"A Total Disgrace to the Game of Basketball"
Revisiting the 1985-1986 Season: Installment One
The Boston Celtics opened the 1985-1986 regular season revealing the flaws that would cost them at least seven of their 15 losses that year. Suffering from boredom and a series of mental lapses in playing a grossly inferior opponent, the vaunted green looked like anything but world beaters, as they blew a 19-point third quarter lead on the way to 113-109 overtime drubbing at the hand of the lowly New Jersey Nets.
"It was exactly the way not to play basketball, and no one knows that better than me," said Bill Walton, who had seven turnovers in a rather inauspicious Green debut. Shouldering most of the blame, Walton said, "I played a terrible game. It was a total disgrace to my team and to the game of basketball."
Larry Bird shrugged off back problems, scoring 21 points to go with 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 steals, but he made only 5 of 15 shots, missed a bomb which could have won it in regulation and committed six turnovers. Robert Parish and Kevin McHale each made 8 of 10 shots, but McHale had only a Blountesque two rebounds in 38 minutes and both big men fouled out before the end of regulation. Jerry Sichting was 2 for 7 from the floor and missed an easy (for him) jumper which would have cut it to two in the final minute of overtime. Dennis Johnson also had a clunker of a game, or maybe that should be "clanker," as DJ missed 8 of 13 floor shots, committed six turnovers and clanged a pair of free throws which would have clinched the game in regulation.
Boston led, 99-97, with 10 seconds left in the fourth period when DJ was fouled by Mike O'Koren. An 85 percent free-throw shooter last year, DJ missed both. Eight seconds later, Micheal Ray Richardson (16 points, 7 steals) hit a 21-footer to send the game into extra innings. DJ's boulders came on the heels of two deadly turnovers by Walton in the final 1:12 of regulation. Walton's first big blunder was a traveling violation which gave Jersey (trailing by three) a chance to get back in the game. Seconds later, Walton let Buck Williams (23 points, 15 rebounds) steal a defensive rebound.
- #05 (Walton)
- #08 (Wedman)
- #12 (Sichting)
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