BOSTON — Good morning, class. Welcome to Pistons-Celtics 101, the course that specializes in one of the fiercest rivalries in sports. I’m sure you are very excited about tonight’s Game 1 in the conference semifinals. And I’m sure you have many questions.
So what are you waiting for?
Q. How old are the Celtics?
A. Well, legend has it they date back to medieval days, when they fought a war against some Scottish tribes, and . . .
Q. No, not those Celtics. The basketball team.
A. Oh, well, that’s easy. Larry Bird is 57 years old. Kevin McHale is 79. All the other guys listen to New Kids on the Block tapes.
Q. What about Robert (Chief) Parish?
A. No one really knows how old the Chief is, but I was looking at this historic photo from the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, and if you look really carefully, in the background, you see this extremely tall fellow riding a horse and wearing 00 on his uniform, and . . .
Q. Who are some of the new faces we can expect to see tonight?
A. Gee, that’s a big one. Starting with the front row under the basket: There’s George; he’s a dentist. Then Shirley, his wife. Then Frank, the stockbroker, if he gets out of work on time. Then . . .
Q. No, not in the stands, on the Celtics team!
A. Oh. Well, let’s see. Since their last big playoff matchup against Detroit, the Celtics have added Dee (Dee) Brown, and Brian (I Miss My Pasta) Shaw, and Kevin (Not Much of a) Gamble and Derek (Oh, So Now You Want to Play Me) Smith. To name a few.
Q. Gee. That’s a lot of new players. How will we know them from Bird, Parish and McHale?
A. They’ll be the ones actually running downcourt.
Q. Hey, is Red Auerbach still around?
A. Yes. But he’s called Grey Auerbach now.
Q. Does he still smoke those cigars?
A. Let me check . . . Acchhooo! Yeah, he does.
Q. Tell us a little about the Boston Garden.
A. Well, let’s take a quick walk through it, shall we? Here you see — ouch! Sorry, a rat bit me. Like I was saying, this is — cldump! Sorry, a piece of plaster landed on my head. Anyhow, here’s where the — hey, you! Come back with my wallet! . . .
Q. I’ve heard Boston Garden is actually part of North Station, where all the trains come in. Wouldn’t that make it kind of noisy?
A. Aw, heck, no. Let me tell you a story about that. Many years ago, two men — Rrrrrrrrmmmmmm Screeeeeeeeeeeech! Mmmmmmmnmnmm rrrrrrrrr eeeeeeeeee! Rrrrrchhhhh — happily ever after. See?
Q. Is it true Kevin Mchale’s chest sank in a boating accident?
A. It is true.
Q. Is it true that everyone inside Boston Garden hates Bill Laimbeer?
A. No. The rats like him.
Q. If two trains are traveling in opposite directions and one is going 110 miles per hour and the other 140, when will they intersect?
A. 5:47 p.m.
Q. Is it true Pistons fans still have nightmares about Isiah Thomas’ bad pass in Game 5 four years ago?
A. No, we’re completely — AYEEEEE! Look out! No! No! No! — over that.
Q. Is it true Vinnie Johnson has tremendous shooting success in the Garden? A. Yes. But if he scores more than 10 points, the Celtics have instructed Dee Brown to bang heads with him.
Q. What do they think of Dennis Rodman’s fist waving in Boston?
A. It is as popular as warts.
Q. What about Larry Bird? We heard his face is broken.
A. Really? How could you tell?
Q. I’ve always wondered about his mustache. Is that real hair?
A. No, it’s chocolate milk he forgot to wipe off.
Q. Doesn’t it seem like every time the Pistons play the Celtics in the playoffs, someone from their team is seriously injured?
A. Yes, and then that player comes out and scores 36 points. I blame a mysterious man in the Boston public relations department who likes to dramatize the injured list, turning every tummy ache into major surgery, and every skinned knee into a lacerated kidney. I think he used to work for Bo Schembechler’s football team.
Q. Speaking of little men, whatever happened to that Celtics’ leprechaun?
A. He’s in rehab.
Q. That’s terrible. What happened?
A. Caught him sniffing Lucky Charms.
Q. How do you see this series?
A. From the press table.
Q. No, how do you see it going?
A. Well, the Pistons are the deeper team, but they tend to fall asleep if the game doesn’t mean life or death. The Celtics won more games in the regular season, but by this point they are starting to creak.
Q. So who do you see winning?
Q. That wasn’t the question.
A. I know, but it’s the answer.