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"Actually, I think Wayne's pullin' a smart one, Doc," Bird said to head coach Chris Ford. "See, each time you give him a little crap and you think he's just takin' it, he gits back at you in all these little ways." (Ford, a journeyman at best, picked up his nickname when he was playing for the Celtics from 1978 through '82; he executed a finger roll one night that loosely resembled one of Julius Erving's moves. Thus, with apologies to Dr. J, Cornbread Maxwell gave the nickname "Doc" to Ford.)
After a few phone calls, Lebeaux found out that the Celtics could shoot around at a nearby mental health facility.
"Mental health facility," said Casey, who had spent 1½ seasons as the coach of the hapless Los Angeles Clippers. "Thought I was through with this when I left the Clippers."
Ford wanted to get the subject away from Lebeaux and bad scheduling. He wasn't above bustin' him from time to time, but it was still early on the trip and much more could go wrong.
"You know who started shootarounds?" asked Ford. "Bill Sharman, with that '72 Laker team that won 33 straight."
"A dark day in the NBA," said McHale. "A very dark day."
The facility at the Northwest Center for the Retarded was adequate, though the side walls were extremely close to the court. During the postpractice shootaround, forward Michael Smith and Gamble glanced at Ford to make sure he wasn't watching, and then they immediately began trying to bank shots off the wall and into a side basket. Smith, the team's No. 1 draft choice in 1989, took pride in his ability to convert trick shots; it was about all he had left to distinguish himself as a Celtic. The players were still bustin' Lebeaux when they boarded the bus to return to the hotel.
"It's all right, guys," said Ford, trying to smooth things over. "We're right about on schedule."
"I tell you what, Doc," twanged Bird from the back. "You're gittin' awful mellow in half a year. Bill Fitch [the volatile Celtics coach from 1979-80 to '82-83] woulda' chewed his ass out good."
McHale was in a reflective mood as he sat down on the Celtics' bench an hour before the game against the Sonics. He asked a reporter for his impressions of Bird's physical condition based upon the previous night's practice session.