Fred Roberts on the Ainge Pick

And now, some mildly encouraging words on the future of Danny Ainge as a Boston Celtic.

"If most any other team in the NBA had drafted him, he wouldn't have even let pro basketball cross his mind. But since it was the Celtics , he gave it strong consideration," said Fred Roberts, Ainge's teammate at Brigham Young for three years.

Roberts, a 6-foot-10 center going into his senior year, is practicing at Boston College for the upcoming World University Games.

The bearded blond said Ainge generally keeps the matter of baseball versus basketball to himself.

"From what I can tell, everything depends on how baseball goes for him," Roberts said. "He feels a strong commitment to his baseball contract. If all goes well, he would stick with baseball for 20 years or so."

Roberts paused.

"But I know Danny has this dream about playing both sports. And right now, he's only hitting around .160, and he's having problems with the coach up there, from what I've read in the papers," Roberts said.

Ainge signed with Toronto after being drafted in 1977, and this year he signed a three-year pact through 1983. Before the strike, he was hitting .184 with seven errors.

"Originally, he saw himself living in Toronto the whole time, which was the life he wanted for his wife and his little girl. Baseball seemed like a better life than traveling around the NBA all the time. He also figures he'll be able to play baseball longer than basketball," Roberts said. "But he's been down in the minors a couple of times, and he hasn't done too well.

"You know, he went to Toronto and was thrown right in under a lot of pressure. He hadn't had enough experience to handle the major leagues up to that point.

"And when he wasn't hitting, everybody was trying to tell him what to do. Then he decided to listen to only one guy, and everybody else got mad. From what I gather, he's had a pretty difficult time up there," Roberts said.

"If things don't work out in baseball by the time his contract expires, I'm sure he'll give basketball a try. I don't know if he's a Celtic fan or not, but I know he admires their tradition and would love to play for them."

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