September 21, 1980
Nobody ever won basketball games in more different ways than John Havlicek. In the 17 seasons since Bob Cousy's retirement from the Celtics, no player has equaled him as a middle man on the fast break or as a floor leader. But neither man was a Bill Russell.
Why, therefore, didn't somebody say something about that recent vote for the three greatest basketball players in Boston history?
Didn't it bother someone outside the black community when the poll wound up with Havlicek and Cousy getting more votes than the most valuable player who ever laced up a pair of sneakers? It would well have behooved either the coordinator from the mayor's office or a representative from Miller Breweries (the sponsor) to disregard the balloting and declare Russell the winner, so as not to promote such a ludicrous pronouncement.
There is no room for argument here. To let stand such outrageous voting is to countenance either a) racism or b) abysmal ignorance. Those who allowed this to happen should be truly ashamed.
Kevin McHale will be No. 32 in your scorecard. Incidentally, the rookie says he didn't pay any attention to some of the things that were said during the contract negotiations this summer, such as Bill Fitch's reference to his poor showing in the NIT finals against Virginia. "Whatever was said at that time I couldn't take personally," he explains. "I like coach Fitch, Mr. Auerbach and everybody else I've met in this organization. They did whatever it would take to sign me; that's all. It was a case of All's fair in love and war.' " . . . You want something to make your orange juice taste like turpentine? The Kings are reportedly paying Leon Douglas $300,000 a year to be their backup center and power forward . . . The Cavaliers are currently practicing without Mike Mitchell and Foots Walker, each of whom is seeking renegotiation; and Bill Willoughby, who is a free agent. By giving Dallas a 1984 No. 1 for Mike Bratz, they now have no first-round pick until 1985. One Cavalier observer predicts that new owner Ted Stepien will make a big deal, "just to show he can make one," and that the Cavs will be ruined in the process. It would be too bad for their fans if the team falls apart, because at the end of the '79-'80 season they were one of the hottest teams in the league.
Many people are wondering why the Nuggets have soured on Bobby Wilkerson. The basic reasons are that he doesn't fit in with the new Denver running game, that he won't accept the reality of his 41 percent field goal percentage and, most of all, with the advent of the tenacious T.R. Dunn, Mr. Wilkerson was even expendable on the defensive end of the floor. "Bobby is a good kid," says Denver GM Carl Scheer, "but he refuses to accept his limitations as a ballplayer." Sounds like he could use a fatherly talk with Don Chaney . . . K.C. Jones on the celebrated 76er "We-Owe-You-One-Two-Three-Etc." ad campaign: "This year the fans have their own slogan: Forget It!' " . . . Butch Lee could have had a five-year guaranteed contract at $200,000 a year when he signed with Atlanta two years ago. Instead, he had faith in himself and pushed for a two-year deal at $150,000 per, figuring that he'd be worth a lot more than $200,000 after two years. Released by the Lakers at the conclusion of last season, he's still waiting for the phone to ring.