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A lasting memory of basketball coach Bill Mulligan

January 12, 2010 |  5:30 pm

Bill Mulligan, who passed away today, was in his second year as head basketball coach at UC Irvine and Kevin Magee, the inside monster he had brought with him from Saddleback College, was in his last. All-American Magee averaged more than 26 points and 12 rebounds and was the main reason the Anteaters led the country in field-goal percentage that season (1981-82).

Irvine had some adequate role players but they desperately needed a point guard, and Mulligan had tried a half-dozen in his two seasons at UCI. Finally, he thought he’d found the answer in Jason Works. Works was amazingly quick, a good outside shooter, a devout Christian … and had a tendency to go a little Harlem-Globetrotter out of control on the court. He’d make an amazing play one time down, and an absolutely moronic one the next.

I was covering the team for The Times and one day I said to Works, “No one questions your talent, but Coach Mulligan complains that you just won’t listen to what he says.”

Works: “I listen to Coach but I do what the Lord tells me to.”

Mulligan was sitting in his office holding the L.A. Times the next morning when I walked in. He stood up, and at the top of his lungs, screamed: “Doesn’t Jesus ever tell him to give the ... ball to Magee?”
 
-- John Weyler

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