Terry Furlow is a media freak. The mouth of the Hawks loves seeing his name in the paper. Not just in the itty-bitty type of box scores. He wants the big, bold type that newspapers use for World Wars and increases in the price of hamburger. 'CHEAP SHOTS' FROM FURLOW ANGER BULLETS, yesterday's Post screamed.
Furlow hadn't been in town five minutes yesterday when he said. "I read that, yeah." He smiled proudly. And then he said he wanted to set the record straight on a couple of things.
One, he didn't mean Elvin Hayes always has been "a cheap-shot artist," as he called him -- only in the sixth playoff game; and Wes Unseld hasn't bullied his way through the NBA forever -- "only for a long while."
What Furlow mainly wanted to clear up is the idea his mouth operates independently of his brain. If Kevin Grevey feels Furlow has characterized the Bullet guards as dogs, Furlow doesn't want Grevey to take it personally. All of Furlow's yammerings, he says, are part of a grand scheme designed to discombobulate the Bullets.
"I'm sorry if people feel I'm shooting my mouth off," Furlow said, not sorry at all. "To me, all this is, is building a psychological edge on an opponent. It is unfortunate that people don't understand the concept of verbal aggression. If I can gain an edge psychologically by saying something, I will. These guys are the world champions. I'm trying to put pressure on them."
Who is Terry Furlow and why is he saying these terrible things about the Bullets? 'See KINDRED,
"He's an immature part of your anatomy," said a man who knows the Hawks, not using those exact words.
"Maybe he's like Dr. Pepper: he's misunderstood," said a man who knew Furlow in Cleveland, where he played for the Cavaliers. "The way he shows his enthusiasm has been misinterpreted as arrogance. "I think he is fun and a nice guy."
"Terry talks and then he thinks," said a Cleveland newspaperman. "And then he talks some more. He's great for newspapers. You couldn't pay him enough to keep him away from the attention he's getting now. He's reveling in it."
No one ever has doubted that Terry Furlow could put the ball in the hole. A 6-foot-4 gazelle, he averaged about 30 points a game at Michigan State, and Atlanta is the third pro team in three years to hire him. The only hole anyone worried about was the one that seemed to be in his head.
A racial uprising struck Michigan State's basketball team; Furlow was part of it. Later he was held out of the second half of a game -- after scoring about 20 points the first half -- because he had words with a coach.
Because he played rarely, he asked the Philadelphia 76ers to trade him after a year. At Cleveland, they couldn't get him out of town fast enough after he had an on-court profanity match with the coach and general manager, Bill Fitch.
"If they're going to fight," said the Cavaliers' center. Jim Chones, who has no hole in his head, "I'm going to root for the guy who signs the checks."
In Room 611 at his suburban motel yesterday. Furlow couldn't understand why a newspaperman said, "I want to do a story to tell people who you are and where you've come from."
"I'd think people here would know me," Furlow said.
"I don't mean all the 'cheap shot' stuff," the man said.
"Neither do I," Furlow said, "Hey, man, I scored 25 points in a quarter at the Cap Centre."
"It's not that big a thing," Furlow said, "Only an NBA record."
Furlow confesses to an awesome admiration of himself. (He had 23 points in the fourth quarter of a Cavalier rout, a Cap Centre record, not an NBA record). He traces this admiration back to his high school days in Flint, Mich, where his team won back-to-back state championships.
"That really inflated my ego," he said. "Boom! Just like that, you know you're the best."
"And you've never stopped believing it."
"Right. I've never stopped." Furlow lifted his chin and smiled.
The year after he had words with a Michigan State coach and wasn't allowed to play the second half of a game against Indiana, Furlow returned to the same building -- Indiana University's Assembly Hall -- and scored 51 points.
"I have a lot of records in a lot of gyms," he said, "My senior year, I had a big year. I averaged 31.4 in the Big Ten and 30 or 29 overall. I led the nation in scoring, the major colleges, I was third overall, if you count the gunner schools, but what was important to me was being No. 1 in the majors."
But even Terry Furlow, No. 1 in the majors, riding along on an ego the size of Michigan, a record holder in a lot of gyms -- even the gifted long-rangt shooter -- had a weakness.
"A few times it did disturb me when a player would talk to me," he said sheepishly. "I did lose my concentration. It worked on me, so I figured it ought to work on other people."
Only now in the NBA playoffs is anyone noticing. At Philadelphia, Furlow was buried under a legion of talent. "I kept my nose clean and quietly asked to be traded," Furlow said. "Unfortunately, I was traded -- to Cleveland."
He disliked the dictatorial Fitch. "It didn't seem like he was concerned with the objective of professional basketball, which is to win games. It seemed more important to him to intimidate me with his authority. He ran things with an iron fist -- and I'm a free spirit."
What Furlow has never tolerated -- and it leads to judgments that he hasn't grown up yet at age 24 -- is any criticism of his performance. On Jan. 24, Fitch screamed at Furlow on the court. "I'm going to kick your little behind." Or something like that.
Furlow replied in kind. Less than a week later, he was traded to Atlanta. He believes it is heaven.
"It's a great town and I have the utmost respect for the coach, Huble Brown, because of his achievements in baseketball."
Brown, incidentally, disavows any official Hawk connection with Furlow's critictisms of the Bullets.
"He's subjecting himself, and only himself, to criticism, animosity and possible physical harm," Brown said, "It is an individual thing, and if any consequences come about, they will be totally suffered by him."
Has Brown asked Furlow to shut up?
"You can't stop him talking," the coach said with a sigh.
Furlow says he isn't worried by today's playoff final.
Let 19,000 people boo.
"There'll be one long boo for every Atlanta Hawk," he said.
Let the Bullets test him, physically or mentally. He is averaging 14.6 points as a reserve playing 28 minutes a game. He has had temper tartrums and near-fights with Grevey and Unseld.
"I'm ready," Furlow said.
Besides the boos, Furlow expects one other thing.
"I anticipate a strong performance by myself," he said. CAPTION: Bullets, Hawks are rough and intense Picture 1, Dan Roundfield holds out Mitch Kupchak; Picture 2, Armond Hill grabs Larry Wright; Picture 3, Bob Dandridge plants leg firmly in Eddie Johnson's torso; Picture 4, Kupchak dives for loose ball; Picture 5, Wes Unseld and Terry Furlow flail arms; Picture 6, Elvin Hayes holds out Roundfield; Picture 7, Unseld jaws at officiat; By Richard Darcey - The Washington Post; Picture 8, Terry Furlow of Hawks, who says the Bullet guards are an easy tonch, takes short jumper over Kevin Grevey of Bullets, By Richard Darcev -- The Washington Post