I point out to Auerbach that after Larry Bird makes the team at forward, there are only three spots left.
think about this," he says, and finally he comes up with five names:
Bob Pettit, Kevin McHale, Julius Erving, Elgin Baylor, and Karl Malone.
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
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."
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.
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."
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
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?"