Here's the scouting report on senior writer Jack McCallum as he enters his seventh season as SI's man on the NBA beat:
•He's versatile. McCallum has written about subjects as varied as Electric Football, potbellies and baseball chatter. Last year, in addition to doing news and feature stories on pro basketball, he originated a weekly notes column, INSIDE THE NBA. It returns for this issue—our NBA preview—and will resume on a regular basis in January. "I used to wind up in June with a notebook full of good information I hadn't been able to use," says McCallum. "We never had a forum for it. Now we do."
•He's productive. McCallum did the work of two people last season. While covering the NBA for us, he chased a professional dream: to chronicle a year in the life of an NBA team. The result is his forthcoming book, Unfinished Business: On and Off the Court with the 1990-91 Boston Celtics (Summit Books, $20.50), which is excerpted in this issue, beginning on page 148. Why the Celtics? "They were a team in flux," says McCallum. "They had some good young players, and they had a new coach in Chris Ford. There also was the allure of an aging Larry Bird and the presence of Kevin McHale, who you knew would bring a sense of humor to it all." McCallum began following the Celtics in training camp and eventually watched 50 of their games, in Boston and on the road.
•He's mobile. McCallum, to put it mildly, likes to travel. You may remember his nine-part series in 1989, An American Summer, an account of his vacation travels with his family around the country in a rented van. He has followed NBA teams to Europe and Asia and will cover the professionalized U.S. team at the Barcelona Olympics. He watched 100 NBA games last season, no mean feat when you live in Bethlehem, Pa. "Hey, you can get anywhere from Bethlehem," he says, a tad defensively. One Sunday last winter, he was at Boston Garden in the afternoon and back home that night, coaching his 11-year-old son Chris's basketball team to victory in a youth league game.
•He has a long memory. McCallum sheepishly admits that he met Ford long before beginning the book project. It was on the hardwood in 1966, when McCallum was playing for Oakcrest Regional High in Mays Landing, N.J., and Ford was a star for Holy Spirit in nearby Absecon. "Ford is probably the best player ever to come out of south Jersey," says McCallum. "We were on the same court, but we were playing a different game. I can recall guarding him, and he definitely scored in the 30's. I think he had 37, and I had five."
Now it's McCallum whose score is in the 30's—his stories fill a hefty 35 pages of the issue you are holding. No unfinished business here.
McCallum excelled at double-teaming last season.