Sen. Edward Kennedy dropped over with a Senate resolution of praise and a vow to be around next year to honor Celtics championship No. 15; Massachusetts neighbor Tip O'Neill brought a picture of the Capitol. Bill Russell showed up, unsolicited and unscheduled. John Thompson and Abe Pollin sang praises. So did Morgan Wootten, Joe Gallagher, Jim Kehoe, Bob Faris and more.

But perhaps the biggest tribute to Red Auerbach at the Touchdown Club testimonial luncheon yesterday for Washington's own molder of the Boston pro basketball dynasty came from Adrian Dantley, the NBA scoring champ. Dantley, traded three times his first three years before settling in at Utah the past two, plaintively lobbied before 350 sardined witnesses for Auerbach to make a trade "this summer" to make fellow Washingtonian A.D. a Celtic.

Auerbach, reveling in his 14th NBA title as coach and/or general manager, noted that at one time he did try to deal for Dantley "but it didn't work out," and tossed a hint -- or was it? -- that there may yet be at least a ghost of a chance. Couldn't talk about such things, he said; the NBA tampering rules.

There was some banter about Auerbach, through the years, having "traded owners," and Bullets owner Pollin, kidding "Why not me?", said seriously that he "came awfully close to hiring Red" for Washington a few years ago.