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Archive for Saturday, June 27, 1992

LL ONLY ADD TO CLUB TRADITION

June 27, 1992

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Danny Manning was tailor-made for the traditional Boston Celtic basketball format, but things could change drastically by the time he gets with them, if he ever does.

The Los Angeles Clippers star told the Journal-World's Drew Hartsock that he grew up hating the Celtics but now if he could pick any NBA team, it would be the Celts. Manning will score, rebound, dish off, play defense, block shots, or all of the above.

That's how the Bostonites built their legend: Doing whatever's necessary. Manning's in the same league with a Magic Johnson or Larry Bird.

For years, the Celtics had some of the most talented people in basketball, but even Bob Cousy couldn't lead them to a title. Along came San Francisco's Bill Russell in 1956 and the Celts won the championship 11 of the next 13 seasons. Only the UCLA college dynasty is on a par with that.

Russell was the ultimate role-player, and there have been others, like K.C. Jones, John Havlicek, Don Nelson, Robert Parish, Jo Jo White, Don Chaney, Dennis Johnson, the whatever-it-takes people to make the pieces fit.

Manning, the former Kansas All-American, is cut from precisely the same cloth. Imagine how he'd have fit in during the recent Bird-McHale-Parish heydey. He'd have made a prominent place for himself during the Russell Era, too.

TROUBLE IS, Danny's tied to the Clippers for at least another season. By the time the Celtics can gain access to him (and they'll do their darnedest) the Bird-McHale-Parish triumvirate could be gone.

While coaches such as New York's Pat Riley consider Manning one of the major superstars of the modern NBA on a par even with guys like Michael Jordan, Riley says the former KU great is not yet a franchise-type performer a la David Robinson or Patrick Ewing.

Danny could be an integral part of a productive new Celtic regime, but the club must get a great new center and a Jo Jo White-type quarterback to really stay in the championship picture. Where such guys will come from is hard to tell.

But Red Auerbach who was the architect of the Russell years and worked Larry Bird into a winning format still has enough influence to find the right guys. Knowing Manning would like to move to Boston, Red's probably plotting ways to swing a deal with the Clippers and then line up people to go with Manning and a major league pivotman.

May never happen. About all we can do for sure right now is daydream about how great the versatile, unselfish Manning might have been with some of those previous Celtic clubs.

ANTHONY PEELER has had a lot of adjectives applied to his personality and his basketball talents. Lately one of those terms is not ``smart.'' Long saddled with a reputation for getting into various social and academic scrapes, the former Missouri star's had run-ins with assertive women who are not at all awed by his demeanor and court ability. That may cost him thousands of dollars, maybe millions.

What-in-hell gets into these athletic superstars who have a terribly valuable commodity, then act as if the rules and regulations of deportment that apply to other people don't affect them?

Too often from the standpoint of maturity, the Peelers in our midst are something like age 22-going-on-16. They show ability in high school, in Peeler's case as early as the freshman year, have too many things handed to them, and arrogantly decide they have a genie in a jug with the stopper in their hand.

How many people like this have we seen blow riches and careers when all they had to do was exercise the basic kind of restraint the rest of us are forced to use because we're not superjocks?

Lots of folks had doubts about Peeler until they watched him score 43 points and doggone near beat a great Kansas team here last March 8. Anthony's stock went up millions that day. Lately he's been making his market rather bearish. How sad.

PRESSURE? U.S. Olympic basketball coach Chuck Daly knows what that is. He has collegian Christian Laettner and all these NBA greats, and there's no good reason they shouldn't give ``Olympic dominance'' a whole new meaning. They oughta win big. But if they don't ... man, we'll forget all about how coach John Thompson blew it in 1988 with that David Robinson-Danny Manning club.

Been reading again lately, and seeing films, of that Olympic travesty in 1972 at Munich, when overlapping bungling by biased, inept, maybe even crooked officials led to the first U.S. loss in Olympic history and to the doggone Soviets, at that!

Each time I get furious all over again. Little wonder most members of that '72 U.S. squad still won't accept their second-place medals. They won gold and shouldn't settle for less.

Back to Daly and the 1992 team. If they lose, they oughta have to swim home from Barcelona.

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