Cedric Maxwell Rewatches the 1984 NBA Finals and Stresses the Difference Between ’80s Basketball and Today’s Game
Cedric Maxwell played a key role in the Boston Celtics bringing home a championship in 1984. He famously told his teammates to jump on his back in a winner-take-all Game 7, and he came through. Maxwell led the team in scoring with 24 points while adding eight rebounds and eight assists in a 111-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Maxwell recently rewatched the 1984 NBA Finals, analyzing many of the key moments of the series. He also had a message for some of the younger folks about the difference between those ’80s days and today’s game.
Cedric Maxwell came up big when it counted most
Cedric Maxwell might be the most underrated Boston Celtics player from the early 1980s. Before Larry Bird came to town as a rookie for the 1979-80 season, Maxwell put up some serious numbers. The 6-foot-8 forward out of UNC Charlotte averaged 19.0 points and 9.9 rebounds during the 1978-79 season, his second in the NBA. He also led the NBA in field-goal percentage for the first of two straight years.
Maxwell understandably took a back seat to Bird, but he still averaged 16.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in Bird’s rookie season. The following year, the Celtics made a franchise-altering trade with the Golden State Warriors.
Because of a previous trade with the Detroit Pistons, the Celtics held the top pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. They packaged that pick and the No. 13 selection to the Warriors. In return, the Celtics received veteran center Robert Parish and the third overall pick. With that pick, Boston selected Kevin McHale.
Maxwell certainly made some statistical sacrifices with Bird, McHale, and Parish around. In the first year of Boston’s new Big Three, the Celtics won the NBA championship, but it was Maxwell who was named MVP of the 1981 NBA Finals.
He also came up big in the aforementioned 1984 NBA Finals, leading the way in a deciding Game 7. Maxwell spent eight seasons with the Celtics before being traded to the LA Clippers before the 1985-86 season.
Maxwell points out the difference between his era and today’s NBA
Maxwell recently rewatched the 1984 NBA Finals with YouTubers Mike Korzemba and Jarron Ramos in a video posted by the NBA and streamed in June 2023. He analyzed many of the key moments, explaining why certain things were done.
He also showed young viewers today what basketball was about back then.
The ’84 NBA Finals were heated. The most intense moment came when Kevin McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis in Game 4. Moments later, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar elbowed Larry Bird, who got right in the Lakers center’s face, stopping play once again.
“I love this,” Maxwell said with excitement as he watched Bird head toward Abdul-Jabbar. “Oh, my God. Yes. Larry jumped back up in his face. Oh yeah. It’s getting heated.”
Fights and hard fouls were the norm back then. Just ask Maxwell.
“You would’ve thrown Kareem out of this game (in today’s NBA),” said Max. “He’d have been thrown out for the elbow. Kevin McHale would’ve been out of the game. If you put this game on now and made some of these guys who are in the NBA now watch, they’d go, ‘Oh, my God.’
“My guy Rick Mahorn fouled me. It was a Flagrant 6, not a Flagrant 2. He hit me in the head, and then he just stood over me. Guys now complain when they get grabbed, when they get hit. This was — and I’ll use this in a polite way — this was grown-ass-man basketball.”