Knicks-Celtics: One More Time, Stu

Varelitas

The Brooklyn Dodgers had the New York Yankees. The Dallas Cowboys had the Pittsburgh Stealers. Wile E. Coyote has the Road Runner.

The one you can never beat. No matter how many star players you sign, no matter how many times you go to church, no matter how many Acme products you purchase. There will always be that one waiting, certain to make you feel stupid, to make you fall off the cliff. Beep-beep.

The list goes on. The Miami Heat have the NBA. Dewey had Truman. The Boston Bruins have the Montreal...well, at least this one's about to change.

But most don't. Tomorrow night the NBA playoffs begin, and most teams don't have to worry much about the opening round that much. The Pistons play the Pacers. The Bulls have to play the Bucks. (The classic showdown: Air Jordan vs. Jack Sikma!).

And the Knicks will lose to the Celtics. Again.

The last time New York defeated the Celts at Boston Garden, bread cost only five cents. America sent its boys overseas to stop the fascist menace and the number one song on the charts was "Pennsylvania 6-5000."

Well, not really. Actually, it's been just 27 games, going back to the mid-80s. And, as long as it may seem to members of the Walt Frazier fan club, that's not as long as most other sport curses. Just ask any Cubs fan.

So, why not give the Knicks a chance this year? Numbers turn around, odds don't always favor just one team. The Knicks are due, and this could be the year the 'Bockers can actually steal one from the Celtics on the parquet.

This year, Boston has no bench. Dennis Johnson is no longer DJ. Larry Bird can no longer fly. Robert Parish is one year older, and Kevin McHale...well, all right, McHale is still unstoppable.

But he's just one guy. All Knicks Coach Stu Jackson has to do is give the ball to Patrick Ewing and, presto, they run the Celtics all over the floor. Right?

Right. And Jerry Tarkanian is a handsome, well-versed scholar.

It just won't happen. Reggie Lewis won't miss a shot. Bird will hit three-pointers from Section 100, and Parish will stop Ewing, like he always has. So, if you're Stu Jackson, what do you do?

Stu, lucky for you, I have the answer to your worries. You've been thinking about game tactics, and you've probably overlooked some of the subtler, intangible, psychological strategies that really win playoff games. Here they are, the three things that you must do to beat the Celtics at Boston Garden this time:

1. Force Kiki Vandeweghe to wear a pair of Groucho Marx glasses: One of two things will happen. Either Vandeweghe will think he's been transmogrified into Kurt Rambis and start to grab rebounds like he hasn't done in decades. Or the disguise will distract the Celtics.

Imagine, five seconds left in the game, Celtics up, 98-97, and the Knicks have the ball. Do you really think Bird will be able to keep from falling down laughing when Vandeweghe sticks his tongue out and blurts out "Blubba, bleeba." Bird loses it. Kiki nets in the winner. Knicks triumph.