The Cedric Maxwell Interview
By: Michael D. McClellan
Thursday, June 12th, 2002
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 joined Team Green in 1977 as the 13th pick in the first round. The Celtics were a team in decline at the time, awash in bad chemistry and fading stars. Auerbach needed to rebuild, and Maxwell would prove to be an important piece to the championship puzzle. He would soon be joined by Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, turning the Celtics’ frontline into perhaps the greatest ever.
Maxwell’s legacy is one of rising to the occasion, of never shying away from the big moments. Game 5 of the 1981 NBA Finals against Houston was vintage Max; with the series deadlocked at two games apiece and Rockets star Moses Malone talking trash, Maxwell responded with a 28-point, 19-rebound performance that helped shift momentum and propel the Celtics to their fourteenth NBA Championship. Maxwell, fittingly, was named the NBA Finals MVP.
An impressive résumé to be sure, but there is much more to Maxwell than mere basketball exploits. Always the impeccable dresser, Maxwell designs his own clothes – suits, primarily – and now has other celebs requesting his services. He has produced a number of successful, off-Broadway plays. He’s a gifted chess player. And, of course, there’s his current gig as color man for the Celtics’ flagship radio station, 1510 The Zone.
Celtic Nation caught up with Max during the 2003 NBA Playoffs. What follows is a candid, engaging look into the life of one of the greatest Boston Celtics ever.