A walk down memory lane for the Cavaliers and Celtics

Jeff Phelps shares what Cavs vs. Celtics means to him

Jeff Phelps
May 12, 2018 - 3:56 pm
Apr 11, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (center) sits on the bench in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports


When I think of the Cavaliers playing the Boston Celtics in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, my mind starts drifting to.....

- Cavs center Jim Chones breaking his foot in practice before the Cavs started the 1976 ECF against the Celtics. The Cavs of that era swear that they would have won the series if Chones had been healthy. Former Celtic and Cavs head coach Paul Silas always disagreed. The Celtics won in six games.

- Watching NBA basketball on ABC Sunday afternoons in the early 70's while visiting my grandmother. She was dealing with cancer, and my family spent a lot of Sundays with her during her illness. Grandma had an old black and white television, and it seemed the Celtics were part of the game of the week, each and every Sunday. I became very familiar with John Havlicek, Jo Jo White, Don Nelson, Don Chaney and Dave Cowens. It was the beginning of the Celtics becoming my second favorite NBA team.

- The 1986 Celtics NBA Championship team. For me, the best NBA team of all-time, and my favorite non-Cavs team ever. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Danny Ainge Dennis Johnson and an oddly healthy Bill Walton? Oh, be still my heart.

- Former Cavalier Scott Wedman. He was also a part of that 1986 Celtics title team. Story is that when Wedman signed with the Stepien-era Cavs in 1981, he refused to workout in the Cavs practice court at The Coliseum until he was given proof that the dusty padding that covered the practice court walls wasn't loaded with asbestos. It wasn't.

- A conversation I had with Mark Price in a bathroom at the Boston Garden in 1992. The Cavs had just been destroyed by the Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, 122-91. The series was tied 3-3 and heading back to The Coliseum for Game 7. Mark walked into the bathroom, said something about the game, I said something in response. Then Mark said, very matter-of-factly, in that very calm and confident Mark Price way, "We got 'em in Game 7."  And he was right. The Cavs drilled Boston 122-104 in Game 7 in Richfield to win the series 4-3. It was Larry Bird's last NBA game.

- My other big moment from Game 6 against Boston in 1992: Larry Bird played in only four games in the series due to his back issues. He was nowhere to be found in the locker room after the game. As I was walking away from the locker room, I spotted Bird leaving the Garden out a back hallway. I figured what the heck, and spoke out to Bird, "Excuse me, Larry! Could we talk to you for a second please." Bird never looked back, never stopped walking.  He just screamed, "J@&*% C@$%!*." To this day, I believe it's the only comment Bird made to the media after his final game at Boston Garden. At least that's what I've always gone with. Makes for a good story.

- A January, 2007 Cavs-Celtics game in Boston. I was standing just inside the seating bowl, near the tunnel that leads to the backstage areas, talking to a security guy. Out of nowhere, a bunch of young ladies in skimpy clothing come out of the tunnel, getting ready to take the floor. These ladies were dancers and/or cheerleaders, something I had never seen before at a Celtics game. I asked the security guy what was up. He said, "Red Auerbach (former Celtics legend, President and Head Coach) always said the Celtics would have dancers over his dead body. And Red died two months ago."

- The old Boston Garden. Unless I don't remember clearly, that 1992 series was the only time I saw games in the old Garden. It really was a dump - dirty, noisy, train station underneath, rodents, hot with no air conditioning. No concourses -- you just seemed to kind of walk into the seating area. Very weird building. And I loved it. An awesome basketball experience.

- Celtics game notes while Red Auerbach was alive. Remember, no Dance Team. NBA teams would often list the halftime entertainment on the front page of the game notes. The Celtics game notes read this way - "Halftime Entertainment - Ball boys roll ball rack to center court."  Classic.