1983-84 Boston Celtics
The New York Knicks are in town to play the Celtics tonight (7:30). The Knicks are hoping to get over .500 again, while the Celtics want to start a new winning streak after Wednesday's 122-109 beating by the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. There are a few scores to settle between these traditional rivals. The Knicks beat the Celtics three times in six tries last year, then made a big play for Boston free agent Kevin McHale in the offseason. Celtics general manager Red Auerbach got even by signing Knicks free agents Rory Sparrow, Marvin Webster and Sly Williams to offer sheets, which ended up costing the Knicks $950,000 a year to keep Sparrow and Webster. New York traded Williams to Atlanta for Rudy Macklin.
There are various subplots. The Knicks are still mad at McHale. They think they were used to get more money out of Boston. Auerbach is still bitter toward the Gulf & Western conglomerate, which owns the Knicks. The Knicks, meanwhile, have signed ex-Boston center/forward Eric Fernsten (injured list), who has still got a grievance pending (he says he was cut while injured) against the Celtics. And like just about everyone else in the NBA, Auerbach and Celtics coach K. C. Jones thought little of Hubie Brown's remarks in Sports Illustrated's NBA preseason issue.
In the article, Brown called ex-Celtics great Bill Russell "a terrible human being" and intimated that NBA coaches who are also former players (like Jones) did not earn their head coaching positions. "It shows a lack of class, but it wouldn't serve any purpose for me to say any more," Jones said yesterday.
The Knicks are coming off a tough 102-97 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday . . . Sparrow has missed the last four games with a bruised toe and is doubtful for tonight. Look for Ernie Grunfeld to start in the backcourt with Ray Williams, who has committed a whopping 12 turnovers in his last two games and is averaging 3.7 giveaways a game . . . Trent Tucker is the third guard, and rookie Darrell Walker is averaging 8.9 points in 17.7 minutes a game . . . Bernard King (18.9 points a game), Truck Robinson (43 rebounds in his last four games) and center Bill Cartwright start up front for the Knicks. Cartwright had 20 points and nine rebounds against Moses Malone Wednesday . . . The Knicks are giving up only 100.8 points a game, second-lowest in the NBA. However, New York has been turning the ball over 22 times per game.
Larry Bird, who is 0 for 10 in three-point tries and was held to a season- low eight points Wednesday, says his ankle and hip injuries have not hindered his performance . . . Gerald Henderson hit 9 of 10 shots and had five assists in the Utah loss. He has scored 40 points in the last two games . . . Danny Ainge and Quinn Buckner were shut out against the Jazz. Buckner played only six minutes, and Ainge looked unusually tight in his 11 minutes. McHale has averaged 24 points in his last five games . . . The Celtics have been outrebounded only once (by Washington) this season . . . Robert Parish had 55 rebounds in his last four games . . . Jazz fans were tough on the Celtics Wednesday. When Dennis Johnson heard a fan say, "You guys are bad losers," D.J. replied, "Y'all are used to losing, but we're not." . . . Jones was heaved by Darrell Garretson in the final minutes of the game . . . The Knicks will be wearing their new/old uniforms tonight . . . Boston plays Philadelphia in the Spectrum tomorrow night.