I was browsing You Tube and found a video that made me very nostalgic. Ever find yourself wishing for the good old days? I remember watching the Celtics when defense was important and when the Celtics didn't back down from anyone. They had a certain swagger back then. Of course, I know that part of that swagger came from winning, but anther part came from just being the Celtics. They had the attitude that they were the Celtics and they won because of the swagger, not the other way around.
The video was from the classic 7 game Detroit/Boston playoff series in 1987. In game 4 of this series, the Evil Bill Laimbeer jerked Larry Bird to the floor by the neck. Bird reacted with some good punches and a bench clearing brawl ensued. After the tangle of bodies was straightened out, Bird and Laimbeer were both ejected. It was at this point that Larry fired the ball point blank at Laimbeer's face so hard that it had to have left an imprint of the logo on his face. Later, hearing that Laimbeer claimed he was just trying to go for the ball, Larry replied that he was just giving it to him.
In game 5 of that same series, Robert Parish, who was generally even tempered and very hard to rattle, got very tired of all of the elbows and abuse he was getting from Laimbeer and he sucker punched him. No foul was called and he wasn't thrown out of the game for it but was later suspended one game. Since he was nursing a mildly sprained ankle at the time and probably wouldn't have played in that game anyway, it wasn't all that bad of a punishment. Most fans in the league at that time felt that he did a very good deed since Laimbeer was well known for his dirty deeds.
In the 1984 finals, Larry Bird wasn't happy with his teammates. He called them out saying that they had played like a bunch of sissies. In the game after this pronouncement from Bird, the teams locked in a classic battle. It was literally 48 minutes plus overtime of a basketbrawl. Kareem attempted to take Larry's head off his shoulder with an elbow. James Worthy hammered Cedric Maxwell into the basket support and Rambis and Carr were at each others throats over and over. The most memorable of these run ins was McHale's clothesline of Rambis. Laker fans still hate McHale and talk about it to this day. This play and this game changed the whole complexion of that playoff series. A little intimidation goes a long way.
And finally, there are no two players who are as professional and as classy as Bird and Doctor J. But in 1984, frustration set in and with his team losing, Doctor J punched Larry Bird. Larry then went for Dr J's throat giving us the photo that leads off this article and one that will live in NBA infamy.
We all remember the "Bad Boys" from Detroit who were famous for their intimidation and tough play. I can still hear Johnny Most complaining about McFilthy and McNasty and who can forget the call when Boston played in Detroit, "Oh, the yellow gutless way they do things here!”
Ok, enough of the reminiscing. That was then and this is now. I am not pushing for more fights or for the current Celtics to become thugs, but it would be nice to see that swagger again. That tough defense that says "Not in my house." We need more of the heart and the swagger that shows people that the Celtics won't back down and that we are a force to reckon with.
I think that is why I love Perk so much. He brings some of that swagger and toughness back to the Celtics and he does it with defense. His "No layups!" motto takes me back to the days when the Celtics took defense seriously. Back to when Parish guarded the basket with the intense visage that won him the nickname "Chief." Back to the days when it meant something to be a Celtic and they didn't back down from anybody in the league. Perk is a throwback to those days. He is our enforcer. Now if we could get the coach and the rest of the team on board with that attitude. "No Layups!" They need to play that tough form of defense that says "You won't score on me!" I believe that Noah will be this kind of player. He plays hard and takes basketball and winning seriously and that is why I like him for this team. He played like this at Florida and I believe he will bring it to the NBA.
No, we don't need to get in fist fights or to clothesline players to get that swagger or that Celtics Pride back. We need to go with Perk's "No Layups!" We need to play tough strangling defense on teams and let them know "Not in my house!" It's time to go back to the good old days. It has to start with the coaching staff and then filter down to the team. Every player must commit to playing defense and bring back that swagger to Boston. Only then will we get back to the good old days.