Cedric Maxwell – In his words

Cedric Maxwell admits, more than once, that he had to put a size 15 in his mouth. Whether it was the times when he was right, saying 2008-09 the Celtics couldn’t win a championship without Kevin Garnett on the radio before getting a call from Wyc Grousbeck sarcastically that the team might need a new announcer, or when he’s wrong, rude remarks about Female referee on the air. He rarely avoids talking about his opinion or acknowledging past mistakes. Max shows it all in his new autobiography.

If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Boston Celtics Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box by Cedric Maxwell and Mike Eisenberg are now available on Amazon and wherever books are sold

This made him an indispensable basketball figure for the Celtics since 1977 as a player and announcer. “If these walls could speak” He recounts Maxwell’s journey from Kinston, North Carolina to the 2008 Boston Championship call-up, discussing everything from his college days, trade to the Clippers and post-Celtics, and Rick Pettino’s days and apologies to Reed Auerbach who brought him back to the organization, all in Max’s unfiltered voice.

This last among Max Moments That makes the story of his life historical, fascinating and hilarious. Maxwell and co-author Mike Eisenberg focused the book around the lingering questions about his departure from the Celtics in 1985 after a knee injury due to trade and how he felt his colleagues were being criticized on their way out – Larry Bird in particular going so far as to accuse Maxwell of resigning – and to what extent he was not His return and his standing around the organization likely gave off those bad vibes. Who would have imagined that Bird would be with the Pacers longer than the Celtics and Max is still here?

Max put his ego aside, in response to the strange request to apologize to Red in Washington as a prerequisite for taking on the broadcast job. He drew parallels with the rift between Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, whom Max has tried through his relationships and podcast to reunite. The Celtics should retire #20 – he argues – just as Grousbeck and the ownership decide Max’s to retire.

Lighter moments make Max who he is who fills the book along with earnestness: Max bounced off his seat before Wes Unselde changed his mind about being released on his last legs with several years guaranteed in his contract to end his career after intense pre-cause practices; Max tells the mourners at Dennis Johnson’s funeral that he looks down grateful that they did not choose Bill Walton to speak; Max and a player walking around the locker room explode during his short training period.

The serious side of Max’s legacy should appeal to die-hard fans or those, like me, who are looking to learn more about an era they didn’t live in. Max stood legitimately between the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kevin McHale, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bob McAdoo and outdone them when he took charge in the late 1984 finals. He took a conciliatory nod to McHale, his friend, for getting past him in the mid-’80s, but he rightly emphasizes That Boston has something closer to the Big Four than the Big Three.

Max has talked about his trading from Boston before. Much of this book is spent explaining his side of the story, from the acute pain he felt in his knee in hospital to the random physical results the Celtics had back in the day and how he thinks his upbeat behavior made his teammates think he wasn’t. It really hurts. In terms of his role with the team, he would have been more than happy to have the back seat that Walton did later from the Boston bench.

Instead, Walton joined the “greatest team ever” and shipped Maxwell to Los Angeles, which, as Max reminds readers, required him to head west and prove he was healthy, which took several months to accomplish. Barely quitting, he made sure that the 1986 Celtics Championship was possible.

Fan tales of Max’s combative Philadelphia may be familiar to most Celtics fans, but his adventures in Los Angeles and Houston may be news. There was Max’s backstory at a Hollywood party, Benoit Benjamin wanted to challenge Karim to a one-on-one showdown and the delay prompted his coach Don Chaney to nearly fight Benjamin. Max caught “bird flu” from chicken wings before his first game in Boston. Then, a deal on the missiles he got.

“Did you want to go out?” He answered the call. “We were 5-31!”

Max later returns to Boston Garden to celebrate Bird’s retirement with a coin he can’t recognize, causing the audience to laugh and an apparent glow on the microphone. One way Max explained that he needed to work with a speech therapist to translate it into an on-air role. He later told Red “It’s damn time” When Max throws his own retirement party.

More personal moments like family stories, fatherhood, skipping Barack Obama’s iconic 2004 speech in Boston, his partnership with Sean Grande and dating Gayle King show Max could double the size of this book of stories. Keep reading and laughing all the way through.

If you’ve been listening to Celtics podcasts, this is how you got to know Max at his side CLNS media Podcast, you quickly learn it’s one voice. From the way defenders instructed to “pop, pop, popcorn” describe offensive players “using the body,” to some of the colorful language presented in the book.

Max’s look at his life keeps that sound and gives someone like me a look at the NBA in the ’80s which is hard for me to imagine without seeing and experiencing it in person. Physique, personalities and the role of the league that was on the tape delay in an American institution. Max lived it. Sometimes, he would drive it.

Readers outside of Boston may be surprised by what has become a huge media personality and alumnus, and other legends like Joe Joe White, John Havlichk, Tommy Heinson, Sam and KC Jones have all given up on them in recent years, with no more Celtics fans like me. I watched them play. Max suddenly seemed like the guy who had been around the team the longest and most to say. Talking was never his problem, even if he needed to quickly put a size 15 in his mouth right after.

Reply