Sampson or McHale?

June 15, 1980

Bob Cousy would have preferred it had the Celtics signed Virginia freshman Ralph Sampson as their No. 1 draft pick, feels they did "quite well" in adding Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, and hopes they will come to terms with Cedric Maxwell.

The former Holy Cross All-America and Celtic great said that his assessment is that "all things considered, I think they did quite well. However, I am saying this without being privy to all the circumstances in terms of possible dollars involved.

"If they had the shot at Sampson, Harry (Mangurian) was ready to go for big dollars - which would have made sense because Sampson would have meant hanging up a few more immediate flags."

Had Sampson chosen to leave the University of Virginia and become a hardship entry in the draft, his addition to the Celtics "would have made them competitive for the championship next year, predicated, of course, on how quickly he came along," Cousy said.

"The point is that they would be in the thick of it - which they were this year - but with Sampson they would have a rebuttal to Jabbar.

"Once they lost him . . . well, Griffith (Darrell) obviously is a bona fide NBA player . . . will certainly be a good one . . . perhaps a great one and perhaps a superstar, but he still is a guard and guards just don't bring championships." Strange talk from one of the greatest guards in NBA history.

Sampson, Cousy asserted, "would have brought a Larry Bird contract," meaning heavy money. He said there would be justification for a large contract for Sampson but not for Griffith. "In that sense the swap they made was certainly helpful in terms of dollars and cents."

Parish, the 7-foot center Boston received from Golden State in exchange for the No. 1 pick in the draft, "hasn't set the world on fire but has been playing with a very weak team."

Cousy said Parish must make his main contribution on defense by clogging the middle, something the Celtics lacked in this year's semifinal series against Philadelphia when they were ousted from the playoffs. Julius Erving, Cousy pointed out, was able to dominate the series because he was able to get inside. But against Los Angeles, the Doctor seldom got inside because Jabbar was there.

"If Parish gives them that kind of a threat - a rejector type who is under there with pretty good timing and can intimidate some of those guys going in, this in itself will be very helpful to this team," Cousy pointed out.

"They say they need a guard to run the show?" Cousy said. "Tiny (Archibald) had a helluva good year. Granted, he lapsed a little in the Philly series, but in terms of percentages it is much easier for them to find a good guard.

"This year, six or eight quality guards got out (of college). Power forwards like a Maurice Lucas get out once every five years. Centers like Jabbar come out about once every 20 years.

"In terms of percentages, I think they went the right way because maybe they can pick up a good guard next year or the year after. The big thing obviously, the top priority, is always strengthening yourself up front.

"They hedged very well with Kevin McHale in terms of Cedric Maxwell's possible defection."

Cousy said he had not seen McHale play but is aware that the Minnesota center-forward was respected by the pro scouts.

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