Cedric Maxwell played in two NBA Finals during his eight seasons with the Boston Celtics. He was the MVP of the 1981 series against the Houston Rockets. In 1984, he told his teammates to jump on his back in Game 7 against the Lakers. In that game, he led the Celtics in scoring and guided them to their second championship of the decade.
During a conversation with former teammate Nate “Tiny” Archibald on the Cedric Maxwell Podcast, Mawell spoke about some of the biggest games and series he’s been a part of. Surprisingly, when it came to the greatest series he’s been involved with, it didn’t include either of his Finals appearances.
Cedric Maxwell always rose to the occasion with the Boston Celtics
The bigger the game, the better Max was. On a team full of stars, he shined the brightest when the stakes were at their highest. While most people think of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish as the core of the Celtics, Maxwell did all the things the Big Three did. The year before Bird came to town, Max averaged a double-double for the season with 19.0 points and 9.9 rebounds.
When Parish and McHale came over in a trade for the 1980-81 season, the Celtics earned a berth in the NBA Finals. They faced the Houston Rockets. Maxwell was named the MVP of the series.
In the 1984 Finals, the Celtics struggled. The Lakers completely outplayed Boston, but a Gerald Henderson steal late in Game 2 helped the Celtics salvage an overtime victory at home to even the series.
Kevin McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis in Game 4 to spark a momentum shift that enabled the Celtics to pull out another overtime win. After the teams split Games 5 and 6, it was winner take all in Boston for Game 7.
Before the game, he told his teammates to get on his back, and he took charge. He finished with a team-high 24 points in a 111-102 victory.
Cedric Maxwell revealed the greatest series he ever played in
Maxwell and Archibald reminisced about their playing careers and how the game has changed over the years. Max then jumped in and spoke about the best series he’s ever played in.
“I laugh when I think about the greatest series that I’ve ever played in,” he said on the Cedric Maxwell Podcast. “It wasn’t a championship series, but it had to be that Philadelphia/Boston 1981. Those were wars, man. They were wars.”
“It was always a war against us and Philadelphia,” he said. “Think about it now, the team that won would be in the championship game against either LA or Houston. I always tell people the war was Philadelphia.”
“I remember we played an exhibition game against Philly,” Maxwell said. “Want to say we played in Knoxville, Tennessee. After the game was over, no places were open to eat except the hotel. Well, we got there early to eat. What I remember was Philly walking in, and they were like hell no, we ain’t eating, and they left.
“That’s how vicious it was back in the ’80s. Teams did not like each other.”
The Celtics and 76ers meetings got heated — even in preseason
During a 1983 preseason meeting between the Celtics and 76ers at the Boston Garden, things heated up quickly. Early in the contest, Bird and two other players were ejected for fighting.
Things were so crazy in that game that Celtics president Red Auerbach went on the court during the melee and challenged Moses Malone.
“Hit me, you big SOB,” Auerbach said to Malone, according to United Press International. “Go ahead. I’m not big. Hit me you SOB.”
Back then, Maxwell knew those rivalry games with Philadelphia were as intense as any.
“I thought it might be the first game in NBA history to be called because of violence,” said Maxwell, per UPI. “With our two teams, it’s possible for anything to happen once we step onto the floor.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if something happens in warmups one day.”