I first met Kareem (he had a different name back then) at his high school coach’s summer basketball camp. We became good friends and beyond basketball, talked about the things teenage boys talk about.
At seven foot tall, Kareem was destined to basketball fame (he is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer). I did not grow the three or more extra inches that would have allowed me to seriously pursue my own basketball dreams. So I focused on my creative talent, went to art school and worked at some of the largest advertising agencies in the world.
As a teen, Kareem was a big reader. He always seemed to have a soft-covered book in his back pocket. I didn’t read much as a teenager but I liked creative writing and enjoyed an open mind on various topics.
Our two lives moved in different directions. Fifty years went by. But I always felt he would remember the time we spent together at basketball camp. Then a providential opportunity happened that allowed me to meet up with Kareem again.
I was in New York this week, to promote my newest book at BEA (Book Expo America). Kareem was there for the same reason (in fact, both our books will be available in Sept. 2013). He was doing a book-signing event, and I decided to get on the long line of his fans and autograph seekers to see if he would remember me.
When it was my turn to approach Kareem I told him that fifty years ago we were good friends. Then I told him we knew each other at basketball camp. This caught him off guard and he quickly zeroed-in on my nametag to see if I was somehow familiar to him (captured on the first picture above).
Then he exclaimed “Oh, Ed Sylvia from Long Island!” Since I now live in the St. Louis area there was nothing on my nametag that mentioned anything about Long Island, New York. He remembered me! We were both happy to see each other again and enjoyed a moment of conversation. We would have talked more but there were lots of fans behind me still waiting to get an autograph. So I respectfully moved on.
Kareem and I first met as young basketball players and now we were meeting fifty years later as authors. I got an autographed copy of Kareem’s new book Sasquatch In The Paint and he graciously accepted a bookmark promoting my new Children’s Story Cupid And The King Of Muck.