Reading Catherine Woodard's post last week about NBA coach Phil Jackson reminded me that way back in the mid-1980s Jackson coached the Continental Basketball Association Albany (NY) Patroons. The Patroons' home arena was the 3,500-seat Washington Avenue Armory, a former New York National Guard center with a forbidding castle-like exterior. Jackson won his first championship ring when he guided the Albany Patroons to the 1984 CBA championship. Walter (Walt The Stalt) Williams was named MVP of the series and went on to become a key assistant coach to Jackson.
I lived a short block away from the Armory and with my girlfriends regularly attended Patroons home games. The mid-week games rarely sold out and we were able to get great seats near the floor. Phil Jackson no longer had the unruly hair and beard of his Knicks days but he was easily recognizable by the way he paced along the sidelines, hands on hips, shoulders back. It was sometimes more fun to watch him than the action on the court.
Those were the days!