Thursday April 26, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Former Boston Celtic coach and player M.L. Carr has had a long and fascinating career in college and professional basketball. One of the highlights? Watching Larry Bird and the late "Pistol Pete" Maravich play H-O-R-S-E in 1980.

"Unbelievable," admitted Carr in a recent interview. "You had Pete, who could make all these crazy trick shots, against Larry, one of the greatest pure shooters of all time. After practice, most days, they'd play. You'd want to hang around just to watch these two."

The careers of Bird and Maravich intersected briefly that year. Maravich, in his last year, was traded to Boston late in the 1979-80 season. That was Bird's rookie year.

Carr will be the keynote speaker Friday night at 6 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The event is a fundraiser for the Catholic Schools of Pittsfield.

Carr, a native of North Carolina, is a 1973 graduate of Guilford College, where he led the team to the NAIA Small College Championship. Drafted by teams in both the NBA and ABA, he eventually played overseas for a year before landing in the ABA in 1975 with the Spirits of St. Louis. Some of his teammates on that legendary squad were Moses Malone, Don Chaney, Marvin Barnes and Maurice Lucas.

The next season, Carr signed with the Detroit Pistons, playing for that squad for three years before signing in Boston. While a player with the Celtics, Carr played on two NBA championship teams in 1981 and 1984. He is perhaps best known for his steal in overtime of Game Four in the 1984 NBA Finals against the Lakers. That play sealed the win for Boston, tied up the series and helped propel the Celtics to the title.

Following his retirement, Carr coached the Celtics for two years in the 1990s.

Carr said he was happy and excited to be participating in tomorrow night's event.

"Anytime you have a chance to help out kids, you can count me in," said Carr. "Growing up, I was fortunate to have a number of adult mentors who helped me along the way. I understand what it means to be a positive role model."

This will not be Carr's first visit to the Berkshires. In the mid-1980s, while playing with the Celtics, he came out to the area to buy a couch for his home in North Carolina.

"I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense to buy a couch and pay to ship it to North Carolina, but that's what I did," he said with a laugh. "I guess it made sense to me at the time."

He has been teammates with a number of basketball's more interesting characters, including World B. Free while at Guilford College, Maravich, Bird and Barnes. He played with Barnes on one of the more legendary teams in pro basketball history, the Spirits.

"That was one of the most talented teams I was ever on," Carr said. "But they didn't win anything, because it wasn't really a team. Marvin was our best player, and he was all over the place. Sometimes, he'd come to practice, sometimes he wouldn't. Don Chaney, who left the Celtics to sign with us, tried to impose a little order, but we had a lot of young guys who weren't listening.

"I remember it was very frustrating for Maurice Lucas, who was a rookie."

Carr is in several Halls of Fame, including the NAIA Hall of Fame and the Guilford Hall of Fame, and will be inducted into the North Carolina Hall of Fame in May.

For more information about the event, log on to www.stjoehigh.net.

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @derekgentile.