Malcolm Brogdon Gladly Following Ex-Celtic Mentor’s ‘Footsteps’

Malcolm Brogdon, Celtics

Getty Malcolm Brogdon, Celtics

As Malcolm Brogdon attempts to win an NBA championship with the Celtics after six years elsewhere, he can look down and see Quinn Buckner‘s footprints on the path.

The two became close the past three years when Brogdon played for the Pacers, for whom Buckner serves as color commentator on game broadcasts. And when Brogdon was traded to Boston last July, their basketball bonds grew beyond the fact they’re two strong guards both physically and as leaders. (“He’s just a better shooter than I was,” Buckner is quick to interject with a smile.)

He came to the Celtics from Milwaukee in 1982 when the Bucks lured Dave Cowens out of retirement and, with a backcourt logjam, offered Buckner in exchange. He would spend three years in Boston, playing a key reserve role on the 1984 title squad and growing tight with Larry Bird.

Buckner: ‘Malcolm Gets It’

Decades later, he lit up when he learned Brogdon was heading to the Celts.

“At one point, you have to recognize where you are in your career — and the chance to come and play for the C’s, it can’t get any better,” Buckner told Heavy Sports. “This is a legitimate contender, and that’s really what you want at this time of your career.

“It was the same kind of thing for me. I had a more experienced team in Milwaukee than the Pacers are now, but (the Bucks) had just decided that Paul Pressey was going to be their guard. Red (Auerbach) had known Coach (Bob) Knight and knew that I didn’t really care about all that other stuff,” said Buckner, who captained the undefeated 1976 Indiana University crew. “I had only one interest, and that was winning. The C’s needed a backup guard, and that’s why I was able to come here.

“You needed another guard here now, but you needed the experience that Malcolm brings. Malcolm gets it. He’s smart. He can shoot it. He understands who the leaders are on the team, and he can play well in a team concept.”

Brogdon was aware of Buckner’s accomplishments with the Celtics.

“He’s actually a close mentor of mine,” Brogdon told Heavy. “He was that for me all three years I was in Indiana. He’s a guy I love. So I’ve learned about his career as I’ve got to know him and learn that he had some glory days here in Boston.

“One thing he’s told me is to just enjoy it. He said, ‘Enjoy these years in Boston. This is such a special place with so much history. You have a chance to really compete for something special.’

“But, yes, it is very fortuitous that I, in some ways, am following in his footsteps.”

Red Auerbach, Bob Knight ‘Put it Together’

Like Buckner, Brogdon has joined a loaded roster.

“Yeah, same for me,” Buckner said. “I’m coming here, and they’ve got Larry, Robert (Parish), Max (Cedric Maxwell). My gift was I understood how to play with other really good players, so having that allowed me to come in here and fit in with everybody, including Danny (Ainge) and Hendy (Gerald Henderson) in the backcourt, and D.J. (Dennis Johnson) when he got here. I knew what the rotation was, and I wasn’t trying to rock that. I’m just trying to make sure I give them everything I got.”

So far, Brogdon has given the Celtics nearly 15 points a night in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s also among the league leaders in 3-point percentage.

But even if he wins a title here, he won’t be able to match Buckner’s championship resume. He’s one of just three players, (Magic Johnson and Jerry Lucas are the others) to win a state championship in high school, an NCAA championship, an Olympic Gold Medal and NBA championship.

“This was Red and Coach Knight that did that,” Buckner said. “I know it in my heart of hearts. I’ll go to my deathbed thinking those two put it together for me, because the only guy that Red really talked to about college basketball players was Coach Knight. And when I got traded here, Coach Knight knew I was on the precipice of doing something that hadn’t been done by many people. So my blessing was to come and play in Boston.”

Brogdon is hoping it’s his blessing, as well.


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