As we come to the final rule in our series 78 Rules for the Wizards Undrafted Lottery Pick, we've seen plenty of quotes from people closely associated with the game of basketball. For Rule #1...
Rule #0: If Sacramento passes on you in the draft, it might not be the worst thing in the world.
Rule #2: Just because you hit the weight room doesn’t mean the fan base will like you.
Rule #4: If you make one of the 10 best rookie plays, odds are you’ll end up being a pretty good player.
The only knock against Van Horn’s offensive game is a slight one: He is an ordinary passer. "It’s the main reason why the Larry Bird comparisons are inaccurate, as well as being premature," says his college coach, Rick Majerus, for whom Van Horn averaged 22.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game as a senior. "He’s not a great passer, partly because we didn’t ask him to do it very much at Utah. Keith can’t pass the way Bird did, but I don’t know if Bird could run the floor the way Keith does. The main thing is that Keith is so versatile. If you put a big guy on him, he’s going to go outside and knock down the shot. If you put a small guy on him, he’s going to take him into the low post and abuse him.
His presence is worth 40 points," says the Lakers’ Keith Erickson. "You play him with a box and one," says Washington State’s Bob Greenwood. "Four guys on Walton and one on the rest.
Given his stats as a center at Loyola of Chicago (18.2 points per game over three years), Martin should have been a low first-round pick at best. But what he did on consecutive nights in January, 1972 changed that. Loyola, which would finish with an 8-14 record for 1971-72, met No. 1-ranked UCLA and No. 2 Marquette in Chicago. Although Loyola lost both games, Martin outrebounded and out-scored UCLA’s Bill Walton (18-16 and 19-18) and Marquette’s Jim Chones (22-14 and 32-23). The scouts were smitten, but none more than Portland’s Stu Inman, who wanted a "franchise" player to turn around the fortunes of his 2-year-old team.
"After 10 minutes, we knew he wasn’t the player they thought he was," says Jack McCloskey, then the Blazer coach and now the Detroit Pistons’ general manager. "I was always rushing," says Martin, who’d signed a six-year, $1.2 million guaranteed contract. "I wanted to do everything and do it perfectly." He ended up doing neither, averaging only 4.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a rookie and losing the starting job to Lloyd Neal, a first-year man from Tennessee State who’d been picked in the third round. What was worse, North Carolina’s Bob McAdoo, who had left college after his junior year and was chosen second in the ‘72 draft by Buffalo, led the league in scoring from 1973 through 1976, was the MVP in ‘75 and is still a productive player with the Lakers.
"They would call me LaRue Who? and say I was the worst pick in history," Martin says. "It wasn’t fair. I was 22 at the time, and it hurt me. It hurts me still."
I don’t mind getting booed. Heck, my little boy boos me. My wife boos me.