On the Road with Ice and Danny
Ben Hunt: What was it like traveling for you early on in your career?
George Gervin: It was a lot different, we didn't always stay in a hotel. We stayed in some motels. It was still comfortable and it was fun, all us guys pretty much hung out together. Since we didn't leave after the game, like they do now with the private planes, we stayed overnight so we'd go out together and do a lot of things as a group.
We always flew commercial, but fortunately for us the veterans flew first class and the rookies flew coach so that was fun and we'd have a chance to tease them a little bit. But we'd have to stand in lines and if there was bad weather we were at the airport with everybody else. But it was a lot of fun being with the guys. We would bond and since we were with each other more than our families it was something I really enjoyed.
Danny Ferry: I was fortunate for all but one year of my career to fly charter. It's really changed the NBA lifestyle for the better. I do appreciate having that, the first year and flying commercial. It gave me an understanding of what the guys who came before me went through their entire career.
It was quite a challenge at times, from getting ready to play, to arriving at the arena on time, or tough trips and weather problems. It was really a great change going from that to flying on the charter.
Hunt: What was it like just being on the road?
Gervin: Just being out there and to meet people, it was nice. Sometimes we'd be in a city two days because we'd get in a city early and that was a good chance to go out to dinner. Sometimes you'd go over to somebody's house and they'd feed you, you'd meet the families. It was a lot of fun to do stuff like that.
Hunt: It had to be a tremendous amount of work from an organization standpoint with flying commercial?
Ferry: The trainers did everything for the most part. It's incredible to me, the amount of work that was put on their plate when really the most important part of their job was to keep the players as healthy as they could be. They would always be at the airport early checking bags and making the arrangements.
Hunt: How much of a difference was it when you were traveling on the charter in your second season? Was it almost like we're living the life now?
Ferry: It was unbelievable. The rule was if you played the night before you had to be on the first flight out the next day. So you'd play a 7:30 game, then get back to the hotel and you couldn't wind down, follow that up with a 6:30 a.m. flight the next morning which you had to be downstairs and ready for by 4:45. Who knows, you may have two connecting flights later on and you may not get to the next city until early afternoon and then be expected to play that night. The charter changed all that.
Hunt: What was the longest trip you ever had to go on?
Gervin: We didn't really stay out that much. Maybe four, five or six days, nothing like the Rodeo Road Trip, that's just insane, but it's part of what we do. We never had to experience anything like that. I can't think of being out on the road for longer than a week.
Ferry: I don't remember how many games, but probably the road trip here in San Antonio is the longest one I'd ever been on. Not many teams go on longer trips than the one here with the rodeo.
Hunt: A lot is made of the Rodeo Road Trip about how the team comes together and gels, why do you think that is?
Ferry: The organization has done a great job of embracing it, Pop has done a great job of embracing it and in general we've done pretty well on the trip. I don't know that there is a single moment because that's built over the year, but it's one part of the year that is important and it's a big challenge. If you can get through it, stay healthy and play well, for the rest of the regular season you're in a pretty good spot.
Gervin: One thing that's good for our guys is that they have that private plane. They can come back home for a day or two and maybe get some practice in and then they're back off. As we would say back in my day, "They got it made in the shade!"
The fans in San Antonio really miss the team and seeing them play, but the guys I really believe get closer together. They're out there on a single mission and that's to win as many games as possible. When you're on the road you have those opposing fans against you, it makes you really stick together.