Mullaney, a former FBI agent who held the third best winning percentage of college coaches after 14 seasons at Providence, was fired by the Lakers when Los Angeles failed to win the NBA title in two years. There also was talk of discontent between the coach and Wilt Chamberlain. One night, miffed because Mullaney was not going to start him because he had missed practice the previous day, Chamberlain announced he was not coming out of the dressing room. He was coaxed out only after a talk with General Manager Fred Schaus.
But the Colonels have full confidence in Mullaney. "He's never at a loss for what to do," says Dan Issel, speaking after Mullaney made up a play in the huddle that produced the winning points in Kentucky's 113-111 victory over Pittsburgh.
The next evening Cincy Powell, the workmanlike forward opposite Issel, made some key plays, including a bust-out down the floor that culminated in an Issel dunk shot, and Gilmore came up with a loose ball and scored on a deft hook as the Colonels came from behind to edge New York by four points. That victory assured Mullaney that he would be the East coach in the ABA's All-Star game on Jan. 29 in Louisville. Ziggy won't be there, but the Colonels expect about 18,000 other supporters to show up, mascot or not.