Employee #8 Reminds Pitino of Magic Johnson


October 17, 1997

There were no qualifiers. There were no claims of being misunderstood and misinterpreted. Earlier this week, Rick Pitino compared Antoine Walker to one of the greatest players in NBA history. Yesterday, following the Celtics' afternoon practice, the coach repeated himself.

Pitino's statement: Walker reminds him of a young Magic Johnson.


C's Still Looking for a Big Man, Notwithstanding Addition of Travis Knight


October 17, 1997

The search for a free agent big man still is in effect for the Celtics. Not via trade, mind you; more realistically, a waiver wire find will be coming to town. That new player could join the team in Green Bay, Wis., where the Celtics play an exhibition against the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night . . .

Keith Van Horn Best Rookie Since Jordan?

October 16, 1997

Pitino said he has a 7-footer he wants to add to the Celtics roster. He did not reveal the player's name and said he is not sure if the recently waived big man will join the team later this week. He did say he will be looking to make several minor decisions in the next couple of days . . .Nets forward Jayson Williams said Keith Van Horn, whom the Celtics coveted, is the best rookie to come into the NBA since Michael Jordan. "I'm serious," Williams said. "This kid is the reason I'd want to stay around here." Pitino said that with two more years of basketball experience, Mercer and Chauncey Billups will easily be at the level of Van Horn and Tim Duncan . . . Nets veteran Michael Cage, who played with Cedric Maxwell with the Clippers, said Maxwell and other verterans used to tease him about his strict diet. "They were like, 'Are you from the 'hood or are you some experiment?' " Cage said. The forward, who was briefly a Celtic last summer, is known for his affinity for wheat grass and vegetable juices. He hasn't missed a game in eight years . . . During one break, the public address announcer mistakenly referred to Mercer as a "Cat" rather than a Celtic.


Rupp Welcomes Back Kentucky Alum

October 16, 1997

Rupp Welcomes Back Kentucky Alum

He was the lead story in the local news. And the stories never stopped coming. The ABC affiliate devoted the first four segments of its 5 p.m. newscast to the Return of Rick Pitino. There were three Pitino-related stories in the local paper. And while Rupp Arena did not sell out, thousands of people among the 15,010 on hand said the only reason they left the house on a Wednesday night was to see the revered former University of Kentucky coach.


Celtics Ready for Game at Rupp

October 15, 1997

Rick Pitino won't need directions to the gym tonight. Neither will Chris Mills, Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, the assistant coaches, nor Shaun Brown, the strength and conditioning coach.

They're all going home for the night.


Celtics Sneak Past Rick Mahorn and the Washington Bullets

Boston Celtics

5-1 (Won 4)
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Washington Bullets

1-4 (Lost 1)
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November 10, 1981
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Rick Pitino Making a Play for Derrick Coleman?

October 14, 1997

Rick Pitino mentioned yesterday that he'd still like to add a scoring big forward to the team. Does Derrick Coleman fill that need?

If he does, Pitino said, forget it. He dismissed a recent suggestion by Sixers basketball henchman Billy King that the Celtics had offered Dee Brown and Dana Barros for the Philly power forward. King said he needed a nanosecond to reject the offer.


Grampa Celtic Eulogizes the 1982-83 Celtics

Only the most myopic Celtics follower could not see it coming.

The Celtics were fated to lose this season; the only question was when.


Chauncey Billups Confident that Pitino will Stand by the #3 Pick


October 14, 1997

He knew that he wanted the tattoo, but he wasn't sure exactly how it should look. Chauncey Billups had a phrase in mind - "King of the Hill" - but he didn't have a firm idea of what else should adorn his left arm.

He looked through books of designs. Nothing. Then, the man doing the tattoo noticed Billups's shirt. It was a Celtics shirt, showing the leprechaun spinning  basketball. Bingo.


World Champion Bulls Already Scouting C's

October 11, 1997

The Celtics opened the game with their new green-and-white Nike-made shooting shirts. They also were wearing their traditional black sneakers but are expected to change to white for the start of the season . . . New Celtics radio play-by-play man Howard David did not make the trip because he is observing Yom Kippur. Ted Sarandis replaced him . . . Current Bulls assistant and former center Bill Cartwright attended the game. He is scouting the Celtics, preparing for the season opener in 20 days. Cartwright knows about Pitino debuts. The center was dealt from New York to Chicago because Pitino wanted another physical rebounder to play with Patrick Ewing. He wound up with Charles Oakley . . . The Celtics will meet the Hawks again tonight in Huntsville, Ala.


Game 2 of the Pitino Era about the Same as Game 1

October 12, 1997

This is not pickup basketball. There are not many NBA teams that play games in northern Alabama and State College, Pa., as the Celtics and Hawks did the last two nights. But it still is not the same as participating in a spontaneous game with four people you've never met, everyone playing as if he were an independent contractor. It's not like that in the pros. Well, not exactly.


Bruce Bowen: Point Guard?

October 11, 1997

You hadn't heard of him before this summer. If you had, there are only a few possible reasons for it:

1. You're an ambitious NBA scout, coach, general manager, or player.

2. You are a student of Miami Heat history.

3. You're a Cal State-Fullerton fan.

4. You were in France in 1994-95 and saw the man average between 23 and 30 points per game (more on that later) in the French Pro League.

Maybe you are described in one of the above categories. There still is no guarantee you've heard of Bruce Bowen, the 6-foot-7-inch player who is quickly becoming the most intriguing Celtic of October.


Celtics Crushed in NBAx Opener

October 11, 1997

Maybe this is why everyone said they weren't expecting anything special in the first exhibition game of the season. They knew what to expect. It's called sloppiness.

The Celtics began last night's game against the Hawks at Bryce Jordan Center with Bruce Bowen and Dee Brown at guard, Pervis Ellison at center, and Antoine Walker and Chris Mills at forward.


Brown and Walker Named Co-Captains

October 9, 1997

Dee Brown and Walker were named cocaptains by Pitino. This represents quite a comeback for Brown, who was stripped of his captaincy after asking out of town in January 1996. The veteran guard conceded that he wasn't sure what it took to be captain when he first got the job .


Pitino Knows How to Teach: But Will the Celtics Learn?

October 9, 1997,

The place is called Building 1801. The exterior painting is chipped. The inside reminds you of a hangar or barn rather than a basketball court. Walls? Please. If you run into a wall in this Naval Training gym, you'll probably be tumbling out the door. The Celtics are using a good facility for their training camp here, not a pretty one.

"We don't want it to be too nice for them," Rick Pitino said with a grin.


How Good is Antoine Walker?

October 6, 1997

How Good is Antoine Walker?

He doesn't make futuristic references when he speaks. Talk to him for a few moments and you learn that he demands greatness. Now. Want to make his hunger worse? Tell him someone, especially a forward, is a better player.


There is Still Time for Dee Brown

October 5, 1997

Dee Brown is ready.

"I've been waiting my whole career for a coach like this," he says. "High school, college, pro. I think I am ideal for his system. I'm definitely a player who is molded for his system."

The past is past. Some of it was nice and some of it wasn't, but Dee Brown has no intention of revisiting any of it. He is giving himself over to Rick Pitino and the Rick Pitino way of doing things.

Creeping up on age 29, he is a Born-Again Ballplayer.

He is also Pitino's first poster boy.


Williams finds green in Denver; but he still can't figure out Pitino

October 4, 1997

Eric Williams was a happy man as he eased through the handful of reporters at the Denver Nuggets' media day Thursday. He was the starting forward on a young, ever-rebuilding team. He had just signed a contract extension worth $ 33 million over six years, validating his belief in his ability and staying power.


Celtics have an Identity Crisis

October 3, 1997

Beginning today, you and the Celtics will be asking the same question: Who exactly are the Celtics?

The query is normal for most teams at the start of training camp, which begins today. After offseasons of rust and roster-tweaking, teams usually struggle to reestablish themselves. But we are talking about an extreme, find-your-identity case with the reconstructed Celtics.

You probably won't recognize the men in old green uniforms and new white shoes. That's good, considering the Celtics won 15 games last season. The bad news? They may not recognize each other for a while, either.


How Close Did the Rockets Come to Evening the Series 2-2 in 1986?

June 4, 1986


This marvel of a game never wound down and never wore down, but so wonderfully bruised down to a final minute where it all would be won or lost. It was a minute in which no points were scored, but it was a minute so full of a complete team's complete team play. It was a minute of Celtics defense, the best kind.


Why are the Celtics So Good? Perhaps the Answer Rests with #5

At times, it looks like one of those practice drills where the assistant coach throws up a deliberately missed shot, and the clubs runs a dummy 5-on-0 fast break following the retrieve. But for the Celtics ' opponents, the scene is all too real. Bill Walton has the capacity to make defensive rebounding look so easy that often there might as well be no rivals around. When he secures position underneath, it is now all over. An opponent's missed shot is a Walton rebound and a subsequent Boston transition.


Walton Gets Introduced at Da Gahden for the First Time

But even Bill Walton, who himself made the initial phone call to Red Auerbach that culminated in his leaving the lowly Los Angeles Clippers to join the mighty Boston Celtics, may not have fully appreciated his new environment until the pre-game announcements that kicked off the Celts' exhibition season against Philadelphia last Friday night at Boston Garden. "At center, number five, from U...C...L...A..." boomed P.A. announcer Andy Jick, who didn't get to finish. The crowd went wild as Walton trotted out, head bobbing as usual. The standing ovation continued for almost a minute. Thus began a love affair that seems as strange as it does wonderful.

"The tremendous community support, the love of basketball—the relationship that exists between the fans and the team was sort of startling to me, frankly," Walton had said earlier in the week, while sprawled on the grass at the Celts' training site in Brookline, Mass. "I definitely missed it with the Clippers. We had very, very intense fans at UCLA, and it was the same way at Portland [where Walton helped the Trail Blazers win their only NBA title, in 1977]," he said. "And it looks like it will be even greater here. I almost can't believe it."


It was indeed an instant and mutual love affair.


The Year the 6th Man Award was Won in January

JANUARY 22, 1986

The Lakers entered last night's game with their fans bragging about them as one of the greatest teams ever. But Celtics fans left the game savoring a victory from a team that may soon work its way into the ALL-TIME-GREAT-TEAMS debate.

The Celts won, 110-95, and the game wasn't even that close. Boston led by 23 in the fourth quarter and when the carnage was complete, none of the 14,890 could be heard mumbling, "Gee, I wish I was in New Orleans tonight."

Larry Bird (21 points 12 rebounds, seven assists) and Dennis Johnson (22, seven and six) led the Celts to a 16-point first half-lead, but it was new weapon Bill Walton who took over in the final period when the C's ran away with it.

Walton hit five of six floor shots and finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks and four standing ovations in 16 minutes. In the Celtic 1985-86 game plan, he is supposed to be the difference in this rivalry, and hoop fans from coast to coast will no doubt tout the genius of Red Auerbach when they read this box score today.

Regular-season victories don't establish much of anything, but this one should stifle the theory that the Lakers won't be tested this spring. It should also put a lid on those "best ever" stories about the Los Angeles team. LA has eight losses -- same as Boston. They have to worry about being the best in 1985-86 before they are compared with the best ever.

The Lakers led for only 50 seconds as the Celts won for the sixth straight time. Boston has won 10 of 11 since losing five of nine in December.

"They were certainly the better team tonight," admitted Kareem Abdul- Jabbar.

Abdul-Jabbar (3 for 14, 12 points) left his skyhook at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and James Worthy was invisible (5-15, 12 points). LA hummed the Big Chill soundtrack to the tune of 39 percent from the floor (worst of the year), and compiled a season-low 17 assists. Magic Johnson had 15 points, 6 assists and 1 rebound. Need we go on?

"They played excellent team defense," reasoned Abdul-Jabbar. "They blocked the middle, there was no room inside, and we didn't hit our outside shots."

Robert Parish, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds, did a particularly good job turning Abdul-Jabbar away from the basket.

The Celtics rode an 8-0 streak to a 15-7 lead in the first four minutes. Danny Ainge had the final four of the spurt, including a fast-break layup after stealing a Maurice Lucas pass.

LA responded with a heat-seeking 14-4 run and took a 21-19 lead on a three- point play by Lucas. K.C. Jones called time and replaced Kevin McHale with Walton. McHale has been hobbled by a sore left Achilles and had his worst offensive game (3-14, 12 points) in over a month.

McHale's defense was another story. "James (Worthy) was neutralized," said Lakers coach Pat Riley. "He had to shoot over a long arm."

Walton started a 7-0 run with a lefty hook over Kareem. Free throws by Bird and McHale powered the Celts to a 31-25 lead at the end of one. Ainge scored nine in the period, and LA never led again.

The Lakers missed 10 of 12 at the start of the second and DJ drove the Green to 10 straight points and a 47-31 lead. Parish scored on a dunk after handling an impossible Bird pass through a sea of legs, then DJ scored six straight on a tap, a drive and a jumper.

The Lakers cut it to eight by halftime, but Bird came out bombing in the third period and the Celts got the lead back to 13. It was then that Walton started to make his huge presense felt.

The final hoop of the third was a rugged follow-stuff by Walton. It was 88-75 and Celtic fans were chanting "Beat LA."

Then Walton took over the game. He hit an eight-foot turnaround banker to push the lead back to 16, then blocked a shot by A.C. Green which led to a Jerry Sichting transition jumper. Boston led, 95-78, with 10:04 left. Walton had six blocks when Bird checked in with 9:46 left. A Walton tap and free throw made it 98-79 with 8:10 left. There was one more block (a Mike McGee shot), then Walton came off with 7:55 showing and the Garden exploded.

A DJ jumper put the Celts ahead by 21 and the rout was on. Boston led, 102-79, with 5:15 left when Bird got his curtain call.

The rest was garbage.


Robert Parish, Bill Walton, and the Issue of Race


January 18, 1998
By Dan Shaughnessy

It's been ovation after ovation for the Chief. Boston basketball fans, a predominantly white crowd, always overcompensated in their appreciation of the Chief. He was, and is, the beneficiary of white guilt. Fans felt so guilty about their applause for Bird and McHale - both better players than Parish - that they went overboard when it came to the Chief. Parish never needed it. He was a great enough player on his own. And he was a player who chose to stay in the shadows. That's the way he liked it. He'd sneak out the locker room door while Bird and McHale were handing out the great quotes.

Chief was embraced anyway, but it was never enough. He'd occasionally stick the needle in, making a comment about how this was a city that likes its white stars. He was particularly irked at the response given to Bill Walton. In truth, Walton was cheered to a level beyond his contributions, but it's not because he was white. A latter-day Ernie Banks, playing for the Red Sox, would have been similarly adored. Still, whenever the Chief made a little dig about Boston liking white stars, lemmings at the Garden would just cheer even louder for Parish. They didn't want him to think they don't appreciate black stars. There was obviously nothing Parish could do to insult his Garden constituents. 

Now this is a juicy topic. One I don't believe I've seen addressed before in the blogosphere. So let's have a go at it.


Paul McCartney has Celtic Roots

October 5, 1997

There's an amazing photograph in the booklet that accompanies the CD of Paul McCartney's "Standing Stone," a new 78-minute work for chorus and orchestra.

At first glance, the photo looks like a routine shot of the London Symphony Orchestra in an Abbey Road studio during a break in the recording sessions. Some musicians are practicing, some are chatting with each other, and one is reading a book. A cellist, on the other hand, is looking at the music on her stand. She has her fingers in her ears, and she's sticking out her tongue.


Pitino opens boot camp

October 4, 1997

It is already obvious that Rick Pitino takes certain phrases literally.

Example 1: training camp. In today's NBA, training camp has become a basketball/male bonding hybrid. Often the idea of the week-long camp is more intimidating than the camp itself.

Not with the new Celtics coach and president. Yesterday was the team's Media Day, signaling the beginning of a new season. Pitino spoke for an hour, but that's all it took for everyone to see how seriously he takes training. It's not as if the man dropped subtle hints about his intentions. He had the chance to take his team to Cape Cod for camp. He decided that a military facility with ties to World War II would be better. So the soon-to-be running Celtics are in Newport, R.I., this morning at the Naval Education and Training Center.


There's gold for the green: Carr, Gaston among the officers who cashed in

September 27, 1997

The team lost as never before and the fans stayed away, but all in all, it wasn't a bad year for those who ran the Celtics.

Former coach M.L. Carr got a $ 1 million bonus for guiding the team to a franchise-worst 15 wins. Chairman of the board Paul Gaston got his salary bumped by 150 percent. And new hoop honcho Rick Pitino signed on for 10 years and $ 49.1 million to lead the team out of the hardwood wilderness.


Pitino Inc.

October 1, 1997

The Rick Pitino show is under way in Boston.

No, not the one for which the Boston Celtics are paying him $ 6.8 million a year to coach a sorry team back to greatness.

This is a separate act, starring Pitino - the man, the motivator, the product.

On Monday night, Pitino opened at Avalon, compliments of Crown Royal, a division of Seagram Co. of Canada.


Celtics $ 420,000 in black despite 2d worst record

September 27, 1997

The Boston Celtics Limited Partnership - despite the second worst record in the National Basketball Association - managed to turn a profit of $ 420,000 in the fiscal year ended June 30, according to documents filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That's down from $ 54.2 million net income in fiscal 1996, but that year the partnership picked up an extra $ 105 million by selling Channel 25 to Fox Television Stations Inc. It wasn't so lucky this year; the partnership had to rely on ticket sales and promotional revenues.


Rodman's offer to work for free is denied

September 18, 1997

Dennis Rodman made the Chicago Bulls an offer that sounded too good to be true: He suggested that the team pay him nothing up front, the Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday. Instead, he said, the Bulls should set up a sort of debit-card system with $ 10 million in an escrow account. When it came time to pay Rodman at the end of the season, the team could deduct a prorated amount for each game he was suspended. But Rodman's agent, Dwight Manley, said the NBA won't allow the deal . . . Former Celtics swingman Todd Day signed with the Miami Heat for the NBA veterans' minimum of $ 272,500. Day, a five-year pro, made $ 2.9 million last season in Boston . . . Rick Mahorn signed a one-year deal to return to the Pistons . . . Orlando Magic assistant coach Wayne "Tree" Rollins was charged with wiretapping his estranged wife's house and forging her name on an application for a home equity loan . . . The Seattle Mariners picked up the option year for Randy Johnson and have him under contract through 1998 . . . The Anaheim Mighty Ducks acquired Clinton's Scott Young from the Colorado Avalanche for a 1998 third-round draft pick.


Billups, Mercer in fold

September 9, 1997

Now that all of their players are signed, the Celtics have one question to answer: Who will be the one to go?

Someone in green probably will have to relocate. NBA rosters can accommodate 12 players, but the Celtics have 13 signed to guaranteed contracts. Barring a repeat of last season's they-all-fall-down American Medical Association Special, the Celtics will have to trim a guaranteed contract from the roster.

As expected, two deals were finalized yesterday when rookies Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer agreed to three-year contracts. Billups, picked third overall in the draft, will receive $ 7.3 million, as determined by the league's rookie wage scale. Mercer, selected sixth, is slotted at $ 6 million.

There'll be no Bird watching

September 7, 1997

Larry Bird won't be in the stands today when the Patriots invade the RCA Dome to play the Colts.

"It's unbelievable," says Bird, the new coach of the Indiana Pacers. "But I've never been to a pro football game. I've never been to a pro hockey game, either. I guess I'm not much of a sports fan."

Bird grew up in a state that had no pro football, no NBA basketball, and no major league baseball. Long known only as home of the Indy 500 and the best high school basketball tourney in America, the Hoosier State has made big strides in the last 20 years and hopes to be an important part of the American pro sports landscape in the next century.


LA ends Fox's hunt

August 27, 1997

One day it was Atlanta. The next day it was New York. The day after that it was somebody else, and then somebody else and so on and so forth until just about the only team that wasn't going to be signing Rick Fox was the Boston Celtics. It's a wonderful thing to be wanted.

Fox has finally made his choice.


Parish leaves lengthy legacy

August 26, 1997

OK, so Robert Parish went one year too long.

That leaves 20 years of greatness in a sport where you qualify for a pension if you can last four seasons. You will see the center jump restored to professional basketball before you see another player last 20 years in this sport. Robert Parish, who announced his retirement yesterday, played in more games than anyone else in NBA history, and that record is not likely to be threatened by anyone alive, in the oven, or present simply in the gleam of someone's eye.

Robert Parish entered the NBA in the Gerald Ford administration. He predates the 3-point shot, not to mention the VCR, the microwave, and the ATM. He played against Sen. Bill Bradley. He played against John Havlicek. He played against Bob Love, Campy Russell, David Thompson, George McGinnis, Downtown Freddy Brown, Elvin Hayes, and countless other outstanding players from the pre-David Stern NBA. That reminds me of something else. Robert Parish even predated ESPN by three years.


Celtics' gambling is a dicey situation

August 24, 1997

Chris Wallace is a renaissance general manager. He knows how to gather his collection of tapes and CDs and spend an afternoon listening to classic funk or R&B. He knows Big East football. He knows Harry S. Truman (he named his son after him). He knows the difference between Henry James the athlete and Henry James the novelist.

If you're a Celtics fan, you had better hope the GM knows how to gamble, too.

Wallace and his boss, Rick Pitino, have done exactly that in the past two months. It would be understandable if they were doing this at a Foxwoods blackjack table. There, you can throw down a lump of cash, lose, and feel the effects for the next week or so. But if you have a bad hand in the NBA's free agent game, it could stick with you for, say, seven years and cost, say, $ 22 million.

Think about that last sentence. It has only one "if"; the Celtics, though, have at least six of them. One is named Travis Knight. Another goes by Chris Mills. There's also Andrew DeClercq. And so on.

The gamble doesn't stop there. Signing a free agent is chancy enough, but that isn't the Celtics' highest stake. Their biggest risks are in their planning.

Remember the late spring afternoon when Wallace was hired? He said the idea was to land the Celtics three All-Stars, the NBA prerequisite for 50- and 60-win seasons. A good idea? Certainly. Here's the problem: The Celtics have added eight new players since Wallace came to town; none is an All-Star. Scan the roster for a player who has participated in an All-Star Game and you'll find one. His name is Dana Barros. And based on what we've heard, the Celtics have shopped him several times in the past few weeks.

Is it just me, or did someone else hear a sobering "uh-oh"?

The Celtics must have altars and other spiritual paraphernalia set up in their Merrimac Street offices because they're hoping - praying - for a lot. They are saying that Antoine Walker could be an All-Star. They say that Chauncey Billups could be one of the top five point guards in the league. They say Mills and Ron Mercer (who, by the way, could pass for first cousins) are better than people think. They say Knight has upside. They say Bruce Bowen is a sleeper.

But that's all speculation. It's like a teacher telling B students that they have valedictorian potential. Well, yeah, maybe they do. But what's up with the current report card?

Now, that's not to say the Celtics signed bad players. You need guys like Knight and Mills to win a championship. They love basketball and, just as important, they can run forever. They're also smart. After Mills's rookie season in Cleveland, he called the team's public relations office and asked for pictures of every referee in the league. He wanted to learn each face and put it with a name so when a call went against him he could say, "Come on, Danny," rather than, "What was that, ref?" He was observant enough to know that such details lead to respect from the officials.

But for every four Chris Millses on your team, you need a Vin Baker, a Gary Payton, or a Scottie Pippen. Today is Aug. 24. The Celtics are loaded with unproven and mid-level professionals. They won't have salary-cap flexibility any time soon. They need a Baker or a Pippen and are hoping that one arises from a player on the current roster. If that doesn't happen? Well, the Celtics won't exactly be dogs. They'll just be the guys who take their 42-45 wins into the spring and then go home.

To their credit, Wallace and Pitino have been aggressive, albeit controversially. They got cap space by buying out Dino Radja, renouncing nine players (including the team captain), and dealing 25-year-old Eric Williams to the Nuggets for two second-round picks.

The Celtics will win more than 15 games. But ask yourself this: How many players and years are they away from a title? One and three? Two and four? Three and five?

"Oh, we're definitely not leaning our heads out the window screaming that we're ready for the Finals," Wallace said. "We're not wetting our finger, putting it to the wind to see which way the wind is blowing and then making decisions from there. We've got a long way to go. What we've done is added depth and quality to our roster so that we can be competitive."

Yet another good plan. What happens, though, if Walker does become an All-Star next year? He'll be one season away from free agency. He'll be on a team that traded away Williams, his best friend. He'll be facing the 1999 NBA, a league that will probably dictate that he be paid at least $ 8 million or $ 9 million per season. Would he stay if he had the chance to go home and become a member of the Bulls?

Or say that Billups becomes the next Payton by the year 2000. A team comes his way, armed with loot. Does he stay?

Wallace and Pitino have already gambled that Mills will be better than Williams. They have already gambled that a promising Knight is more important to the franchise than a proven Rick Fox. They have already gambled that their potential All-Stars will grow into actual stars. And if that happens, they have gambled that they can either re-sign those stars or find an acceptable alternative for them in a trade.

"The beauty of sports is that we can debate all this and have different opinions about it," Wallace said. "That's what keeps this all going; that's why sports are so popular."

Wallace and Pitino believe they have made the correct decisions. They didn't take their chances with cards and dice. They came to their game with pens, long-term contracts and hope. The contracts are signed. Only hope remains.


Mills, Edney in new Celtic mix

August 23, 1997

They are now a team made over, nearly nipped and tucked beyond recognition. The New Celtics still wear green-and-white uniforms, but that wardrobe is among the few links to last season's 15-67 crew. Rick Pitino and Chris Wallace believe they have made more than surface changes to the Celtics. They think most of the guys coming in are upgrades over the ones who have gone away.

So yesterday the surgery continued. The Celtics signed forward Chris Mills from the Cavaliers and guard Tyus Edney from the Kings while waving goodbye to Eric Williams. Under M.L. Carr, the 25-year-old Williams was touted as one of the forwards of the future. Now he is a forward of the Rocky Mountains after being dealt to Denver Thursday night for two second-round draft picks, in 1999 and 2001. Losing a 15-point scorer for a couple of second-rounders doesn't seem like a fair return, but Wallace explained that the picks are only a portion of the trade.

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