All the Wrong Moves

Bradley Hasn't Played the Hardball of National Politics

Bradley's emphasis on race inequalities (such as the Racial Justice Act, which was abandoned by the Clinton administration in its drive to pass the 1994 crime bill) might also be expected to resonate with minority voters, yet Gore holds a large lead among that group of Democrats. Bradley has spoken forcefully on race issues for about 25 years, first in Life on the Run, his book chronicling the close of the New York Knicks 1974 basketball season. Bradley recounts an episode following a home game when Earl "the Pearl" Monroe gets into a fight over a cab with four white men who call Monroe "boy."

"How many times, I thought, will racial hatred erupt unexpectedly before I learn that it is a part of the American experience?" Bradley wrote. Noting that he had changed because of his black friends, Bradley said, "It is hard to say exactly how, but after witnessing their joys, fears, perceptions, and spontaneous reactions for seven years I am different. I regard authority a little more skeptically than I once did."

Bradley's hoops book is not totally policy oriented, though. He critiqued the best masseurs (the legal kind) in a variety of NBA cities, helpfully noting that his regular New York masseur, who taught at the Swedish Massage Institute, "is the best quadricep man in the United States" (if you're into that thing). Dollar Bill also let readers in on his weird "pregame fantasy ritual" at Madison Square Garden. During warm-ups before every game, Bradley would stare at three female Garden regulars. "I don't want to meet them," Bradley wrote, "and I'm sure they aren't aware of their strange role in my preparation."

Bradley opened his book by quoting from "Ring," an F. Scott Fitzgerald essay about men playing a boy's game and the difficulty they face applying those athletic talents to "the horribly complicated mess of living, where nothing, even the greatest conceptions and workings and achievements, is else but messy, spotty, tortuous—and then one can imagine the confusion that Ring faced on coming out of the park."

Surely Bradley saw this as some type of reflection on his own life to that point. And while his subsequent admirable career in public office speaks well of his departure from that park, Bradley will soon likely have to settle for something less than a victorious final exit.

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