Bickerstaff recalls the "mistake" that was McMillan

Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff recalled Tuesday his earliest memory about Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.


I could plead senility on that. … I thought (Seattle) had made a mistake when we drafted him. That was a year we didn’t have a first-round pick, because Len Bias was a guy who had gone to Boston for Gerald Henderson. And we drafted Nate. And our (public-relations) guy didn’t really do a good job, in terms of a highlight film. So, when we walked out on stage with the second-round pick, I got booed. We announced, ‘Nate McMillan.’ Then we showed the highlight tape. And the highlight tape showed Nate missing shots; throwing the ball away; he fell. And then after, I went to watch him work out after we brought him on board. And he could hardly move because he had severe tendinitis in his knees. So, I asked him, ‘Nate can you dunk or touch the net?’

But the one thing about Nate is, he was cerebral. He figured out how to guard Kevin Johnson; all the quick guards. Because he figured out all the angles. He was the guy getting the ball to Dale Ellis. And that team that we had, we probably had three 20-point scorers on that team. But the catalyst of that basketball team was Nate McMillan.

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