Gone but not forgotten. No, not the Celtics, silly. Why, it's M.L. Carr. The former Celtic towel-waver supreme may not be a player any more, but he still shows flashes of being a pretty good talker.
Have a question? Ask M.L. All right, then, now that the Lakers are up, 2-0, in the championship finals, what's going to happen to that old Gang Green?
"I expect them to jump all over those freaks when they get to Boston," said Carr.
Freaks? The Lakers?
Carr, who has a chemical company in Boston, obviously knows something about combustible material.
Yes, and it seems clear after the Lakers completed consecutive mash jobs with a 141-122 victory Thursday night at the Forum that the Celtics have a pretty hot little number on their hands.
It is No. 33 and it belongs to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Boston center Robert Parish, who also belongs to Abdul-Jabbar, at least so far, was asked if what he is doing to Abdul-Jabbar is effective.
"It doesn't seem to be," Parish said.
Parish shouldn't talk like that. He probably had the best game of any Celtic with 14 rebounds and 17 points. No, make that the best first half, which is when he had 10 of his rebounds. After a quick start, though, Parish tailed off, and Abdul-Jabbar kept plugging away.
The Laker center finished with 23 points. He made 10 of 14 shots and although only a small number of them were hooks, they all came near the hoop.
From this distance, of course, Kareem is a basket case.
So standing in the Laker locker room afterwards, it was an expansive Abdul-Jabbar who addressed the media, a pair of sunglasses, not goggles, hanging from his neck by a cord.
And are the Celtics now hanging on by a thread?
"So far, they haven't been in it," Abdul-Jabbar said. "But that doesn't mean they are going to let down. Will we sweep? It's only possible for us to do it. Ask me after Game 3."
Meanwhile, Parish thought about whether the Celtics can play four quarters like they did the first one Thursday night.
"We plan to," he said. "We started off great. Then we fizzled."
So consider the sizzle instead. Maybe there is nothing like playing against a matchup who has a bad ankle, to make a 40-year-old center feel like he could play forever, or at least until the Social Security checks start rolling in.
"At this time of year, you do feel like you can play for a long time," Abdul-Jabbar said. "But in January or February, you wish you were selling insurance."
Whatever the Celtics were selling in Game 2, the Lakers weren't buying any. Boston shot 54.8%, the Lakers shot 61.5%. Boston had 43 rebounds, the Lakers had 10 fewer, and the Celtics \o7 still \f7 lost by 19.
This is the kind of production that inspired some of the 17,505 fans in the Forum to chant "Sweep, sweep, sweep." Parish said he couldn't blame any of them.
"I know I'd be saying the same thing if we were up two," he said.
The center matchup between Abdul-Jabbar and Parish remains one of the most interesting in the series. In two games, Abdul-Jabbar has the edge on Parish, probably by about two feet.
Abdul-Jabbar is not known as a runner any more than Jerry Buss is known as a monk. But Abdul-Jabbar has been more active running the court than Parish, whose sore ankle has limited him to something less than jack-rabbit speed.
"He's not known as a runner, but he's picking his spots pretty well," Parish said. "Look, they are all running on all cylinders. Since we really haven't been rebounding well, we haven't been running. We can't have the luxury of getting out on the break because we need everybody on the boards."
The Lakers obviously didn't need Abdul-Jabbar on the boards Thursday night.
Neither is the sky hook much of a factor, due principally to the fact that Boston likes to double-team Abdul-Jabbar when he has the ball down low. The Kareem offense consists of quick spin moves to the hoop, maybe a lean-in or two and a few tips, but whatever it is, it's working.
"We're not trying to post him up on the strong side as much," Laker Coach Pat Riley said. "If all he gets are layups and post moves, that's OK."
Miss the sky hook, though? Abdul-Jabbar really doesn't.
"We go through phases, but I won't get it a lot when they're doubling me," Abdul-Jabbar said.
"I think I'm playing well. Against Robert, I have to put pressure on him, get up on him on his turnaround jumpers without really fouling him. We just have to keep the opponents guessing."
As long as the Lakers keep on going, Abdul-Jabbar doesn't miss the points.
"I've gotten enough of them," he said.
And have the Celtics gotten enough of Abdul-Jabbar? Him and ever other Laker, said Parish, who wasn't sure whether a return to Boston Garden will make much of a difference.
"If you're not playing well, it doesn't matter where you are," he said. "And right now, we're not playing very well."