1983-84 Boston Celtics
This is a tough house for Tree Rollins to work in. Two years ago he filed a $4-million lawsuit against M. L. Carr (and the Celtics) for an alleged knife-wielding incident (the suit was later dropped). Last spring he was fined and suspended for two games after biting Danny Ainge's middle finger during a playoff free-for-all. In a Globe cartoon yesterday, he was shown going for a rebound with a fork in one hand and a dinner knife in the other.
One hesitates to approach the big fella about such incidents, but what the heck. Tree won't bite. Has the finger sandwich incident had any effect on him? "That was last year," says the 7-foot-1, six-year veteran. Will he be bothered by the reaction of the Boston crowd? "It's the usual crowd stuff, that's all." Rollins and Ainge didn't exchange get-well cards after the incident. "I've never heard from him," says Ainge. "The thing is forgotten. My hand is all better."
Tree got the expected reception during the player introductions last night, but things were pretty uneventful after that. The Hawks are 7-0 at home and were 0-5 on the road coming into the Garden. "There's a couple of factors involved," says rookie coach Mike Fratello. "There are nine new coaches in the NBA this year, which means that nine coaches are trying to get a feel for the players they have. I think that has a part in it with us."
Fratello's stately forward, Dan Roundfield, adds, "It's difficult to solve the problem, but we have played well at home and I think we have a better team than we had last year. We have a better bench than we had then." The Hawks still regret losing their three-game mini-series to the Celtics. "We blew that first game in Boston," says Rollins. "We stll thought we could beat them in that last game. We had their number for a while, but after the fight, everything went their way."
The Hawks play host to the Houston Rockets and you-know-who (Bill Fitch) in the Omni tonight . . . Atlanta officials have noticed that although there are more than 100 USA and ESPN NBA cablecasts this season, the Hawks will be fetured only once. It might have something to do with the fact that Ted Turner's WTBS outfit telecasts 41 Hawk games . . . Celtics center Robert Parish was honored at halftime last night for his cooperation in promoting public awareness of lupus . . . The Celtics play the Pistons in the Garden tomorrow night.