"If we don't make the playoffs, I'll be disappointed. If I'm disappointed, the players will be very unhappy.
"We'll either work together or die together.
"We're going to run and run and run and run. We're going to pick some teams up at the airport.
"I intend to teach the players—the hard way.
"I'll take a baseball bat and a carrot to training camp."
Except for forgetting the carrot (but not the bat) and failing to win consistently, Russell has lived up to his promises. Even before training camp opened, he was working with his two big men. First, he cut Jim McDaniels down to size. McDaniels is the alleged 7-footer who, Schulman had insisted, should play center last season. Russell measured McDaniels, found he stood 6'10" and listed him as such, thereby eliminating the assumption that he should be a giant pivotman and allowing him to move back to his natural position of forward. An off-season regimen of instruction by Russell has improved McDaniels' timid game enough to make him a starter.
Next, Russell switched his best player, 6'8" Spencer Haywood, from forward to center and introduced him to the complexities of the hook shot by having him fire up to 500 a day all summer long.
But it was not until preseason camp that Russell and his assistant, ex-Celt Emmette Bryant, began being tough on everyone. Each of the Sonics' two-a-day workouts ran at least two hours and 45 minutes and some lasted as long as four hours. They stressed conditioning and fundamentals so heavily that there was not enough time to install all those trusty old Celtic patterns. The Sonics still have not seen the One Play.
And practices during the regular season, which begin with 20 minutes of calisthenics, are hardly any easier. While Bryant organizes the drills, Russell parcels out tidbits of individual instruction and assesses penalty laps at the drop of a bounce pass. No Sonic runs alone. When one does laps, the rest go with him. That is Russell's way of teaching that basketball is a team game in which everyone suffers for individual mistakes.
At no time do Seattle players suffer more than after losing games. At the start of the next day's practice, the Sonics run enough laps to equal the number of points they yielded in defeat. Since 20 times around a basketball floor is roughly a mile, a 108-106 loss, like the one Seattle suffered at the hands of Kansas City- Omaha last week, means that practice will begin with a brisk 5�-mile trot.