconize those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in terms of serving their country and giving their lives so we can all be free,” Bradley said.
Bradley served in the Air Force reserve for six monhts of active duty in 1967, just before beginning his N.B.A. career. Bradley remained a reserve for five years and left the military as a first lieutenant.
Bradley sat with over 200 military veterans and their spouses in the mid-day ceremony in Des Moines, but he did not speak to the crowd. He did stand with other Air Force veterans when they were recognized, his head clearly visibile above the crowd because of his height.
Bradley staffers told reporters it wasn’t really a “campaign stop” for Bradley, although he was introduced to the crowd. Most of the crowd, however, was there for the ceremony, not to meet a presidential wanna-be.
“It’s a little too early to monkey with them guys, yet,” said Jim Fouse of Des Moines, a veteran of World War II.