Wayback Machine: Felger and Mazz Talk the ’86 Celtics

(Thanks to long-time BSMW member Div for capturing this.)

Set the wayback machine to December, 1985….

….they have locations at Downtown Crossing and the Meadow Glen Mall. So, when you’re looking to put fashion first, go to Tello’s. You’ll look the part.

MF: OK, we’re back Tony, and it’s time to get to last night’s debacle.

TM:I couldn’t believe my eyes Mike.

MF: If you’ve been living in a cave, YOUR Boston Celtics last night took the gaspipe on the parquet to the Portland Trailblazers….yeah, you’re hearing me right….a mediocre Portland team walked into the Boston Garden and annihilated them.

TM: It is very concerning Mike.

MF: And all of you pom-pom wavers can’t blame this one on Larry Bird’s back…he played most of the game…at least until it was clear they had been blown out.

TM: They just sucked Mike.

MF: Really bad night for the confetti mafia…let’s go to the phones. Steve from Fall River..what do you got?

Yeah, thanks Felgie. Coupla points. You know, they drafted this kid Sam Vincent. I saw a game last year when he was on Michigan where he scored 31 points. He was unstoppable. Why don’t they put him in as the starter when you can tell DJ doesn’t have it. I mean, with DJ, you know right away when he’s on and he just wasn’t on last night. Of course, KC Jones would rather be playing piano than coaching the team. Why can’t we see what this kid Vincent has got?

MF: Thanksforthecall Steve. Well, I think that’s obvious Tony. First of all, you and I both know that DJ wouldn’t like that.

TM: Oh no, Mike…that’s for sure.

MF: We keep hearing about how Dennis is a changed man, Dennis is a good teammate…but if they tried anything like that, we’d see “West Coast Dennis” faster than Clyde Drexler running down the parquet last night.

TM: We all know that’s what would happen but Celtics’ fans think that the Green grows on trees Mike.

MF: And as far as Sam Vincent goes Tony, he was a GREAT college player.

TM: I never saw him play Mike.

MF: Me neither Tony, but he averaged over 20 points last year. This year he’s averaging 2!

TM: They can’t develop young players Mike. Greg Kite, Darren Tillis, Michael Young.  A bunch of no-name stiffs Mike.

MF: They’re the worst team in the NBA at drafting and developing players and it isn’t even close Tony. How are YOU going to keep up with the Lakers if they find a key player in the draft every year while YOU brick every pick YOU make?

TM: They’ve lost ground Mike. It’s OK to admit it.

MF: John in Wakefield –what do you have for us?

Hi Felgie – love the show. Boy, that loss last night was pathetic. They looked old and slow. Parish especially…how many years to think he has left? I’m just concerned with Walton’s injury history and Parish’s age that they’re going to get rolled over by Kareem in the finals.

MF: John – thanksforthecall. There’s another guy Tony. Robert Parish. I mean, he clearly doesn’t want to be here.

TM:The next time he smiles will be the first time all season Mike.

MF: What you need to understand about Robert Parish is that he is a mercenary. He plays basketball as a career, but he’s not someone that truly loves the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was his last year Tony. He’s not a guy that will be playing into his 40’s.

TM:You’re absolutely right Mike. And then you have a crippled Bill Walton and Greg Kite as your center, and Greg Kite sucks!

MF: 90SecondsAndASportsFlash….Beetle?

Thanks Mike. The Red Sox finally dumped Mark Clear today in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for backup journeyman shortstop Ed Romero. Steve Kasper will be out for 7-10 days with an injured knee. The surprising 10-4 New England Patriots are getting ready for their biggest game in decades against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night in Miami. I’m Beetle Bertrand, and that’s a flash.

TM:The Patriots, oh please. They’re going to get killed.

MF: They haven’t won in Miami in what – a quarter century Tony?

TM:And it’s a Monday night game! They never win on Monday night! Heck, they’re lucky to be playing on Monday night. That game will be a reality check against a real team with a real coach Mike.

MF: I agree. Let’s go to Greg in Natick – Greg, what’s happening?

Nothing Mike…just wanted to talk a little bit more about the Celtics. They got exposed last night by a team full of ath-a-letes. They don’t have any athletes on the team. As the season goes on, this inevitably is going to happen more as this young, athletic teams run circles around them. This kid Jordan on Chicago seems like the kind of guy they could use; any chance Chicago would take Wedman and Sichting for him?

MF: Thanskforthecall Greg. Tony – have you seen this kid Jordan play?

TM: No Mike – I’ve never heard of him. Is he new?

MF: Yes, Chicago drafted him a few years ago and he’s really coming into his own. He had 41 points a few nights ago against Indiana, and if the season ended today, we’d be playing Chicago in a 5 game series.

TM: Anything can happen in a 5 game series Mike.

MF: Don’t tell that to the parade planning, decked in green, footie pajama wearing Celtic fans Tony. They think they’re unstoppable. They’re going to pretend like last night didn’t happen.

TM:They didn’t get the right guys in the offseason Mike. I mean, Wedman, Sichting, Walton – they look like us!

MF: Tony, I had a guy confuse you and Sichting a few days ago. No offense, but when you can’t tell the difference between a professional basketball player and you, that can’t be good.

TM: You’re absolutely right Mike.

MF: We’llberightbackafterthiswordfromSomervilleLumber.

Celtics Close Out Season of Change

The Celtics wrapped up the regular season last night with a loss to the playoff-bound Washington Wizards at TD Garden.

As with much of the season the Celtics had moments of competitiveness, but faded and eventually fell at the end.

They did what most people wanted them to do this season – lose – but perhaps didn’t even do enough of that. It was an odd season in many aspects. You had many fans and talk show hosts and columnists outright rooting (are they supposed to do that???) for the team to lose. Then had others in the media who were critical of the team for its effort and execution at times.

If you’re looking big picture, things look pretty good for this franchise. The stockpile of first round picks is well documented, they have a good shot at a top player this June should they choose to use their pick, have assets to trade if an opportunity presents itself (unlike many others, I’m not big on the Kevin Love bandwagon) and have some decent talent on the present roster to build around. They’ve also got a young coach who is already drawing praise from around the league, and who will no doubt use his first NBA season as a learning experience. They have a $10.3 million trade exception which can be used in a sign-and-trade or straight trade, but needs to be used before July 12.

In Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk they have two young players who at a minimum can be serviceable big men in the NBA. In his second season and coming off back surgery Sullinger averaged 13.3 ppg and 8.1 rpg. Olynyk had his ups and downs throughout the season, but in the last three games of the season he scored 25, 28 and 24 points.

They’ve got Rondo – whether they choose to keep him or use him as a trade asset. They have a decision to make on Avery Bradley, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, and who suffered through another injury-plagued season, but averaged 14.9 ppg in 60 games. Jeff Green remains maddeningly inconsistent, but he played all 82 games and led the team in scoring at 16.9 ppg. We’ve seen that he’s probably best suited to being a 3rd or 4th option on a club where he doesn’t have to be The Man, but can be a complementary piece. He could be used in a trade. Many of the other contracts on the team are designed to be flexible enough to use in a trade (non-guaranteed, year to year, etc).

It’s setting up to be a very interesting offseason, and while ownership promises “fireworks”, Danny Ainge just sees it as an offseason where there is a lot of work to be done.

I’m just glad that the games have been played, and we don’t have to hear about tanking and all the cute phrases that go along with it from the local sports radio and television wags.

While the season on the floor was tough, we got some great writing and coverage of the team this season. Baxter Holmes has done a terrific job with both features and the game-to-game coverage. He and Gary Washburn make a great duo for the Globe. At the Herald, Steve Bulpett and Mark Murphy did their usual outstanding job, with Bulpett remaining one of my favorite media personalities in town, and I consider him still somewhat underrated despite 30 years on the job. Jay King at MassLive.com is part of a tremendous young team at that website. Others on the beat – Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE, and Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com all added insight and information to the season.

I think the Celtics beat overall is the best and most professionally covered of any of the four major sports in town. Very little bombast or “look at me” types here. The Celtics blogging community is passionate and strong as well, with sites like CelticsBlog and RedsArmy leading the way.

The broadcast teams – Mike Gorman remains the gold standard in town. He makes whomever is with him sound great. For some reason Tommy Heinsohn has detractors and critics who cringe at his enthusiasm and support of the franchise that he has been a part of for almost 60 years. I’ll defend him to the death. The guest analysts – P.J. Carlesimo, Jackie MacMullan, even Danny Ainge and Chris Herren each brought something to the telecasts. On the radio side, Sean Grande also had many partners thoughout the season as Cedric Maxwell at times also moved over to the television side. If there was a weak spot, this might be it. Bringing in the likes of Rich Keefe and Adam Jones to sit beside Grande was curious – though it was likely a cost-saving move to bring on someone already on the station payroll.

Overall it was a rough season on the court, but we can look forward to better times ahead, and for an eventful offseason.

R.I.P. Bill Sharman – Celtics, Lakers Champion, A Remarkable Life

Hall of Famer Bill Sharman who was a player on the early Celtics championship teams, and then was a coach and executive with the Lakers for several more championships, died today at the age of 87.

He had a truly remarkable life, one deserving of being told in detail. I had recently written up an outline of his life, in hopes of putting together a future project. Here is part of that draft, which should give you a quick idea of how incredible this man’s life was.

Few men saw more basketball than Bill Sharman. As a player, he was an integral part of the early days of the Boston Celtics dynasty, teaming with Bob Cousy in what was the best backcourt in the NBA. As a coach, he led the Los Angeles Lakers on a 33-game winning streak, and an NBA title in his first year with the team. As an executive, he oversaw the acquisition of players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and James Worthy, loading up the franchise for the great battles of the 1980’s against his former Celtics team.

Born in Abilene, Texas in 1926, Sharman’s family moved to California, where he became a star athlete for high schools in Lomita and Porterville. At the age of 18, in the midst of World War II, Sharman joined the Navy, where he served a two-year stint in the Pacific.

Out of the Navy, Sharman went to Southern California University, where he starred for the Trojans both on the basketball court and on the baseball field. A two-time letter winner, Sharman was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he spent five minor-league seasons, earning a call-up in September of 1951. Sharman never appeared in a Major League Baseball game, but earned the distinction of being thrown out of one without ever appearing in one, as on September 27th, the umpire ejected the entire Dodgers bench after an argument over a call at home plate. Sharman was on the Dodgers bench for Bobby Thompson’s “Shot heard round the world” which won the National League pennant for the New York Giants over the Dodgers on October 3rd, 1951.

Following his hoops career as USC, Sharman had also been drafted in the second round by the Washington Capitals of the NBA. Sharman was leading the team in scoring as a rookie at 12.2 points a game in the 1950-51 season when the franchise folded after 35 games.

A dispersal draft was held and after refusing to report to the Fort Wayne Pistons who had won his rights, the Pistons traded him to the Boston Celtics. The previous year, the Celtics had ended up with Bob Cousy in a separate dispersal draft transaction, and now Sharman and Cousy would be the Celtics starting backcourt for the next decade.

Sharman averaged 17.8 points per game in his career, peaking at 22.3 ppg in the 1957-58 season. The arrival of Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn in 1956 made the Celtics into champions, and Sharman would be an NBA champion four times before his career with the Celtics came to a close at the end of the 1960-61 season.

The NBA was expanding into Chicago the next season, and team were required to submit four names for the expansion draft. With young guards Sam and K.C. Jones waiting in the wings, Sharman’s name was among those the Celtics submitted. Sharman though, took a coaching job with the Los Angeles Jets of the new American Basketball League, an outfit started out of spite by Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein after he felt the NBA went back on a promise to award him an NBA team in Los Angeles.

The short-lived league was noteworthy for being the first to introduce the three-point shot, as well as for hiring the first African-American coach in professional sports history. Sharman took the job with the idea of becoming a player-coach, something Celtics owner Walter Brown strongly objected to, and the NBA threatened legal action due to its “Option Rule.” Sharman eventually had his way, and played in 19 games for the Jets. The team was doing quite well, with a 24-15 record, before it folded on January 10th, 1962. Sharman was not out of work for long, getting hired by the Cleveland Pipers of the ABL in February as head coach by young owner George Steinbrenner. Sharman led the Pipers to the first (and only ABL Championship.)

The next fall, Sharman took over the Cal State-Los Angeles basketball team, coaching there until 1964. He then went into broadcasting for a couple of years. In 1966, he was hired as head coach of the San Francisco Warriors, where he led a squad of players that included Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond and Al Attles. He took them to the NBA finals in his first season, where they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers.The next season, the Warriors finished third in the West, and were swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Sharman was back in Los Angeles that fall, this time with the Los Angeles Stars of the ABA. After fifth and fourth place finishes in LA, the Stars moved to Utah in 1971, where Sharman led them to 57 wins and and the league championship, where they defeated the Kentucky Colonels, led by rookie star Dan Issel.

The Los Angeles Lakers had moved from Minneapolis in 1960. In Minnesota they had been the league’s first dynasty, winning five league titles in the early days of the NBA. Since moving to Los Angeles though, there had been nothing but heartache, as the Lakers made it to the NBA finals eight times, only to lose each time, seven times of which had been to the Boston Celtics.

Even though Sharman was under contract to the Stars for four more seasons, the Lakers wanted him to replace Joe Mullaney as head coach. After a few weeks of posturing and threatening from the two teams and leagues, Sharman became head coach of the Lakers.

His first season was nothing short of spectacular, as the Lakers ran out to a record-breaking 69 wins in the regular season, including a 33-game winning streak. The Lakers then beat the New York Knicks four games to one in the NBA finals to win their first championship in Los Angeles. Sharman had now coached in three professional leagues, and won championships in each of them.

He then became GM of the Lakers, and drafted Magic Johnson in 1979, he remained GM until 1982, when he became President of the Lakers. He held that post until 1988 when he retired, having won NBA titles as a player, coach, GM and Team President. He remained a team special consultant the rest of his life.

Sharman was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976 and as a coach in 2004, one of only three men honored twice.