There was a disbelieving pause for a couple of seconds, and then great rejoicing. Center Chuck Everson said it was "like winning the national championship all over again." Massimino interrupted it just once—to extract a promise from his players that they'd paint his house.
Massimino's lawyer, Jerold Levien, told The New York Times later that day that more worldly matters—disagreements over fringe benefits in the deal—"turned the tide" in talks with the Nets. But Massimino discounts their importance. "I just hope and pray that people understand that this was something I had to do," he says. "In no way should it be seen as a negative against the Nets."
Indeed, Massimino wasn't so much turning anyone down as he was embracing the Villanova community. He has a solid power base on the school's board of trustees, and his team is poised to move into a new 6,800-seat field house before the end of 1985. "Rollie's a dominant personality and an absolute workaholic," says Dick Weiss, the esteemed college basketball writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. "He can be emperor for life on the Main Line."
Even without the Nets' largess, he'll have a bank account to fit the title. Massimino earns at least $100,000 a year from his camp, radio show, sneaker deal and appearances. And when he signs a new multiyear pact with the university this week (a handshake agreement has sufficed for the past three years), he'll likely be in the $150,000-per-year league. Meanwhile, the Nets will have to find some other coach to replace Stan Albeck, whom they had let go to the Chicago Bulls earlier in the week. They canceled Thursday's press conference and tried to assume a stoic stance.
A culinary postscript to the whole affair: Massimino shared pizza with his players on that Monday night. He had chicken cacciatore at a Rotary luncheon on Wednesday. And the fateful roast featured platefuls of spaghetti and fettuccine. Somehow, you knew that what the Nets had cooked up for their Thursday press conference, shrimp and Chinese flank steak, was all wrong.