Odinn - If you're interested in what Rudy T had to say about Moses, I can do some more searches when I have free time later this week. There are a substantial number of matches though, so if you have any additional keywords in mind that would be helpful. Tomorrow I'll see what I can find by adding 'offensive rebounds' (and 'offensive rebounding'/'offensive boards'/'offensive rebounder' etc.) to the present search to try and find more relevant results.
I always think Moses Malone is a underrated name. I think a former teammate of his that coached another all-time great center later, Rudy Tomjanovich, would be great source to find out a healthy opinion about Moses Malone.
Malone's 1979 MVP, or leading a losing record team to the NBA Finals in 1981 while facing 2 elimination games in the WCF.
His 2nd MVP in 1982 could be useful also. 2 consecutive months with 35+ ppg. But Tomjanovich wasn't a active player and a teammate of Malone any more.
If you need a specific words, it'd be 1979 MVP or 1982 MVP and Road to the NBA Finals 1981.
I didn't find the post but once I said something like this;
' Hakeem is the only top 10-12 player that is ranked this high based on just 3 consecutive seasons. '
And still I think like that. His career before Rudy Tomjanovich is nothing special when you think about his position in the all-time greats lists.
A few days earlier we shared our opinions in this thread.
I ranked Hakeem ahead of Moses.
I consider a player's single best season and the best 3 consecutive seasons while rating their peak.
1994 Hakeem > 1982 or 1983 Moses
1993-95 Hakeem > 1981-83 Moses
But if we extend that span to 5 or more years, the difference between Moses and Hakeem narrower I think.
I live outside of the United States and that's why I started this thread. I do not have the opportunities to search that deep.
Odinn, I will post some stuff on some players comparing Hakeem and Moses from 1986 when Hakeem was getting a lot of praise for his play vs the Lakers and Celtics. Reading them, it seems Hakeem was being compared favorably even at such a young age.
Watching the game right now so will do it a bit later, maybe after the Thunder vs Grizz game.
Odinn, I will post some stuff on some players comparing Hakeem and Moses from 1986 when Hakeem was getting a lot of praise for his play vs the Lakers and Celtics. Reading them, it seems Hakeem was being compared favorably even at such a young age.
Watching the game right now so will do it a bit later, maybe after the Thunder vs Grizz game.
1986 playoffs is the only playoffs Hakeem went deep before Rudy T. became his coach. It'd be great to read something about it.
Once, I made an archive that includes every NBA Finals games since the merger. Also there were some games of the championship team games in their conferences. I've watched most of them. It was a huge archieve But the external hdd is broken down and since I'm a student, I do not have enough money to fix it...
After the hdd wenting down, I think I need the media material to keep the things alive in my mind. Also I didn't have games from regular seasons and it was restricting me from providing a healthy opinion.
PS: Do I speak English correctly, fluently? I've never been a place where English is the native language.
Your English is fine, would've never guessed it wasn't your first language.
That's unfortunate about your hard drive but you can still find a good number of 80s games on youtube especially Laker games under the "lakeptic" channel. Check it out. For instance, both the 1981 and 1986 Lakers vs Rockets playoff series are up there so you can get to know more about both Hakeem and Moses (not sure if you've seen those or not).
I agree with you in regards to the lack of tape making it harder to form an educated and conclusive opinion on something since you're forced to rely more on stats and don't feel quite as confident in your stance which is one reason I don't rank players I didn't see. Also, it's always interesting and important to research and learn about what was being said at the time as contemporary opinion is crucial to evaluating a player imo.
I can post more stuff on 1986 Hakeem exclusively (if you want) but since you asked specifically in regards to Hakeem/Moses, that's what I'm going to post for now....
Bird compares (H)Akeem and Moses during the 1986 playoffs below. I think Bird had once said Moses was the best player he had played against though he retracted that statement after playing against rookie Jordan if I remember correctly.
[Larry Bird] says you can tell that Akeem Olajuwon was tutored by Moses Malone. "They are almost identical, except that Akeem can jump higher," Bird said. Bird also lauds Akeem's ability to move laterally to retrieve his own miss, a la Moses . . .
And now there was Houston, only one win away from sending its Twin Towers against the imposing Boston skyline in the finals. Give Sampson his due on this point—he has long pooh-poohed the front-office's plan as overly cautious. "I didn't want to hear about five-year plans then and I don't want to hear about them now," Sampson said last week, possibly because he, more than anyone, realized the full potential of Olajuwon.
Now the Lakers know it, too. Magic: "In terms of raw athletic ability, Akeem is the best I've ever seen." Lucas: "The rebirth of a bigger Moses Malone." Kupchak: "I can compare him to, maybe, Alvin Robertson in terms of being able to do everything. That tells you something, since Robertson is a guard. I've never seen anyone that strong, that quick, that relentless and who also happens to be seven-feet tall."
Two seasons later, Olajuwon's development continues at its break-neck pace. The Rockets may like Sampson, but they love Akeem.
Said Danny Schayes: "He plays a lot like Moses does, but he's physically more talented. He's quicker, he jumps better, he's stronger.
"As far as having a lot of moves, Akeem doesn't. He just stands in the low post and plows to the basket. He doesn't have the great moves of a Michael Jordan or a Dr. J. He just plays a bull game. But as far as physical talent, he's like a Michael Jordan or a Dr. J.
"And he's got the Moses Malone complain-game down pretty well. He mumbles and curses the referees but they can't understand what he's saying."
A delight off the court, Olajuwon has a temper on it. He had a fight with Utah's Billy Paultz, whom he sucker-punched before fouling out in the playoff loss that eliminated the Rockets last season. He and Schayes shoved each other before he grabbed Madden and was tossed.
Such things are not unknown for star centers who are held and pushed a lot. Schayes for example, doesn't dislike him.
"Not like you dislike a Bill Laimbeer, who elbows a lot and pushes and shoves and holds," Schayes said. "Akeem doesn't play that way. But he does play very physical."
I'm going to post a bunch of articles this morning. Some of them are relevant, others are interesting reads.
Originally Posted by EDDIE SEFKO, Staff
Malone's 24 to gain lofty post /Rockets to honor franchise's `pillar'
Houston Chronicle - Thursday, April 16, 1998
Another uniform will be raised to the rafters at Compaq Center on Sunday.
Moses Malone's No. 24 will be retired in a ceremony at the regular-season finale against Phoenix. Malone's jersey number will join that of Calvin Murphy (No. 23) and Rudy Tomjanovich (No. 45).
The Rockets were Malone's first NBA team. He played two seasons in the American Basketball Association after making the leap from high school, then played six seasons with the Rockets. His NBA career lasted 19 seasons.
Malone's ceremony will coincide with the Rockets' "Thanks Houston" fan appreciation day Sunday, which will feature the unveiling of the franchise's all-time team to commemorate the 30 years since the Rockets' first season.
Malone's link to the Rockets goes beyond the six seasons he was with the team, starting Oct. 25, 1976, when he was acquired from the Buffalo Braves for first-round draft picks in '77 and '78 and cash. He won two Most Valuable Player awards in Houston (1979 and 1982) and led the Rockets to their first NBA Finals appearance in 1981, taking a team that finished 40-42 in the regular season to within two games of the title.
And near the end of his Rockets tenure, Malone took a young center named, at the time, Akeem Olajuwon (then a University of Houston star) under his wing, tutoring him during endless pickup games at Fonde Recreation Center and helping Olajuwon learn the tricks of the trade that would help him become "Hakeem the Dream."
" Moses was a phenomenal player," said Clyde Drexler, another longtime friend of Malone's. "In his day, he was the most dominant big man in the game. He was Hakeem before Hakeem. And was very good at it."
To a man, Rockets with a link to Malone applauded the decision to retire his number. Owner Leslie L. Alexander has planned to retire Malone's number since early this season, but finding the appropriate time to make the announcement has been difficult.
"That will be fantastic," Olajuwon said of honoring his mentor. "I suggested that idea a long time ago. He made his biggest impact in Houston. And his time here hasn't been appreciated the way it should be. I'm very happy that they are taking the first step in that direction to acknowledge his contribution to basketball and especially to the Houston Rockets."
Malone, reached Wednesday at his home, said he was unaware the Rockets were planning to retire his number as part of the Sunday festivities.
But the Rockets family enthusiastically embraced the idea of honoring one of their greats from the past.
"That's wonderful," said Tomjanovich , who played with Malone for five seasons. "I really enjoyed playing with Moses Malone. We had heard that he was a legend coming out of high school. He was in the ABA at the time, and he was a very slender guy with a big Afro, and within two years he was out there dominating some of the greatest players in the league.
"I think it was that Washington series (in 1977) when they had Elvin Hayes and (Wes) Unseld and we played them in so many close games and Moses was our pillar."
The Rockets won that first-round playoff series four games to two, but none of the contests was decided by more than 10 points. It was then Malone burst onto the NBA scene.
Before he was done playing for eight NBA teams and amassing more than 27,000 points, Malone's rebounding would come to be his signature.
"The most relentless offensive rebounder that I've ever seen," Eddie Johnson said. "And that's saying a lot, especially when you look at Dennis Rodman. But the difference is Moses could score. And Moses was exerting more energy. Rodman only exerts energy on the defensive end now. He exerts none on the offensive end.
" Moses was both ends, getting defensive rebounds, trying to be a presence. He wasn't a great defender, but he had a presence. And his offensive rebounding was unbelievable. He was relentless. That's one thing that's stuck in my mind about him. He could put it on the floor a couple dribbles. He had the jumper. But the most impressive thing is you had to come work on the boards against that man."
As Drexler remembers all too well. Malone ranks No. 5 on the NBA's all-time rebounding list at 16,212. He led the NBA in offensive rebounding eight times, more than anybody in league history. Malone also averaged 20.6 points for his career (24 in his time with the Rockets).
"He'd get the ball back five times in a row if he had to," Drexler said. "Sometimes, he did it just to show people he could do it. He'd get it back as many times as he needed to in order to get the bucket. And very few people in the history of the game have had the kind of success that he enjoyed."
One of the people closest to Malone during his formative years, Rockets executive vice president of basketball Carroll Dawson, said Malone, who also won an MVP award with Philadelphia the first year after the Rockets traded him there, was a gifted rebounder from the beginning.
"I've got a lot of memories of Moses ," Dawson said. "I think he probably taught me a lot more than I did him. What an education. I was a rebounding coach, I felt like. But he really raised my eyebrows. I used to talk to him all the time about his thoughts and ideas about why he got so many rebounds. And he just said: `I don't think any of them are ever going in.'
"He was relentless. He was one of those guys who really developed a responsibility for helping to win games for the franchise, for the fans, everybody. He was very sensitive to that. And every time we lost, he really felt like he let everyone down. He really took it very personal. And you don't see that very much anymore. He really showed it. He felt a great responsibility for going out there and winning."
And, Dawson says, Malone was a warrior.
"I thought he and Dr. J (Julius Erving) were the only guys who really never took a night off no matter who you're playing," Dawson said. "You go out and play a bad team, and you know you're going to win anyway, he's still playing hard. He never took a night off. I've got a great amount of respect for him. And I cried when we lost him."
Even after he left the Rockets, Malone, who also wore No. 21 briefly in Houston, had an influence on the current Rockets. Charles Barkley credits Malone as the one player who taught him how to work hard enough to be a success in the NBA.
"I looked up to Moses more than any other player I ever knew," said Barkley, who played with Malone on the 76ers. "He was the hardest worker in the game."
The schedule for the Thanks Houston Day festivities Sunday:
1:30-4 p.m. - Pepsi Million-Dollar Shot semifinals for 100 fans who have been chosen. The contest will be near the Edloe entrance to Compaq Center. Public is invited.
5 p.m. - Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns. All fans entering the arena will receive a Gatorade/Randalls Rally Rag.
Pre-game introductions - All 15 Rockets players will be introduced with 15 season-ticket holders who have been chosen at random receiving a jersey from one of the players.
During the game - Periodic promotions for selected fans to receive prizes.
Halftime - Introduction of the 10-man, 30-year team; retirement of Moses Malone's jersey; finals of the Gatorade NBA Rockets Dream contest; finals of the Pennzoil Stop 'N' Go Race to the Finish.
Postgame - All fans will receive commemorative posters of the 30-year team upon leaving the building.
Postgame - A private reception and playoff tip-off party for the Rockets, Malone, the 30th-anniversary team and invited guests.
Houston Chronicle - Friday, January 12, 1996
It might be back-to-back games in Los Angeles, but for Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich , tonight's meeting with the Lakers and Saturday's contest against the Clippers is going to be like old home week.
The game against the Lakers means going against Del Harris, the man who gave Tomjanovich his break in the coaching business in 1983. Prior to that, Tomjanovich had been a scout after his playing days ended in 1981. Saturday's game reunites Tomjanovich with former Rockets coach Bill Fitch, under whom he honed his craft.
"Yeah, that is going to be a great thrill for me," Tomjanovich said. "I coached under both of those guys. Del was the guy who got me into coaching and gave me the opportunity. And then I had five years under Bill and really learned a great deal about work ethic and preparation. I was the advance scout for both of those guys and had a little bit of a bigger role with Fitch than with Harris."
First up is Harris, whose work last season with the Lakers earned him NBA Coach of the Year honors after leading the team to a 48-34 record in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. The award was the culmination of 31 years of coaching that included ports of call in college, Europe, South America, the American Basketball Association as well as the NBA. Harris, who led the Rockets to their first NBA Finals in 1981, is two wins shy of 400 for his career.
Tomjanovich can see traces of Harris' varied background in the play of the Lakers.
"He's had different influences," Tomjanovich said. "When he was with us (1979-83), we had Moses (Malone) and the inside game, which I really believe in a lot. Then he wound up going (to Milwaukee as an assistant) with Nellie (Don Nelson) and a lot of their stuff is putting the ball on the floor, isolations and dribble-type plays. He didn't have the power-type guys then, and he really got away from that power inside game.
"Now he's got a mixture of both. He has athletes like (Cedric) Ceballos and (Nick) Van Exel, and big guys like (Vlade) Divac and (Elden) Campbell, so it's a combination of his early years and the Nellie years."
That versatility is what makes the Lakers so dangerous. But while they were the surprise team of last year, the Lakers are the surprise of this season for another reason. At 18-17, they are barely treading water, but losing five one-point games could be part of the problem.
But the biggest problem has been inconsistency. Ceballos has been a rock, averaging 23.6 points and 7.7 rebounds, but second-year guard Eddie Jones is averaging 11 points, and has failed to reach double figures in seven of the past 12 games. Van Exel is shooting just 40 percent from the floor while averaging 14.8 points, down more than two points from his breakthrough season last year.
"They have a good backcourt," said Rockets point guard Kenny Smith. "They have a lot of those midsized guards (the 6-6 Jones, 6-4 Anthony Peeler and 6-2 Sedale Threatt), so it makes it more interesting.
"Nick is so unorthodox. He's lefthanded, but he's not like Kenny Anderson, who's also lefthanded. He (Anderson) does things that are pretty normal while Van Exel is more unorthodox. He jumps off the wrong foot to take his shot and he passes one way when you think he's passing another. That's what makes him so unorthodox."
The Lakers have the ability to pound you inside, though, with the 7-1 Divac and the 6-11 Campbell in the paint. And with Ceballos attacking the offensive glass or filling the lanes in transition, the Lakers are one of the most dangerous teams in the league, despite their near-.500 record.
"I think I'm surprised because last year they caught a lot of people by surprise," Brown said. "You could still tell they were a good team. After a while it was no longer a surprise. They stayed consistent last year pretty much throughout the whole year. I'm pretty sure they'll turn it up when it's time to make the playoffs or get in the playoffs.
"I still wouldn't want to play them in the playoffs. I think they're scary."
NBA '92 - COMING ATTRACTIONS - Rockets to tee off Rudyball
Houston Chronicle - Sunday, NOVEMBER 1, 1992
Climbing the corporate ladder is a long, slow process in most businesses. But usually, after 20 or 25 years, most hard workers who have stayed with the same firm find a comfortable level.
And then there's one Rudolph Tomjanovich . Had he been 5-8 instead of 6-8 and gone into bookkeeping instead of basketball, Tomjanovich would be up for a gold watch about now.
But Rudy T. instead became the ultimate Rocket man. And 23 years of rising through the ranks in the organization has finally landed Tomjanovich in the big chair.
"Yeah," Tomjanovich says, "it's kind of coming to a climax thing, isn't it?"
Indeed it is. Working for the Rockets as a player, scout and assistant coach was fun. Pressure? Oh, sure, there was some pressure, but nothing out of the ordinary.
And then came the head-coaching position, the one with the big bucks and the big headaches and small job security.
Tomjanovich begins his first full season as coach of the Rockets after 22 years of service in other areas and two months of apprenticeship at the end of last season as the interim coach.
It's time to tee off with Rudy T.
And it very much is like the end of a journey. If the Rockets succeed in the next months and years, Tomjanovich will look like the CEO who led the company back to prominence.
If the club struggles, somewhere down the line Tomjanovich will pay the price. He is at the top with the club with which he has been employed for more than half his life. This would seem to be his last stop with the organization.
And it is fitting that Tomjanovich finally reached this position.
There wasn't one particular point when Tomjanovich became synonymous with Rockets basketball. Tomjanovich can't pinpoint a time when it happened, only that over the course of some very difficult times, the association grew.
"We paid a lot of dues," Tomjanovich says. "One year, we had 13 home games in San Antonio, and every time, the fans booed us and cheered for whoever we were playing. We went through some hard times when no one was coming to see us play.
"Once you go through something like that, you can't help but have a feeling for an organization."
And the feeling is mutual. Owner Charlie Thomas and general manager Steve Patterson believe Tomjanovich is prepared tobe the next coach to burst onto the scene with huge success.
Tomjanovich hopes to legitimize their faith by using the same formula he did to succeed at other levels in the organization.
"I feel like the reason I have stayed with the Rockets for so long is because I busted my butt," Tomjanovich says. "I gave them an honest day's work as a player and an assistant.
"I'm not a yes man. I'm loyal, but I always tried to make my feelings known in a constructive way."
Loyalty is a word deeply ingrained in Tomjanovich , something for which the Rockets can be thankful. As a kid, when Tomjanovich was knocking around the streets of Hamtramck, Mich., he learned a lot of things.
Like most people, Tomjanovich 's character was molded during the years when he was growing up, in blue-collar Detroit.
"I considered myself really lucky," Tomjanovich says. "A lot of people might not have thought it was the greatest place, but when the surveys would come out, we always were No. 1 in Michigan in a lot of areas. It's all relative, and I thought it was a great place."
Tomjanovich could look out the back window of his home growing up and see the Chrysler plant a few hundred yards away.
Hamtramck is an inner-city area, and it is where Tomjanovich first learned the value of loyalty.
"It was predominantly a black area, but everybody in the neighborhood stuck together," he says. "It wasn't like gangs. It was just real strong relationships between all the kids on the same block. It was a feeling of, `Hey, this is our territory.'
"We all looked out for each other."
The toughest thing Tomjanovich faced growing up wasn't the pitfalls in the neighborhood. It was getting a foothold in the game that would become his life.
"In junior high school, I never played basketball," Tomjanovich says. "We had a great team, and I just couldn't play.
"Then when I was a freshman, I was cut from the freshman team. All my buddies were on the team, and I wanted to make it, so I challenged the coach to a game of one-on-one.
"I wound up beating him, and he let me back on the team."
It was the first break for Tomjanovich . From then on, he would make his own breaks. He gave up on Little League as he began to grow. He started hanging out at the playground and began playing against better competition, including some good college players.
The proving ground was at Copernicus Junior High ("Named after that great Polish astronomer," Tomjanovich jokes). Players from all around Detroit would migrate for some of the pickup games there.
Tomjanovich remained true to his homeland when it came time to pick a college. He could have gone anywhere, but it came down to Michigan and Michigan State. He chose the Wolverines and was an All-American for a better-than-average team.
Then came the NBA draft. Chosen second overall by the San Diego Rockets, Tomjanovich came into the league surrounded by high expectations.
"I really was kind of an undisciplined player," he says. "I was not real well-blessed in the fundamentals of the game."
It showed in his rookie season, when he averaged only 5.3 points and five rebounds.
"My first year was a disappointment," Tomjanovich says. "In San Diego, I was known as a first-round flop. It was tough to go around San Diego and hear people ask why the franchise drafted me."
Fate intervened. The franchise was moved to Houston in June 1971, and Tomjanovich no longer had to worry about what San Diegans thought of him.
Not that the tough times were over. Tomjanovich and the Rockets went through a lot of misery in those early years in Houston.
"I always thought just getting to the NBA was a big deal," Tomjanovich said. "But (then-general manager) Pete Newell took me aside and worked with me, and he and (then-head coach) Tex Winter probably did as much as anybody to help me become a good basketball player.
"We still had some teams that weren't very good."
But Tomjanovich 's skills grew, and the Rockets upgraded their team with players like Calvin Murphy, Mike Newlin and, in 1976, John Lucas and Moses Malone. The Rockets became a strong NBA team.
"When Moses and Lucas came, it got to be a lot of fun after all those years of struggling," he says.
The Rockets made the playoffs several years and finally, in Tomjanovich 's last season as a player, made it to the 1981 NBA Finals.
What followed were a couple of seasons scouting opponents and time serving as an assistant to head coaches Bill Fitch and Don Chaney. Tomjanovich had other opportunities. He could have jumped the Rockets' ship and moved to another team.
But he preferred to stay. His reasoning was sound. He likes Houston. Houston likes him. Why change?
Of course, if the Rockets don't get back to the playoffs this season, Tomjanovich 's long, fruitful association with the club could be jeopardized.
With any luck, Tomjanovich won't have to experience that feeling. But if he does, he already realizes he has beaten the odds. Spending 23 years with the same company in any business is a little unusual. That tenure with one NBA team is almost unheard of, especially when that tenure started as a player.
"I've been very, very lucky in the people I've been around in my life," he says. "My friends have been very good."
Loyalty like Tomjanovich 's deserves nothing less.
The comparison is limited at best, but a good read nonetheless:
Originally Posted by TERRY BLOUNT, Staff
'94 NBA FINALS/FINALS FLASHBACK/THE ROCKETS HAVE MADE THE NBA FINALS TWICE BEFORE, LOSING BOTH TIMES TO THE BOSTON CELTICS. AS THE TEAM RETURNS TO THE FINALS, THE MEMORY REMAINS./1981/Plodding team makes spirited ru
Houston Chronicle - Wednesday, June 8, 1994
MORE than halfway into the 1980-81 season, the Rockets were 20-27 after a loss at home to the New York Knicks. With five games to go in the regular season, the team was 36-41 after a 107-103 loss at Portland
The Rockets made the playoffs with a record of 40-42 and appeared headed for a quick exit.
Well, at least that was what almost everyone thought when the team traveled to Los Angeles to play the defending NBA champion Lakers of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.
"We were so slow, they were calling us the Water Buffaloes," said Rudy Tomjanovich , who was playing the final year of his NBA career. "We started Billy Paultz and Moses Malone inside and concentrated on the half-court game.
"I had gotten injured and wasn't in the rotation, but it was the Lakers who just couldn't get their motors rolling. They were baffled by having to play in our half-court style, which wasn't their strength."
The Rockets shocked the Lakers in Game 1 with a 111-107 victory, thanks to a 38-point performance by Malone. The Lakers won Game 2 at Houston 111-106, but the Rockets did the incredible by beating the Lakers again in LA to end the three-game series with an 89-86 victory.
"We were a real Cinderella team that year," Tomjanovich said. "No one thought we could do well in the playoffs, but the chemistry came together at the right time. The slower style of play in the playoffs was a rhythm which helped us excel."
The Rockets were in danger of bowing out in the second round when they had to play a seventh game in San Antonio against George Gervin and the Spurs, but veteran guard Calvin Murphy came off the bench to pump in 42 points and lead Houston to a 105-100 victory at HemisFair Arena.
That was the last difficult hurdle to the NBA Finals. The Rockets eliminated the Kansas City Kings in five games.
Then it was on to the NBA Finals for the first time in Rockets history. The Rockets were huge underdogs to the powerful Boston Celtics of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Nate Archibald and Kevin McHale, but the series was tied 2-2 after four games.
Bill Fitch, who was head coach of the Celtics that year, said his players weren't worried.
"We had respect for Houston," Fitch said. "But we knew if we played our game, they couldn't beat us four times. We figured when we won the East over Philadelphia in a seventh game after being down 3-1, we had won the world championship right there."
The 1981 Finals always will be remembered for the famous quote by Malone when he was asked how good the Celtics really were. Said Malone: "I could take me and four guys from Petersburg and beat them."
It was six years earlier that Malone had gone straight to pro basketball from high school in Petersburg, Va. The Celtics got a nice laugh out of his statement and went on to defeat the Rockets in Games 5 and 6 to win the title, ending the series with a 102-91 victory at The Summit. But it had been a record-setting run for a team that surprised the league.
"At one time we held nine playoff records," said Del Harris, the new coach of the Lakers who was the Rockets' coach in 1981. "But most of those records are going down now. The record of ours that I don't think will get broken is eight road victories. That's the only one that I always thought would last."
Harris compared the 1981 Rockets team with the 1994 team that is favored to win the NBA championship.
"There's certainly some similarities," he said. "Both teams were built around a great center, utilizing perimeter shooting. We had Murphy and Mike Dunleavy as our guards who were very good outside shooters, and Rudy was an excellent outside shooter.
"This year's team is probably a little more athletic overall than the other one was. We had limited depth, like they do. And we staked our claim on defense, like they are."
"We held teams nine consecutive times below 100 points," Harris said. "That was a record that held up until Detroit broke it at the end of the '80s.
Unlike the 1981 Rockets team, few people would be surprised if the 1994 team won it all.
"I think the title is up grabs," Harris said. "It's wide open for the Rockets to take it."
C Moses Malone -- The premier center in the game at the time. He averaged 27.8 points and 14.8 rebounds that season. Malone was traded to Philadelphia in 1982 and led the 76ers to the NBA title in 1983.
F/C Billy Paultz -- He started only 29 games in the regular season, but started every game at power forward in the Finals, averaging 11 points and five rebounds.
F Robert Reid -- The starting small forward who averaged 16 points and seven rebounds for the season. He is one of only two players (Allen Leavell is the other) who played on both the 1981 and 1986 teams that reached the NBA Finals. Reid played 10 seasons for the Rockets.
G Mike Dunleavy -- Averaged 10.5 points while starting 35 games in the regular season. Dunleavy now is the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
G Tom Henderson -- He started 45 games in the regular season and all six games in the Finals. Henderson averaged five points and five assists for the season.
G Calvin Murphy -- An outstanding 5-9 guard who was in the twilight of his career at age 33. He averaged 16.7 points in the regular season while coming off the bench and averaged 10 points in the Finals. Murphy played all 13 years of his career with the Rockets. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year. His No. 23 jersey has been retired. Murphy now is the team's color commentator for TV broadcasts.
F Rudy Tomjanovich -- An injury plagued season turned out to be the final of his career. The starting small forward for the team for many years was no longer in the rotation by the time the playoffs rolled around. He finished the regular season averaging 11.6 points and four rebounds per game. Tomjanovich , who played all 11 NBA seasons in Houston, was named Rockets coach in February 1992.
G Allen Leavell -- A backup point guard who averaged eight points and five assists a game. Leavell played 10 seasons for the Rockets.
F Bill Willoughby -- Averaged six points and four rebounds while coming off the bench at power forward.
F Calvin Garrett -- Averaged six points and four rebounds at small forward.
F Major Jones -- A power forward who was known as a solid defensive player
BASKETBALL THE FINALS FRONTIER - DESPITE A LOSING RECORD, MALONE & CO. LIVED WHAT MANY THOUGHT THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM 1981
Houston Chronicle - Sunday, June 10, 2001
HERE must be some cosmic significance about Moses Malone, the playoffs and the number four. In 1983, when asked how his Sixers would do in the playoffs, Malone responded, "Fo', fo' and fo'," meaning the Sixers would put together three straight four-game sweeps on their way to the NBA title.
Darned if he wasn't almost right.
The Sixers lost just once, to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals, and swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals for Malone's only NBA championship.
But two years earlier, Malone, then with the Rockets, made headlines with a far bolder - and more controversial - Finals four-cast.
After splitting the first four games with the Celtics, Malone opined, "I don't think Boston is all that good. . . . I could get four guys from the streets of Petersburg (Va., his hometown) and beat them."
It didn't quite work out that way, with Boston closing out the Rockets in six games. But 20 years later, Malone laughed at his defiant statement.
"Man, I was the original trash-talker," said Malone, who was recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. "Before anyone else started talking trash, I was doing it. When I made a comment like that back in those days, it was a big thing. Nowadays people make comments like that and they get commercials.
"I believed in what I said because I wasn't really thinking about Boston when I said that I could get four guys from Petersburg and beat these guys. I was letting my team, the Houston Rockets, know that we could beat them. We had to prepare ourselves to come and play these guys.
"Everyone was saying that we didn't have a chance and that they (the Celtics) were going to win the whole thing and probably sweep us. But we had won two games and I had an idea that we could beat them. I wanted the guys (his teammates) to believe that we could win."
With the Celtics taking umbrage at Malone's statement, Boston blew out the Rockets in Games 5 (109-80) and 6 (102-91) to capture the first of three titles in the Larry Bird era.
But Malone's words now represent a humorous footnote to a series that is remembered with equal parts fondness and bitterness by the Houston players who were involved in the franchise's first championship experience.
"I just remember that was the first time any Houston team in either major-league football, baseball or basketball had played in a championship series," said then-coach Del Harris, now an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. "The fans, the city, the mayor - everybody was excited.
"It couldn't have been better. It was a wonderful time to be in Houston."
Part of the frenzy stemmed from the fact that, after finishing with a 40-42 record and making the playoffs with a win in the next-to-last game of the regular season, the Rockets had to be perhaps the most unlikely Finals entrant in league history.
And one of the ugliest, at least when it comes to playing style.
Harris decided to go with what he called his "Water Buffaloes" lineup, putting 6-11, 250-pound Billy Paultz alongside Malone. Paultz, known as "The Whopper" because of his bulk, set the screens that allowed Houston shooters like Calvin Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Robert Reid and Allen Leavell the room to launch their jumpers.
But putting Paultz into the lineup meant that Harris was forced to make a difficult decision - benching Rudy Tomjanovich .
"That was tremendously difficult," Harris said. "Rudy was probably my favorite player when I was there. I liked all of the players, but there was something special about Rudy. But it (the lineup) didn't work with three big guys together up front.
"As disappointed as Rudy was to be lifted out of the starting lineup, he was a gentleman all the way. I've respected him for that ever since, and to this moment I consider him one of my very good friends."
Tomjanovich had little to say about the situation.
"It was tough to deal with," he said. "You want to be out there, but that (sitting on the bench) is the deal. You just have to deal with it."
The Rockets won 12 of their last 21 games, not bad for a team that finished under .500, to make the playoffs. They would face the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, who had stumbled into the opening-round miniseries after Magic Johnson played just 37 regular-season games because of torn knee cartilage.
But the Rockets had an ace up their sleeve - Malone.
"They were Showtime back then, so they were tough," Leavell said. "The thing in our favor was the fact that Kareem did not like to see Big Mo. He used to get migraines when Big Mo came to town. At least it seemed like that. He (Malone) wasn't going to let us lose."
The Rockets shocked the Lakers 111-107 in Game 1 behind Malone's 38 points, but the Lakers came back to win Game 2 in Houston 111-106, setting up Game 3 in Los Angeles. The game was not decided until late, when Johnson airballed a short runner in the lane, allowing the Rockets to escape with an 89-86 victory.
"That had to be the shortest airball in playoff history," Leavell said. "He was right at the basket. I mean, he was right inside the free-throw line, so to shoot an airball. . . . But that's pressure."
The Rockets advanced to the second round, where they would play a San Antonio team that was perhaps a bit overconfident since it had destroyed Houston 135-109 in the final game of the regular season.
But in what became one of the NBA's classic playoff series, the Rockets won in seven games, with Murphy doing most of the damage in Game 7 with 42 points to give the Rockets a 105-100 victory on the Spurs' home court.
"Of all the games I've coached, and I've been doing this since 1959, so this is 42 years and about 2,000 games as a head coach and about 1,000 in the NBA, that is one of the greatest games I've ever been involved in," Harris said of Game 7.
The Rockets swamped Kansas City, another 40-42 team, in the Western Conference finals, beating the Kings in five games to advance to the Finals, where they would play a Boston team that was dead on its feet after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to beat Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals.
Once again, the Rockets stunned the league by winning 92-90 in Game 2 in Boston, but the Celtics crushed them 94-71 in Game 3 at The Summit.
The Rockets came back for a 91-86 win in Game 4, and Malone let loose with his "four guys from Petersburg" line afterward, making some of his teammates cringe.
"Man, the Celtics were sleepwalking against us in the Finals," Reid said. "But Moses goes up and says, `I could get four boys from Petersburg and beat them.' Well, your MVP says it, so you have to back him up. When the media asked me what I thought about it, I said, `Well, I need to go grab my mom. I might have been born in Petersburg with the big fella.'
"But that was for the public. Some of the guys were like, `Man, why did Moses say that?' But if the big fella says that, then we're supposed to go to war with him."
They went to war and lost, but they have good memories of that magical '81 playoff run.
"We had a chance to be the first Houston team to win a championship," Malone said. "Unfortunately, though, we didn't. We had a lot of great players on that team, and a lot of those guys are still my good friends. We get together sometimes and talk about it.
"Those were some good times."
1980-81 ROCKETS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Player .. Where now
Mike Dunleavy .. Ex-Portland Trail Blazers coach
Calvin Garrett .. Whereabouts unknown
Thomas Henderson .. Living in Houston
Major Jones .. Works at Fonde Recreation Center
Allen Leavell .. Living in Houston
Moses Malone .. Retired, living in Houston
Calvin Murphy .. TV analyst, Houston Rockets
John Stroud .. Whereabouts unknown
Robert Reid .. Living in Houston
Billy Paultz .. Retired, living in New Jersey
Rudy Tomjanovich .. Head coach, Houston Rockets
Bill Willoughby .. Works for New Jersey Parks and Recreation
Coach Del Harris .. Assistant coach, Dallas Mavericks
The Rudy mention is minor, but it's relevant to the Moses discussion:
Originally Posted by Ross Atkin, Sports writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Meet Moses Malone, MVP candidate; baseball Yanks hit the basepaths
Christian Science Monitor, The (Boston, MA) - Thursday, March 4, 1982
If the National Basketball Association handed out MVP ballots tommorow, Moses Malone might wrestle the award away from the likes of Larry Bird, Julius Erving, and Sidney Moncrief. It's hard to imagine any player being more valuable to his team, or sustaining such a long hot streak.
Houston's 6 ft. 10 in. center scored 30 or more points in all but one game in February. The rampage included several out-and-out spectaculars, such as the three-game string in which he scored 45, 53 (an NBA season high), and 47 points.
The beauty of Malone's play goes beyond just points, however. He may be most dangerous as a rebounder. In scoring 53 points, for example, he also grabbed 22 rebounds, and on another occasion, he outrebounded the entire Seattle team 32-29. His reputation, in fact, was built by sweeping the boards, especially at the offensive end
Unlike some players, Moses has never gone after the eye-opening statistics as an end in themselves. A team man through and through, he's upped his scoring to boost the Rockets, whose February winning percenate of .786, not coincidentally, was the best in the franchise's 15-year existence.
Run, Yankees, run The New York Yankees hope to sport a new look this season, with more speed and less power. To help out, the club hired Harrison Dillard to work as a spring training running instructor this week. An Olympic sprinter in 1948 and 1952, he once beat team owner George Steinbrenner in the hurdles.
This transformation should make the Yankees a little more like the scratch-and-claw Oakland A's, whose hustling brand of baseball was labeled ''Billyball'' last year. The inspiration behind this coined word, of course, was Manager Billy Martin, twice fired by Steinbrenner as the Yankee boss.
'Mildcats' in basketball too Colleges that do poorly in football generally try to redeem themselves on the basketball court. Northwestern University knows it isn't easy. The Wildcat football team has won just three football games during the past six years and not had a winning season since 1971, but the basketball team is completing its 13th straight losing campaign.
Small home crowds, an outdated arena, and high academic standards can make recruiting a real challenge. To top things off, McGaw Hall will soon undergo extensive renovations, forcing the basketball team to find temporary quarters all next season. Coach Rick Falk, however, is confident that a larger, modernized facility will help down the line.
Rough play in the NBA Anyone who tuned in last Sunday's pro basketball telecast saw Boston's Larry Bird catch a vicious elbow to the head. The accidental blow was delivered by Milwaukee's Harvey Catchings, not with intent to harm but as the hair-trigger reaction of a rebounder in traffic. In the wake of the incident, which has sidelined Bird for several games, the Boston Globe came out with an article about the possible need for an ''enforcer'' to protect the Celtic superstar.
Bill Fitch, Boston's coach, responded to the idea in the negative. Besides feeling Bird can take care of himself, he also believes the heavy penalty meted out to Kermit Washington for striking Rudy Tomjanovich during the 1977-78 season has made any sort of retaliatory acts ill-advised.
The league has moved wisely to snuff out obvious court violence, yet referees must remain on the lookout for attempts to rough-up star players through covert acts of intimidation.
Originally Posted by Bill Livingston, Inquirer Staff Writer
SHOOTING FOR STARS - MODERN SCOUTING PUTS SLEEPERS TO REST IN THE NBA DRAFT
Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - Monday, June 27, 1983
The telephone was playing its persistent melody, and that was music to Marty Blake's ears.
You can usually tell if Blake, the director of the National Basketball Association's scouting bureau, is having a good day by the number of times he puts a caller on hold on the multibuttoned telephone console in his Atlanta office. This was a five-hold, 45-minute call. A very good day, indeed, by Marty Blake's standards.
"I had one general manager asking me if a certain kid could play," said Blake, 56, returning to his caller. In a response enigmatic enough to be worthy of a Delphic oracle, Blake said, "I told him, if Moses had gone right instead of left, we'd have gotten the oil and the Arabs would have gotten the sand."
Another pause for another NBA front-office call. "Wanted to know if a player who is very highly regarded would be available late in the first round," said Blake, chuckling. "I told 'em I'd have loved to have gone out with Marilyn Monroe, too, you know, but I never got the opportunity."
The wisecrack is as much a part of Blake's style as is the omnipresent oversized cigar and the habitual thoroughness with which he catalogues and categorizes the collegiate seniors and the eligible underclassmen for the NBA
draft, this year's version of which takes place tomorrow.
From his cluttered Atlanta office, Blake will issue a thick (150 pages, most years) book to each of the NBA's 23 teams, and that book is the bible of the coming draft.
It was, in fact, the Gospel according to Marty Blake that gave the basketball world the term "CNP" (Cannot Play), a variation on the official scorer's designation "DNP" (Did Not Play) for unused reserves. Blake also will write, when he feels particularly vehement, "CNP. Do not draft."
"I always feel better when I can bounce a player's name off Marty and have him confirm that he thinks the kid can play," said 76ers general manager Pat Williams, as the NBA champions prepared for their own selection (17th in the first round) in the draft.
Blake is not above pulling a general manager's leg. "Could you use a good 6-11 kid?" Blake will ask a curious GM when Blake is feeling especially coy.
After the guy has stopped drooling - nothing excites the NBA managerial glands as much as a big man - Blake
will add, casually, "I got one for you. All you have to do is talk to the warden. And you don't have to worry about cars or TV sets. The fellow will take care of that himself."
The NBA draft doesn't really drive basketball executives to the point where they would seek out convicted felons. Just almost.
So, after Houston begins tomorrow's proceedings with the selection of 7- foot, 4-inch Virginia center Ralph Sampson, widely thought of as the only sure star in the draft, the scramble will begin in earnest. Things probably won't get quite as wild and woolly as they have in the past, because this doesn't seem to be either as good a draft as the premier years of 1970 (Nate Archibald, Dave Cowens, Bob Lanier, Calvin Murphy, Sam Lacey, Rudy Tomjanovich , Geoff Petrie et. al) or 1974 (Bill Walton, Marvin Barnes, Bobby Jones, Maurice Lucas, Campy Russell and associates). Nor will it offer as slim pickings as the '72 draft (Bob McAdoo, Paul Westphal and a yawning void).
Still, if history - and the activity on Marty Blake's phone - is any indication, some surprises will be in store.
Whatever happens, the Sixers, with one of the deepest scouting systems in the league, hope to be ready for it. The Sixers, in contrast to some of the more penurious clubs in the league, employ no less than six territorial scouts. Among them are Sheridan James (San Francisco area), Toby Kimball (San Diego), Bud Olsen (Louisville), Wali Jones (San Antonio), Joe Ash (northern New Jersey) and Bob Luksta (Chicago). Head scout Jocko Collins coordinates it all, and assistant coach and player personnel director Jack McMahon, the Sixers' so-called "superscout," makes the final decision on the best of the players selected by the other scouts.
WHEN MCMAHON TALKS . . .
"We spend the money to send Jack all over the place to see these guys," Williams said, "so, just on a pure economic standpoint - forget everything else - it would be stupid for us not to listen to him. But, over the years, we have had such success with his picks that we've learned it's like E. F. Hutton: When Uncle Jack speaks, you better listen."
The logic of listening to a top scout would seem to be pristine. But, in the chaotic hours of draft day, some teams violate the canon. In New Jersey, for example, Nets player personnel director Al Menendez still fumes over the 1980 draft, when Nets executives turned down his recommendation to pick Andrew Toney, now a Sixers all-star, and instead, with their two draft choices preceding Philadelphia's, took the relatively undistinguishe d Mike Gminski and Mike O'Koren.
Intramural in-fighting can spoil the best-laid plans. In today's NBA, in contrast to the easygoing days of the past, when well-thumbed copies of Street & Smith's Basketball Yearbook were often the primary source of scouting data, there is simply a much smaller margin of error.
Teams no longer can afford to hold their own tryout camps for draftees. The Sixers, who were in the forefront of that development, used to bring 15-20 players into Widener University, then their practice site, and make closed- door evaluations on "sleepers" they liked. Now, the league itself invites more than 50 draft hopefuls to an open camp in Chicago, held early in June.
"All that camp does," Menendez groused to Williams, "is penalize teams that do their homework."
The Sixers supported the league-wide camp concept, but they candidly conceded that, if it had been held in previous years, two of their draft-day steals, Maurice Cheeks (36th pick in 1978) and Clint Richardson (36th pick in 1979), would have played their way into first-round selections, possibly by other teams.
NO SLEEPERS ANYMORE
Even without the camp, there is a lot more information available these days to help talent scouts in their assessments. Cable television and the video-cassette recorder have made many more players available for at least secondhand evaluation. "You shouldn't overstress it," Williams said, "but there's no doubt that cable and VCRs have been a tremendous aid.
"There are no sleepers anymore."
Given all the resources now available to scouts, it's hard for the decent player not to catch someone's eye. In most cases, it is Blake's. Almost never does a first- or second-round pick come along that Blake has not evaluated.
Marty Blake was the general manager of the Hawks for 17 years, beginning when the team was based in Milwaukee. He followed the itinerant franchise to St. Louis (where, oops, he managed to trade the rights to Bill Russell in 1956 to Boston for Cliff Hagan and Easy Ed Macauley) and on to Atlanta. Despite the infamy of the Russell deal, Blake still won a championship (1958, in St. Louis, when Jack McMahon was a starting guard) and compiled the second-best record in the league in the period from the 1952-53 season to the 1968-69 season, behind Boston's Red Auerbach.
Blake apprenticed, as did a lot of the more colorful guys in sports, under Bill Veeck, during Veeck's years as owner of the Cleveland Indians. As part of his training, Blake was required to keep the name of every player on every team in every minor league - and there were 56 minor leagues at the time - in his head.
Today, he has correspondents throughout the land, as well as overseas. ''There shouldn't be a player we don't know about, not in college, in the minor leagues or even in the foreign leagues," Blake said. "We get statistics here in all kinds of languages."
The top players, those selected in the first two rounds, generally are common knowledge. Gone are the days when Auerbach, on the say-so of Wake Forest coach Bones McKinney, who had played for Auerbach in Washington and with the Celtics, could make an unknown guard from North Carolina Central
College named Sam Jones the super-sleeper first-round pick of the 1957 draft.
Now, it's more a question of processing all the available information and determining which particular player fits a team's needs.
Among the questions scouts must answer about prospects on the standardized 76ers scouting report, two take precedence: "Does he have the ability to play in the NBA?" and "Is he coachable?"
"Billy (Sixers coach Billy Cunningham) just will not tolerate the problem athlete," Williams said. "He has no time for him. So we have to get a pretty good feel for the type of kid we're drafting as well as his ability."
Regarding physical ability, McMahon, one of the most respected talent evaluators in the league, looks first for "instinctive runners."
"I want a guy who can get up and down the floor," he said. "The first time I saw Maurice Cheeks, all he could do was take the ball to the basket. His coach wouldn't let him shoot from farther than 15 feet out."
The second priority, said McMahon, "is the ability to get off your shot when a defensive man makes you pick up the dribble, to create a shot in traffic."
The third, according to McMahon, "is one of those stats that somehow ought to be put in box scores: quickness to loose balls. That was what I loved about Clint Richardson when I first saw him. Things like that win games."
Scouting, in large measure, is really simply getting out and getting acquainted with knowledgeable sources. It is hardly a primary requirement for life as a successful scout, but it might say something about McMahon's gregariousness and his affinity for picking up scuttlebutt that he has never - in more than 30 years in the NBA - eaten a room-service meal.
Still, despite all the sources of information, sometimes access simply isn't available. When the NBA-ABA basketball war was raging, the Sixers, desperate for immediate help at center, sent McMahon on three clandestine scouting expeditions to central Florida to see a raw high school senior named Darryl Dawkins.
The era of drafting high school players is likely over now. But in 1975, Darryl Dawkins was very big, and very secret, stuff.
"Word started leaking out that we were interested in him. First of all, he started skipping the bigger high school all-star games, the McDonald's game, the Dapper Dan, and NBA people wondered why. Anyway," said McMahon, chuckling, "the result was that Bob Ferry (Washington's general manager) found out about Darryl, but Darryl's high school coach wouldn't let him talk to him. So Ferry wound up flying to Orlando, renting a car and sitting in it across the street from a playground where Darryl was shooting around.
"There was," McMahon said, "a lot of craziness back then."
Next year, when the Sixers hold three first-round picks, McMahon will be hitting the road a lot more often than was the case this year. Portland GM Stu Inman was speaking for just about every general manager and player personnel director when he said, "The draft is my World Series."
The World Series for potential draftees, other than those with blue-chip
college records, are the three major postseason, all-star tournaments - the Aloha Classic in Honolulu, the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational and the Chicago tryout camp.
Portsmouth, once a don't-miss tournament as far as catching players from smaller schools went, is now used primarily to assess the depth of a draft. ''Portsmouth is where you'll generally find second- to fourth-round picks," Williams said.
The Aloha is the big one.
"It's still the same as it's always been," McMahon said. "You get out there and, since most of the teams are eliminated from the playoffs by the time of the tournament, you find a lot of unhappy people. Everybody thinks all of their players are dogs. So, you get a kid who shows you a lot of hustle and you can fall in love with him."
Two recent examples of players who had lackluster pro careers after becoming first-round draft picks off their Hawaii play were Penn's Bob Bigelow and Southern California's John Lambert. "If you were to sell your soul to the devil," former Sixers coach Gene Shue once said, "you would have played like John Lambert did in Hawaii."
Some bedeviling top picks from last year:
At the top of most scouts' list is Atlanta guard Keith Edmonson, the 10th player selected. Though no one likes to draft a lemon, it can oftenhappen when a team picks below the 15th spot. At least there is the excuse that the crop was pretty well picked over by then.
There is little excuse, though, for an Edmonson, who appeared in only 32 games, played only 309 minutes, averaged 34.5 percent shooting and tallied 3.5 points per game.
Possibly the second-most disappointing player was New Jersey forward Eddie Phillips. His line: 416 minutes, 3.2 points per game.
Ricky Pierce, Detroit, played only 265 minutes and averaged 2.2.
Darren Tillis, drafted by Boston and later traded to Cleveland, played only 526 minutes, averaged 3.2 points per game.
Bill Garnett, the fourth player picked, four spots ahead of the marvelous Clark Kellogg, got only 13 starts for Dallas and averaged only 6.3 points per game.
The Sixers' Mark McNamara played the fewest minutes of any No. 1 pick, 182, and averaged 2.2 points per game.
St. Joseph's Bryan Warrick, the 25th player taken, the second on the second round, played only 727 minutes and averaged 4 points per game for Washington.
Some beguiling picks from last year:
Rod Higgins, No. 31 overall, averaged 10.3 points per game for Chicago. Russ Schoene, No. 45, averaged 6.2 points with the Sixers and Indiana and was the vital young player who was sent to the Pacers to clinch the deal for backup center Clemon Johnson.
Mark Eaton, No. 72 overall, was third in the league in blocked shots with Utah. "Tell you a true story on Eaton," Blake said. "He was working in an automobile garage when a guy from UCLA stopped in and saw this 7-foot (actually, 7-4) guy's legs sticking out from under a car. UCLA stashed him in a junior college, then he went on to the school and played something like 91 minutes while he was there. But, as they say, you can't coach height."
Rory White, No. 86, shot 54.3 percent and averaged 4.1 points per game for Phoenix.
And the leading success story of the last draft was Kansas City forward Ed Nealy of Kansas State, the 166th player drafted, who went in the eighth round. He not only was the lowest-selected player to make an NBA roster, but he also started an astonishing 61 games.
"In the first round," Williams said, "you are just out there with such high visibility that you tend to take players from established, name schools. You pick not to fail as much as anything. That's why, I think, we've had such success with our second-rounders. You're more inclined to play a hunch or go out on a limb in the second round. But you'll never see anything in the NBA like the Dallas Cowboys do with some of their little-known (first-round) picks in the NFL. There are just so few players available, so few jobs out there. Twenty-three teams multiplied by 12 jobs per team."
One sobering statistic, provided by Blake, shows exactly how top-heavy the
draft really is. Since 1976, the year of the pro basketball merger, 1,408 players have been drafted. Of those, 241 made rosters. Of those, 127 were taken on the first round.
"Two good drafts and your team can be competitive," Portland's Inman said. "Two bad ones, and you can be fired."
The consensus choice for the worst drafts of all-time were the Sixers' first-round selections from 1967 through 1971 (Craig Raymond, Shaler Halimon, Bud Ogden, Al Henry, Dana Lewis).
When Henry, for example, was drafted in the first round in 1970, he was told by phone, "Well, Al, you're No. 12."
"Twelfth round?" Henry responded, brightly. "Well, I guess that's not too bad."
"No, Al," said the caller. "You were the 12th man overall."
Second place goes to Boston, which at least had the excuse of picking low, in 1971 (Clarence Glover) and 1973-76 (Steve Downing, Glenn McDonald, Tom Boswell, Norm Cook).
In 1964, when there were only nine NBA teams, Boston took Mel Counts as the last pick of the first round. On the first pick of the second round, New York selected Willis Reed.
With the pick that immediately preceded the Sixers' 1978 selection of native Chicagoan Cheeks, the Chicago Bulls took New Mexico forward Marvin Johnson, who never played in the league.
On the flip side, in 1976, with what turned out to be an illegal pick - his college class at Pepperdine was not ready for graduation and he had not
applied for hardship status - Seattle took Dennis Johnson in the second round. There was little protest. No one had heard of Johnson, who has gone on to become a five-time all-star.
The all-time worst first choice of the entire draft was probably Chicago- Loyola's LaRue Martin, taken by Portland in 1972 on the strength of two superb games against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jim Chones. He averaged 4.6 points per game in four years.
The most startling recent first-round pick was the famous Lee Johnson of East Texas State, taken as the 17th player overall in 1979 by Houston. "Not even Marty had heard of him," Williams said.
"People hadn't heard of him," noted Blake, "because he was no good."
As far as sleepers who were still playing last season go, the Hall of Famer in the category is Randy Smith, the Atlanta guard who was a seventh-round local-yokel selection by Buffalo in 1971 but who went on to set an NBA iron- man record for consecutive games played.
Also, there was Milwaukee's Charlie Criss, who went undrafted out of New Mexico State in 1971 (Williams, then GM at Chicago, took Criss' teammate, Jimmy Collins, in the first round - 3.6 average in two years - and passed on not only Criss but also Nate Archibald); Los Angeles' Steve Mix (fifth round, 1969); Golden State's Mickey Johnson (fourth round, 1974); San Antonio's Mike Dunleavy (sixth round, 1976); Denver's Billy McKinney (sixth round, 1977), and Phoenix's Alvin Scott (seventh round, 1977).
Still, such finds are sufficiently rare that teams have picked, in late rounds, such people as women's star Lusia Harris and Olympic gold medal decathlete Bruce Jenner. In 1974, Williams picked his son, Jimmy, born earlier that day, on the 10th round. In 1977, he did the same with another
draft-day new arrival, son Robert.
"For me, the draft really is the World Series, it would seem," he observed.
Conventional wisdom is that the quality of a draft cannot be assessed until two years have passed, when the players have had time to develop. In reality, it sometimes takes far longer than that.
Some examples of how things, in Williams' word, "spider-web" in the
In 1976, the Sixers traded disgruntled guard Fred Carter to Milwaukee for two second-round picks. One of the picks became Cheeks. The other resulted in Wilson Washington, who was was, in turn, dealt for another couple of second- rounders, one of which became Richardson. "Two of our top three guards for Fred Carter," Williams said.
Also, the Sixers' 1975 pick of Mel Bennett in a special draft the NBA held for ABA players - the competing league was near financial ruin - led, in a labyrinthine way, to riches. Bennett was traded to Indiana in 1976 for a first-round choice that, four years later, became the spectacular Toney.
And in 1977, Terry Furlow (who died in 1979 in an automobile accident) was traded to Cleveland for two No. 1s. One of those picks, offered to Portland in 1980, resulted in the acquisition of guard Lionel Hollins, without whom the Sixers never would have reached the finals that year. The other, offered to Houston before last season began, clinched the deal for Moses Malone.
"You have to make sure you get players who can play in the league," McMahon said. "Because then they give you a chance to get other players later on."
Sometimes, you're never sure what's going to happen.
In 1976, five minutes before Golden State's first-round pick was due, GM Bob Ferrick went to the men's room - and fell dead of a heart attack. The Warriors, who had been unsure of whom they were going to take anyway and were in total confusion because of Ferrick's death, almost randomly selected Texas A&M's Sonny Parker, who went on to have several productive seasons for them.
In 1973, McMahon took part in his first Sixers draft, in which the Sixers had the No. 1 pick overall, courtesy of their infamous 9-73 season.
A COACH VANISHES
The night before the draft, then-coach Kevin Loughery vanished. "We even called the state police to start looking for him," McMahon said.
At 6 o'clock that evening, Loughery, who had coached the final 31 games of the wretched season, called to say he was taking the head coaching position with New York in the ABA.
"We were stunned, because we were very divided in our choice" McMahon said. "At the time, Kevin was very high on Jim Brewer, because he was a Wes Unseld-type player and Wes was thought to be the new thing in big, bulky guys around the hoop. I liked Doug Collins, though."
Loughery took his resistance to drafting a guard No. 1 in the whole draft with him. Collins became a four-time all-star.
The rest of the 1973 Sixers draft provided such longtime NBA players as Caldwell Jones, Allan Bristow and Harvey Catchings (drafted, mistakenly, as Harold Catchings) and brought the Sixers the NBA rights to George McGinnis.
"It's funny how things work out," McMahon said.
Marty Blake had put his caller on hold again. After a long interlude, he returned. "It was my son," Blake said. "He's the second-ranked tennis player in the amateurs in Georgia, but he lost last week in a tournament
because he wilted in the heat. He told me he's going to start running two miles a day to get into better shape.
"I don't care if he runs 10 miles a day or how high he is ranked," said the man who makes a living predicting such things, "it all comes down to, he has to do it on the court."
Originally Posted by PHIL JASNER, Daily News Sports Writer
'SUPERKID' GROWS UP 76ERS' MALONE PROGRESSES FROM PLAYER FEW WANTED TO ONE EVERYONE COVETS
Philadelphia Daily News (PA) - Friday, February 8, 1985
He was 19 years old when he first arrived in Salt Lake City, a 6-10, 201- pound kid who had chosen the upstart American Basketball Association over
He wasn't prepared to play center in the pros, wasn't willing, or even able, to look his coaches in the eye. From Dec. 2, 1975 to Oct. 24, 1976, his contract was shunted from the Utah Stars to the Spirits of St. Louis, to the New Orleans Jazz to the Portland Trail Blazers, to the Buffalo Braves to the Houston Rockets.
"And people wonder why Moses Malone sometimes appears confused, why he's so quiet, so reluctant to do interviews," said Pat Williams, the 76ers' general manager. "We all know what kind of force Moses is now, but it's easy to forget there was a time when just about anybody could have had him, and not many wanted him. A lot of basketball people had written him off. Nobody realized what was inside him, what he would become."
Malone, now the Sixers' horse, has won three NBA regular season Most Valuable Player awards, one Championship Series MVP and five rebounding titles. Sunday afternoon, in the Hoosier Dome, he will make his sixth NBA All-Star Game appearance (he was chosen last season, but was unable to play), his seventh as a pro. He will be 30 on March 23. He weighs closer to 260 pounds now, and even occasionally offers a piece of himself to the public, as he did in an ABC-TV interview last week.
"We got him in August of '76," recalled Portland coach Jack Ramsay, "but he came here to be traded. I was told we weren't keeping him, and from the moment we selected him, efforts were made to make a deal. But he was with us in training camp and the preseason, and by then I wanted to keep him. We had Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas (and would win the championship that season), and they wanted to keep him, too. It became obvious he was a great rebounder. I had had my doubts because he was a limited passer. I saw too many other things he couldn't do, but I remember telling the writers after our last exhibition game that I wanted to figure out a way to keep him."
It was too late. The Blazers' front office already had finalized a deal to send Malone to Buffalo for a first-round draft choice. The Blazers later dealt that pick and guard Johnny Davis to Indiana for the right to draft Mychal Thompson.
It wasn't until 1979 that Malone earned his first rebounding and MVP awards. What took so long? Who unlocked the vault, allowing him to emerge?
"Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise at all," Ramsay said. "Consider where he came from, with no college experience, with limited ABA experience. When he first came up, he was a poor shooter, a poor free throw shooter, hardly a perimeter threat. And a lot of guys, given those problems, don't get any better. Moses did.
"A lot of that came from his own determination. I remember that he would never look me in the eye. If I had something to talk to him about, he'd always look away, or down at the floor. I'd say, 'I'm looking at you, look at me so I can get a better feel whether we're communicating.' He said he couldn't do that. I don't see him much anymore, but when I do, I say, ' Moses , look me in the eye.' He laughs, but he does it."
Malone has terrific memories of his early days in the ABA. He arrived from Petersburg, Va., and was referred to by teammates as "The Superkid."
"That first year was fun, the most fun I've ever had as a pro," Malone said the other day. "I was tall and skinny, really played small forward . . . Gerald Govan was the big forward. We had guys like Roger Brown and Wally Jones, who looked after me. Other teams would get on me, tried to push me around, but I learned right away to never back down.
"Ramsay's right, though. I could never look a coach in the eye. Not even (the 76ers') Billy Cunningham. I don't look my mother in the eye, either. I don't know why, except that maybe I was so shy as a kid. It doesn't mean I don't respect or care for them. It's just something about me."
And Tom Nissalke, coaching then in Salt Lake City, had an idea that Malone had more lurking inside him than anyone had yet recognized.
"He got 36 rebounds, 23 offensive, one night against Denver," said Nissalke, who still lives in Salt Lake City, and operates a restaurant and scouts for the Los Angeles Clippers.
"But I also remember his first game with the Stars. We won, but he had 11 turnovers. I said, 'My gosh, we took this guy?' After that, he just got better and better. I had him in Houston later, and when he finally won his first MVP he thanked Rudy Tomjanovich and Calvin Murphy for missing all those shots so he could put 'em back in.
"He was shy and quiet, but he has a personality, too. The year the (Utah) Stars folded, he had missed the beginning of the year with a stress fracture. I've always believed, if he had been with us, we'd have been one of the teams taken into the NBA. But the day we closed our doors, the trainer told the guys they could take what they wanted. He (Malone) took one of those supermarket carts and carried out as many pairs of shoes as he could. He also took Ron Boone's jersey - Ron was out of town. I was driving past, I saw him walking down the street, pushing the cart, laughing. He was a kid, behaving like a kid. It was OK."
"I still have Boone's shirt," Malone said. "I remember that day. I went over with Goo Kennedy. We took everything we could. I always liked coach Tom (Nissalke) and coach Del (Harris, who later became the Houston coach). They were always good to me.
"I was young, still learning. I thought I could become a good player, but I never expected to be in the position I am now. I just played, hoped for the best. I never thought I was this good."
Bobby Jones substantiates that theory. Jones, now a Sixers teammate, played for Denver in the ABA.
"The thing I remember is that he was thin, playing on the wing, a good player, but not what you could call a force," Jones recalled. "I saw him as a forward, a guy with some maneuverability, but not as a potentially great center. That took a while."
And when it happened, Harris reaped the early benefits.
"I had been an assistant in Utah, so we knew each other," said Harris, now a scout for the Milwaukee Bucks. "When we went out of business, he went to St. Louis, his leg was in a cast, the league was in chaos, he didn't get a chance to really play. After midseason, they didn't even practice. For Moses , as young as he was, it was like a lost year.
"When he came to Houston, it helped that he knew Tom and me. Tom had me working with the big guys, and there were times nobody was supposed to throw him the ball. When I became the head coach, I put him in the low post and he just kept getting better.
"I had to laugh last year when (New York's) Bernard King went on a tear with those 40- and 50-point games, and people said they couldn't remember anyone doing anything like that. For some reason, nobody remembered 1981-82 when, for four-to-six weeks, Moses averaged about 40 points and 20 rebounds a game. We were 11-3 in February, and he was Player of the Month.
"At one point we won seven in a row and all we heard was that we hadn't played anybody good. Seattle came in with (Jack) Sikma and Moses told our trainer, 'Let me know when I get to 30 rebounds.' He got 53 points and 32 rebounds that night.
"There are always underlying reasons why players develop, and I was really happy whem Moses helped the Sixers win a title (in 1983), even though it meant we would fall to 14 wins, because he left us to join them. But he didn't learn to play that way with Philly, he did it with us, and he didn't become that kind of rebounder and scorer because of his limitations elsewhere, he did it because of the other players' limitations. I couldn't say that then,
because I had to deal with those guys every day.
"I look back now, we won 55 games by six points or less his last two seasons with the Rockets. Three straight years we qualified for the playoffs in our 81st - our next-to-last game. We never had a margin to work with, we never had a night to laugh. We had to give it everything every night. He did it for us. And he probably never understood how much he meant to me."
"Coach Del told me, after the '78 season, that I had gotten six votes for MVP," Malone said. "He told me to work hard, that I'd get more. I thought he meant I could be in the top 10 or something, but the next year I put on 25 pounds and I won it. Man, I never thought it would happen that way."
Somehow, in the midst of that development, Malone also found a way to lock
himself in a bubble, to keep himself in games. He hasn't fouled out since 1980, even though opponents frequently foul out trying to control him.
Is he the beneficiary of a double standard, or smart enough to use his skills that expertly?
"Superficially, it's supposed to be the same for everybody," Nissalke said. "But maybe subconsciously, it isn't. Guys who have reputations, who have been good people, who have a good rapport, get the breaks. I'm not saying that referees try to take care of people, but if Moses doesn't foul out, maybe it's for the same reason that pitchers never knocked down Ted Williams, never dusted off Stan Musial. Elgin Baylor, at his best, had a move where he actually would push the defender away to get started, but he wouldn't be called for it. Julius Erving never gets grabbed on dunks, and that's out of respect.
"And maybe part of it is because Moses is just a tough guy. He doesn't have what you could call unbelievable hands, there's nothing classic about his game, but he doesn't do dumb things, either. I don't know if he'd be a tough guy in a street fight, but he is on a basketball court. We used to keep track of the rebounds he got and the rebounds he'd try for. I was staggered when the stats showed he went after 65 percent of them. Say whatever else you want, that's a tough guy."