On the front page of The New York Times’ Sports Monday, Bob McAdoo found out he’d been traded to his least favorite city. The Knicks never called him to reveal they shipped him to the Celtics for three picks in 1979. Michael Ray Richardson stopped by his house to let him know.
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“I didn’t want to go to Boston because I was hated in Boston and hated Boston myself,” he told Cedric Maxwell and Michael Cooper on Cooper’s Showtime Podcast on CLNS Media.
McAdoo watched Boston bussing riots, the Soiling of Old Glory photo where white rioters charged a black man with an American flag spear and heard Bill Russell’s disdain with the city from the 1960s. As far as he knew, Boston was the most racist city in America.
Cedric Maxwell told a slightly different story. One of universal disdain for his people in those times, whether in his native North Carolina or in Los Angeles, where policemen approached him about stolen rental vehicles.
“I don’t see Boston being any more racist than it was in LA,” Maxwell said.
McAdoo and Maxwell came up playing in epic battles with the state’s best players that prepared them for the next level. It was also a time of changing dynamics, as NC schools integrated and white schools pulled players away from black powerhouses.
Dave Cowens played him steadily for 20 games in Boston, though less than the Knicks had, until a 29-53 finish ushered in Bill Fitch, Larry Bird and a new direction. Boston would flip the picks as part of a larger plan that yielded them Kevin McHale, Robert Parish while the mastermind on Detroit’s end, none other than Dick Vitale, would soon be doing TV.
McAdoo also discussed the praise Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offered him and their mutual respect, the roots that he and Maxwell share in the NC basketball scene and how much the three point shot would have helped his scoring average.
“Up top, me and Coop we used to play horse and stuff, he was better than me at the top,” McAdoo said. “The corners I can hit. I got to believe that would’ve put another 3-4 points on my average. My best year I averaged 35, I might’ve averaged 38-40 points per game.”