Red Auerbach: The Equire Interview (Part IV)

I point out to Auerbach that after Larry Bird makes the team at forward, there are only three spots left.

"Lemme think about this," he says, and finally he comes up with five names: Bob Pettit, Kevin McHale, Julius Erving, Elgin Baylor, and Karl Malone.

"You can't have a team like this and not include Pettit," he says of the old St. Louis Hawk. "He was as tough an opponent as we ever had, as tough a player as I ever saw. He could beat you inside, he could beat you outside. And he played two positions: forward on offense, center when he got down to the other end and had to rebound. Just because people nowadays didn't see him doesn't mean he wasn't one of the all-time greats Because let me tell you something: I saw him, don't worry about that."

Auerbach looks over his list again. Two forwards to go.

"I can't pick three out of these five," he says "I'm picking all five."

"That makes fourteen players."

"What are you going to do, fine me?" he says. "I'm not gonna choose between Baylor and Dr. J. I loved 'em both. Especially Erving. Before there was ever a Jordan, he brought the spectacular to this league. He made the spectacular seem routine."

As for the Mailman, he has become the power forward against whom all the others are measured today, even if he has never been able to win a title with John Stockton in Utah.

"You know why I like Malone?" Auerbach says. "Because he never stops. He never stops playing; he never stops working. He came at you the first day he was in this league, and he's still coming at you. How the hell aren't you going to respect that?"

I say, "People will say you're picking McHale because he was a Celtic."

Auerbach says, "I'm picking McHale because even though he played forward, I always looked at him as one of the greatest pivotmen to ever play this game."

Given the fact that there is a slight bias toward some of Auerbach's former players--hey, like the old man says, fine me--I cannot resist asking him which of his old Celtics teams he would pick to play for the championship of all time.

"Would it be one of the ones with McHale, Bird, and Robert Parish?"


FLCeltsFan said...

I agree with McHale being one of the best pivot men ever to play the game. Watching that footage from the games -the guy was just so long and had so many post moves. Just amazing.

I love Dr J too. He was one of my all time favorite players who wasn't a Celtic. A class act all the way.

FLCeltsFan said...

I am loving this interview series! Can't wait for the next part. Can't even guess which team he'd pick. I'd pick that '86 team, but that's me.

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