What famous or important people have you encountered in real life?
By far my biggest encounter was basketball legend Michael Jordan. I had just finished a round of golf at the Wailea golf course on the Hawaiian island of Maui and was in the pro shop searching for a golf shirt to take home as a reminder of those beautiful 18 holes. As I was browsing, all noise in the pro shop abruptly stopped as if everyone left at the same time. As I looked up to see what was going on, Michael casually walked by and headed to the desk to get checked in for his round. The place stayed quiet until Michael was out the door, then the noise returned, of course, louder than before.
The second NBA encounter was Larry Bird, another legend, and this one occurred in an airport, Philadelphia probably, but not totally sure. If you’re not familiar with Larry, he was a 6-foot, 8-inch forward with one of the best shooting touches ever. When you see him on television he appears to be slim, at least in comparison to the other beefy goliaths trying to guard him near the basket. Larry has a very distinctive face and when I saw him at the airport I knew it was him. But what amazed me was how large he was, nothing like the skinny rail I expected. Larry had wide shoulders, appeared fifty pounds heavier than I ever imagined, and was a real hunk of a man.
During one of our frequent trips to California with IBM, our group of five played Half Moon Bay, a golf course located along the Pacific ocean thirty miles south of San Francisco. We had to break up into a threesome and a twosome as the course did not permit a group of five to play together. I went out first in the threesome and my buddy Jim Nicholas went out second in the twosome. A couple of holes later Jim circled back to me and said they had been paired up with another twosome, which included Jerry Rice, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and the best wide receiver in NFL history, and a pretty decent golfer. On the back nine, we noticed that this group behind us now numbered five. A course ranger came up to us and asked if Jerry was in that group of five, which we told him he was, and they were allowed to continue. I guess the rules that applied to Jerry were different. As they played the 18th hole our group watched Jerry, now very comfortable playing with Jim, stand in the middle of the fairway, arms up like he was signaling a touchdown, telling Jim to hit his shot “through the goalposts”, laughing and smiling the entire time.