Have youcaught Bill Bradley fever? A few weeks ago, he was the story of the presidentialcampaign, which still has nearly 17 months to run. This week, obviously, it'sGeorge W. Bush, who has finally left his cocoon in Austin. In the midst of thatmedia run on Bradley-raising $4 million in the first quarter did impressthe political reporters-I spent three days with him for a profile in TheNation due to appear this week. The man may be a political threat to AlGore, but he's no competition in the race for Mr. Congeniality. In many ways,former New Jersey Sen. Bradley is Al Gore without the personality. At a communitycenter, the onetime Knicks star was stiff as he asked children to share theirdreams and fears. He had trouble connecting. Maybe it's tough with 15 reporterslooking over everybody's shoulders, but that's how the game is played.
When Bradleyfirst arrived at the center, he passed a group of boys who'd been shooting basketswhile waiting for him. They stood still as he walked by. It was clear what theywanted; they had been told a former professional basketball player was coming.Surely he'd take a few shots with them. But Bradley never took a step in thedirection of the court or the kids. He looked at one of the boys, who was clutchinga basketball. "Are you tempted?" I asked. "Maybe," he said,without breaking stride, without expanding on his reply. He entered the communitycenter and left behind disappointed youngsters.