Gail Goodrich Rumors
25 Sep 14
22 Mar 14
13 Jul 13
“I’d say this is the most serious challenge we’ve had to our streak,” Hall of Fame guard Gail Goodrich, the leading scorer on the 1971-72 Lakers with a 25.9 average, said of the Heat. “I think they’ll make a very, very, very serious run at our record, They might even break it. They’re head and shoulders over the rest of the NBA. Who’s going to beat them? There’s not as much parity in the league now.”
If Spurs fans have been fretting about the unimpressive numbers center Tiago Splitter has been putting up in the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament, Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich has an explanation. “I just don’t see much offensive skill there,” said Goodrich, working as an analyst on ESPN’s English language telecasts of the games that will send the top two teams to the 2012 Olympic tournament in London next summer. “For a guy who was supposed to be one of the best big men in this tournament, maybe the best, he’s really struggled.”
SLAM: You said earlier that Jerry West was the best. Please elaborate. GG: He had great skills in every area and was a tremendous competitor with a fierce drive to win. He was the absolute best with the game on the line. He demanded the ball in those situations and succeeded time after time. He was a very smart player who understood how to make things easy. He was also a fantastic defensive player. We were great friends, and he really taught me how to play the game on a pro level. We spent hours talking about the game, how to defend certain guys. I owe a lot of my pro success to him.
SLAM: You finished your career in New Orleans, where you and Pete Maravich were supposed to be a dynamic backcourt. But it never quite clicked, in part because you got hurt. Was that frustrating? GG: Very much so. Pete had tremendous skills. He could do anything with the basketball, but we really did not complement one another. I don’t think we played very well together, and I take partial responsibility for that. That team played a little bit more individualist than we should have. Pete was difficult to play with…he had some very strange understandings of how the game should be played. I don’t think you can win with a guard taking 35 to 40 percent of the shots. You have to have better balance, better trust in other players. When you don’t have other greats, you have to run things that make sure you get everyone involved. I don’t know if it’s Pete’s fault that didn’t happen, because it is also the coaches’ responsibility.
SLAM: The team went 69-13 and won 33 straight games. Every game must have felt like the greatest game you’d ever played. GG: We played with a tremendous confidence that borders on cockiness. We walked on the court feeling like no one could beat us, and that grew from game to game. That was very characteristic of our teams at UCLA also, and you see it today in the Spurs and Pistons. Teams like that do not panic in the fourth quarter. You know you will be tested and figure out how to win. And it’s also characteristic of how I played the game. Elgin once said to me, “Gail, you would drive against King Kong.”
SLAM: By then, the Lakers were a different team than the one you’d left, largely because of the arrival of Wilt. How big of a presence was he? Gail Goodrich: Huge. He was a leader. I liked Wilt, and we got along very well. I think in many ways he was misunderstood by the media, who didn’t do justice to some of the things that he accomplished and instead focused on his rivalry with Bill Russell. Wilt never really hung out with his teammates. At the end of the day, he went his own way, as did Jerry West, though he and I were good friends. But we were a very close team on the court. It took us a year to get used to each other and overcome some injuries. Then Bill Sharman became the coach and changed the offense, putting the ball in Jerry’s hands, where it belonged, because he was the best. Then we just came together in a remarkable way in ’72.