Before the Pistons left for London to play in Thursday's game against the New York Knicks, I spoke with guard Rodney Stuckey about the trip. He looked forward to meeting new people, and said he wanted to see the sights and experience the city.
He smiled and said it would be fun to see a new country in the middle of a busy NBA season. What a unique experience.
I guarantee Stuckey's visit won't be as fun as the one I had in 1993 when I covered Wimbledon. Grosse Pointe's Aaron Krickstein was still a hot name on the tennis circuit despite a number of foot injuries that prevented him from reaching his full potential.
On my trip I got to meet two witches who worked in a fish and chips restaurant, played softball with members of Parliament and sat in the player's box in the main stadium at Wimbledon.
I first met Krickstein when he played at Grosse Pointe Liggett. He was an up-and-coming tennis star about to turn pro. Now he was at Wimbledon, so I went to one of the out-of-the-way courts to watch him play fellow American Alex O'Brien.
During the match I met a pleasant woman who turned out to be Krickstein's girlfriend, and Krickstein won in straight sets.
Krickstein would play two days later against MaliVai Washington in a matchup of two Michigan guys. Aaron's girlfriend and I agreed to sit together again during that match. It ended up being a four-set thriller, and Krickstein won the final set in a tiebreaker. She was so happy she hugged me and said I was Aaron's good luck charm.
His next match was in the main stadium against Frenchman Henri Leconte and she wanted me to sit in the player's box next to her for the match. If Krickstein could win he'd face Boris Becker in the fourth round.
Before the match Krickstein left an envelope for me in the press center. Inside was my pass to view the match from the player's box. Aaron's girlfriend and I sat together and let me tell you, you really feel like royalty sitting there.
It was a unique way to cover the tournament, but Krickstein's run ended that day as he lost to Leconte in straight sets.
Later in the tournament I got a day off and went to Queen's Park in London. There were a bunch of people playing softball but they didn't know what they were doing. Some wore gloves, some did not. I watched from a distance but decided to step in when a woman hit the ball and ran from home to third base. And nobody said anything.
I told them I was from the United States and showed them how to play. We played for about three hours and the invited me to a pub afterward for a pint or two.
We drank and they told me how Parliament worked and I told them about the United States and Detroit. It was a great time but the only problem was when we were about to leave. I told them I had no idea how to get back to my hotel.
They told me not to worry. As we stepped outside there was a shiny black car waiting and they told the driver to take me to my hotel and to return in the morning to take me to Wimbledon.
Let's see Rodney Stuckey top that.
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