To a generation of Boston Celtics fans, M.L. Carr was the towel-waving agitator best remembered for antagonizing players and fans alike while teammates Larry Bird & Co. battled the Los Angeles Lakers in that epic 1984 NBA Finals. To another generation of fans, Carr was the Celtics’ coach and general manager during some of the darkest days in franchise history, overseeing one of the team’s worst seasons in a futile effort to hit lottery gold in the form of Wake Forest star Tim Duncan. Either way, Carr’s mark on the Boston Celtics is indelible. He is part and parcel of the team’s rich tradition and history: He is a member of the ’81 and ’84 Celtic teams that overcame long odds to hang banners in the old Boston Garden; he remains close to the Celtics’ cognoscenti, from President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge to legends such as Jo Jo White and Tom Heinsohn; and he remains close with Bird, with whom he partnered in a failed attempt to bring an expansion team to Charlotte, NC.
While time has marched on from those heady days during the 1980s, Carr remains fiercely proud of his connection to one of the sport’s greatest franchises. Even after all of these years he pulls no punches in his distaste for the hated Lakers, Boston’s biggest rival and the team that felt the full brunt of his taunting during the ’84 Finals. He was thrilled when Ainge maneuvered to bring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Boston during the summer of 2007, the latter instantly changing the culture and playing a huge role in ending the team’s 22-year championship drought. It killed him to see the Lakers recover and win back-to-back titles, with his Celtics coming up a game short against LA in 2010.
Yes, Carr still bleeds green…
Carr on defeating the Houston Rockets to win the ’81 NBA Championship:
We, as a team, knew we were going to win. We’d gone through such an incredible battle with the Sixers that there wasn’t a doubt in the world. Beating the Rockets was a foregone conclusion. We knew there was no way we’d come up short. Talent-wise, we felt we were the superior team, and we had such a will to win after losing to the Sixers the year before and then coming back to beat them to reach the Finals. We knew we were going to take care of business.
Carr on the ’84 NBA Championship win over the hated Lakers:
More than anything, I remember the last seconds of Game 7. No one thought we could beat the Lakers. They were the thoroughbreds, we were the Clydesdales. It was a very physical series, and that’s exactly what we wanted because we knew that’s the only way we could beat those guys. If you remember, there was Kevin McHale’s hit on Kurt Rambis, and there was Larry Bird’s poke of Michael Cooper out-of-bounds. The series was full of things like that. We knew that we had to physically beat them, because they had never played that kind of game. It didn’t take the Lakers long to learn, but in that series it was the element of surprise that we needed. So for me, being back in the old Boston Garden for Game 7, with twelve seconds left on the clock, and knowing that we were going to be world champions when absolutely no one gave us a chance but us…that is the thing that I remember the most.