November 1, 1997
"A good professional team should be able to beat a great college team," said Jim Viola. "They could have spent a lot of money on players or on a coach. They chose the coach, so they will wind up with a great college team. They knew what they were getting. They knew what they wanted. But it isn't what I wanted.
"There are a lot of veteran assistant coaches out there who have good systems and have been in the league, but don't have the name recognition. I wish them well. The Celtics should be restored to some prominence."
Some fans were attracted as much by the presence of the Chicago Bulls as coach Rick Pitino's young Celtics.
"I've liked the Bulls for a while. I'm a Chicago native, I'm not just Jordan-struck," Jacob Borgman said. "I'd like to see the Celtics put up a good fight. I'm not expecting a close game but it would be nice to see the Celtics play well, see what level a team they are. I haven't followed them too much but my friend told me that Pitino's plan is to throw the young guys to the wolves and see what it makes of them."
Holyoke police officer Emil Morales was making his FleetCenter debut and expected the Celtics to challenge by sheer effort, if nothing else.
"I'm expecting them to fast break like Pitino's teams did at Kentucky," Morales said. "He recruited a lot of guys from Kentucky who know how to play his style. If they continue up and down the court, they will be successful. There are a lot of older players on the Bulls and they are not used to continuous up-and-down play, they won't be expecting it. Most teams don't play quick, up-and-down style."
Celtics diehards like Jim Zorba are willing to wait.
"I expect improvement but I don't expect the playoffs," said Zorba, a basketball coach at Endicott College. "I could rattle off eight teams better than the Celtics. But in two or three years, they should be all right, and not through the draft but through trades and free agents. It's a rebuilding process. There will be a lot of improvement but realistically they can't be expected to compete with the Knicks and Bulls for a while. It's a long season, and they will be the type of team which can catch other teams off guard. When other teams are tired, they will be getting in their face and they will probably get some wins that way."