Bill Walton: Red Auerbach Overruled Doctors To Save Historic Celtics Trade

by NESN Staff

March 29, 2016

Bill Walton being traded to the Boston Celtics before the historic 1985-86 season almost didn’t happen.

In a recent conversation with Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast, Walton revealed that doctors at Mass General Hospital didn’t want to pass him after he took a physical — one of the last remaining hurdles in the trade.

Celtics president Red Auerbach was having none of that.

“The biggest problem was that I still had to pass a physical because there?s no way I?d ever been able to pass a physical,” Walton told Wojnarowski. “But Red Auerbach showed up at the hospital and the doctors are all looking at my X-rays. I could hear them talking, and I had just left everything back in California, and I?m coming here, moving to Boston, with no idea how it was all going to play out.

“And so I could hear the doctors talking among themselves, ?What are we going to tell Red? We can?t pass this guy. Look at his feet. Look at his knees. Look at his hands and wrists. Look at his spine. Look at his face. There?s no way we can pass this guy.?

?And then Red bursts in through the double doors at (MGH) there at the east end of Storrow Drive. And he?s smoking his cigar in the hospital, and he walks in and says, ?Who are you guys and what are you doing with my player?? And they?re saying, ?Red, come here. Look at this. Look at his feet. Look at his face. We can?t pass this guy.? Red says, ?Shut up. I?m in charge here.? And Red pushes his way through all the doctors, comes over.

“I?m lying on the table there in the doctors examining room. Red looks down at me, and he says, ?Walton, can you play?? And I looked up at him with the sad, soft eyes of a young man who just wanted one more chance. One more chance to be part of something special, to be part of the team, to be with the guys one more time. And I looked up at him, and I said, ?Red, I think I can. I think I can, Red.?”

The deal ultimately went through and Walton joined Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish as part of the best frontcourt ever assembled.

Walton’s bench scoring, rebounding and exquisite passing made him a seamless fit into the Celtics lineup and gave them the depth they lacked before and after his brief tenure with the club.

The Celtics went on to win the NBA Finals in a six-game triumph over the Houston Rockets, cementing their place as the best team in league history.

Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Apr 6, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; UCLA and comer NBA star Bill Walton poses for a picture prior to the start of the game between Louisville Cardinals and the Wichita State Shockers in the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA mens Final Four at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Previous Article

NHL Referee Makes Most Dramatic Replay Announcement We’ve Ever Seen (Video)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick
Next Article

NFL Trade Rumors: Colin Kaepernick Staying Put Unless 49ers ‘Blown Away’

Picked For You