SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
October 16, 1972
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October 16, 1972


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Kauffman read the story. The Kansas City owner is the epitome of the driving, ambitious executive—positive thinking is his creed—and Lemon's comment jarred him (the manager later said he had not been talking about retiring but only about "what I would like to do when I retire"). Even so, the dismissal seemed arbitrary and illogical, since Lemon's two years as manager were the most successful in the club's history.

One observer suggested the firing was the inevitable result of the conflict between the mechanistic techniques of business management (Kauffman's pharmaceutical company has been extremely successful) and the more casual methods used in baseball. Kauffman favors things like computers and psychological and physical testing. In Lemon, who has been in baseball since he was 17, Kauffman met, if not outright resistance, then at least a lack of understanding and conviction. Exit Bob.

Still, the owner may have opened a can of worms. When he said he wanted a younger man, he motivated the U.S. Department of Labor into wondering whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act had been violated. A Department of Labor spokesman said, "It is not necessary for Lemon to file a complaint, and he has not done so. We can take action ourselves if we see something. We read of the firing in the papers. It was interesting reading."

There seem to be two particularly noteworthy aspects to the wandering Rick Barry's return to San Francisco and the Golden State Warriors. One is the determination, bordering on obsession, of Owner Franklin Mieuli to get Barry back. Mieuli needs cash at the moment and he could have yielded Barry to the New York Nets for something approaching $1 million. Instead, he has taken on a player with fragile knees and guaranteed him $1,343,000 over the next six years on a no-cut contract. It's an iffy gamble. Equally remarkable is the comment made by Barry, a basketball gypsy who has chased the dollar from team to team and been an inspiration for other players to do the same. At the end of a press conference in San Francisco, Barry said blandly, "The exorbitant salaries for pro basketball players these days is amazing. They're getting out of line."


Henry Iba, the U.S. Olympic basketball coach who was harshly criticized after his team's defeat by the Russians (SCORECARD, Sept. 25), received an apologetic letter from Coach Lefty Driesell of Maryland, one of the critics, saying he had been misquoted. Iba was unmoved. "I told Lefty it had been my experience that newspapermen don't often misquote coaches," he said.

He defended his coaching methods. "There was nothing wrong with our plan," he insisted. "We just played poorly for much of the game. If I had it to do over again, I would play out the three seconds again, even though the game should have been over twice already. There is no way Russia can score in that length of time if the clock is run properly." He said stopwatch timing of the film showed that 4� seconds elapsed between the pass-in and the basket. He said, too, that instead of getting two seconds back on the clock after they called time, the Russian coaches should have been charged with a technical foul for running on the court to attract the officials' attention. He said further that international rules call for the clock to start at once if you have a man in the circle at the other end of the court, as the Russians did, but the clock did not start. He said the officials had no right to force a U.S. defender to back off from the man passing the ball in, which also occurred. He said the Russian stepped across the line when he threw the ball in. And he said a U.S. defender was knocked to the floor.

For all this, Iba said the success of the American appeal to the Olympic basketball authorities next February depends on the makeup of the board hearing the appeal. "If they're open-minded," he said, "I don't see how in the world they could fail to rule in our favor. But who will be on the board?"

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