Leonard Robinson's memories of the Washington Bullets are not fond ones.
"I'm just glad I got out of there when I did," the 6-foot-7 forward said on the eve of his first game against his old teammates since being traded to Atlanta for Tom Henderson Jan. 50. The Bullets play the Hawks tonight at the Omni (8 p.m., WTOP-TV-9).
"The problems we had were selfishness problems," Robinson said of the Bullets, who got off to a 12-16 start this season. "We were playing against each other a lot. We were beating ourselves, Wes (Unseld) and E. (Elvin Hayes) were used to getting 1,000 rebounds a year and then I came in and they started getting less. And sometimes Phil (Chenier) would get upset if he wasn't scoring enough. We had a lot of people thinking too much about their stats."
Robinson, a natural big forward, was forced to play small forward and felt he was being blamed by Coach Dick Motta and others for the Bullets' early-season woes.
He and Hayes didn't get along well.
"I don't have anything against E," Robinson said. "It's just that E is used to being the big star and getting all of the points, all the rebounds and all the press. He wasn't used to other people getting the glory."
Tonight's Robinson-Hayes matchup should be interesting. Their styles are strikingly similar and if anyone knows how to play Hayes, it should be Robinson.
"I've played with him and against him in practice for 2 1/2 years. There aren't any secrets on how to play him," Robinson said, not particularly impressed that Hayes has scored 84 points in the Bullets' last two games. "You just have to make him work for everything. Don't let him get anything easy. Whenever you make E work hard at both ends of the floor, the Bullets are in trouble.
"I know he's on a tear and playing the best he has in his career, but I've had bigger assignments than guarding E before," Robinson added.
While Hayes has been setting the National Basketball Association afire, Robinson has been quietly making Atlanta respectable.
Hayes is averaging 24 points a game, seventh best in the NBA, and is fifth in the league in rebounds and third in blocked shots.
In the 17 games he has been with the Hawks, Robinson, playing an average of 40 minutes a game is scoring 21.7 points a game while shooting 50.3 per cent. He also is averaging 12.3 rebounds.
Saturday against San Antonio, he had his best game as a pro with 34 points and 20 rebounds. In the Hawks' last game, a 94-92 loss to Los Angeles Tuesday, Robinson scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. The Hawks were 16-30 at the time he came aboard and have gone 9-8 since.
The Bullets are the hottest team in the NBA, having won 24 of their last 31 games. They lead the Central Division by 2 1/2 games and are 14-5 since the Robinson trade.
Robinson noted that the Bullets didn't start winning when he left. They had won nine of 11 at the time of the trade and just kept on winning.
"It'll be fun," Robinson said of tonight's game, "I'll be hollering at Dave (Bing, his friend over there, although he probably won't be playing, which is stupid. It'll be almost like a scrimmage for me."
"I like it down here," Robinson added." I like coach Hubie Brown too. He lets me play my game. He's given me more freedom than my last two coaches did.
"I'm closer to the basket so I'm rebounding a lot better, too."
Robinson has teamed with John Drew to give the Hawks one of the game's most interesting pair of forwards.
"A lot of guys who used to play him have to play me now, which means a lot of weaker forwards are on him and the weak ones can't stop him," Robinson said.
Drew is averaging 23.1 points a game for the season and 30 points a game for the last eight.
The other Atlanta starters are center Joe Meriweather and guards Ken Charles and Armond Hill.
Hill, a rookie from Princeton, has taken over Henderson's playmaking role and has averaged nine assists a game the past month.
Robinson added that he has no hard feelings as far as the Bullets are concerned and said he is "totally through with them. I'm going all out to try and beat them." He added that whatever problems he had with Motta were not that severe.
"He was the first white coach I ever had," Robinson said," and I don't know what that might have had to do with what went on. I know I spoke right our when I thought I had to, and he didn't like that."