Celtic guard Eddie House and former Celtic great, 1981 Finals’ MVP Cedric Maxwell took time out to talk to Earl K. Sneed about Celtic basketball past and present, before the Celtics and RE/ MAX of New England’s “Home Court Makeover” Event, where the two presented the Bernard family of Warwick, RI with a new driveway court, complete with a scoreboard, ball rack and Celtics-themed merchandise.
House also played the family in a game of HORSE, before the two also held a basketball clinic at the Boys & Girls Club of Warwick, teaching 100 Warwick kids the fundamentals of the game.
SLAM: Eddie, how has the offseason been different now that you are a World Champion?
Eddie House: It’s been short, very short. I haven’t had an offseason.
SLAM: What’s it like now to represent the Celtics not just as a player, but as a World Champion?
Eddie House: Very pride, man. To go out and represent the organization as a champion and to know that no one else can say that this season, it’s special.
SLAM: Ced, what does it mean now to represent the Celtic organization, compared to when you played?
Cedric Maxwell: I think it is something that has come full circle in a sense. When I first got into the league, we were a loose team with Larry Bird, now you look at what’s happen with Kevin Garnett’s team. And with Kevin Garnett they end up winning a championship, so it goes hand and hand if you compare the two. It’s just nice to have the respect back (with the franchise) after winning a championship.”
SLAM: Ced, after winning the Finals’ MVP in 1981, how would you compare this team to the teams of your generation?
Cedric Maxwell: We’d kick these guys a**es, man. I mean, we had about four or five guys who were hall-of-famers, man. I think these guys are more gifted, but from a basketball IQ level, it’s no comparison.
SLAM: Ced, what does this Celtic squad share with your generation’s teams that made each team great?
Cedric Maxwell: I think what they did, that no recent team has done before is the ability to defend like no team has. I mean, we had defensive guys like Robert Parrish, DJ and Kevin McHale. Now you see, Paul Pierce playing against Kobe Bryant, and having good defensive games, and I mean, Kevin Garnett was the Defensive Player of the Year, so I think this team separates itself defensively.
SLAM: Eddie, how will this team switch from being the Hunters to the Hunted, when you are going out trying to repeat knowing that you are going to get every team’s best effort on each and every night?
Eddie House: I think we were the hunted last year. I don’t think that just because we won the championship we became the hunted. I think with the way we started the season off strong and kept it up, showing everyone that we were for real, we were already getting everyone’s best last year. I think everybody is going to take it up another level, with us trying to be the team that we want to be moving forward, but I think we’ll be ready for that though. I think those are the types of challenges that we have to reach and excel in for us to reach our goal.”
SLAM: Ced, do you think these guys can repeat?
Cedric Maxwell: That’s hard to say. It will be interesting to see. I think they are going to have to replace what James Posey brought to the team. I mean, Tony Allen is a good defensive player but does he have the jump shot of a James Posey? It will be interesting to see how they replace Posey.
SLAM: What is this team going to have to overcome, now that James Posey is gone, to get back to the Championship?
Eddie House: I think we are losing a guy that could just do a lot of things. He could play the 2, the 3, and sometimes the 4. He was a great help defender, and on offense he really stretched out the defense. I think we are just going to have to have everybody step up. I think the guys that have been waiting for their opportunity, that may not have gotten the opportunity last year, this year they are just going to have to take advantage of it.
SLAM: Ced, what do you think this team has done differently to bring the Celtic faces of the past back around?
Cedric Maxwell: It’s the pride, man. Jo Jo White was the first one to tell me about the green. He’d say “The green does this, and the green does that,” and now these guys are finding out about the green for themselves. And I think these guys are making us want to come back and talk about the green again, and talk about the pride.
SLAM: Eddie, do you think this team can remain the “ultimate team” like you were last season?
Eddie House: Yeah, I think we can. I think guys just have to step up that are going to get opportunities, because there are going to be a lot of opportunities to get on the floor. Guys are going to just have to make their minutes count as best as possible.
SLAM: You’ve played against members of the Redeem Team, do you think they can win the gold?
Eddie House: I haven’t paid that much attention to them. I actually just saw my first game of them the other day, and that’s only because it was on when I was getting my hair cut in the barbershop. I have been trying to get as far away from basketball as possible, in fact I just got back in the gym, but from what I saw they look like they are playing well, and I hope they bring home the gold.
SLAM: What do you think about NBA players leaving the states to play in Europe?
Eddie House: You can’t be made at that. If somebody is willing to pay you twice as much money, maybe three times as much, to play overseas, well sh**, you have to go. It is a business, so if you have an opportunity to make double the money that you make, then you have to do it. It’s like with you guys, if somebody offered you twice as much to write for another magazine, you ain’t going to be able to tell them no.
SLAM: What do you have to do personally to help your team get back to the championship?
Eddie House: I have to improve on what I did last year. Just be better than I was last year, that’s just my main focus. In every aspect, be a better ball-handler, b e a better defender, and see the game better. Just be better in all aspects.