Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Carlisle remembers the Celtics’ last title

It’s not a shot or even a game that Rick Carlisle focuses on when his thoughts drift back 22 years. The memory that sticks in his head most when asked about the 1986 NBA champion Boston Celtics is what you might expect for someone who thinks like a coach.

He remembers practice.

“The ’86 team became a great team early in the year when we acquired Bill Walton,” Carlisle said this week from his largely-unfurnished office overlooking the American Airlines Center practice court. “His presence allowed other role players like myself, Jerry Sichting, Scott Wedman, Greg Kite to play at a higher level. All of a sudden our practices became very competitive.”

A count was kept on the board in the locker room of the daily scrimmages between the second team (Green) and the starters (White). Despite the presence of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish on the White, the results were surprisingly even.

Opposing teams, understandably, didn’t stand much of a chance. The Celtics breezed through the regular season with a league-best 67-15 and steamrolled through the playoffs to claim their 16th NBA title. That team is widely considered the best of the Bird Era and, in the estimation of Carlisle, perhaps should hold the top spot in NBA history.

“There was a definite strength-in-numbers component to that group and to that team as a whole,” he said. “When you talk about Bird and Walton and K.C. Jones and Red [Auerbach], who was still around and very active at the time, you’re talking about some of the most strong-willed guys you could ever be around in terms of wanting to get it done.

“Of course I’m little partial, but it may have been the best team of all time. When you think of how top heavy that team was with Hall of Famers.”

Read the rest of this story at mavs.com.

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