Littlefield: The Celtics of Old

Tonight in Boston, the Celtics will host the Los Angeles Lakers in game one of the NBA finals.

While there's been lots of talk of past Celtics-Lakers confrontations, WBUR'S sports commentator Bill Littlefield is reluctant to buy into all that.


In days of old George Mikan ruled, and so did Jerry West.
Kareem Abdul Jabar seemed sometimes better than the best...
And Magic, who was magic, got the best of Larry Bird
When they were still in college, though, it is, I'm sure, absurd
To speak of watching Bird alone, as high as he could sail,
For he was joined by Parish, and, not only that, McHale,
Who operated in the post, and could, at times assert
Himself against opponents like the Rambis known as Kurt.

It would be quite unworthy not to mention Worthy, too,
And Wilt, who battled Russell, losing mostly, sure, that's true,
But Russell had some guys named Jones, and Johnny Havlicek,
And don't forget Bob Cousy. All alone the guy could wreck
A defense with a fake upcourt and build a quick attack
While driving Auerbach crazy with a pass behind his back.

It's fun to think those days of old are come again this year,
But such is not the case, for times have changed a lot. That's clear.
A couple of the guys who wear the Lakers jerseys split
From Spain and Yugoslavia: the league has changed a bit,
And Boston? Their G.M. and Coach quite recently were known
As dumb and even dumber. Opportunities they'd blown
Had rendered them the laughing stock around the N.B.A.
Was Auerbach ever dumb? Was Russell? What more can I say?

So as this series starts tonight in Boston, let's agree
That though the games might all be good, as good as they may be,
They're not about the history; they're not about the past;
They're just about which team can score the most, and who can last
The longest as the players strive to crank it up again
For playoffs that go on as if they might not ever end.

See, Kobe isn't Magic, and Paul Pierce is not McHale,
And Pau Gasol is not Kareem, and Rondo? He would fail
Were he to try to now become a Dennis Johnson clone...
We should enjoy the '08 teams for what they are alone...
And as the Lakers and the Celts start playing, coast to coast,
They'll have to do it sans the outrage of old Johnny Most...
The point, I guess, is as both teams begin to strive for glory,
We ought to all relax and let them make up their own story.

This program aired on June 5, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Bill Littlefield

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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