December 30, 1979
The grin was the same. The carriage was the same. The clothing was the same (a black Marryin' Sam Frock coat). There was no mistaking the large man who walked into the Celtics' locker room Thursday to extend his best wishes. It was the inimitable Marvin Barnes.
He is now living in the Pacific Heights section of San Diego, where he has embraced vegeterianism in the midst of yet another comeback attempt. Responding to a query about his creaky knees, he executed a deep-knee bend. He says he will have another tryout with the Clippers in January or February. About his Celtic experience, "I wasn't treated unfairly by the Celtics. I treated myself unfairly. If I had been the coach, I would have cut me, too." Marvin professed admiration for the Celtics ("they're the best team") and he said of Larry Bird, "Isn't he a great player?" But then Marvin did understand what was right and not right about the game of basketball. It's himself he's had trouble understanding.
And to answer your next question, the date is Jan. 20. That's when the coach of the respective All-Star teams will be selected. The coach in each conference whose team has the best record after games of Sunday, Jan. 20 will be accorded the honor.What's interesting is that two prime candidates, Lenny Wilkens and Bill Fitch, will be going at it in the Boston Garden that very day . . . Knick general manager Eddie Donovan on the attitude difference between a winning team and a losing team: "On a winning team guys say to themselves in the fourth quarter, "I wonder who's going to win it for us tonight?" On a losing team, they say, I wonder who's going to screw it up for us tonight?" . . . Nobody, but nobody gives Cedric Maxwell more trouble than Caldwell Jones, the 7-foot Philadelphia center-forward monster. He sent back the first five Maxwell shots last Saturday night (but goaltending was called on the fifth), and he simply negates Maxwell's inside game more than anyone. None of this surprises the 76ers. "He does a better job on Moses Malone than anybody else in the league," submits Sixer assistant coach Chuck Daly. When he wants to play, he's as good a defensive player as anybody in the league. Who knows? In the playoffs, we might put him on Bird." Says Maxwell, "Caldwell is a super defensive player. Every time I have a good game against him, I consider it a major accomplishment. When you're talking about a man playing inside who is giving up three inches to him you're talking about a tough task."
A favorite Celtic pastime is watching for the Detroit score in the morning paper. It's almost incomprehensible that the Pistons could have turned out quite this badly, given the basic raw talent on the club. But the Bob McAdoo- Bob Lanier marriage has been as unproductive on the court as it has been cordial off it, and the team still lacks a floor leader. Not only is ex-UCLA star Roy Hamilton not a starter, but it's also possible he barely belongs in the league. And he was made the No. 10 pick in the country by Dick Vitale . . . Bill Fitch is more in love with the prospect of having such draft parlays as 1-l0 or 2-11 every day. He does not want to part with that Washington pick for a veteran guard, and there have been chances . . . Remember that the Celtics are supposed to be on a building program. Shooting the wad this year might be unwise. After all, Larry Bird will he here for a while . . . Along these lines, here is Red Auerbach's personal recommendation to the fans on how they should view this Celtic team: "People should look upon this club as an interesting team which gives you your money's worth. A lot of things have gone our way. We've won more than our share of close ones, and our luck could change. The best thing about our current record is that we've got a cushion if things go bad, or if we get an injury" . . . which is exactly what Fitch has said all along.
Plus ca change, . . . Detroit was in last place in the Eastern Division 10 years ago today and they're in last place in the Central Division today . . . Add San Diego and Los Angeles to the list of cities which have filled their buildings only for a Celtics visit. So far, the list includes New York (twice), Indiana (twice), Philadelphia and Kansas City. In addition, the Celtics have drawn the two largest crowds of the year in Cleveland, the two largest crowd of the year in Piscataway, N.J., one of the largest crowds in Detroit history (they are expecting over 30,000 for Magic and the Lakers, however) and are one of only two teams to sell out in Atlanta and Golden State. They are, in other words, making money for everybody . . . Spotted as a very early arrival at the San Diego Arena on Thursday for the Celtics-Clippers game: Cleveland Indian skipper Dave Garcia . . . The more I see of Doug Moe, the more I like him. He won't, for example, alibi for injuries or illness. "You get the guys you have ready to play and you don't worry about injuries," he says. "Injuries are just like not having a guy. If I lose a game, I can't come in here and say, Hey we lost tonight because we didn't have Bird and Jabbar.' " . . . Strange that while the West will be leaving some very deserving guards home for the All-Star Game, the East will be scratching around, undoubtedly starting George Gervin (who really isn't a guard to start with) and then pick among a bunch of guys who wouldn't even make the West first eight. Tiny Archibald has a helluva shot to make the club.
One interested observer upon hearing that McAdoo had missed another Detroit game: "He must have scratched himself on his turtle-neck" . . . Julius Erving on Larry Bird, and specifically his defense: "Confidence is not a problem. The opposition is not a problem. His total capability to do the job is obviously not a problem. I can't find anything to dislike about him. His defense is OK, but what he should do is make his offense his defense. I figure that if I make a guy work hard enough when I have the ball that the defense will take care of itself. By keeping the pressure on a man, he'll have plenty to worry about". . . Question: Who's the most foolish man in America? Answer: Ernie DiGregorio - he was wanted.