And now, ladies and gentlemen, presenting the Arnold Awards, given for dubious or unsung achievement during the National Basketball Assn. championship series.
The awards are named in honor of Arnold (Beet Red) Auerbach, in recognition of his continuing efforts to remind us that under all the seriousness, basketball is merely a life-and-death game.
Best Poet. To Clifford Ray, former NBA center. After watching the home team blitz the Boston Celtics in the first two games at the Forum, Ray told the Laker story in three words: "Legs, legs, legs."
Unfortunately, I missed Ray's description of the Laker Girls.
Catch a Rising Star. Celtic backup center Greg Kite was the hero of Game 3 when he spelled Robert Parish and held Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at bay. Kite also held himself at bay, scoring zero points, but what the heck.
That Sunday was declared national Kite Day, since golfer Tom (Don't Call Me Greg) Kite won the Kemper Open. Statisticians noted that Tom sank 18 more shots than Greg that afternoon.
Unsung Shot. The biggest shot of the finals was Magic Johnson's game-winning junior, junior, junior skyhook in Game 4. However, making it all possible was Michael Cooper's three-point bomb 90 seconds earlier.
The Lakers were trailing by six when Cooper double-teamed Parish and stole the ball. At the other end, Michael hit the bomb. He was 14 for 23 from the three-point line in the series, a stat that points out an obvious fault in his game: Shot selection. Cooper takes far too many low-percentage slam-dunks.
In His Face Award. Laker reserve and chief cheerleader Wes Matthews blew a wide-open dunk in Game 3. A couple of days later, walking through the Boston hotel lobby, Matthews was stopped by a very young autograph seeker.
A bystander figured the kid had no idea whose signature he was collecting. But as Wes signed, the lad said in stern tones, "Now don't you go missing any more dunks!"
Master Blaster. Boston Garden national anthem singer Guy Rotondo sang splendidly before Games 3, 4 and 5. Unlike some Forum singers we could mention, he even remembered all the words.
However, Rotondo could not be persuaded to sing even one chorus of "I Love L.A."
Toastmaster Award. Whatever Pat Riley said at halftime Sunday was effective. As Mychal Thompson said of Riley's locker-room oratory, "He gives better speeches than Patton."
I assume Thompson was referring to General George, not Dick Van.
OK, Now Wheel in the Palm Trees Award. In an attempt to ward off heat fatigue, the Lakers equipped their Boston Garden dressing room with two portable air conditioners.
Garden officials protested, fearing a power overload that would black out the entire arena, if not all of Boston. One rumor is that a compromise was reached. The cooling units could stay, but Pat Riley's hair dryer would have to go.
Rabbit Award. In any big race you need a rabbit, one runner to go out fast and set a torrid pace, sacrificing himself for the good of the event.
The Lakers had Kareem. He can't sprint for 40 minutes a night, but his spirited play early in the games was instrumental in jump-starting the Lakers' running game. In the first quarters of Games 2 and 6, for instance, Kareem scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.
He was also the series leader in blocked shots with 15, and 15 of his 44 rebounds were on the offensive board.
Maljudgment Award. To the Celtic medical staff, front office and coaching staff, for allowing Kevin McHale to play on a broken foot.
McHale is one of the three or four most valuable pieces of property in the NBA. To allow him to play when one team doctor stated flatly that McHale was risking much greater injury, was criminal.
But the Celtics probably want a second opinion. OK, it was heartless, too.
Find the Flub Award. Can anyone remember Magic Johnson's missed free throw? He was 24 for 25.
Answer: It was in the first quarter of Game 4.
He made amends three quarters later with his game-winning hook.
Class Award. Co-winners Pat Riley and K. C. Jones chose not to make fools of themselves on the sidelines with silly tantrums and other cheap theatrics.
They didn't throw clothing, furniture or small ballboys onto the court. They didn't chew tobacco and drool it onto their shirt fronts. They didn't jump up and down and make funny faces. For this, a grateful nation gives thanks.
Unsung Hero, Unless You Count His Own Singing. Arnold (Beet Red) Auerbach's obscene tirade at referee Earl Strom after Game 4 was shocking and embarrassing.
However . . . Arnold took credit for the Celtic victory in Game 5, explaining that his antics had been a clever psychological ploy to influence the officiating.
Right, Red. And your cigar is a cleverly camouflaged radio unit, receiving advanced basketball strategy from superior beings in another solar system.
Miracle Award. The Lakers turned Chanel No. 5 into Brut. Supposedly the pretty team, the Lakers initiated the only real fight of the series, and landed five punches, to zero for the Celtics.
The league simply must do something about the rampant thuggery and goonism of these L.A. bullies.
Death of a Salesman. Magic Johnson could have done wonders for Nerf stock. The night before Game 6, he competed in a Nerf basketball tournament at a local Mexican restaurant.
A good way to develop a soft shooting touch? In the first half of Game 6, Magic was 2 for 10.
Theme award. To Magic again. When asked about the team's hopes of repeating next year, he said: "I'm not going to worry about next year. I'm going to party \o7 al-l-l-l\f7 summer."
Why the heck not? Training camp doesn't roll around for another week or two.