"May the Spirit Pass Sweetly from Bill Bridges to Jamari Traylor"

  • RIP: Mr. Bridges.

    You are my earliest memory of greatness in Allen Field House. Wilt was my older brother’s first memory. But you were mine. Oh how I have held you close to my heart these last 55 years or so since I saw you.

    The hands!

    Oh my god, THE HANDS!!!

    “…he had the biggest hands of any human being I’ve ever met, mammoth,” (Dana) Anderson said. “Much bigger than Wilt (Chamberlain)…”

    Bill Bridges: inch for inch the greatest rebounder who ever played the game.

    On two good knees, he might have become the greatest rebounder of any size, who ever lived.

    Bill Bridges and Wes Unseld are the two greatest small big men of ALL time in basketball.

    Bill was the greatest rebounder.

    Bill was the fiercer defender.

    And Bill was the greater stick back man.

    And remember all of this was done on two bad knees.

    On two bad knees he was better than Wes at rebounding, defending and sticking back.

    On two bad knees he was better than all but the great small big man on two good knees.

    Bill Bridges was crazy good. He was horse soldier good. He was Sergeant Rutledge good. He was Big Rock Candy Mountain good. He was Wild West good. He was a man 's man good. He was larger than life good. He was hands the size of the Sangre de Cristos good. He was John Wayne good. He was Out in the West Texas town of El Paso good. He was barbecue meets Sonoran cooking good. He was the man from New Mexico good. He was The Lightening Field good. He was cattle drives from the White Mountains to Las Cruces good. He was Armendariz Ranch good. He was White Sands good. He was Truth or Consequences good. Enchanted land good. Big medicine good. John Henry good. He was the greatest player that ever escaped the shadows of Don Haskins at UTEP and the Snake Pit at UNM good.

    He was ALL good.

    And like every lane he ever owned, or board he ever cleared, or opponent he ever outmanned (and oh my did he out man them), in death he is clearing out a lane for some one else now–someone who needs a daddy NOW–needs the spirit of greatness now.

    The ghosts of the great don’t just enchant the memories of boys grown into old men.

    They haunt the monarch of the Midlands and make great things happen in that building.

    Allen and Iba are up in the rafters always looking down. But the ghosts of the great players and the great things done move like shellacked apparitions in the night shadows in the old armory.

    I hid out in the Field House one night in college. It was easy then. I staid all night. I sat in mid court seats above the folded bleachers. I walked the wood at 3 am, when it was so quiet and dark I could have heard a jock drop up in the high corner bleachers. The ghosts were everywhere. Apparitions. Blurs I could only catch out of the corners of my eyes. But they were there. Soaring. Playing. Hanging. Talking. Jiving. Field of Dreams before Phil’s movie of '87. Shoeless Joe before Kinsella’s book of '82. jay before Ray. You want to play before you want a catch. If you rebound it, they will run most definitely before if you build it they will come. There. On the floor. The ghosts. They played. They most definitely played, jay, they most definitely played.

    Amazing things happen in that building…

    Jamari Traylor: Bill Bridges is your small big man Daddy as surely as James Naismith is every basket ball player’s Daddy, and Phog Allen is every coach’s Daddy.

    Jamari Traylor: I am calling you out.

    Your young life so far has all been a fairytale rise from the mean streets of Chicago to a puzzling limbo of arrested development in Allen Field House, where great things happen to those that lace’em up everyday and leave it all on the sacred wood.

    Bill Bridges died for a reason.

    I don’t believe the great one died by chance.

    He died like he lived.

    With the biggest hands and the fiercest heart that ever grabbed a rebound, he was clearing out the lane for you.

    His ghost is going to be in the lane with you this season.

    He is up in the shadows of those huge girders passing time till he swoops down into that lane this season and informs every step you take, every move you make…oh, he’ll be watching you, as Sting once sang.

    Amazing things happen in that building, Jam Tray.

    But you gotta believe!

  • @jaybate-1.0 Such eloquent basketball prose to wake up to. That was great Jaybate!

    Get ALL the rebounds Jam Tray!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    “Bill Bridges died for a reason.”

    I hope his passing sends a signal to our current players of how important Kansas basketball was in the past, is today, and will be in the future, including THEIR future!

  • Awesome! This MAY (remotely possible?) give @HighEliteMajor a brief moment to consider rooting for Jamari Traylor…? 🙂

  • @Lulufulu

    I forgot to say, thanks for your kind words.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Anytime. Hows that book coming? 😉

  • @Lulufulu

    Struggling with it right now.

    Usual family issues of the young finding their ways and the old combatting health and mortality coming in clumps have distracted me.

    But I will get back on the trail. 🙂

  • @ralster ha ha

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