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"There weren't a lot of 'us' in the locker room," Johnson said. "Whether it was Earvin or Bob Lanier or Julius [Erving], we tended to get the opportunity to get more time with these emerging stars, and also get better quotes. We had an opportunity, once the conversation went past the game, we'd talk about life. Again, we were all the same age. A lot of these conversations happened over a meal. I remember Buck Williams calling me in the hotel -- what are you doing tonight? It wasn't just Earvin. It was a lot of emerging black stars, like Isiah [Thomas], who just gravitated toward us. These were smart guys who went to college, maybe just one or two years, but they were smart." NBA.com
The NBA of the early '80s barely resembled today's league. But not always in bad ways compared to today. With far fewer media covering the games and teams, players were much more comfortable with writers, inviting them to their homes for interviews. Johnson was the same age as many of the guys he covered, which just happened to be the vanguard of the generation that helped save the league. "We had tremendous access at the time," Johnson said. "Most of us traveled with the same team, on the same buses, on the same flights. The Knicks were one of the first teams to use charter flights, and the writers were allowed on the team plane. We would write especially fast on game nights, so we could get on the plane." NBA.com
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