On a rather quiet work day during the 2012-13 season, I took the opportunity to go to the Los Angeles Lakers facility in El Segundo, Ca. Bill Sharman was raffling off his 2010 championship ring for charity, and I was one of a handful media members that turned up.
James Worthy and Metta World Peace did the talking with the coach sitting on stage. It turned out to be World Peace’s first public appearance following minor knee surgery.
Although Sharman did not speak on the day, the way Worthy spoke about the man made one truly understand that Sharman had not only succeeded on the court, in the locker room, and in the front office; he had succeeded at home and with his friends.
By all accounts, Sharman was a great man, and his death at age 87 will leave many people in the Lakers organization in tears.
After I wrote about Bill’s Rings of Hope and World Peace walking about, Sharman reached out to me on Twitter. How a man in his late 80s was actice on Twitter was beyond me, but he started following me. Obviously, I followed him back. He was a legend, after all.
To my surprise, Sharman would periodically offer words of encouragement. Although my face-to-face interaction with the man was limited, I appreciated every gesture. Several times, he offered words of encouragement.
When the season concluded, I thanked all the media members who had welcomed me into the family. Sharman was not on the list, but he tweeted “Good job.” I thanked him for his kind words, as always. He never had to say anything, but he chose to be a positive influence.
Unfortunately, that was my last interaction with the man, but my experiences reflected the words of those who worked with him closely for decades.
“Bill Sharman was a great man, and I loved him dearly,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement on Friday.
“Today is a sad day for anyone who loves and cares about the Lakers,” Lakers President Jeanie Buss added. “Bill was one of the sweetest, nicest and most humble people I’ve ever known. He was truly one of a kind.”
I was lucky to have met him. I send my condolences to the Sharman, Lakers, and Celtics families.