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Leigh Montville
December 10, 1990
Young legs join three savvy graybeards and—presto!—the Celtics are off and running
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December 10, 1990

Up To Their Same Old Tricks

Young legs join three savvy graybeards and—presto!—the Celtics are off and running

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The whole thing has become a little bit blurry. There is the television show about the bar in Boston on Beacon Hill, the little place where everyone knows your name. There is the basketball team that plays its games in an old barn of an arena at the edge of the North End.


The television show keeps going...and the basketball team keeps going...and no one is exactly sure how it happens. There are times when the television show seems about ready to die...and there are other times when the basketball team seems ready to die...and suddenly changes are made. A new character here. A new character there. The television show suddenly seems new and different. The basketball team seems new and different.

"What do we do now?" the producers of the television show ask Red Auerbach, venerable president of the Boston Celtics, the basketball team. "First, we lose Coach, one of our solid citizens. Then we lose Diane Chambers, one of our stars."

"You surprise people," the venerable president replies. "You replace Coach with a younger guy. You make him some dufus and you call him Woody. You replace Diane, the perfect what-do-you-call-it, ingenue, with Rebecca, the perfect killer career-woman. You rebuild around what you already have. You knock 'em dead."


"What do we do to shake up our operation?" Auerbach, in turn, asks the producers. "Everyone says we've become old and slow."

"You bring in some youth, some young guys like Brian Shaw and Dee Brown," the producers say. "You give some freedom to the youth you already have. You bring in a new coach and a new general manager and a new philosophy to surround the marquee-value stars you already own."

The television show stays near the top. The basketball team climbs back near the top. How do you figure? The cheers keep rolling.

"I'm surprised," Chris Ford, the new Celtics coach, says. "Yeah, sure I'm surprised. I had no idea what was going to happen. You certainly hope that things will unfold the right way, but I didn't think we'd start the way we've started."

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