Will Red Auerbach choke on his cigar if the Boston Celtics don't reach the National Basketball Assn. Finals for the fifth straight year?
The Celtics haven't appeared so vulnerable since Larry Bird joined the team in 1979.
The Celtics lost their NBA title to the Lakers last June, and this could be the season they lose their stranglehold on the Eastern Conference.
All-Star forward Kevin McHale, who limped through the playoffs, will be out until January after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. McHale led the NBA in field goal percentage last season and finished sixth in scoring.
And oft-injured center Bill Walton, 34, who spent the summer on tour with his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, will have even more free time to follow them. Walton will miss the season after undergoing surgery on his right foot last June.