For many a long year now, professional basketball has let some of its coaches get away with all sorts of antic behavior. They kick and scream and stomp their feet: they dash out on the court for loud debates with referees, and they incite crowds to huge commotions. This year the National Basketball Association shouted, "Hold, enough!" and said a technical foul will be called if a coach rises to his feet to vilify an official. There are even a few signs that the NBA means business and will enforce its policy. The other night at Madison Square Garden the steam-heated Boston Celtic coach. Red Auerbach, jumped up in his customary fashion to protest a call during an exhibition game. He had hardly straightened his knees before Referee Norm Drucker called a technical foul, giving the New York Knicks a foul shot and Red a $25 fine. Minutes later Auerbach rose in quasi-righteous wrath again and immediately found himself facing that grand and imperious "to the showers" signal that has maintained the decorum of baseball for half a century.
Mr. Auerbach, an excellent coach when not an agent provocateur, retreated to the far reaches of the grandstand, and the game proceeded peacefully and with no loss of interest. We hope to see this rule enforced just as rigorously during the season.
THE STOLEN GAME
Fritz Crisler, the University of Michigan's athletic director and former football coach, was musing about his favorite game the other day and decided that it has become too "stereotyped." Said Crisler: "Little by little, football has got to the point where everyone does the same thing. Maybe it's the fault of the NCAA rules committee. The old sleeper plays, the sideline and talking plays, the hurry-up huddle have disappeared one by one. Coaches spend so much time recruiting and watching movies that they don't have time to be inventive. With the current practice of exchanging game films, they don't need to be. Every time one coach does something a little bit different, everybody else knows about it in a matter of days, so what's the use? They watch so many movies you'd think they'd go cockeyed when they came out in the light."
We think there is a world of wisdom in that simple speech by the old coach whose teams racked up a 116-32-9 record. The exchange of films is a standard and valuable practice in pro football, which is a business; it is not so good for college football, which is (or should be) a sport.
MADE IN JAPAN
When an American pitcher wins 20 games he becomes a hero, his salary rises, he shaves and smokes on TV, he relaxes at poolside, he rolls around the banquet circuit and the next season he wins 9 and loses 14.
In Japan, however, where per capita baseball interest is higher than in the U.S., it signifies hardly anything to win 20 games. No hothouse flowers, the Japanese pitchers think nothing of starting every third day, and it is not until a pitcher wins 30 that he begins to get extra attention.
But even in Japan, Kazuhisa Inao is unique. He entered baseball as a teenager, won more than 20 games six years in a row. This year, at the age of 24, Inao shows a record of 42-14. He has appeared in 78 games for the Nishitetsu Lions of the Pacific League (a Japanese big league), and the team, which finished in third place, played only 140.
The immediate conclusion is that Inao should be rushed to the U.S. and suited up, but he thinks he is better off in Japan. There he is a national hero, and a movie was made of his life (Iron Arm Pitcher). Here the lead role would be played by Tony Curtis, and the next year Inao would win 9 and lose 14.