Friday , Mar , 02 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Celtics moving on after D.J.

(Sports Network) – I used to collect professional sports action figures
called Starting Lineups as a kid, and still have them today.

One of the many sports heroes I owned was former Celtics great Dennis Johnson.
But at the time Dee Brown was hot on the scene for Boston, especially with
his no-look jam in the 1991 Slam Dunk contest and black Reebok pumps with
white laces.

Kenner didn’t make a Brown Starting Lineup at the time, so I moronically
decided to scrape off Johnson’s last name and No. 3 on the toy to create my
own #7. I obviously wasn’t too familiar with Johnson but his play against
the Detroit Pistons in the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals is my fondest
memory.

I can still hear Celtics announcer Johnny Most saying in his raspy, cigarette-
induced voice, “Now there’s a steal by (Larry) Bird. Underneath to D.J. He
lays it in.”

Bird came up with an awesome steal and fired a sweet pass to a cutting
Johnson, who sent his bench into an uproar with a successful layup. Boston
went on to win the series in seven games, but lost in the NBA Finals to the
Los Angeles Lakers.

But after a successful NBA career, Johnson passed away last week at the young
age of 52 after an apparent heart attack. D.J. was a five-time All-Star and a
14-year NBA veteran, something I should have known before I broke out the X-
Acto knife on the toy. I’m sure, though, Johnson would have chuckled upon
hearing my story of trying to turn him into Brown.

Now my nephew plays with the Starting Lineups, and I am prepared to
explain to him how stupid I was for ruining one of the best in the bunch.

The Celtics are still mourning the loss of one of the best to play for
the organization, and have won two straight since a four-game losing streak.
They have just three wins over their last 25 games and will hit the road
to New Jersey on Saturday night. After the Nets game, Boston will open a
four-game homestand at TD Banknorth Garden where they are 6-21 this season.

In other team news, Celtics radio analyst Cedric Maxwell apologized on the air
during Wednesday’s win over New York for his sexist remarks about female
referee Violet Palmer. Maxwell allegedly stated Palmer should “go back to the
kitchen” after he disagreed with one of her calls in Monday’s loss to Houston.

Maxwell, a former Celtics player, also added “go in there and make me some
bacon and eggs, would you?”

I thought the buzz of a female referee was over with a few days after she made
her professional debut. Apparently it still hasn’t set in for Maxwell, whose
number is retired by the infamous franchise. Maxwell was named MVP of the 1981
NBA Finals.

In injury news, Celtics forward Wally Szczerbiak is slated to undergo season-
ending ankle surgery next week. Szczerbiak missed 24 games this season because
of injury, and averaged 15 points and 3.1 rebounds in 32 contests.

BOS