Before last season Fitzsimmons traded Maravich to New Orleans for 37 players, 26 draft choices and a partridge in a pear tree. His front-office troubles were thereafter compounded by the natural coaching hazard of controlling spirited youth. While Henderson impresses NBA observers with his maturity, he is, like Drew, no shrinking violet. "I was excited about coming into this league," Henderson will say, "until I realized half the players don't know anything about the game. We got vets who can't even stand up.
" Hawkins an inspiration? An idol?" he will say. "The trouble with the Hawk is he thinks he's 21. It's the night life. The Hawk's head gone Hollywood."
Last season Henderson and Fitzsimmons clashed over the coach's "cussin' out" of the rookie; at times Henderson stuffed a towel in his mouth on the bench to keep from laughing at his team's inept play. On the floor he never did figure out his young teammate, Drew.
"I hate the man's game," says Henderson, "but I encourage him. Once last year, on the break, he pulled up in front of the Philly bench and fired. Nearly kicked Gene Shue in the face. A 40-footer! I say, 'Hey, try and take it in closer.' Drew tells me what I can do. Against Houston I was running a play, and he bumped into me and called me a 'dumb nigger.' I wanted to kill the turkey on the spot. But he's better now."
For his part, Drew at 21 remains the same naive, effervescent and immensely likable kid he was last year when he debuted with 32 points and immediately told everybody to be sure to spell his name right on the hall of fame plaques.
When he can tear himself away from holding court with writers about his desire to star in an autobiographical movie, Drew waxes philosophical, in the third person, about his loss of the Rookie of the Year award (to Golden State's Jamaal Wilkes) and about his new playing schedule.
" Drew almost quit the game when he didn't win best rookie," Drew says, "because Drew deserved it. Then he felt, well, he just have more to prove this year. Now the fans, they get upset when Drew don't get enough time because they come to see Drew. It's like if you bought tickets to a Stevie Wonder concert and the Wonder Man didn't come on for an hour, you'd be mad, too.
"As long as we're winning, though, the man can get away with not playing Drew enough," he says. " Drew go along. Drew no fool when it come to winning."
Drew no fool when it come to talking, either.