Bill Walsh; Rick Barry; Marv Hubbard
by Glenn Dickey
May 05, 2015

NFL draft day always reminds me of Bill Walsh and the way he handled the draft. As with everything else, it was different than the norm.
Walsh was in charge of everything, of course, but he didn’t have time to examine the complete resumes of players. So, he would have the scouting director, Tony Razzano, prepare the 10 best and 10 worst plays for the top players, so Walsh would have an idea of the range of the players.
He talked separately to assistant coaches and scouts because he feared that, if they were in the same room, they might feel intimidated. With each group, he told them their chief criteria should be how this player could help the 49ers.
Razzano was unorthodox, too, in his scouting techniques. He discounted much of what he heard from coaches, who would always praise their players extravagantly, while talking to those who worked in the locker rooms, where they observed players acting naturally. He wanted to know about players who bullied these workers, because that showed character – or lack of it.
On draft day, Walsh relied heavily on John McVay, who had retired from coaching but had many contacts around the league. McVay was on the phone constantly, talking to general managers around the league, looking for teams that were willing to make a trade to move down and allow the Niners to move up or wanted to move up and would give up a lower round pick or two. If Walsh wanted to do either one, he would give McVay the word. Most famously, in 1986, he kept moving down and finally out of the first round but got a bushel of draft picks, including Larry Roberts, Tom Rathman, Tim McKyer, Charles Haley, John Taylor, Steve Wallace, Kevin Fagan and Don Griffin.
The year earlier, he had taken Jerry Rice in the first round. He always claimed he became aware of Rice while watching a television report in Houston on the night before a 49ers game but Walsh always liked a good story. I’m sure he was aware of Rice before that. Other teams around the league didn’t rate Rice that highly, but other receivers taken on the first round flamed out as Rice went on to a record-setting career.
Current 49ers general manager Trent Baalke has great confidence in his ability to select talent but he’s no Bill Walsh. Of course, neither is anybody else.
* * *
Many people have written that Stephen Curry is the first Warriors player to be the league’s Most Valuable Player but in truth, he should have been the second.
In the Warriors championship season of 1974-75, Rick Barry had a great season, averaging 30 points a game while leading his team in assists. More than that, he was a coach on the floor, telling the young players brought in that year, like the then Keith Wilkes and Phil Smith, where to be. It was as good a season as a player could have but in the MVP voting, Barry finished fourth. The reason: The vote was conducted by league players and they didn’t like Barry.
The next year, my wife and son, two months shy of his sixth birthday, went on our first trip to Europe during the NBA playoffs. At 2 a.m. in Rome one morning, I was awakened by a phone call from Dick Vertlieb, telling me he was leaving the Warriors and thanking me for the good things I’d written about him. After I hung up, I realized that the Warriors had been eliminated.
When I returned from Europe, Wayne Walker showed me a tape of the game in which the Warriors had been eliminated. In the third quarter, Barry was standing in disgust, hands on hips, because his teammates would not pass the ball to him.
Barry’s personality has turned off a lot of people over the years. That doesn’t include me. We had some interesting talks over the years, the most memorable probably coming when I was on a road trip in 1972, leading up to me covering the All-Star game in Chicago.
I volunteered to write the legend for Barry’s plaque when he was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. When he was making his speech, he said, “I can’t believe that Glenn Dickey actually wrote something nice about me.”
At the time, I was writing that Barry should be named the Warriors coach. That wasn’t going to happen. Warriors owner Chris Cohan said to me, “Have you ever met this guy?”
I have no idea why Barry is this way but I’ll always remember him as a great player and the catalyst for the Warriors first championship.
• * *
Marv Hubbard, one of my favorites when I covered the Raiders, died this week, just short of his 69th birthday.
Marv was also a big favorite of the fans because he’d wander through the parking lot after the games, talking to the fans and never turning down the offer of a beer.
Drinking was a serious problem for Marv at that point, though it didn’t stop him from being an effective runner and blocker.
One time in training camp, Marv was drinking with Chronicle writer Jack Smith, who could match him shot for shot. At 5 a.m., he told Jack that he was upset with me for something I’d written. “Why don’t you call him?” said Jack, giving him my phone number.
It was a very short conversation. I said “Hello”, heard Marv’s drunken voice and hung up the phone.
Later that day in camp, John Madden told writers that Hubbard had been excused from practice because he was sick. Oh, yeah.
After retirement, though, Hubbard cleaned up his act and quit drinking. I hadn’t seen him in some time but I’m sure he had stayed sober or he wouldn’t have lived anywhere near as long as he did.

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