A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton
When John McPhee met Bill Bradley, both were at the beginning of their careers. A Sense of Where You Are, McPhee's first book, is about Bradley when he was the best basketball player Princeton had ever seen. McPhee delineates for the reader the training and techniques that made Bradley the extraordinary athlete he was, and this part of the book is a blueprint of superlative basketball. But athletic prowess alone would not explain Bradley's magnetism, which is in the quality of the man himself―his self-discipline, his rationality, and his sense of responsibility. Here is a portrait of Bradley as he was in college, before his time with the New York Knicks and his election to the U.S. Senate―a story that suggests the abundant beginnings of his professional careers in sport and politics.
does enough shooting this year, he may become the second-highest scorer in the records of college basketball, but he will still be about four hundred points under the final count that Robertson left behind him at the University of Cincinnati. Robertson and his Royals teammate Jerry Lucas, who played for Ohio State, are the only two basketball players who have been included on the Sporting News All-American team, which is picked by the professional scouts, in all three of their college basketball
television, shooting pool, or playing ping-pong or poker—anything to divert the mind—Bradley sat alone and concentrated on the coming game, on the components of his own play, and on the importance to him and his team of what would occur. As much as anything, he wanted to prove that an Ivy League team could be as good as any other team. Although no newspaper gave Princeton even the slightest chance of winning, Bradley did not just hope to do well himself—he intended that Princeton should win.
the floor. The performance he delivered had all the depth and variation of theoretical basketball, each move being perfectly executed against able opposition. He stole the ball, he went back door, he threw unbelievable passes. He reversed away from the best defenders in the Big Ten. He held his own man to one point. He played in the backcourt, in the post, and in the corners. He made long set shots, and hit jump shots from points so far behind the basket that he had to start them from arm’s
everyone were gathering their breath.” Taking a pass at the baseline, he jumped above a defender, extended his arm so that the shot would clear the backboard, and sent a sixteen-foot jumper into the basket. Someone in the crowd started to chant, “I believe! I believe!,” and others took it up, until, after each shot, within the overall clamor, the amusing chant could be heard. From the left side, Bradley went up for a jump shot. A Wichita player was directly in front of him, in the air, too,
Bradley—quite accurately, it seems—be is everything his parents think he is. He approximates what some undergraduates call a straight arrow—a semi-pejorative term for unfortunates who have no talent for vice. Nevertheless, considerable numbers of Princeton undergraduates have told me that Bradley is easily the most widely admired student on the campus and probably the best liked, and that his skill at basketball is not the only way in which he atones for his moral altitude. He has worked for the