The president of National Fairways, Inc., a golf course
acquisition and management company, leans back in a plush
leather chair in his Greenwich, Conn., office. On his walls are
diagrams and photos of some of the company's 15 courses; on the
floor lies a carpet the color of a putting green. That Gail
Goodrich, a self-described hack with a 15 handicap, has an air
of success about him isn't surprising. As a 6'1" guard, he
scored a team-high 25.9 points per game for the 1971-72 NBA
champion Los Angeles Lakers, whose 33-game winning streak
remains a record for professional sports. "I'm not sure that
will be broken for a while," he says.
This is an article from the April 27, 1998 issue
Goodrich weighed just 135 pounds when he led Poly High in the
San Fernando Valley to the Los Angeles city championship in
1961. He was called Twig at UCLA, where he helped the Bruins to
the first two of their 11 NCAA titles, setting a then
championship-game record with 42 points against Michigan in
1965. When Goodrich joined the Lakers that year, he was given an
even less flattering nickname. "Elgin Baylor called me Stumpy,"
he says, "because I had short legs and long arms."
The moniker may have described his stature but not his game.
With a hair-trigger, lefthanded release, Goodrich had a gift for
cutting taller players down to size. Along with Jerry West, he
formed one of the finest backcourts in NBA history. "We
complemented each other so well," says Goodrich, 55. "If Jerry
went one way with the ball, I knew exactly what he was going to
Goodrich made five All-Star appearances over 14 seasons--nine
with the Lakers, two with the Phoenix Suns and three with the
New Orleans Jazz--before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in
1996. He got involved in golf course development through
contacts he made while helping to run the basketball venue
during the '84 Summer Olympics in L.A. Six years ago he moved to
Greenwich, where he lives with his second wife, Toni. Goodrich
has three children from his first marriage: Brien, 25, and twin
daughters Jaime and Linsay, 21.
On Nov. 20, 1996, the Lakers retired Goodrich's number 25. An
eight-foot-high copy of his jersey hangs from the ceiling at The
Forum alongside those of former teammates Baylor, West, Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain and fellow greats Magic
Johnson and James Worthy. Not bad company for a lefty named
--Kelvin C. Bias