June 11, 1986
In this city, which has produced Paul Revere, John Adams and John F. Kennedy, there is only one man who has been deified by a statue erected in his lifetime - Arnold Auerbach.
A bronze monument to Mr. Auerbach sits on a bench in Quincy Market, a short, round, balding figure grasping a cigar. The inscription reads simply: ''He has made winning synonymous with Boston.''
Today a million and a half good citizens of Boston, by police count, came to pay tribute to the latest creation of the man they know as Red, the 1986 Boston Celtics, once again the world champions of basketball.
A Sweet 16th
In what has become virtually a biennial event since Red Auerbach took over the leadership of the Celtics, 16 championships in the last 30 years, the multitude of fans surrounded City Hall at noontime. No other team in professional sports can match that record, and the Celtics' success has become a matter of grave pride to the city as well as the players.
''The Celtics mean everything to Boston,'' said Edward L. Martin, an investment portfolio manager who wore a green Celtic tie with his beige suit. ''They are part of the working class, the professional class, the whole city.''
In compiling the best record in the National Basketball Association this year and beating the Houston Rockets on Sunday for the title, the Celtics finished with 50 victories and only one loss in the antiquated Boston Garden before their adoring home audience.
Larry Bird, named the Most Valuable Player in the league this year and adjudged by many the best basketball player of all time, told the fans they too had played a role in the Celtics' predominance. ''If we were just unbeatable at home, it was because of you all,'' Mr. Bird said from a platform on the side of City Hall.
Below him a vast sea of green roared assent: boys in green T-shirts, girls with green shamrocks, elderly men with green caps and middle-aged women in green dresses.
One woman, a 37-year-old clerk with the Boston School Department dressed in a white golf shirt and kelly green skirt, was even named Green. ''The Celtics should go down in history,'' said Pamela Green.
''I'm going to take the rest of the day off,'' she added. And Now, the Red Sox? Daniel Gill, a square-jawed 18-year-old with sandy-colored hair from the Hyde Park section of the city, was waiting for tonight and the television broadcast of the Red Sox, Boston's baseball team. The Red Sox have not won the World Series since 1918, when Babe Ruth was their star pitcher, but they are in first place in the American League Eastern division, and hope runs high.
It has been an extraordinary year for Boston sports, Mr. Gill exclaimed. First the New England Patriots emerged from years of obscurity to win the American Football Conference championship, before bowing to the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. Now the Celtics.
''This is it, baby,'' said Mr. Gill, clutching a beer can. ''All we need now is the Sox.''
There was another young man some years ago, Raymond L. Flynn, who grew up the son of a poor longshoreman in South Boston and dreamed the dream of all boys here, of one day playing for the Celtics. Mr. Flynn managed to become a Celtic ball boy, and later, after an All-America performance at Providence College, he was signed by the Celtics in 1964 and made it to the final cut before the regular season.
But the Celtics had another good guard, named K. C. Jones, and elected to keep him instead.
Today Mr. Flynn could laugh about his fate. For he is the Mayor of Boston, and Mr. Jones is the Celtics' coach. On Sunday, when the Celtics beat the Rockets to win the league title, he watched the game on television in his office with a group of black teen-agers from Roxbury, part of a broad program to improve the racial climate in the city. Then he went out and hoisted a Celtics banner in front of City Hall.
''If I didn't cut Ray Flynn, he might still be with us and K. C. Jones would have been the Mayor,'' Red Auerbach told the crowd today.
Black, White and Green All Over
At the beginning of the season, some sportswriters noted that in a game now dominated by black players, the Celtics would start a lineup with a majority of whites, including Mr. Bird. Their comments annoyed Mr. Auerbach, who pointed out that the Celtics had been the first N.B.A. team to have a black player, the first to field a predominantly black team and now one of the rare teams with a black coach.
At the festivities today, there were few signs of the hostility that blighted Boston in the city's school busing crisis of the 1970's. Although a large majority of fans who attend Celtics' games are white, at least in part because many tickets are reserved years in advance, a sizable number of the celebrants around City Hall were black, draped in Irish green.
Over the years, the Celtics have never had a mascot, no cheerleaders with pompons like the hated Los Angeles Lakers, and nobody dressed up in chicken costumes to prance on the floor at halftime. In keeping with Boston's Puritan heritage, the Celtics offered only basketball, winning basketball, in an old arena without air-conditioning and a sagging parquet floor.
A Special Fan
But toward the end of the season a new phenomenon appeared, a tall, buxom blonde woman in a white knit top who quickly became a celebrity as the Celtics' biggest fan, widely sought after for interviews by television, radio and newspaper reporters.
When she sat near the Atlanta Hawks' bench at a playoff game, the coach later blamed her for his team's loss. Some of his players had been distracted, he charged.
Jan Volk, the Celtics' general manager, was not sure what to do about the commotion her presence caused. ''You can't bar someone from coming to the game just because they are very good-looking, or very ugly,'' he explained.
So she kept attending the games when she was not working at night, in places like The Fuzzy Grape in Webster, Mass., or Mister Happy's in Waterbury, Conn., striptease clubs.
Today she wanted to join in the Celtics' victory celebration, but her anatomy got in the way.
''It's hard to walk around in a crowd when you're shaped like this,'' said Busty Heart.
In the end, half a dozen police officers had to protect her from dozens of clutching admirers.
On Monday night, though it was not widely advertised, the Celtics had their annual breakup dinner at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, another Boston landmark.
In years past, the Ritz kept a blacklist for undesirable customers and maintained a strict policy requiring coats and ties for male patrons. But Bill Walton, the Celtics' 7-foot reserve center, was observed entering the Ritz in a checked sport shirt without either coat or tie.
No problem, said Patricia Cutler, the hotel's public relations manager: ''All of us here are thrilled to have the Celtics and are true fans.''