"I have no
use for Buss after what he did to Jack. But Paul! Jack took Paul along
everywhere he went. He hired Paul at St. Joe's. When Jack got the Laker job,
the first guy he called was Paul. Then Paul is offered Jack's job, and he grabs
it—without a word to Jack. Nothing."
"And they had
been friends for so long," interjects Jane. "Always together. Always
"Yeah, it's a
shame what happened," Paul McKinney says. "To think of all the
hurt"—he stares at the picture of Jack smiling at The Forum—"since that
fall silent. A great melancholy appears to overtake them. They have been
profoundly touched by the misfortunes of their son, but there is nothing,
absolutely nothing, they can do to alleviate his pain.
Paul rises to his
feet, gazes out his front window and says, "And you should have seen his
home in Palos Verdes. It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. It had a
paddle-tennis court, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, shuffleboard, fruit trees." He
grins. "He had everything a man could want out of life."
A few hours later
Jack enters his parents' house. He is a lean, good-looking man with a high
forehead, crooked smile, thinning brown hair and a distinctive Philadelphia
accent ("at-te-tude" instead of at-ti-tude). Despite all that has
happened to him, his manner remains naturally gracious.
"Jack is one
of the finest men I've ever known," says Billy DeAngelis, who played for
McKinney at St. Joe's. "I think his best qualities were sensitivity and
fairness. He always cared about you."
It was this
sensitivity that impressed Abdul-Jabbar when McKinney was an assistant to Larry
Costello in Milwaukee. Five years later, when Buss mentioned that McKinney was
available to fill the Laker coaching vacancy, Abdul-Jabbar's immediate response
was, "Get him."
to the living room and hands his guest a beer. He then tells his 19-year-old
daughter Ann that when he'd been the coach at St. Joe's, his visitor had played
against his team.
did you play for?" she asks.