By the end of the summer, Bullet officials and fans would be well acquainted with Scott Lang, one of the more enterprising new sports attorneys.
Lang represents Bob Dandridge and Tom Henderson, both of whom will be engaged after the playoffs in contract talks with the club.
This is no package, however. Lang and both players quickly point out that he bargains separately for each and that one's success is not tied to the other's.
"When I talk to them about Tom, Bobby's name doesn't come up and vice versa," Lang said. "I think I have been successful keeping them separated and that's how it is going to stay. The bullets realize that, too.
"We could have a stalemate in one situation and the other could be sailing along smoothly. That is how the players want it and that is how I want it."
Lang, 28, lives in New Bedford, Mass., where he combines a private law practice with a position as assistant district attorney for Bristol County, Mass.
Before moving, however, he worked in Washington as assistant to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and as executive director of the credentials committee for the 1976 Democratic convention. Later, he had his own legal consulting and business management firm while serving as a consultant to the DNC.
He became involved in sports law when ex-Marquette star Dean Meminger asked if he would represent him in the mid-1970s when Meminger was trying to play out his contract with Atlanta.
"I had met Dean at some alumni meetings in New York (Lang is a graduate of Mar- quette) and I got to know him on a personal basis," said Lang. "He was dissatisfied with his attorney and he asked me to help him. The whole area of due process intrigued me, so I said okay."
Lang said Meminger was the NBA's first true free agent under the current labor agreement between the league and the players' association. According to Lang, Atlanta had refused to offer Meminger a new contract and also had locked him out of training camp.
"We eventually got both the Knicks and the Celtics to offer him contracts," Lang said. "He signed with the Knicks. Then Atlanta was awarded a third-round pick for compensation, but we got that revoked because they didn't deal with him fairly."
That whetted Lang's appetite for sports law. He was ready to branch out when Henderson, who had heard of him from Meminger, and Dandridge, who was then playing out his contract with Milwaukee, approached him within a month about representing them.
"Scott is a good guy. He's fair and he works at his job," Dandridge said. "He's aware of what is going on in the world."
Said Henderson: "He's a straight shooter. He isn't in this to make money, so you feel he has your best interests at heart. I know that his dealings with Bobby and me are completely separate, and that's how we want it."
Lang represents about 20 players, although Dandridge and Henderson are the only two in the NBA. He works for a straight fee, no 10 percent of negotiated salaries, and he said he does not solicit business.
Sports law occupies only a portion of lang's time. Besides his private and public practices, he also represents a couple of labor unions, dabbles in civic projects, plays pickup basketball and keeps his hand in local and national Democratic politics. He is a recognized expert on delegate credentials, due process and party rules and regulations.
"After the 1976 elections, I decided I wanted to take what amounted to a sabbatical," he said. "I had to get an overview of where I was and where I wanted to go."
"So I got out of Washington and came to New Bedford to set up a practice. I wanted to get some trial work, to be an everyday lawyer so I could deal with the real world."
Lang describes himself as a liberal and an idealist. After agreeing that Dandridge should boycott last fall's training camp over a salary dispute, some Bullet officials also thought he was a troublemaker.
"I realize management is the adversary," Lang said, "but I'm not out to rob anyone blind. I am just seeking what the market will bear for each player."
"In Bobby's case, we felt it was an action we had to take in order to draw attention to his thoughts. They weren't taking him seriously, but now they do.
"With Tommy, it just doesn't make any sense for him to sign (a new contract) until after the season. He should see what the market will pay him first. But he wants to play here next year if it can be worked out."
Lang said he is "a very reasonable guy, but I'll use whatever leverage that is legally available to get the best contract. But I'm also not unrealistic. I don't advise anyone to hold out for the moon."