10.14.2009

Red, Bird Fined for Brawl

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Pre-Season


He spent the afternoon as he often does when he goes home to Washington to take some time off. Red Auerbach was playing cards with some old pals, but not with the usual cold-mannered demeanor. From time to time he would excuse himself to go to the phone. He would come back at little madder each time. He was being ignored by the league office. Finally a call came from Boston with the word.

Reporter: "How much you winning?"

Auerbach: "Two dollars."

Reporter: "Not enough."

Auerbach: "What did it cost me?"

Reporter: "Let's just say you came up $2498 short."

The NBA office yesterday afternoon handed out the bad news to the participants (not all of them, however) in Sunday night's altercations with the Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Garden. Auerbach, for his part, was ticketed for $2500 by league vice president of operations Scotty Stirling. "I'm going to appeal," said Auerbach. "I tried to get Stirling on the phone all day. He was ducking me. That bothers me because the Celtics pay as much of his salary as any other team does."

Also fined were Boston's Larry Bird ($2000) and Gerald Henderson ($500), and Marc Iavaroni of Philadelphia ($1000). "They don't fine (Moses) Malone anything, and he starts the whole thing," said Auerbach. "Philly instigated everything that happened Sunday night and they get away with it. All the league office saw was the retaliation." In his announcement, Stirling said: "Auerbach's actions were embarrassing and intolerable. A general manager has no place on the court at any time during at NBA game."

"I went down there (on the court) to stop Philly from taking over the game," said Auerbach. "I do not blame the referees for what happened. They were new guys and Philly was trying to take advantage of the situation. "Here we are in our builidng before the only sellout exhibition crowd anywhere in this league, and Philly is trying to take it over right from the start, when they come out with all of that physical stuff. "I just wasn't going to let them get away with it. I went on the court to help the officials get things under control, then they (Sixers) all start mouthing off. (76er coach Billy) Cunningham should have been fined. Malone should have been fined.

"When I went down on the floor I told the officials that if they were going to throw Bird out, they should throw Malone out as well. Of course, both of them should have stayed in because the crowd paid big money to see them play." Two minutes into the 99-86 Boston win, Boston's Cedric Maxwell and Malone tangled under the Boston basket. Malone took Maxwell like a rag doll and threw him to the ground.

Two minutes later on the opposite end of the floor, Bird got into a shoving match with Iavaroni. That was broken up, but Bird started up again with Cunningham, who came out on the court. Cunningham's jacket was split in the back during the fracas. The officials in the game were not NBA regulars. NBA officials are not working preseason game this year because of a dispute with the league office. So Ralph Lembo and Jesse Hall, up from the minors, were working the game. Bird and Iavaroni were tossed out after that confrontation. In the second half, Henderson was ejected for punching Phildelphia rookie Sedale Threatt.

Bird's agent Bob Woolf said last night he would talk with his client about appealing the fine. "It's not that he can't afford it," chuckled Woolf, in reference to Bird's signing one of the biggest contract in sports history a few weeks ago, "but I think he should appeal. I'll see what he wants to do." Bird had no comment, but Henderson said, "I'm just glad it (the fine) wasn't $1000." Auerbach knows what he wants to do. "This is ridiculous. The guys that start all the trouble get away with it. The league office better take another look at those films."

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