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OLD DAYS AND CHANGED WAYS
Alex Hannum
November 25, 1968
In his 20-year journey up from the likes of Oshkosh, the new coach of the Oakland Oaks has proved he can mold champions. Concluding his story, he gives his formula for success and details his plans
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November 25, 1968

Old Days And Changed Ways

In his 20-year journey up from the likes of Oshkosh, the new coach of the Oakland Oaks has proved he can mold champions. Concluding his story, he gives his formula for success and details his plans

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Kerr said, "No."

Bianchi said, "Arghhh." Or something like that.

"You've got to go back and tell them it's no deal," said Kerr.

Klein did just that, but Mieuli got tough and told Klein he'd make sure that Klein never made another deal with anyone in the NBA.

Klein took the bluff and the deal went through. As it turned out, it was a good trade for Chicago, and both Kerr and Bianchi almost immediately saw how a veteran leader and ball handler of Rodgers' talents could help their young team. It made the Bulls a draw that year too. Last year, though, Rodgers was dealt to Cincinnati, while King went on to make the All-Star team for the Warriors, and Mullins is now averaging almost 20 points a game. Both of them are several years younger than Guy.

The man I did not want traded was Wilt. But Mieuli's mind was made up. We were flying to the All-Star Game in St. Louis, and he told me point-blank: "He'll be traded before I go home." And he was. Philadelphia raked Mieuli over the coals getting Wilt. At least if he had waited till the off season, I think he could have made a better deal.

I don't know how much money, if any, was involved, but, any way you look at it, the Warriors didn't get enough in return. I just hated to give up such a great ballplayer so quickly, so arbitrarily. Besides, I like Wilt. We had our words at San Francisco and Philadelphia and once we almost came to blows, but we always got along.

Incidentally, I do not subscribe to the theory that I was the only coach who could ever "handle" Wilt. Wilt will accept coaching and he has tried, in his way, to cooperate with every coach he has ever had. What are usually forgotten are the circumstances. Until I happened to come along, Wilt had, since high school, been coached by a series of men who were all virtually without experience. At Kansas, Dick Harp had never held a major-college post before. Another rookie coach, Neil Johnston, had Wilt in his first year at Philadelphia. Frank McGuire succeeded Johnston and, although Frank had been a fine college coach, he had never had a pro job. McGuire wanted scoring records that year, and Wilt went out and averaged 50.4. In the playoffs McGuire asked for more balanced team scoring, and Chamberlain responded agreeably, going over 40 points in only three of 12 playoff games to help bring the Philadelphia team to within a bounce of the ball of beating the Celtics.

Then Wilt and the Warriors moved to San Francisco, where Bob Feerick—who previously had coached only one year in the pros, and that 12 years before—was named the new coach. Like Dolph Schayes, who had Wilt later on the 76ers, Feerick has only one fault: he is too nice. And Wilt is complex. He tends to respond to the situation, and you have to prepare for that. For one thing, he is reliably impossible in the morning. On the 76ers, Hal Greer was the same way. We called him "Bulldog." Wilt and Greer—the two worst guys in the world in the morning. If I possibly could, I just stayed away from both until after lunch.

Wilt can go through great moods of rejection, where he will be bitter and very nearly mean. But his natural disposition is to be warm and friendly. There have been several times when I saw him start to make a dunk and then suddenly withdraw the shot or just drop the ball easily because he saw some defender's hand in the way. He knew that if he carried the dunk through he was liable to seriously injure the other player. Once I told Wilt: "You know, maybe if you came down once and maybe broke somebody's finger, people wouldn't be so anxious to try to stop you like that anymore." But he wouldn't do it.

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