|Larry Bird at Indiana State statue dedication: ‘Boston has the best sports fans I’ve ever seen’||11.13.13 at 2:30 pm ET|
Larry Bird is quick to remind you he is only human. Incapable of any superpowers or magic, he promises, French Lick’s Larry Joe Bird’s talent is simply the product of a man who worked incredibly hard to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
“I was always told I wasn’t big enough or strong enough to compete against the best,” Bird said. “I heard it in high school, I heard it in college and I heard it in the pros, so I’d keep working harder. That’s what pays off. I guess things worked out pretty well.”
This past weekend, Indiana State University recognized Bird’s contributions to the game of basketball by unveiling his 15-foot bronze statue on campus outside ISU’s Hulman Center. While the day was tremendous for the Sycamores, the city of Terre Haute, and the basketball-crazed state of Indiana, Bird admitted that a big piece of his heart still belongs to Boston.
“Boston has the best sports fans I’ve ever seen,” Bird said. “They live it and breathe it. I was so honored to be able to put on a jersey and play at a place where they cared. One of the best lines I ever heard, I think it was in ’86 against Houston, and we were going into Game 6 [of the NBA Finals]. The crowd was absolutely going berserk, and this was an hour before the game. Some of the guys were still shooting before they came back into the locker room. One of them said, ‘I’m telling you, them fans want blood out there and they don’t care whose it is. We lose, and it’s our blood!’ And man, was he right, the place was rocking that night.”
Before the statue unveiling on Saturday morning, Indiana State first honored Bird with a “Larry Legend” scholarship dinner on Friday night. Hosted by Jackie MacMullan, the program was broken into four quarters focused on Bird’s career in high school, college and the NBA, and his time as a coach and an executive as team president of the currently undefeated Pacers.
Bird’s statue was unveiled a week after the city of Boston recognized Bill Russell with his own monument. As the two most famous Celtics of all time, Bird feels a connection to Russell, but he was quick to point out that, while both men wore the Celtics jersey for 13 seasons in their careers, only one earned 11 championship rings.
“If anybody deserves a statue, it’s Bill Russell,” Bird said. “We all looked up to him. He set the bar so high for all of us. He’s had such a great career and a lot of success. I’m really happy for Bill, not only for his statue, but for Bill the man. He’s a great man.”
The ceremony started with a look back at Bird’s roots with the game of basketball, a connection that now is more deeply intertwined than ever. Bird’s coach at Springs Valley High School, Jim Jones, served as a mentor, and Bird noted that lessons his coach taught him in 1970 still hold true today.
“Coach Jones spent a lot time with us as young kids and showed us how to play the game the right way,” Bird said. “He was telling us, no matter how long you stay out here or how many jump shots you shoot, there’s always somebody out there doing a little bit more. That guy in my life was Magic Johnson. Maybe that’s why he got the ring from the NCAA tournament back in 1979.”
|Red’s daughter: Auerbach wouldn’t have traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett||10.11.13 at 1:18 pm ET|
Danny Ainge always pledged he’d pull the trigger when Red Auerbach never could — trading a couple Boston legends in the twilight of their careers — and now Auerbach’s daughter is questioning the current Celtics president’s pride after the deal that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn.
“Given [Red Auberbach's] track record and philosophy of life, not in his lifetime would that have happened,” Randy Auerbach told Yahoo Sports. “He really took a lot of pride in players finishing their careers with the Celtics. That was something very important to him.
“If it was for Chris Paul, maybe. We got nothing [for Pierce and Garnett]. You don’t trade laterally, and we didn’t even get laterally. But I hope it works. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to be wrong.”
The way Ainge tells the story, Red shared a couple trade scenarios he ultimately rejected with Ainge, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale during a Christmas party in the early 1990s: 1) Bird to the Pacers for Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich, and 2) McHale to the Mavericks for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. Ainge claims he urged Auerbach to make the trades, but Bird denies it went down like that.
|10 Things I Heard About Celtics VII||09.20.11 at 6:35 pm ET|
On another slow Celtics news day, there’s still plenty to learn about Boston’s green men. Here are 10 more C’s links of interest we discovered over the past few days (“10 Things I Heard About Celtics” I, II, III, IV, V and VI) …
10. Taking time out from practice on the LSU campus, Celtics free agent forward Glen Davis recently traveled to South Portland, Maine to dedicate a pair of basketball courts and speak on behalf of a charitable venture.
The latter event provided us with two dichotomous Davis interviews courtesy of the local NBA affiliate: 1) the awkward exchange in the embedded video between a report intent on asking lockout questions and Davis, who clearly wanted no part of it; and 2) the poignant speech to Day One fundraisers about being raised by a mother with substance abuse problems.
We’ll start on the basketball side. The short of what Davis had to say was “I have no worry,” “Everything will be Ok” and “We’ll be back on the court.” The long of it:
- On the lockout: “The owners and the players are trying to deal with something, and they’ll make sure everything will happen the way it needs to happen. I have no worry. Everybody loves basketball.”
- On the lockout, again: “They have issues. We have to work them out. Everybody wants basketball. With everybody on the same ground, we can work something out. Everything will be Ok.”
- And again: “I think a lot of guys are working out and preparing themselves, but everybody’s at their house or doing something. We’re preparing like there’s going to be a season, and after everything gets worked out we’ll be back on the court.”
- And again: “We’ve got to work things out first. In the meantime, between time, I’m just affiliated with and doing other things, so I’m just waiting.”
Now to the human side. Here are a few touching tidbits from Davis about his childhood:
- On his hometown: “I grew up in a neighborhood where there were drugs everywhere. It was like walking zombies out there.”
- On his upbringing: “I had to face some things that I never could ever imagine that I would have had to face as a young child. I was put in situations where I had to grow up as an adult. I had to realize what life was really about.”
- On finding hoops: “In basketball, that’s where I found the values of life. It’s where I found that structure. It’s where I found that place where I can vent and be me, because I had to be someone else.”
The Portland Press Herald has more from the emotional Davis, who was introduced by Celtics legend Dave Cowens with this: “All the old guys I played with think he really knows how to play the game.”
|Celtics on eBay: Red Auerbach’s signed cigar||08.19.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
It’s time to take you into the weekend with the latest edition of Celtics on eBay, which has now had four different names in four different weeks. Basically we ask, “Would you pay [a pretty penny] for [current or former member of the Celtics]‘ [eBay item]?” Confusing enough? Good. Let’s get started.
This might be the first thing I would actually buy. It’s a cigar. Signed by Red Auerbach. The greatest basketball coach in the history of basketball coaches (well, other than M.L. Carr). For 310 bucks. …
Or is it? I just spent an hour trying to figure out if the guy pictured signing the cigar is actually Red Auerbach or not. I still can’t decide. Either way, I still might buy it.
Want to waste more time this weekend? Vote on these overpriced/awesome Celtics items from previous weeks:
|Kevin McHale talks to Slam||05.20.11 at 2:39 pm ET|
In an interview with Slam’s Tzvi Twersky, former Celtic great Kevin McHale looked back on his career and how he learned so many ingenious post moves. McHale was an undersized high schooler in Hibbing, Minn., who developed all kinds of up and under moves simply so he could survive against bigger players.
“I grew from 5-11 as a sophomore to 6-7, 6-8, maybe close to 6-9, by the end of my senior year of high school, and I grew to be 6-10 and a quarter,” McHale said. “But I never knew that [was going to happen]. When I first became a basketball junkie, I was just a small, little skinny dude and then I became a real tall, skinny dude.”
There’s great stuff in this interview about playing with Larry Bird, taking on the role of the sixth man and the rivalry with the Lakers. This quote about playing with a broken foot seems especially poignant, considering the way the current Celtics have battled injuries late in their careers.
“I don’t know. I say now in hindsight I wouldn’t do it again, but if I was out there and we had the chance to win a championship, I’d probably do it again. I mean, how often do you get a chance to go down that road? It’s the finals; how often do you get the chance to do that? It’s one of those things where the mature side of me now that I’m older says I wouldn’t do it. But you put me back at 27, 28, and say you have a chance to win another championship? I’d say, Let’s tape it up; let’s go.”
|Irish Coffee: Perfect remedy for loss to Lakers||02.11.11 at 11:30 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Few game films exist of Bill Russell‘s playing days, but a United States Information Agency documentarian by the name of Gary Goldsmith had some rare footage in his vault: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Cincinnati Royals.
The video has since been shown on NBA TV, and SLAM Magazine recently caught with the filmmaker. Goldsmith takes us through the documentary’s process, and the unquestionable highlight of the interview is this aside on a retired Bob Cousy wandering the Garden hallways:
“He was holding his head in his hands and saying to somebody, ‘We can’t lose. If we lose, they’ll never let us up. It will be like the Yankees; they’ll grind us in to the earth. We’ve got to win.’ He wasn’t saying this to anybody for publication; this was a private comment that he made. It’s that sense of how important it was to sustain their championship level. I got a feel for it from moments like that.”
Part 1 of Goldsmith’s “The Final Game” is embedded in this blog. Be sure to check out Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 on YouTube. There’s nothing better than watching a game from the last run of the Celtics’ nine consecutive championship seasons to get over a loss to the Lakers.
The time spent is worth it just to hear Red Auerbach‘s incessant chatter from the sidelines:
|Doc Rivers thanks Danny Ainge for the chance to make Celtics coaching history||01.12.11 at 11:34 pm ET|
Doc Rivers remembers the 2006-07 season vividly, and for all the wrong reasons.
The Celtics had just completed the second-worst season of their existence, losing 58 times and Rivers would have totally understood if his boss decided that – in addition to changing the roster – it was time to change the coach.
But GM Danny Ainge saw something in Rivers and convinced Celtics ownership to stick with Rivers since he felt he was the right coach to handle the egos and personalities of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. One championship and one near-miss later over a span of four years, Ainge has been greatly rewarded for his loyalty.
On Wednesday night, following a 119-95 win over the Kings at TD Garden, Rivers passed K.C. Jones for third on the franchise’s regular season all-time coaching wins list with 309. And it was Ainge whom Rivers thanked for giving him the chance.
“Yeah, you know, I don’t know what that means, honestly,” Rivers said. “It’s awesome, I guess. I mean, I just don’t know what that means, yet, because I’m not thinking about it much, I’m not done. But it’s nice. And, listen, it’s Danny Ainge at the end of the day. I’m full-aware of that. We were bad for two years and he stuck with me. And believed in me. And so, at the end of the day it’s Danny Ainge more than me.”
Rivers, whose record stands at 309-221, trails only Tommy Heinsohn (427) and all-time leader Red Auerbach (795) on the franchise’s all-time list. Rivers guaranteed one thing Wednesday, he won’t be shooting for first. “No. That ain’t gonna happen. I can guarantee you that!”
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