"I understand it," Erving said in the Philly locker room after the game. "The way the team's made up, I don't have serious problems with that. If we lose games because of that, Billy and I can discuss it."
Then he finished dressing—is there any other NBA player who wears French-cuffed shirts to games?—and made a concession. "His [Bird's] responsibility is larger than mine is right now. Every night they expect 30 points from him, and to be the leading rebounder. I've been in that situation, and it's tough. This is the best situation for me right now."
With 11 seconds to go, Erving went back in to replace Barkley, who might have made a rookie defensive blunder. Ainge and Bird missed three-pointers, and as the result was about to take its place in the archives—the Sixers have now won 27 of 51 meetings with the Celtics during the era of Bird, who had 34 points, and Erving, who had 16—a fight broke out. A fan dressed in a Santa suit had obstructed the view of a patron in a $60 seat, and they mixed it up.
"An omen," Maxwell said.
An omen of what?
"Tells you things aren't good in the world."
Things, however, are good once again in that other world, in which only Bird and Doc reside.