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Gail Goodrich says that the subject doesn't come up all that often, and when it does it's usually distorted.

But he would like to make it clear that by point of actual fact, he is not the one basketball player in the history of the world who can say he was traded for Magic Johnson and three draft choices."That would be quite a compliment," said Goodrich yesterday from his office in Los Angeles, where he is an executive with the American Golf Corp., "but it isn't really true."

"There's a lot of misinformation with respect to that whole transaction," Goodrich said, referring to the 1976 deal when he signed as a veteran free agent with the New Orleans Jazz and the team he left behind, the Los Angeles Lakers - the franchise Goodrich helped to the NBA championship in 1972 - wound up with two first-round and one second-round future draft choices, one of which they used to eventually acquire the services of Magic Johnson.

At the time, the Jazz were barely two seasons old and looking for veteran leadership - qualities they saw in Goodrich, a 33-year-old, 11-year NBA veteran (nine years with the Lakers, two with the Phoenix Suns) with five All-Star Game appearances and more than 16,000 points and 4,000 assists to his credit.

In 1976 the Jazz were also doing their best to prove and reprove Murphy's Law. This was the franchise that moved into the Superdome - only to discover that February was reserved for the Mardi Gras and the team couldn't play there; and the franchise that traded no less than two players (Dean Meminger and Bob Kauffman) and four draft choices (two firsts and two seconds) to the Atlanta Hawks for Pete Maravich - only to discover that Maravich's prime was a short knee injury away.

When they Jazz traded for Goodrich - to become Maravich's backcourt partner - they had no idea they were merely adding to their tradition.

Their thoughts were quite to the contrary. In Goodrich they were sure they were getting a bargain - a proven commodity, an All-Star and a champion (two NCAA titles at UCLA in 1964 and 1965 and the NBA title with the Lakers in 1972) who was now a free agent. They couldn't push their attractive contract offer at him fast enough.

But as Goodrich explains, the Jazz later discovered that there would be more of a price to pay than that.

"Going in, the Jazz did not know they were going to have to give up all those draft choices for me," said Goodrich. "They made a deal with a free agent that they thought would help their team. But the league, in an effort to discourage free agency - I'm not sure they'll admit to this even now - stepped in and awarded the Lakers those draft choices as compensation.

"It was a big settlement that New Orleans eventually had to agree to. But not until there had been a lot of behind-the-scenes pressure from the league.

"The truth is, there was no trade at all as far as myself and the Jazz were concerned. The Jazz signed me, and then the league demanded compensation to the Lakers."

For the Jazz, it would only get worse.

Goodrich and Maravich never did play a full season together. The year Goodrich joined the team, for the 1976-77 season, Goodrich was plagued by injures and played in just 27 of the 82 games. The next year, as Goodrich rebounded to full strength, Maravich blew out his knee and played in only 50 games.

The next season, 1978-79, Maravich played in just 49 games and Goodrich, now 36 years old and playing in his 14th NBA season, averaged just 12.7 points in 74 games. The Jazz went 26-56 to record the league's worst record - giving them the right to choose No. 1 in that summer's NBA draft.

Only they didn't own their 1979 first-round draft pick anymore. The Lakers did.

That was the summer Magic Johnson turned professional.

"There's no way the Jazz could have known that they'd end up with the worst record the year Magic came out, and the Lakers would get him," said Goodrich. "But that's what happened."

Goodrich retired that summer, deciding 19,181 points and career scoring and assists averages of 18.6 and 4.7, respectively, were enough for one Hall of Fame lifetime. Johnson, of course, was just getting started.

Goodrich moved back to Los Angeles, where he got into the golf course business (buying, selling, leasing and managing), and where he watched from a distance as the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City and became fiercely protective of their draft choices.

"Frank Layden was smart, using the draft to build from within," said Goodrich. "He got (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone and (Mark) Eaton and slowly put together a team. You have to give the Jazz a lot of credit for what they've done."

Goodrich will tell the Jazz as much this coming Monday and Tuesday as a celebrity participant in Hot Rod Hundley's Celebrity Golf Challenge at Jeremy Ranch. He'll also empathize with his old team over the way they got abused back in 1976 - the year he joined the Jazz because they offered him a nice deal, and the NBA stepped in and gave Magic Johnson to the Lakers.