The Boston Celtics and the Grateful Dead. Those are two legendary American institutions that have very little in common. The one major overlap in that Venn diagram would be Bill Walton, who is revered by both Deadheads and Celtics fans alike.
According to Fred Contrada, of Masslive.com and the Springfield Republican, thanks to Walton, there were two occurrences when these cultures cross pollinated. Since Walton had penetrated the Dead scene to the point of befriending the band and crew, when the Dead played the Worcester Centrum in 1985 some of the crew came by the Boston Garden to watch him and the Celtics practice.
Larry Bird and Kevin McHale naturally inquired about who the long haired hippies were that happened to be at their practice. Walton, who seems to never miss an opportunity to pimp the Grateful Dead, seized the chance to explain who they were, mention that the Dead were in town to play a show, and that Bird and McHale should check it out. Somehow, they agreed, and even convinced the whole team to join.
"...the entire team, except for Danny Ainge, whose wife wouldn't let him go..." https://t.co/h71lJ1QEC1— Jay King (@ByJayKing) September 5, 2015
Well....almost the whole team. Wow, Danny. Soft. "Honey, do you mind if I seek to achieve psychedelic enlightenment with Bill and the guys tonight? Larry is going too, I swear. No? Fine."
Personally, I have a lot of questions about this concert. Larry Bird and Jerry Garcia were in the same room? That's awesome. Did Larry Bird dance? Did the guys just not smoke pot at all at this show? Did Robert Parish skip the show, but smoke more pot than those guys anyway? Did Walton dose their beers? Man, I wish I could have been a part of this.
The band seemed to enjoy having the Celtics around, as they built them a small amphitheater by the stage so they wouldn't be bothered by fans, and even attended the next Celtic practice. The best part of that story involves Bird and Garcia.
Garcia, in black leather jacket and sunglasses, stood leaning against a wall with his arms folded, coolness personified. Bird, who had a pre-game ritual of dribbling the basketball around the edge of the court, spotted Garcia. On his third time around, Larry whipped a left-handed, behind-the-back pass that smashed off the wall about 6 inches from Garcia's head. Jerry never moved a muscle. No one will ever know what went on behind those shades.
Classic Bird, but how about Jerry going Kobe Bryant vs. Matt Barnes no flinch on LB? Greatness recognizing greatness if you ask me.
Also, according to a 2002 Q&A with USA Today, Bird was thoroughly impressed with the concert, and referred to Garcia as "the Michael Jordan of musicians."
For those C's fans who enjoy the Grateful Dead, that show can be streamed here, and the setlist is below.
It Must Have Been the Roses
West LA Fadeaway
Big Railroad Blues
Music Never Stopped
Might as Well
I know You Rider
Playin' in the Band
E: U.S. Blues
Photo Credit: John Han/San Francisco Sentinel
Follow Chris on Twitter @Thomp_26 Chris Thompson 9/16/2015 08:00:00 AM Tweet Edit