Ok, there I am at work, minding my own business, not bothering anybody, when a cowrker drops the bomb. “Ya, but they’re racist.” What? Still? This wan’t going to be today’s post. Brian Scalabrine was going to be today’s post. Not no more. It’s time for me to set it straight, this Watergate.
Nothing gets my goat, Earl Manigault, more than the racism tag. Racism cracks. Racism cracks hurled at the Boston Celtics. It is the most unfair label in all of sports. You don’t believe me? Huh?
Check it out. Who was the first black player to be drafted in the NBA? Do you know? Huh? Do ya? Chuck Cooper. That’s who. Cooper was signed by…wait for it. Wait for it. That’s right. The Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics and coach Red Auerbach. Red Auerbach, the original Just Win Baby preacher. Amen brother. That’s all Red cared about, winning. That’s all the Celtics cared about.
Was the city racist? Probably. Who knows? All I know is during the Celtics heyday, the late 50’s and 60’s heydey. Then. Then, you had more fannies in the seats at Bruins games than you did at Celtics games. That’s a shame. My tears fall like rain. But Red’s not to blame. Don’t blame Red and the Celtics.
Walter Brown, Celtics owner: “I don’t care if he’s striped, plaid or polka dot! Boston takes Charles Cooper of Duquense.” Revolutionary talk for 1950. Patrick Henry talk. Chuck Cooper: “I had good support from the Celtics. There were never any racial problems with the team. I felt a strong relationship with them all.” More Cooper: “I’m convinced that no NBA team would have made the move on blacks in 1950 if the Celtics hadn’t drafted me.”
You hear that? Huh? Do you? Not only were the Celtics not racist, they were instrumental in breaking down the race barrier for the whole NBA. Branch Rickey style. Still not enough for you? Just one guy you say? I say fast-forward to 1964. I say pre Don Haskins. I say pre Western Texas Championship. I say then. I say then Red Auerbach strikes again!
To hell with the NBA. To hell with the media. To hell with the Boston fans. Red uses the first-ever all black starting five in NBA history. Just Win Baby! Red: “It didn’t make a difference to me what color any of my players were. I was putting the five best players out on the court so that we could win.” Al Davis style. KC Jones. Willie Nauls. Bill “Felton X” Russell. Sam Jones. Tom “Satch” Sanders. World Champions. KC Jones: “Red is a genius. He had such a high degree of intelligence. But at the same time, he just wanted to win. He did whatever it took to win.” Satisfied? No? You need more?
Ponder this. 1966. No black coaches in any major sport. Red retires. Names Bill Russell his successor. Player-coach. Two championships. Just Win Baby. 1st black coach, not just in the NBA, but in any sport period. Racists or trailblazers? You be the judge. J udge Wapner. Judge Hatchett. Judge Judy, Judge Dredd. A nd don’t use those Bird teams as examples of racism. Bird was arguably the best player in the league, white or black, regardless of what Zeke says. Those Celtics won the championship three times. You see thses new C’s. Racist? Just win baby!
Roll Celtics, Roll!