In the world of sports, Boston is hot—arguably the sports capitol of this country, if not the world and universe. Consider recent events. The Red Sox now have two world championships under their belts and have emerged from the 86-year Curse of the Bambino. In a clean sweep, the Sox mowed down the Colorado Rockies and made the Red Sox Nation forget the decades of misery and frustration. Who knows? If the Rockies had put up a fight, ACR members could have danced in a victory parade near the convention center during our meeting.
Boston’s success does not just involve the boys of summer in the hallowed confines of Fenway Park. Out in Foxborough, the Patriots are a genuine dynasty and, at the moment of this writing, are undefeated. Boston College is number two in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) ranking, a place usually reserved for Notre Dame—its counterpart of Catholic athleticism. The refs in the NBA (under the microscope and hopefully wary of blowing their whistles too often) are about to toss the ball in the air for the first tip-off as Bean Town wonders whether the restocked and revitalized Celtics (Isn’t free agency wonderful?) will make a run for the title this year.
While anyone from Boston can enjoy the current success of its teams, victory will not be complete until the Celtics are back on top. The Celtics were the ultimate dynastic team and, in the era of Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, and Bill Sharman, were wonderful. Ultimately, those lads were almost too good as they ruled the hardwoods amidst the famous fog of Red Auerbach’s cigar smoke. To me, it was the Larry Bird era that was the most exciting and, indeed, the most relevant to modern medicine.
Basketballs and Stethoscopes?
Larry Bird and medicine? How they are related? The answer concerns the attitude that Bird brought to the court and the wisdom of his coach, K.C. Jones, in allowing him to express it. The question I want to ask today is simple. In medicine, are we being coached like Larry Birds, but will we be given the ball so we can win the game?
There is a story told about the relationship between Bird and Jones. Jones (himself a Hall-of-Famer) guided the Celtics to NBA Championships in 1984 and 1986. It is easy to think that anyone who had Bird, McHale, D.J., and The Chief in his arsenal would have been a winner, but there has been a slew of teams chock full of talent that never went very far. Consider the New York Yankees with their annual payroll equivalent to 40 endowed rheumatology chairs and their dying-swan act against the Cleveland Indians.