Captain C Calls It a Career
written by Cincy Powell (April 3, 1975, prior to Nets at Squires game at Norfolk, Virginia)
Tonight is the last night I'll wear a professional basketball uniform, and I'm sure the full impact won't hit me until practice time next fall. But I'm 34 and I can't jump as high as I used to and I can't run as fast, and after more than 650 games it's time for me to leave.
It's not easy. I've been playing competitive basketball since the fifth grade back in Baton Rouge, La., and it was my childhood dream to play pro ball. I've been in this league since it started back in 1967 and I've seen a lot of changes. I guess you could say everything's improved - except the officiating. It's still the same.
I had been playing ball in Battle Creek, Mich., with a St. Louis Hawks (NBA) farm club when the ABA was formed. Dallas picked Cliff Hagan, who had been a star with the Hawks, as player-coach, and if he hadn't known about me from the Battle Creek team I might have been lost in the herd. They must have had 100 players in their initial tryout camp.
They posted two lists each day in camp- one on a yellow legal pad and the other on white paper. If you were on the yellow list, you picked up a ticket and went home. If you were on the white list, you stayed. They finally cut down to 20 for the final intrasquad game and then down to 15 after that. We thought that was it, but the funny thing was they brought in another 50 or so in the fall. I wonder sometimes how I lasted as long as I did.
My first contract with Dallas was for $13,000 plus moving expenses. They told me to come down early - they had a second job for me. Well, the job was burning wood on a construction job in the 102-degree Texas heat. I told myself that I had a college degree and I just shouldn't be burning wood. I lasted six hours; I told them I'd find my own job, and I did. In those early days you never knew what would happen next, you never knew whether you had a job or even a team. One time the Dallas owners, who were all supposed to be millionaires, called us in and told us they really didn't have that much money and they didn't know if they'd even have a team the next year.
We used to stay in places like the Teaneck (N.J.) Armory, where you had to get a quick shower or the hot water would be gone, and the old Island Garden. One time there the wind had blown part of the roof off, and the cold air from outside and the warm air from inside caused a film on the floor that made it like ice. Now look at the places we play in the ABA. There's not a bad one anywhere.
If I have a single regret, it is that I never played on a championship team. We came so close in Kentucky (1970-71) but we lost the final game at Utah - I had 19 points and 20 rebounds in that one - because one guy thought he had the hot hand and he didn't.
There are several things I would like to see happen in this game. I'd like to see all players, once they sign their contract, go out and play to win rather than to play for their own personal accomplishments. I'd like to see the officials do their job with complete objectivity - with no regard for a team's record or an individual player's reputation. And I'd like to see each team achieve a stability both financially and on the court so that they all can provide the fans the top quality basketball that they deserve. I majored in communications in college, but they never taught me how to say goodbye. So I won't try now. This is just my farewell as a player. I'm sad that I have to leave, but glad to be able to go out knowing that I did make it, that I did play, and that I did contribute.
I'll always be a fan.