The Kansas CIty Kings Have lost another coin toss for first dibs in the NBA draft, this time to the Indiana Pacers - who'd like a Bird to trump the Kings' Birdsong.
Oh what a tangled web they weave. The New Jersey Nets should have lead-off selection by virture of the leadge's worst record - but long ago traded the right to K.C. Meanwhile the Kings' own first pick had been swapped to Golden State. Okay. Indiana tied the Kings for last in the Western Conference (31-51), giving it equal priority to K.C. 's "earned" spot - and won a draw with the Warriors, since they owned same. The left Pacers and Kings facing off by conference call, and the toss in New York GHQ came up tails for Indiana.
The pacers would like to telepathize 6-9 Indiana State forward Larry Bird into forgoing his senior year - as U. of San Francisco's 6-6 1/2 Winford Boynes will - and hope if he does, he has a better rookie season than last years' No. 1 from the same state, the Bucks' Kent Benson.
The Kings followed in '77 by taking Otis Birdsong who has come through nicely - and, of course, the Bucks covered their tracks in a hurry with the very next selection in the one (via an old trade): marques Johnson.
This year Pacers and Kings agree it doesn't much difference. Jerry Oliver, Indiana assistance coach: "There's really no No. 1 player graduating everbody wants. We might consider a player and trade. We have all kinds of options." Joe Axelson, Kansas City general manager: "There's no turnaround player out there. There are two players to choose from Phil Ford and MYchai Thompson). There are also a couple of underclassmen who would really excite us if they came out" . . .