Gene Shue, unable for the sixth straight season to shake the Washington Bullets from mediocrity, was fired as coach of the National Basketball Assn. club Wednesday and replaced by Kevin Loughery, team president Abe Pollin announced.
Shue, 54, compiled a 231-248 record since taking over the Bullets for a second time in 1980. The club is 32-37 this season.
Since beginning his coaching career in 1966 with the Baltimore Bullets--forerunner of the Washington club--Shue has compiled a 20-year record of 757 wins (third all-time) and 768 losses.
While Shue’s low-key personality earned him favor with his players, he never was able to make Washington anything more than an Atlantic Division also-ran. In his six seasons since he replaced Dick Motta, Shue never posted a record better than the 43-39 mark in 1981-82, and suffered through four losing seasons, including the current one.
However, defenders of Shue point out that Pollin has steadfastly refused to pay the cash necessary to land a true superstar through free agency or trade. In addition, the fact that the Bullets have hovered around .500 under Shue has prevented the club from earning a high enough first-round draft pick to grab a franchise player.
“I am both surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Washington Bullets,” Shue said late Wednesday. “I think everyone in the league understands the problems the Bullets have had this season. The job of a coach is to get the most out of his talent. I think I accomplished this.”
Loughery, 46, has coached 13 seasons in the NBA and ABA, posting an overall record of 284-438.