Kevin Loughery, whose Washington Bullets struggled to an 8-19 start this season, was fired Sunday and replaced by assistant coach Wes Unseld.
Unseld, a five-time All-Star and 1969 NBA most valuable player, will coach his first practice session today.
“It was personally one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my years in pro sports,” owner Abe Pollin said. “Kevin is one of my favorite people, but with the team playing as it is, a move had to be made.”
The Bullets, 42-40 last season in Loughery’s second year with the team, lost 8 of their first 10 games and already have had three losing streaks of four or more games this season.
Prior to the start of the season, the Bullets signed former NBA scoring champion Bernard King to take some of the load off Moses Malone and Jeff Malone. King has averaged more than 18 points, but none of the three is shooting better than 49% this season.
The Bullets have lost five straight games.
“I don’t think it’s too late for us to still be competitive,” Unseld said. “Whether we have enough talent to win consistently is still open to question, but we’ve at least got to go out and play up to our potential.”
Unseld, whose affiliation with the Bullets started in 1968 as a first-round pick out of the University of Louisville, played 13 years before becoming a team vice president in 1981. He became an assistant coach prior to this season.
“I think Wes will do a good job,” Loughery said. “He’s intelligent, he knows the game and he gets along with people. That’s really all you can ask of a coach.”