INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- In 1969, the Boston Celtics won the seventh game of the championship series at the Forum, where thousands of celebratory balloons were held in nets high overhead. Red Auerbach said Saturday the Lakers' assumption of victory gave the Celtics extra incentive.
'I noticed them when I walked in,' he said. 'I was doing the color (commentary on television). After we won, I asked, 'What is Jack Kent Cooke going to do with all those damn balloons?' What they did was make the biggest mistake you could make in sports.
'They had a mimeographed sheet and they gave it out to everybody; we all got a copy of it. It said, 'After the Lakers win, this player should go here and that player should go there and the balloons will be released from the four corners of the building.' And it all backfired.'
Michael Cooper said Saturday his right knee, which was hyperextended in Thursday's Game 5, is sore but he intends to play 'even if I have to roll my deathbed out there.'
This will be the first time since 1983 the championship trophy will be awarded in a building besides Boston Garden. The Celtics won Game 7 there in 1984, lost the sixth and final game to Los Angeles in 1985 and last season won Game 6 to eliminate the Houston Rockets.
Lakers Coach Pat Riley has no love for the 3-year-old 2-3-2 scheduling format of the NBA finals.
'I don't like it at all,' he said. 'All it gains is guaranteeing at least a six-game series.'
In 1985, Los Angeles beat Boston in six games. In 1986, Boston beat Houston in six games. The previous format was 2-2-1-1-1.
'That's something everybody was used to,' Riley said. 'Why change it?'
The play and effort of Lakers reserves Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis have elicited the admiration of the Celtics' Kevin McHale.
'After this is all over, I'd like to take Coop and Rambis (onto the Boston team) and play them another seven games,' he said. 'Those two guys have a lot of heart.'
During the regular season, Boston guard Dennis Johnson averaged 13.4 points and shot 44 percent from the floor. In 22 playoff games this spring, he has averaged 18.3 points, hitting 46 percent of his shots.
Larry Bird says this is all the result of a plan by Johnson.
'D.J. goes all season long missing shots so they won't guard him in the playoffs, so then he can open it up,' Bird said.