I like to quote former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino because, well, he was quotable. I quote the "Havlicek without a jumpshot" comparison so often that some of you thought I really agreed with Pitino when he said that Bruce Bowen played the game about as well as John Havlicek (sans a reliable jump shot). In fact, I find the comparison perhaps the most outrageously laughable quote in the history of recorded sports, since on certain days I believe Hondo was better than Bird and Bruce Bowen circa 1998 wasn't even as good as Darren Daye in 1987.
It's laughable not just because the comparison is off mark. It's not even laughable because it is so off mark as to offend long-time Celtics' fans who celebrate the greatness that was Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek and who bristle when #17 is compared to a scrub on a bad team.
The part that is outrageously laughable is that it never dawned on poor Pitino that what he said might need editing before it departed from his brain, entered his mouth, and passed through his lips, much like 1,000 other things Pitino said during his tenure in Beantown, though none of them approached this humdinger in terms of laughability.
Enter Danny Ainge.
Somewhere between the 29- and 32-second marker of this video, Ainge utters the following phrase: "I think we have the best front court we've had . . . maybe ever . . . in this franchise." I put the elipses in there for a reason. In print, NESN (same link) translates the quote as follows: "Ainge says the team's front court is the best its been since the team had Bird, McHale and Parish."
Not exactly what came out of his mouth . . . first . . . before Danny's real-time editor kicked in. No, what came out of his mouth had one puny little qualifier: "maybe." Throw in the "maybe" and then his subsequent back-pedaling recovery mechanism ("or at least since Bird, McHale, Parish, Wedman, and Walton. I guess that was pretty good, too. Huge smile, laughing at his initial, unedited impudence).
On its face, the comparison is indeed laughable.
Kendrick Perkins better than Robert Parish? Kevin Garnett better than Kevin McHale? Paul Pierce better than Larry Bird? Rasheed Wallace better than Bill Walton? I'm not sure the current roster wins a fan or pundit vote on any of those match-ups, especially since Ainge's observation was made in the present tense (this year), when the health of KG's knee is in question, and the comparison would be to the 1986 team, when Bill Walton's feet and ankles played in more than 100 games from exhibition season to championship and when Kevin McHale was probably the second best player in the NBA behind Larry Bird.
Still, the comparison doesn't plummet to the depths of the Bowen-Havlicek comparison. Taken as a group, it is not inconceivable that KG, Sheed, Perk, and Pierce could outplay the '86 squad over 7 games. Would Perkins be intimidated by Parish or Walton? I think not. How would the decisive rebounding advantage enjoyed by the original Big Three have been diminished by the defensive intensity and rebounding prowess of what I like to call the New Big Three (Perk, Sheed, and KG)?
As I'm fond of saying in recent posts, you just don't know until you get it on.
So even one of Danny's more memorable verbal miscues is arguably defensible, unlike that other guy, whose miscues remain the object of ridicule to this day.
- #05 (Walton)
- #08 (Wedman)
- #12 (Sichting)
- 1971-72 Lakers
- 2007-08 Scores
- Banner 17
- Grassy Knoll Network
- Green Mile
- Larry & Magic
- NBA Scoreboard
- Russell v. Chamberlain
- Walton Gang (1977)