Jackie Mac Talks to Ainge a Year after he was Dealt to Sacramento
He is the same insufferable, lovable, excitable, pesky, nasty, wonderful player you always cheered for in Boston Garden. Danny Ainge is no longer part of a tradition steeped in championship banners. Instead, he settles for signs in Sacramento that read, "Hey Boston, Ainge you jealous?"
Who ultimately got the better of the deal that sent Ainge, along with Brad Lohaus (now playing in Minnesota) to the Kings for Joe Kleine and Ed Pinckney? The Kings wanted a veteran leader, a scorer, an inspiration. The Celtics wanted backup help for Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. The trade has been as advertised for both clubs, but neither is much better off than before they made the deal.
Boston now desperately needs a guard the caliber of Ainge. Sacramento yearns for the kind of depth that Kleine and Pinckney provide.
In spite of it all, Ainge has wowed 'em in Sacramento with his unique blend of frankness and humor. In the team press guide, under "After pro ball I hope to:" Ainge responded "Never need a real job." Under random thoughts, he posed this lofty question: "Why are there no gas pumps at ARCO Arena?"
As always, he takes the 3-pointer when he's open and remains outspoken on just about everything. Here are some samplings of his other random thoughts:
On Larry Bird: "Larry at one time was the greatest player in the game. I always felt when I played with Larry he made my job so much easier because he took all the pressure off you. But what he does by taking the pressure off you is also take some of your responsibilities away. In that regard, Larry makes your job easier, but he doesn't make you better on the floor.
"A guy like Magic Johnson looks to get other people involved in the game first. It's just two different ways of leading a team.
"People said Kevin McHale missed Larry last year, and that's what hurt him. What Kevin missed was another forward to pass him the ball. Kevin is a great player no matter who he plays with. If he played with Magic, he'd average 40 points a game. No, that's an exaggeration.
"But the perfect example of all this is Chief Parish. He had the best season of his career when Larry was out."
On Greg Kite, now a Kings teammate: "I tried to get Greg here in training camp. We had Jawann Oldham and Ben Gillery, neither of whom were healthy, and I thought Greg was better than anyone we had.
"His defense in the post has been great. He did a nice job on Akeem Olajuwon. He hurts us a little offensively, but when we go to a smaller lineup we get killed defensively underneath."
When asked if the Kings fans appreciate Kite more than the fans in Boston did, Ainge answered, "I don't think so. When you're losing, they pick on the weaknesses of players, and Greg has some."
On Jerry Reynolds: "Jerry and I get along great, no matter what anyone says. He comes and asks my opinion a lot. We play tennis in the summer. Sure, we've had some disagreements, but that's OK.
"I'm a little disappointed Jerry won't finish the year as coach. This franchise has already gone through a lot of adversity. Changes aren't always for the better. I felt if we were patient we'd be OK with the team we had.
"It was kind of like that last year in Boston. They got a little uneasy with how the team was playing without Larry and they made a change they might not have had to make."
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