Portland's Jack Ramsay, always unique among NBA coaches, has introduced a new term to the league's annual All-Star Game: defense.
While admitting that he expects a typical All-Star shootcut today when his West squad takes on the East, he added that his team won't neglect the two-way game.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of points tossed up," he said, "but I hope we willplay some decent defense, too. In the long run, that will probably determine the outcome of the game."
Of course, the sellout crowd at the Omni and the television viewers watching the 1:45 p.m. game (WTOP-9) would much rather see slam dunks, sky leaps, fast breaks and maybe an occasional blocked shot or two. Don't think the players aren't aware of this desire to see showmanship.
"Everyone wants to have a good time," said Washington's Elvin Hayes, a last-minute addition to the East team, replacing the injured Billy Knight. "You always want to win but this is a showcase type of thing, too."
Hayes had been upset because no Bullet was selected to the game, either by fans or coaches. He hasn't changed his mind since being added to the squad.
"The fans aren't voting for skill, but for popularity," he said. "Some places stuff the ballot boxes. We had one of the league's best records when the voting was concluded and still no one was picked. That doesn't make sense."
Still, most of the leagues best talent will be displayed, ranging from the East's Julius Erving to the West's David Thompson.
East starter Larry Kenon did not show up for practice yesterday, but is expected for the game. If he missed it his starting spot most likely would go to Hayes.
Doug Collins of the Philadephia 76ers will replace injured Pete Maravich on the East guard line. Other East starters will be Irving at forward, Dave Cowens of the Celtics at center and George Gervin of San Antonio at guard.
The West will start Rick Barry of Goldern State and Maurice Lucas of Portland at forward, Bill Walton of Portland at center, and Thompson and paul Westphal of Phoenix at guard.
As usual, the West has an advantage at center, where Walton will be relieved by Bob Lanier of Detroit and Artis Gilmor of Chicago. Cowens, Bob McAdon of New York and probably Moses Malone of Houston will be the East centers.
Missing from the game will be Kareem Abdual Jabbar, who still managed to get his picture on the cover of the press kit. He was not voted onto the team because a broken hand sidelined him one-third of the season.
"You don't do much coaching with these teams," Ramsay said. "You just go over a few basics and then let them play. With this much talent, you don't have to do a whole lot."
One NBA executive estimated the combined salaries of the players here at $6 million. Someone else did a bio rhythm study and decided that Kenon and Malone will have great games but Barry, McAdao and Lionel Hollins of Portland better watch out; they are at the lowest cycles possible.
This will be John Havdeck's 13th and final All Star appearance. He was named to replace Maravich. Commissioner Lawrence O'Brien evidently hoped East Coach Billy Cunningham would start him, but Cunningham opted for Collons, his own player and No. 3 in the guard voting in the east.
The league's board of governors yesterday vote 1 to start a pension plan for general managers, coaches and trainers. Bullet Coach Dick Motta has long advocated this. "At least it gives us some security," Motta said. "You can coach for 10 years, get fired and not get a penny in retirement income for it.
The NBA approved Buffalo businessman Harry Mangurian's acquisition of 50 per cent of the Buffalo Braves. John Y. Brown owns the other half. The approval should help keep the Braves in the city.