1983-84 Boston Celtics
When he was named head coach of the Celtics last June, K. C. Jones said he had wanted the job ever since he was black. That's a long time. In just 13 games, Jones already has experienced almost everything his coveted position has to offer. He has lived through the euphoria of a nine-game winning streak and the second-guessing that comes with a three-game losing streak. He has returned triumphantly to the scene of his firing (Washington) and endured a bitter battle in Philadelphia's Spectrum. He has been ejected by Darrell Garretson and questioned about playing time allotted Danny Ainge and Scott Wedman.
"My introductory period has been over since the (opening) Detroit game," he says with a sigh. What about pressure? Jones' predecessor, Bill Fitch, had trouble coping with ghosts of championships past and the lofty expectations of the Celtic fandom. How does it feel to be 9-4 and hear only, "What's wrong with you guys?" "I really haven't felt the pressure yet," Jones says. "It must be out there waitin' to lay on me, but I don't feel it at this point. It's brought on by what's expected of the Celtics. I knew this was coming and I know that if we don't snap our three-game losing streak, it'll be much more verbal."
He would like nothing better than to beat Hubie Brown and the New York Knicks tonight at 8 at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks topped Boston three times in six tries last year, and beat the Celtics at Boston Garden Friday, 110-103. "They think they own us now," Jones says. "They came into Boston and talked about how they were able to quiet our fans. Now we have to go into their place. We'll see what happens."
Jones would probably rather win in New York than anywhere. He no longer attempts to mask his disdain for the Knicks' outspoken head coach. Jones almost got into a hallway brawl with Brown last season, and Brown's inflammatory comments in a recent Sports Illustrated profile further infuriated Jones. In the article, Brown labeled Jones' longtime friend, Bill Russell, as "a terrible human being," and suggested that ex-players were not worthy of NBA coaching positions. Jones says he didn't speak to Brown at the Garden last week.
"Hubie Brown is a small person who thinks that making a big salary and being in the spotlight makes him a man," says Jones. "He rips Russell, a guy that created the NBA as we know it, a guy who gave it respect. Hubie and us other coaches might not have jobs if it weren't for Bill Russell. Russell was the epitome of what a ballplayer should be and you've got to be sick to rip him like that."
What about Brown's torching of all NBA coaches except Dick Motta, Jack Ramsay and himself? "I would have been hot about that, but I'm in a pretty big group there," says Jones. "If Hubie had been in as may championship finals as Billy Cunningham, maybe he could say some of those things." Jones has to bite his tongue when asked about the work of the NBA's substitute officials. Some NBA coaches have been fined for blasting the non- union refs, and Jones will only say, "It's awful not to be able to talk about it. I just got to do what I got to do out there. You give them a break because you know the effort's there, but when something's happening on a consistent basis, you've got to get up and scream and yell."
Boston's ever-volatile playing-time crisis is another of the new coach's dilemmas. Ask Jones if he'll try to find more minutes for Ainge, and he says, "I'd like to get Scott (Wedman) more minutes. I'd like to get M. L. Carr more minutes. There aren't enough minutes." Ainge requested - and was granted - a private audience with Jones after yesterday's practice. Wedman has done so twice already.
Nobody said it was going to be easy.
"I'm not nervous yet," Jones says. "Our record is 9-4. We've had a winning streak and now we're in a little losing streak. I'm comfortable with where I am now and with the team and what we've been doing."
Celtic assistant general manager Jan Volk was dazzled by a report that Robert Parish's renegotiation agreement provides for an option year after the 1985-86 season. "There's still some work to be done on the agreement," said Volk. "I have no idea how someone came up with the speculation they did, especially someone in the league office. We haven't filed anything with the league office. Somebody's being very creative." . . . Woody Allen and Dustin Hoffman are faces in the crowd tonight.
Rory Sparrow is a questionable starter for the Knicks tonight. Ernie Grunfeld may start in Sparrow's place . . . Bernard King has scored 32 points in each of New York's last two games . . . The Knicks lead the league in turnovers (a whopping 23 per game) and defense (allowing only 101 points per game). They also own the best rebounding ratio (53 percent) in the league . . . New York's 7-5 record is pretty impressive when you consider that the Knicks didn't win their seventh game until December 11th last year . . . Larry Bird is shooting 33 percent (19-57) in Boston's losing streak . . . Is it necessary to point out that the last time the Celtics lost four in a row was against Milwaukee in the playoffs last spring?