The Sam Vincent Interview
Michael D. McClellan
Monday, May 15th,
joined a Celtic team loaded with talent – led by Hall of Fame mainstays Larry
Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. What was that first training camp like
for you, and how quickly were you accepted by these legendary veterans?
The first training camp was tough because I had high expectations coming in. I thought that I would immediately play and get a lot of minutes, and upon getting there I realized the Celtics were loaded with Hall of Fame guys and great players. Coach [KC] Jones was more of a veteran kind of coach. So I think that the realization that I wasn’t going to play proved to be a tough adjustment for me at that time. I don’t think I had the support structure around me to help me understand that being patient, and waiting for my opportunity, would go a long way toward starting in this league. I was just wrapped up in wanting to play.
addition to drafting Sam Vincent, the Celtics’ other big acquisition was the
trade that brought Bill Walton to Boston. Please tell me what Bill meant in
terms of the Celtics reclaiming the NBA Championship.
Bill was huge that year. I think that was probably one of his most successful years. He came in almost completely healed from the foot ailments that cost him so much playing time prior to that. He was just so strong – he had been lifting and working out, and it helped him to come off the bench for Robert and just play a physical brand of basketball. That isn’t to say that he had become just a bruiser; he was still the same great passer he had been through the years, hitting the cutter with those perfect feeds, and he loved working the ball with Larry. He also seemed to embody what the Celtics were all about, which was selflessness and teamwork. He was also a hard worker, and was all about winning, attributes which carried over to the rest of the team.
Celtics were virtually unbeatable at home during the 1985-86 season, losing
just one game at the fabled Boston Garden. What made the Garden so special,
and what was it like for you to play in front of those great Boston fans?
It was a great feeling! I remember playing in front of those fans as one of the best basketball times of my life. I couldn’t really appreciate it then, just like I couldn’t appreciate my high school career until after it was over, but when I look back now – those fans, my teammates, that building, the history – it is purely one of the most special times in my life.
arrived in Boston, Larry Bird was a two-time league MVP at the height of his
powers. What was it like playing with the great Larry Bird?
Whoa – it was pretty incredible. Being a rookie, coming in and trying to get playing time, I think that the greatness of Larry Bird may have been lost on me to some degree. Now, as I look back, I can step outside of that situation and truly appreciate the opportunities that I’ve had, and the moments that I’ve had with some truly incredible players – and Larry Bird was that the forefront of that. I think that perspective has helped shape some of my coaching philosophy.