HEY, REALLY, I LOVED THE KID
Not many agile, sharp-shooting 7-footers who played at well-known basketball schools remain unchosen through almost two rounds of the NBA draft. One did this year—Brad Lohaus of Iowa. The Celtics claimed Lohaus on the 45th pick, or next-to-the-last in the second round. All the scouts knew that Lohaus can shoot, pass and run the floor well. Played for a smart coach, too, Tom Davis. So why wasn't he drafted earlier? Most scouts—Boston's Ed Badger clearly wasn't among them—said last spring that Lohaus wasn't aggressive enough and that he would get pounded under the boards in the NBA.
Now, suddenly, the unwanted Lohaus finds himself an important part of an important team. With Kevin McHale's injured foot keeping him out until at least December and Bill Walton out indefinitely, Lohaus is playing both forward positions and center for Boston. Either he or Fred Roberts will start at power forward, but even if Lohaus doesn't start, he'll get a lot of minutes.
And around the league there are a few teams—and more than a few scouts—kicking themselves for passing on Lohaus.
THE MORNING LINE ON THE ROOKIES
Here's a rundown on the status of the NBA's 23 first-round draft picks.
1. David Robinson, Spurs, C—Not a better pivotman in the U.S. Navy. Or the Army, Air Force or Marines.
2. Armon Gilliam, Suns, F—Looks lost. Maybe it's the heat.
3. Dennis Hopson, Nets, G—Needs time to mature, but probably won't get it.
4. Reggie Williams, Clippers, F-G—Meet the '87-88 Rookie of the Year.
5. Scottie Pippen, Bulls, F-G—The kid from Central Arkansas is holding his own in the Windy City.
6. Kenny Smith, Kings, G—Coach Bill Russell says it's Smith's team to run. And run he does.
7. Kevin Johnson, Cavs, G—Another rookie who might be quarterbacking a club.
8. Olden Polynice, Sonics, F-C—The right team for this tough guy.
9. Derrick McKey, Sonics, F—With Polynice, maybe the best 1-2 rookie punch, unless...
10. Horace Grant, Bulls, F—and teammate Pippen are better.
11. Reggie Miller, Pacers, G—Will take minutes away from John Long.
12. Tyrone Bogues, Bullets, G—Most interesting quarterback in Washington since Billy Kilmer.
13. Joe Wolf, Clippers, F—Slowed by early-season groin injury. Should help at both forward positions.
14. Tellis Frank, Warriors, F-C—Tell us, Frank. We're not sure yet.
15. Jose Ortiz, Jazz, F—Can be reached in Spain, where he's playing for the pro team in Zaragoza.
16. Christian Welp, 76ers, C—Unfortunately, there's no real magic here.
17. Ronnie Murphy, Trail Blazers, F-G—Thought to be a perceptive choice until he showed up looking like a blimp.
18. Mark Jackson, Knicks, G—Rick Pitino wants to work him in slowly, but hometown fans will call his name pretty quickly.
19. Ken Norman, Clippers, F—He'll play right away. You would, too, if the Clips drafted you.
20. Jim Farmer, Mavericks, G—Tough, versatile midsized player who fits the Dallas mold.
21. Dallas Comegys, Hawks, F—There may be a spot for him elsewhere.
22. Reggie Lewis. Celtics, G—At a great place to learn, but won't be tested for a while.
23. Greg Anderson, Spurs, F-C—He's gung ho, which makes him a nice contrast to last year's big rookie, laconic Walter Berry.
PAT RILEY'S MOST MEMORABLE GAME
Let's see, would it be the sixth game of last season's NBA finals, when the Lakers took the title away from the Celtics? Or would it be the sixth game of the 1982 finals, when he won his first championship as the L.A. coach? Or would it be....
None of the above. Riley's most memorable game was back in 1961, when the Linton High team from Schenectady, N.Y., on which he was a star forward, beat Power Memorial of New York City 74-68.
"It was the greatest game in the history of Schenectady," says Riley. "I can even remember how many points I scored: 19." And he also remembers how many a skinny freshman named Lew Alcindor scored—eight. "Our home officials fouled him out," says Riley, laughing.
THE BURSITIS FACTOR
Who are the most frequent shooters in the league? Michael Jordan of the Bulls took a shot every 1.44 minutes last season, followed by Alex English of the Nuggets (1.61), Dominique Wilkins of the Hawks (1.66), Mark Aguirre of the Mavericks (1.67) and Walter Davis of the Suns (1.75). On the opposite end are Denver's T.R. Dunn and Portland's Caldwell Jones, who each averaged only a shot every seven minutes.
THIS IS A BUSINESS...
The Nuggets' Lafayette (Fat) Lever had an ascendant season in 1986-87. Without his 18.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and eight assists a game, disappointing Denver (37-45) probably wouldn't have won 25 games. Yet the Nuggets still tried to trade Lever after the season. A draft-day deal with the Bullets (Lever and Danny Schayes for Jeff Malone, Jay Vincent and a future draft choice) fell through because Washington wasn't able to draft UCLA's Reggie Miller (Indiana got him), whom the Bullets felt they needed to replace Malone.
Lever's name has come up in other trade rumors, too. Why? Well, even though he's a big favorite in Denver, he's the Nuggets' most marketable player. Whenever the Nuggets try to put together the kind of deal that would make them a contender, the other team always asks for Lever.
RED ON ROUNDBALL, PART I
"One of the stupidest things about this league is how nobody who ever wins a championship wins Coach of the Year," says Celtics president Red Auerbach. "They've overlooked Billy Cunningham, they've overlooked Pat Riley and they've overlooked K.C. Jones." (They, by the way, are the writers and broadcasters who vote on the award.)
In the past 25 years the only championship coaches to have won the award have been Auerbach himself in 1965, the Knicks' Red Holzman in 1970 and the Lakers' Bill Sharman in 1972.
"I wouldn't really care," said Auerbach, "except the damn trophy is named after me."
WHAT MUGGSY BOGUES CAN LOOK FORWARD TO
At 5'3", Bullets rookie Tyrone (Muggsy) Bogues is the shortest player in NBA history. Bogues should take note of the following exchange, overheard in a Milwaukee hotel lobby last season, between a much bigger man than he, 5'7" Spud Webb of the Hawks, and a stranger:
Stranger (incredulous): You mean you travel with this team?
Spud: That's right.
Stranger: Are you the ball boy?
Stranger: Then why are you with them?
Spud: I guess I just love being around these guys.
THE PROBLEM: NO RUSSELLS
New Sacramento coach Bill Russell has three centers vying for playing time. LaSalle Thompson is a decent shooter and rebounder, but is only 6'10" and isn't a shot-blocker. Jawann Oldham is 7 feet, jumps out of the gym and runs well, but isn't a polished offensive player. And 6'11" Joe Kleine is a heady, back-to-the-basket player who can shoot and pass, but is immobile. Says Russell, "They're so different it's hard to believe they play the same position."
PERHAPS HE'S HOLDING OUT FOR A STATUE AT THE ALAMO
The Spurs invited Ensign David Robinson, the No. 1 pick in last June's NBA draft, and his family to take a VIP tour of San Antonio on Sept. 18 and 19. On the morning of the 18th, four members of the Robinson family boarded a chartered jet in Washington, D.C. The plane then flew to the Kings Bay, Ga., submarine base to pick up Robinson, who's stationed there as the assistant resident officer in charge of construction. When the Robinsons landed at the San Antonio airport, Mayor Henry Cisneros, 700 Spurs fans, state and local officials and a mariachi band were waiting. Robinson, who was graduated from Annapolis in June but who still must serve 20 more months in the Navy, was made an honorary admiral in the Texas navy. A helicopter tour of the city, some tennis and golf, and a fancy dinner filled the hours the next day.
The result of the weekend tour? Robinson still doesn't know whether he'll sign with San Antonio before it loses its rights to him in June, when the NBA draft is held and another team could select him. The Spurs also could invoke the league's little-used bylaw on retaining rights to players in military service, and get involved in a possible law suit.
BUT CAN BIRD DO THIS?
Detroit's Dennis Rodman, who got himself into hot water during last spring's playoffs with his comments about Boston's Larry Bird being overrated, can stand at midcourt facing his team's basket, palm the ball, throw it from behind his back and hit the rim, or be right around it, almost every time.
WHERE'S DICK MOTTA WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
There were six coaching vacancies in the NBA after last season, and four of them were filled by former coaches: Russell, Gene Shue with the Clippers, John MacLeod with the Mavericks and Del Harris with the Bucks. Only the Knicks' Rick Pitino and the Suns' John Wetzel (who had been an assistant with that franchise since 1979) are rookie coaches.
In addition, there are eight others who have been coaches at other NBA stops: Boston's K.C. Jones, Cleveland's Lenny Wilkens, Detroit's Chuck Daly, Denver's Doug Moe, Golden State's George Karl, Houston's Bill Fitch, Indiana's Jack Ramsay and Washington's Kevin Loughery.
AND MAYBE BENOIT BENJAMIN WILL BE MVP
For a team that won a league-low 12 games last season, the Clippers' preseason advertising campaign was optimistic. Even brash. You could even say downright ridiculous.
In one newspaper advertisement, the Clipper name was inscribed on a photo of the NBA championship trophy, accompanied by copy that read, "A long shot? No way." (Shue might not agree.) And in an obvious reference to the defending champion crosstown Lakers, the ad continued, "And follow our game plan as we wipe the smiles off some very famous faces."
SPEAKING OF BENOIT
In what is becoming an annual event, Clipper center Benoit Benjamin reported to training camp overweight and out of shape. Shue introduced a new approach to the Benjamin problem: indifference.
"I don't have high expectations for Benoit," said Shue. "He hasn't shown the consistency to be a dominant player, so why should I expect him to be one? As far as I'm concerned, he's a low-profile player. I consider him a project."
THE MANUTE REPORT:
After summering in his native Sudan and, thus, missing the weight-training regimen that helped bulk up his body a year ago, 7'6¾" Manute Bol, the Bullets' backup center, will begin the season at about 215 pounds. That's some 20 pounds more than he weighed when Washington drafted him in 1985, but about 10 pounds less than the relatively muscular 225 at which he played last season.
However, Bol did return to the U.S. with a new bride, Atong, from his home village of Gogrial. He reports that Atong, 19, enjoys cooking, which means Manute may stay away from the fast-food emporiums that served as second homes his first two seasons.
Atong is 5'7", tall enough to post up Bol's teammate Bogues but not to stand out in a crowd. Unless she's with Manute, of course.
RED ON ROUNDBALL, PART II
"There are only three teams in sports that have achieved true national status," Auerbach says. "The old Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys and us. That's not ego, that's just fact."
Please send dissenting opinions to the Boston Garden, not here.
SOME FINAL WORDS FROM FRANK LAYDEN
On the deal that added 270-pounders Darryl Dawkins and Mel Turpin to the Utah roster, Layden, the rotund coach of the Jazz, said: "They'll give our bench some balance. By that I mean that I was tilting it. So if we keep one of those guys in the game and the other one on the side of the bench farthest from me, we'll have a balanced bench."
LOHAUS MAY MEET BOSTON'S HIGH HOPES.
ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN
WILLIAMS COULD BE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.
AS A HIGH SCHOOLER, RILEY BEAT KAREEM.
EWING'S REBOUNDING BILL WAS A BIGGIE.
ROBINSON IS BUILDING IN GEORGIA, NOT SAN ANTONIO.
RODMAN: A QUICK LIP AND A QUICK FLIP.
BOL LOST WEIGHT BUT GAINED A WIFE, ATONG.
LAYDEN DID A BALANCING ACT WITH HIS BENCH.
THE CASH FACTOR
Based on last season's statistics and approximate salaries, here's a novel way of looking at how a quintet of top players were paid for their performances in 1986-87.
Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks, about $5,045 per rebound. ($2.8 million)
Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers, about $2,558 per assist. ($2.5 million)
Moses Malone, Washington Bullets, about $3,684 per free throw. ($2.1 million)
Larry Bird, Boston Celtics, about $2,290 per field goal. ($1.8 million)
Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, about $219 per minute on the court. ($720,000)