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Scott Wedman: PICTURE PERFECT

The Scott Wedman Interview
By:  Michael D. McClellan | Sunday, November 14th, 2004

 

Scott Wedman’s game was a holistic experience, a deliciously pure effort far greater than the sum of its considerable parts, and few others have played it any better than the Kansan with the picture-perfect release and feathery touch.  Resplendent at times and transcendent at others, his was a symphonic game always in tune with the greater good of helping his team win basketball’s ultimate prize – a quixotic pursuit for most NBA players, but not for Wedman; as a member of two NBA World Championship teams while with the Boston Celtics, Wedman earned a well-deserved reputation as both a deadeye marksman and quintessential teammate.

NBA championships are usually born from the stuff of dreams, and Wedman’s dream began on a farm in Harper, Kansas, where he first learned to shoot baskets by hanging a rim on the family barn.  It was there that he began to lay the foundation for one of the purest shots in NBA history.  With grandparents close by and plenty of room to roam, Harper was the ideal place for those formative years, and each day was a new adventure for the future NBA All-Star.  He learned about livestock, played with his older brother, and took his first tentative steps toward basketball greatness.  His mother made sure that he ate properly, starting him down a dietary path that would help shape his views on man’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being.  It was clearly a journey that suited him well; a vegetarian who drank bottled water and practiced yoga regularly, Wedman was a finely-tuned athlete who always produced when his number was called.

Former Celtics head coach K.C. Jones still marvels at the man whose hallmarks were preparedness, integrity and teamwork.  “Scott was always ready to play, and he was a vital piece of our team.  He knew that players like Larry [Bird] and Kevin [McHale] were going to get their minutes, and he accepted his role without hesitation. He had the perfect attitude.  As a coach, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

By age five, Wedman’s family had relocated in Denver.  There was a brief moved back to Kansas before settling in Denver on a permanent basis.  Basketball was becoming an increasingly prominent recreation.  Wedman’s midget basketball team won the city championship, a taste of hoops nirvana that further fueled the dream and provided structure to his ever-improving game.  His coach stressed the fundamentals and helped to reduce the anxiety that came with organized competition.   If only his body had kept pace with his prodigious basketball talent; undersized at 5’-6” by the time he enrolled at Mullen High in Denver, it wasn’t until Wedman’s senior season that size and skill converged, landing him on the all-state team and giving him a legitimate shot at Division I basketball.  Two schools, Wyoming and Colorado, were in the running.  Colorado won out.

Wedman set off for Boulder determined to prove he belonged in a major college program.  As a non-varsity freshman he continued to refine his shooting motion, and  he focused on the areas that he considered weaknesses; speed, jumping, defense.  By Year Two he was on solid footing, and by the end of his junior season he had begun to attract the attention of NBA scouts.  The dream, unfathomable just a few short years before, was suddenly – and deliciously – within Wedman’s grasp.  Refreshingly, he refused to change his approach to the game; he still worked hard on the court, and he remained the same unassuming gentleman off of it.

 The Kansas City Kings selected Wedman sixth overall in the 1974 NBA Draft, but they weren’t the only team intrigued with his picture-perfect jumper; Memphis from the rival ABA made a play for his services, convinced that his game would flourish in the league’s wide-open, three-point atmosphere.  It was a tempting offer, but at the end of the day Wedman wanted to play in a more established league – and against the best basketball talent in the world.  It didn’t hurt that Kansas City was close to home, and that the team boasted one of the finest playmakers in NBA history in Nate “Tiny” Archibald.  An All-Rookie nod validated not only Kansas City’s faith in Wedman, who had passed over solid talent such as Keith (later Jamaal) Wilkes, but also Wedman’s faith in himself.  He realized quickly that he could play with the best, and that he could do so at a consistently high level.  The games became shooting clinics.  And then there were those occasions when Wedman was simply otherworldly:  Witness his 45-point (on 19-of-31 shooting), 12 rebound, seven assist night against the Utah Jazz in 1980.  Even more impressive was that the majority of Wedman’s points came at the expense of Jazz All-Star Adrian Dantley.

Free agency took Wedman to Cleveland (summer of 1981), and thus began a short-lived, ill-fated stint with the woeful Cavaliers.  In hindsight it may not have been the best move, but it did set the stage for the 1983 midseason trade to the Boston Celtics.  There would be adjustments all-around – by Wedman, who had been a starter and offensive focal point for so long; by head coach Bill Fitch, who had to figure a way to fit Wedman into the rotation; and by the Celtic players, who were gaining this unknown variable in the middle of the season and were trying to repeat as NBA champions.  A playoff sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks cast further doubt on the transaction, but Wedman used the summer to rededicate himself to basketball.  By 1984, the Celtics were once again NBA royalty, defeating the hated L.A. Lakers for the team’s fifteenth banner.  Wedman, now comfortable in the role of instant offense off of the bench, had helped turn the Celtics into a deeper, more dangerous squad.  And, at long last, he was finally on a championship team.

Los Angeles would get its revenge the following season, but not before Wedman had put on one of the greatest shooting exhibitions in NBA history.  In Game 1 of the 1985 NBA Finals, Wedman finished a perfect 11-for-11 from the floor.  Four of those shots were three-pointers.  The 148-114 rout became known as the Boston Massacre, and Wedman’s fingerprints would be indelibly linked to the crime.

1986 brought the arrival of Bill Walton to Boston, and the Celtics now had the deepest bench in the NBA.  With Walton, Wedman and Jerry Sichting in the rotation, Boston rampaged through the regular season en route to its sixteenth crown.  That team is still recognized as one of the greatest ever.

Scott Wedman would retire one season later, but his mark – and his marksmanship – will never be forgotten.  He remains a class act in every sense of the word, a thoughtful, introspective man who has been kind enough to grace Celtic Nation with this interview.  It is with great pleasure that we share his story with you.

CELTIC-NATION
You were born on July 29th, 1952 in Harper, Kansas.  Harper is located within 60 miles of the hometowns of former Celtics Bob Brannum (Winfield, KS) and Ernie Barrett (Wellington, KS).  Please take me back to your childhood in Harper.  What are some of the things that stand out in your mind after all these years?

SCOTT WEDMAN
We lived in Harper a very short time during my childhood– my parents moved to Denver when I was five years old.  Harper was a farming community, so there were plenty of wide-open spaces for kids to play.  Both sets of grandparents were there, so it was a good, wholesome family atmosphere.  We moved back to Harper briefly, which was during my fourth and fifth grade years, before moving to Denver for good.  I have fond memories of my time there, though.  Being close to my grandparents and enjoying them are probably the memories that stand out most.

 

CELTIC-NATION
You graduated from Mullen High School in Denver, Colorado.  Please tell me about the path that led you to Mullen High, and also about your basketball career there.

SCOTT WEDMAN
I was raised Catholic and attended Mullen, which is a Christian Brothers Catholic school.  It’s known for both academics and athletics, so the majority of the student body was there to excel in one or the other – or, in some cases, both.  As a freshman I wasn’t much athletically.  I was 5’-6” tall and 120 pounds, which made me one of the smallest players on the team.  That first year at Mullen I was second string on the B team, but the important thing to me was that I didn’t get cut [laughs].  It took me a while for my body to catch up with my skill level.  I kept working and practicing, and by my senior year I was 6’-4” varsity player and made the all-state team.

I was fortunate to have a good basketball foundation prior to attending Mullen.  Bill Harris was my first significant coach, and he did a fantastic job of teaching me the fundamentals.  He was a Denver policeman who volunteered his time and energy, and who provided a real calming effect as I began my career in competitive athletics.  He coached my sixth grade team to the city championship, worked with me for more than two years, and helped to get my game on solid footing.

My high school coach at Mullen was Rick Egloff, who played quarterback at the University of Wyoming.  He led the Cowboys to the 1966 Sun Bowl team.  He was a young head coach, probably twenty-four or twenty-five at the time, and was very supportive in my development as a basketball player.  He contacted Bill Strannigan, then the head coach at the University of Wyoming, who offered me a full scholarship to play basketball.  The University of Colorado entered the picture at about the same time, so I had two schools from which to choose.  I ended up choosing Colorado and went there on a partial scholarship.

 

CELTIC-NATION
While at Colorado, you set the field goal percentage record by shooting 53.5% from the floor.  As a professional, you shot above 50% for three consecutive seasons and earned a reputation as one of the NBA’s most deadly shooters.  What was the secret to such outstanding marksmanship?

SCOTT WEDMAN
I think my secret was a love of the game.  For me, practice was never laborious.  I would practice with the team and then work out on my own, and I truly enjoyed ever moment of it.  My goal was always the same – to make ever shot.  This helped me to stay focused on the proper mechanics, such as squaring up, releasing the ball, and following through.  I think enjoying basketball so much was a big advantage for me, because I wanted to learn more and I stayed longer to practice on that aspect of my game.  Also, it really helped that I had excellent coaches and teachers along the way.

I never stopped shooting.  While with the Celtics, I remember Danny Ainge giving me a hard time for shooting so much.  He used to tell me that I was going to wear myself out, and that I needed to save myself for the games.  He was probably right [laughs], but I really enjoyed shooting the basketball.

At Colorado, freshman weren’t allowed to play on the varsity team.  That was probably a good thing for me, because I don’t think I was ready to play at that level of competition.  Cliff Meely was on the varsity squad at the time.  He would go on to play several years with the Houston Rockets in the NBA, and I remember going against him in practice for the first time.  He was the most awesome player I’d ever seen.  It felt like playing against a super being [laughs].  But those types of experiences make you better, and by my sophomore year I was ready to play major college basketball.  The team suffered some injuries and we started the season 0-8, but we ended up having a pretty good year.  I think I averaged 15 points-per-game.

After the season I concentrated on my jumping.  I worked hard to improve my vertical leap – I’d put on a weight vest and do between 100 and 200 explosive jumps – because I felt that it would help me to become a better player.  Spring was always one of my favorite times to work on my game.  I could play without restriction once the season was over, and this gave me the opportunity to expand on my skills.  It became an extension of what I was doing during basketball season, and I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
 
Russell “Sox” Walseth was the head coach at Colorado, and he was the one who really helped to improve my defense.  Sox was an icon at CU, where he coached both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.  I enjoyed his practices tremendously – I was usually the first to arrive and the last to leave – and his instruction was so valuable in terms of my growth as a basketball player.  He passed away earlier this year.  It was a great loss – Sox meant a great deal to me.

 CELTIC-NATION
You were selected sixth overall by the Kansas City Kings, in the 1974 NBA Draft.  That same year, you were also drafted by Memphis of the American Basketball Association.  What was it like to be drafted so highly by the Kings, and did you ever consider signing with Memphis?

SCOTT WEDMAN
I considered Memphis.  My heart was in the NBA – it was the established league, and I wanted to play against the best competition – but I wanted to look at all of the possibilities.  The prospect of playing professional basketball came as quite a shock, especially for someone still learning to play the college game.  I didn’t think about the NBA until after my junior season.  I was surprised to learn that some scouts had watched me play, and that they’d shown some interest in drafting me.  The Kings sent scouts to watch me play in the Big Eight Tournament.  Until then, the NBA – or the ABA, for that matter – seemed too farfetched for me to take seriously.

I didn’t really change anything after that.  I just kept working hard and getting ready for my senior season, and I always went out onto the court determined to do my best.  I tore my ankle with three or four games left on our schedule.  I was sure that the injury would hurt my chances of being drafted, but the Kings flew a doctor in to examine my ankle.  I passed the physical – they cut the cast off, the doctor checked me out, and they put another cast back on.  Shortly after that, the Kings drew up a contract and I decided to play in the NBA.  My only concern at that point was being introduced at the press conference.  I wanted to walk in without limping, so I rehabbed the ankle around the clock [laughs].

 

CELTIC-NATION
Your first season in Kansas City was a success.  The Kings won 44 games, finishing three games out of first place.  You averaged 11 points-per-game and was named to the NBA All-Rookie team.  As a professional basketball player, what kind of adjustments did you make in order to succeed?

SCOTT WEDMAN
I didn’t really have to make any adjustments as far as my game was concerned.  It was more of a mental challenge.  Those first few games I didn’t play much, and I was despondent because of that.  It bothered me to sit on the bench and not contribute.  I was young, and I didn’t realize the importance of playing a role on a team, especially if that role involved a lot of sitting [laughs].  Eventually I began to understand what was expected of me.  I kept working hard in practice.  I kept myself ready.  It paid off, because I got my opportunity in a game against the Houston Rockets.  [Kings head coach] Phil Johnson put me in and I was doing anything to help the team win.  I had blood on both knees from diving for loose balls.  After the game he singled me out, and said that he wished he had more guys playing defense the way I played it that night.

I never had a problem getting up for games, and the effort was always there.  It also helped to have Tiny Archibald on that team, because he was such a great basketball player.  He was exceptional – he could penetrate, pass and score.  I quickly learned where to be when he had the ball, because if you were open the pass was coming.  It didn’t matter if it were baseline or perimeter; he drew so much attention that could penetrate and then kick the ball out for an open shot.  He was an incredible, incredible player.

Jim Walker was on that first team, and he was very supportive.  It was great to have veterans like that, guys who wanted to see me succeed and to help make the Kings better in the process.  Jim said that I was going to win the Rookie of the Year award.  I didn’t win it, of course, but it was nice to have him rooting for me.  Don Kojis was another older player who helped me a lot.

After getting playing time, the biggest adjustment was probably on defense.  Back then there were plenty of talented forwards to contend with on a nightly basis – guys like Rick Barry, Bingo Smith, Sydney Wicks, Chet Walker and Curtis Rowe.  You had to be prepared to play solid defense every time you stepped onto the court against those guys.

 

CELTIC-NATION
A teammate during your first two seasons in Kansas City was future hall-of-famer Tiny Archibald.  What memories stand out most in your mind about Mr. Archibald?

SCOTT WEDMAN
Tiny was very quiet.  He didn’t communicate a lot back then, and I was somewhat quiet as well.  So neither of us really said a whole lot during my rookie year.  Tiny’s strengths were obvious – the speed and quickness was right there for everyone to see, as well as the ability to pass and score.  He was a most unusual player.  He was a 6’-1” left-handed guard with explosiveness, and yet he made everything look almost effortless.  He had the nickname “Nate the Skate” because he looked so smooth dribbling the basketball.  He was uncanny at getting the ball to me in good spots.  He had a great point guard mentality.

 

CELTIC-NATION
In January, 1980, you had a career night against Utah.  You scored 45 points on 19-of-31 shooting, many of which came against NBA star Adrian Dantley.  You also had 12 rebounds and seven assists in that game.  Did you feel unstoppable when you were shooting the ball that well?

SCOTT WEDMAN
Yes.  That night I didn’t think I could miss – obviously I did miss, but every shot felt good when it left my hands.  It’s hard to describe.  I had a pretty good streak going during that season.  I remember going back to Utah later that year and hitting my first seven field goals.  I was so hot that night that I took shots that I normally wouldn’t have taken.  But that’s the way it works when you feel it.  Over the course of my career I had four or five games where I didn’t miss a shot.  I just got going good and didn’t let up.  The superstars – the Larry Birds of the world – are able to step onto the court and recreate those moments almost at will.

CELTIC-NATION
You and fellow teammate Otis Birdsong helped the Kings reach the Western Conference finals in 1981, battling Moses Malone and the Houston Rockets.  Please take me back to that series.  What stands out most in your mind?

SCOTT WEDMAN
We didn’t shoot as well as we should have.  As a team, our percentage was down from our season average.  We beat the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns to reach the Conference Finals, and we felt good about our chances against the Rockets.  But Phil Ford and Otis Birdsong got hurt, and that forced us to change our rotation.  Ernie Grunfeld had to play more forward than he was used to, and I was also out of position a bit.  As a team, we were out of our flow.  The Rockets had Moses, Calvin Murphy, Robert Reid, Rudy Tomjanovich and Mike Dunleavy.  Quality guys.  So they were a very good team.  It was a great disappointment to lose, because I’ve always felt that we matched up better with the Celtics that year.  The Rockets fell 4-2 in the 1981 NBA Finals.  I’ve always wondered how we would have done against Larry Bird, Kevin [McHale] and Robert [Parish].

 

CELTIC-NATION
Kings ownership broke up the team following the loss to the Rockets, and you signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Please tell me about this period in your life.

SCOTT WEDMAN
That was the first year of free agency and the right of first refusal.  The agents for myself and Otis [Birdsong] did a really good job – we both ended up signing with Cleveland, and it was a financial success in both cases.

To be honest, I expected to stay in Kansas City my entire career.  It felt good – I knew the offense, the system, and everything about the situation just fit.  But ownership wasn’t looking to spend, and Cleveland was aggressive.  From a basketball standpoint it may not have been the best fit for me, but that was an unknown at the time.  When I got there I quickly realized how much was different.

 

CELTIC-NATION
You arrived in Boston following a midseason trade between the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  How quickly were you accepted by your new teammates, and what was it like to play for head coach Bill Fitch?

SCOTT WEDMAN
I vividly remember the day that I was traded – it was January 16th, 1981.  Ironically, my first game as a Boston Celtic was against the Cavaliers in Cleveland.  I remember how strange it felt to dress in the road locker room.  Back then the players carried their own shoes and uniforms.  I had my road uniform and a pair of white basketball shoes with me, which posed something of a problem.  The Celtics either played in black or green basketball shoes.  So I had to paint my shoes green for the game [laughs].

I remember going out on the court for warm-ups – running the drills and shooting the ball – and I don’t think I missed a shot.  I felt really good – I was excited to be a part of Boston Celtics, and to be playing with such a talented group of players.  And then the reality of the situation set in; I didn’t get into the game, and I quickly learned that I was going to spend a lot of time sitting behind Bird.  It was very disappointing.  But by the end of that game I understood how close-knit that team was, and that it was going to take some time to figure out where I fit.

The guys didn’t exactly welcome me with open arms, but I can understand their point-of-view; no one wants to see his minutes go down, and suddenly another player is thrown into the mix.  After the Cleveland game I doubted whether Boston was the ideal situation for me.  Confidence-wise, it was a very tough three-or-four month period because [Bill] Fitch had a set rotation.  Cedric Maxwell was a starter, and McHale was the sixth man.  Danny Ainge was slotted behind Gerald Henderson in the backcourt.  Looking back, I think my biggest contributions those first few months came in the practices.  I think I was brought in to push Larry in practice, to help keep him focused and motivated.  Larry was very hard on me – he was always testing me, and challenging me the whole way.  He’d talk so much trash.  He’d try to show me up.  It was a very difficult adjustment to make, because I wasn’t used to that type of environment.

The team played well after the trade, but Larry ended up getting hurt and we were swept out of the playoffs by Milwaukee.  I used the summer to regroup.  I worked with a personal trainer to improve my strength and conditioning, and when training camp opened I went right at Larry.  He’d dish it out, and I’d give it right back.  I wanted to prove that I belonged, and that I could fit into a productive role on the team.  I became a contributor.  I felt I was a key piece of the puzzle.  At the same time, Larry began his run as the league’s Most Valuable Player.  He was the MVP from 1984 to 1986, and I like to think I had a little to do with that.  We had some great battles in practice.

 

CELTIC-NATION
The Celtics were swept out of the 1983 NBA Playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, prompting Red Auerbach to make two key offseason changes; K.C. Jones was promoted to the position of head coach, and Dennis Johnson was acquired in a trade with Phoenix.  Please tell me about K.C. and Dennis, and what each meant in terms of winning a championship.

SCOTT WEDMAN
K.C. was the assistant coach when I arrived from Cleveland.  He was a quiet, soft-spoken man, but he was also very humorous.  Very funny.  As an assistant, you knew you had a friend you could trust and lean on.  He could be a great buffer.  In the NBA – and anything else for that matter – you have to possess a certain degree of honesty, loyalty and integrity in order to be successful.  K.C. had those qualities.  It’s so vital to have those things in professional basketball because you go through so much.  If those elements aren’t present, then you discover quickly that the lines of communication break down.  It just doesn’t work.  That was never the case with K.C.

K.C. was the perfect person for the head coaching job – we were a veteran team, so the X’s and O’s weren’t the most important factors for us.  We needed someone who was accomplished, and who would let us go out there and play.  It was a great move.

Dennis was very unusual.  He was so casual and relaxed, and was always having fun.  He was a true junkyard dog in many respects, a player who would do whatever the situation called for, and someone who  always rose to the occasion.  And he was such a great defensive player.  He drew the tough assignments, always did great work defensively, and then was so dangerous on the other end of the court.

There were some questions about Dennis when the trade was made.  There had been reports of run-ins with coaches in Seattle and Phoenix, and speculation that his personality was going to make him a problem.  We welcomed him with open arms.  He had a clean slate in Boston, and we were all determined to form our own opinions about Dennis Johnson.  Larry and Dennis bonded almost immediately.  There was a great deal of mutual respect between them.  Three or four games into the exhibition season Larry made his famous statement to the press, saying that DJ was the best basketball player he’d ever played with.  It was a great move by Larry, who was a master communicator and one of the best at working the press.  He paid a great amount of respect to DJ, and DJ responded by fitting in perfectly.  Larry was sincere when he made that comment, because he was never one to offer compliments easily.  He quickly saw qualities in DJ that he liked, and he made no secret of his feelings.

CELTIC-NATION
The 1985 NBA Finals featured a rematch with the Lakers, and a return to the 2-3-2 home-away format.  Game 1 fell on Memorial Day, May 27th, and has become known as the Memorial Day Massacre.  Your Celtics won that game 148-114, and you were a perfect 11-for-11 from the floor including four three-pointers.  Please take me back to that game – what stands out most, after all of these years?

SCOTT WEDMAN
As a professional basketball player, your performance on the court is partly a reflection of where you are emotionally and spiritually.  It’s also directly impacted by your relationship with family and friends.  All of those things were very positive for me when we played the Lakers that day.  I was in a really good place mentally.  I had good friends around me, and all of the elements were right for a strong performance.  I remember that Ainge had a great game, and that I was mentally focused to come off of the bench.  If I’d learned anything from the previous season, it was that I needed to be prepared to contribute when my number was called.  I’d learned to cheer the team when I wasn’t playing, and to keep myself in a very positive frame of mind.  And that day there were no negative thoughts at all.  My first shot didn’t feel good when I released it, but it went in and I knew immediately that I was going to have a good game.

 

CELTIC-NATION
The Lakers evened the series by winning Game 2.  Kareem, who had played so poorly in Game 1, responded with 30 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks.  What adjustments did the Lakers– and Kareem in particular – make that proved to be so effective?

SCOTT WEDMAN
I’m not sure what made the difference.  Kareem was suffering from migraines in the first game, so I’m sure that had an effect on his performance.  The Lakers were an excellent team, very talented.  They scored a lot of fast-break points in that series, and Kareem really took it to us.

 

CELTIC-NATION
The Celtics made a major move following the loss to the Lakers; Cedric Maxwell was traded to the Clippers in exchange for Bill Walton.  In what ways did Walton’s arrival improve the Boston Celtics?

SCOTT WEDMAN
Well, we were really disappointed to lose Cedric Maxwell.  He was quite a player, and he had a great personality.  He’d limped through the season with a knee injury, which was tough, and then Red decided to make the trade with the Clippers.

Bill was like a kid in a candy store.  He was thrilled to be a Boston Celtic, thrilled to be playing with Larry Bird, but also aware of how he might be perceived by his teammates – especially Robert Parish.  So one of the first things he did was to call Robert, and to assure him that he was still the starter.  It was a smart move, because it made Robert very receptive to the trade.

Bill made our practice team much, much better.  Those practices were so intense.  Everyone talked trash.  There was a lot of pride at stake.  And it made the team better – we were 40-1 at home that season, and a lot of that had to do with the nature of our practices.  They were as competitive as many of the games we played that season, because everyone wanted to perform at a high level.  The Big Three set the tone, but the practice team always wanted to take it to them.  And we won our fair share of games [laughs].

 

CELTIC-NATION
The 1985-86 Boston Celtics won 67 games on its way to the NBA championship, in large part due to players named Walton, Wedman and Sichting coming off of the bench.  It is generally regarded as one of the greatest teams ever assembled.  Where do you think it ranks in terms of the best teams ever?

SCOTT WEDMAN
I don’t know.  When you look at all of the great players on our team, you have to look at McHale and ask yourself who would have to guard him.  You might find someone to match up with Robert or Larry to some degree, but then who would take care of Kevin?  He was such an incredible low-post player – how many teams would have someone capable of stopping him?  And our bench strength was so great that year that we had depth at all positions.  Jerry Sichting could come in for Ainge and bring incredible shooting accuracy.  Bill brought that trademark intensity, not to mention great passing in the low-post.  I felt I could shoot the ball and defend.  It was a great team, but it’s so hard to compare teams from different eras.  I still like our chances against any team in NBA history.

CELTIC-NATION
How did the death of Lenny Bias alter the state of the franchise?

SCOTT WEDMAN
Lenny was going to be an impact player for twelve to fifteen years.  I saw him play while he was at the University of Maryland, but I never had the opportunity to play against him.  It was devastating to the Celtics, because he was going to be the team’s future.  A player of that caliber was also going to extend Larry’s career, so it was tremendous blow to the organization.

 

CELTIC-NATION
You are close friends with Larry Bird.  Please tell me a little about your former teammate, perhaps a side that the public doesn’t see all that often.

SCOTT WEDMAN
I can tell you a story about him that not many people know.  I liked to run after practice, and Larry used to give me a hard time about it.  But then one day I saw Larry running around the court after we’d finished up our drills, and the next thing you know it had become a part of his routine.  Well, I had an aerobic instructor named Louise Bollen who also happened to be a marathoner.  She was going to run in a charity 10K that spring, and it fell during a break in our playing schedule.  She wanted me to run it with her, so I asked Larry if he wanted to join us.  Larry talked to K.C. about it, who was a little concerned that we might pull a hamstring and spend some time on injured reserve.  But he was somehow able to get K.C.’s blessing to let us run.  The race started in front of the Boston Garden.  It was a beautiful day, and I was surprised to see so many people show up for a 10K.  At that point I realized that we’re in a legitimate race.

We started out in the middle of the pack, with Louise setting a comfortable pace.  Most of the people were very respectful.  They would offer a kind word or wave as they passed us.  But as the race went on, we heard more than one person say “Hey, I’m passing Larry Bird!”, and I could tell that it was starting to bother Larry.  Finally, we’re one mile away from the finish line.  It’s downhill.  Larry said, “That’s it, nobody else is passing me.”  And off he went, hitting that last mile in a dead sprint.  For me, it was a chance to see the heart of a champion in an arena other than basketball.   I was able to fully experience Larry’s drive, and his will to win.  It was an incredible sight – although I’m not sure that K.C. would have been happy with Larry going all-out like that [laughs].

 

CELTIC-NATION
Kevin McHale was known as a big practical joker.  Were you ever on the receiving end of his pranks, and do you have any that stand out after all of these years?

SCOTT WEDMAN
I only drank bottled water, and Kevin claims that he poured it out on many occasions and replaced it with tap water.  He teased me about it many times back then, and still sticks to his story.



 

CELTIC-NATION
You were a two-time NBA All-Star.  Looking back, how does it feel to be recognized in such a way?

SCOTT WEDMAN
It was an honor to be recognized in that way, but I’m more proud of my selection to the All-Defensive second team.  Because of injury I was only able to play in one All-Star game, but it was a very rewarding experience.


 

CELTIC-NATION
Final Question:  You’ve achieved great success in your life.  You are universally respected and admired by many people, both inside and outside of the NBA.  If you could offer one piece of advice on life to others, what would that be?

SCOTT WEDMAN
Follow your heart.  It’s the surest way to realize true happiness in life.

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