We took three buses to Indianapolis International Airport to meet a flight arriving with the team and press corps. I was to drive the players, and the other two buses were for the rest of the entourage. We also had a semi and a trailer for all the luggage.
When everyone and everything was loaded and we were ready to head Downtown, I was informed that we would have a police escort to the Westin.
I spotted about 10 officers on motorcycles and they motioned for me to get moving. Since the police had blocked the on ramps to Interstate 70, we had the eastbound lanes to ourselves and resembled a presidential motorcade.
Then the lead officer did something unexpected when he was going about 50 mph: He stood up on his seat.
Beginning to feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic, I noticed several players and coaches hovering over me while trying to get a glimpse.
Upon arriving to the hotel we were led to the rear of the building for security reasons. The officer who pulled the stunt greeted the players as they exited the bus.
At some point he asked me what I thought of his antics. I told him I hoped that he knew a quick and powerful prayer in case something had gone wrong.
I further explained that if he had crashed, I had already decided there would not be a TV news bulletin stating that some idiot driver flipped the bus with Dream Team II aboard. He didn’t seem happy with my response.
Later that afternoon I took the team to Market Square Arena – again we were escorted – to watch the women play.
On our return trip to the hotel we circled MSA. Thousands of fans were leaving the arena, and they saw our bus, which had a sign that indicated the men’s Olympic team was aboard. The crowd had small American flags and were waving and screaming at the players.
It was an unbelievable experience so I drove as slowly as possible.
Next week I will tell you about some of the players – particularly Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.