Bob Ferry is the guy who sees an authentic petrified ostrich egg, found on Noah's Ark, on sale for only $99.99 at a roadside snake arcade in the middle of the desert outside Yuma and just can't get back in his Land-Rover until he's bought it.
And Kevin Loughery is the guy he gives it to for Christmas. Because he knows he'll really like it.
Who else would spend a No. 1 NBA pick on a 5-foot 3-inch player or draft a 7-foot-6 Sudanese cowherd who weighed 180 pounds? Who else would pay $2 million a year for a balding center who wears goggles or $1 million a year for an aging injured forward with a knee brace big enough to play point guard all by itself? Who else would keep inviting fragile-foot Frank Johnson back one more time? Who else, with the world to choose from, would hire the man with the worst career record of any NBA coach to last 200 games?
If there's only one like you, if your name is something run-of-the-mill like Manute or Muggsy or Moses, if you dribble with your feet or have just arrived from Mars but really would like to learn to play in the NBA, Bob Ferry wants you on the Washington Bullets.
And Kevin Loughery thinks he can fit you into his second team and get you 20 minutes a night. You'll fit right into that elusive Bullets chemistry.
Who would want to break up these beauties? If you don't appreciate the Bullets, maybe you're not looking at them from the same tilt as Ferry and Loughery.
"Someday I'm going to be sleeping on a grate," Ferry said Wednesday night, after his up-to-then 4-12 team had beaten the world champion Los Angeles Lakers in overtime, "and somebody will trip over me and I'll say, 'I'm the guy who drafted a 5-foot 3-inch guard in the NBA. And damned if he didn't make it.' "
A few moments before this, Loughery had given his evaluation of his team:
"We are very, very small at every position. We don't have a lot of leaders. We're the worst in the league in rebounding. We're worst in shooting percentage. We don't get enough clean defensive rebounds to run the break much . . . We're not quick . . . We don't have a single isolation player . . . We can't jump . . . This team doesn't have much confidence."
So, Coach, how would you sum up? "There's no reason in my mind why they can't play like this every night," said Loughery. "This team doesn't know how good it could be."
What is this, a Vegas act?
Ferry and Loughery are just too priceless not to cherish. While they last. Like many of their "unique" players, they are endangered -- a couple of nice guys with a sense of humor and a taste for the bizarre, who sometimes seem to be in the pro sport racket for the crazy stories and the good times as much as the glory and the cash. They have to let it out, get into a lather. About 10 times a quarter Loughery reacts to a ref's call like a man walking out his front door to discover that his Lamborghini has been stolen in the night. Aaawwwwk. My gaawwwdd. It was right there.
Both Ferry and Loughery love to have a beer in one hand, a big cigar in the other and street-talk each other into submission while watching some obscure hoop footage flickering on a hotel wall. Maybe they will spot an ambidextrous Persian holy man who can levitate a few three-pointers.
These days, Ferry and Loughery worry that, if more games like that 120-112 job on the Lakers don't appear fairly soon, owner Abe Pollin -- who held a closed door meeting Wednesday without coaches -- may reconsider the stewardship of his franchise. "If you don't think about that after 25 years in this game," said Loughery, "you're crazy. This is a tough business."
But Ferry and Loughery are not really tough guys. They're big men with little prankish pixies trapped inside who just love "ball" too much for words. Until the Lakers game, many were ready to start making The Final Case against one or both of them. And, in a few weeks, that grumbling could build again.
For the moment, however, a reprieve has been granted. In a game Washington saw as life-or-death (and the Lakers thought of as Wednesday night), the Bullets saw a glimmer of light. "Our rotation of people was better," is how Loughery put it. Ferry was more to the point. When told, "You finally got your six best players in and out of the game all night and stopped trying to play 11 men in 100 combinations," Ferry laughed and said, "You got it."
Against the Lakers, Moses Malone (45 minutes), Tyrone Bogues (41), Jeff Malone (40), Terry Catledge (40), King (36) and versatile sixth man John Williams (25) owned the floor. They scored 112 points -- as many as the whole Lakers team.
If Ferry and Loughery lack one gift, it is the knack of cleaving to one central idea of how the game should be played. All Bob Knight, Dean Smith, Red Auerbach or even Dick Motta teams look similar. The Bullets have a personality of the month.
An apple had to fall on Sir Isaac Newton's head for him to think of gravity. Maybe it will take a Lakers upset to show the Bullets that the simplest possible approach to NBA ball can be a useful one. The whole league knows King, Catledge, Williams, Bogues and the Malones, plus a pinch of Bol and Frank Johnson for spice, is the Bullets' identity. Why not live or die with 'em?
True, they're a strange group. The tallest pro ever and the shortest. Moses in his goggles, King in his brace and Johnson in sneakers that look as if they came from Eddie Bauer. So what if Catledge, the Malones and Williams have wide bodies that are more NFL than NBA? We'd never expect standard issue from Ferry and Loughery. Here they come, the Washington Believe-It-Or-Nots.