Celtics Crush Bulls

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 106, Bulls 83

Record 35-9

February 1, 1984


Bad team, bad crowd, bad building, bad neighborhood. On nights such as this, the Celtics can only beat themselves - which is something they have refused to do in this magical mystery tour through NBA America. The Celtics picked up where they left off before the All-Star break last night, pounding the pitiful Chicago Bulls, 106-83, before 9430 at archaic Chicago Stadium. How bad are the Bulls? The Celtics outrebounded Chicago, 64-42. Boston shot 38 percent in the first half and still managed to build a 52-39 lead.

How apathetic are the Chicago fans? When Rod Higgins, who almost died on the Madison Square Garden floor two weeks ago, made his first appearance since the accident, hardly anyone noticed. Of course, by then, the Celtics were running the Baby Bulls silly and it was hard to get excited about anything unless you took pleasure in the shameless showcasing of Reggie Theus. Boston's highlights were many. Larry Bird hit 12 of 20 and led with 28. All 12 Celtics scored. Robert Parish (20 mintutes, only three in the second half) got some well-deserved rest and the lead over Philadelphia is up to 5 1/ 2 games.

These easy victories have to be viewed in perspective. Beating Cleveland and Chicago is always expected, but it takes total concentration and commitment to avoid letdowns. In winning six straight, and 26 of 30 since Nov. 22, the Celtics have demonstrated an ability to stay the course without ugly, untimely upsets. "We're on a mission," said Kevin McHale, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes. "We really want to get everything and keep moving forward. Last year at this time we started to fall apart and we don't want to let it happen again. When we get ahead by 10, we try to make it 20. When we get to 20, we try to make it 30."

They were up by 13 at intermission. Bird had one of those halves (9 of 15 from the floor) in which he appears capable of making anything from inside halfcourt. "Robert set some good picks and I had it going pretty well," said Bird, who always enjoys playing near his Indiana motherland. "It was one of those nights when I though my off-balance shots would fall and anything I threw up would go in." The Bulls got back to within 10 briefly in the third period, but Dennis Johnson scored nine points in five minutes, and Bird and McHale repeatedly beat the Bulls down the floor. Cement-footed Dave Corzine made McHale look like Norm Nixon. When McHale wasn't leading the break with easy baskets, Bird was dropping in open jumpers and Greg Kite and Carlos Clark were getting antsy.

"When we have Larry going for rebounds (12), I know he's going to get it; so I just try to beat my guy down the floor," said McHale. "Running is our game and we've got to keep doing it," added K.C. Jones. "Early in the year we were walking the ball up the court a lot. We must run." A 12-2 Celtics' surge late in the third quarter made it 84-59. The only remaining question was whether Chicago would crack 80. Boston led, 91-67, with 7:17 left. Victory cigar Kite appeared with 4:49 left and Clark came in nine seconds later. A Scott Wedman basket with 2:34 left gave the Celtics their biggest lead (99-74), and M.L. Carr ended it with a three-pointer. Chicago coach Kevin Loughery could only shake his head. The Bulls shot 38 percent (33 for86) and were outrebounded by 22. "You can't shoot 38 percent against them and expect to beat them. Against a great team like Boston, you can't get down by 13 in the first half and expect to fight back."

The only highlight for Chicago fans was the appearance of Theus, who's spent more time in the doghouse than Snoopy. Sir Reggie has played in only four of the last 17 games. When Theus walked on the floor, organist Nancy Faust played "When The Saints Come Marching In." When Theus scored, Faust played "She Works Hard For The Money." Mr. Solid Gold Dancer ended up with a team-high 15.


Danny Ainge and Quinn Buckner continue to pile up the minutes. Ainge played 22 minutes last night; Buckner was on the floor for 26. "The second quarter was the key for us," said K.C. Jones. "Danny and Quinn did the job bringing the ball up." . . . Ainge, who says he isn't going to shave until the Celtics lose, broke his string of 76 consecutive minutes without a turnover. He had three last night . . . Gerald Henderson was 1 for 8 from the floor and missed three three-pointers . . . The Celtics are 19-2 against the Central Division . . . Chicago's point-total (83) was its low for the year . . . Washington appears to be the new team in the Reggie Theus hunt. Bulls general manager Rod Thorn admits an Eastern team is hot on the trail, and Bullets GM Bob Ferry has been in Chicago for a couple of days. After last night's 25-minute opportunity, Theus said, "This is basically a situation that has gotten out of hand. I understand the coach's situation, but I also understand that there have been many times when we needed what I do best." . . . Kevin McHale, a native of Hibbing, Minn., is still in mourning over the retirement of longtime Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant . . . The Celtics are home for three straight against Kansas City (tonight), Indiana (Friday) and Detroit (Sunday afternoon).


Maravich Reflects on Pro Career

1983-84 Boston Celtics
January 28, 1984

His eyes are still big and brown with a trace of sadness at the corners. His game was glitter, gold and greatness with the same strands of sadness around the edges. Pete Maravich played in the NBA All-Star game in Detroit in 1979. He was 30 years old and he would average 22.6 points for the New Orleans Jazz that season. Today, Pistol Pete will be an old-timer. He will be running alongside 57- year-old Dick McGuire and 57-year-old Bill Sharman in the NBA's All-Star weekend Old-Timers classic. It won't seem right. Maravich, who finished his career with the Celtics in 1980, looks as if he could still play. Why not? Bob Lanier and Dan Issel, who came in with Maravich, are still playing in the NBA.

The Pistol hung up his Green sneakers two days before the start of the Celtics' 1980-81 exhibition season. "M.L. Carr told me to stick around because they were going to win a championship," he recalls. "I said, I know, but you'll have to win it without me.'" They did. Maravich admits he regrets not being part of an NBA championship, and sadly adds, "My pro career wasn't much fun at all."

His college career was fun. Playing for his father, Press Maravich, Pistol Pete led the NCAA in scoring for three consecutive seasons. Rick Mount was wowing 'em at Purdue and Calvin Murphy was a diminutive dandy for Niagara, but Maravich was the one who scored the most points and generated the most publicity. Floppy hair, floppy socks and the ability to score from anywhere were his trademarks. He scored 50 or more points 10 times in 1970. He set records that still stand. He was Atlanta's first-round pick in 1970 and played four years for the Hawks before they shipped him to his New Orleans motherland. In 1976-77 he led the NBA with a 31.1 scoring average, but the Jazz rarely won, and the highly paid Pistol was waived on Jan. 17, 1980. He was signed by Red Auerbach five days later.

"We didn't get him to Boston until the tail end of his career," says Auerbach, who will be Maravich's coach today. "But he was one of the great passers, shooters and ballhandlers who ever played." With Larry Bird, Dave Cowens & Co., Maravich played nine games in the 1980 playoffs and averaged six points. Bill Fitch's 1980 fall camp was Maravich's last. "You have your time," he says. "When you're a professional athlete you have your time, and then you go on and do other things. My time was too short. I missed about 180 games with injuries while I was playing, and I was done when I was 31. Longevity is important, and that's something I didn't have. I could have continued to play, no doubt about that, but I figured 10 years was enough."

He was a gunner at every level, and his teams rarely finished over .500, but he says, "What people don't understand is that basketball is a team game. One individual is never going to make or break a team. Ralph Sampson is a good example. I heard about how he was going to turn it around for Houston, but he hasn't. One guy just can't do it." Maravich's life is different now. He spends a lot of time with his wife and two sons. He dabbles in real estate and has business activities in Florida and New Orleans. He says he doesn't miss the game. He says the only reason he's here this weekend is because his good friend, Mike Cole (formerly a marketing executive with the Celtics), asked him to participate.

Like John Havlicek and Rick Barry, Maravich looks young and fit enough to keep up with tomorrow's All-Stars. He's been a strict vegetarian for four years and runs a summer basketball camp in Clearwater, Fla. "I've been able to adapt," he says. "Since I was 12 years old, I've lived in a fishbowl, but I haven't missed all the attention since I retired. I knew it wasn't going to be forever."


Bird Rebounds from Bad Texas Trip

1990-91 Boston Celtics

There was nothing magical or mystical about Larry Bird's offensive rejuvenation last night at Boston Garden, where he set the tone early for the Celtics ' 129-111 romp over the Bucks.

Bird had a grand total of 38 points over a very long three-game weekend in Texas while hitting just 15 of 51 shots and only 2 (albeit important) of 8 3-pointers.


Slimmer Quinn Buckner Making a Difference

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 119, Bucks 105
Record: 2-1

If you ask Quinn Buckner, he'll tell you he owes his success to clean living and target practice. Translated, that means the veteran Celtic guard is off to the kind of season he envisioned a year ago when he came here from Milwaukee. Before the Celtics' 119-105 victory over the Bucks last night in their home opener, all eyes were on Milwaukee's Tiny Archibald. But afterward, most of the sellout crowd at the Garden was singing the praises of Buckner, who scored 16 points and gave Boston an unexpected lift with the kind of outside shooting that he didn't have a year ago.

"I've really been shooting well since training camp," said Buckner. "The way I thought I would when I came here a year ago. I owe a lot of it to keeping my weight down and shooting all summer, with Junior Bridgeman of Milwaukee, would you believe. Since training camp, I've been shooting with Larry Bird. They are two pretty good shooters, and maybe some of it rubbed off."

On paper the Bucks figured to have a slight edge because they could bomb away outside with the likes of Sidney Moncrief, Bridgeman and Archibald. No team with a Larry Bird can be called bashful about shooting from the outside, but it was thought that if Gerry Henderson got into foul trouble, the Celtics had only one other pure shooter at guard, Danny Ainge. Sure enough, Henderson did get into foul trouble in the third quarter, with Boston leading by only 69-67. In came Buckner, who had hit 4 of 5 shots in the first half, and out went the best-laid plans of Bucks' coach Don Nelson. With Boston leading, 72-70, Buckner hit a 16-footer from the right baseline to give the Celtics a four-point lead, and the Bucks never came any closer.

"Quinn did just a super job," insisted Celtics' coach K.C. Jones. "He showed that he's not only a great defensive player, but also that he's a leader. He hit some big shots from the outside." Nelson, the man who let Buckner go to Boston for Dave Cowens, agreed that Buckner's play was an important factor in Boston's victory. "On defense, we had a lot of problems getting by him," said Nelson. "He's improved a lot. I think it is because he approached the season well. His weight is down and he is playing well on both ends of the floor."

Buckner's fine play off the bench is something that future Celtics' foes will have to think about. If he is successful as an outside shooter, it will mean that Boston has four interchangable guards. Dennis Johnson and Henderson are the starters. "Right now," said Buckner, "we're able to get a lot of versatility out of the guard situation. D.J. is playing very well inside, and I'm trying to make whatever contribution I can make.
"Right now, the jump shot is going. Defensively, I'm just playing aggressively. I think that's what we have to have, guards playing aggressively to get the forwards and centers playing the same way."

Buckner said the key for him was his preseason approach. He lost 10 pounds by dieting right after last season, and spent the whole summer keeping weight off and working his shot. "It paid off," he said. "I was aware of the guard situation when I came to camp. All I had to worry about was getting my game in shape, and learning what was expected of me and my teammates. "I feel better than I did last year. I thought I was going to shoot like this then. But I got hurt in training camp and I didn't get started the way I like. You live and you learn in this game."


How Red Auerbach Built the 1986 Celtics

Charlie Scott Becomes Larry Bird


In June of 1977, the Los Angeles Lakers traded Lucius Allen to the Kansas City Kings for Ollie Johnson and two draft choices, a first and a second in 1978. Six months later, during the 1977-78 season, the Lakers sent the first-round draft choice they had received from Kansas City along with Don Chaney and Kermit Washington to Boston for guard Charlie Scott. The 1978 draft choice the Celtics received from Kansas City, by way of the Lakers, turned out to be the eighth selection in
the first round. Because they had that selection, the Celtics were able to gamble with their own first-round draft choice, the sixth selection, and take Larry Bird, who completes his senior season at Indiana State before signing with the Celtics.

Sidney Wicks becomes Tiny Archibald and Danny Ainge

July 1978

After the 1978 campaign the Celtics moved Sidney Wicks to the Buffalo Braves (which became the San Diego Clippers) for Tiny Archibald, Marvin Barnes, Billy Knight and two second round draft picks (one that turned into Danny Ainge). 

Bob McAdoo becomes Robert Parish  and Kevin McHale

February 1979

Phyllis George, the fiancee of Celtics' owner John Y. Brown, liked McAdoo. A lot. So Brown got McAdoo, a high-scoring forward, from the Knicks for three first-round draft picks. Such is love. McAdoo lasted 20 games with the Celtics before he was sent to Detroit (and coach/GM Dick Vitale) as compensation for the signing of free agent M.L. Carr. The Celtics also got two first-round draft choices in the deal, picks that eventually would be bartered for Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.

Rick Robey becomes Dennis Johnson

June 1983

Boston swaps second-string center Rick Robey and two second-round picks for four-time All-Star and future HOFer Dennis Johnson. The Phoenix Sun's also included their first- and second-round picks in that year's draft.

Cedric Maxwell becomes Bill Walton

Summer 1985

The story begins on June 10, 1985, the day after the Celtics fell to the Lakers at home in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The season was over. Emotions were high. And while there was plenty of blame to go around, the Celtics -- especially Red Auerbach -- pinned most of it on Cedric Maxwell. Long story short, Max had undergone arthroscopic knee surgery that February and the team didn’t think he’d worked hard enough in rehab. They didn’t think he was in adequate shape for the playoffs. By
the time the Finals rolled around, Maxwell (who averaged 11 points in the regular season) played only 10 minutes a game and scored a total of 13 points.

This drove Red Auerbach insane. Especially since he’d just signed Maxwell to a hefty three-year extension. So Red went into that offseason dead set on shipping Cornbread out of town. (And, for good measure, Auerbach called the editor on his latest book, still in production, and had every positive mention of Maxwell deleted.)

Anyway, on this afternoon, the day after that horrible loss to the Lakers and the death of another championship dream, Auerbach held a meeting at the Garden -- it was him, general manager Jan Volk, head coach K.C. Jones, assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers, and some guy named Larry Bird -- to discuss the previous season and the upcoming offseason. At one point Red’s secretary came over with a message:

Bill Walton called.

By the time Red called back, Walton had already left on a European vacation, so the conversation had to wait. But everyone knew what Walton was calling about. He wanted another ring.

Celtics add  Wedman and Sichting 

January 1983

The Celtics acquire Scott Wedman from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a little-known player named Darren Tillis, a future first-round draft choice and about $800,000. Wedman later led the Celtics to a 148-114 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals by scoring 26 points. He nailed all 11 of his shots, including four 3-pointers. That effort surpassed the 11-of-12 mark set by Bill Bradley of the Knicks and James Worthy of the Lakers in previous series.

October 1985

The Celtics acquire Jerry Sichting from the Indiana Pacers for two second-round draft picks. Sichting shot an eye-opening 56% from the field during the 1985-86 season (who is left to guard the diminutive and largely unknown Sichting when everyone else is being double-teamed?), coming off the bench to fill in at both guard positions.


The Mchale-Ainge-Bird Dynamic


Jackie Mac

During the time I covered Ainge in the '80s, I always saw him as a little brother to Bird and McHale. (He was two years younger than the former and 15 months younger than the latter.) In effect, he took on the same position he held in his own family under Doug (four years older) and Dave (three years older). McHale could goof off with the best of them—from time to time he would sneak a snack on the bench—but it was Ainge who acted as if he were 10, showing up at practice wearing goofy headbands and adhesive-taped names on his jersey. Lamar Mundane, a fictional playground legend who was the subject of a Reebok commercial at the time, was one of Ainge's favorites. Bird and McHale ragged him for his boyish enthusiasm and I-got-screwed whining during games. Only when Bill Walton came to the Celtics in 1985, giving Bird and McHale a new target, did Ainge slither off the hook.

Still, Ainge was the player most plugged into the complex Bird-McHale dynamic. "Larry would always come to me and say, 'Hey, go tell Kevin this,' and Kevin would come to me and say, 'Go tell Larry that.' They were such great players, but sometimes they didn't know how to talk to each other and how to yell at each other. But they knew how to yell at me."


Celtics on Record Pace

1990-91 Boston Celtics

Merry Christmas Celtics, Part Two: Philadelphia coach Jimmy Lynam needs to catch Boston to win the Atlantic Division. He admits the way they are playing, it'll be a tough task.

"They're shooting what? About 53 percent 53.1, and see what they are holding people to 44.1," said Lynam. "To me, that's a startling disparity. Someone should do some research to see the last team to do that. That obviously translates into a lot of W's."

As a matter of fact, since defensive field goal percentages have been recorded (1970-71), no one has finished with a disparity as high as 9 points.

In 1970-71, the Milwaukee Bucks shot .504 and held teams to .424 for a disparity of 8 points. The following year, when they set the league record for opponents' field goal percentage (.420), they shot .498 for a disparity of 7.8.

Last season, Utah was the only team in the league that shot 50 percent or better (.505). Defensively, they held teams to .455 for a disparity of 5 points. Boston shot .498 last year and held teams to .466 for a disparity of 3.2 points, second only to the Jazz.

During the 1984-85 season, the Lakers set the league mark for field goal percentage at .545. They held opponents to .480 for a disparity of 6.5. Los Angeles won the title that year.

In short, Lynam is right. Nine percentage points between your team and the one you're playing is outstanding. It's called getting it done on both ends, and what better Christmas present could you ask for?


C's Beat Bulls as Bird Goes for 30, 10, & 10

1983-84 Boston Celtics
April 9, 1984

First, it was a rainy, blah Sunday. Second, the Celtics already were assured of the NBA's best record. Third, they were playing Chicago (27-51). This is a list of reasons to explain away the Celtics' slip-slidin' 117-110 victory yesterday. Several hundred fans among the announced sellout Garden crowd and five players didn't show up, including Celtics guards Danny Ainge (sprained left ankle) and Gerald Henderson (hamstring), ending his 327 consecutive-game streak. Cedric Maxwell (Achilles tendinitis) didn't play, either, but at least he was there.


ML Carr Re-Ups with C's

Summer 1983

Free agent forward/guard M.L. Carr is expected to sign a two-year contract with the Celtics over the weekend. "We expect to finish it tomorrow," Celtics general manager Red Auerbach said yesterday. "M.L. will probably be out at camp." Auerbach's annual rookie camp opens in Marshfield today. No. 1 pick Greg Kite, ex-CBA guard John Schweitz, free agents Greg Stewart and James Ray, plus nine other Boston draft selections will participate in the scrimmages which begin tonight at Marshfield High School at 7:30.

Auerbach said that veterans Gerald Henderson, Dennis Johnson and Kevin McHale also plan to participate before the rookie camp closes next Thursday. The 32-year-old Carr has been with the Celtics since 1979. His last contract, which paid him $315,000 in 1982-83, expired at the end of last season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were reportedly interested in his services. Auerbach wouldn't discuss Carr's contract terms, but the Celtics had made it clear they would expect Carr to take a pay cut after playing only only 11 minutes and averaging 4.3 points last year.

Bill Walton Comes of Age


When Portland Trail Blazer Coach Jack Ramsay arrived to take over his duties last spring, he announced: "I'm a Bill Walton man." The declaration made him a minority of one in the Pacific Northwest.


Bird Talks Begin

Summer 1983

Celtics general manager Red Auerbach and Bob Woolf, agent for Larry Bird, both said things went well yesterday in preliminary discussions for a contract that will keep the star forward in Boston. "We hope to get Bird signed for 10 years so that he'll always be a Celtic," said Woolf.

Bird has said he will become a free agent next year unless a new deal is worked out before the start of the season. Auerbach reported that discussions with free agent M.L. Carr also went well. "I'll think about the Celtics' offer over the weekend and then make a decision," said Carr, who also has an offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers to consider.


Don't look for Eric Fernsten at Auerbach's rookie camp that starts in Marshfield tomorrow night. The 6-foot-10 veteran center/forward, who was cut from the Celtics last October, has not taken a physical and plans to play in Rick Robey's golf tournament in Lexington, Ky.

"They (the Celtics) called me 15 minutes before my appointment for a physical and I told them I couldn't make the appointment," said Fernsten. "I have to work to pay a lot of bills I couldn't pay last year.

"Besides, I hadn't planned on being there (Marshfield) the way it was written. I can't because I'm not under contract. And you can't go into camp without a contract, especially knowing how well their medical staff takes care of people." The league arbitrator has yet to rule on a grievance Fernsten filed againstthe Celtics last fall. He claims he was injured with a hernia when he was cut. Would Fernsten drop his grievance if he returned to the Celtics?

"If they wanted to get me to camp and sign me properly, yes." The Celtics developed new interest in Fernsten when Robey was traded to Phoenix, leaving rookie Greg Kite as Robert Parish's backup (Boston prefers Kevin McHale at forward). Fernsten, who'll be 30 in November, is also talking with the Knicks and the Nets.

McHale Retires

January 30, 1994
Section: SPORTS


To some who know him best, the most lasting memory of former Celtics star Kevin McHale won't be his long arms or his unstoppable low-post moves. It will be his happy-go-lucky attitude.

"He's a comedian," said Celtics center Robert Parish. "That's what I'll remember most, how easy-going he was. He's a very fun-loving guy. He never took things too seriously.


Bird Ready to Talk $$$

July 1983

Celtics forward Larry Bird said yesterday he will not talk contract with club management once the season begins - even if the ownership question is still unsettled. "I won't have nothing to do with it once the season starts," said Bird, who was in town to receive the Seagram's 7 Crowns award as the league's best player. "And they knew that last year. I told them before the season was over - if you want to get it done, get it done now."

Celtics Rebound from Opening Night Loss

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 109, Cavaliers 89
Record: 1-1

While you were cranking the night-table clock back an hour, the Celtics were wishing they could go back 24 hours and replay Friday's Detroit Disgrace. Instead, they put the first-game loss behind them and methodically defeated the all-new, but still lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, 108-89, last night. Boston's victory salvaged an opening weekend split and averted the humiliation of an 0-2 start against two perennial NBA doormats.

The Celts knew that another loss would have inspired sheer panic. Cries and whispers would have tracked them for weeks, or worse, they might have been sentenced to a season of prop-plane shuttling between Detroit and Cleveland. Accordingly, they came out and blowtorched the Cavs with a heat-seeking, 12-0 surge after the opening tap.

Robet Parish (nine in the quarter, three more than he scored all night in Pontiac) started it with a patented turnaround. Then Gerald Henderson (18) took a pass from Parish in the lane and laid it in. While Lonnie Shelton and the Cavs were missing their first nine shots, Larry Bird (16 points, 13 rebounds) took time for a routine jumper. A pop from out top by Dennis Johnson made it 8-0 and forced a time out. After the pause, Henderson drove for two more to make it 10-0, and Bird hit an 18-footer from the right to complete the shutout. The Celts hit nine of their first 11 shots and 14 of 20 in the quarter. So much for any fears you had about the unthinkable happening two nights in a row.

"It wasn't quite as ugly as last night," said Parish. "I wanted to make sure we got into the swing of things early. Tonight we were definitely ready to play from the first jump ball." "We gave them 16 fast-break points in the first quarter," said Cleveland coach Tom Nissalke. "You can't let any team get off on you like that, especially a team like the Celtics." Cav guard Geoff Huston got Cleveland on the scorebord with 7:21 left in the quarter, but the Cavaliers would never get closer than three the rest of the night. The Celts led, 18-6, midway through the period and 29-20 after one.

Cleveland's first-quarter total represented an 18-point defensive improvement by the Celtics, who allowed Detroit 38 in the first period Friday. Early in the second, the Cavs fought back and pulled to within three at 35-32 on a nice drive by ex-BC great John Bagley. K. C. Jones called time and after the pause, Boston scored seven straight to go back up by 10. Then, still-torrid Kevin McHale (22, 8 for 11 from the floor) undressed Cav center Ben Poquette, scoring 12 points in the period, and Boston led, 55-44, at intermission. The C's hit 60 percent (24 for 40) in the half and committed only seven turnovers.

Led by World B. Free (23), the Cavs pulled to within seven briefly in the third, but Henderson, Bird and DJ picked Cleveland apart and, when McHale scored with 2:30 left in the period, Boston's lead swelled to 79-58. The fourth quarter was a slow-motion special, featuring the debuts of Greg Kite and Carlos Clark. Both rookies scored their first pro points before the final buzzer. "Winning this game is a relief," said Henderson. "Last night's loss was not the way we wanted to start the season. The first half tonight - that's the way we wanted to get started."

Jones added, "We did a much better job putting pressure on them. That helped us get the fast break going and the ball was dropping. The 12-0 start showed that our running game is still effective." It also showed that the Cavs are still inept. New uniforms, new owners, a new logo, a new paint job on the floor, four new rookies and a still fat Lonnie Shelton couldn't change the fact that they are still the same old Cavs. Celtic fans should be happy that the Cavaliers came along just when Boston needed them.


Is Travis Knight the Next Jack Sikma?

July 13, 1997

Two deals last week gave credence to the truest of all NBA truisms: You can't coach height.

Starting next season, Bryant "Big Country" Reeves will become Bryant "Big Payday" Reeves, collecting an average of $ 10.888 million over the next six years from the Vancouver Grizzlies. We are not making this up. We presume it's US dollars.

Eye on Pitino

Aug 17, 1997

There won't be any bugs in the lights or surveillance cameras hidden in the bleachers at Brandeis, but the NBA insists it will monitor Rick Pitino's "voluntary" workout sessions the next two weeks. "We are keeping an eye on the situation," said Jeffrey Mishkin, the league's executive vice president and chief legal officer. "We will enforce our rules." The rules say that teams can't have practices, scrimmages, or workouts with the regular roster players before the start of training camp. Individual workouts with coaches are permitted. So, you think Pitino is having all these players in this week and next for one-on-ones with the coaching staff? Or that there will be no drills, scrimmages, workouts, or anything else that might be construed as a practice? Or that there really is a Tooth Fairy? Not eager to come down too hard, the NBA nevertheless did call the Celtics again last week - by our count, that's three notices this summer - to remind them what the rules are . . . Pitino isn't the only one who likes to look at his players a lot.


Rookie McHale Impresses as Playoffs Open

April 6, 1981
Kevin McHale, playing more like a veteran than a rookie today in his first National Basketball Association playoff game, sparked the Celtics to a 121-109 victory over the Chicago Bulls at Boston Garden.


Douglas to Take Leave of Absence, Undergo Psyche Eval

December 28, 1992

Douglas to Take Leave of Absence, Undergo Psyche Eval

Celtics guard Sherman Douglas has been granted an undetermined leave of absence but will be paid, according to team officials.

Douglas is expected to miss tonight's game against New York. He announced his intention to leave the team Wednesday morning and did not participate in the Celtics' 114-91 loss at Indiana that night.

However, Douglas accompanied the team to Boston after the game. He did not attend practice yesterday."Sherman is having problems with his role on the team," chief executive officer Dave Gavitt said. "They are emotional problems. He is going through things he hasn't gone through before.

"We need to be supportive of him at this time and let him work things out. Being an NBA player is not an easy thing. Like anyone who is playing with a sprained ankle or another problem, he needs help. That help depends on an evaluation of where he
is at."

Gavitt would not say whether Douglas would be receiving psychiatric evaluation.
Douglas, 26, had announced that he would leave the team after he received 20 minutes of playing time during the Celtics' 124-119 double-overtime victory at Minnesota Tuesday. Douglas had removed his shoes while on the bench after halftime.

However, Douglas decided to remain with the team and was counseled by Gavitt, Larry Bird, agent Eric Fleisher, coach Chris Ford and general manager Jan Volk. During the return flight, Celtic players were advised to support Douglas.

Gavitt said Douglas' confidence had been affected. Apparently, lack of playing time had been a factor.

"Our evaluation of Sherman in the Minnesota game was not negative," Gavitt said. "It was negative in his mind, but Sherman is his own worst critic. He is a far harsher critic than the coaching staff.

"He has high standards, and this is the first time in his life that he is struggling to meet them. He has to get his self-confidence back. At this level, he needs it. All players go through slumps in an 82-game season. This one is a little more
than that."

Douglas joined the Celtics Jan. 10, when he was acquired from Miami in a trade for Brian Shaw. The team apparently hoped that Douglas would become the starting point guard. However, Douglas sprained an ankle and John Bagley remained the starter
through the playoffs.

The Celtics did not offer Bagley a contract for this season, hoping to alleviate pressure on Douglas. However, Douglas lost the starting position after nine games. His replacement, Dee Brown, had only briefly played the position in the NBA. The Celtics have rallied after having won but two of their first 10 games and now have a 10-12 record. Brown has been the starting point guard, and Douglas has averaged about 16 minutes of playing time.

"We are behind him 100 percent," Brown said. "But I can't tell what is going on inside his head." Gavitt would not announce a contingency plan. The simplest scenario would be to sign Bagley as a replacement, but it is unlikely Bagley would be willing to rejoin the Celtics under such circumstances.

"It's the NBA and we have to play 82 games," Ford said. "We will be facing all sorts of problems. We'll have to see if this is short-term or long-term and then discuss the ramifications.

"Personally, I'm very concerned. I wish (Douglas) all the best and hope everything is resolved. We are taking this seriously, and the well-being of Sherman Douglas is most important."

27-6 Run Propels C's to Victory

January 19, 1980

The Celtics gave another Garden capacity crowd some of that old-time fast- break and team-concept religion last night, blowing the Portland Trail Blazers out with a devastating third-period run and cruising to a 111-93 victory.


Rick Fox: Celtics Latest Sixth Man

After four years, Rick Fox may be finding his niche in the Boston Celtics ' storied sixth-man role.

It has been more than 35 years since Coach Red Auerbach introduced a distinctive "sixth man" concept to the Boston Celtics.


McHale: There was no "Garnett to the Celtics" Conspiracy

“First of all, I have an owner. Then on my staff I have like seven guys. So for that whole thing to happen, it would have had to be, ‘OK, this is what we’re doing because we like Danny, but you can’t tell the owner that.’ Like that could ever happen. Are you kidding me? We sat down and put every offer on the board, then hashed them and rehashed them. We went over it 5,000 times, and the one constant that kept coming up was that at 22, Al (Jefferson) was the best anchor piece that we could get. That’s what it came down to. Ok?"

Ok. Kevin.

We believe you.


Bob Ryan's Altnernative Ending to 1988

Five couldn't beat seven or eight, and it certainly couldn't beat nine. The sad reality of the Celtics' playoff demise is that this much-discussed bench crisis never had to be.

This could hardly be termed second-guessing, either, not when everyone watching this team since the fall has recognized that in Reggie Lewis and Brad Lohaus, the Celtics finally had those fresh, young and talented bodies people have been longing for in these parts. Could they have made a difference against the armed might of Chuck Daly's well-stocked Pistons? Probably not.

They weren't ready to play. Could they have made a difference if they were ready to play?

Ah, that's an entirely different matter.

Paxson Chooses #4


A number long sitting in mothballs has been exhumed for Jim Paxson. The newest Celtic will wear the No. 4, last seen on the back of former Boston College star Gerry Ward in the 1964-65 season.

Others who wore that number were, in reverse order, Clyde Lovellette (who also wore 34), Carl Braun, Ken Rollins, Sonny Hertzberg, Tony Lavelli (who also wore 11), Saul Mariaschin and Wyndol Gray.


Hondo's Last Game

Parish Goes for 17, 15, and 5 in Win

November  1980

This game was reason enough to own a home video recorder. You could just picture a Celtic junkie sliding this tape into his apparatus on July 4.

The Celtics were so good at times that the championship flags stood up and saluted. They were so sloppy and bumbling at times that Bill Fitch had all he could do not to send one of his assistants out for a shotgun. Most of all they were aggressive, gutsy, human, lovable and tall. Very, very tall.


Grampa Celtic: Losing to Milwaukee More Palatable than Losing to Philly

May 1983

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

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

It's Good to be the King

Bobby Orr, Bill Russell, and David Ortiz, along with Ty Law (not pictured), threw out the first pitches Monday.

Was KG a Flawed Superstar?

Kevin Garnett is an eleven-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time All-NBA selection, and a former MVP. He is the all-time leader in NBA seasons played with averages of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists per game.

He is the best player on a team with by far the best record in the NBA. That team, the Boston Celtics, went from one of the worst defensive teams in the league last year, to the best defensive team in the league this year. The Celtics lead the league in fewest points allowed per game, opponents' field goal percentage, opponents' three-point percentage, and fewest points in the paint allowed per game. KG, along with coach Tom Thibodeau, is given the lion's share of the credit for the Celtics stifling brand of defense.

Las Vegas has the Celtics odds-on-favorites to win their first NBA title in 22 years.

Yet the critics remain.

A Minneapolis sports radio station recently called Garnett a "flawed superstar," because unlike Magic, Bird, Jordan, and Kobe, Garnett doesn't demand the ball in crunch time, and even when he gets the ball during the final minutes, he seems content to pass the ball or shoot jumpers instead of driving to the hoop. This accusation is nothing new, but something critics have been saying for some time.

As the highest paid player on the team, Garnett should not be immune from criticism.

But before we go any further, let's get one thing straight:

There is no such thing as a flawless superstar. Every player, just like every human, has their Achilles heel.

Wilt--Lacked a killer instinct


Bird--Got into bar fights and drank too much beer

Jordan--Quit the Bulls in his prime to play baseball, and liked to gamble

Magic--Forced to cut his career short by risky, off-court behavior

Shaq--Free throws and conditioning

Kobe--Where to start?

And then there is Bill Russell. He of eleven rings fame. Like KG, he wasn't known as an offensive behemoth. As a player-coach, he often read the newspaper on the sidelines while the rest of the team practiced the seven plays from the playbook.

Which brings us to KG. He was an easy target for critics in Minnesota because McHale failed to surround him with any talent, and the one time McHale modestly succeeded in this regard, KG won regular season MVP on his way to taking the Wolves to the WCFs, before an injury to Cassell knocked them out of the playoffs.

This year KG is shattering expectations with the Celtics. Critics inclined to downplay KG's role in the turnaround need look no further than Red Auerbach to assess the greatness of any single player.

Red said he could make a case for any one of four or five players being the best of all time, but the question couldn't really be answered without considering the supporting cast. So not even Red would play favorites by choosing one of his own. Instead, he said it all comes down to the supporting cast.

Is KG still often inclined to pass the ball down the stretch?

Without doubt.

Against San Antonio he had the ball in the final minute with one smaller player guarding him. Did he take the shot? Nope. He passed it to an even more wide open Sam Cassell, who just so happened to be standing behind the arc. Result? Swish. Game over.

Did KG win the game with a drive to the hoop, and an over-under scoop shot that wowed the crowd and will be captured on highlight reels for the rest of eternity? No. But he did make the correct decision, the best decision, and a decision that was celebrated by his teammates and Celtics fans. He'll never get the type of acclaim and fanfare for these plays that Kobe, Michael and LeBron get for flashier shows of offensive prowess. But KG's contributions are just as effective.

Let's not forget the first 43 minutes of the game either. The Celtics have won a league-leading number of games by 20 or more points this year. The same goes for wins by at least 10 points. No one would question that KG elevates his game above the competition during the first three-and-a-half quarters. And if the net result is one blowout win after another, isn't this just as impressive, maybe even more impressive, than one or two game winning shots down the stretch (for one of KG's most impressive early round KOs, look here)?

We know the alternative.

Paul Pierce showed us for several years.

Sticking your head down and plowing through double- and triple-teams is counterproductive, both to your own reputation and to the welfare of the team.

Is KG a flawed superstar?

You bet.

But most of us, including I suspect his present teammates, would prefer the flaw of selflessness to other sins such as gambling, risky sexual behavior, lack of conditioning, beer-drinking, bar-room brawling, and the failure to develop a killer instinct.


Kevin McHale: Greatest Sixth Man Ever (well, until Bill Walton came along)

June 1984

Kevin McHale feels fortunate. His role as the Celtics' sixth man might not be understood or even appreciated in another city. But in Boston, it is a tested path to greatness, and he enjoys the benefits it brings.

Certainly one of the keys to the Celtics' championship was their bench strength, anchored by the 6-foot-11 McHale. His ability to play forward or center gave Boston extreme flexibility in its inside game. It didn't matter if he replaced Robert Parish, Cedric Maxwell or Larry Bird. Good things happened whenever Kevin McHale took the floor.

And that's what being a sixth man is all about.

"It's a unique role," McHale said. "I like it. You feel important in this city, especially, because people understand the role more than other cities.

"In other cities, if you're not on the court when the whistle blows, you're considered a scrub, a benchwarmer. Here, you're considered an integral part of the team. People say, Gee, just wait until our bench gets in there. We got a good bench. McHale is the sixth man.' There's enthusiasm about it from everyone; that's always nice."

Still, he was appreciated widely enough to receive the NBA's Sixth Man Award.

The increased responsibility given McHale this year by K.C. Jones is actually a continuation of a move last season by Bill Fitch, who liked what he saw so much he broke up a front line that in 1980 had helped win an NBA title.

McHale, the No. 3 overall pick in the 1979 draft, figured to spend his whole career in Boston as a forward, because Boston had Robert Parish and a good backup in Rick Robey.

But M.L. Carr got hurt early in 1982, which forced Fitch to make some adjustments. Also, McHale was continuing to develop, and playing him at two positions would help solve the problem of getting him adequate playing time.

During McHale's rookie season, he was the fourth option, as the plays then were geared around Bird, Parish and Tiny Archibald. Now, McHale is often central to the Celtics' success - on offense, with his jump hooks and rebounding; and on defense, with his long arms and shot-blocking ability.

"What happened to me was kind of a stroke of luck," McHale said. "I was in the right place at the right time. He (Fitch) started playing me at both forward positions and the center spot. Things started happening for me real quickly. I got into games early a lot.

"But I'm not surprised. Anytime you're No. 3 in the draft, you must be capable of doing something right.

"It's funny," he said. "Most places, when you go third in the draft, there is a big whoop-de-doo about it. But I came to a team that had the best record in the NBA the year before and had Bird and Parish and Archibald. I kind of fell into the background.

"But that's fine with me today, because I liked being low key."

McHale is enjoying this championship season and the increased responsibiliti es - and rewards - created by his sixth-man status. "I felt I was a part of it in 1980," said McHale. "The guys accepted me real well, and I ended up playing a lot. But anytime you become more involved with a team, it's just as much fun, if not more fun.

"This year was sweeter because the final opponent was a team of extremely high caliber. When we played Houston in 1980, I was kind of waiting for the games to be over with. Just kind of wondering when the thunder was going to strike and we were going to be there. The series did go six games, but it didn't seem like it went six games. It seemed like we could win it at any time.

"Winning this year is a great thrill. The biggest thrill of that year was beating Philadelphia."

Ali v. Wilt: The Fight that Almost Happened

Wilt Chamberlain was one of the greatest athletes of all-time. Boxing promoter Bob Arum gave the basketball Hall of Famer the chance to prove it against "The Greatest." Arum had twice arranged fights between the 7-foot-1 Chamberlain and heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.

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