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Milwaukee's assistant coach, John Killilea, who spent five years as a scout and an assistant in Boston, compares the Adams-Robinson connection to Cowens- Paul Silas. "When Cowens started shooting the 18-foot jumper from the high post and making passes to guards and forwards cutting the lane, we were winners. Adams does both of those things as well, and he's probably quicker than Dave. Now if Truck does his job down low the way Silas did, and with Davis in the corner, they'll be awesome."
Truck can't wait to get into gear with the Suns. Because of his publicized problems in New Orleans and the fact that he is now with his fourth team in three seasons, he has somehow gained a reputation as a troublemaker. "That's it," says Westphal. "You hear people say, 'Well, how come he can't stay with one team?' as though that means he's bad." In fact, Robinson has had legitimate reasons for each move. What's more, he is gentle, intelligent and well-liked by practically everyone he's been with. In Washington he was required to play in the small forward spot, opposite Elvin Hayes. "He's a big forward," says Ferry, "and the chemistry wasn't right. I liked Truck. I still like him." From there he was traded to Atlanta and in half a season he averaged 22.4 points and 12.8 rebounds as a big forward opposite John Drew. Hubie Brown believed in him, as he does now, and recently tried to bring him back to the Hawks.
"He had an excellent personality, fit in well and was a leader and an outstanding player for us," says Brown. "I'd like to coach Truck for the rest of my career." But when his contract ran out, Atlanta failed to re-sign him, and Robinson chose New Orleans.
"I came into a situation where Maravich was all the people knew. Pete, Pete, Pete. You couldn't name five players on the Jazz before I got there," Robinson says. "It was 'Pete and the rest of the Jazz.' All of a sudden I come in—a black player in the South—and it's Pete and Truck. A lot of people didn't care for that."
Nevertheless, Robinson gave his all last year, averaging 22.7 points and 15.7 rebounds, becoming only the third forward in history to lead the NBA in rebounding. His disaffection began after Maravich was hurt late in the season. "It was all frustration," he says. "I'd come in, put on my clothes, play 45 minutes, and we'd get our tails kicked, nobody'd give a damn. Then I'd go home and come back again for the same routine."
During the summer, Robinson wanted to renegotiate his contract, which still had five years to run. Management refused, citing its policy of not renegotiating contracts. That prompted Cronson, Robinson's agent, to make the statement about special rules for Maravich, since the club had renegotiated Maravich's contract the previous summer. Maravich resented being used as Robinson's lever and decided he wanted to be traded. Then management reversed its position on Robinson and offered to renegotiate, but could not reach agreement.
So Robinson pressed for the trade. He specifically chose Phoenix, a privilege he could exercise by virtue of his no-trade clause. "Me and Walter Davis?" he says. "A great high-post center like Adams? A shooter like Westphal? A quarterback like Buse? I could have gone to New York or Philadelphia for lots more money, but I could not find a team more perfect for me than Phoenix."