We are picking up the story where the last part left off. Red's first professional basketball team,the Washington Caps, had just lost their first playoff series and Red began his long and testy relationship with the refs. We also learn the birth of the sixth man, way before he started coaching the Celtics.
"There was a guy, I don't remember his name because I don't want to, who absolutely robbed us blind in the first game of that series," he said. "If we were called for thirty fouls, he called twenty nine of them. Honest. I don't know what was going on but that SOB was out to nail us. Maybe he didn't like my style, who knows? I'll tell you one thing, though, he wasn't in the league the next year. He went to work in the Big Ten and they threw the bastard out too. Served him right." Not that Red ever held a grudge. Right from the beginning, Red was an innovator, with a remarkable eye for detail. During his first season, he came up with the idea of a "sixth man." Nowadays, basketball people take the sixth man for granted, an accepted part of the game to the point where the NBA gives out a sixth man award each season. Very few teams start their five best players now, always holding someone back on the bench to give the team a burst of energy early in the game. Almost always, the sixth man is on the court in the endgame, and he is usually one of the team's three top scorers. On occasion, the sixth man has been the leading scorer. It wasn't that way in the 1940's. Conventional wisdom held that you start your five best players and keep them in the game at all times unless fatigue or foul trouble forced you to go to your bench. Red had the notion that he could gain an edge by holding one of his five best out for the first six, eight, or ten minutes of each half. "When a game or a half starts, both teams get into a certain rhythm," he said. "After a little while, a little bit of fatigue sets in and everyone begins to lose just a little. My thought was, 'If I send one of my two or three best players into the game at that point and he's completely fresh, he's going to be able to take advantage of people. He'll probably make some plays right away because his legs are fresh. In turn, that gives my other guys a burst of energy and picks up the whole team." Irv Torgoff was the sixth man in Washington. When Red first arrived in Boston, Frank Ramsey was his sixth man, followed by John Havlicek. Later, when Red was the general manager, Paul Silas and Kevin McHale served in the sixth man role. All were all stars. Ramsey, Havlicek, and McHale are in the Hall of Fame. There were other, more subtle things Red did. "I always kept my biggest guy sitting right next to me," he said. "That way, whenever there was a scramble for a loose ball and I saw a potential jump ball coming, I'd send him right to the table to check in when the whistle blew so he could go in and jump." The league finally figured that one out and changed the rule so that the two men who tied the ball up had to jump for it. Years later, Red came up with another way to help his team with the jump ball. Call it the Abdul Jabbar rule. "When Kareem came into the league, there was no one who could beat him on a jump ball." he said. "In the eighties, if we wanted to win championships, we had to beat the Lakers. If you had a jump ball to start every quarter, the Lakers were going to get the ball every single time with Jabbar jumping center. So I suggested getting rid of the jump ball after the first quarter and alternate possessions to start the other quarters. I said to everyone, 'Look, the referees aren't very good at throwing the ball up straight' - which is true - 'so let's take the luck out of it and have them do it just once a night.' They went for it. So instead of the Lakers getting four guaranteed possessions at the start of quarters, they got two and we got two." Off the court, Red came up with ways to make life easier too. In those days air travel was just becoming a part of American life and it wasn't all that comfortable (as if it is now), so teams traveled by train. Conventional wisdom held that sleeping in a lower berth was easier and more comfortable. Knowing that only half of his players could have lower berths, Red one day announced to his team that he had measured the berths on several trains because someone had told him the upper berths were three inches longer than the lower berths. "Turns out they were right," he said. "I never knew that myself, but since it's true, I think it makes sense if we put the big guys up top to give them the extra legroom." Everyone agreed. Of course, Red had never been told the upper berths wer e longer and had never measured anything. But this way there was no bickering on the trains over who would get the lower berths and who would get the upper. The next two seasons with the Caps were similar to the first season. The team was very good in the regular season but unable to get over the hump in the playoffs. They did reach the finals in 1949, but lost to Cleveland. Even back then there was a difference between playoff basketball and regular season basketball. Red had taught his team Reinhart's principles of the fast break, and during the regular season they were able to use them very effectively. But in the playoffs, the only way to run was to rebound, and the Caps never had a great rebounder. Teams slowed them to a walk it up pace that took away their strength. By the end of the 1949 season, Red and Mike Uline were not getting along all that well. Uline wanted a championship. So did Red, but he didn't think Uline understood that it wasn't as easy as his team made it look during the regular season. "He was never a basketball guy," Red said. "He was a hockey guy. He really didn't understand basketball."
After that season, Red left the Caps to take a job at Duke University. However, his tenure at Duke didn't last long. He arrived at Duke in September of 1949 and was gone by New Year's.