1981-82 Boston Celtics
One of the main assumptions of Celtics' fans this fall was that Eric Fernsten's position was somehow in jeopardy. Said fans ignored Bill Fitch's postchampionship pronouncement that "Eric Fernsten has as much a lock on his job as Larry Bird has on his." Believe me, folks, Bill Fitch wasn't kidding.
"But he never even plays," fans wail. That's almost true. Fernie's last tangible in-game contribution came on Jan. 25 against Seattle. No matter. What fans don't see is practice every day. Eric Fernsten is an NBA talent currently cast in a specific role. He is either the sixth or seventh (depending on the use of M.L. Carr) frontcourt player on a team possessing the league's finest collection of big-man talent. Eric is good enough to provide quality competition for the others. Moreover, he is a loyal company man in the finest sense, a dedicated worker who keeps himself ready to play at all times.
Successful NBA teams are not necessarily made up of the best available 11 or 12 talents. Generally speaking, NBA teams are eight- or nine-man playing propositions. But there are countless practices, bus rides, plane trips and social circumstances, and having the proper personalities in those lower spots on the roster is absolutely essential for team wa, or harmony, and Eric Fernsten is the ultimate 10th or 11th man. Eric is a special individual who has earned the true respect of his teammates and the team wouldn't be the same without him. That's all there is to it.