Sage advice: Make today a masterpiece
By Paul Carvalho
Advertiser Staff Writer
The silver-haired man, looking more wizardly than ever in retirement, sat alone reading a sports section at Los Angeles International Airport on that fall afternoon in 1984.
"You know who that is?" I asked several of the University of Hawai'i football players making the road trip. None of them did.
I introduced myself and we talked a while. At some point I mentioned that none of the Rainbows recognized him. John Wooden smiled at that. The man The Sporting News last year named "The Greatest Coach of All Time," spoke about how fame was fleeting, and how that's a very good thing, because there was still much to do.
"Make each day your masterpiece," was part of the advice his father, Joshua, had given him when young John graduated from grammar school. He tried his best. His UCLA basketball teams won 10 NCAA basketball championships in 12 years.
The Wizard of Westwood died Friday at the age of 99, but until the end stayed true to his creed: Make today another work of art.
His words have remained with me. For 37 years, reporting on sports in Hawai'i has given me the opportunity to try to create a masterpiece each day. Some days were better than others. Most workdays ended with a litany of could'ves and should'ves. But I hope the sports sections that have reached your doorstep have been informative and entertaining, and that athletes and their fans in Hawai'i are better for what the staffs at The Honolulu Advertiser and The Honolulu Star-Bulletin have done during that time.
I know that this job has been good to me and my family, and left me with amazing memories. Among them:
10. First byline. The assignment: Cover the Philippines national basketball team playing a local squad of military stars at Pearl Harbor's Bloch Arena. It was billed as a goodwill game. It ended midway through the fourth quarter in a brawl and with fans throwing debris onto the floor. Welcome to sportswriting. This was going to be interesting.
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar punching Bill Walton during a 1975 all-star game at Honolulu International Center.
8. "Let's go to the airport," said Rod Ohira, after getting a tip on the phone late one November evening in 1974. Sitting alone at a gate at Honolulu International was George Foreman, after his "rope-a-dope" loss to Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle. "There's no way I could hit him as hard as I did without him feeling it if the ropes weren't loose," Foreman said.
7. Sid Fernandez, pitching for Kaiser High School.
6. Derek Tatsuno, pitching for 'Aiea High School.
5. Eating sopaipillas at Baca's, in Albuquerque, with Spud.
4. Betty said "Yes." But the wedding would have to waiit until after next year's high school football season. Gotta work. So the Saturday after the Prep Bowl, Dec. 2, 1978, sounded good. Church and reception booked, and ... what's that? Somebody mentions it's the day Hawai'i will end its season against USC, the team my father had "always wanted to see." That night there were more than a few transistor radios in coat pockets as the Rainbows trailed the mighty Trojans just 7-5 midway through the fourth quarter. I must confess some degree of relief that the eventual national champions prevailed, 21-5.
3. The due date was early December but the doctor says first-borns often arrive sooner than later. "I might not be able to cover that UH-Michigan football game on Dec. 6," I tell my boss at the time, Bill Kwon. "Tell Betty to wait until after the game," he said. Michigan beats Hawai'i, 27-10; I write my season-ending story the next day, and come home in time for dinner and labor contractions.
2. The cast of characters, in order of appearance: Rod Ohira, Bill Gee, Bill Kwon, Oscar Kuwahara, Dick Couch, Jim Easterwood, Randy Cadiente, Al Chase, Corky Trinidad, Ron Moyer, Dave Koga, Craig Kojima, Jack Wyatt, Grady Timmons, Clyde Mizumoto, Steve Kimura, Ferd Lewis, Ferd Borsch, Mark Matsunaga, Andy Yamaguchi, Cy Ohira, Cindy Luis, Steve Welsh, Curtis Murayama, Pat Bigold, Ann Miller, Dave Reardon, Bart Asato, Stephen Tsai, Paul Arnett, Catherine Toth, Sjarif Goldstein, Dayton Morinaga, Stacy Kaneshiro, Stan Pusieski, Brandon Masuoka, Kyle Sakamoto, Wes Nakama, Seabrook Mow, Leila Wai, Casey McGuire-Turcotte, Brian McInnis, Kalani Takase, Mark Eidson, Stanley Lee, Seryna Ko, Sarah Kawachi and Tiera Kekaula.
1. The drive home each night to my wife, who made memories 10 through 2 possible, and son Chris. At the end of the day, masterpiece or not, there is no better feeling.