We're still waiting to hear from Steve Carlton and J. D. Salinger, but Cedric Maxwell is speaking to the media this year. They said it would never last when Max announced his Greta Garbo policy last fall. Speakeasy Max had always been one of the NBA's most articulate, perceptive and outgoing players. Not last year. Citing "personal reasons," he announced his gag rule in September, and as the downslide season of 1982-83 unraveled, Max stuck to his gums and spoke no evil.
Unfortunately, Maxwell chose a bad year to let the numbers speak for themselves. He seemed disinterested and discouraged and produced his lowest scoring and rebounding totals since his rookie season - 11.9 points and 5.3 rebounds, compared with career highs of 19 and 9 in 1978-79. He also failed to hit 50 percent of his shots for the first time in his six-year career. Maxwell spoke with the media yesterday, and at last it can be revealed what the Rubberband Man was thinking during those final days of the 1983 season. "It was very embarrassing," said Max. "We always figure we're going to be in the final against Philadelphia, but Milwaukee brought us back into reality."
Max went easy on ex-coach Bill Fitch, saying, "Bill was an excellent coach," but noted, "I think everybody will be more at ease now. Bill was more of a driver, but K. C. (Jones) thinks more along the lines of just getting the result." How does Maxwell rate his 1982-83 performance? "I didn't think I played particularly well. If I set standards for the way I play, I'd say I was definitely below par. I think everybody is capable of playing better than they did last year." Maxwell has plenty of incentive to boost his stats this season. He is entering the final year of his contract and it'll be interesting to see how anxious the Celtics are to sign him after the Larry Bird-Kevin McHale gold rush.
The Celtics are committed to Bird for seven years at close to $2 million a year, and McHale has a four-year deal worth $4 million. Meanwhile, center Robert Parish, who has three years left at $650,000 a year, is already howling. Max certainly must be wondering why he's the one guarding Doctor J when he's making only $400,000. Perhaps the Celtic well is dry. Maxwell sounds as if he'll test the free-agent market next summer. "I don't want to get into the same situation that happened with Kevin," Maxwell said. "I always want to play well and I have another year on my contract. When that contract is up, hopefully I'll sign another one with the Celtics."
The only topic Maxwell was hesitant to discuss was his Silence Act of 1982-83. "I really don't want to discuss what happened last year. Hopefully, I'll be giving interviews all year. I see no reason why not."