I think you're right, and also I think we have no idea of how badly his knees were after all those years in the ABA on cement courts. Heck, I watched a doc last night on the "Life and Times of the ABA" and they even played on an icy court one nightI'm sure he wasn't but I wonder if that was always the case. I didn't read the book but I do recall he was bitter and disheartened over the way he had been treated. Even the salve of finally allowing him to join the NBA (but only on an expansion franchise in a far off desert town) wasn't enough to fully motivate him.
He was simply incredible at times but even as a teenager watching him play I thought it was obvious that "winning" wasn't always the end all be all for him. But maybe I was influenced by the comments I heard from so many adult fans back then?