Motta knows that his critics will surely surface again, and that his livelihood depends as much on luck and the whims of a fickle owner as it does on ability. "I lost 27% of my peers this season," he says, meaning the six NBA coaches that were fired. And six of the last 10 Coaches of the Year—he was accorded the honor in 1971—have either been kicked upstairs or out the door.
Dick Motta is an intensely proud little man, and will remain so, no matter what the outcome against Seattle. He likes to tell of his first year of coaching at Grace Senior High, when he cut five players for drinking. The act infuriated the townspeople. The only barbershop discouraged his continued custom and he had to drive 10 miles to Soda Springs for his haircuts. "Two years later we win the state," he says, "and the first guy in the locker room is that barber, offering me his hand."
Did Motta accept it?
"I told him to get the hell out," says Motta.