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The McGuires are a two-car family with a one-car garage. In the garage was one of the low-price three, but as he came out of the house and walked across the lawn, McGuire opened the door of a 1957 blue and white Cadillac. It was a gift last season (long before the Tar Heels became national champions) from students, alumni and other McGuire admirers in Chapel Hill, Durham and other parts of the state. Students—in the campaign that was organized by George Hogan, the travel agency man, and Obie Davis, the gasoline station proprietor—were not permitted to contribute more than a dollar, and most of the undergraduates, about a thousand altogether, gave quarters and half dollars.
( North Carolina newspaper editorials commented wryly on the McGuire Cadillac. Said the Charlotte News: "We certainly don't begrudge Mr. McGuire a single cylinder of his prize. He's a fine gentleman, a wonderful coach and deserves the recognition. We just wish that his less fortunate colleagues...could enjoy similar rewards. We understand Dr. James L. Godfrey is having an unusually good year in history, but not a whisper have we heard about outfitting him with a new car....")
As he drove along the highway leading to the university gymnasium, McGuire pointed to a supermarket by the side of the road. "I drove up there in this car the other day and two kids watched me park. One of them said, 'This must be a rich guy.' The other kid looked at me and shook his head. He said, 'Nah, it's Coach McGuire.' "
McGuire's income, if it does not allow for Cadillacs, is upper bracket for his trade. It is guessed to be about $12,000 after five years at North Carolina. (He recently signed a new five-year contract.) He supplements his salary with fees paid to him as instructor at basketball clinics and summer camps.
McGuire entered the gymnasium building on the ground floor and stopped at the equipment room where John (Sarge) Keller was hanging up the blue blazers and gray flannels that are traveling mufti of the basketball players. McGuire inspected them, wondered whether university emblems might look better on the jackets than the initials, UNC. Sarge thought the initials were better identification and McGuire nodded. He looked around and said: "Sarge, if Buck and I could run our jobs as well as you run yours, we'd never have any worries."
He stopped at the trainer's room to say hello to Doc John Lacey, expressed the opinion, mildly, that trainers were more important to a team than coaches were. This somehow led to a discussion of athletic hypochondria, which, it developed, is more widespread than people think. McGuire was reminded of his great All-America of last season, Lennie Rosenbluth (now a pro with the Philadelphia Warriors), who, he said, was inclined to take a dim view of his health upon occasion and to deplore out-of-town eating arrangements. Once, said McGuire, the team bus rolled up to a roadside restaurant where reservations had been made. Several players expressed admiration for the looks of the place, but Lennie (said McGuire) remarked: "It looks to me like a great place to pick up a case of ptomaine." Another time, McGuire recalled, Lennie developed a cough which he cultivated almost lovingly. In the dressing room before a game with Wake Forest at Winston-Salem, he achieved all sorts of weird and piteous sound effects with the cough as McGuire sought to deliver last-minute instructions to the squad. Lennie coughed bass, tenor and several voices in between, until, at last, McGuire stopped and turned to him.
"Lennie," he said, "that is the worst cough I have ever heard. You're obviously dying. Now I don't want you to die anyplace but in Chapel Hill. Get dressed, Lennie, and we'll call off the game and drive you home." McGuire put an arm around Lennie and went on: "My boy, I can't promise you that you will live to see the old school again, but I do promise that you'll have the finest three-day Irish wake in the history of North Carolina."
Everybody, except Lennie, laughed, and finally Lennie did too. Then he went out on the court to score 30 points as the Tar Heels beat Wake Forest by a score of 69 to 64. He didn't cough again all evening.
McGuire went on to the dressing room and put on his blue sweater and light gray flannels and sneakers, chatting with the players as he dressed. After the players had gone up to the court, McGuire said: "Maybe those boys weren't the greatest team in the world last year, man for man. But they were the greatest at playing together. They were a disciplined team. To play our kind of basketball, you've got to have discipline above everything else. Basically, we play the same kind of game that I was born to, that I learned from Buck Freeman at St. John's in Brooklyn. It's the New York, the metropolitan kind of game that concentrates on controlling the ball above everything else. One way of explaining it is to say that on offense we've got five forwards, on defense we've got five guards. We cherish that ball. We treat it like a gold piece. We take only the good shots and try to teach every boy to know his good shot.
"Controlling the ball is not freezing it. It's maneuvering for the right opportunity. Actually, we're not committed to the same degree of defensive play in every game. If an opponent is slow, we'll tend to run and shoot a bit. But against a team like North Carolina State two years ago we didn't dare do that. If we had they would have run us all the way back to New York. Now against Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain, I told the team they did not have to take a shot in the entire first half unless they were in position and Chamberlain was not under the basket. Eventually, we were able to draw Chamberlain out to where we wanted him to be."