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THE NBA
Jack McCallum
January 21, 1991
PINING AWAY
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January 21, 1991

The Nba

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Does that mean Piston general manager Jack McCloskey will trade him?

No way. Not this season, anyway.

It was only seven months ago, after all, that Thomas was the MVP in the playoffs. Sure, McCloskey is not afraid to pull the trigger on a big deal—witness his midseason exile of Adrian Dantley, one of the general manager's personal favorites, to Dallas for Mark Aguirre in February 1989. But this situation is entirely different. The Piston veterans have been to the mountaintop with Thomas, and none of them, particularly center Bill Laimbeer, would feel comfortable making the trip with anyone else at the point.

"Most of the trade reports are ridiculous," says Mike Schuler, the coach of the Clippers, the team that has been most often mentioned in the Thomas rumors. "Personally, I think Isiah will finish his career in Detroit."

Ah, now that's a different story. If Detroit should fail in its quest for a third straight title, it's a good bet that McCloskey will shake things up, perhaps by moving Thomas. But it won't happen until Isiah gets one more chance to repeat the heroics he achieved in the last three NBA Finals. June, not January, is Thomas's time to shine.

CHAIN GANG

One of those silly chain letters, the kind that warns of ancient curses sure to befall those who break the chain, made the rounds of the NBA recently. The interesting thing, though, was the rich and famous hands the letter passed through before it arrived in the mailboxes of some ordinary NBA folk such as Orlando Magic assistant coach Brian Hill.

The list of those who received the letter includes, among many others, Don Hewitt, executive producer of 60 Minutes; ABC-News correspondent Pierre Salinger; syndicated columnists Art Buchwald, Ellen Goodman and William Safire; Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown; and Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee. Hill says that he is not on speaking terms with any of the above, though he has on occasion perused Cosmo when all the sports magazines were gone from the airline reading rack.

So, how did the letter enter the NBA?

The answer, as one might expect, can be traced to Tinseltown. The Laker part of Tinseltown, not the Clipper part. Pierre, see, sent it to Art, who sent it to Helen, who sent it to novelist Judith Krantz, who sent it to Laker general manager Jerry West as well as to novelist Jackie (Hollywood Wives) Collins. Krantz, a Laker fan like many other residents of ritzy Bel Air, is not a close friend of West's, but they are acquainted, and she graciously enclosed a cover letter to West when she continued the chain. In her missive, she rued the move of swingman Michael Cooper to Rome and forward Orlando Woolridge to Denver. "Everyone has opinions," said West, who has not read Krantz's best-selling novel I'll Take Manhattan, but who assiduously scans the NBA waiver wire, "and we're glad to hear them."

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