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WARNING: Never go to lunch with this former Duke U basketball coach if you're hungry

WARNING: Never go to lunch

with Bucky Waters when you're hungry.

I made that mistake recently when the former

Duke University basketball coach and I went to a fine

Italian restaurant in Durham, and I realized that after

almost an hour, I'd only eaten a couple of bites.

Once Waters starts talking about his life, fork and

food may go untouched.

I picked him up at his home in Durham,

and when he sat down in my untidy car, he saw

on the floor a lone tennis ball. That led to a

hilarious story about the times football star Franco

Harris and he played tennis with

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

Waters, at 82, is still fit and elegant, with a

bearing befitting someone with

the government handle Raymond Chevalier Waters.

As my buddy Dwayne Ballen and I discuss often

when making up lists on this and that, there are

only two men who've ever worn a turtleneck and

sport coat as well as Waters - Richard Roundtree

and Steve McQueen. That's Shaft and Bullitt,

respectively. (See the above picture if you think I'm


After we got to the restaurant, he told about his

hardscrabble childhood in Camden, N.J., and an

early encounter with his high school basketball

coach, Jack McCloskey.

"He grabbed me by the collar one day and got

right in my face and said 'You've got enough talent

to get out of here, and I'm not going to stop until you

do,'" Waters recalled.

After the waitress brought our food, he asked if I

minded if he blessed it before we began eating.

He then unleashed into the heavens a short,

powerful grace that had even the people at the next

table staring, mouth agape.

He told me about one of his

childhood friends, Eugene Maurice Orowitz:

"We called him 'Oogie'," Waters said. "In high

school, he was one of the best javelin throwers in

the country. [Oogie held the national high school

record for years.] One day, when he was in

junior college, his roommate had a tryout for a play,

but the person who was supposed to read lines with

him didn't show up. He asked Oogie to go read

with him."

He did, and he impressed the director: Oogie

became Michael Landon.

Even though I was enthralled, Waters

would occasionally apologize for monopolizing the

conversation: I assured him I had no stories

to rival his.

If you're really hungry, you don't want him to

start talking about the great basketball players he

coached at Duke and West Virginia universities -