"I think we played hard.  But it was a lackadaisical hard." -Otis Birdsong explains a loss
When Larry Bird was injured for most of the 1989 season, I had little doubt that Otis Birdsong would step in and play some valuable minutes.  Bird was limited to only 6 games that season and when Birdsong was brought in, I didn't think the Celts would miss a beat.  Ok I'm obviously joking.  But when they acquired the former 4 time All Star I was somewhat optimistic.

Birdsong only wound up playing 13 games that year for Boston and was actually on the playoff team that got swept in the first round by the Pistons.  In looking at his stats he did have a fairly productive career with both the Kansas City Kings and the New Jersey Nets.  Boston was his last stop before retiring.

I remember the great Zander Hollander from his 1987 Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball had this to say about Otis (while playing for the Nets) in regards to his poor FT shooting:

Has a house with a 30 foot living room ceiling in Upper Saddle River, NJ. You'd think he would've put up a basket to practice his free throw shooting.

I really never understood that when guards, especially ones who were as prolific offensive players as Birdsong, struggled so mightily at the free throw stripe.

Otis challenging Dumars on the break
However becoming older obviously makes some people bitter.  I respect the older players who call it like it is, and give credit to younger stars in the league.  Sure not all deserve it but some do.  What we don't need is a comment like this from Birdsong back in 2005:

Q. What about today's stars?
A. I look at some of the guys they call superstars and All-Stars, and I just laugh. Give me a break. You know what makes 'em a superstar? ESPN, TNT, TBS . . . they play on TV every day, and just because you're on TV, you're a superstar. It's sort of like a soap opera. People look at these guys all the time, and in their mind, they've got to be great because they play on TV all the time.

Well that certainly sounds bitter to me.  Sounds like one of those guys who's upset he didn't play today because of how much more money he'd have made.  The last information I could find was that Birdsong was in the front office for the Arkansas Rim Rockers, a team that is now defunct.

Lastly if you want, you can email him if you have a LinkedIn account.  Maybe ask him how he feels that Chucky Atkins has pocketed over $32 million in his career.

tb727 11/23/2009 06:04:00 PM Edit
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29 Responses so far.

  1. JR says:

    The Chucky Atkins line was a great finish.

  2. Never heard of this guy but he's got a great last name.

  3. Bohemian says:

    Great article!

    Birdsong was in that pc game back in the 80's: "Celtics vs Lakers and the NBA playoffs". He wasn't able to make FT's in that game.

  4. tb727 says:

    Bohemian that's hysterical!

  5. Bohemian says:

    I have looked for pics of Otis as a Celtic and have found none. I found this link to his signing to the C's in 1989:

    "Hopefully, we'll sign him for the rest of the way," said Rodgers. "He's been in three or four games, and we've had a chance to look at him in practice, and so far, so good.

    "He's come in off the bench fluidly, as if he's warm. That's a very positive sign.

    "This is a good opportunity for Otis as well. He's back in the NBA, and he seems to be comfortable with ..."


  6. Bohemian says:

    And a pic at a game at the Garden (Larry Legend looks funny here :P):


  7. Bohemian says:

    The Otis Birdsong awards???? ;)

  8. tb727 says:

    You're obsessed Bohemian lol!

  9. Bohemian says:


    Check the Celtics roster at 0:10 :D

  10. JR says:

    So when does the WTHHT Bohemian come out? You know after he gets arrested for stalking Otis... lol. Bohemian is hilarious. Great find.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Otis Birdsong was the best basketball start to ever come from Winter Haven, Fl. He lead the highschool team to their first and only state championship. he was the first guard to make $1 million in the NBA

  12. Bohemian says:

    I found a Birdsong pic with the Celtics uniform lol:


  13. tb727 says:

    Omg LMAO! Consider it added Bohemian haha!

  14. tb727 says:

    Haha I used to buy shakes from here monthly!


  15. rob says:

    Sad to hear Birdsong sounding bitter, but he was (before his knee injuries that ruined his game and cut his career short...he had 5-6 healthy years, and then he was always rehabbing) one of the most beautiful shooting guards I've EVER seen. He shot as well as Andrew Toney (another GREAT guard whose career was cut too short by injuries)...one of the best mid-range games...could pull up off a dribble and kill you stepping into a 17-20 footer. He and Phil Ford made a great young back court in Kansas City until Ford became a cocaine addict (lot of that going around in the early 80's...David Thompson, Terry Furlow, John Lucas...Michael Ray Richardson...was a hard time to love a team, as people's games would FALL APART for what seemed like no reason...then, you find out years later, they hadn't 'd been high....and then they were out of the league)...What's a little weird is Birdsong was one of the GREAT pure shooters I've ever seen, but he didn't have 3-range...nor was he a good foul shooter. He was, actually a BAD FT shooter for a shooting guard. Often in the high 60's%

    But, Celtic's fans never got to see the REAL Otis Birdsong (of his years 2-5 in the league). What a fluid, great player. If the Celtics had him, rather than Ainge, they might have never lost. But, they had enough talent...I'll feel sorry for Otis, not C's fans :)

    But, from a life-long Knick Fan, I have to say this is a really fun page....Reading about various eras has me thinking of all the times the Celtics burned the Knicks...But not in '73 (It's been a while for us :)...I remember in the conference semis in 84, it was SO frustrating to see Bernard King CARRY the Knicks to 7 against such a good Celtics' team. Seriously, King was amazing...he'd averaged 40 in the Detroit series and pretty much stretched the Celtics to 7 by himself....with a lousy team around him...including a starting to go bad Ray Williams.

    Last thing. I used to wait tables and bartend at The Copley Plaza Marriot...I mention this because, at the time, ALL visiting teams stayed there.

    As did players on 10-day contracts...or players who'd been traded mid-season and didn't have a home. Joe Kline ate at the hotel every day after he and Pickney came to town for Ainge...Kline lived at the hotel the whole rest of the season...he used to make fun of me for being a Knick fan...I told him as least I wasn't the next Hank Finkle...and he didn't get it...until he came back from practice the next day (guess he asked one of the older people in the Franchise). He gave me shit, so I kept calling him the second coming of Henry Finkle....he took it well...he gave me a lot of shit, too...was friendly and funny and a big tipper. Too bad he couldn't play.

  16. rob says:

    Sorry...that should read "they HAD been high" about the players whose games just fell apart for no obvious reason in the early 80's. There were a BUNCH.

  17. tb727 says:

    Thanks for the comment Rob! The Joe Kleine story well, you probably should've left on the Joe Kleine page lol.

    And Kleine was totally Hank Finkel! Or was he more like this guy haha.

  18. rob says:

    Sorry about that...I just got rambling. Should have put it on the Kline page...ah, well. And it's my only Joe Kline story...not like I have a million of them.

    Funny thing about working at the Copley, though. I always used to read in Basketball Digest (what a great mag that was), growing up, all these theories why basketball has the largest home court/home field advantage of any pro sport. And if my time waiting tables/tending bar there was any indicator, it was because EVERY team (at LEAST half the players of each team) spent the night before the game as liquored up as sailers on shore leave...this was after the league had cracked down on cocaine (with the great Michael Ray Richardson getting banned, and Roy Tarpley's troubles and so on)...but, man, those guys drank...on a night when the Bullets came through, the only guy on their team who could stand and speak at the end of the night was Bernard King (who had famously quit booze and drugs when they almost ruined his career in the late 70's/early 80's).

    Seriously...every visiting team (at least in the mid to late 80's) were wasted beyond belief the day before the game. And they would trash the bar. Fuck up their rooms, from what the maids said. It was like the Rolling Stones or the Who had stumbled into town to play basketball against the Celtics.

    Fun, overheard moment from Butch Beard, who was then an assistant--or maybe head coach at this point--with the perpetually dreadful Nets (at least the NBA Nets...my dad had season tickets to the last two years of the Nets in the ABA...getting to see a young Julius Erving 40 times a year was a gift). And I'm bringin their coffee and a check, and the OTHER coach at the table starts a sentence with, "Well, the problem with that..."

    And Butch Beard cuts him off and says, "The problem with that is that this team sucks in every way a team can suck. And we're playing a real team. We don't have a snowball's chance in hell of beating the Celtics."

    Must have been a good pep talk that night in the locker room. "Yeah...so, guys...we suck. They don't. Go get 'em."

  19. rob says:

    OK, I'll stop after this...the ABA talk reminded me of a great potential WTTHT--

    Marvin Barnes.

    And, non-ABA related (actually, like Barnes,in that they had some fine years...or in Barnes' case one GREAT year and one very good one...but none of those good years came on the parquet):

    Sidney Wicks or Curtis Rowe? Wicks, especially...what potential. But not such a great career. I THINK he's still the only player in NBA history who played ten or more years and had his scoring average decline from the previous year EVERY year of his career. It's not easy to do. You have to start with a pretty high average, if you're going to have room to decline EVERY year. I think Wicks averaged 24 a game as a rookie...and it trickled down to 7 a game a decade later with the Clips.

    But before the Clips were his years of frustrating anyone who cared about the Celtics...

    It's not every player with all-star talent than can make Dave Cowens rather drive a cab.

  20. JR says:

    Love your inside stories Rob from the Copley Plaza Marriot! Seriously. Keep them coming. The Butch Beard quote had me laughing out loud.

  21. tb727 says:

    That's AWESOME about Butch Beard!! Haha! And yes Marvin Barnes is on my to-do list.

    And yes Basketball Digest was the GREATEST magazine! I have so many old ones saved at my parents' house!

  22. Anonymous says:

    To the author: To me, Birdsong doesn't sound bitter at all, just honest. The media makes stars out of players (NBA, NFL, etc) BEFORE they have been proven and stood the test. I would say we should not take one statement, which is obviously taken out of context, and twist the intent behind it. There are many greats in sports who will never be called "superstars" because the media just didn't find them attractive. It's a shame to spend your time trying to tear down instead of building up. Perhaps there is a hint of hidden "issues" on your part?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic comment...stating the facts!! Thanks!!

  24. tb727 says:

    Wah, wah wah blame the author. Birdsong was a very talented player who was washed up when the Celtics got him. It's not my fault there's so little else about him that my articles comes up at the top of Google.

    And while I agree many players are made out to be great before ever proving anything, if you read some of these other articles (Xavier McDaniel, Togo Palazzi, Dick Hemric, to name a few), you'd see many older players have tremendous respect for today's players.

  25. Anonymous says:

    in 1971 The florida state 4A basketball finals featured winter haven and west palm beach twin lakes the game went into 7 over times with west palm emerging as the winner... Earlier that year one of winter havens star guards David Broward set a single game individual scoring record with 56 or 57 points against the haines city hornets team, the game was played in the gym at winter haven high school otis birdsong was a softmore and saw limited action in that game. I remember the prevailing chant from the crowd that year was "we want a hundred we want a hundred". shortly after the game we were in the locker room i remember otis said i will break that record someday...sure enough in his senior year against the haines city team otis scored 63 or 64 and made good on his claim...you can check the records for the specifics on the numbers but the story is true...from 1971 -1973 we / the winter haven blue devils B-B team were bad to the bone.

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