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B.S. on Sports

By Bill Scheft

All right, basketball fans, let's play Word Association. I'll say a word or group of words, and you respond with the first thing that comes into your mind. Ready?

"Paul Silas."

"Super rebounding forward."

"Sidney Wicks."

"Super scoring forward."

"Silas and Wicks in the same forecourt."

"NBA championship."

Unfortunately, this game isn't as easy as it seems. True, the Celtics are probably going to sign Wicks, who Red Auerbach recently heisted from the Portland Trailblazers via the New Orleans Jazz, but it seems like it's going to create a lot more problems than it solves.

First of all, Paul Silas has yet to come to terms with the Celtic front office as far as his salary is concerned. Coach Tom Heinsohn said yesterday that until Silas does sign, "Wicks is taking his place."

Fine, but if Silas does sign--keep your wristbands crossed--the Celts will have 13 players for only 12 sports. Who goes? With Wicks and Silas, plus John Havlicek. Steve Kuberski, Glenn McDonald and Tom Bosewell, will highly touted rookie Norm Cook see the light all year?

That's only the beginning. The probable starting five of JoJo White, Charlie Scott, Dave Cowens, Havlicek, and Wicks is no dream lineup--it's a playground nightmare.

No NBA team has ever won a championship with five shooters on the floor at the same time--although the 76ers tried real hard last year--mainly because the game is played with only one basketball. Which of the above five (who all, incidentally, have averaged 20 points a game for their careers) is suddenly going to Jon his Lennie Wilkins costume?

It's certainly not going to be Wicks, who, after he wrenched himself from the clutches of John Wooden at UCLA, went on to become one of the NBA's better known gunners. Wicks's pistol was loaded so often that it prompted a continuing feud with Geoff Petrie, Portland's other fine shooter--who has since been traded--and with the Trailblazers front office, as they have tried to trade Wicks for the last two seasons.

Finally, there's Paul Silas himself. The Celtics are treating him like a dead car battery; going out and buying a new one and taking a chance on it instead of recharging the ol' Die Hard which has always been dependable.

Silas is the finest offensive rebounding forward the game has ever known. His four-year presence on the Celtics has resulted in two NBA titles and his character and class off the court are rare commodities in today's "kid in a candy store" type of professional athlete.

And now he wants more money. I say give him all he wants.

Last year I was at a Celtics game and Red Auerbach was sitting behind me. At halftime I got up enough nerve to ask him if he missed not having Don Chaney, a starting guard who he let leave for the ABA because he wanted more money. Red nodded.

Now, let's play that game again:

"Sidney Wicks."

"Extravagance."

"Paul Silas."

"Indispensable."

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