Grampa Celtic Weighs in on Parish Holdout (and more)

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Bob Ryan

Just want to let you know that the fact that the Celtics are far, far away, doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about them. Therefore, may I share a few exhibition-season thoughts with you?

Item - Robert Parish stages a work stoppage.

I see an endless landscape of gray here, and I cannot comprehend the moralizing taking place on the part of many members of the media. I agree that any big-name, big-money player who signs a contract in these volcanic economic times must understand the No. 1 rule of the game: He Who Signs Last Signs Biggest.

However, I draw a distinction between what I shall term Outside Forces (i.e., what another team does for its personnel) and what I shall refer to as Internal Insults (i.e., what a team does for a teammate). If Robert Parish signs a nice contract with the Celtics, and Ted Stepien promptly pays a journeyman such as James Edwards more than Parish, that's stupid and regrettable, and it is Robert Parish's tough luck.

But if Robert Parish signs a nice contract with the Celtics and the Celtics go on to pay Kevin McHale substantially more money, Robert has a legitimate moral grievance. I assumed from the minute I heard about McHale's new contract that the Celtics would come to Parish for a significant "contract adjustment." They had to be ready for a beef if they had an iota of common sense. The thing worrying me is this: Do the Celtics believe they need McHale more than Parish? If so, I find their reasoning dubious.My sympathy for Parish is limited, however. His refusal to suit up at the current time is a cheap stunt. He had all summer to confront the team.

Item - The Celtics have four guards who merit a considerable amount of playing time.

Four is one too many. That's my belief, anyway. Hey, Red Auerbach wrote the book on a solid regular eight, plus role players. One of the big problems last year was uncertainty among the backcourt players as to who would do what, and for how long.

The ideal backcourt situation in the NBA is to have a clear starting pair of guards, a third guard who (theoretically) can play either guard spot and a fourth guard who has a specialty. Look no further than Philadelphia, where Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks are backed by Clint Richardson and Franklin Edwards, the latter being a shooting machine. A third guard is one thing; a fourth guard is something else entirely.

There is only one certainty about the Celtics' backcourt situation. They have a computerized third guard, and his name is Gerald Henderson. This is why he was put on this earth. So K.C. should start with that premise. Red isn't asking me, but here's what I'd do: Market Quinn Buckner for a No. 1 draft choice. It doesn't even have to be for 1984, just as long as it's a No.1. I really like Quinn Buckner, but he is expendable now that Dennis Johnson is here. I'd start Danny Ainge and Johnson, make Henderson my third guard and wouldn't worry about either Charles Bradley or John Schweitz because I've still got Scott Wedman to move in as an occasional big guard. K.C. should be lying awake nights figuring ways to get Wedman into the game, anyway. I'm just trying to do him a favor.

Item - With K.C. Jones as coach instead of Bill Fitch, the Celtics are suddenly the Good Ship Lollipop.

Wonderful. I'm happy for them. And I'm sure they will play hard for K.C. at the start of the season. The test will come after the new year, when the season settles into its deadly pattern of dreary practices, tedious games and boring trips. Let's see how they react following a tough loss on the road, or after one of those NBA specials when a bad referee does more damage to them than a Moses Malone.

Bill Fitch, for all his faults, was good in this regard because he was relentless. K.C. won't drive them in the same manner. This year we'll find out exactly how many men - and how many babies - we have on this team.

Glen Davis may still get 30 minutes of PT after all. And don't forget about Sheldoon. He may actually see some regular PT, too.

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