Donnie Walsh Rumors
The secondary problem is that the people with knowledge don’t tell them anything of substance. No team official is going to tell a “draft expert” who he’s hoping to take in the draft, and some will tell outright lies to keep other teams away from their choice. Walsh famously did that in his first draft, 1986, when he put out the word he was “going big” to enhance the likelihood his primary target, small forward Chuck Person, would be available. Person went on to become Rookie of the Year. “There’s a lot of lying that goes on, and a lot of gamesmanship,” Carr said. Walsh, like Carr, often accepts phone calls from mock drafters. But he reveals nothing. “I’ll start the conversation by saying, ‘I’m not going to tell you who we’re taking. And if you guess it right, I’m going to lie to you,'” Walsh said.
Amazing as Auerbach’s last admission sounds for the man who’s been making Boston’s draft picks and trades, other general managers say it’s the truth. “I think Red is probably the greatest general manager and coach we’ve ever had in this league up to this point,” says Donnie Walsh, now in his fourth season as the Indiana Pacers’ team president and GM. “I’ve read all his books, but I don’t think I’ve ever personally talked to him.”
Riley also liked that Curry was the son of a successful and respected ex-NBA player. Riley sold then-Warriors coach Don Nelson on Curry as well. Austin and Dell Curry still tried to keep the Warriors away from Stephen Curry. But Austin told then-Knicks president Donnie Walsh that unless they could trade up, he expected Golden State to draft Curry. Austin said Walsh didn’t believe him because the Warriors already had guard Monta Ellis. “I said, ‘Larry, I like you a lot and respect you a lot, but don’t take Steph. This is not the right place for him,’ ” Austin said. “We wanted him in New York.” Said Riley: “Dell was the same way. He was almost cold.”
Carmelo Anthony is well known as one of the top scorers in the NBA. But his detractors say he doesn’t do enough in the other facets of the game — rebounding, defense, passing — to be considered a top all-around player. Ex-Knicks president Donnie Walsh thinks the triangle offense can change all of that. “He can do everything. But most teams look at him to score, so he scores,” Walsh said in an interview with Sirius XM’s Adam Schein. “I think he can rebound. I think he can play defense when he wants to — I’ve seen it. He can rebound. I think he can pass the ball. Pretty much, he can do any of the skills required to play in that offense. And I think that will bring that out in him.”
But Walsh had to head to New York for his new job, so he put it off. With some prodding from his wife, Judy, and the Knicks’ medical staff, he got the biopsy there. It was cancer. And he stood there in his hotel room. “I was scared to death,” he said. “In my mind, I thought they were going to cut my tongue off. I can’t do this job without my tongue. I was taking it all away.”
His career as Indiana Pacers president behind him, he was embarking on a new journey running the New York Knicks. But all he could do, at this moment in 2008, was stare at himself in the mirror. “I was looking in the mirror and I was saying to myself, ‘You are so stupid,’ ” Walsh said. “Because I smoked at that point. I said to myself, ‘You got your lungs checked. You got everything else checked, but you didn’t get the thing that you put the thing on checked.’ ” The thing (tongue) that he put the thing (cigarette) on hadn’t been checked out by a doctor in 50 years of smoking. And now, inside the hotel room, he was staring down a terrifying diagnosis. Walsh had tongue cancer. “How stupid,” he remembers thinking.
He hasn’t smoked since. His tongue is still intact. And he is now a consultant for the Pacers. He gets screenings regularly and so far, so good. “It has not come back,” he said. “Nobody will ever tell you you are cured form cancer, I will tell you that.”