Count Wes Unseld among those who are happy to see Kevin Loughery leading an NBA team again.
"I'm really gald for him, "Unseld said yesterday upon hearing that Loughery, his former Baltimore Bullets teammate and Washington Bullets coaching collegue, took over the helm of the Miami Heat after three years in exile.
It was Loughery, who played with Unseld here for three seasons, who persuaded him to leave his front-office duties and act as an assistant to Loughery during the 1987-88 season, only to have Unseld replace him, when he was fired after just 27 games.
"I told the guys when I took over for him that if they couldn't play for Kevin Loughery, they couldn't play for anybody," said Unseld. "He's a good man and a good coach."
Loughery, 51, is starting his sixth term as a head coach, including stints in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington. He was Michael Jordan's first professional coach in Chicago and won an ABA title with the New York Nets.
And while his lifetime record is only 341-503, Unseld says Loughery is actually a very good coach.
"He's got a good basketball mind and he's a players' coach. He knows how to motivate," said Unseld. "The problem is that he's always taken over bad teams."
Unseld said he believes this tour with Miami may be different, though the team's all-time record under Ron Rothstein after three seasons is 66-180. For one thing, Loughery's friend and former Philadelphia 76ers' teammate Billy Cunningham is a part-owner of the Heat, plus the club has young talent that should be ready to move upward.
"I tend to think that this time might work out," said Unseld. "They've got good kids who seem to want to listen and if you listen to people who know, that can only help."
Quirkily enough, Loughery won't be able to join his new team until after the June 26 draft. Atlantic officials are insisting he honor his contract as an assistant coach and stay on to aid the Hawks' draft.