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farmer john

Kevin McHale (1957-), Hall of Fame Celtics Power Forward (1980-1993) and NBA Coach (2005-2015)

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I don't think farmer john's point can be over-stressed: Johnson consistently had better teammates - I don't think McHale or Parish would have been McHale or Parish without Bird (we'll never know for sure about McHale because his career virtually overlapped Bird's), but I think the Lakers' studs would have been stars on any team, with the possible exception of borderline-star Mychal Thompson, who was much more effective at Portland when he was younger. Interesting side note: Did you know that Parish never made a single 3-point shot in his entire career?

I liked Mchale, (a 3rd pick like Michael Jordan).  Like all the Celtics he benefited by playing with Bird, but on his own he was a legitimate star, easily having the best post moves in the game to that period.  Nobody could cover Mchale.  Many of Bird's feeds to Mchale were from the wing or top to a Mchale with a defensive body behind him.  Bird would feed him high.  Mchale would take the poor defender through what he described as the "torture chamber" of fakes and more often than not score.  Charles Barkley called Mchale his toughest opponent.  In 87 having a year that was truly Bird-like in quality, he broke his foot and kept playing through the regular season and then through the NBA finals.  Besides talented he was tough.

If McHale had played on a different team he would've scored a LOT more points. (Not that that is a good thing - see Kevin Love.)

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 If McHale had played on a different team he would've scored a LOT more points. (Not that that is a good thing - see Kevin Love.)

It's interesting that McHale was only the Celtics' 3rd-leading rebounder, averaging 7.3 per game over his career - Parish averaged 9.1 (10.0 for the Celtics), and Bird averaged 10.0 - both McHale and Bird played their entire careers for the Celtics.

So who was the Celtics' leading rebounder per game? It was Bird, not Parish: Bird averaged 10.0045; Parish averaged 9.9919 - if Parish had gotten just 14 more rebounds during the 14 seasons he played for the Celtics, he would have been the per-game rebound leader for this front line. Yes, all he needed was 1 more rebound *per season*, and I guarantee Bird has reminded him of this little tidbit.

Note that this does not include the playoffs.

Trivia: In their first 2 years with the Boston Celtics (80-81, 81-82), the Bird-Parish-McHale front line averaged a combined 26.4 rebounds per game; in his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Warriors (59-60, 60-61), Wilt Chamberlain averaged 27.1. In their 3rd year (82-83), the trio averaged 56.3 points per game; in his 3rd year (61-62), Chamberlain averaged 50.4. Sometimes, the only way to viscerally understand Chamberlain's numbers is to put them in this type of context - it's the same thing with Ty Cobb.

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Farmer John liked Worthy.  I liked Mchale.  They were sort of the ying and yang of talented forwards; Worthy the fastest, quickest, soaringest, dunkingest forward in the game at that time (excepting the human highlight film) and Mchale, the Herman Munsterish most player ever, who couldn't be defended.  Mchale, on a worse team with worse scorers would have easily been a league scoring "leader" every year.  On the Celtics he shared in the scoring duties, and also spent a lot of time as a 6th man.

On the Celtic rebounding side the 3 big guys (plus Walton in '86) could easily spread around the rebounding "totals".  Its teamwork.   Sometimes there is someone who is a rebounding "freak" like Dennis Rodman, or in this day and age, the offensive rebounder for Cleveland.  If not, a big team like the Celtics were could dominate the boards and still spread it around.

I got to see a good bit of games in the 80's with packages to Bullets games. So much talent in those days.  I found different players mesmerizing and effective all in different ways.  Mchale was one of them with his "torture chamber" of moves, Barkley in his earliest days, getting a defensive rebound then sprinting toward the other side, with more speed/and power than any human imaginable  a freaking human runaway train.  Another player that was unbelievable was the "Boston Strangler" Andrew Toney before he got injured.

He could shoot, he could drive, he couldn't be stopped...except by injury:

And then later in the 80's there was Jordan.

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