Gene Shue, Maryland's own, had a good turn at bat out in Portland trying to persuade Bill Walton to come on home to San Diego and play for the reborn NBA franchise he'll be coaching this season - but here come Willis Reed, Al Attles and Billy Cunningham.
Reed and his New york Knick bosses began talks with the footsore and footlose, by mutual agreement with the portland Trail Blazers, league most valuable player yesterday and continue them today. Golden State's Attles and superior are due in Portland for same today and tomorrow, and Cunningham's cohort at Philadelphia. General Manager Pat Williams, tests the ground tomorrow.
Walton's spokesman, Jack Scott, remarked as things began unfolding in the wake of the break between the Blazers and the giant who led them to the 1976-77 NBA title: "The two teams that seem to be totally involved are Golden State and the Knicks. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but all four teams that we're dealing with have as coaches players who had extensive careers in the NBA and know first-hand the legitimacy of Bill's concerns."
Those are Reed, Attles, Cunningham - and Shue, who talked philosophies of basketball, basketball medicine and assembling complementary players for six hours with Walton, Scott and their lawyer John Bassett, after which Scott said, "Bill already had a positive impression of Shue, and that was reinforced." And, Scott allowed, San Diego is Walton's native territory - but hedged, "Both New York and San Francisco would be advantageous socially for Bill.
"Certainly a city like New York could accomodate someone like Bill Walton and in the Bay Area, Bill would just have to walk down the street to hear a Grateful Dead concert."
Uuuhhhhh, whatever happened to Marvin Webster? . . .
It's official, the Bullets are bound for a week's visit to Israel Sept. 4-11. Centerpiece of the tour will be a Sept. 7 exhibition in Tel Aviv, the NBA champs versus Tel Aviv Maccabi, Israel's national team. What held up the announcement was the possibility that the Trail Blazers would come along: Blazer owner Larry Weinberg finally decided to forgo the triP - who needs 'em without Bill Walton, anyway? . . .
As Hall of Fame inductions came around again at Cooperstown, funeral arrangements weer being completed in Phillipsburg, Ohio, near Dayton, for Jesse (Pop) Haines, a 1970 Hall inductee; he died Saturday at 85. A St. Louis Cardinal 1920-37, he won 210 games, lost, 158; peaked in the 1926 World Series when he blanked the Yankees, 4-0, in Game Three, hitting a home run and RBI single in his behalf, then held a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning of Game Seven, leaving with a blister on his right hand, three on base, two out - setting up one of the Series' immortal moments. Grover Cleveland Alexander's strikeout of Tony Lazzeri. Save, Alexander; win, Haines, who later in life won election to six successive four-year terms as auditor of Montgomery County, Ohio
Affirmed preps for next week's Travers date with Alydar by running the $35,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga today in his first race since winning the Belmont June 10 to Triple up. Steve Cauthen aboard after finding how the other 999 percent live as Alydar left his good mount, J. O. Tobin, some 20 Whitney . . . Pretty good fight card in Baltimore Civic Center tonight, Washington's Wilson Bell tries eighth-ranked middleweight Alvin Anderson of Baltimore after junior welterweight Dale Staley fights Clyde Pittman in a bid to stay unbeaten on the trail of old Prince George's amateur rival Sugar Ray Leonard.
Stan Tinkham, veteran swim coach hereabouts - he directed the Northern Virginia Aquatic Club (now Fun and Fitness) to prominence - is giving it up . . . Like father, like son, and young third baseman, 0 for 23 since being called up from Columbus where he was hitting .280 with 18 horners, remarked: "The longer you go without a hit, the easier it is to take." Howzat, Dale? "It's like Willie Stargell said the other day. If a guy gets 3,000 hits, he's got to get up to bat about 10,000 times to do it."
P.S. from Jack Scott: Bill Walton doesn't want his trade to result in the pillage of another team by the Blazers - "Bill doesn't want compensation that would decimate another team."