Basketball diaries

Salon's Jake Tapper goes among the redwoods, with camera in hand, at Bill Bradley's Madison Square Garden fund-raiser.

By Jake Tapper

Published November 17, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Bill Bradley scored big-time here
at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, hosting his "HOOPLA! Bill Bradley
back in the Garden" fundraiser, which brought in NBA legends and

As is always the case with events such as these, the most
interesting stuff doesn't make it onto the evening news -- it happens
behind the scenes.

The following snapshots were taken by Washington correspondent Jake Tapper:

Bradley spokesman Eric Hauser is attacked by a
ravenous press corps before the start of the event. I wanted to know if
actor Harvey Keitel was going to be showing the crowd his penis, as
seems to be in the fine print of the contracts for many of his films
of late. Hauser had no comment.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash interrogates illustrator LeRoy
Neiman, a favorite artist of athletes as well as Hugh Hefner. Big donors to Bradley's 1978 Senate run received a Neiman poster of the candidate with his sleeves rolled up and a silhouette of New Jersey in the background.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Lakers great, "Airplane" co-star and all-time NBA leading
scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the first star introduced to the crowd.

Spike Lee zooms in on former 76er Moses Malone and injured New York
Liberty star Rebecca Lobo with his ubiquitous camcorder. Lee filmed much
of the
proceedings and seemed to be having a great time.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Actor Ethan Hawke looks up at Julius "Dr. J" Erving. At right is Hall
of Famer Bob Cousy. Backstage, I asked Hawke to write a poem for Bradley. He looked at me like I had asked him to recite works of Proust in Mandarin Chinese. Turns out Hawke's a novelist, but not a poet at all, save for his appearance in "Dead Poets Society."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

After two hours of celebrities gushing about what a mensch
Bradley is, the presidential aspirant himself, beaming, finally takes
his place at center court. Bradley's uniform number with the Knicks was 24.

A man in a chicken suit is escorted into a back room by Madison Square
Garden security. Just as Bradley took the stage, the Chicken Man had
run onto the court carrying a sign berating him for not debating Al Gore
weekly. Security ripped off the man's chicken head before rushing him to
the back room. He was never heard from again.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

After the event, three teams of legendary jocks were offered to
the media hordes. This was the first crew, which featured Bradley's
Knicks teammates from the 1970 and '73 NBA championship teams. From
left to right: Willis Reed, Dick Barnett, Jerry "Mr. Memory" Lucas, Earl
"The Pearl" Monroe, Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Bradley's roommate on the
road, Dave

Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper is the senior White House correspondent for ABC News.

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