Bob McAdoo is alive and well and living in New Jersey. But he is not playing basketball. Instead, McAdoo waits by his telephone and hopes that some team might be calling him pretty soon. If no one does by the All-Star break, McAdoo intends to make his retirement official.
The Lakers said goodby to McAdoo at the end of last season in a move that was made more for financial reasons than because McAdoo, 34, could not play well enough to stay around any longer. McAdoo would have been paid $979,000 this season, for what would have been his fifth with the Lakers, but because of the team's salary cap restrictions and also because his contract was not guaranteed, McAdoo was considered expendable.
McAdoo is not entirely pleased about how he left the Lakers.
"There are certain times you have to deal person to person instead of just business," McAdoo said. "I gave them four good years of my life and I think that should have meant a little more than it did."
McAdoo heard the rumors he would not be back with the Lakers during last season's championship series with Boston. At the time, he admitted to playing "paranoid," because he felt his future with the Lakers depended on how well he played against the Celtics. Now that he's had time to think about it, McAdoo isn't sure whether that was the right thing to say.
"That was a stupid statement on my part," McAdoo said. "I was foolish to say that. The kind of year I had and the kind of playoffs I had up to that point, there should have been no question whether I was coming back."
When the story was printed, Laker Coach Pat Riley insisted McAdoo would return to the Lakers, McAdoo remembered.
"Yeah, I know, but sometimes coaches just say things and other times they really have their hands tied," McAdoo said.
General Manager Jerry West enabled the Lakers to gain some maneuverability under the salary cap by not bringing back McAdoo. A team can replace a veteran free agent at 100% of his salary, even if a team is over the cap. With the money they saved on McAdoo, a 13-year veteran, West traded for Maurice Lucas, 33, and signed him to a new contract.
Actually, since the Lakers' second unit has shown a few problems with its offense, McAdoo wouldn't have been a bad addition this season, even at his age.
"Age is irrelevant," McAdoo said. "Kareem is 38 and he's proven that. I think I could play four more years. Especially when you see guys like Maurice, Bill Walton and Bobby Jones still playing, and I know I can still contribute more than all of those guys."
McAdoo said he still has hopes that Philadelphia will offer him a contract, but he said negotiations with the 76ers, who are also restricted by the salary cap, remain in the talking stage.
With only a little more than three weeks left until the All-Star break, time is running out for McAdoo. The NBA's Most Valuable Player in 1974-75, McAdoo led the league in scoring for three consecutive seasons. He has scored 18,493 points in his career.
Until he knows for sure it is time to retire, McAdoo said he works out on a regular basis to stay in shape. He said he isn't worried how the layoff has affected his game.
"The jumper is always there," he said.
When the Clippers were in Atlanta, rookie center Benoit Benjamin went on a shopping trip and spent $1,700 on shoes and clothes.
Benjamin bought 15 pair of shoes, two three-piece suits and also an overcoat, because he forgot to bring one on the team's seven-game East Coast trip.
While Benjamin took his purchases to his room, the team left for the Omni and Benjamin missed the bus. Coach Don Chaney fined him. Benjamin was also fined the first day of the trip when he missed the Clippers flight to Cleveland.
In a 20-minute press conference before practice Monday at Phoenix, Suns guard Walter Davis apologized to his teammates, then admitted that his abuse of cocaine and alcohol forced him to seek treatment in a 30-day program at Pasadena Community Hospital.
"My problem was cocaine and alcohol," Davis said. "Only one thing led to it and that was me. The scariest thing about it is knowing the disease I have has got to be worked on the rest of my life.
"I'm going to try and save Walter," he said. "I just want to come back and play and stay healthy."
Davis, 31, was released last Friday from the Adult Substance Abuse Program at the hospital he entered Dec. 12 for personal problems. The night before, Davis had scored 43 points in a victory over the Golden State Warriors at Oakland, but Davis claimed that there was no incident after the game that led to his seeking help.
"When I got up the next morning, I had this feeling that I wanted everything to be right like it used to be," Davis said. "You go through a thing of denial. You abuse yourself like that. It was affecting me, the way I played and my family. So I asked for help."