I'm going to show you how to rebound on the defensive boards," said Wes Unseld. "I need a volunteer. You, come here."
The youngster, who was sitting on the floor, looked up.His eyes grew as large as the basketball Unseld was holding. "Me?" he asked.
Assured that Unseld indeed had picked him as the chosen one, the youngster walked over to the Bullet center. The rest of the youngsters at this first of the team's annual summer clinics had to laugh. One of Unseld's massive legs weighed almost as much as the lad's entire 4-foot body.
"I don't have trouble holding their attention," Unseld would say later. That was obvious. Anyone that big receives answers consisting of only "yes sir, no sir."
This, however, was a showcase clinic, one which didn't require any reminders to keep quiet and listen.
The youngsters at St. John's High all came from Morgan Wootten and Joe Gallagher's highly respected summer basketball camp. "If they didn't want to learn, they wouldn't be here by now," said Unseld. "They would have been weeded out long ago."
So they watched intently as Unseld gave a step-by-step demonstration of the art of rebounding, blocking out the 4-footer in the process with a flick of his knee.
Over on the sideline, Hymie Perlo, the Bullets' Barnum and Bailey man, who organizes the clinics, was delighted. Unseld, along with Phil Chenier and Larry Wright, the other program instructors, are among his elite clinic personalities. They are good and the youngsters love them.
"Ferry keeps trading away most of my best clinic people," Perlo was saying, referring to general manager Bob Ferry's player maneuvers. "I tell him he's going to ruin my show, taking my players away like this."
Right now, Wright is the star of that show. Many of the older campers yesterday were taller than the Bullet guard and that makes it easier to identify with him.
"They see me out here doing my thing and look at how big I am and they say, 'hey, if he can do it, why can't I,'" said Wright. "I think that's why they pay attention to me."
"I was at a clinic when I was in high school. It had Willis Reed, Jimmy Jones and others there and it helped me. It made me more dedicated to becoming a pro."
The Bullets' specialities aren't hard to figure out. Unseld concentrates on rebounding. Wright on ball-handling and Chenier shooting.
"What am I supposed to talk about?" Chenier asked the youngsters.
"How about defense?" No way, they replied.
"Teach us to shoot," one yelled. And Chenier did, explaining in detail something about fingertip control. It translated into swish, swish, swish.
The Bullets will hold nine more clinics, including one today at Friendly High school. Wright will make most of them, more than any of his teammates.
"I love basketball," he said. "I can't stop playing it."
How much does he like it? Well, his wife had a baby girl over the weekend and was coming home from the hospital today. After Wright finished with the clinic.