Dave DeBusschere, general manager of the New York Knicks, says his team will be a contender next season with Patrick Ewing, but he’s not promising a championship.
“Don’t forget that Ralph Sampson and Akeem Olajuwon didn’t win the title for Houston in their first year, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t do it for Milwaukee his first year,” DeBusschere said.
What he failed to mention was that Boston won the first year with Bill Russell in 1956-57. Also, the Lakers won the first year with Magic Johnson in 1979-80.
It could be argued that Russell and Johnson joined better teams, but in 1983-84, when the Knicks were reasonably healthy, they took the champion Celtics to seven games before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Said Philadelphia scout Jack McMahon: “The Knicks were by far the best team in the lottery, with a good center in Bill Cartwright and the league’s premier scoring small forward in Bernard King.”
Add Lottery: Philadelphia 76er General Manager Pat Williams, after watching Golden State get the seventh pick, told Mark Asher of the Washington Post: “I’ll never forget the look on Al Attles’ face. It looked like he had been hit in the face with an ax handle. It was like he was saying, ‘We won 22 games and all we’re going to get is Jon Koncak or Joe Kleine.’ ”
Add Ewing: He averaged only 14.6 points for Georgetown last season, but Boston’s Larry Bird told Anthony Cotton of the Washington Post: “A lot of people don’t think he’ll be a good offensive player but I’m not one of them. He’ll be challenged a lot, but he’ll learn.”
Trivia Time: What do Mike Woodson, Greg Cook, Trent Tucker, Darrell Walker and Curtis Green have in common? (Answer below.)
Add Bird: Of Boston guard Dennis Johnson, he said: “D.J. is the best player I’ve played with. He was the reason we won the championship last year.”
Cedric Maxwell said Johnson doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he isn’t flashy.
Maxwell: “A lot of the other guys in the league are watching us on television now and saying, ‘I can play better than D.J., I scored a lot of points on him.’ But all those guys are home talking to their plants. D.J.'s the one who is here.”
Note: Johnson, Bird and Maxwell all have won championship MVP awards. Johnson won his for Seattle in 1978-79.
Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, on golfer Payne Stewart: “He’s says he’s got these 13 acupuncture needles in the ear lobes that hit special nerves. Yank the right side to fight stress; pull on the left to concentrate better.
“Sure, Payne, and if you jiggle both at once and cock your head at the proper angle, maybe you can get ESPN.”
San Diego Manager Dick Williams, on Steve Garvey: “When I managed Oakland, Reggie Jackson had some great seasons for me. And when I managed Boston, Carl Yastrzemski for one year was as good as anybody I ever saw.
“I don’t hesitate to put Garvey with those guys, not necessarily because of his power but because he hits in the clutch against good pitchers. It doesn’t make any difference whether Steve is ahead or behind in the count, either; you know when he’s really needed he’s going to drive the ball somewhere.”
Trivia Answer: Starting in 1980, Woodson (Indiana), Cook (LSU), Tucker (Minnesota), Walker (Arkansas) and Green (Southern Mississippi) are the last five No. 1 draft picks of the New York Knicks.
Dave DeBusschere, when asked if he had ever won anything before at a drawing: “I think I once won a set of club head covers at a golf tournament.”