In half a season, New Jersey Net Coach Kevin Loughery has been hit with 28 technical fouls, been fined $1,000 and suspended for three days and had a face-to-face meeting with National Basketball Association Commissioner Larry O'Brien in which he was told in no uncertain terms to shape up.
Also, Tuesday, O'Brien threatened the volatile Loughery with a possible $25,000 fine and indefinite suspension if he doesn't clean up his act.
"Itll try," Loughery said. "I'll try."
It is debatable if he will succeed.
Riding officials, ranting and raving, scowling and gesturing and running around in front of his bench is the Loughery style. His behavior has become Kareem Abul-Jabbar sky hook or a Dr. J dunk.
Loughery is a man totally involved in his profession and it shows. Nothing escapes his eye or goes uncommented on once the game has started. When things are going really bad for his team, he often seems to go berserk, totally out of control.
Not so, however, Loughery said. "I never get out of control. I played the game with emotion and I just coach it the same way. But as a player, the game with emotion and I just coach it the same way. But as a player, the only calls that really bother you are the ones directly related to you. When you're a coach on the sideline, every call that is made can bother you.
"My behavior isn't planned or anything like that. I'm just striving to win games and it's tough to do that in this league. You're always looking for every edge and break you can get."
O'Brien finally had enough of Loughery's antics and berating of officials when, after the Nets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 117-116, last Friday night, Loughery was quoted as saying there was a conspiracy against him. O'Brien called for the meeting.
Loughery said he never said there was a conspiracy against him, but conceded he said, "I think they (the officials) are out to prove something and I feel sorry for my organization. I think it's something they're trying to tell me."
Loughery apologized to O'Brien for his behavior and said he had no evidence that officials intentionally made calls against his team.
O'Brien issued a prepared statement after the 86-minute meeting which said that Loughery had been warned "in the strongest terms possible" to follow league rules in the future and was reminded that the commissioner ha the power to fine him up to $25,000 and suspend him indefinitely.
Loughery has taken it all in stride.
"It's all part of the game," he said yesterday. "My behavior is just something they don't want in this league and since I'm working in the league I have to abide by the rules."
He quickly added that he isn't going to be a "sit-down coach," though. "I'm not going to change my style. I'll always be up and moving around and talking. I'll just stay off the officials."
Loughery was a model citizen in Wednesday's game, a 106-99 Net victory over Detroit.
"I was good and we won," Loughery said. "What else can I say? Maybe it'll work all of the time."