On Rising Up, With Mike Wise
So fans here in Cleveland are getting wine-colored "Rise Up" t-shirts and white "Rise Up towels." I just procured a towel, as a matter of fact. I figure I can use it to clean up my daughter's spit-up. Also, this arena offers free sign-making, free face-painting, free hair-dying and free tattoo-applying. Susan? Are you reading?
More important than all that: our cab ride from the airport to the Q. The plane we took was filled with local media members, Wizards employees and Cavs fans. So I found myself in a cab with famous columnist Mike Wise and WTEM reporter Jerry Coleman. The driver, Chuck Eastin, moved his pillow and blankets off the back seat so we'd have room to spread out. Wise told him to take us to the Q.
"You're Tim Tolbert, aren't you?" Chuck said to Wise.
"What'd you say?" I asked, scrambling for a notebook. "Tom Tolbert?"
"Well, I said Tim," Chuck said.
"That's ok," Wise said. "You know who I am? Did you follow my NBA career?"
"Yeah, you played for the Bullets, right?" Chuck said.
"No, the Warriors," Wise said. "Did I play for the Bullets?" Wise asked us. "I don't know. Did I?"
"Well, I guess that shows how ignorant I am," Chuck said.
Wise asked Chuck which NBA broadcasters he liked best. Chuck mentioned Mike Fratello.
"I like you, also," he told Tolbert.
"That's nice of you to say, I really appreciate it," Wise said. "I've got a radio show in San Francisco. That's my usual gig. This is something different."
"Let's let the NBA star pick up the tab," Jerry Coleman whispered to me, wisely.
Then Wise, naturally, began asking Chuck about Wilbon and Kornheiser and "PTI." Chuck wasn't familiar with either guy, or with their program.
"You may be the only person I've ever known to not see that show," Wise said. "That's incredible. You know, more power to you.....Who's the most famous person you've ever had in this cab."
"Either you or this kid named Nardi, who was a part of the local mafia scene. His brother got blown up."
We all chatted about Cleveland and the mob. Chuck's knowledge was extensive. "When you get Nardi in the cab again, tell him Tom Tolbert's looking for him, tell him we've got a score to settle," Wise said. "That's how we roll back in the Bay Area."
Anyhow, it turned out that Chuck is a bridge ace. He said he's played with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Omar Sharif. Also, he played in the North America Bridge Championship back in '93. It was in Vegas, and he put $500 on the Indians to win the '94 AL Central at 250-1 odds. Cleveland was a game back when the season got canceled. Tragic.
Mercifully for all parties, we soon arrived at the arena. "I've got to be honest with you, I'm not Tom Tolbert," Wise said. "You know who I really am? Cal Ripken. No, do I look a little bit like Cal Ripken?"
"More than he does," Chuck agreed.
Wise explained who he actually was. "Hey Chuck," he said, "I hate to say it, but you're more famous than me if you've been to the bridge finals."
"Well, Tom/Mike, nice to meet you," Chuck said as he dropped us off.
"So that makes Nardi the most famous passenger you've had," Wise said.
We went inside to get our credentials. Wise went first.
"I think you know who I am," he said to the employee.
"I hate to say that I don't," the poor kid said.
"Um, Tom Tolbert," Wise said. "ESPN."
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