Wayne Embry Rumors
NBA.com: What do you remember about Jerry Krause? Wayne Embry: He was a hard worker. Whether it be his work in the NBA or his work in baseball. Very much attended to detail, too. He was, I would think for his time, innovative in his approach, looking for things other people may not have thought to look for. Players’ extended family, that sort of thing. He was really dedicated to what he did.
NBA.com: That’s right. In January 1973, a house that Abdul-Jabbar owned in D.C. was targeted in a home invasion. [Terrorists murdered several people in an attack on the player’s spiritual teacher Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, a rival of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Abdul-Jabbar was not present at the time.] WE: That took Washington out, so it got down to the Lakers or the Knicks. We did everything we could do to talk him out of wanting to be traded. But he said, “Nope. If you don’t, I’ll become a free agent or I’ll sign with the ABA.” Of course we didn’t want that to happen. So we decided to keep it quiet. “Let’s not go public until we have a deal.”
And when I told Don Nelson – my roommate in Boston – that he was going to take over, he said “I’m not ready to coach.” I told him, “Nellie, you’re the coach. So let’s go for it.” He grew with the team and became obviously a Hall of Fame coach. That’s the reward, when you make decisions like that and they turn out well. That’s the pleasure I get now in an advisory capacity with Toronto. I tell the team when I speak to them before the season, my greatest joy is seeing others succeed.
And, as befitting the insane nature of his profession, he was the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference at the time. There’s pressure on the coach, of course and they’re ultimately judged by their won-loss record. But the GM wants to keep his job secure, too. “It’s always difficult,” Embry said. “The person is aspiring, and they obviously think they can do the job. At the end of the day you have to be satisfied with what you’ve heard and what you know. You want to know as much as you can about the person, part with the money they’re asking for these days.”