1983-84 Boston Celtics
Stockpiling talent is not always the answer. It didn't work with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, it didn't work with the 1982 and '83 New York Yankees, and Celtic fans can tell you that it didn't work for the green team last season.
Coach K. C. Jones had the doors locked at the Celts' Hellenic College training site the past two days. Hopefully, he took the time to address the issue of playing time while stressing a "We, not Me" theme for '83-84.
Jones has four guards (Dennis Johnson, Gerald Henderson, Danny Ainge, Quinn Buckner) and five frontcourtmen (Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Cedric Maxwell, Kevin McHale, Scott Wedman) capable of playing 40 minutes a game. Unless Red Auerbach can petition the league to expand games from 48 to 60 minutes, a couple of these Celtics are going to get cheated. It would be nice if those who don't play as much as they'd like are able to refrain from pouting and contribute when needed.
Buckner looks and sounds like a man who has assessed the situation thoroughly. He finished last season deep in the Bill Fitch doghouse (three minutes in the final game in Milwaukee) and couldn't help but wonder where he'd fit in when the Celts acquired DJ from Phoenix. In an effort to make himself quicker, Buckner has trimmed himself to 200 pounds (he played at 209 last year). He says, "I think the two young guys, Danny and Gerald, who had the jobs at the end of the year, still have the jobs. If anyone can get 'em from here on, fine. There's going to be a lot of competition in this camp, and that's good."
Like Buckner, Wedman is a veteran star who'd like to contribute more. Auerbach was annoyed when Fitch buried Wedman last year, but now Jones is left with the dilemma of cramming nine proven vets into a 48-minute game. Gregg Lukenbill and Joseph Benvenuti may have started something. They are real estate developers who also own the Kansas City Kings. Unable to come up with enough cash to satisfy free-agent guard Larry Drew, Lukenbill and Benvenuti sweetened their offer by throwing in a Sacramento office building.
Why didn't Harry Mangurian ever think of that? The ex-Celtic owner and furniture czar probably could have saved Don F. Gaston, Paul Dupee and Alan Cohen a lot of money if he'd been willing to placate Kevin McHale and Larry Bird with a few 18th century dining sets. Could Houston's Charlie Thomas (a car dealer) have saved some coin by giving Ralph Sampson a couple of Stutz Bearcats? Will Dominique Wilkins promise to stay with the Hawks if Ted Turner makes Dominique sports anchor for Cable News Network? And what about the Knicks - owned by Gulf & Western? Could they sign Kareem Abdul-Jabbar if they offer to throw in Venezuela?
McHale says he feels no added pressure since signing his contract. "I think the people in Boston realize I'm going to be playing as well as I can," he says. "Maximum effort is all I can ask of myself, and I don't see why I have to do much different than what I've done in the last three years." . . .
Ainge (he's going without the mustache thus far) admits his strained shoulder is not 100 percent. "It affects my shooting on occasion." . . . Charles Bradley gave everyone a scare when he said he wasn't going to dunk anymore. Bradley was only kidding. Charles is a little disturbed, however, becaue he keeps hearing that John Schweitz will take his job. "There is competition every year," says Bradley. "This is my third year and nothing's changed. I've just come to play basketball." If Schweitz does win a job, Auerbach will try to get a high draft pick for Bradley. Houston is interested . . . Boston's '83 third-round pick, Winfred King (6 feet 9, 248), would manke anyone's All-Body team. He hopes to shake the shoulder problems that plagued him during rookie camp in August . . . Dennis Johnson will wear No. 3. Top draft pick Greg Kite is No. 50 . . . Four of the eight preseason games are against the Lakers. Too bad the regular season has so few highlights.