In a lengthy Deadspin excerpt from his forthcoming book on the 1990-91 Boston Celtics, famed sportswriter and Basketball Hall of Famer Jack McCallum detailed the travails of a Celtics team moving uneasily into middle age. The group would go on to win 56 games that season with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish still playing All-Star level ball, but the team was a few years removed from working as a championship contender, as teams from Detroit, Portland and Chicago had eclipsed the C’s, with even their rival Los Angeles Lakers managing to make it to their last Finals appearance of Magic Johnson’s career that spring.
Bird was also dealing with a painful back injury that limited his effectiveness, one that forced him into paying attention to his fighting trim for the first time in his career. In the excerpt, McCallum details the 34-year old Bird’s battle with the bulge, in the wake of missing nearly the entire 1988-89 season with Achilles’ issues.
"I think I wanna be active," said Bird. "What I might do, though, is git in shape, git outta shape, then git in shape again. I won't do it like I used to, though. It's gittin' tougher. Three years ago I could lose fifteen pounds like nuthin'. Now? I don't know if I could." He had put on a few pounds when he was out of action, but he wasn't sure how many. "I was so bored, I'd set around the house, drive my wife crazy, and eat and eat. In two and a half weeks I was off I ate ten gallons of ice cream and seven weddin' cakes. Why them? I ate weddin' cakes 'cause you knew they was gonna be good. I mean, who would [eff] up a weddin' cake?"
Yes, I mean … I suppose nobody would want to [mess] up a wedding cake. But where are you getting all this cake?
Who, besides Larry Bird I suppose, buys a wedding cake for personal consumption? Who buys seven wedding cakes for personal consumption? Who has enough freezer space for ten gallons of ice cream and … sorry, let’s get back to this – who buys wedding cakes to take home to eat? This is going to bug me for weeks.
He’s Larry Joe Bird. He can do whatever the hell he wants. But while wedding cakes aren’t exactly an exclusive buy, that is a very odd and particular craving to have.
And what wonderful imagery! A bored Larry Bird gets up from his recliner, ambles over to the fridge, and opens the door to reveal a massive, un-[effed]-up wedding cake, and helps his damn self. I love this man.
- - - - - - -