“DJ to Bird!”
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 23, 2007
“DJ ta Buhrrrd!”. DJ to Bird is part of what you still hear today if you were one of the lucky ones. One of those who sat and stood and leaped to your feet and pumped your fist and watched and lived and died with those teams from the mid-80s. And only if you can still hear Johnny Most’s voice, like it was just last night, the voice that always spoke the words that were the truth.
“DJ’s at the top of the circle, dribbling, looking, guarded by Nixon . . .”
For the past fifteen years, at every NTL Weekend Camp and at every NTL Weekly Clinic, we have taught going backdoor from the block when your defender jumps out early on the downscreen, hoping to beat you to the spot where you’ll drop your deadly jumper. Just last Thursday, at Matignon HS in No. Camridge, MA, for instance, we drilled that.
“Bird’s on the baseline fronted by Cooper and Worthy . . . ”
We instruct that the point guard zip a “one-handed off the dribble pass” to the cutter who, face-guarded, fakes a run to the corner and, cutting back, finds himself open under the hoop. And, after that fastball of a one-handed pass, we always say, “DJ to Bird”. Because that’s what it is: DJ to Bird.
“Worthy’s got ahold of Bird’s jersey . . . ”
DJ came to the Celts in a trade for Bird’s best friend on the team, Rick Robey. The paper’s are saying today that he was brought in to stop Magic Johnson, but I remember it being to stop Andrew Toney; there was no getting to the Lakers without getting by the Sixers. His previous coach with Seattle, Lenny Wilkens, dubbed him “a cancer”. (How did he really feel?) The Celtics trusted him, knew his hungry heart; Johnny Most spoke no ill of him or of any other Celtic. Ever.
“Bird starts to the corner, he’s got three defenders all over him, cuts back under the hoop . . . ”
I remember Bob Ryan once writing in The Boston Globe (in the definitive DJ piece) that DJ won the 1979 championship by dominating the finals’ series defensively FROM THE BACKCOURT! That was unheard of and spoke to the strength and uniqueness of his abilities. Yeah, maybe he couldn’t win any shooting contests, but he was the one guy who could, when Bird was wearing Cooper and Mychal Thompson was smothering McHale, he was the one guy who could grind it out to the hoop and get the toughest bucket. DJ was toughness and competitiveness and an absolute true hero to the true believer Celtic fans. Everyone needs someone you can count on, right?; we could count on DJ.
“DJ to Bird who lays it in!!!”
I can’t tell whether I feel like that was just yesterday or, now with DJ’s passing, impossibly long ago.