"I, Dudley Bradley, hereby agree to abide by the rules of this contract . . . and will receive four million dollars during three guaranteed years, with no deferred monies, from 1986-87 through 1988-89. The first year will be $1 million, the second $1.4 million and the third $1.6 million." PHILADELPHIA As we all know, Abe Pollin did not become a successful businessman by being a wild spender. Few would be surprised if his wallet was inscribed: "The buck stops here."
Still, that agreement with free agent Bradley certainly sounded legitimate; it even had Pollin's and General Manager Bob Ferry's signatures affixed to it. And in his emotional state after Bradley's bomb fetched a near-miraculous victory here Friday night, who knows what Pollin might have agreed to?
Rest easy, Abe.
The first clue that Bradley's contract might not be worth the piece of paper it was written on was -- the piece of paper it was written on: the back of the stat sheet from Game 1 of the Bullets-76ers playoff series.
Contracts have been drawn up on napkins -- and signed in blood, of course. But this one was verified by Cliff Robinson, who identified himself as a "notary republic."
So Bradley, who signed before the 1984-85 season for the league's minimum salary, remains free. Unless he happens to throw one in from the popcorn machine at the buzzer Sunday, with the Bullets again down two to the Sixers. That's about his only possible topper.
"Hero," Gus Williams yelled to him. "My hero."
This was on the bus to practice at midafternoon Saturday. The man behind the bogus contract was Frank Johnson.
"You'll always be my hero," Williams bellowed. "All you needed was a shot.
"The Shot Heard Around Philly."
Philly passed by the window, until the bus stopped and trainer John Lally and assistant coach Bill Blair scurried across the street to a phone booth next to the Rainbow Lounge and a Chinese takeout restaurant. Blair had misplaced his briefcase.
Matters seemed settled when a stone cracked a window. A small youngster was seen running from the scene, and the bus made a circular pass to scare him.
"That was meant for you," somebody shouted to Dudley Do-Right, who laughed.
At 6-6, he is taking this flicker with fame in one long stride. No, he did not bother to watch a tape of his 27-footer during an earlier meeting. Neither did the team. Pro basketball is too hurry-up for unnecessary reflection.
"We saw films of the game," Bradley said, "but not of the shot. It wasn't that important in preparing for today's game . It was great, but I've got to get my head into the next game."
He was eating the breakfast of champions: a chocolate chip cookie and some cheese twists. On a fingertip of the hottest hand in hoops just now was a strip of tape that reminded outsiders that everybody is slightly nicked in the postseason.
So self-conscious was Bradley that he avoided trying to re-enact The Shot before practice. Even serious fans sort of expected him to gravitate to the appropriate distance and angle and let fly.
Hadn't Hubert Green, an hour or so later, returned to the 18th green and rehit the short putt that had cost him the 1978 Masters?
Well, circumstances helped Bradley avoid too much hindsight. The practice was at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science instead of the Spectrum. Also, there were all sorts of brightly colored lines that made the floor look like an enormous game board. But there was no three-point arc.
Because he will not soon be allowed to talk of much else, Bradley patiently replayed The Shot once more: three seconds to go, the inbounds pass to be thrown to either him or Jeff Malone.
To Malone before the play started, Bradley yelled that he would set a pick. This was nonsense designed to trick a Sixers defender, Sedale Threatt.
"When I got the ball," Bradley said, "I saw Mac Tom McMillen set a pick and went around it. Then I saw Doc Julius Erving try for the steal."
His avoiding Erving caused mild panic among several Bullets fans.
"He's not gonna get the shot off in time," one yelled. He did.
"To me, it seemed like a lot of time," Bradley insisted. "The clock was reset after an argument , so there was a fresh, full three seconds. Three seconds is a lot of time.
"I'd been told to take whatever was there: a three-pointer, if I had it, or a two-point shot if that's all I could get. That took some of the pressure off. I didn't have to look for the line."
Bradley knew he was well beyond it.
"It's funny," he added. "In warmups, I'd been saying how easy it is to bank shots in from out there. But I wasn't trying to bank that one, even though that's how it went in."
He laughed. "I'll take it."
Bradley stunned the Sixers with his shot and startled a television interviewer with his mind. The guy with the microphone had asked: "Did you know where the basket was?"
"At 29," he replied, "I know where it's at. It wasn't moving. Only I was moving."
Ah -- er -- back to the studio.
Perhaps that question popped out because Bradley was the worst regular shooter in the NBA this regular season. Anyone with a field-goal percentage of 34.9 for 209 tries might just get the feeling that the basket is moving on him.
Hardly, Bradley argues.
"It's because I didn't play till 46 minutes were gone each game," he said of his lousy accuracy. "Gene former coach Shue only used me the couple of minutes. It's not that I can't shoot. You tend to press when you don't play regularly."
With that, he hopped aboard the bus and joined large friends also eager to get back to work.