Kevin McHale lounged in Ted Williams style, wrapped in a towel cut just below the hip. Larry Bird, all business, made a beeline for the exercise bike. Dennis Johnson entered bellowing out a particularly impressive version of "Ramblin' Man." The Chief, as always, slipped in quietly.
It's playoff time for the Celtics; that much could be discerned from the energy level at Hellenic College yesterday. Yet the activity did not mean the heel/ankle/shoulder/knee injuries have magically disappeared with the coming of postseason. It simply means the Celtics have a reason to play through pain again.
This pain should be easier to handle than last season, when McHale and Parish seemed certain to keel over at any moment. Trainer Ed Lacerte assured yesterday that while the injuries are nagging, "none should interfere with their quality of play."
Bird, who sprained his left ankle at Boston Garden against Chicago last Thursday and missed the final road trip of the season, was favoring his swollen foot, but ran through every drill.
"I didn't do too much damage to it, " he said, "but I'll need a couple more days before I can do the things I really want on it."
The New York Knicks come to town Friday, so Boston has until then to cure all ills. The Celtics were hoping for some extra healing time this past weekend, but the league forced Johnson (shoulder) and Parish (knee) to make the trip.
"It didn't do my knee any good," said Parish.
"It wasn't right," said Bird. "We worked so hard to get into the position to earn that rest. It's pretty sad on the league's part. It's not our fault they televised our last two games.
"In order for us to win a championship, we have to do what we feel is right. To do that, we need to be rested and get healthy. The league can do whatever it wants, but the players make up the league.
"It's time the Players Association regrouped and started stopping some of this. I can understand they want us to play, but when you have a guy like DJ saying he's hurt, a guy who plays so hard and has been around the league so long . . ."
Boston is banking on the experience of Johnson and others to KO the Knicks quickly. Rick Pitino's Traveling Salvation Show has been on a roll of late behind two youngsters, rookie point guard Mark Jackson and center Patrick Ewing.
"The Knicks are a very intense ballclub," said Parish. "The one key with them is they never give up. They are very physical, very scrappy."
"They put out a lot of effort," said Bird. "They put pressure on the ball and make you do things you don't want to do. I think the key is to come out and pressure them. They turn the ball over, too."
Danny Ainge, who racked up a healthy chunk of minutes over the weekend while his injured counterparts rested, got his day off yesterday. Ainge was in attendance, but spent most of practice on the sidelines . . . Bird on a playoff roster that does not include Bill Walton: "Bill has been gone so long it's almost like he's not part of it anymore. You see M.L. Carr at the games and he was around for so many years you feel like he's still part of the team, but Bill was just there that one year. It's not that we don't want him to be part of it. One of my greatest feelings as a player was to be alongside him in a game. But Bill has been gone too long now."
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- 1971-72 Lakers
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