Cedric Maxwell

Watching "The Last Dance" makes you wonder how Larry Bird would fit in today's NBA

Watching "The Last Dance" makes you wonder how Larry Bird would fit in today's NBA

The Michael Jordan documentary, "The Last Dance," is great television and could not have come along at a better time.

You know I’m a die-hard Celtics fan, but it is impossible not be in awe of the 90’s Bulls. How could any hoop fan not get tingles down their spine when hearing The Alan Parsons Project “Sirius” as Jordan’s name boomed through the rafters.

To me, that always signaled something special was moments away. 

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Larry Bird had the best quote ever regarding Jordan. After Mike put up 63 points in a Bulls loss at the Garden in the '86 playoffs, Bird told the Boston Globe, “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

Larry didn’t hand out compliments lightly. Those words meant a lot.

As I was watching Jordan personally torch the Celts defense, I couldn’t help but notice how slow and plodding the Celtics appeared ... and that was the Celtics team that won 67 games. 

I asked myself the question, “How good would Larry Bird be playing today’s game?” Currently, the players are more athletic and more skilled, regardless of height. There were no seven-footers who could handle and shoot like Kevin Durant in the 80’s. At 6-9, Magic was an anomaly at point guard.

How could I ever doubt Larry Legend? What was wrong with me?

One great thing about my job — and there are many — is that I have the pleasure of knowing some people who have actually played professional sports, and one in particular who played with Larry.

I press Max on my cell. I still think it’s cool that I have the 1981 NBA Finals MVP (Cedric Maxwell) in my phone.

“Big Fella!” I cry into the phone as he picks up. 

“Big Fella!” He cries back. Yes, we have pet nicknames or maybe that’s just what I want to believe. He may call everybody, “Big fella.”

Anyway. 

Quick Max story. I was filling in for the highly talented Celtic play-by-play man Sean Grande one night when Jared Sullinger took an awful shot in the fourth quarter. It was sooooo baadddd my call went like this, “Ohhh, boy,” as in “Oh brother.” As a Celtic fan, I was so disheartened by the shot I never called the play! And THIS WAS ON THE RADIO!  Max laughed so hard he tinkled himself in his fine custom-made suit. 

No reason for that story. I just like to tell it. 

After exchanging the typical "Are you OK?" pleasantries of our time, I ask Max if Larry would be Larry in today’s game. Honestly, his answer surprised me. 

Now, it's well-known that Max and Kevin McHale carried Larry’s ass defensively. The two had a good laugh when Bird was named NBA second-team all-defense. I was expecting Max to point out what I saw, Larry’s lack of speed, ability to elevate, etc…

Nope.

“Larry would have fit in well today,” said his old teammate. “With his three-point shot and the pick and roll game, he would be better in today’s game.”

Whoaaaa, Big Fella. Better in today’s game than his glory days of the 80’s?

“No one would have touched him because of the tight whistles — and of course, he could shoot the three.”

The three pointer I understand, so I figured maybe Larry would just be a shooter. What do I know?

“Larry would thrive with the pick and roll. He could rebound and he was always a great passer.” Max went on to say Larry would be a better Luka Doncic, who was averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game before this season was suspended. 

Then I ask, “What about his defense, Max? You always had the tougher assignment.”

Then Max pointed out Larry could have benefited from the zone D of today just like he benefited from playing alongside himself and McHale. 

Shame on me for even thinking that Larry wouldn’t become a legend in today’s game, but he still looked slow ... but then again, who didn’t when playing Jordan? 

Who are the most clutch players in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

Who are the most clutch players in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

The Boston Celtics have long since established themselves as the standard all great franchises and dynasties are measured against in the NBA. The road towards becoming an elite basketball franchise has not been a smooth one with a number of games coming down to one play, one moment in time. 

And when you take a peek at all 17 of those championship banners that hang high above the TD Garden, they serve as a reminder of how the Celtics more than any other NBA franchise have consistently churned out players who come up with big plays when the game is on the line. 

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Boston has indeed had its share of late-game crusaders, players who are remembered for what they did in the closing moments of the game as much as what they did throughout the course of their NBA careers. 

Here we take a look at the Boston Celtics’ Top 10 clutch performers of All-Time.

Click here for the gallery.

 

Celtics-Lakers rivalry lives on in Cedric Maxwell-James Worthy Twitter exchange

Celtics-Lakers rivalry lives on in Cedric Maxwell-James Worthy Twitter exchange

More than three decades later, they're not letting it go.

Our re-airing of the 1984 NBA Finals Game 7, where the Celtics again beat the Lakers - this time for Banner 15 in Boston - led to more old rivalries than just the one between the NBA's flagship franchises heating up.

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It stirred the passions of some of the players from 36 years ago, too.

Cedric Maxwell, who famously told his C's teammates to "climb on my back boys" before that game, joined Brian Scalabrine for present-day commentary on the re-broadcast and heard from the Lakers' James Worthy afterward. 

Max, who gave Worthy the choke sign after the Lakers forward missed a key free throw in Game 5 of the series, responded to Worthy's tweet good-naturedly this time, but made sure to include a photo of the box score that is engraved on a silver platter commemorating the championship. If you don't want to zoom in, that's 24 points, eight rebounds for Maxwell, 21 points, four boards for Worthy.

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The exchange ended with Maxwell, now a Celtics radio analyst, inviting Worthy, who does Lakers TV in Los Angeles, on to Max's podcast, where they can "bag our trash."