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With A Little Help From Friends

CBS News Capitol Hill Correspondent Phil Jones has covered presidential candidate Bill Bradley since he arrived in the Senate in 1979. For the 18 years he was in the Senate, he never talked about his sports days. In fact, he walked around Capitol Hill sort of hunched over, reports Jones, so his full six feet and five inches wouldn't tower over his colleagues.

It's all changed.

From 1967 to 1977, Bill Bradley earned his living at Madison Square Garden wearing shorts and helping the New York Knicks win two championships. On Sunday ,he rented the place for $130,000 - and brought in some champions and legends to help boost his presidential campaign.

Endorsing a presidential candidate was something new for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

"I have to admit I have been intentionally apolitical my whole life," said the former Los Angeles Laker, "so this is scary for me."

When legend Bill Walton talked, the praise seemed so effusive it even left Bradley looking perplexed.

"I have traveled the country on behalf of Bill Bradley, participating in this great fight," the former Boston Celtic and Portland Trailblazer declared.

And try as reporters do, there was no way of getting any dirt on Bill Bradley.

"The only dirt you are going to find on him is on the bottom of his canvas All-Stars [sneakers]," Julius "Dr. J" Erving told CBS News.


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Bradley huddled with other former players like Dave DeBuschere and Walt Frazier.

"Monroe passes to DeBuschere. DeBushere sends it over to Bradley, Bradley with a beautiful pass to Willis Reed..."

It wasn't as exciting as a Bradley Knicks game, but look at the backdrop - perfect for those upcoming spots in the campaign to get to the Rose Garden, and there were repeated references to a new campaign theme: "An Era Of New Possibilities."

"I say you can," Bradley declared in a speech at the Garden. "It will follow like morning follows the night in an era of new possibilities."


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However, a CBS News Early Show poll finds most Americans know Democratic presidential contender Bill Bradley more for his exploits on the basketball court than his career in the Senate: Fifty-seven percent of those interviewed didn't associate him with anything, reports Jones.

Before te Garden event, several of Bradley's former teammates and colleagues explained on CBS News' Face the Nation why they support "Dollar Bill's" bid for the presidency.

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