Category Archives: Historic Events

Michael Jordan: A Sports Persona that Will Never Be Parallelled

Arguably the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball

Arguably the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball

By Nick Gelso

There are few NBA stars that possess the ability to have there first names be recognizable above any other name in their sport.

Today’s game boasts interesting names such as Kobe and LeBron but before they were even old enough to lace up sneakers one man separated basketball from sports.

Michael was, and remains, the most recognizable name in not just sports but in popular entertainment. His air-ness may share his name with the King of Pop and their achievements may be similar on a global stage but Michael Jordan’s ability to combine his achievements as an athlete and his ability to bolster his public image with his successes in the business world undoubtidly separate him from the other Michael.

Jordan entered a league dominated by Magic, Doctor J., Larry, Kareem and Moses. Among those titans of basketball, Jordan managed to captivate the sporting world while playing for an untalented Bulls team.

Jordan’s career seemed to reach new levels each season but his team was not always recognized as the second (behind Russell’s Celtics) greatest dynasty in basketball history.

Though MJ led his Bulls to the 8th seed playoff spot his first several seasons, a feat that is underappreciated on Chicago teams that were untalented and under achieving, his early career was marred by injuries and  controversies caused by jealous opponents.

The NBA’s most jealous superstar, Isiah Thomas, unsurprisingly led the charge in 1984. Michael Jordan was voted as a starter, by the fans, to the all-star game in his rookie season. Isiah, feeling the attention Jordan was receiving was unjust, led a player revolt in the all-star game. In a move most forgotten for unsportsmanlike behavior, Isiah refused to pass Michael the ball throughout the game.

Jordan went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and his battles with Isiah had just begun.

His next two seasons were busted by foot and knee problems.

In 1986, Jordan returned from knee surgery in time to face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Though the Bulls were swept by Larry’s Celtics, Jordan managed to set an unbroken playoff record of 63 points in game 2.

In 1987, Jordan averaged an astonishing 37 points per game but was again swept by the Celtics.

It wasn’t until 1988, perhaps Jordan’s most successful season individually, the Bulls emerged from the first round of

Jordan holding on of his 6 Larry O'Brien Trophies

Jordan holding on of his 6 Larry O'Brien Trophies

the playoffs. That season, Jordan averaged 35 points per game, 52 percent from the field. He won his first of five NBA Most Valuable Player award and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

It’s rare to have a player succeed on the offensive and defensive ends of the court in such a dominant fashion.

In 1988, the first of 4 epic post season battles, Isiah Thomas and his Detroit Pistons eliminated the Chicago Bulls in five games.

The Pistons and Bulls would meet again in 1989 and the Pistons, now famous, “Jordan Rules” defense facilitated in once again eliminating the Bulls.

In 1990 the Bulls emerging talent surrounding Jordan again fell to the Pistons as the “Jordan Rules” was now a famous and effective method for slowing down Jordan and stopping the Bulls.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Michael and his now ultra talented squad finally beat the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls were able to finally get revenge and swept the Pistons led by Jordan opting for the assist over the shot, made difficult by the Pistons “Jordan Defensive Rules”.

Isiah Thomas, in typical unsportsmanlike fashion, walked off the court before the final buzzer without congratulating his opponent.

After defeating the Detroit Pistons in 1991, Jordan led his Bulls to their first title.

The Bulls would go on to win 6 titles in 7 years.

Michael Jordan, a man who achieved personal stats unmatched by any player in NBA history,  won 6 NBA titles,  5 NBA MVP awards, 6 Finals MVP awards, Rookie of the Year honors, Defensive Player of the Year honors, 14 all-star appearance, 10 all NBA first team appearances, 9 time defensive first team honors, 3 all-star game MVP awards, 2 Dunk contest championships, and now he will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jordan, nearly single handedly, made famous such globally branded products as Nike and Gatorade.

Even in retirement, Jordan's endorsements of products such as Nike and Gatorade continues to ensure their profits.

Even in retirement, Jordan's endorsements of products such as Nike and Gatorade continues to ensure their profits.

On the day of Jordan’s first retirement, the NY Stock Exchange actually took a dip because of Jordan’s effect on global business.

No professional athlete can boast such a claim.

I consider myself to be a somewhat astute NBA historian and yet I had to research all of Jordan’s accolades online as to not forget any.

Above all of his personal and team achievements, perhaps Jordans most admirable contributions to professional sports was his ability to face defeat, adversity, world fame, and tremendous success with grace, maturity, sportsmanlike conduct, and humility.

His brilliance on the basketball court is missed but his presence is still felt by the players that follow him. Players such as Kobe and LeBron emulate Jordan in their on court highlights. We can often be found, jaw dropped, at an amazing move made by today’s players while thinking and sometimes shouting:

 “That was a Jordan move!”

Today’s players may be able to resemble Jordan in their play but they certainly cannot reach the levels Michael achieved, always carrying himself with class, on and off the court.

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An Interesting Look at the Evolution of the Celtics Leprechaun

Well, we are in the midst of the off-season and things have really quieted down. It’s actually been a little boring lately. I figured this was a perfect time to continue with our chronicles into Celtics history.
We already explored the twightlight of Larry Bird’s career in our post Larry Bird: The Sudden and Saddening Demise of a Basketball Legend. We brought back some stirring memories of the 1986 championship team with out post Bill Walton: The Savior of 1986. We raised some eyebrows and created some good debate with our assessment of Kevin McHale’s career in our post Kevin McHale: The NBA’s Last True Big Man. We paid tribute to Robert Parish in the post Robert Parish: Hail to the Chief.
Each of those posts received great online exposure and created all time high spikes in traffic at North Station Sports.
Today we continue our history lesson with a brief exhibit of the evolution of the Celtics logo. Most people think that the leprechaun that Kevin Garnett locked lips with after winning the 2008 championship has always been our logo.
Truth is, the current day logo did not take it’s full formation until 1996. During the dynasty years, in the 60s, no logo was perched at center court. Looking back at footage of those old games, center court looks very empty.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the taunting leprechaun landed at center court.
Take a look below at the evolution of the Celtics logo, a historic item that Red Auerbach’s brother actually drew.
1946 - 1949
1946 – 1949
1949 - 1960

1949 - 1960

1960 - 1968

1960 - 1968

 

1968 - 1978

1968 - 1978

1978 - 1996

1978 - 1996

1996 - Present

1996 - Present

Present Alternate

Present Alternate

Robert Parish: Hail to the Chief

Number double zero hangs high above the parquet floor at the TD Garden. Representing the glory of the 1980s, it’s situated next to the numbers 32 and 33. Each number represents a moment in time faded by years but not forgotten in it’s distinction of Celtics lore.

Robert Parish performs his patented baseling spin move.

Robert Parish performs his patented baseling spin move.

Robert Parish often told the media that he chose double zero in high school because teammates used to refer to him  as “double nothing” in response to his lack of talent as a tall, gangly, often uncoordinated player.

Robert Parish joined the Boston Celtics in a trade that has been described as one of the most shrued and lopsided deals in NBA history. At the time, the trade was more celebrated for bringing a young rookie, Kevin McHale, to Boston then it was for acquiring an often underrated center from a poor Golden State team.

Though Parish’s stats had showed improvement every season with Golden State, the Warriors failed to make the playoffs three of the four years Parish had been on the roster. Despite the lack of playoff appearances, Robert had gained valuable experience playing on a Golden State team that had all-star players such as Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes and Phil Smith.

Parish declared, role player, Clifford Ray to be his biggest influence. Publicly stating that Ray is solely responsible for his longevity in the NBA. Proclaiming that Ray’s work ethic was inspiring and his introduction to yoga had been the determining factor in the conditioning that allowed Parish to play until he was 43 years old.

As the Warriors continued to lose, Parish’s NBA stock continued to rise.  He posted a “Chamberlain-like”  performance in 1979 against the NY Knicks when he hammered them for 30 points and 32 rebounds.

Though Parish had gained a wealth of experience playing with perennial all-stars past their prime in Golden State, it was not until he was traded to the Celtics in 1980 that he first got the taste of playoff glory. In his first season with Boston, replacing Dave Cowens in the starting lineup, Parish averaged 18.9 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game and shot 54% from the field.

It was that season that Cedric Maxwell coined Robert Parish as the “Chief” because of his similarities to the character portrayed in the movie One Flew Over The Cuck0o’s Nest. The nickname stuck.

In Parish’s first season paired with Kevin McHale and Larry Bird, the Celtics won the NBA title elliminating the Houston Rockets in six games.

Winning two more championship in 1984 and 1986, the Chief cemented himself as one of the most reliable, consistent a prolific centers in the NBA.

Being the third option on a team stacked with all-stars, Parish’s talent and value to the championship Celtics teams was often overlooked and taken for granted. It was the high arching mid range jumper at a crucial point in the game or a lightning fast baseline spin move leading to a dunk or a subtle slip of the pick with Larry Bird leading to a roaring dunk that summarized the Chief’s worth to the team. Such patented moves often sparked the Boston Garden crowd to chant “Chief – Chief – Chief”.

I can still hear the echoes as clear as I can hear the faithful chanting “Larrreee – Larrreee” for the legendary forward who played on the same front line.

Early on in his career, Parish’s quiet and unemotional demeanor was often mistaken for a lack of effort. In the 1987 Eastern Conference finals, Robert showed a rare emotional outburst. After four, hard fought – physical, games the defending champion Celtics found themselves deadlocked with the upstart, bad boy, Pistons.

Detroit had showed the tradition steeped Celtics very little respect in their bid to replace them as the Eastern Conference elite powerhouse. With boasting brovado, physical play and taunting trash talking, the Pistons seemed to be figuring out the Celtics championship formula.

Bill Laimbeer, in particular, displayed a noticeable distane for the Celtics winning ways. 

Robert Parish had played through severe pain with two heavily sprain ankles and Laimbeer showed him no sympathy with his, sometimes dirty, physical play.

After bumping and grinding, for 4 1/2 games,  in a style that would be considered flagrant today Parish had endured enough. In one powerful smack down he knocked Laimbeer to the parquet floor leaving the, self proclained, bad boy in tears. After the dramatic knock down Parish returned to his unemotional demeanor as if nothing had just occured. Robert was ejected from the game but left a moment that, combined with Bird’s stealing Isiah’s lob pass in the same game, defined an era of Celtics domination over the Pistons from 1985 thru 1987.

As the years past by and the Celtics were replaced by that Pistons as the elite Eastern Conference team, Bird and McHale would see injuries diminish their effectiveness. Parish, giving credit to Clifford Ray for his mentoring many years earlier, continued to be consistant and more effective.

In 1991, Parish’s fifteenth season, Robert made his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. This accolade

In March of 1991, SI finally gave Robert Parish some accolades

In March of 1991, SI finally gave Robert Parish some accolades

was seen by most media and NBA players as long overdue. It seemed as his younger teammates career’s winded down, Parish’s was still going strong.

Robert continued to play with effectiveness after Bird and McHale’s retirement. Though his love for the Boston Celtics never wained, his desire to win a fourth championship seemed to take priority.

In 1995, the unthinkable occured as he was signed as a free agent by the Charlotte Hornets. He would play in a limited role for two seasons with the Hornets until being signed by the Chicago Bulls in 1996 at the age of 43.

In his final season he would play in 44 games, making three starts for the championship Bulls. That season Robert would win a fourth NBA title making him the lone member of the Celtics fabled “Big Three” to win a fourth championship.

Parish had come a long way from his “double nothing” early days in basketball.

A career that spanded 21 NBA seasons saw his entrance into a league dominated by John Havlicek, Pete Maravich, Rick Barry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Walt Frasier, Earl Monroe and Bob Lanier. He played through an era that saw the coming of age of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Partick Ewing.

1600 games, 4 championships and 9 all-star appearances later, Parish would leave the game in the hands of all-stars Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson.

A career that spanned three generations of NBA domination, Parish is no longer underrated or overshadowed by his teammates.

Today,13 years after his retirement, we can continue to proclaim “Hail to the Chief”!

Bill Walton: The Celtics Savior of 1986

By 1985, Bill Walton had already won an NBA title and Finals MVP with the Portland Trailblazers and spent the next several years fighting ankle injuries that would keep him off the court more then in uniform.
The injury plagued Walton was 33 years old and never played more than sixty seven games in an NBA season. Most NBA experts considered Bill Walton’s career to be over.
Larry Bird and Red Auerbach felt differently.
Walton had put the word out to the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics that he was available. Pitching himself as the leagues ideal 6th man, and back-up for Kareem or Parish, Walton waited to hear offers from both teams.
Fans shadowed the opinion of Lakers GM Jerry West who, after reading a doctor’s report, questioned the health and playing ability of the former Finals MVP.
Red Auerbach made a conference call (the old fashioned kind) to Walton from his office in Boston. Seated by Larry Bird, Never looking at the doctor’s report, Auerbach asked Walton if his body was able to compete for majority of the season. Walton, always the optimist, felt he could. Auerbach asked Bird’s opinion. Bird said “if Walton is healthy enough to play, it’s good enough for him”.
Auerbach’s mind was made up. Another former Finals MVP, Cedric Maxwell, would be traded to the Clippers for the rights to Bill Walton.
The California hippie was off to Boston to play for LA’s biggest rival.
Though, in the media, questions mounted regarding Walton’s effectiveness and durability through an 82 game season, Walton was well received on opening night. Receiving a 5 minute standing ovation Walton’s was overwhelmed and never looked back.
He would play 80 games, his highest on court appearance in the NBA. Walton was also named the NBA’s sixth man of the year, a Celtics tradition.
Walton was rejuvenated averaging 8 ppg and 7 rpg in 20 minutes per game. Walton’s best contributions to the Celtics 16th championship was his work ethic, team camaraderie, basketball IQ – attributes that can never be penned onto stat sheets.
Unfortunately, after helping the Celtics steamroll thru the NBA in 1986, his last two years with the team had come full circle as ankle injuries forced him out of 154 of the final 162 games of his career.
Celtics fans had one thing in mind when they embraced the arrival of Walton in 1986. Assist us in winning a title NOW and we will never forget you.
Though Walton’s number 5 is not hanging in the rafters at the TD Garden, his number is eternally retired in the hearts of fans. We will always remember him as a Boston Celtic.
In 2009, another wile veteran has been accepted into the Celtics family at the twilight of his all-star career. Though not plagued by debilitating injuries, similar questions surround his opening night…
Rasheed Wallace will be recieved by the fans at the Garden that will be reminiscent of the fall night in 1985.
We can only expect of him what that Red head contributed 22 years ago – his heart.