I was fortunate to play against Elvin “Big E” Hayes throughout the early part of my career, or perhaps I should say fortunately I only had to play against Elvin “Big E” Hayes the early part of my career. I came into the NBA in 1980 and Elvin retired in 1983, so I only had to play against him a couple of times a year, first when he was with the Houston Rockets and I was with the Seattle Supersonics , and later at the end of his career.
Elvin was a forerunner of the big guys who played center. He could do a lot of different things on the basketball court. Elvin played the four position (power forward), but he was so versatile and interchangeable that he could move around on the basketball court wherever he needed to be effective. Plus he played alongside Wes Unseld, who at 6’7” compared to Elvin’s 6’10”, was able to hold down the center position in the paint as well as any of the top centers of the day.
I tell the story often of how Elvin Hayes, and his bookend counterpart, Wes Unseld, gave me my first real introduction into life in the NBA. We were playing a game in Seattle against the Washington Bullets my rookie year I swear to this day that I saw both Elvin and Wes communicating on how “one was going to take me high, and the other was going to take me low” and on the very next play that’s just what happened. I went up for a rebound and before I knew it my body had leveled out about six feet up in the air with Wes taking out my legs underneath and Elvin pushing me over from up top. I hit the ground with a tremendous thud that left me black and blue for weeks. It seemed to happen in slow motion and in the time that it took me to hit the ground, the thought that went through me was I can either tuck my tail and run back to the bench looking for sympathy, or I can pick myself up, dust myself off, and hang in there with the big boys. I chose the latter and I’m glad I did because I feel that was a defining moment in my young career. Not only did I hit the ground with a tremendous thud, neither Elvin nor Wes even offered a hand to help me up off the ground. That was cold! But that was life in the NBA, especially for a young upstart like me.
The Perfect Christmas Gift!!!
Order you own personally autographed copy of Standing Above the Crowd www.StandingAboveTheCrowd.com in time for the holidays. Only $19.95 and autographed by yours truly, James Donaldson; author, business entrepreneur, professional speaker and former NBA All-Star.
What better way to start the New Year out than with an inspiring, uplifting, motivating book on life, personal goals and being the best you can be… no matter what your circumstances.
It’ll make a great gift for those around you who might benefit from a little “Get – Up – And – Go” boost in their lives.
Standing Above the Crowd is also available in ebook format on www.amazon.com