PORTLAND, ORE., JUNE 12 -- Bob Ferry always has been a private man, so the news today of his resignation as general manager of the Washington Bullets caught almost everyone in the organization by surprise.

"That's wild," said guard Darrell Walker from his Arkansas home. "I don't know if Bob is thinking of moving on or what. I haven't talked to Bob in a while. Me and Bob got along great. He took a lot of heat in the press, I'm sure, for not picking Karl Malone and not picking Mark Jackson. But other teams passed on these guys too.

"There was not much that either Bob or {Coach} Wes {Unseld} could do. I thought Bob would be there forever."

Reached in Starkville, Miss., guard Jeff Malone said the news was "shocking to me. Bob was okay with me. {During contract negotiations} he was doing his job. My agent was doing his job. I don't get upset with that. Bob and I have always been on good terms. I never had any problem with Bob."

Although Ferry gave no previous indication he wanted to leave, an NBA source said Ferry briefly was interested in the Charlotte Hornets' general manager position after Carl Scheer left for Denver in early April. But the Hornets soon hired Allan Bristow, the Denver Nuggets' assistant coach, to run their basketball operations.

Assistant Bullets coach Bill Blair, who turned down a substantial pay raise and the opportunity to join longtime friend Mike Schuler on the Los Angeles Clippers' bench, said Ferry showed no signs of disinterest when the two were in Chicago last week for the NBA pre-draft camp.

"I was with him for four days," Blair said. Putting himself in Ferry's position, "I'm not going to tell you if I'm going to resign. Really and truly. I had no feel for it. . . . We just worked on the players. We had dinner almost every night, more than we ever did. We were talking players, laughing and giggling and having a good time."

Cleveland General Manager Wayne Embry, a former playing opponent and front office foe for the last several seasons, said he spoke frequently with Bob Ferry during the recently completed negotiation sessions the Cavaliers had with his son, Danny Ferry.

Said Embry: "I was in Chicago last week. This comes as a surprise. He didn't give any indication to me. . . . I think that the Bullets are a good team. They need John Williams in their lineup, but they have very good personnel."

That subject has been a sore spot for years. Ferry had been heavily criticized for some of Washington's recent selections, but one sports marketing person who had extensive dealings with Ferry over the years said he was blamed unfairly for some of the Bullets' draft-day mistakes.

He said: "The amazing thing was he lived in a fish bowl. Whenever he made a pick, people would say: 'Look at what that Ferry did now.' But {former coach} Gene Shue fell in love with Kenny Green in Chicago, not Ferry. But Bob decided to go with that pick because Gene wanted it. Bob has taken a great deal of criticism about that pick and it was not deserved."

Embry didn't want to speculate on Ferry's feelings, but allowed that the pressures of building a winner and putting fans in the seats can be a great strain on management.

"Different people react different ways," he said. "From my own experience, I put a lot of pressure on myself because I'm dedicated to excellence. That's just the way I am. But different people have different ways of responding. All of these jobs have pressure. Pressure comes from so many different directions. You just learn to handle the pressure and go on and do your job."

Bill Pollak, who represented Frank Johnson during Ferry's tenure, had praise for his sometime opponent.

"I'm glad for Bob that he's going to be doing what he wants to do," Pollak said. "But I think that Bullet fans and people in Washington in general will learn to say thanks for all the efforts this man did that brought us pleasure all these years. To those that would jump to criticize him for decisions that in their mind were poor decisions, this man did a hell of a job."