June 8, 2012 by David Gillaspie
A QUESTION OF VISION, OR LACK OF ANYTHING BETTER TO DO
Lakers and Celtics starters from the eighties mold the NBA today like no other two teams.
Celtic five –
Larry Bird: Pacer President
Danny Ainge: Celtic President
Kevin McHale: Executive and Coach
Dennis Johnson: Coach
Robert Parrish: Most NBA games played in history
Laker five –
Magic Johnson: Owner and commentator
Byron Scott: Coach
Kurt Rambis: Coach and commentator
James Worthy: Businessman, NBA Analyst
Kareem Abdul Jabbar: All-Time Scoring Champ, Assistant Coach
These guys carry awards for the 50 Greatest Players Of All-Time and NBA Hall Of Fame.
Their greatness as players transcended the game, their drive as basketball guys goes further.
By any standards, the starting fives of the legendary LA-Boston rivalry in the 1980’s should be imprinted on every sports fans’ memory; more so if you are nearly the same age as the players and saw them play on television. Those memories come with news coverage from back in the day.
Larry Bird supposedly said he wanted to be the fattest man to ever leave Boston. Watching him drag his gut up and down the court over a pair of short-shorts was a shock in his early career. Seeing the way he closed out games made you wonder why the rest of the league didn’t pack on the jiggly truck driver weight.
Danny Ainge spurned the NBA at first, reportedly saying he wanted to walk when he turned forty. Not hitting major league pitching in his twenties changed his mind.
If Kevin McHale looked like a coat hanger with a uniform draped on it, it was the coat hanger Boston used to whip other teams with.
Dennis Johnson might have been honorable-mention an the All-Ugly team, but only by a freckle. His play made him as beautiful as Bird’s made him thin.
The difference between Robert Parish’s expression and that of an antique wooden Indian was small, but the official report says he was called Chief after Chief Broom in One Flies Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Ah, Juicy Fruit.
Does this sound like the inner-circle of NBA power?
How about this:
Watching games end, then Magic interviewed in a robe was weird. Why the robe, Magic? Later it came out that Magic had a special post-game warm down that couldn’t wait.
Byron Scott’s play in the back court made it look easy. The word was anyone could play the two with Magic and look as good; the word didn’t take chemistry into account.
The Hanson brothers are not related to Kurt Rambis; Rambis did not star in Slap Shot. But he brought a certain hockey fury to the court.
James Worthy had a pre-game warm up. It was a onetime experiment and he got caught, according to Laker fans. Even so, you have to wonder who named him ‘Big Game.’
If Lew Alcindor looked like a fish out of water outside the gym, the goggles Kareem Abdul Jabbar wore made him look fishy inside. To top it off, the guy seemed put out when he did television interviews, like he had more important things to do. He did the league no favors then, now the league ignores him and he wonders why. Playing the second most games of anyone and scoring the most points in history might hurt opponent’s feelings, but rudeness hurts careers.
The ten men listed did more to save the NBA from becoming line-ups of cocaine sniffing superstars than just Magic and Bird. Team sports have one primary requirement: a team. Is one guy enough? Ask Dwight Howard, then call Deron Williams.
After you hang up the phone, make a list of today’s players who will lead the NBA like the 80’s guys.
Leave the list in comments and I’ll hit it later.