"When we won, I was waiting for this big rush of excitement. I thought skyrockets were supposed to go off in your head. None of that happened . . . I was almost resentful that other people were having a good time and I wasn't."

Bob Ferry

So emotionally involved in chasing a dream as elusive as any in sport, Bob Ferry could not bear to watch his team during its finest moment. Pacing an otherwise empty concourse, Ferry only learned by Seattle fans acting morose that the Bullets had won the 1978 NBA championship. By then, he was too drained to celebrate.

It has never gotten so good since for the Bullets and fingers lately have been stabbing directly at Ferry, who resigned yesterday as their general manager. Well, winning the NBA title might not be tougher than, say, the Irish Sweepstakes, but in the last 31 years only nine teams have done it.

Ferry during parts of five decades has seen about everything possible in elite basketball. He was part of the best two coin-flip losses ever in the NBA and joined the league, in 1959, when players still were being paid in back rooms from game receipts collected hours earlier.

A builder away from the office, Ferry shaped the family's backyard court and watched with immense satisfaction when sons Bobby and Danny shot off from it to become stars. He also realized even sporting history gets repeated if the proper genes fall in the right places.

Bobby had been recruited heavily by North Carolina, until a letter arrived from Dean Smith saying that he still was most welcome to come but that someone more highly prized at his position had just signed. That player was Michael Jordan. Bobby became a standout at Harvard.

The father laughed while recalling that incident. As a high school senior, he had gotten a letter remarkably similar. Kansas still would be glad for him to enroll, but the competition at center suddenly included a Philadelphian named Wilt Chamberlain. Bob opted for hometown St. Louis U.

Danny as a collegian would not be dwarfed by anyone. And Bob and Rita once were serenaded by merry Duke students chanting: "One More Kid, One More Kid."

Any general manager who survives as long as Ferry's 17 years with the Bullets is going to be linked with names; draftees for better and for worse. Mitch Kupchak, Larry Wright, John Williams and Jeff Malone were prescient picks countered by Kenny Green, Bryan Warrick and the immortal Tom Kropp.

More of a gambler than most realize, Ferry drafted Mutt (Muggsy Bogues) in 1987 and Jeff (Manute Bol) in 1985. Neither was especially productive for the Bullets. As has happened with other Ferry choices, both are still in the league.

Injured in 1966-67, Ferry became a part-time scout and was overwhelmed during the Pan American trials by a small-college player years ahead of his time as a ballhandling artist: Earl (The Pearl) Monroe.

Still, the Bullets would have taken the more highly publicized Jimmy Walker of Providence if they had the choice. They didn't, the Pistons winning the coin flip and the Bullets being left with Monroe.

The next season, part-time scout Ferry was impressed with an undersized rebounder from Louisville. Everyone wanted Houston's Elvin Hayes, but San Diego won the coin flip and chose him. The Bullets were stuck with the Louisville kid, Wes Unseld.

In the first year the NBA took underclass players, Ferry in the 1971 supplemental draft surrendered a number one choice and chose the unheralded Phil Chenier. Reminded him of Walt Frazier, Ferry said.

Ferry is the rare evaluator capable of the exact description with the fewest words. Of moody Elvin Hayes, Ferry said: "He takes you to the playoffs."

Of Bobby Dandridge, the small forward acquisition who became the final piece to the Bullets' championship puzzle, Ferry said: "Calculated in everything he did . . . from a pure basketball standpoint, he was absolutely brilliant . . . hands like a sculptor . . . I never felt he got the fun out of the game he should have."

Although he was voted NBA executive of the year twice, Ferry may not get the full measure of respect he should. The Bullets almost always drafted too low to get a franchise-turning player. Yet in Ferry's first 10 or so years, hardly anyone picking later did better.

Lately, Ferry passed up such as Karl Malone, Alvin Robertson and John Stockton. Still operating on the future-is-now policy owner Abe Pollin endorsed through much of the mid-'80s, Ferry four years ago traded the number-one choice (for Jay Vincent) made valuable this year by the Bullets' poor record.

Ironically, Danny Ferry will be entering the NBA when Bob Ferry will be absent from it for the first time in 31 years. Not long ago, the father looked at the sport his son also has chosen and said: "When I played, basketball was a means to an end. Today, for many players, it is the end. The end of their ever having to worry about making a living."

........ GENERAL MANAGER: JUNE 30, 1973, TO JUNE 12, 1990 ........

.............................Record.....Avg..............Top Three

Season...Coach.............Reg. Play....Attend. .......Draft Picks

1973-74 K.C. Jones.......47-35....3-4...10,102..Nick Weatherspoon,

.....................................................Louie Nelson,

.......................................................Tom Kozelko

1974-75 K.C. Jones.......60-22....8-9... 9,360.........Len Elmore,

.................................................Leonard Robinson,

......................................................Dennis DuVal

1975-76 Dick Motta.......48-34....3-4...10,752.......Kevin Grevey,

........................................................Tom Kropp,

....................................................Fessor Leonard

1976-77 Dick Motta.......48-34....2-4...11,408.........M. Kupchak,

...............................................L. Wright, Joe Pace

1977-78 Dick Motta.......44-38...14-7...10,891.......Greg Ballard,

.............................................Bo Ellis, Phil Walker

1978-79 Dick Motta.......54-28...9-10...12,789......Roger Phegley,

.....................................................Dave Corzine,

.......................................................Terry Sykes

1979-80 Dick Motta.......39-43...0-2....11,386.......Joe DeSantis,

....................................................Andrew Parker,

.....................................................Charles Floyd

1980-81 Gene Shue........39-43...None... 9,155.......Wes Matthews,

......................................................Rick Mahorn,

.....................................................Francois Wise

1981-82 Gene Shue........43-39...3-4.... 9,020......Frank Johnson,

....................................................Charles Davis,

....................................................Claude Gregory

1982-83 Gene Shue........42-40...None... 8,990......Bryan Warrick,

..................................................Dwight Anderson,

.......................................................Mike Gibson

1983-84 Gene Shue........35-47...1-3.... 7,920........Jeff Malone,

....................................................Randy Wittman,

.....................................................Michael Britt

1984-85 Gene Shue.......40-42....1-3.... 9,346.........Mel Turpin,

.....................................................Tony Costner,

.....................................................Fred Reynolds

1985-86 Gene Shue.......32-37.... -- ...... 9,117........Kenny Green,

........K. Loughery......7-6.....2-3...................Manute Bol,

......................................................Vernon Moore

1986-87 K. Loughery.....42-40....0-3....11,838......John Willians,

....................................................Anthony Jones,

....................................................Steve Mitchell

1987-88 K. Loughery......8-19.... -- ......10,570......Tyrone Bogues,

.................................................Duane Washington,

.....................................................Derick Dowell

Wes Unseld............. 30-25....2-3....... --

1988-89 Wes Unseld......40-42....None... 9,814...........H. Grant,

.......................................................L. Eackles,

.......................................................E. Davendar

1989-90 Wes Unseld......31-51....None...11,563.......Tom Hammonds,

..............................................Ed Horton, Doug Roth

17 years 5 coaches....729-665....58-59

NBA championship: 1977-78.