? Johnny Dawkins, 76ers. He says he has recovered from the ACL tear of his right knee that forced him to miss virtually all of last season. But some observers feel he has lost some fearlessness in driving to the hoop.
? Larry Krystkowiak, Bucks. The Milwaukee forward is realistic about the damage done by the various ligament injuries to his left knee, which forced him to miss 66 games of the 1989-90 season and all of the regular season in '90-91. "You've got to have lost something, whether it's a couple inches off of your jump or whatever," says Krystkowiak, who adds that the injuries forced him to become a smarter player.
? Danny Manning, Clippers. Manning, who injured his right knee early in his rookie season of 1988-89, makes an excellent point about the ACL injury: "The strength comes back before the confidence does." Manning feels that he's just returning to his presurgery level of play. Others around the league aren't so sure.
? Ron Harper, Clippers. Harper says he can do most of the things he could do before the surgery on his right knee in January 1990—"just not at quite the same speed." He puts his recovery at 85%, both in terms of quickness and shot-making. "And me at 85 percent in the air is better than half the other players in the air," says Harper. But most observers believe that Harper has been far more limited by the ACL injury than any of the others.
Watch Your Back, Calvin!
One part of Price's game that has not been affected by his injury is his foul shooting. And if he continues at his present pace, here's a safe bet: On April 19, the last day of the regular season, Calvin Murphy will be openly pleading for Price to hurl up some bricks.
At week's end Price had converted 170 of his 177 free throws this season (.960). That puts him just a fraction ahead of Murphy's alltime season record of .958, established in the 1980-81 season, when he converted 206 of 215 freebies. Another of Murphy's marks—consecutive free throws made in one season (78, also during 1980-81)—has withstood two stiff challenges recently. Boston's Larry Bird faltered at 71 on Feb. 13, 1990, in Houston, and Seattle's Ricky Pierce was stopped at 75 in Boston Garden last Dec. 13. Murphy is not the typical sports legend who gives it the nonchalant, records-are-made-to-be-broken attitude. Murphy cares and, moreover, admits that he cares. His attitude is refreshing.
Price is attempting about four free throws per game, compared with Murphy's 2.8 in his record season. Indeed, most of the top single-season percentage shooters over one season did not get to the line even that often: Rick Barry (.947 in 1978-79) averaged 2.1 free throws per game, Ernie DiGregorio (.945 in 1976-77) averaged 1.8, and Ricky Sobers (.935 in 1980-81) averaged 3.5.
Professors of the Pine
Are the NBA's best coaches necessarily the ones with the most job security? In most cases, judging from the results of this week's SI poll, which asked coaches and general managers to identify the man they thought was the league's best bench coach (i.e., the one most adept at making changes and reacting to situations during the flow of the game). A coach could not vote for himself, nor could a general manager vote for his own guy.