1982 Musings from Grampa Celtic

Six Things No Self-Respecting Celtics Fans Should Ever Forget:

1. Steve Kuberski's improbable destruction of the Hawks in the 1972 playoffs, wherein he came off the bench like a vintage Havlicek, twice scoring 20 or more points in the six-game series (AND CHECK OUT THE FORM IN THE ABOVE PICTURE - - REMIND ANYONE OF ANOTHER #33?);

2. The spectacular passing and general pick-me-up qualities of Hambone Williams, the only player I've ever seen who had guys tripping over each other at garbage time in order to enter the game and be the beneficiary of his great feeds;

3. Jim Ard shutting down a sizzling Campy Russell in the late stages of the half during Game 5 of the 1976 Cleveland series;

4. Paul Silas leading the league in rebounds while Dave Cowens was missing the first 17 games of the 1974-75 season with a broken foot;

5. Cowens emerging victorious over Abdul-Jabbar in 10 consecutive games from the end of the 1973-74 season through the beginning of the 1975-76 campaign;

6. The fact that from February 1972 (when they had a bad West Coast trip) until November 1975, the Celtics went 271 regular-season games without losing three in a row. This may be the most amazing testimony to athletic class and determination in the history of American professional sports.

Eight Born Celtics Who Never Got To Wear The Uniform: 1. Dave DeBusschere; 2. Jerry Sloan; 3. Dick Van Arsdale; 4. Willis Reed; 5. Tom Van Arsdale; 6. Dave Twardzik; 7. Norm Van Lier; 8. T.R. Dunn . . . Five Celtics Who Never Should Have Been: 1. Sidney Wicks; 2. Curtis Rowe; 3. Billy Knight (a basically fine person whose casual style didn't ignite the Garden crowd); 4. Earl Williams; 5. John Y. Brown . . . Best Three-Minute Drill Ever: Glenn McDonald in the famed Phoenix triple OT. In addition to sinking the two big buckets, he also committed a turnover and missed what could have been a key free throw . . . I knew this was going to be an interesting job when Jim (Bad News) Barnes, then officially a holdout, called me up to say that Clive Rush was giving him a tryout as a tight end with the Patriots. Of course, the real story there is what that told Will McDonough about the new Patroiots' coach.

Greatest Non-Celtic Event: The Knicks losing Willis Reed in Game 5 of the 1970 finals and beating Wilt Chamberlain and the Fabulous Lakers with nobody over 6-7 and with DeBusschere guarding The Dipper . . . Three Things You Never Saw Unless You Were In The Celtics' Locker Room: 1. John Havlicek hanging his socks up on a hanger; 2. Bailey Howell brewing himself a pot of tea before the game; 3. Satch Sanders engrossed in a paperback every instant . . . With all due respect to the present Boston-Philadelphia fervor, the greatest of all Celtics' rivalries was the one with New York from 1970-71 to 1973-74. I will never forget the exhilarating feeling of anticipation I would get walking through the East Lobby on those Sunday afternoons.

It's true, you know. DeBusschere would chug a six-pack after a game the way you or I would drink a single glass of water . . . Havlicek once told me the difference between the Van Arsdales was that one was a better outside shooter and the other was a better driver, but I never could remember which was which . . . I'll state categorically that there will be a Libertarian president before there will ever be another Don Nelson. One of my annual treats was watching him embarrass some young forward who could take pennies off the backboard. I'm not so sure that Dwight Davis ever recovered from his first encounter with Nellie's up-fake . . . Most Forgotten Great Team: The rollicking Bullets of Earl The Pearl, Gus Johnson, Jack Marin, Kevin Loughery and the stolid Westley Unseld. Nobody had to tell this bunch which way the basket was . . . Most Misplaced Team: Dick Motta's Chicago Bulls. There but for the 24-second clock went a two or three-time NBA champion.

Most Satisfying Basketball Thought: That in 13 seasons Abdul-Jabbar has won only three titles. Everyone assumed that the team acquiring him would dominate the 70s, the moral of the story being that the game of basketball transcends any and all forms of individual superiority, even the kind standing seven feet, three inches tall . . . I thought Hank Finkel was the perfect back-up player by virtue of intelligence and temperament, but then I met Eric Fernsten. I hope there will be a place for him on Bill Fitch's team for many years to come . . . Biggest Celtics' Imponderable: How good would Larry Bird have been had he not smashed his right index finger beyond repair in that softball accident? . . . Let it be said that Cowens and Bird combined did not come through with as many big fourth periods during their rookie seasons as did Kevin McHale.

Five Greatest Pride Moments For Celtics' Fans: 1. Game 6, Philadelphia, 1981; 2. Game 6, New York, 1973; 3. Game 4, New York, 1973; 4. Game 7, Milwaukee, 1974; 5. Game 6, Philadelphia, 1982 . . . Most Predictable, But Nonetheless Amazing, Individual Feat: John Havlicek scoring 18 points while playing with one arm, his left, in Game 5 of the 1973 Knicks' series . . . Best Dave Cowens Fights: 1. The "My Turn, Your Turn" two-punch slugfest with Bob Kauffman that left Cowens with an eyepatch and Kauffman with a dislocated jaw; 2. The chopping down of 7-foot-4 Tommy Burleson . . . Best Fight, Non-Cowens Division: Larry Siegfried vs. Wally Jones. They rolled around at the foul line (it was later revealed that Wally had bitten Siggy) to the amusement of players and officials until Gene Conley bolted out of the stands, leaped over the bench and broke up the fight . . . Worst Fight: Don Nelson vs. John Tresvant, a waltz job suggesting Truman Capote vs. Don Knotts.

Best Game: Got to be Boston 128, Phoenix 126 in triple OT on June 4, 1976 . . . Worst Game: Without doubt, the nadir of the franchise was reached on March 9, 1979 in the Silverdome. Detroit 160, Boston 117, and, no, it really wasn't as close as the score indicates . . . Road Trip I'm Glad I Didn't Miss: I never saw a Celtics' team act more like a bunch of carefree high schoolers than last year's club when it marched through Texas without Bird and Archibald . . . Most Aggravating Rival Player: 1. Elvin Hayes; 2. Kevin Porter . . . This may come as a severe shock, but I don't miss John Y. Brown. But I am sorry I never met Walter . . . Favorite Auerbachism: "The best kind of a deal is one that is equitable to both teams, particularly ours." . . . You wouldn't believe how much basketball you could learn at 2 a.m. over the 10th cup of coffee with Tom Heinsohn . . . It didn't take me long to learn that no writer, with the possible exception of George Kimball, could possibly keep up in the beer drinking department with Finkel and Kuberski.

Post-Russell Celtics' All-Star Team: C-Cowens; F-Havlicek, Bird; G-White, Archibald . . . Man Who Most Kept Me Alert: Bill Fitch, who is a great basketball coach and a fascinating individual. His list of one-liners is endless, and his basketball recall is amazing . . . Most Memorable Personality: Cowens, Silas and Havlicek notwithstanding, Red Auerbach goes to the head of the class. He is one of the true larger-than-life personalities in the world of sports.

I could not possibly exaggerate the fun inherent in watching the likes of Havlicek, Cowens, Silas, Chaney, Nelson, Parish, Maxwell, McHale and, of course, Larry Bird, who has not only taken the forward position farther than it's ever been before, but who is the greatest off-the-floor teammate among stars that I've ever seen. These have truly been great years for Boston basketball fans, but especially for those who pre-date the current club. Only the old guard fans can truly appreciate what's happened with basketball in this town.

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