John Havlicek, who played and roomed with Lucas at Ohio State, thinks he sees some familiar signs in Jerry's revival. "When he went bankrupt it hurt him," says Havlicek. "He's a very ambitious person. I think he figures if he has a good season he can renegotiate his contract [ Lucas makes $70,000 a year]. There's a lot of money to be made with the two leagues competing. Luke has that old fire in his eyes—like he had in college. When he threw the ball up and it didn't go in he was amazed. I see this back in him now."
Lucas is still inordinately dismayed by his missed shots. Last week, as the Warriors made one of those routine NBA transcontinental treks during which they played four games in five days in four different cities, he complained first in Philadelphia about his eight-for-18 shooting against the 76ers. One of those that fell in was a tough tip that resulted in a three-point play for Lucas and gave San Francisco the lead it needed to sew up a victory with 2:10 remaining. The next night in Cleveland, Lucas was displeased with his nine-for-19 shooting despite his 21 points and 22 rebounds in another Warriors' win.
In a close loss in Seattle on Friday, Lucas scored 27 points, shooting .500 and displaying more movement on offense than pro fans had ever seen from him. Six of his baskets were scored on drives or with the running hook that was his trademark as a college center. On Saturday night the Warriors took over first place with a 92-88 win over the Lakers at home. Lucas again scored 27 points, had 17 rebounds and played a penetrating game. He tried only four long shots and scored on two of them while hitting on 12 of 21.
On the plane to Seattle, some of the Lucas ambitiousness that Havlicek recalls seemed subdued. "Business is not on my mind," said Lucas. "My vision is changed. I've got more time for my family and for myself now. Losing the restaurants might have been the luckiest thing that ever happened to me. I've got more friends now, real friends. I thought I had some in business in Cincinnati, but it turned out they were not my friends at all. I thought for a good number of years that I had to make a million. Well, I've made it and I've lost it. I don't think about it anymore. I've got peace of mind. Life is fun for once and my mind is freer than it ever has been."
Then he reached for a glass of white wine, took a sip and said, "You know, it wasn't until we moved to San Francisco that I got to like this."