By Lang Whitaker
NEW YORK CITY — Day Five and Day six of the Hang Time Road Trip are getting their own post, because at this point we’re on the way home and almost done with this whole thing.
Let’s start on the morning of Day 5. It was a beautiful day in NYC, and we were lucky enough to have the morning off before having some afternoon responsibilities. I spent the previous night at my home in NYC, so I got up and hopped in a car and rolled out to Tarrytown, New York to meet up with the Hang Time Road Trip crew, who had spent the night in a hotel.
Around noon we finally boarded the bus and hit a local diner for lunch, and then showed up at the Knicks practice facility out in Tarrytown. Whenever the bus would make a stop, Rick and Sekou and I would put together all the souveneirs we’d accumulated for the little table in the middle of the bus where we conducted interviews. So we started grabbing bobbleheads, flags, foam fingers, bags, all kinds of stuff. And the Knicks gifted us with a Carmelo Anthony and Clyde Frazier bobblehead to add to our collection.
Before long, Phil Jackson got on the bus. He’s still new at his current gig as President of the Knicks, but he’s got a rich history in New York, including winning two titles as a player with the Knicks back in the ’70s. He had also a rich history with our crew, as the former coach of our own Rick Fox. It was really cool to chat with Phil and talk Knicks and their fans and the expectations around the team.
VIDEO: Phil Jackson talks about the Knicks’ fan base and communication
Not long after Phil left, we were joined by new Knicks coach Derek Fisher, who played with Rick on some of those Lakers teams. Fish was impressive, laying out his coaching philosophy and his vision for his team. As he left he autographed the basketballs we’ve had everyone who came on the bus sign, and I asked him if it was tough to not add his number at the bottom of his signature. He said it was — he’d spent decades signing his name with his number underneath it, and now, he said, he had to make himself pause each time to remember not to put a number on there.
VIDEO: Derek Fisher breaks down upcoming season as coach
When we finished with the Knicks, Rick had to go into the city to do a radio hit to promote our Hang Time Road Trip show that will air
next week (Wednesday night at 10 ET!). Sekou and I rode with him because we’re a team like that, and we piled into a car and headed for Manhattan. And once we were in the car, it didn’t take long for Sekou to knock out.
Once in the city, Rick did a few segments on the Michael Kay show while Sekou and I sat around the control room…
The bus was on its way to Secaucus, New Jersey, where the rest of the crew was gonna grab dinner, so we found a little diner right next to the studio and grabbed a bite to eat. (Also, while we were at dinner, Rick knocked over a glass of water all over my phone. Somehow it survived unscathed.) After dinner we rode out to Secaucus, where the crew had just finished dinner and was walking back to the bus. They met us there and we headed south.
But an hour after we left, we stopped at a truck stop to refuel. While our driver, Tom Cat, dealt with the gas, Rick modeled the latest in truck stop fashion…
We got back in the bus and found the Lakers/Warriors game on NBA TV, and kicked back and talked and laughed and watched TV and laughed. Just after midnight I crawled into my bunk for the evening.
I slept great, and woke up feeling well-rested with the bus driving slowly, so I figured we were at our destination. I got out of my bunk and walked to the front of the bus and realized it was still dark, and then noticed it was still 3:15 a.m.
Around 7:30 a.m., our super producer Gregg Waigand woke me to tell me we had reached Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Because there were no NBA games on the East Coast — well, Charlotte and Washington play tonight, but we we’ve already seen both of them play. So we decided to hit UNC, where Rick played his college ball. We stopped and showered at a hotel,grabbed some breakfast, then hustled over to the UNC basketball offices, where they rolled out the Carolina blue carpet for us.
Coach Roy Williams came out and met us, and walked us through their facilities and out onto the court. He’d actually recruited Rick years ago, so we talked about that, and talked about UNC and their long history of sending players to the NBA. We also ran into assistant coach Hubert Davis, who was Rick’s roommate for three years when they were in school.
After our tour we grabbed lunch downtown and then walked around the campus some, where Rick and I put our Vine skills to work…
We finished up our time in Chapel Hill by filming the closing of our show, and then, for the final time, we boarded the bus and headed home. And of course, someone fell asleep immediately.
There are a ton of stories to tell from this trip, which has been outstanding, but really I’d say just watch the special next week on NBA TV to get the entire tale. As for me? We’re almost home, and I need a nap. Later…