Motta: "That might be nice, if the players haven't other plans. Are you coming in before the game? Do you talk to them at the first game?"
Klein: "I usually do, but I've found it probably doesn't help, and it may hurt. The way I feel this year I could really get excited in there. You know, a Notre Dame pep talk."
Motta: "Yes, well, we don't give pep talks, don't do that. I think a steak dinner after they win sounds better."
Klein: "I think so too. I'll stay out."
Motta made a thorough study of the team and pro ball before he took the job and moved his wife and three small children to Northbrook in the Chicago suburbs. He was prepared. So were the players, who appreciated his emphasis on individual instruction and seemed impressed with his knowledge of the pro game. They respected Motta.
"He has an indirect way of telling you something and still getting it across," says Jim Washington. "It's impossible to make 12 guys on a club happy. There isn't that much playing time. But with this man, everybody knows where he stands and why he is or isn't playing. Dick lets us know."
The 7' rookie centers, Tom Boerwinkle and Dave Newmark, served together as Motta's pet project in the preseason rookie camp. Both were put through extensive weight training and muscle-building drills that trimmed 30 pounds of fat off Boerwinkle and added strength and stamina to Newmark. Observers who had seen the two in college last year were shocked by the transformations. Boerwinkle is much quicker than he was a year ago; if Newmark stops counting his money and improves his attitude, the two can become the Fee Fi and Fo Fum of the Chicago attack.
With the exception of the potential of the young giants and the consistent All-Star performances of Jerry Sloan, the Bulls have nothing much to look forward to. In the Western Division they may be hard pressed to beat out Seattle for a playoff spot. Nevertheless, Motta already has impressed veteran NBA people by his performance on the bench, his savvy and skill in handling substitutions, time-outs, matchups and the other, more esoteric elements of game strategy. He insists he has been surprised by nothing so far and that the atmosphere isn't any different from college.
"It's the same game, that's all," he says. "Just one thing bothers me—the attitude in the league toward new people. The feeling is always there. 'You're a rookie. Stay in your place. Don't rock the boat.' It seems they don't want new blood. I get it from coaches, players, referees, everybody. They're always testing me. It isn't that awfully hard in this league. It isn't that different. We don't have the best club, but I'll be O.K. if I can keep some fragments of sanity. Klein's trying to stay away. I know he is. If he lets me alone we'll be fine."
Motta's first trips around the league, accompanied by the red-haired young trainer, Jerry McCann—an amusing man and fine companion—have been entertaining and interesting. Still, there is the feeling that probably Motta misses the college life. The route to a major school's coaching job would be considerably shorter from Chicago than from Ogden; that may have been a factor in his accepting the job, and a big university may be his eventual destination.