Sunday, March 1, 2009

Discovering that less can be more

If you're wondering how Stephon Marbury will fit in with the Celtics, this article draws parallels to how Bob McAdoo fit in with the Lakers of the '80s.

For those too young to remember Bob McAdoo, he's a Hall of Fame C/PF who played for 14 seasons in the NBA, averaging 35 ppg in 1974-75 (when he earned league MVP honors), and was a member of two NBA title teams.

[This video shows the greatness of Bob McAdoo.]

When McAdoo joined the Lakers in 1981, LA's roster featured a number of talented, savvy players: Kareem, Magic, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes, Kurt Rambis, Eddie Jordan, Jim Brewer, and Mitch Kupchak. The Lakers had won the NBA Championship two years earlier.

In LA, McAdoo "was seeking to resurrect a career that began spectacularly in Buffalo, was never fully appreciated in New York and plunged like Wall Street as he toiled for crumbling teams in Boston, Detroit and New Jersey."

Under Pat Riley, who took over for Paul Westhead as head coach 11 games into the season, McAdoo averaged 18 minutes a night for the Lakers in 1981-82, averaging just under 10 ppg.

He was frustrated, but stuck with it.

"They started Mark Landsberger over me, Jim Brewer, Kurt Rambis — guys I played against and dismantled. You know, you’re so young, and trying to understand the situation, but after you’ve been the M.V.P., the best player in the league, you don’t just get comfortable looking over your shoulder after a few minutes. At home, my family saw my frustration, my sadness, but I never gave in to the urge to complain.”

What McAdoo did in LA was prove "he was a team player. In the playoffs that spring, his minutes increased to 27 a game from 18. His scoring average rose to 16.7 from 9.6. Riley won his first coaching title and McAdoo a championship ring few people believed was in his reach."

As this NY Times article puts it, for the first time in his career, McAdoo "discovered to his surprise that less could be more."

And when his run with the Lakers ended in 1985, he made it clear that he appreciated the opportunity.

"I could have been bitter," he said. "Instead, I said the same thing to Jerry Buss, Jerry West and Pat. I said: 'Thank you for the opportunity to play with this team. It’s been a privilege.' And I meant it."

Ten years after he ended his NBA career (McAdoo played in Europe until 1993), Coach Riley hired McAdoo as an assistant in Miami, a job McAdoo still has to this day.

“I got two rings, made my career complete, and I’m still in the game through Pat.”