Bullet coach Dick Motta was describing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "Envision him in an airplane hanger all by himself, with no basket or anything to judge his height. And then just watch him move and run and dribble the ball between his legs.If you had no idea how tall he was, or who he was, you'd say to yourself, 'there's a nice 6-foot-5 player.'
"Now add a foot onto that and you have Kareem. "If I was an owner, and any player in the League was available, I'd take him. He is the best."
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-everything do-everything center of the Los Angeles Lakers. His playoff performance in leading the Lakers over the Warriors, four games to three, was remarkable. And because of his presence the Lakers have a good chane to reach the final despite Portland winning Friday night.[CHART OMITTED]
He is the closest thing there is to a one-man show in the National Basketball Association.
He led the Lakers to the best record in the NBA (53-29) by being third in the league in scoring (26.6), first in field-goal percentage (58 per cent), second in rebounding (13.3) and second in blocked shots (3.18).
And once the playoffs began he did even more. He led the Lakers over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinal series by averaging 37 points. 19 rebounds, five assists, four blocked shots and shooting 60 per cent from the field in the seven-game series.
In Friday night's game he had 30 points and 10 rebounds against Portland, but the Trail Blazers had too much overall strength and won, 121-109.
The second game of that best-of-seven series will be today at the Forum (WTOP-TV-9 at 3:45).
Portland, with Bill Walton, is the only team in the NBA that has a center comparable to Abdul-Jabbar.
Like the Wilt Chamberlain-Bill Russell battles of the past, Walton and Abdul-Jabbar are squaring off in a classic series.
Walton is like a coach on the floor. He directs the offense, plays intimidating defense, rebounds and sets up his teammates. Scoring is secondary to Walton.
Nothing is secondary to Abdul-Jabbar. If the Lakers are going to win, he has to do everything.
"I just had no idea of the things he can do and does," Lake coach Jerry West said. "He wants to win as badly as anyone I've ever seen and he plays like it."
"You gear yourself, or set yourself for the playoffs," Abdul-Jabbar said. "No matter how well you do in the regular season, it doesn't mean a thing if you don't continue doing it in the playoffs.
"He's gotten better because he's worked at it," Motta said. "He's added that turnsround jumper and some drives to go with his sky hook. He has good parents and has always had good coaching and it shows.
"There are a very few people who can make their teammates better, but he is one of them. Walton is another.
"If Kareem has a drawback it's that I don't think he's a dominant leader. He doesn't play with quite the charisma Walton does, but over the long run, I'd take him over Walton. You can depend on him. He doesn't get hurt and he's going to come through for you in the big games."