"I tell our scouts to forget about the dimensions of the ballpark when they go out, but that's sometimes hard to do," Gorman says. "A lot of them have been working for us for a long time. One thing you should remember, though, is that our teams mostly have been pretty successful. That's left us in a low position most of the time in the draft. We haven't been around to draft a Dwight Gooden, a Darryl Strawberry. The superstars haven't been available to us. We've drafted blacks, but most of them haven't worked out."
The charges against the Celtics are more curious. The Celtics are the team that did everything right in the racial history of the NBA, the team that in 1950 signed the first black, Chuck Cooper, and put him on the court; the team that went ahead and started five blacks for the first time, quotas be damned; the team that hired the first black coach in professional sport, then hired another and yet another. This is supposed to be a racist organization? Aren't the Celtics the Brooklyn Dodgers of basketball? The fact that the Branch Rickey figure in charge of all those moves—club president Red Auerbach—still is on the scene would seem to make them bulletproof. It has not.
"What happens, I think, is that people forget their history," former Celtics forward Tom Sanders says. "Young people come along and it's forgotten. Which is a shame, but true."
"I think it's the Boston part of the Boston Celtics," former forward M.L. Carr says. "If they were just the Celtics, there'd be no problem. I never saw anything racist about that team. Guys from other cities would start talking to me about it, about the fact that we had six white guys on the team. I'd say, 'All right, who do you think we should trade? Do you think we should get rid of Larry? Do you think we should get rid of Kevin? What about Danny Ainge?' Larry Bird's the greatest player I ever saw before number 23 for Chicago came along."
"I've never drafted a player because of color," Auerbach says. "How could I do that? How could I be prejudiced? I'm a little Jewish guy from Brooklyn. How could I be prejudiced against anyone?"
The Patriots, situated in Foxboro, 25 miles from the city, have been removed from the troubles of the city. Even though their roster, heavy with black players, is the one roster that should be counted, no one counts. The games seem to be played far away. The players mostly live in the suburbs. Even the name, New England, substituted for Boston, brings a relief. The image does not exist for the Patriots. The Patriots seem to be insulated.
Except, of course, when they become involved with Boston.
"I wanted the opportunities of the city," defensive end Garin Veris, the only Patriot player who lives in the city, says. "That's why I moved there. I'd gotten a bleak picture—living in Mansfield and Norwood in the suburbs—but I wanted to see for myself. What I have to say is that the picture turned out to be correct. From my experience...I'd grown up in Ohio, gone to school in California and been in just about every state in the country, and I'd never been called 'nigger' or 'colored boy' or any of that. Until I went to Boston. I suppose you can say those comments could happen anywhere, but what I have to say is they happened here. In Boston."
Foggie: "I remember when the Celtics started five black players for the first time. Willie Naulls was the fifth. I remember when it happened. Tom Heinsohn was hurt, so Willie Naulls started. Naulls, Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, Sam Jones and K.C. Jones. I cut their hair. I cut Russell's hair."
Bynoe: "Russell said he hated it here, but at that time he hated everything. I think he mostly hated himself. He owned that place [Slade's Restaurant] across the street. People would come in all gooey about meeting a star. He treated 'em like dogs. He was always talking about how he hated white people, then he married a white woman."