BOSTON — Hey, leprechauns don’t scare me. When I think of leprechauns, I think of breakfast cereal, I forget which one, but it has marshmallows. OK? So much for leprechauns. And cigar smoke smells. Always has, always will. Red Auerbach may be a genius, but when he smokes that cigar he is a genius who smells.
So. Good. Forget leprechauns. Forget Red’s cigars. Right there we’ve knocked off two of the myths about the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics. The Celtics. Why is playing these guys always like picking a fight with the class bully? Didn’t the Pistons finish their playoff round first? Didn’t they have to wait for an exhausted Boston to beat Milwaukee in seven games — a Milwaukee team that finished behind Detroit in the regular season?
Yet as soon as the Celtics were assured the Eastern Conference final — which begins tonight — you could hear those whispers in Detroit.
“Oooooooh, the Celtics.”
“Ooooooh, I know.”
See? They don’t even say anything. They just go, “Ooooooh.” It’s unspoken, this Celtics fear.
Unspoken, and, let me say — and I don’t have my hands over my head or anything — unfounded.
See? Lightning didn’t strike me. If they say parquet . . .
Now it is true, the Celtics can be intimidating. They beat you, and Auerbach puts his ashes out in your face. Usually. But not this time. Who’s afraid of the Celtics this time? Not me. I have come to allay your fears. Can I tell you something? No. Wait. Let me tell you 15 things. Here are 15 things that scare everybody about the Celtics. And here are the reasons why, in the series with the Pistons, we no longer have to worry about them:
1. Larry Bird. He’s tired.
2. Kevin McHale. He’s tired. He’s hurt. And if Rick Mahorn steps on his foot, he’s a dead man.
3. Bill Walton. He’s tired. He’s hurt. Besides, we all learned at last year’s NBA championships that Walton has absolutely nothing to say anymore. I bet he even listens to Air Supply.
4. The Boston Garden Mystique. Whoa. I went to college in Boston. We used to ride the train to the Garden. The train. It’s a train station! Are you afraid of a train station? How can a train station beat you? Think about it. And that “mystique” is just a lack of air-conditioning.
5. The Celtics’ Uniform. You always hear Boston people talk about “The Celtics’ uniform.” Larry Bird says he’s proud “to wear the Celtics’ uniform.” Red Auerbach says it’s an honor “to wear the Celtics’ uniform.” I just hope they wash the thing, what with so many people wearing it.
6. Cigars. We dealt with this already.
7. The Parquet Floor. Big deal. Somebody put the tiles in crooked. A floor? You’re going to worry about a floor? Try this. When they say “parquet” you say “butter.” When they say “butter” you say . . . well, you get the idea.
8. Robert Parish. He’s tired. He’s hurt. And hey. Let’s face it. The man does not speak. The last thing anyone heard him say was, “Mom, the school bus is here.”
9. K.C. Jones. Can I tell you something about K.C.? In his early days he coached at my college. His office was maybe 20 feet from the locker room. The same locker room where my buddy Mendel Mendelsohn, who weighs 300 pounds, used to store his dirty underwear. The office door. Twenty feet away. I am not afraid of K.C. Jones. Too many guys from BYU
10. Leprechauns. We dealt with them already.
11. Dennis Johnson. He’s tired. Real tired. And I won’t even mention the Phoenix stuff.
12. Danny Ainge. He’s tired. He’s hurt. And he always looks as if he didn’t get his bottle. How old is he, anyway? Eight? Come on. If you’re afraid of Danny Ainge you’re afraid of Robby Benson.
13. Greg Kite and Fred Roberts. Wait a minute. There’s a limit to how many Brigham Young athletes you can have on a team, don’t you think? Ainge, Kite, Roberts. An NBA veteran once told me something; he said with one BYU guy you can go to the playoffs. With two, you can win a championship. But with three, everybody starts drinking Hawaiian Punch and your team goes down the toilet. I think there’s something to that.
14. Sam Vincent. What are you worried about? He went to Michigan State. He’s one of us.
15. Darren Daye. I never heard of this guy. Was he in “Pillow Talk”? No. Wait. That was Doris.
So anyhow, there you have it. Fifteen up. Fifteen down. Do you feel better? Sure you do. Remember, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. And Bird. And a few other things.
But personally, I think the Pistons are a good bet. They do not play in a train station, and their mascot is not available on a cereal box. Which leads me to say this, and listen carefully now:
Detroit in six.