4.25.2016

How Red Auerbach Built the 1986 Celtics



Charlie Scott Becomes Larry Bird

1977-1979

In June of 1977, the Los Angeles Lakers traded Lucius Allen to the Kansas City Kings for Ollie Johnson and two draft choices, a first and a second in 1978. Six months later, during the 1977-78 season, the Lakers sent the first-round draft choice they had received from Kansas City along with Don Chaney and Kermit Washington to Boston for guard Charlie Scott. The 1978 draft choice the Celtics received from Kansas City, by way of the Lakers, turned out to be the eighth selection in
the first round. Because they had that selection, the Celtics were able to gamble with their own first-round draft choice, the sixth selection, and take Larry Bird, who completes his senior season at Indiana State before signing with the Celtics.

Sidney Wicks becomes Tiny Archibald and Danny Ainge

July 1978

After the 1978 campaign the Celtics moved Sidney Wicks to the Buffalo Braves (which became the San Diego Clippers) for Tiny Archibald, Marvin Barnes, Billy Knight and two second round draft picks (one that turned into Danny Ainge). 

Bob McAdoo becomes Robert Parish  and Kevin McHale

February 1979

Phyllis George, the fiancee of Celtics' owner John Y. Brown, liked McAdoo. A lot. So Brown got McAdoo, a high-scoring forward, from the Knicks for three first-round draft picks. Such is love. McAdoo lasted 20 games with the Celtics before he was sent to Detroit (and coach/GM Dick Vitale) as compensation for the signing of free agent M.L. Carr. The Celtics also got two first-round draft choices in the deal, picks that eventually would be bartered for Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.

Rick Robey becomes Dennis Johnson

June 1983

Boston swaps second-string center Rick Robey and two second-round picks for four-time All-Star and future HOFer Dennis Johnson. The Phoenix Sun's also included their first- and second-round picks in that year's draft.

Cedric Maxwell becomes Bill Walton

Summer 1985

The story begins on June 10, 1985, the day after the Celtics fell to the Lakers at home in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The season was over. Emotions were high. And while there was plenty of blame to go around, the Celtics -- especially Red Auerbach -- pinned most of it on Cedric Maxwell. Long story short, Max had undergone arthroscopic knee surgery that February and the team didn’t think he’d worked hard enough in rehab. They didn’t think he was in adequate shape for the playoffs. By
the time the Finals rolled around, Maxwell (who averaged 11 points in the regular season) played only 10 minutes a game and scored a total of 13 points.

This drove Red Auerbach insane. Especially since he’d just signed Maxwell to a hefty three-year extension. So Red went into that offseason dead set on shipping Cornbread out of town. (And, for good measure, Auerbach called the editor on his latest book, still in production, and had every positive mention of Maxwell deleted.)

Anyway, on this afternoon, the day after that horrible loss to the Lakers and the death of another championship dream, Auerbach held a meeting at the Garden -- it was him, general manager Jan Volk, head coach K.C. Jones, assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers, and some guy named Larry Bird -- to discuss the previous season and the upcoming offseason. At one point Red’s secretary came over with a message:

Bill Walton called.

By the time Red called back, Walton had already left on a European vacation, so the conversation had to wait. But everyone knew what Walton was calling about. He wanted another ring.

Celtics add  Wedman and Sichting 

January 1983

The Celtics acquire Scott Wedman from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a little-known player named Darren Tillis, a future first-round draft choice and about $800,000. Wedman later led the Celtics to a 148-114 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals by scoring 26 points. He nailed all 11 of his shots, including four 3-pointers. That effort surpassed the 11-of-12 mark set by Bill Bradley of the Knicks and James Worthy of the Lakers in previous series.

October 1985

The Celtics acquire Jerry Sichting from the Indiana Pacers for two second-round draft picks. Sichting shot an eye-opening 56% from the field during the 1985-86 season (who is left to guard the diminutive and largely unknown Sichting when everyone else is being double-teamed?), coming off the bench to fill in at both guard positions.
 

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