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May 05, 1989 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I

I SPORTS

Go ahead, don't worry.

Pistons Will Win It All,
Heat's Rothstein Says

HARLAN ABBEY

Special to The Jewish News

A

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52

Association

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 1989

Free Inspections

646-2452

sked to pick the next
champion of the Na-
tional Basketball
Association, Ron Rothstein,
coach of the expansion Miami
Heat, unhesitatingly
answered, "The (Detroit)
Pistons."
He quickly added, "I'm
speaking with my head, not
my heart.
"Except for Mark Aguirre,
the nucleus of the team has
been together for three years,
and seven of the top nine
players have been together
three or four seasons.
"In addition, they have
everything you need to be a
champion, plus the mental
toughness and commitment
from last year" when they
were only four points shy of
dethroning the Los Angeles
Lakers in the playoff finals.
One of the Pistons' major
attributes is their strong
defense, which Rothstein was
credited with installing when
he was an assistant to Detroit
Coach Chuck Daly. He took
the Miami job this season.
In his first season as an
NBA head coach, Rothstein's
Heat set a league record —17
straight losses to open the
season.
But the team continued to
improve, winding up with a
league low of 15 wins and 67
losses. "We did much better
than I expected, however,"
said the ex-Pistons aide,
explaining:
"For much of the season, we
were third in the league in of-
fensive rebounding, an indica-
tion of the players' work ethic.
"We lost 24 games by eight
points or less and only had 20
or 21 'blow-out' losses by 20
points or more.
"We won four games the
first half of the season and 11
in the second half, when we
had a 10 and 13 home record." .
Business-wise, the Heat
was a whopping success, play-
ing to 98 percent capacity,
selling 12,500 season tickets
and selling out 28 of its first
35 home games.
Rothstein, a former point
guard at the University of
Rhode Island and NBA assis-
tant for five years at Atlanta
and Detroit, credits the
Heat's management with
drafting for character as well
as skill.
The Heat had six rookies
and two third-year players on
its roster of 12. Its "old pros"
were Scott Hastings, a six-
year vet with career average

of three points per game and
nine-year pro Pat Cummings,
with a 10-point lifetime
average.
Better-known were its
former Syracuse teammates,
Ron Seikaly and "Pearl"
Washington, who missed half
the season with injuries. In=-
juries also kept Sylvester
Gray out of 30 games and
Cummings out for the last
month of the season. Reserve

I

Coach Rothstein

guard Jon Sundvold, the
NBA's most-accurate 3-point-
shooter, missed the team's
last 14 games.
"We had good people, will-
ing to work," Rothstein con-
tinued. "And it's difficult to
keep working hard when
you're not winning?'
The Heat probably has
more Jews involved in its
front office than any other
NBA team, starting with its
two Israeli-born partners, Ted
Arison and Zev Buffman, and
managing partner Lewis
Schaffel. Rothstein's assistant
coach, David Whol, a one-
time Buffalo Brave, also is
Jewish.
Making Rothstein's first
season easier was the Miami
sports media, which he called
"supportive and understan-
ding. But we didn't tell them
one thing and do another."
In Miami, Rothstein is close
to his parents, Howard and
Bea Rothstein of Lauderhill,
Fla. His father, he admits,
"still tells me when he
disagrees with my strategy."
His mother also is
knowledgeable about the
sport: her brother, Leo Got-
tlieb, was one of the original
New York Knicks, and was
high scorer in the first game
they ever played.
"Dad is 6-4 and played a lot
when he W9S young," said his
5-foot-9 so, "so Mom was

1

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