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Grampa Celtic Talks about the "Overrated" Label
BOSTON -- Larry Bird had just gotten through scoring 37 points, to go with nine rebounds and nine assists. He played 48 minutes in near-90 degree heat. He made big shot after big shot, and he`s going to the Finals. Oh, and he`s a three-time MVP.
Apparently, this isn`t enough to impress Dennis Rodman and Isiah Thomas.
``He`s a smart player,`` admitted Rodman, the hyperactive Detroit rookie who wound up guarding Bird after the departure of Adrian Dantley with a concussion late in the third period. ``I give him all the credit in the world. He takes advantage of his strengths. He can read picks, and he can go around picks fo dish-offs, but other than that, he`s a decent player.``
Said Thomas, ``I think Larry Bird is a very, very good basketball player, an exceptional talent, but I have to agree with Rodman. If he were black, he`d be just another good guy (in this league).``
There was an early report that Rodman had called Bird an ``overrated white player.`` When queried, Rodman was horrified at the reference to the word ``white.`` Said Rodman, ``I said he was an `overrated` player, but please tell people I didn`t use the word `white.` I`m not a racist. I don`t want to start anything like that. We`re rivals.``
``He is overrated because people talk about him so much. It`s `Larry Bird this` and `Larry Bird that.` I wouldn`t mind if people didn`t talk about him so much,`` continued Rodman.
``He`s probably in the top five,`` Rodman decided. ``Magic`s probably the best player. You can`t forget Michael Jordan. Bird`s good. I might put him two or three.``
Bird was amused. ``This isn`t Russia. There`s nothing wrong with that. This is America. But you also have to play basketball.``
When apprised of Rodman`s statement, Kevin McHale laughed. ``They should just hang Dennis Rodman from the Silverdome and slap the (censored) out of him. That is like the most idiotic thing I`ve ever heard in my life. How can you say that about a three-time MVP?``
And how could the Pistons generate this ridiculous issue on this particular day?
``Sour grapes,`` decided Kevin McHale.
There was also an obvious sign of frustration from Thomas, who completed his season with a bang. Not a gentle tap, mind you, but a blindside push at Danny Ainge that sent the Boston guard flying into the press table late in the game.
Was there any better time to spot the frustration of Thomas? Few were close enough to watch his face when he strode off the court with three seconds left. Those who saw him swear there were tears in his eyes.
``We wanted to foul, so I fouled him,`` said Thomas when asked about his less-than-graceful exit. ``Why don`t you ask them about all the hard fouls Danny Ainge gets? Bleep Danny Ainge. He plays just like that.``
He was there again after a three-point dagger by Ainge, the sixth shot of a five-rebound possession for the Celtics that eventually won the game.
But if the Celtics were going win this, Thomas would make them play out their hand. When he drained a long jumper after Ainge`s huge trifecta, the message was clear: I`m not through yet.
``They put pressure on us with that three-pointer,`` said Thomas, who had 25 points and nine assists. ``After Ainge hit that three, we knew we had to convert every time after that.``
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