The NBA championships also had an interesting postscript. On June 15, two days after the Pistons finished off the Lakers, Rick Mahorn, the punishing forward-center for the Pistons, referred to himself at the victory celebration in Detroit as "the baddest Bad Boy you've ever seen." But less than an hour after the rally ended, Mahorn learned that he was no longer a Piston but, rather, a Minnesota Timberwolf. Mahorn, 30, was the second player taken in the NBA expansion draft, and he did not take the news well. After clearing out his locker, he stormed out of The Palace, declining to speak with reporters. "It was lousy timing." said Piston general manager Jack McCloskey, who didn't include Mahorn among the eight players Detroit protected from the draft.
The NBA actually had two dates for the expansion draft—June 15, if the final series went only four games, or June 22, if the series lasted five, six or seven games. Terry Lyons, an NBA spokesman, says the dates were set by the league's operations department in consultation with the 25 teams. According to Lyons, the expansion draft closely followed the playoffs to give teams as much time as possible to "fill the void" before the college draft on June 27.
The riches-to-rags scenario is not without precedent. Last year Billy Thompson of the Lakers was selected by the expansion Miami Heat just two days after his team had beaten the Pistons in the finals. Billy McKinney, the Timberwolves' player personnel director, was himself an expansion pick, going from the successful Kansas City Kings to the brand-new Dallas Mavericks in 1980. Referring to Mahorn's sullenness, McKinney said. "I'm sure I'd have the same reaction. In fact, I did."
Later this summer one of the most important positions in pro football will be filled. The job requires great stamina, excellent instincts and superb negotiating skills. Yes, a replacement for NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle is expected to be named before long, but that's not the post we're referring to. We're talking about the position of bus driver for CBS analyst John Madden.
As everyone must know by now, the exuberant Madden travels from NFL game to NFL game by bus because he does not like to fly. From July 30 to Aug. 2, eight bus drivers will compete in the Greyhound-Madden Challenge at a shopping mall in San Bruno, Calif. They will have to maneuver their mammoth motor coaches through a difficult obstacle course marked by tennis balls. But their final obstacle will be the hardest one of all: an interview with Madden. The drivers may be able to squeeze a bus into tight places, but let them try getting a word in edgewise when talking to the loquacious Madden.
JUDY JOHNSON (1899-1989)
Connie Mack once said of him, "If Judy Johnson were playing in the major leagues, there would not be enough money to pay him." William Julius Johnson, who died last week in Wilmington, Del., at age 89, was an outstanding third baseman in the Negro leagues of the 1920s and '30s. His best season came in 1925, when he hit .392 for the Hilldale club in Philadelphia, and when he retired, in 1937, he had an unofficial lifetime batting average of .344. In 1975 he became the sixth of the 11 Negro league players in the Hall of Fame.
After his playing days, Johnson was a spring-training instructor and scout for several major league teams. For the Milwaukee Braves he helped sign outfielder Billy Bruton, who became his son-in-law, and he was instrumental in signing Richie Allen for the Philadelphia Phillies.
A man of wit and intelligence, Johnson once wrote a letter to SI praising a story (Time Worth Remembering, July 6, 1981) about a reunion of his contemporaries. He concluded by writing, "Negro league players of the earlier decades unfortunately were not recipients of enormous commercial residuals and bonuses. We played for something greater that could not be measured in dollars and cents. The secrets of our game were to enjoy and endure."