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Jack McCallum
November 09, 1987
Some inside points and outside shots that will give the reader a jump on the season
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November 09, 1987

Opening Tips

Some inside points and outside shots that will give the reader a jump on the season

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Let's see, would it be the sixth game of last season's NBA finals, when the Lakers took the title away from the Celtics? Or would it be the sixth game of the 1982 finals, when he won his first championship as the L.A. coach? Or would it be....

None of the above. Riley's most memorable game was back in 1961, when the Linton High team from Schenectady, N.Y., on which he was a star forward, beat Power Memorial of New York City 74-68.

"It was the greatest game in the history of Schenectady," says Riley. "I can even remember how many points I scored: 19." And he also remembers how many a skinny freshman named Lew Alcindor scored—eight. "Our home officials fouled him out," says Riley, laughing.

Who are the most frequent shooters in the league? Michael Jordan of the Bulls took a shot every 1.44 minutes last season, followed by Alex English of the Nuggets (1.61), Dominique Wilkins of the Hawks (1.66), Mark Aguirre of the Mavericks (1.67) and Walter Davis of the Suns (1.75). On the opposite end are Denver's T.R. Dunn and Portland's Caldwell Jones, who each averaged only a shot every seven minutes.


The Nuggets' Lafayette (Fat) Lever had an ascendant season in 1986-87. Without his 18.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and eight assists a game, disappointing Denver (37-45) probably wouldn't have won 25 games. Yet the Nuggets still tried to trade Lever after the season. A draft-day deal with the Bullets (Lever and Danny Schayes for Jeff Malone, Jay Vincent and a future draft choice) fell through because Washington wasn't able to draft UCLA's Reggie Miller ( Indiana got him), whom the Bullets felt they needed to replace Malone.

Lever's name has come up in other trade rumors, too. Why? Well, even though he's a big favorite in Denver, he's the Nuggets' most marketable player. Whenever the Nuggets try to put together the kind of deal that would make them a contender, the other team always asks for Lever.


"One of the stupidest things about this league is how nobody who ever wins a championship wins Coach of the Year," says Celtics president Red Auerbach. "They've overlooked Billy Cunningham, they've overlooked Pat Riley and they've overlooked K.C. Jones." (They, by the way, are the writers and broadcasters who vote on the award.)

In the past 25 years the only championship coaches to have won the award have been Auerbach himself in 1965, the Knicks' Red Holzman in 1970 and the Lakers' Bill Sharman in 1972.

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