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Make it funky (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday March 1, 2005 1:07PM; Updated: Tuesday March 1, 2005 3:50PM
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SI.com: Nov. 13, 1979, Kansas City Municipal Auditorium, 38 seconds into the third quarter you shattered the backboard glass, calling it, "If you ain't grooving best get movin'/ Chocolate Thunder Flyin' / Robinzine Cryin' / Teeth Shakin / Glass Breakin' / Rum Roastin' / Bun Toastin' / Glass Still Flyin' / Wham-Bam-I-Am-Jam!" You later arranged for some of the broken glass from the backboard to be sold at a charity auction. How much did it go for?

DD: Pat Williams, the GM of the Sixers, arranged that. We didn't know how much it went for but we knew it went to help some people. Pat Williams was a good guy.


SI.com: Three weeks later you shattered another backboard during a nationally televised game against San Antonio. The NBA commissioner's office told you if you broke another backboard you'd be fined $5,000. In the meantime the league was using footage of you smashing glass in its TV commercials. In your book, you called that "pure, unadulterated hypocritical bulls---." Do you see any hypocritical behavior you see coming out of the league office these days?

DD: I don't see any right now. I thought it was hypocritical when the league was trying to build guys into stars who weren't ready to be stars. I won't name names but every time you turned around they were doing bogus promotional stuff. But David Stern put the NBA back on the map. Now the league is using a lot more of the older players and players who can stay out of trouble. That's what we need.

SI.com: What did you think of the movie Shattered Glass about one reporter's rampant plagiarism that marred the high-brow political mag, The New Republic?

DD: I did not see that. I'm sure I would've liked it though if glass was breakin' and teethe was shakin'.

SI.com: You've never had a high opinion of Isiah Thomas. In your book you call him "selfish." Do you still feel that way?

DD: Isiah is not one of my favorite people. We don't hate each other but I ain't gonna jump off the bus to put him out if he's on fire.

SI.com: You've coached in the USBL and other minor leagues. Isiah bought the CBA for $9 million and drove it into bankruptcy. It seems that right around that same time the NBA started announcing its plans for its own development league, the NBDL. Do you think Thomas was secretly working on behalf of the NBA?

DD: No way do I think that. I think that he thought at that time he was a better businessman than he was. What a lot of athletes have to remember is you just don't start off being a businessman, you learn it. But the NBA was trying to help the CBA because the NBA was always taking players from there. I don't think Isiah was working behind the scenes.

The NBDL is a good league but I don't think the NBA would put another league out to bring another league in. If another league gets strong enough, the NBA will buy them out immediately. The worst thing you want is another league as strong as your league with as much popularity.

SI.com: As a New Jersey Net you had some of your best dunks, including the "Go-Rilla Dunk" (in which Dawkins swatted the ball through the hoop as if he were King Kong pawing at airplaines from atop the Empire State Building) and the "Dino DeLaurentis Dunk" (so named because DeLaurentis produced the remake of King Kong). But you said playing in New Jersey was like being in a "morgue" -- Nets fans didn't appreciate it. Why is that arena so dull?

DD: No public transportation -- no subways, no city buses getting out there to transport the people back and forth. City people can't get to the game. For people from Newark, it's gonna take them forever to get to the game. They needed a different transportation system to get people out there. At that time (1982-87), I think New Jersey fans -- unlike now -- thought "We're not Philadelphia fans and we're not New York fans" which means "We don't go crazy, we don't jump out on the floor and ladies don't jump out of their seats and let their dresses fly up. We are New Jersey fans." It's just clap, clap and sit down.

SI.com: Years ago I did a television show for the Nets and one thing I noticed was they kept the house lights on during the games. Why did they do that?

DD: They had to keep the lights on to count the people in the stands. They had about thirteen different owners. So each owner would try to count how many people were there so he knew how much money was supposed to get.

SI.com: You've said the Nets' "Super" John Williamson was one of the most underrated players in NBA history. What should people remember about him?

DD: They should remember that he was like a hemorrhoid. He could go right up in your butt. It didn't matter which guard he played against. He couldn't be stopped. Left hand, right hand, wrong foot, right foot -- no matter. Some of the best games he had, he didn't feel like playing in. He was gonna play against us one night in Philadelphia. He said, "I don't really feel like going to tonight," and then he gave the Nets 45. He was going in for a meaningless lay-up the end of the game and Mo Cheeks sprinted from half-court and blocked his shot. Harvey Catchings said, "Why did you do that?" Cheeks replied, "Nobody is scoring 47 on me." A better nickname for Super John would've been "Road Block" because you couldn't get around him, couldn't get through him and couldn't get a tractor trailer under him. Road Block would've been a heckuva name for him.

SI.com: You have been coaching minor league basketball with the USBL's Pennsylvania Valley Dawgs and the IBA's Winnipeg Cyclones, and have been named coach of the year twice. In order to prepare these young men for the NBA and for life, do you make Chocolate Thunder required reading?

DD: No, not really. You know what I do? I tell them to follow this rule: Do like I say do, not like I did. Because I know what will help them get there. I was just lucky and blessed.

Dave Hollander's book, 52 Weeks, a collection of his interviews with famous sports figures and personal stories about his experiences in sports comes out in Fall 2005 with The Lyons Press.