The 1985-86 Boston Celtics boasted one of the strongest, deepest frontcourts in NBA history, thanks to a daring trade that united the game's best passing center with its best passing forward. Acquiring Bill Walton from the Clippers in exchange for Cedric Maxwell was a gutsy move. For all his passing skills and brilliant all-around game, Walton usually was injured -- he had never played more than 67 games in any of his 11 pro seasons, and he had missed three full seasons due to injury.
1985-86 SEASON RESULTS
Celtics 3, Bulls 0
Celtics 4, Hawks 1
Celtics 4, Bucks 0
Celtics 4, Rockets 2
1985-86 Celtics: Play
But Celtics President Red Auerbach recognized that the upside overshadowed the risk, and that Walton's versatility could strengthen the Celtics in so many ways. He gave them a first-class center that enabled Head Coach K.C. Jones to give Robert Parish the rest he needed, and his emphasis on passing and team play helped him mesh well with the Celtics' talented scorers. Plus he knew how to win, having done so at UCLA and with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The acquisition of Walton, like that of versatile, team-oriented guard Dennis Johnson two years earlier, seemed to bring out the best in Larry Bird, the ultimate team-first player. Walton's great passing skills enhanced those of Bird, and when they were on the court together the ball would move from player to player with speed and precision till an open shooter was found. Bird enjoyed one of his finest seasons, ranking among the league leaders in five categories-fourth in scoring (25.8 ppg), seventh in rebounding (9.8 rpg), ninth in steals (2.02 spg), first in free throw percentage (.896) and fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.423). For good measure, he led the Celtics in assists at 6.8 apg. The result was a third consecutive Most Valuable Player award, putting Bird alongs...