Celtics, mayor say racist label isn't justified

December 18, 1992|By Boston Globe

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics yesterday responded to the perception that they conduct business under racist terms, as portrayed in an ESPN report last night.

A nationwide poll conducted by ESPN found the Celtics are viewed by far as the most prejudiced professional team in the United States. The Red Sox finished second in the poll.

"I treat people as individuals and I would hope that everyone would do the same," coach Chris Ford said. "Trying to label the Celtics as a racist organization is kind of difficult."

Chief executive officer Dave Gavitt declined comment.

"I like it here," said Dee Brown, a black guard. "This is one of the best organizations in sports. We talk about things all the time with the owners, the coaches and everybody in the organization."

Brown, who was held by police at gunpoint in a case of mistaken identity in 1990 in Wellesley, said the Boston area had been stereotyped.

"Something happened way back when," he said. "Once that happens, a reputation sticks with it."

Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn defended the Celtics.

"I find these results to be interesting since no other professional sports team in America can lay claim to have hired three black head coaches during its history and drafted professional basketball's first black player," Flynn said.

"To use the word racism, in any form, in relation to this legendary franchise or to its host city is a cheap shot that will not be tolerated."

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