McHale: After Danny got the job, he called me and asked for advice. I told him to be patient. He says O.K. Then he goes out and makes 65 trades before he takes a shower.
Ainge (laughing): What Kevin really said to me was, "I wouldn't take anybody on your team."
Why has the game turned ugly--no fast breaks, lousy shooting and little understanding of the fundamentals?
Thomas: The generation [of players and coaches] before us took the time to make sure we did things the right way, but our generation has failed these kids. We've been more interested in criticizing than helping. These kids aren't bad kids. But we've got to show them, lead them, and we haven't been doing that.
Bird: A big reason is that coaches control the game. The point guard is always looking to see what the coach wants him to run, and that stops the break. [Former Celtics coach] K.C. Jones used to call plays, but never when it was going to slow something down.
Ainge: The turnover among coaches is such that they're concerned about winning right away. So they control possessions and tempo, and that takes away from the fun and entertainment.
Dumars: After Michael [ Jordan] dominated in the '90s, people started to believe that you could win by getting the one superstar. That took away from the concept of team ball. With all due respect to Kevin Garnett, Shaq, Kobe and whoever else, Michael was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, like Wayne Gretzky. Why build your team and your league on a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon?
McHale: We've gotten into a very selfish stage in the NBA. Look at the Olympic team. Those guys are physically gifted, but that was one of the worst teams you could put out there. We have overindividualized the game, partly because of marketing. The games used to be billed as Celtics-Lakers, Lakers-Nuggets, Sixers- Knicks. I remember the first time I saw an ad that said, It's Michael Jordan versus the somebodies. I thought, Whoa! One guy is playing five?
It's to the point where if we would have a three-point contest, a dunk contest and then allot time for the players to shake every hand in the arena, that would be a glorious day for the NBA.
Do you get frustrated watching today's players?