The story about Bill's grandfather,s, who he calls the Old Man, first trip to watch Bill play basketball is touching. Here it is as he tells it in Second Wind: During my own visits to Louisiana one thing I did not hear much about was basketball. Neither the Old Man nor my aunties cared about the game; it was foreign to them. It must have seemed strange to them that this young man of their family, who could not even eat in Monroe's restaurants, could be toasted and paid astronomical amounts of money to play with a ball in front of white audiences. It made even less sense to them than the idea that I was simply chosen for these honors by some magical force, like my mother's blessing or God's mysterious will. And how could I argue with them? The Old Man and I never had a single conversation about the sport. We always talked about the same subjects. He was interested in my career only as it affected my dignity and values. Was I away from home too much to be a good father to my kids? Did I understand money? Was I at peace with myself? He saw only one basketball game in his life, and what he noticed about it had nothing to do with the scoreboard. It was in 1967, my next to last season with the Celtics, and I was the player-coach. We were playing an exhibition game against the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks in Alexandria, Louisiana, and Mister Charlie drove all the way from California to take the Old Man to see me play. It was a big day for all three of us. As Mister Charlie drove into the parking lot of the arena it became clear that the Old Man was absorbed with worries about the color line, which just then was breaking. Anxiously, seeing no colored section, as there still was in local courthouses, he asked where they would sit at the game, and Mister Charlie told him they's sit wherever their tickets said to. The Old Man took that in and bided his time. Before the game started Mister Charlie introduced him to Bob Petit, one of the best players ever and my old rival from the Hawks. By then Petit was retired and living in Lousiana. Mister Charlie was so conscious of the Old Man's nervousness that he introduced Bob as Mr Petit and threw out so many "Yes, sir's" and "No, sir's" that finally Bob interrupted him. "What's got into you Mister Charlie?" he asked with a laugh. "When did you start calling me Mister?" the two of them had known each other for more than ten years. Mister Charlie apologized and after that talked the way he usually did. The Old Man took this in too. At half time the Old Man looked for the colored restroom, and his son marched him right in to piss with the white folks. During the game Mister Charlie got all wound up trying to explain basketball strategy to his father, telling him about presses, fast breaks, rookies, and the foul situation and everything else he could think of that might be on the coach's mind. The Old Man listened hard but asked only one question, "Do them white boys really have to do what William tells them to do?" When Mister Charlie said yes, the Old Man just shook his head. Down on the court I was preoccupied with basketball and only heard about all this after the game. Mister Charlie came into the dressing room with the Old Man, his buttons busting over the Old Man's adventures that day. As he started telling me about it, Grandpa wandered off. After a few minutes we saw him standing not far away. Panic shot rhough both of us: the Old Man was crying. I thought he was having a heart attack. I had never seen him cry. We rushed over, feeling the awful choke of helplessness. Then, we both saw that he was not in pain. He was staring as if stunned, transfixed by the sight of Sam Jones and John Havlicek in the shower nearby. My two teammates were busily lathering up and talking, oblivious to the Old Man's emotion. The Old Man looked up at us and made a slow pronouncement. "I never thought I'd live to see the day when the water would run off a white man onto a black man," he said, "and the wather would run off of a black man onto a white man." He kept shaking his head. "I've been to church all of my days, but I never thought I'd see anything like this. You know, I can tell those two men like each other." The Old Man really got to me that day. Right there, in the midst of postgame clatter, locker room talk, reporters, and towels being thrown around, he froze time for an instant to articulate what he would take home with him from his first and only basketball game. According to Mister Charlie, the Old Man had come to grips with the experience by the time they got back to Monroe that night. He'd talk to himself about the water running from black to white, and with every telling he gained confidence. Pretty soon he was laughing as he told people what he'd seen. He told everybody. People would come over to his house just to hear him repeat the story again. Mister Charlie said the Old Man must have told the story once for each drop of water he'd seen in the shower. My grandfather was overwhelmed by what he'd seen and what it meant, my father was grateful for it, and I, the young ornery one, was looking way past the showers to the dark corners where I saw bigotry still hiding. But I think we all had a gritty independent framework; they were different, but somehow the same. The Old Man wouldn't leave Monroe, see foreign lands or develop the slightest interest in certain aspects of modern life, but he could judge by the standards he had chosen for himself, and he chose them with his usual strong grip. He was the kind of man who could decide to stay where he was and yet convince you that he knew what he was sacrificing. That's the feeling he gave when he stayed behind in Monroe. In 1969 Mister Charlie called me to say that the Old Man was sick in bed. Since it was a matter of record in our family that he had never spent a single day of his life in bed, we both knew that Grandpa was dying. He went quickly, and I flew home for my first Louisiana funeral since my mother's. I was numb, and feeling guilty that all the love I felt for the Old Man wouldn't erupt in tears. At the time my own life was torn apart by so many things- the least of which was the end of my basketball career - that my attention kept wandering. I was furious with myself for being so distracted. It was as if my mind was being attacked by a swarm of bees. Never had I felt so cut off from what made me. It was not until two years later that I really felt the impact of the Old Man's death. I was visiting Mister Charlie in Oakland, where he was still going strong in the foundry, and suddenly he got real serious on me. "You know, I watched you in college, winning those championships," he said. "And I used to go on all the trips. And I watched you be so good in the pros and makes so much of yourself. I even went to Boston a few times. But the proudest I have ever been of you is when I saw you get off the plane to come to my father's funeral." That's when I first realized that the Old Man was really gone. Mister Charlie has said many times that my grandfather plowed deep in the heart.