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Jonathan Schwartz
April 21, 1980
How a young Celtics fan found a champion in the Boston coach, suffered with him and shared in his joy
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April 21, 1980

Me And Red See It Through

How a young Celtics fan found a champion in the Boston coach, suffered with him and shared in his joy

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5. Auerbach lying on his back by the Boston bench in an absolute rage over a disallowed Celtic basket.

6. Myself, smacking my head on the railing behind me and slumping, unconscious, in my seat, to be revived by my new friends in the balcony.

7. The Celtics, with a six-point lead in the final seconds, getting the ball to Cousy, who drove and stopped and changed hands, dribbling, dribbling, close to exhaustion as the final glorious buzzer sounded, the siren of Boston Garden that brought to an end one of the most remarkable games that had ever been played.

Following their victory over Syracuse, the Celtics were eliminated in four games by the Knicks. For the next three seasons, Boston made the playoffs, only to be eliminated by Syracuse each time. What Boston lacked was the imposing center who could dominate a game and create the kind of defense that Auerbach had envisioned for so long. He arrived in the person of Bill Russell for the 1956-57 season. Tommy Heinsohn joined the team as well, fresh out of Holy Cross and ready to shoot. And shoot.

The Celtics finished first in the East, got by Syracuse in a best-of-three playoff and attained the finals, in which they would meet Bob Pettit and St. Louis for the NBA title.

"Dear Libby," I wrote a girl at Bennington College, "I have taken a room at the Bradford Hotel in order to best follow the final series of the NBA playoffs, involving the Celtics and a team from St. Louis. It begins March 30th, and if it goes the distance, that is to say, seven games, it would end on April 13th. This includes about a week between the second and third games. Would you consider joining me for all or part of that time? I would be honored. The Bradford is extremely pleasant. You are extremely beautiful."

Libby's favorite word was extremely. "I am extremely, extremely sad," she would say, lowering her large green eyes. "I am extremely, extremely fatiguée." French dribbled out of her once in a while, usually "Pourquoi?" Occasionally, and unaccountably, full thoughts: "Quelle très, très belle journée!" or "Je suis très, très ennuyée."

Libby Worthington—which is not her real name—left Bennington, Vt. by bus and arrived in Boston on the afternoon of March 30, 1957, extremely, extremely fatiguée. I had bought two tickets to the home games. The radio would take care of the games in St. Louis.

I went to the opener alone, pursuing Leonard Koppett and behaving festively. The Celtics lost in double overtime, 125-123, and I slunk back to the Bradford and lay awake all night watching Libby sleep.

For two weeks Libby and I lived in a cramped and dusty room, eating cautiously at Bickford's and roaming through Boston on the bright spring afternoons. For the first time we discovered the complexities of cohabiting. In the claustrophobia of our unformed relationship we would fall silent, come together, and then creep away from each other irritably. Suddenly I would attack Libby's rampant sloppiness. Then she would moan that she couldn't stand one more minute of talk about basketball and the "crummy Celtics."

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