Three interviews were special

Published 2:41 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There are certain interviews that a journalist has an opportunity to do in his career that he considers special.

In my 41-year career as sports editor of this fine newspaper, there were three that I had an opportunity to do that were particularly special.

The first was with Basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, an All-American guard with the University of Cincinnati Bearcats who went on to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to the 1970-71 NBA championship.

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Following his professional basketball career, Robertson, known as “The Big O”, became national chairman of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company’s Hot Shot Competition for youth.

My dear late friend Mr. Max Langston, whose Bainbridge Pepsi Cola Bottling Company sponsored the Pepsi Hot Shot Competition locally, brought Robertson to Bainbridge to present the awards to our local winners during Bainbridge High School Lady Cats and Bearcats basketball games at Conger Gym. Conger Gym is located next to what is now Potter Street Elementary.

Prior to the games, Robertson sat down with me at the gym for an interview. I found him to be a very nice man who really cared about kids and their future success.

The second of my three special interviews came a few years ago at a meeting of the University of Georgia’s Deep South Georgia Bulldog Club.

Prior to the banquet at the country club, Bulldog Club President Brian Donalson set up an interview for me with former great UGA head football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, who led the Bulldogs to the 1980 NCAA football championship.

We talked about former Bainbridge High School Bearcats and Georgia Bulldogs star running back Fred Barber, who played for him and is a member of the UGA Sports Hall of Fame.

A few years ago, when Barber was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Athens, recently inducted Decatur County Sports Hall of Famer and former BHS head football coach Spencer “Onion” Davis was on hand for Barber’s induction ceremony.

My third special interview came last Monday, April 18, when I had the opportunity to interview former Florida State University Seminoles head football coach Bobby Bowden, who led the Seminoles to the 1983 and 1999 national championships. Bowden is second on the list of coaches with the most wins in college football history.

While the interview with Coach Bowden was done by telephone, I had the opportunity to briefly chat with him again when he signed copies of his autobiography “Called To Coach” for me and many other Seminole fans at Godwin’s Jewelers.

During our telephone interview, Coach Bowden talked about the contribution wide receiver Phillip Bryant—who was a member of former Bearcats and Decatur County School Superintendent Ralph Jones’s 1982 State Class AAA championship team—made to his Seminoles.

Robertson, Dooley and Bowden are all true legends.