Jack Ramsay, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Bill Laimbeer will be in reach of significant milestones when the National Basketball Assn. begins its regular season Friday.
Ramsay needs 36 victories by the Indiana Pacers to become only the second coach in NBA history to win 900 games. The all-time leader is Red Auerbach, who coached the Boston Celtics to 938 regular-season victories.
Bird needs 2,217 points--an average of 27 over 82 games--to become the 15th NBA player to score 20,000 points.
Johnson begins his 10th NBA season with 7,037 assists. Barring injury, he will pass Lenny Wilkens, who had 7,211 assists, for second place on the all-time list. Oscar Robertson is No. 1 with 9,887.
Laimbeer needs to play in 61 games to move into third place on the all-time NBA list for consecutive games. Laimbeer has 646 games without a miss, trailing only Dolph Schayes (706), Johnny Kerr (844) and Randy Smith (906).
Expansion team coaches Dick Harter of Charlotte and Ron Rothstein of Miami join five other coaches who will be new on the bench this season.
Of those five, only Jimmy Rodgers of the Celtics hasn’t been a head coach before. Don Nelson of Golden State formerly was at Milwaukee, Don Chaney of Houston coached the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio’s Larry Brown was at New Jersey and Cotton Fitzsimmons of Phoenix was at San Antonio, Buffalo, Atlanta and Kansas City.
How does Rod Strickland, a rookie point guard who was New York’s first-round draft choice in 1988, compare with point guard Mark Jackson, the Knicks’ 1987-88 rookie of the year?
“There’s not much of a dropoff from a basketball standpoint, but there is a considerable dropoff from a leadership standpoint,” Knicks coach Rick Pitino said. “Mark Jackson is a born leader.”
Who had the most dunks in one NBA game last season? According to Philadelphia 76ers statistical expert Harvey Pollack, Portland’s Clyde Drexler had eight.
Philadelphia Coach Jim Lynam said the 76ers’ Charles Barkley has the potential to win a Most Valuable Player award and Defensive Player of the Year, as Michael Jordan did last season.
“His range of talent is such that if he set his mind to it, he could be among the leaders in steals and blocked shots and among the best defensive players in the league,” Lynam said of Barkley.
The Indiana Pacers were last in the NBA in free-throw attempts last season, with only 1,982 shots from the line. Every other team in the league had at least 2,200.
“It’s a problem for us,” Coach Jack Ramsay said. “Good teams get to the line a lot. It’s a serious matter. The two ways to get to the line are to post up and to penetrate. I think you’ll see us penetrate more, but the only good post-up player we have is Wayman Tisdale.”
Darryl Dawkins, who has played only 12 games the last two seasons because of injuries and personal problems, is trying to keep a job with the Detroit Pistons.
“He hasn’t been kidding around in workouts,” Pistons coach Chuck Daly said. “I’ve never seen him so serious. Maybe he needs the money. That’s reason enough for him to be serious.”
With the retirement of Alvan Adams and the loss of Walter Davis to free agency, Jeff Hornacek is the only player who has been with the Phoenix Suns for 2 years.
Golden State, picked to finish near the bottom of the Pacific Division, has a logjam at shooting guard, where Coach Don Nelson believes he has three of his best players in Chris Mullin, rookie Mitch Richmond and Otis Smith.
Consequently, Mullin is moving to small forward.
“It’s the only way to improve the team,” Nelson said. “Richmond couldn’t be more perfect. He’s the guy we hoped we were drafting.”
Dennis Rodman, who made 54% of his free throws last season, said he worked hard during the summer to improve on that figure.
“I worked with a shooting coach and he broke down my bad habits,” Rodman said. “My confidence is high. I think I can shoot 80%.”