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The NBA / Sam McManis : Ramsay Proteges: Suddenly, They Are All Gone

March 12, 1985|SAM McMANIS

Paul Westhead is back teaching college English. Jack McKinney is working as a scout for the Kansas City Kings. And now Jim Lynam is holed up in his Manhattan Beach home, watching the waves and wondering about his future.

All three of Jack Ramsay's proteges, supposedly astute basketball technicians who were tutored by Ramsay at St. Joseph's University, have been eliminated from National Basketball Assn. coaching jobs. Westhead has been out for two years, McKinney resigned under pressure earlier this season, and Lynam was fired by the Clippers last week.

The only one left now is Portland's Ramsay, and his team isn't doing so well, either.

What this shows, more than anything, is that the so-called cerebral coaches are no longer in vogue.

The coaches who have enjoyed the most success this season are Boston's K.C. Jones, Philadelphia's Billy Cunningham, the Lakers' Pat Riley, Denver's Doug Moe and Milwaukee's Don Nelson. All are former players, and most don't diagram plays that look like a map of the Southern California freeway system.

"I don't consider it a trend that the ex-players coaching are doing well," said interim Clipper Coach Don Chaney, a former player himself. "It's just one of those years."

Bill Walton, who played for Ramsay in Portland and Lynam with the Clippers, says he thinks it was merely coincidence that Ramsay's disciples are all out of coaching jobs.

"Jack Ramsay is one of the greatest coaches in the history of pro basketball, so this doesn't say anything about his ability or his former assistants," Walton said. "A lot of the skills I've learned have been taught to me by Ramsay. I know that Jack feels badly about what has happened to Jim Lynam and his assistants."

Add Lynam: In the wake of the firing, Pete Vescey of the New York Post wrote that Clipper players didn't care for Lynam's "haughty personality."

That doesn't seem too accurate. Sure, many Clipper players disliked Lynam's set-up offense, and many felt he couldn't relate to veteran players, but Lynam didn't talk down to them by any means.

Said one Clipper insider: "If anything, Jimmy wasn't tough enough on those guys."

Former Golden State Warrior center Joe Barry Carroll, who spurned offers by the Warriors during the off-season and opted to play in Italy, recently gave his first interview with an American journalist in almost a year.

Carroll said he consented to be interviewed to clear up "inaccurate" wire-service reports that said he was definitely going to return to the United States after the Italian League season ends in May.

"I'm getting reports on things I never said," Carroll told Ron Thomas of the San Francisco Chronicle. "No way I know what's going to be happening next year. Right now, my focus is on European basketball and living in Europe because they are both adjustments. . . .When this is over in another two months, I'll see what develops."

After playing out his option with Golden State last season, Carroll spurned all offers by the Warriors and received no offer sheets from other NBA teams. Carroll cannot seek new offers until after the playoffs.

But he told Thomas that "it's conceivable" that he might spend another season in Italy. It depends, naturally, on what offers, if any, he gets from NBA teams.

Carroll plays for a team called Simac, which leads its division and was a semifinalist of the European Cup tournament. Carroll said he still plays center but faces the basket more and has become more aggressive.

"Overall, it's been a positive experience," Carroll said.

Add Carroll: It's fashionable around the NBA these days to blame everything on the salary cap. So it wasn't surprising when Carroll said the salary cap was the reason no team presented him with an offer sheet.

Apparently, Carroll didn't think that he might have overpriced himself.

Some college coaches have snidely suggested that Georgetown could beat the seven teams that are expected to qualify for the NBA's first draft lottery--also known as The Pool For Patrick Ewing.

Al McGuire's response: "Baloney. They'd tap out by 30 points. I'm not trying to be cute, but Georgetown couldn't match NBA forwards in height or strength. Every pro team has three big guys to neutralize Patrick Ewing, and he's the best college player in the country."

Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton is not the best center in the league, by any means. But he most assuredly is the best shot-blocker. Eaton has 362 blocked shots and will likely break Elmore Smith's single-season record of 393 blocked shots.

To put Eaton's statistics in proper perspective, consider that his blocked-shot total is more than Houston's Ralph Sampson and Akeem Olajuwon combined .

"It's like shooting over two helicopters," Dallas' Jay Vincent said of Eaton's swatting arms. "Plus, he's thick in the middle. Ralph and Akeem are thin. You can at least see the basket. With Eaton, you can't even see it."

Said Eaton: "More often than not, when I want a block, I'll get it. But lots of times, the shots you don't block are more psychologically devastating. You have guys worrying more about me than making the shot."

Denver Nuggets veteran center Dan Issel, finishing his final NBA season, explaining the difference between today's players and those 15 years ago: "We now have 7-footers in the league who bring the ball up the court. Before, if you had a 7-footer that could walk down the court from one end to the other without falling down, you had yourself a player."

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