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It's pretty crazy to think about the impact Larry Drew had on the Celtics.  As many of you probably remember, Michael Smith was picked over Tim Hardaway in the 1989 draft.  It's widely speculated that the Celtics, mostly because of Red's insistence, picked Smith instead of Hardaway.  Two other big reasons?  Brian Shaw (which is believable) and Larry Drew which you probably didn't know!

If you never read Dave Ungrady's Born Ready: The Mixed Legacy of Len Bias, you absolutely should: clearly the most insightful book on Bias I've ever read.  One interesting part in it however talks about the Celtics, and their fallout from the Bias catastrophe.  He talks about the 1989 draft and the thoughts from Jan Volk, former Celtic general manager:

Volk later said that Smith was not the player the Celtics had hoped he would be, but added that the Celtics did not pick Hardaway because they had drafted Shaw the previous year and, based on a commitment from his agent, thought they were going to sign free agent Larry Drew.  The Celtics were so sure they had secured a deal with Drew that they sent someone to pick him up at the airport.  But Drew never appeared, instead choosing to sign with the Lakers for more money.




Well this is incredible and 4 things come to mind for me:
  1. Why is the airport a recurring theme in these segments (anyone forget Cyrus Mann?)
  2. Who was the guy that the Celtics' sent to pick up Drew at the airport?  Was it Ed Lacerte?  Jeff Twiss?  Was it someone we never heard of?  If you're out there, identify yourself, we at Celticslife NEED to know this story!
  3. How big of a dick move is it on Drew's part?  Did he really just never show up at the airport? Who was his agent at the time?
  4. How could Volk possibly say that counting on Drew was part of the reasoning behind not drafting Hardaway?
To belabor point 3, if you've been around this blog for the better part of the past 5 years you'll frequently have heard me talk about my disdain for Brian Shaw and Rick Fox.  I just always felt that Shaw was lusting to play in LA and Fox has to be one of the least likable guys during my time of watching the NBA.  I never liked him on the Celtics (give me Kevin Gamble any day of the week) and abhorred him on LAL.

Segueing into part 4, how could one have ever thought Shaw would be a better player than Hardaway?  The only advantage Brian Shaw ever had over Tim Hardaway in any facet was that he was taller, closer to 6'6.  It's understandable in that was a desirable quality back then (when the big guys played) but still.  Hardaway was electrifying from his rookie year on would make 3 All Star teams (should've made more) and tons of big game, clutch shots.

But to combine that with "well we had Shaw and Larry Drew in the fold."  Really, Larry Drew?  Granted I don't remember Drew particularly well from his days with the KC Kings when he put up very strong numbers in the earlier part of the 80s.  But if we're talking circa 1989, I'm remembering the point guard who was on his last legs.  To no surprise, Drew retired after the 91 season, averaging 5 ppg in 16 mpg for 80 games in 90 and 3 ppg in 11 mpg in 48 games in 91 for the Enemy.  Hardly impressive numbers to justify a draft selection.

Ungrady also mentions how Michael Smith even thought the Celtics were picking Hardaway and he was expecting the Warriors to pick him.

This would've been my reaction arriving at Logan and Larry Drew not being there


Today you've probably seen Drew patrolling the sidelines for some NBA team as head coach.  Hardaway's son meanwhile plays for the Knicks.

Ugh.  Drafting Hardaway or Shawn Kemp (who was also available) instead of Smith may have made up for Bias' tragic passing.  Athleticism was what was needed and Hardaway and Kemp exemplified that.  Imagine the 91 or 92 team wth either guy?!  But I'll stop before going off on that tangent again.

What do you know?  All these years people have talked about the Celtics picking Smith over Hardaway and maybe it got lost that Drew was part of the equation.  Or maybe you actually remember this.  All I know is that Larry Drew almost played for the Celtics.  And now you know that too.

tb727 6/28/2014 11:36:00 PM Edit
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