SI: What about Jordan?
RA: He's great. I could make a case for Jordan, Magic, Bird, Russell, even Chamberlain and Abdul-Jabbar being the greatest player who ever lived. But you do have to ask, Who are the other four guys? If Michael Jordan doesn't have a center or a power forward on his team, he's not going to beat you. He can't do it by himself. If you have Russell, you have to have a ball handler in the backcourt. Even the greatest need someone else.
SI: Which of the rings do you wear?
RA: This one's '69. I think it's the prettiest, and it's the lightest. The others are too heavy. I keep 'em at home. I don't have 16 rings, anyway, you know. Some years we didn't give out rings. We gave out a tie tack with cull links or a watch or something else. I must have seven rings, nine rings, I don't know.
SI: Have you ever been close to leaving the Celtics? In 1978 you appeared ready to become general manager of the Knicks.
RA: Oh, my wife didn't want me to go. I agreed in principal with the Knicks, everything was fine, but then my wife talked to me again. A few Celtic fans talked to me, too. I still would have gone if [former Celtic owner] John Y. Brown hadn't sold the team. The chemistry between the two of us was bad. He thought he knew a lot more than I did. He wouldn't listen. He made deals behind my back, like the one with the Knicks for Bob McAdoo that cost us three first-round picks. That kind of thing. I'm glad I stayed.
SI: Yet, you never moved to Boston from your home in Washington, D.C. Why?
RA: It wasn't feasible. My daughter has asthma. She couldn't live up here. She went to college at the University of Rhode Island, and only lasted about a month because of the climate. She was in the hospital most of the time.
SI: Considering the state of the league, would you like to be starting over in the basketball business?
RA: It's a lot easier today. At the same time it's a lot harder. Your travel is a snap. You have chartered jets. You have people handling your bags. You have secretaries, equipment managers. All you have to worry about is the team. Then again, it has become too complicated. You know, basketball is a simple game. Now they have all these assistants. The videotapes. The machines. It's really not necessary, but if one team docs it and has any element of success, everyone copies it. The Bulls won the last two years, and if they had live assistants, everybody else would have to have five assistants.