The Not So Green Mile

Bill Walton’s Final Months as a Boston Celtic

I’ve noted on prior occasions that the 1986-87 season was a painful one for me on a personal level. Every Celtic from the 1986 Championship rotation was injured at some point during the follow-up campaign. It was like watching the Beatles break-up in slow motion.

None of those injuries caused me more angst than the injuries to Bill Walton. The Sixth Man Award doesn't really capture what Bill Walton brought to the Boston Celtics. He not only gave Robert Parish additional rest during the 1985-86 season, but played at such a high level that opponents knew they would be facing 48 minutes of All-Star caliber play in the pivot.

During the Celtics salad days of the 1980s, opponents would breathe a sigh of relief when the Chief left the game. The likes of Greg Kite and Ramon Rivas didn't strike fear in the hearts and minds of too many NBA centers. That wasn’t the case in 1985-86. Instead, both coaches and players confided that the mere sight of Walton taking off his warm-ups and reporting to the scorer's table made them sick.

And, of course, the 1986-87 season is memorably bad for another reason—the way it ended. The Celtics lost to the Lakers in 6, for the second time in as many June meetings. Everyone pretty much knew it was coming, but the Celtics actually had a chance to win all three games in Boston and return to LA up three games to two, except for that damn junior, junior hook.

At any rate, I’m told the best way to confront a boogie man is head on, face-to-face. And so sometime soon, perhaps with the next post, I’ll begin another Bill Walton series on a blog that is threatening to become little more than Lex’s ruminations about the Big Red Dead Head.

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