Thursday, November 03, 2005

McAdoo Mostly DIDN'T, Until He Played With The Lakers

Let's play some word association, kind of.

I'll put some words together, and you associate them with a Pistons power forward.

Coach killer. Brooder. Malcontent. Lockerroom cancer. Talented. Potentially dominant. NBA Champion. University of North Carolina. Not Rasheed Wallace.

Aha -- gotcha!

The Miami Heat might slug our Pistons in the playoffs -- the experts say so, so it must be true -- but whether they do or not, the Pistons will look over to the bench and see the man to whom the above words belong: Bob McAdoo.

McAdoo is an assistant coach with the Miami Heat, and I still chuckle when I see him on the sideline, in suit and glasses on his forehead, looking like a college professor. For when Bob McAdoo played with the Pistons from 1979-81, he was about as much of a candidate to teach NBA players as Charlie Manson was to teach children.

McAdoo was a scoring champion in the league, a big, powerful man who could leap, rebound, pass a little bit, but most of all shoot. Lord, could he shoot. And I don't mean just in terms of quality -- I mean quantity, too. McAdoo never met a shot he didn't like. One season, with the Buffalo Braves, McAdoo averaged 29 shots per 48 minutes. That's a new set up for the famous joke: "And his arms were VERY tired."

By the time Dick Vitale, coach of the Pistons, focused his good eye on McAdoo in the summer of 1979, the forward was a member of the Boston Celtics but not truly happy about it. Prior to that, he lit up Broadway as a member of the Knicks, but wore out his welcome there, too. He was the playing version of Larry Brown. Anyhow, Celtics GM Red Auerbach had mutual feelings about McAdoo playing in the green and white, so when Vitale mentioned McAdoo, Auerbach must have nearly gagged on his cigar.

Anyhow, a deal was arranged: McAdoo to the Pistons, M.L. Carr and two first-round draft picks to the Celtics. Those picks, by the way, Auerbach turned into Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, through draft and trade.

Thanks, Dickie V!

McAdoo arrived in Detroit in September 1979, with a sour puss, a surly air, and about half an hour after his reputation. "McAdoo, McAdon't, McAwill, McAwon't," they said about him. It was one of the most clever lines to ring across the NBA, actually.

Vitale drooled when he imagined his version of Twin Towers on the basketball court: McAdoo and center Bob Lanier. But the two Bobs couldn't do anything about the rest of the wretched roster, and 12 games into what would be a 16-66 season, Vitale was canned.

The new coach was assistant Richie Adubato, and McAdoo had about as much respect for him as a wife for a cheating husband. McAdoo did his thing, though, playing about 36 minutes a night and scoring 21 points a game and snagging about eight boards and dishing off a few assists. They were good numbers, really, but they were almost 100% compiled selfishly. McAdoo wanted no part of Detroit, the Pistons, or Adubato.

The next season, McAdoo hurt himself -- his foot, I believe -- and he only managed to get into six games before GM Jack McCloskey shipped him to the Nets. That's when most of us who followed the Pistons figured we'd seen the last of Bob McAdoo.


McAdoo became a champion in LA

Not only was there a McAdoo sighting, there was a kick in the teeth that accompanied it. McAdoo ended up with the Lakers, of all teams, and he won a couple of NBA championships as a sixth man/Antonio McDyess type of player.

And he was happy and content -- finally.

Last spring I saw someone wearing a Pistons retro jersey from the lightning bolt uniform days of the Vitale era. It was a Bob McAdoo #11 special. I wonder if that person had any idea how much that made me grin inside.

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