Dec. 23, 2016
My Three Best Basketball Bus Stories of All-Time
Sometimes things pop up in life, that make you look back on your own experiences and that happened to me recently. I ended up thinking about all the time I've spent in my life in basketball, sitting somewhere on a bus and all the interesting things that happened on those buses during that time. Here are my best three bus stories in no particular order:
Marquette traveled to Australia, New Zealand & Fiji after my sophomore year. While many college teams chose Europe, I believe a big part of the reason Marquette chose Australia, is because our coach, Kevin O'Neill, wanted to go somewhere that everyone spoke English and that we could always order a burger.
Our Australia leg of the trip was based out of two cities- Sydney & Melbourne. While some of the teams we played were in the metropolitan areas, some of them were a several hour bus ride each way. I remember one of the gyms being so far inland, that the game was basically held in what looked like a big Morton building and fans showed up wearing winter hats, coats and gloves, even though we were playing indoors. We may have been indoors, but the building wasn't heated and when the sun went down, it got really cold, like see your breath cold.
Anyway, the buses in Australia had a bed in the very back of the bus, which was awesome, because one of my long-standing habits as a player was to occupy the very last row on the left-hand side of whatever bus I was on. I found the engine noise to be relaxing and I liked hearing the drivers shift through the gears. The bed on the bus proved to be very inviting and I immediately made myself at home.
One the return trip from one of those games, I fell asleep on the bus and didn't wake up when the we returned to the team hotel in Sydney. My roommate, Robb Logterman, didn't think anything of my absence, assuming I had gone up to the room ahead of him, quickly changed and headed out.
I woke up about 20 minutes after the rest of the team had been dropped off. I was on the floor and the AA batteries from my Sony Walkman were rolling around on the floor and hitting me in the face. I staggered up to the front of the bus as best I could, because the bus was clearly speeding and the driver was weaving in and out of traffic, which is probably how I ended up on the floor.
When I got his attention, I startled him so much, he nearly got in an accident. Surprised to see me, he turned the bus around and brought me back to the hotel, telling me another ten minutes into the drive and I probably would've spent the night at his house. When I arrived back, most of my teammates were headed out on the town, but were confused as to why I was still in my uniform and just getting off the bus.
My second bus story took place when Marquette played a holiday tournament out in Tucscon, Arizona. Since it was already established that the last seat in the bus was mine, based on seniority, Amal McCaskill and Dwayne Streater often ended up arguing over who would get the next seat, perhaps so they wouldn't have to share a row with a manager?
On one of the short trips we took in the bus, Streater and McCaskill ended up getting into a wrestling match in the seat, each trying to physically force the other out. That went on for about 30-45 seconds, until we all heard a loud POP sound. Everyone froze for a split second, not knowing where it came from, but then realizing the two had been pressing up against one of the bus windows until it cracked and sent about four or five jagged lines off in every direction. The back of the bus immediately burst out laughing...except for Dwayne and Amal. They both sat down next to each other and tried to get everyone else to be quiet, so the coaching staff wouldn't find out what they did and to my knowledge, they never did.
My third bus story took place during my NBA career, when I was with the New Jersey Nets. We were playing a pre-season game against the Cavaliers somewhere in rural Ohio and had all gotten on the bus to head to the gym. It didn't seem like we were that far away from the facility, but after about 25 minutes, it seemed like we should've arrived. Jaime Feick was from Ohio, so someone asked him if he knew the name of the high school or town we were supposed to be playing in and if we were actually heading in the right direction.
Jaime had been listening to music and not paying attention, but as we passed road signs, he immediately realized we were heading toward Cleveland, which was the opposite direction from where we were supposed to go. The bus driver thought he was doing the right thing, because where else would an NBA team play the Cavaliers, but at Gund Arena? As the trainer scrambled through his travel notes to find the address of the gym, Scottie Burrell jumped into action and began asking the equipment manager if he had Coach Don Casey's cell phone number.
Someone passed the number back to Burrell, who was in the back of the bus and he called Don Casey, who was sitting in the front of the bus, pretending to be Stu Jackson, who may not have even been working for the NBA at that point. Burrell had Casey on the phone for several minutes, claiming he was going to fine the Nets for arriving late to the game and the penalties could go as high as thousands of dollars for every minute the team was late.
Casey was in utter disbelief, pleading his case that it was the fault of the bus driver and not the team and that no fine should be imposed, but Jackson (Burrell) was relentless and ended the call quickly. After he hung up, Casey went on a tirade to the coaching staff, complaining about how the NBA could even know the team was running late, let alone have a protocol in place to fine them before they were actually proven to be late.
After a few minutes, Burrell couldn't contain his laughter anymore and Casey eventually figured out he had been punked by one of his own players and that the whole back of the bus was in on it.