The man who put UNC-Charlotte on the basketball map is now a successful radio commentator, but to legions of fans he is best known as one of the Boston Celtics’ greatest. A well-publicized falling out with Red Auerbach long kept the player known as “Cornbread” from the team’s highest honor – having his No. 31 retired to the rafters – but this fall, Cedric Maxwell will finally get the recognition that he so richly deserves. Remember Game 7 of the 1984 NBA Finals? While Larry Bird was named the series MVP, nobody played bigger in Game 7 than Max. It was Maxwell who jumped to his feet in the pre-game locker room and yelled, “Get on my back tonight boys, this is my game.”
And what a game it was: Maxwell went right to work on Laker forward James Worthy, scoring 24 points and hitting the boards like a man possessed. His presence under the basket put the Lakers in early foul trouble and set the stage for another Celtics world championship…
Maxwell on Larry Bird as a rookie:
Larry came in with a chip on his shoulder. There were so many people who questioned him as a basketball player, and who said that he wasn’t going to be great. There were other people labeling him as the ‘White Hope’. Larry was determined to come in and prove these people wrong. He worked hard and he carried that attitude with him all the time. He was very motivated to succeed.
Maxwell on giving Robert Parish the nickname ‘Chief’:
I would certainly hope to be there [laughs]. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Robert, and I’m looking forward to his induction into the Hall of Fame. He’s very deserving of the honor, as is Dennis Johnson. In my mind DJ is worthy of inclusion – his accomplishments speak for themselves. Robert is an extraordinary individual, a unique person who will go down as one of the greatest centers to ever play the game of basketball. He was maligned at Golden State in the ‘70s, but there were a lot of factors responsible for that. He had a bad agent at the time and he was viewed by many as an underachiever. Then Red pulls off the trade with the Warriors, which brought Robert and Kevin to the Celtics. That was one of the greatest trades in the history of sports – or one of the worst, depending on which end you were on [laughs]. Robert was one of the first running centers to come into this league, and certainly one of the first seven-footers to run the court. Dave Cowens was a true running center, but Dave was only 6’-9”. Robert came into the league and showed that players his size could play like thoroughbreds. When most people think of Robert, they see the quiet, stoic player who didn’t say much and who didn’t change his expression all that often. He was quiet to be sure, but he was also a very confident player who played this game longer than anyone else. His longevity is unbelievable. And he could tell a joke [laughs]. A lot of people don’t realize that about Robert. He was a really funny guy with a very good sense of humor.