Everybody knows the legend of Larry Bird – how he left home to win championships for the Boston Celtics and how he always raced back to French Lick as soon as that last game had been played. Everyone knows how Red Auerbach snatched Bird as a junior eligible, making it one of Red’s biggest heists of all time. And everyone knows how hard Bird worked, not only to improve his game, but in just about everything that he did.
What many people don’t know is that another Celtic, from another era, did all of these things, too. His name is Frank Ramsey, and his jersey hangs from the Fleet Center rafters just like Larry Bird’s…
Ramsey on his penchant for scoring off the bench:
I don’t know – I have to give a lot of the credit to Red Auerbach, because he was the one who set the rotation. When I joined the team we had two all-star guards in Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman. They were tremendous players. It was Red who decided on the substitution pattern from game-to-game, so my job was to be ready to play. I watched the flow of the game and tried to keep myself prepared to contribute. A lot of times, I would go in the game for Tom Heinsohn.
Ramsey on Red Auerbach’s practices:
Once the season started they were short and intense. We really liked to scrimmage, that was the thing. Russell didn’t scrimmage as much as the rest of us, because he usually played the entire game. That’s forty-eight minutes of basketball, which places quite a demand on the body. Our favorite scrimmages were usually the big guys against the little guys. We would divide the teams up that way for two reasons; because all of the little guys thought that they could play the pivot, and all of the big guys thought that they could bring the ball up the court. [Laughs.] We would also scrimmage five-against-five, eliminating a player from each team along the way, until it was down to one-against-one. It was always a big competition to see who was named champion.