Saving the best for last, Wes Unseld mercifully put an end to the second annual Bullets alumni game last night with his infamous, tippy-toe-straining, everything-paining, no-one-shaking, nothing-breaking, pray-I-can-do-it-again dunk.
"These new collapsible rims are great," the Bullets' former captain, now vice president, said. "If you can't get up to them, you can pull them down to you."
Despite the typically unconscionable shooting of Charles Johnson and the matador defense of Bob Ferry, the White team, coached flawlessly by Hymie Perlo, led all the way in a 43-35 victory over Unseld's Blue team.
Gene Shue kept confusing his teammates by playing defense and trying to run plays, but once he left at halftime to prepare the Bullets for the main event against Boston, the Blue team came together.
"That's what I remember most," Unseld yelled once after firing that familiar outlet pass to Kevin Loughery, who stopped short and tossed up a 25-foot brick. Unseld later showed he hasn't lost his touch by practically dislodging the rim from the backboard with his only outside shot.
"It felt good to be out there again," said Johnson. "I haven't touched a ball since I stopped playing, but this was fun. They should have it every year, just to give me an excuse to come back again."
"This was just the right pace," said Dave Bing. "I haven't played in two years, but this was fun."
Fred Carter, who practices every day as an assistant coach of the Atlanta Hawks, thrilled the crowd with three three-point baskets in the first half. But since there was no bonus shot when he was playing, he was given only two points. Finally, 60-year-old Paul Hoffman volunteered to guard Carter and immediately knocked him down.
There's an old, unexplainable NBA axiom that what goes around comes around and it was obvious during this half-speed encounter that some things never change.
Phil Chenier showed up and said he couldn't play because of a bad back, Earl Monroe didn't arrive until the game was over and Unseld led everybody in rebounding.
"That's the story of my life, isn't it?" Monroe said, having been asked why he was late. "I've been trying to get here all afternoon."
Walt Bellamy, the Bullets' all-time leading scorer, enjoyed himself so much that he said he hopes other NBA teams adopt an alumni game. "I played on so many teams," the 14-year veteran said, "I'd have a game every week."