Mr. McGuire was also kind of full of fight, however. He waved a sheaf of motel bills at Terre Haute. "They tell me to go to each player and collect for any extras on his bill. Can you see me going to Chamberlain or Arizin and telling them, 'You owe me 30� for phone calls.' "
Later McGuire was saying: "This team has now played four games. We should go right back to Hershey and work on our mistakes. Instead, we've got six more exhibition games in the next six days. Oregon for one night. Then California. I don't have time to be a coach."
"You ask me if Frank McGuire will succeed in the NBA," said St. Louis' shrewd Ben Kerner, who had come to see his team play at Terre Haute. "He's a fine addition to the league. No doubt about that. But he'll find out some things. He's going to learn it's not a question of how much basketball you know, but how much time you have to teach it, if you can. He's going to be responsible for a lot of things he never worried about before. He's going to find the travel hard. It's a young man's game. And it gets to you, too."
Beat 'em or join 'em?
Kerner should know. When his team is playing he sheds his suit coat, pulls down his silk tie, shrieks at officials and shreds programs around his feet until, by the final whistle, his confetti pile is knee-high and his blood pressure sky-high.
"You watch," said another NBA official. "Frank will get beat a few times by those ref-baiting coaches and you know what he'll do? He'll join 'em. He'll have to."
Then it was late Sunday night in St. Louis. McGuire visited his players in their rooms at the Bel Air motel, talking, encouraging, kidding on the surface, but actually letting them know of his interest in them. He had found out, for example, that substitute Center Joe Ruklick was a homesick newlywed. Ruklick's off-court interest is politics. "I told him I'd try to arrange for him to meet the President," said McGuire. "That pepped him up." McGuire didn't leave the last room until 2 a.m.
He also made plans to take the team out to dinner the next day. "We'll do that a lot," he said. "It's good to get together socially, so long as the whole team is present." He was asked how this might fit in with the Warriors' budget. "I think Gotty will understand," he said. "But I'll pay for it myself, if necessary. I feel it is important."
He reserved a table for the team at Stan Musial's restaurant. First he made sure his three Negro players would be served, St. Louis being one of those towns more integrated by law than spirit. "I don't want a private room, or to be off in a corner, either," he said. "We'll just leave if they try that."
Solly goes South