McGuire started out of the dressing room and walked down the corridor to the steps that led up to the court.
"Basketball," he said, musing aloud, "is a game of mistakes. By controlling the ball you tend to eliminate some of the mistakes."
At the head of the stairs, he stopped and reflected a minute and then went on: "I was talking about discipline and what it meant to our style of playing this game. This discipline rules out the prima donnas and petty jealousies and animosities among the players. One time last year I sensed that there was something wrong among the players. I sent for Lennie Rosenbluth. I told him, 'Lennie, as captain, this is your responsibility. If anything is eating anybody on this team, you'd better call a meeting and thrash it out.' Well, Lennie called the meeting, and afterward he came to me and said, 'We talked things over, coach. You've got nothing to worry about now.'
"It's got to be that way. I've got to be happy when I go home from practice. We can't let one kid who is a pain in the neck spoil things for the rest of us. The players have to enjoy practice. If there is bad feeling or just plain nerves under the pressure of a winning streak—or a losing streak—we've got to do something about it. Last season, at a time when the pressure was greatest, the team and Buck and I decided to bring a record player to the gym. We practiced with a colored ball to music—Sweet Georgia Brown. It gave us a lot of laughs. It loosened us up."
McGuire thrust his hands in his pockets and stared at the floor.
"It took me a long time to learn little things like that," he said, looking up again. "When I started out I was guilty of overcoaching. And I used to get so tightened up that I had a bad effect on the kids. I had a terrible temper. I made a lot of mistakes before I learned to control it."
He smiled at a memory.
"One time in New York, when I was coaching St. John's, I was driving to Madison Square Garden with one of my best friends, Tom Paprocki, the Associated Press cartoonist. A cab cut me off at a stop light and I yelled at the driver. At the next light he cut me off again and I threw open the door and started out to get him. Well, Paprocki grabbed me and dragged me back into the car. Tom's a big man and he can do it. Then he gave me an eating out like I've never had before or since. He said I was a hell of a poor excuse for a coach. He said if I wasn't able to control my temper any better than that I had no right to be handling a team of kids. He said if his kid was playing for me, he'd yank him off the team."
McGuire whistled and hunched his shoulders as if suddenly chilled.
"I didn't speak to Tom the rest of the night. I didn't sleep the rest of the night either. But next day I called him and thanked him. He's still one of the best friends I've got."