June 15, 1980
Bill Fitch's pronouncement that he considered Kevin McHale the best player in the draft prompted this angry reply from a league rival: "The Celtics are right, but how could they know? They weren't at the Pizza Hut. They weren't at the Aloha. They're telling me they made up their minds from watching films? That's bull."
Maybe Red Auerbach and Bill Fitch weren't at the aforementioned All-Star extravaganzas, but newly appointed assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers was, and I'd be willing to bet that his input helped make up their minds.
Says Rodgers of McHale's much-discussed Aloha performance: "He played a total game. He did it inside with power. He stepped outside and shot it with range. He rebounded. He blocked shots. He was very consistent throughout the tournament, and there was no doubt in anyone's mind he was the MVP."
Those who contend that the Big Ten is the best college conference received ammunition on draft day when six first-round selections - and three of the first four - came from that league. The Atlantic Coast Conference was second with three first-rounders, and there were three from Independents. The remaining 11 players were distributed as follows: Southeastern Conference, 2; Pac-10, 2; Sun Belt, 2; Metro 7, 1; Big Eight, 1. Missouri Valley Conference, 1; Big East 1; Southland 1 . . . The best draft story concerns the coach who received a phone call from his trainer at 2 a.m. the morning of the draft telling him that his conferee at a certain college had warned him not to draft that school's star. But the kid did go in the first round - to somebody else . . . Fitch swears that Ronnie Perry was not a sentimental pick. "In a circumstance like this," he explains, "when you're talking about a local hero, the worst thing you can do is take him for show. It's not fair to the kid, and it's just not good business. We drafted Ronnie Perry because we believe he has a shot to make our ballclub." . . . Keep your eye on the other Celtic third- round pick, guard Don Newman of Idaho. He's no unknown. He was in the All- Star games, and he can shoot the basketball.
The word is that Joe Barry Carroll fancies himself as worth Bird-Magic money. Boy, is he going to get a shock when he discovers the facts of economic life in the Bay Area. After being brought into the draft for publicity purposes by the league, Carroll then acted as if the whole thing was a bother. He got up from his seat after his name was called and attempted to leave the room. The league publicity people had to haul him back in for the interviews that supposedly prompted his being there in the first place . . . The draft dragged from noon till 6:16 p.m. Last year, only two people drafted past the third round (Allan Leavell and Paul Dawkins) made the league . . . Conspicuous by his absence at both the Parish trade announcement and the draft itself was K.C. Jones, who still is in the employ of the Celtics . . . Tell me why this trade doesn't make sense. Send Cedric Maxwell to Milwaukee for Brian Winters. The Bucks need a forward. They also must make room for Sidney Moncrief. "He's going to play somewhere," says Buck coach Don Nelson. Eliminate Winters, and the Bucks still have Moncrief, Quinn Buckner, swingman Junior Bridgeman and Lloyd Walton as a backcourt. McHale steps in as a starter and everybody is happy. The only snag I see is whether Milwaukee could come close to satisfying Max' present salary demands (would you believe somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 a year, probably closer to the latter?). But the Bucks definitely need Maxwell more than Boston does.