Picture the Boston Celtics with Pete Maravich at guard and Larry Bird at forward. Picture the Celts rising from the ashes next year. Bet your boots boss Red Auerbach is thinking along those lines.
Maravich, finally frustrated enough to want out of New Orleans, is on the NBA trade block. Eight clubs are in the bidding, and the Celts -- whose Jo Jo White has been bucking to be traded for some time -- are in the forefront. The Maravich deal could break any day now, letting the Jazz unload the knee-braced ace and the 3 1/2 years left on his big, big contract while maybe even getting N'Orleans forward Truck Robinson out of the mood to be traded, too, as he has wished aloud in the past because of the club's "special treatment" of Maravich.
Celtic owner John Y. Brown qualifies: "I'm aware that Red has always been fond of him, but I'm also aware of Maravich's contract." Meanwhile, Auerbach finds Bird-watching at Indiana State pure pleasure.
The Celts drafted Bird No. 1 last year as a junior and are enjoying a winter of anticipation, avowedly not unhappy that the 6-foot-7 All-America opted to play his senior year at Indiana State before going pro. The NCAA Division I statistics just out show Bird the only player among the top five in both scoring and rebounding -- No. 1 in scoring, 33.3; No. 4 in 'bounding, 14.6; but that's not all. Auerbach beams, after a visit to Terre Haute to watch Bird against Tulsa (27 points, 19 rebounds, six assists): "I don't think there is any forward in the pros now who can pass any better than he can. In fact, he's the best passing big man I ever saw."