April 6, 2021

Jan Volk, General Manager of The Boston Celtics from 1984-1997

Jan Volk, General Manager of The Boston Celtics from 1984-1997

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On this episode of Missing the Point: we're joined by former General Manager of the Boston Celtics from 1984 to 1997, Jan Volk.

Jan talks to us about how he first started working in the Boston Celtics front office under Red Auerbach and how he was hand chosen by Red to be his successor as general manager. 

Jan will also tell some of his favorite stories from the front office, from learning what the salary cap was to some of his favorite NBA Draft time moves. From trading  for Bill Walton in 1985 to the drafting of Len Bias in 1986.

Check out Jan's Photography Company SportsPix :http://sportspix.com

Hosts: Joe Malkin, Dave Clarke, Rayshawn Buchanan
Guest: Jan Volk, General Manager of the Boston Celtics from 1984-1997
Producer: Craig D'Alessandro

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Transcript

Joe Malkin:

Welcome into missing the point My name is Joe Malkin and tonight we have a great guest joining us alongside me is rayshawn Buchanan and Dave Clark as always our EP Craig D'Alessandro, and with us. We have Jan Volk. Some of you may know the name, but after this interview, you'll all know it. Jen Volk, who grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. Born in Davenport, Iowa. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School and began working with the Boston Celtics shortly after graduating in 1971. Early on, he worked as a ticket sales director manager equipment purchases, which is not an easy job traveling Secretary which is not an easy job, business manager and General Counsel for the team. In 1976. He was promoted to Vice President in 1980, he was named Assistant General Manager to the general manager who has read our back not an easy job. Following the 1984 NBA Draft Red Auerbach retired as Celtics General Manager, and on July 11 1984, Jen Volk was named General Manager of the best franchise in basketball history. As the Celtics General Manager Volk was a part of three NBA championships and saw the team win a total of five in his entire tenure with the franchise. Jan left the team in 1997. And three years later started his own photography, business sports pics photography, and for the last 21 years 22 as we discuss Janda, he has been shooting photography for high schools, colleges, and the Cape Cod baseball league and many other organizations. Jan Volk, welcome into missing the point. But to be here, glad you could make it.

Jan Volk:

So you have that, but that intro in writing, I'm gonna send it right here, I might use it again.

Joe Malkin:

We're gonna have to, I mean, I talked to you, and now we're gonna have to do that. So I guess we want to we want to start at the beginning. So graduated Columbia Law, and all of a sudden you were working for the Boston Celtics. How did that come about?

Jan Volk:

Well, let me step back a little bit. When I was in college, I went to Colby. And I took a course that turned out for me to be very, very important. I was not a not a typical liberal arts program. It was business law. I took a course in business law. And I was fascinated by what I was reading and learning and eventually got a job working as an intern for a local law firm. And I worked hard, and I decided, you know what, this is what I want to do. And so I, I applied, I got into Colombia, halfway through my tenure there, let's say a year and a half into the program, I started to think a little differently about what I wanted to do. And I wasn't sure that this is what I wanted to do. And I knew that getting my degree was important in passing the bar was important, but then I was going to maybe decide, maybe I was going to do something else or try something else. And that's exactly what I did. And I ended up working for the Boston Celtics. And that was a progression. It was nonstop. It was 1819 hours a day. And it was a great experience for somebody who had no experience which is which was me, I became an expert in the field because I knew a little bit you didn't need to know all that much. But eventually read started to give me more and more things to do. But the most significant turning point maybe one of the one of the key epiphanies in my life occurred the first year I was there working for the Celtics, in January of that year, January 1971. Red was sitting in a box, they would sit at the garden. And we were playing a team. I don't know who the other team was. I know it was not the Phoenix Suns. But I also know that reds guest in his box was Jericho. Angelo at the time as a general manager of the suns and I got summoned in the middle of the first period, I got summoned by red to the locker. Now, I've been working there, maybe five months, not much more. I had certainly been in and out of the locker room a bunch of times every game, but I had never been summoned to the locker room. And I was never in the locker room before with Red Auerbach all by ourselves. And he looks at me and he said, Your lawyer, right? That said, Well, sort of what what do you need? Well, he's he had turned out he had made a deal with Jericho Angelo that involved a lot of contingencies. And he needed a lawyer. And the team's lawyer was this was a Sunday afternoon. The team's lawyer was somewhere skene and the 1972. If you were skiing, you might as well be on the moon that couldn't reach him couldn't reach the associates, any of the associates and read was stuck with me. He gave me a list of a term sheet of what they had agreed to. And as I said it had contingencies that was not all going to be determined that day. So we had that we had something that was going to have a life to it. As it turns out what we did, you couldn't do now, the league rules wouldn't allow you to do it, but they did them. They left the locker room, went back to the office. Found one of my friends from law school who had five months experience that's going to compare it to my zero and we cobbled together a contract and ultimately jerry tangela signed it and ultimately was executed upon and what it was was the trading of the draft rights to charlie scott to phoenix for paul silas and that was a turning point for a number of things that was a turning point for the team and a clearly a turning point for me because red ribbons a smart guy he used his personnel very effectively and he looked and saw wow the guy i mean he's here every day he did a pretty good job with this contract and you know what i'm already paying him sounds like a good idea so that's how my career kind of jump started get jump started

Dave Clarke:

because there was a period where red did everything right like you know before you got there famously he was scouting other teams you know scouting college players like doing absolutely everything on the list so he like when to feel hand picked by him you must have felt oh wow this is a job he probably has a way to do it already you know himself so i better get it right or is it just in context in retrospect being like oh that was a big moment

Jan Volk:

well let me tell you something about rare that people don't readily recognize for a guy who had the success that he had and for a guy who had the ego that he had that he needed to have was a surprise it's a surprise to people to realize that he had holes in his game that he knew about he knew he wasn't particularly good at this or that or something else and he hired people to fill those roles and that was a great opportunity for me because that's he hired me in that context and ultimately my career revolved as the business was evolving there's no better way to learn than to be a participant in something with slight like running a team franchise when nobody else really knows how to do it either

Dave Clarke:

you're kind of building the plane while you're flying it right

Jan Volk:

yeah yeah maybe not quite that but but if nobody else got hurt but there were mistakes made we made mistakes and for the most part we did pretty well with it i the interesting thing about this heat when red when red decided to retire he announced it at the b'nai brith dinner which was a charitable event that was held each year prior to the first game at a nice venue and lots of people maybe 2000 people and he was he would always speak and he was speaking this was an this would have been in october maybe of 83 give or take i think that's what it was and he got up and announced unbeknownst to any of us that he was going to retire at the end of the year and then he did something that just blew my socks off in front of these 2000 people that he's he said and i'm recommending the general take my place

Dave Clarke:

oh well you didn't even know that

Jan Volk:

you were lined up never discussed that with me

Dave Clarke:

wow what was your reaction at the time read got

Jan Volk:

what he wanted most of the time happens that this worked

Dave Clarke:

well for me too but when you go into his office when you got summoned to his office that day did you know it sounds like you knew at the time oh this is a big deal i better not screw this up or is it just in common like looking back you're like well that was a big moment i'm

Jan Volk:

much more so looking back then in the moment itself like yes it caught my attention i mean it was something i'd never done before as i said i'd never been summoned to the locker room i'd never been in their locker room to adjust read that was notable but i didn't understand the significance that it had because of course it led to so many other things

Joe Malkin:

yeah it led to so many things because from 1971 to 1979 1980 you held a number of positions and very very good i mean now you look at sports and you know who the traveling secretaries are you know you know who some of these people are and then in 1980 he named you know obviously a few years later he names you or suggests you as his successor but in 1980 he basically sits here right next to him and that started really in that moment started one of the best runs in the franchise's history in the 1980s

Jan Volk:

well i had a lot to do with the players much more to do with anything else interesting place to work was a great place to work people who began to work at the celtics had to understand and most of them did or they didn't stay very long they had to understand that no matter what they did or how successful they were read was going to get the credit in the investment was what was going to happen and if you could live with that you found yourself into a really really mom and pop welcoming organization where everybody helped everybody else there was no win in that type of environment when you know reds going to get the credit and you're really only the only opportunity for you to get that kind of credit was collectively as part of a group, you find people work together very, very effectively without worried about who's going to get the credit who had to worry about what. And that was an It was a nice place to be.

Dave Clarke:

It's funny you say that because I heard the credit for this code may or may not be true. I have to hear from the horse's mouth. But I hear the credit for the way larry bird was drafted should go to you though, right? Wasn't that your side of the argument that you could get away with drafted him as a junior, you're waiting a year and I'm getting a min or am I did I hear Oh, you got? Well,

Jan Volk:

you've got it sort of Right. I mean, I knew the rules, as I said, read knew we had holes in his game. And he hired people to fill those holes. That was one of the holes that were it was getting more and more complex. It's extraordinarily complex. Right. But the advent of the salary cap, which came after we had drafted Larry, but the advent of the salary cap really was a significant event for me, because we were capped. And we had to learn it really quite quickly. Read didn't read, read relied on us and relied on me to know that. And the same is true, as you point out the issue with the draft, whether we could we could draft him or not. It wasn't that there wasn't a rule there. It had been modified. And read didn't know that. And yes, he trusted me but No, he didn't. And what happened is Tom Sanders popped in, Tom, Tom Sanders sat for a period of time he was the head coach, for half a season or so he saw the two of us two very stubborn people trying to convince the other that they were right. And the Sachi had the perfect solutions. And your colleague, Felton, David Stern happened to be the general counsel that the time he was not yet, Commissioner. And he verified it. So. But we were also in the right spot for that, because Larry had told the world, he was not coming out. He was going to go back for his senior year. And the old rule was that the ones he went back to school and early Entry Draft, he liked that the team lost their exclusive rights to a meeting went back into the pool. In reality, what ultimately happened is you had the exclusive rights until the day before the next draft, which is why we drafted him.

Dave Clarke:

I guess he was worth the wait. Okay, it worked out.

Jan Volk:

Red with red would tell you to be the first to 10 he was better than I thought it was. I thought he's gonna be really good. He's what he what he would say, but I didn't know he's gonna be this good.

Dave Clarke:

Yeah. How do you know,

Joe Malkin:

one of the one of the best in franchise history? Right. So

Jan Volk:

it's not any franchise history?

Joe Malkin:

I mean, yeah, you're right.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

I think I want to still want to stick with the 70s. Can we kind of touched around different things that happened in the 70s? And, you know, you mentioned the choice guard, Scott, like, Charlie Scott, trace gives me pause. hollows, who, you know, was one of the better bench players that we've had here and Boston who came on to become a great coach, later on in the NBA as well. But obviously, you know, there were there was two championships in the 70s. And they won in 74. And 76, under Tom Hanson is certainly so you know, what, what would you say was the better team out of those two? And, you know, do what they told me, I should have stayed longer as the coach there. I know, he was only there for about four or five seasons. Well, I,

Jan Volk:

you know, I I've had questions like that, but never would be comparing 74 and 76. A lot of lot of similarity. When you've got to your senators, Dave Collins, I mean, you've got to, you've automatically got a huge step towards what I don't think I can choose there. I think that was an extraordinary team. They were small, they ran the break, they were very active, and they played hard with talent. And so I'm gonna beg off that as far as Tommy is concerned, you know, Tommy would be the first to tell you that in the end coaches are hired to be fired. And it takes a while. It takes a while to burn out. But they all most of them do, in one way or another. And it's usually a consequence of having been with the same players over a protracted period of time, where there's a lot of cajoling that goes on in Tommy's case, I think the players got tired of he his interaction with the referees, but in the end, he was very supportive as of his players very much. So I think they appreciated it much more. So after he had left. I know that for example, JoJo who got traded, ultimately came back and he saw how special he was playing for Tommy. And he missed it.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

Yeah, no, that's only understandable. Can I think I look, you know, remember looking back just through I was I wasn't around but just looking through different games. You know, if you can speak more to this, but I feel like possibly the best team maybe didn't even win. And I think that was like the 7273 team that won 60 games or 14 but lost to the next in the conference model. So you know, is there any Do you think there's any truth to that or like, I feel like they that's another team that couldn't win another championship. I feel like To go into 168 games and not win, it's like wow, that's that's great. Yeah.

Jan Volk:

Correct me now because you've been looking and I haven't been was that the series we're gonna have to check dislocated his shoulder or separate your shoulder. It might have been I

Rayshawn Buchanan:

can't remember off the top of my head. I just know that he was

Dave Clarke:

in he had to shoot with his other hand that was that. Yeah,

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah. Huh.

Jan Volk:

Yeah. So that that that was you know, your best player is out. He missed. I don't remember how many missed but maybe it was for the final in the final that conference finals. And we ended up going to seven games and he that's he came back. And he struggled being he was he was he was hurt. He was really tried, but he couldn't play

Joe Malkin:

and what year wasn't that Havlicek? had it written into his contract that he wouldn't practice on a certain floor down near the cape?

Jan Volk:

I really want me to say

Joe Malkin:

Yeah, well, you and i, you and I have talked about it before I told these guys. And they were like, what is that floor made of? And I told me I kind of understood. So

Jan Volk:

yeah, one part would be cement. One one part of the equation would be that it's made out of cement. But yeah. Now john figured it out pretty quickly. Because what he did that was for training camp that was at Mass maritime house. with beer I said it

Joe Malkin:

was a long time ago. It's fine.

Jan Volk:

But john, the next year was a free agent. He didn't he wasn't going anywhere. But he waited to say to sign his contract until we were done with double sessions. And we're, we were back home. We weren't playing on that floor. It was a tough floor to play on. Yeah, well,

Joe Malkin:

I can tell you, it's still a tough one. But I mean, I'm not as good of a basketball player as john Havlicek. I mean, contrary to popular belief, but I'm not as good as john Havlicek. So

Dave Clarke:

it worked out for me got all that longevity out of it. You know what I mean? Not a lot of guys play in multiple areas in 15 seasons, you know, he took audio worked out. I'm curious Janda, you know, you guys draft Larry Bird, you have these great 70s teams, you draft Larry Bird Things are looking up. Everybody knows, like the much publicized then kind of falling out between red and the new owner when they did the weird franchise switch Brown, I think was his name. I'm just curious to know your perspective on that. Because the way you seem to talk about red, it seems like you're probably pretty confident he was going to come out on top in that battle of wills, even though he wasn't you know, the owner of the club. You know, I'm just curious your perspective of it. Like how it like how it when it all went down, like the team, you know, Mary bird, young star, couple of losing seasons, but like, overall, they're still the Boston Celtics. He's still read our back, like, Where were you in all this?

Jan Volk:

You know, I have to think this out here as to what year that was

Dave Clarke:

was 79. I think when that are 7878?

Jan Volk:

I'm not sure Larry was playing yet.

Dave Clarke:

I think you had drafted him. But then you have to wait a year. And then it was so then it was that year that the swap happened?

Jan Volk:

Yeah, I think it was before he ever laced them up for the Celtics, so but red, red was really was pushed to the brink. He did have he said he had I wasn't there. He had a ride with a cab driver to the airport, who convinced him he should stay? That's what Brad said. I have no contrary evidence that he didn't. I also don't know for sure that he ever did

Dave Clarke:

find that cab driver and give them a metal hammer the key to the city or something. But where were you in on this? And now in the tension? You know, like I'm in Did you think were you pretty convinced he was gonna leave? That's at one point because you were reds guy, right? So it's

Jan Volk:

hard to it's hard to put myself back in that spot. I was worried. But I wasn't really concerned about my job. I was concerned about what it was what was happening to the salvage. We all really found ourselves as the keepers of a public trust. And what we were doing is we were trying to make the most out of what was a what was despite who really, who actually owned it. They were all owners. All of our fans had vested interest. They all had emotional ties, as though they owned it. So there was a lot of pressure, but there was a lot a lot of responsibility and that constant context to get it right.

Dave Clarke:

Yeah, we talked so much on this show about the kind of strange difference between the Celtics fan base and the Patriots fan base and the Red Sox fan base and how the Celtics are kind of unique and singular in a way that, you know, the Boston Celtics, for better for worse, they get a lot more slack about certain things than like, say the Patriots would but then they're also like more harshly criticized and other areas like it's a kind of a singular and unique fan base. Do you think did you experience that when you were working with them? Or is it more like you, you can take Boston sports fans as the sum of their parts? Oh,

Jan Volk:

well, I don't have pro fans in any respect. But I thought the fans were terrific for us, but we were also successful. So I you know, I don't think I I did quite the elaborate analysis that maybe somebody else did or maybe that you were doing. We had season ticket holders. We had waiting lists to get tickets. we experienced something that none of those other franchises did nor did any others with the possible exception of the green bay packers and only in name only and that is we were a publicly held company for a long time we had a public offering in 1984 intrigued us as to how that was going to change our lives because now we had 1000s of actual real honest to goodness money invested owners and it wasn't a problem we recognized that the the folks that had an emotional investment in the celtics were a stronger and had stronger ties than those that had economic interests in the celtics as fans many of them there were some crossovers but the people the fans themselves they're special they had there was a certain amount of blind faith that goes with that in any team and it's great when you can live up to that blind faith and look the teams have in patriot history the last 20 years they're pretty darn good in terms of living up to those expectations and celtics did the same

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah i definitely agree with that point there jeff for sure wanted to want to take us back to 1980 and kind of keep the theme with the blind faith right so i believe that's the year that macau got swapped for jo bay care or or they got big perishing to do rex swap

Jan Volk:

it was draft choice swap

Rayshawn Buchanan:

gotcha okay

Jan Volk:

so we drafted excuse me we got the draft pick with which kevin mchale was drafted but there was no certainty to it obviously it was third picks so very much like what happened with tatum

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yes okay with that okay gotcha okay

Jan Volk:

very similar

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah so what was the process like was mchale going to be the guy all along or like was there anybody else you guys were looking at and that year's draft like and yeah how did you guys acquire it robert paris i know it was a trade with golden state right is that his

Jan Volk:

favorite trading with goldman sachs we had the third pick and i think the 14 so i'm not i'm not 100% sure but i think that and what we did is we traded that's a that number week that number shows me we're the number one pick my let's step back we had the number one pick on the 14th pick we traded the number one pick to cleveland for no excuse me golden state golden state two for the rights to the third pick and robert parrish and then we have the 14 pick which i think went to robert parrish i think that's how it was even down

Unknown:

that's that's

Dave Clarke:

pretty crazy to to put that big three together in one you know one deal

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah that's that's awesome like i think about that now like that's that's got to be a top five do is i know it's easy to say because you're on here but i would say if you weren't like that that to me it's a steal obviously you don't think it's a steal in a moment but to get to two thirds of the victory that essentially dominated the 80s that went to four straight finals in the 80s like that it is incredible so kudos to you and the rest of the organization for for making that happen

Jan Volk:

fairness in fairness robert was throwing much more so there was robert was an underachiever at the time and red was always made did recognize the big guys take a while to come back to reach potential and that's what but we were taking a chance and we were taking the chance that i'm trying to think now it was second pick i think was the jazz was at the jazz

Unknown:

yeah general griffith

Jan Volk:

there they took down griffith yeah so we had a we had a hope that we would not that we wouldn't have taken down griffith with the with the third pick if that had happened but we really want to mchale

Unknown:

well and you've got them and

Jan Volk:

yeah and they were the golfers were under some sort of restriction by the ncaa they could not i think they played in the match march march madness and so he was he was really selected based on what we saw for what our scouts saw

Dave Clarke:

there was no showcase for him then so that might have enabled you to grab them like a little bit lower yeah

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah yeah but i mean i said that that that ties into the blind faith right it's just like it's like okay like we've seen here before this guy's talented let's just see what we can do and then you know really i mean that that 8081 year you know they you know you guys going to win the championship so yeah can you speak about just how i think about the philadelphia series more so than the no seriously just the rockets cuz i know you know that's the series where i got really feisty i know maxwell i got into the stands with the fan and i think that was game six i'm not mistaken so it was just yeah so you just speak to like you know villages that series and like did you guys think you ready to get past philly could i know philly had just made the finals the year before you know they would there is the conference champion so he was just think about those battles with philly and just how talented they were at that time

Jan Volk:

as i recall we were down one yeah and with with with game five and seven in boston if We were to get to it. So we came back to Boston, I think we were in those three games. As I recall, we were, we were down two or four points with two minutes to go on each of those games we were, we came from behind and each one of those games the one that I redo remember you mentioned the max excursion into the into the cheap seats, well, actually into the expensive seats. The first row was was in the midst of something else that happened midway through the third period, we were down down double digits in the third period. And this this is game six in Philadelphia and the PA announcer I think it was named daidzein. Cough, though of I don't know if any of you remember him, you know, of any. You

Rayshawn Buchanan:

know what I know, he was really famous for being called, especially opposing players names, so wouldn't match it with a bird. And you know, so yeah, he was

Jan Volk:

he was there Johnny most only as a play by playing that. So yeah, it was very partial. He was a very decent guy, and really understood he was a very, very professional, but he did things like barely how to play for the for the Celtics was terrific player. And whenever he would commit a foul, they didn't compensate. And that was a whole follow. And every time they, you know, it just the crowd loved it. But he made an announcement, not on his own marketing department to remind fans, that tickets for game one of the finals would be on sale right after the conclusion of tonight's game. Wow. Yeah. Wow. And we heard that in the huddle. As we said before, did I hear that right? And it got it got their attention. And we can't we came back for a win there. And we ended up ended up winning it at home, as I said, in each case, coming from behind.

Joe Malkin:

We've used that analogy when we go back and talk about the Patriots, especially when we talk about the 2001 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the St. Louis Rams basically punching their ticket to the Super Bowl before they even get there. So that's kind of the basketball equivalent. It was happening a lot earlier than 2001. So big mess up by the Philadelphia marketing department, but you'll take it

Rayshawn Buchanan:

every day. Yeah, it seems like they have an issue of they have a thing of doing that because even you know recently a couple years ago when they faced Philadelphia and it was held this place in Philly, and it just felt so I guess this is something going on in Philadelphia they just think that they like to call things prematurely so

Jan Volk:

you know you know this the the read our backstory with things like that when we were out in LA in 69. Which this is the this is the team. This turns out to be Russell's last game. We didn't know that at the time. But he he had determined it was he hadn't shared that when they were it was Sam Jones by Samad but declared this was his last game. And in the warming up before game seven.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

He had two balloons. Yeah. Yeah.

Jan Volk:

Well, they I don't remember who it was booked. Somebody saw a memo piece of paper on the on the right up against the the court on the floor and picked it up. And it was a memo to the staff about what was going to happen when they won the game that night. And they were the balloons would come down from whatever the USC marching band would come in from one side and playing Happy days are here again. I mean, we took that detail. Oh, apparently they were I guess 6000 balloons in the ceiling. And now I remember one way and it may have been that it didn't happen this way. But my recollection is after we after we won and reds running on the court, and he's excited, much more so than normal. Because this was an accomplishment. This was a team that really really had to Claude scratch and just, you know, did itself in a position where to get a chance to win and they did but the ABC announcer was Chris Schenkel and he's said something to read like so read what do you think you know you guys came from from behind you you know you were finished fourth in the conference that up? What do you think about this wind? So I got just one question. What are they going to do with the FM balloons? And I believe it was on layout live TV and I believe it got through I'm not

Rayshawn Buchanan:

right right exactly. But also one of the I think that's that they almost see that's the same press conference went could obviously like say they talked to the guy Jacksonville Russell's up there and you hear you hear right out back in the background saying one more time one more time. And it just like it's one of the most like, you know, one of the most notable, you know, recordable that you could hear from a locker room after the finals winning so yeah, you know, appreciate you sharing their story.

Jan Volk:

Well, it was something I will never forget. It was also pretty happy moment for all of us everybody. JOHN and john Havlicek me to comment to me one point in time that I hadn't really thought about. But he said, in the context of a playoff game, he said, You know, I know it's much harder for you to sit through this than it is for me to play through this. And I said, What do you tell him? I said, You know, I get out there and I play I'm nervous. But once that ball is in play for the first time, I'm not nervous anymore. I just play said you don't have an outlet. You have to watch and hope I do. Well.

Dave Clarke:

It's a good point. I said he's in control of his own destiny out there with the ball. It's like you your your destinies in someone else's hands once that was so good. So

Jan Volk:

that and then you know, and it's not arrogance, it's confidence.

Joe Malkin:

Well, and you let you were with this team during a time where where your your hopes and dreams were in the hands of john Havlicek Cedric Maxwell, Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale, I mean, you can't really have much better company there.

Jan Volk:

Yeah, can't do better than that. So Mike are pretty good, though.

Joe Malkin:

Yeah, the Lakers are alright. I mean, they they've done okay over the years.

Jan Volk:

You know, when, when they did? apropos of nothing, I guess when when Elgin Baylor passed away. A couple of weeks ago, there was there was an article that ran there were a number of articles were chronicling his history and some of them Bob Ryan did one. And he talked about the fifth I think was in the fifth game. Elgin's what 61 points in that game? Well, I remember that from a slightly different point of view. And I remember what happened in the locker room afterwards in the Lakers locker room. Rod rod Hundley, do you remember rod humbly? You know anybody know who he is?

Rayshawn Buchanan:

No, I guys on my team is just Western Baylor. Honestly.

Jan Volk:

Yeah. Well, he he had he just he passed away maybe two, three years ago. He was the was a color commentator for years on the for the Utah Jazz

Unknown:

player though. Right Jan Hundley.

Jan Volk:

He was a player with a great sense of humor. And that's pointing out that but when he was playing an ad in 62, I think was 60. Not 60. Not 65. I think it was 65. I stand corrected. correct myself, maybe I'm wrong. You both he was the game was game's over they we had beaten them in game five. And he's muttering to himself. He's top Italian down. He's got a hoard of media around him. And he said, I don't know. I don't know how. I don't know what to say. I don't know how we beat these guys. I mean, I have no idea how we beat these guys. Between Elgin and me. We had 63 points, and we still couldn't beat them.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

Yeah, yeah. But I mean, I know, you know, speaking of Salt Lake is good. I mean, we, you know, we can't have your hair and not talk about that. But obviously, in his 60s, you know, it was dominated by Boston, right. I mean, the first eight times they met, you know, they were a no, you know, Jerry West was one in eight or one and nine in his finals appearances, you know, but then, you know, to the, to the time that you become the assistant, GM and the GM, you know, they face each other and 8486 and 87. So, Larry burden made a quote, I forget on what documentary it was, but he mentioned that in game 784, I think when they wanted 111. And one or two, he felt that's the only time that there was no way to LA was going to come in there and win. And so I wanted to ask you, like, Did you feel that same way? And just how much did How much did you fear the Lakers as someone being in the front office, as opposed to not being on the court?

Jan Volk:

explained to me this step back? What did Larry say?

Rayshawn Buchanan:

So Larry mentioned that in that game seven weeks, when they won 101 11 to 102. He mentioned that, that was the only time that he felt that there was no way that la was going to come in there and beat them and win that game seven. So I just wanted to ask you, like, just how did did you? Did you feel that same way? And like, you know, what, what was your What was your fear? As someone who was in the front office of the Lakers, because like I said, they were a great team. But did you have that same feeling in in that first finals matchup at four?

Jan Volk:

I always had a respectful view of the of the opponents of unity if you're if you if you they're all great teams, there's things that separate them, but they're all talented. I sure. I was I was concerned, but the Lakers were terrific. I one of the things that I would say to people, they say, you know, you great job, you got the best job in America. And I agree, readily that for me, that was the best job in America, but I would have also enjoyed it a lot more. If I'd known we were going to win. Right. Right. Right. So yeah, I mean, Larry may have looked at it that way. I looked at that every time we we faced off with them there was a chance of of losing to those notes to the to the Sixers to the to the Lakers, you know they there were a lot of competitive teams that we won, sometimes we lost and that's like if you're if you're if you're playing the Sisters of the Poor all the time, but you're not going to have very good rivalries, you got it, there has to be a competitive impetus to those those types of feelings and it was one of the things that kind of a the it applies to Everybody, you've got to have players that you love to hate on. Right?

Rayshawn Buchanan:

Right. Exactly.

Jan Volk:

And And certainly, the Lakers had fewer that you love to hate until Chamberlain came, there was great respect for all of them now going, obviously, way back, but those were teams that you you could could definitely and should definitely respect. But there were you can look at a lot of the teams and you can pull out the ones that that the were loved.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

Right. Yeah, for sure. But also to have nothing to kind of keep in mind as you were talking about, could you say about, you know, all the teams with greed and you know, having a rivalry met everything. But, you know, can you speak about how the, to the point that maybe the Eastern Conference was more dominant than the West at that time? Because right now, everyone talks about current day talks about how the West is someone's better than the east. But can you speak about the how dominant the East was at that time? So Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Owens was a team that hasn't got brought up yet, you know, that seemed when Marcus Johnson and jack sigma and, you know, Sidney Moncrief, who was picked behind magic, like you just picked about how dominant the, you know, the Eastern Conference was as opposed to the west at that time, or do you agree with that?

Jan Volk:

The only dominance that I really would pay much attention to is our own. Okay. And that and we we were we were respectful for all you know, what you do is you don't play against the Western Conference teams multiple times. And you you it's harder to get the the players that you love to hate identified in the show in that short period of time. So there's the I was just worried about ourselves.

Joe Malkin:

So Jim, when when you be you're at that the this the start of the 83 season read stands up. He announces his retirement at the end of the 8384 season, he recommends us his replacement on July 11. You're named the general manager of the Boston Celtics in 1984. And in October, you go in make make a trade. It was one of your first big moves. As Celtics GM as you trade, Gerald Henderson, the SuperSonics, the team that we all wish would come back in the NBA for an 86 first rounder. So you made the trade but had to wait two years use it, but you used it well, in online bias.

Jan Volk:

Yeah. And obviously we didn't have a crystal ball. We couldn't tell who was going to be where. But we had we'd identified that as a good graft for us, potentially what I'll set the record straight here on what happened. At least with respect to Gerald we had Gerald had had a very good year in 84. He was a starting guard on the Celtics team that beat the Lakers in seven. And but he was a free agent that summer, and he didn't come to camp. And while we were still negotiating, but while he was not at camp, Danny Ainge moved into the starting lineup, or at least was filling the role. And it was pretty, pretty obvious that he played better as a starter he, Danny than he did coming off the bench. And it really looked like Gerald could do both. So that was under that undercurrent, Gerald felt he should come back into camp and it was it was a good move to do. So we we worked out a contract that was slightly different than what he had been looking at before that he had turned down but not appreciate we I don't know, I think we did this on a Thursday and he played Friday and Saturday in Texas. We're in a Texas exhibition season swing. And it came back on Monday on Sunday. On Monday, I got a call from a team in the Eastern Conference, not a team not to be named that the general manager he and I knew knew each other well. And he wanted to know what did we what do we sign in general for him and it's public knowledge. He just didn't rather than calling the league calling me. So I told him and he said are good, good, good contract. I'll tell you what I you know, I see the way Danny is playing out of that starting position. I'll tell you what, if you if you're interested in moving Gerald would give you a first round pick for unsolicited came out of nowhere. I immediately called Red, got a conference call going with Casey are Jimmy Rogers red and myself. And we decided it was worth pursuing outside of conference. And we did a quick take on what teams were likely to have over the next year or two likely to have less than stellar season Sam would have decent draft picks. Now this was the second I really think this was only the second year. The lottery was in place, I think was the second year. Yeah,

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yes. They started at five. Yeah, Patrick when we first for that.

Jan Volk:

Yeah, so so we were looking at a trade with two clubs. We identified two clubs and we got one was one was I'll give you the one that did that. going the other one, what I talked about two clubs. And they both were interested at it for a first round pick. Seattle, one of them came back to me and said, we'll give you a second round pick in 86. But and this was now in the fall of 84 will give you will give you but we want lottery protection. This was new. We were the whole thing was new. This is the first time I had I had heard the phrase lottery protection, immediately understood whether what they were talking about, but I had not back that in. So I listened to him. And then I got the call back from Seattle. And they were giving me an 87 deck. But no mention of lottery protection. But I had a decision to make, the decision I made was to try to push Seattle to 286. Without having, you know, having having raised the issue of lottery protection.

Dave Clarke:

Nobody tells Seattle about lottery protection. Nobody tells them that exists.

Jan Volk:

So the gentleman over jersey, and I'm not gonna mention his name, either. But he we got on the phone, we talked about it. So well. I need an 86 picking some some we're not going to give an 86 pack. So well, I have an offer for an 86 pack.

Unknown:

technically true, which is true.

Jan Volk:

I do have it. And maybe I'm maybe we decided to take that. Because we think you know there's a lottery protectors only seven. Maybe not a big deal. Who knows? I said, Well, we're not we're not interested in that. I said, Well, did you talk to the owner? very accurately on the team? He said into the Did you talk to him said No, I didn't. I don't I don't want to give that pick. I said well, do us both a favor. And then we can talk about talk to Barry about it because I know if you lose this pic to to this other club that's giving an 86 back. Barry's gonna know why why'd you why'd you lose out on the pic? When you say? Well, I didn't want to give up an 86 pack. And he hasn't acted on it. He's gonna be really ticked off. So that's a good point. All right. So we hang up. And now I am having serious regrets. Did I overplay my hand. And five minutes later, I get a call back from me from Seattle. And he he led with this. He's a good kid, isn't he? And that's that was the start of that. So that's that's how we got that pick in that spot. As far as Len bias. We've seen him at Camp a couple of years. We we knew we knew we was the scouting report we had was Michael Jordan. three inches taller, better outside shot. Yeah,

Dave Clarke:

I mean, that's the question I was gonna ask you, as I've been, you know, excited to ask you this this whole time is, you know, there's, there's across all bars in Boston right now. You know, the ones that are open, whatever, people are still having the discussion. How good was land bias going to be? You know, like, it's it's, it's a it's a completely codified discussion anywhere you go in the city of Boston, people want to you know, people are positing theories about this. And I'm just curious. Is that what you think? Is it Michael Jordan three inches taller? Is that who he was gonna be?

Jan Volk:

Well, that's got to understand Michael Jordan hadn't become Michael Jordan yet either. Right. So then he was certainly well regarded. We were We were he is who we wanted. If we had the number one pick a we did not. We had the number two pick. If we had the number one pick, we would have taken him as well. So that we thought a lot of them we'd seen him at reds camp. For we'd also seen Reggie Lewis in that same context, they played against each other. And we liked what we saw. And interesting. Just a postscript to two Gerald's trading. Gerald, when Seattle came in that year, to play against us was really kind of important for us to beat them. Big fire graphic, but they came in and they beat us. I mean, they thumped us. I don't know. We may have been the only loss we had all year and they had a whole

Unknown:

jerell planted a chip on his shoulder.

Jan Volk:

Oh, yes. Major League. But, but it's but it was good. It was right. The game was winding down set. Only seconds left. He's got the ball. He's He's pounding the ball and mid core right on. We're on the logo. buzzer goes off. He takes the ball as hard as he possibly can and slams it down on the logos face. fog up in the air. And afterwards, I got asked about that. Did you see what Gerald did? And I said, Yeah, I did. What do you think I said, I can I nobody wants to be traded from the Celtics. I understand that. It's a good answer. Yeah, no, no,

Rayshawn Buchanan:

I've been there too. Right?

Jan Volk:

I understand that that's good. That's fine. And yeah, I don't I'm not I haven't talked to Gerald since so I don't know any more than.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

Yeah. I mean, maybe he's still holding a grudge on the low but no that that you just answered it. But that's good to note. I think limb bias we're still going to be to pick and I know Brad Doherty I know when one I think Joe Williams was also in that draft. You know, that's, you know, Domini Walker's cousin. So obviously, you know, we saw the success that Dominic had. So direction.

Jan Volk:

I think, one thing brothers,

Rayshawn Buchanan:

either they were cousins, but yeah, maybe Yeah, maybe our brothers. Yeah.

Jan Volk:

I think the Knicks picked him with one of the picks that we had paid them for a free agent of some some, because we wouldn't.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

I think that's where it came from. Right. And this is funny because I think about you saying about Seattle, give me the 87th pick is funny cuz they had their fifth pick at seven. And I don't know if you guys would have picked them but Scottie Pippen Was there some guy named Scottie Pippen was picked this fits on me, I'd be interesting to see how you remember where he went?

Unknown:

Because I don't

Rayshawn Buchanan:

what what school, or what, oh, he got, he got picked fifth fifth overall. And then he got traded for purpose. Ellison, who was also one of the gods he presented was number one pick that Yeah, but he was, yeah. So yeah, he got switched to him. Something like that could have been your picking. That could have been your pick as well, they told us to be and they chose to give me that pick. But I don't know if you guys would have picked Pippin or not. Well, he

Jan Volk:

was definitely on our radar. We were initially he was 40. Anderson was one of our scouts had seen him maybe in his sophomore year. And I and he was really running below the radar at that point in time. And so we had a beat on him. But I was too there was too much time that passed. And then he got known quickly. But

Joe Malkin:

so that's that's a that's a question that I have you mentioned that you had really started looking at the 86 draft and 84, you had your eyes on one bias, you started scouting. Scottie Pippen, or at least had seen him in his sophomore season, as a general manager, what no matter what the sport, but in these terms, of course, basketball, when do you start looking at how far ahead? Do you look when you're looking at draft draft classes? And I guess other teams, because you had mentioned when you looked at the SuperSonics, you you had assumed that they wouldn't be good in the future. So what how far ahead? Do you look as a general manager?

Jan Volk:

Well, things have changed dramatically in that in that respect. When we talk about the mid 80s, there was occasional early entry players, but for the most part, players, if not playing four seasons, we're playing three or maybe even sometimes two, but very rarely did you get one year play one and done. And even less frequently high schoolers. But now so let's let's look at that you get a body of work the to evaluate in that context back in the mid 80s, that the scouts and general managers do not have available to them now. They The fact is that we would have most players scouted potential players, potential draftees scouted from their rookie year network your freshman year, all the way through their declaration for the draft or their entrance to the draft. After four years. That's a lot of data. Yeah. And what you do is you see them develop over that time. Now they have to project that. And when you were back in the 80s, the best players were generally speaking, the four year players, those were the best players available. And they were playing against other seniors and maybe juniors and they weren't playing. They weren't you weren't, you weren't gauging their abilities against freshmen. Right. And those freshmen for the most part, were not being evaluated against seniors, they were, you know, they were coming up through the pipeline, and they were being evaluated in that context. So it's a very, very different set of circumstances. Now, in some ways, it's easier. In a lot of ways, I think it's harder.

Joe Malkin:

Do you think that's why we've seen a lot of players and kind of becoming into the before we get back into the 80s. But just from again, in general manager standpoint, do you think that that's why we see a lot of players who do not reach their potential or are overvalued in this day and age?

Jan Volk:

I think there's there's a lot more potential for error by working with a really small set of information, a very, very limited to a single season, usually, sometimes I mean, Kyrie Irving and for everything that may or may not, you may or may not feel about it. He was evaluating what 10 games something like that. That's it he he did not play very much at all.

Dave Clarke:

Yeah, I mean, you can see their athleticism you can see their speed but like, you know, the sample size I'm sure you're talking about missing is like how does he play in adversity like you know, as he played with this kind of guard, how Do you play with this kind of forward you know, like do we fit in our system because it has he played with guys that can like run the pick and roll like it is much I'm sure it is like much more difficult in that respect

Jan Volk:

and and and also in that respect read and consequently our scouts were generally would scout players not simply in games but then practices as well. And read that you learned an awful lot about how you about a player by how we practiced. And Allen Iverson would be appalled to hear that

Dave Clarke:

we love on our recent practice reference here on missing the point.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

I love it.

Jan Volk:

So I you know it. I don't know where Len bias was as a junior. But I suspect he was better as a senior than he was as a junior. I suspect he was better as a junior than he was as a sophomore. And that's what we were that was both that that is a circumstance where we're generally evaluating players

Joe Malkin:

is very interesting because we we've seen that much more as we've come up. You know, we obviously we've seen that the high school drafts are draftees, the Kobe Bryant's and Tim Duncan's the the LeBron James is of the world. And I think a lot of that with that sample size. I mean, those are three of the greatest players to ever play the game. But to me a little off topic and making a declaration. I think that the kid should have to go for three years and and get that sample size and mature because we've seen too many bus but I think Dave disagrees when I mean like, I mean, you don't get a lot of LeBron James since he was like a grown adult man, but

Dave Clarke:

it's like, let's just get him in there. But yeah, I see what you're saying.

Joe Malkin:

He had the talent of a 26 year old when he was 15 songs, right?

Rayshawn Buchanan:

No, that's true. But even but even in the 70s 80s I mean, Darrow doctors was like the, you know, he was the originator of that right? Well, one of the guys that originated that Darryl Dawkins was was a man. He came on high school and he's breaking glasses, and he's dumping all over the place. So you know, it likes it. But he likes it is rare to kind of find that find that talent. But you know, hey, you know, it's an exact science and you decided to do the best you can with scouting and hope that you know, you get the best talent possible there. So I want to still stick stick with the 80. So now we're going to look at so 87 you guys first Detroit, but obviously coming out of you know, coming off being the defending champions. I wanted to ask like, Did you think that really after an 86 that would be the last time you guys got a they got to the finals even won the championship? Why did you think did you guys think you'd be back many more times? Or like, you know, what was your thought process out the 86? Or maybe seven?

Jan Volk:

We thought we were on a roll. We thought we were on the road. We had a we had the team in place that we wanted. And we you I think we underappreciated where we were, I think we underappreciated how we had gotten there four years of finals in a row is extraordinarily taxing on a team, whether they win or lose.

Dave Clarke:

I mean, physically or emotionally like, Well,

Jan Volk:

yeah. Well, third year, you don't get, you know, you make you by the time you're, you're logging four straight years of playoffs, you're you're adding how many games you any are any 20 some games, you're you're, you're adding just that much more, it's all emotional. It's none. There are no easy games, the only thing about playoffs that is better than the regular season is that your opponent places in schedule, other than that, you're playing the best of the best. And so if you get that far, the emotional drain is significant. And the physical drain is is as significant. So we just, there are a lot of things that happened in 87 we got to the finals, that was divine intervention with the Isaias, Pastor Larry, and what was that ad?

Rayshawn Buchanan:

No, that was Oh, no, no, no, no, no, you something. Yeah. game game five. Yep.

Jan Volk:

Yeah, maybe seven. And but we were we were. Yeah, yeah, that's

Rayshawn Buchanan:

about one I was like, How hard was Kevin McHale because like, I know, his his his foot. Yeah. big heart. Yeah. Well, the surgery,

Jan Volk:

he got information young again, again, you're you're you're subject to the vagaries of chance. And so in many ways, you can put stuff in the position, but he, he got hurt with about a week to go in the season. And frankly, he was having an all MVP style year in 8687. And he he brought he broke the navicular bone and which I have not ever experienced, but I'm told by the physicians that we consulted, that it was extraordinarily painful. Their advice to Kevin was quite gentle and to us and we saw that together. We It was not going to be if he Kevin was going to play because he wanted to play. We might not let him play. But we were never going to force him to play and what we were told was he was going to need surgery on this this injury the the surgery would correct whatever he might do to it playing on it further but we don't think he can do that because we don't think he can play with that amount of pain and kevin to his credit sucked it up and played and you know and he was he was probably he probably delivered at maybe 50% of capacity of capability but he was there and he was trying scott weapon had surgery people forget how good scott whitman was i don't know if reshot of the view

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah no no a no yeah i remember coming off the bench yep very good every player visit all the guys yep

Jan Volk:

and one of the things that wasn't recognized generally but also was was good about his game was he was a very good defender as well but we also we lost him we lost we lost bill walton broke his navicular bone also in subbing for kevin in the last week of the season

Dave Clarke:

oh my god

Jan Volk:

well so we were we were we were struggling we were struggling and you know we were you look at the 86 draft or at the 86th draft had we bind or addy lift lead bias might have been that one extra player we needed in 87

Dave Clarke:

yeah especially at the forum position because it sounds like you know you guys are hurting right the fourth position could have come off

Jan Volk:

yeah no he was he would have made a significant difference whether it matter would have been the difference i don't know but we were we were about one player short and that would be a player on the other hand casey was a terrific coach for for with veteran players but not as confident putting rookies into into positions of importance so i'm not sure what how much we would have gotten and had he

Rayshawn Buchanan:

was was reggie lewis was he was he ever working by no he got drafted at seven he got drafted at seven yeah okay so yeah so he would even say okay yeah and i'm like yeah they'll definitely battles with with the trader manual that team was tough but like we said if you're battling injuries there's only so much you can you can do kind of reminds me what happened with the 2010 celtics as well you know gordon is coming off injury practice hurt at the last minute and it kind of just again just alters you know everything so if if

Jan Volk:

i'm suddenly forgetting his name if he had been in shape i'm trying to think the center now no no not perkins snapper this is back in the day or in that in that year that 2010 overshoot wallace probably it was yeah yeah

Rayshawn Buchanan:

hey yeah yeah i died i i totally totally

Joe Malkin:

agree china said that back then

Unknown:

yeah i totally agree

Rayshawn Buchanan:

he's always trying to play no but he tried to play his way into shape you know he signed it he signed a nice little deal listen obviously in that year he tried to play his way into shape and it just didn't work so i totally agree

Joe Malkin:

so jan as we as we have have been now talking for a long time and really getting an awesome look inside the boston celtics in the 70s and 80s and you know your your time with the celtics in the 90s came to a close towards the end of the 90s in 1997 and you know it kind of as you mentioned with coaches you know at some time the the time is over for for every relationship and what what would you say about your you know close to three decades with the boston celtics

Jan Volk:

well i think i said earlier that i the best job in america for me and i recognize that fairly regularly openly expressing it to anybody would listen by the same token when i left i left because word pitino came on board and he cleaned house and i left that off the southern office that day frankly to my surprise feeling about three inches taller a weight of had been lifted from my shoulders and i hadn't experienced understood that but i understood it very well and i frankly took some time off and just recharged because if it takes it takes a lot out of you overtime

Joe Malkin:

yeah and you know you and i talked on the phone last week about how when you were there the challenges were very different you know you and i have talked about your run ins with the media that dan shaughnessy is the bob ryan's the the jackie mcmillan's of the world

Jan Volk:

i think in fairness we got to put dan in one group jackie and in a another group and i'll leave it to you to say what you like better though i am dan knows i as i said to you when we talk a week ago joe i could be friends with dan i like dan i just Don't want to be business. Collins just has a different, he just has a different mindset, different goals.

Joe Malkin:

And well, you're not the only general manager of a Boston sports team to have ever said that because Danny might say the same. But you know, and that's kind of where I was going with that is that Danny, Danny has to deal with. We're not going to talk about Danny, but just general managers now in in general deal with such so many different challenges. And you had your own back then sometimes yours was that and you told me a story last week where it was kind of you were getting information, secondhand where now everyone gets information firsthand. And sometimes it's completely false and incorrect information. It's just a different way of getting it there. And that takes a toll. And you know that that happened with with the the Celtics this week where there was rumors about a player and then you know, Brad Stevens comes out and says, you know, that was on Twitter? Well, you guys had me in Indiana a week ago. So just as we close out, you know, what, what were the challenges as a general manager, or even as a player with the media back then were they were they similar to today?

Jan Volk:

I don't think so I can't tell you that I have a good enough grasp of what goes on, on a from a team's perspective. But I think you'd you'd agree that what my my goal, my goal was, to make sure that every media member had my home phone number. I don't particularly want to hear from them. But I do want to hear from them. If they're if they're running with something, and they're not sure to check it out. Because it's always it was always better for everybody, that we that we correct those kinds of errors before they become public, because they become very difficult to deal with often. But when they're there, they're out there floating in the air and they get and they get a life of their own.

Dave Clarke:

I would imagine it's very difficult, if not impossible to get out ahead of stories in the same way now as it was then.

Jan Volk:

I agree I can't I as I said, I don't really can't really appreciate how difficult it is. I know it's difficult. I know, it's different than what we had very, very infrequently, that I there were things released, either through TV or through newspaper articles that we hadn't had an opportunity to discuss with the author. And that was we had a pretty good relationship with people. I I felt several things that first in different than red and different than Dave Gavin, both who kept pretty much arm's length from the medium. My view was that i did and i get i don't know how it flies now. But that the the people in the media were hired by media outlets, to report on the team. As a consequence, they have to write something every day, they've got to work every single day. And if you don't help them, you don't recognize that they're that they you know that they have to do that. You're going to find yourself in adversarial circumstances where they're where you don't help them and they're gonna have to figure something out on the run. You may not like what they do. And so I was very conscious of that kind of interaction with with media folks. And I think it worked. I think it was well, but we didn't we didn't have a perfect world then either. No. And so there were things that came out that were just wrong.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

Yeah. Yeah, that definitely makes sense. And I want to respectfully say this, I have to say you dodged the bullet by not being a part of that particular error. I'll just leave it at that. We won't go any further. I said you can have your thoughts about that. But I'll just say respectfully, I'm glad that you didn't have to go through the roof patina era, we had to go through his fans, he would be young kids, but it was it was bad. But the final question I have for you, Jan is so obviously, you know, 96 i think that that was the final job that you had before, you know, leaving the gym role. And, you know, that was that was one of the deeper job classes really of all time. So people talk about 84 two people talking about 96 and they talk about two out of three. So 96 you know, pretty pretty top heavy you know, ai goes first reality goes for Stephon Marbury and then you know se six pick Anton Walker, but

Unknown:

didn't rainbow fifth

Rayshawn Buchanan:

wherever Yeah, we were fifth but I guess he got swapped for Stephon Marbury. And then some some guy named Kobe Bryant dropped down to the 13th. I got drafted by Charlotte. So I know that he did work out for the Celtics. But so and in hindsight, you know, were you impressed with his workout? And you know, was it was it a strong consideration to Jeff curry Brandon, number six a

Jan Volk:

yes. And yes, but no, he was. We didn't take a chance on him. And we should have obviously when we say take a chance on him. He was a high school kid and we have not had a lot of experience with high school kids. What we had was a we had Anton Walker sitting there. And now he was only finishing his sophomore year so he was like only a couple of years wiser if you will, but no, no, we benefited in having the opportunity to to draft larry bird because teams ahead of us didn't have confidence enough in what they had to wait for for larry and for a year and we unfortunately did the same thing with respect to cobia man i regret that larry burns your kobe bryant maybe

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah i mean you know as that

Dave Clarke:

i mean it's asking for it's asking a lot to get to have those you know

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah but it's one of the few situations where it's very okay to go one out it's very okay to go out and so it was nothing wrong with that at all thank god it wasn't curry cuddles he

Jan Volk:

was outstanding in his workout he was outstanding there was no surprise there i in retrospect can't can't give you a good answer that that that i feel comfortable with he was also as which would come as no surprise to him with looking back on it in retrospect he was so articulate so well he he knew who he was he knew what he needed to do and he was really very he was impressive at every juncture every every point and we we did they

Dave Clarke:

it was good for the rivalry though you know i mean it's like no wait happens and then you know then we see him in the finals we beat him in the finals i'm i like how it worked out i loved antoine walker by the way

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah i did too but it's just like you know that that's that's just something that had to be asked obviously i know that you know so i mean answer i'll play 14 years so it's not like he was out the league in three or four years but he was still a very successful pack obviously i know you guys didn't draft this next guy but obviously his his kentucky teammates watson regarding his job to 20 years by by new york and he ends up coming over coming here so yeah i mean you know we had a good run with some second guys and you know some guy named paul pacers drafted a couple years later so you know we did all right

Jan Volk:

well i i was on the other side of that in in denver and we elected to pass on on on parasol

Rayshawn Buchanan:

you got ready for friends instead right

Jan Volk:

his teammate yeah yeah and i think yeah hindsight is always a wonderful thing but in looking at race he he got hurt and he got hurt you really ruined his name and it was it took a while to figure out that he just could not play anymore

Dave Clarke:

there's no way to predict that kind of stuff right i mean it's like an injury like that you know it's like he can't he can't draft based on maybe as neil get hurt

Jan Volk:

no of course not of course not and that's what we did that's all with i was working with dns all the time

Rayshawn Buchanan:

yeah yeah that devin decker's legend yeah aba guy yeah

Dave Clarke:

i just have one last question just you know as somebody who who kind of lived through and was working in these different areas of basketball i think a lot these days about kind of how where we are we are now with basketball the kind of player empowerment era i think there's positives to it i think there's you know definitely downsides the negatives to it you know throughout this this show you've been talking about the 70 celtics great heart you know 69 a team that had to you know grit and grind for everything they got the 80s comeback wins that character that those celtics teams had and you know there was teams like that you can name in the 90s the bulls you know they had teams like that the knicks had teams like that in this era do you see a difference in players in their attitudes in in like how they play do you think that the same kind of winner exists as it used to or do you think maybe it's just to how we interact with the league or or do you think that that kind of grind and hard that you saw on your celtics teams are you are we going to see that again is that is that is another team like that gonna come along ever again

Jan Volk:

tough it's tough to say because i look back on those teams that we talked about and they were me right they were they weren't i mean clearly they were their own men but they were we were we were together in this and so it i understand that i don't understand necessarily that in another context where i don't have that insight so anytime you have a team that has dave cowen's on it or you have a team that has marcus smart on it they are going to be different than those same very those very same teams and group of players if they're not there and those two are are good examples of it and when one of the things that that happens when you have players like that there's a loose ball the first thing the other team does is what

Rayshawn Buchanan:

look to see where countless was yeah where Where's mark this marks? Exactly Yeah, exactly. Yep.

Jan Volk:

And more. So I'm going to have more familiarity with with, with Dave with Dave Collins than I do with with Marcus smart. I watched from afar, but the issue is simply this a loose ball. He's going for it, no matter what, now he may get the ball, he may get possession, but he may also break your leg in the process here and while you're processing all of that, he gets the loose ball. And that's a that's a trait that's a an asset that hopefully is an offset by other things that can happen. That were emotions take precedence. And so it's a it's a it's a tough thing to to, for these players to be able to get the most out of it without having a downside aspect to it as well. I, I No, I think they played just as hard. I think there are different things that happen. They I think there's their travel is easier. There are a lot of things are easier. A lot of things are harder. And you know, I look ridiculous. The I look at I look at I look at players making, I don't know 678 million dollars, and I feel bad for them. What happened? What was the region thinking of? You know, it's a different world. So very different.

Joe Malkin:

Oh, it coming from a GM? That's kind of that's kind of been What happened? Because you know, you're the you're the guy that would want to offer them less than that. Right?

Jan Volk:

Well, sure. But but just looking at what the scale is now is that

Rayshawn Buchanan:

that's right, exactly. Right.

Jan Volk:

It's just a just a different world.

Rayshawn Buchanan:

Larry Bird would have got to have 50 right now. Labor we got about 250. Right now I felt like the mill easily five years. Max. Max do.

Joe Malkin:

Don't let last questions from me, Jen, who, if you're at liberty to say or wish to say, who would you say is your best draft pick? And who was your best free agent signing?

Jan Volk:

Well, let's start and clarify one thing. None of this was me. All of this was us. And us. Starts with right our back. Now when I when we when we came back from winning in at

Unknown:

86.

Jan Volk:

And we have the draft approaching we had one on a on a Sunday. And the draft was 10 days later, later. And we so we convened and got together all the scouts during that week and did a whole bunch of evaluations that were just they were just continuations of what we had been doing. With respect to evaluating the potential players in the draft, I got a request from channel for Bob LaBelle to come and do a live shot from from my office at that time, which was 150 class Western. And Bob came with with his so this crew. And he starts by, you know, you guys have spent the guys won the championship a week ago, you've spent all this energy on getting everything you could out of the his team and we're all proud of you. But the draft is coming up, are you going to be ready for the draft. And I said, Bob, we can chew. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can multitask. But we've been doing this for a long time. What we're going to do is every week we spent the week evaluating reevaluate. And we're told everybody go home, take this up, take the weekend off, you want to watch more film you can come in but we're not going to plan to meet until Monday, the draft is Tuesday. And I said what we plan to do is get together on Monday. Sit down, go over everything, reach a consensus. And that's the guy will draft I had an epiphany. I'm thinking to myself who the heck am I kidding? So I said unless of course read our back wants to draft somebody else in which case that's the guy will draft that was the reality of it. The reality of it this was read show. It was always read show. And we provided lots of support. And I think we did a really good job in all of it and read was read was tough on on on scouts, on on making certain they could defend their views. So he could be he could be persuaded but read was a force to so he as far as free agents are concerned. We didn't do a lot of free agent signings As you may or may have noticed. I mean, Xavier McDaniel comes to mind but he didn't play long, but I met him at a loss to tell you

Joe Malkin:

well, Jimbo, we could sit here for hours. and have you just tell us countless stories about your time with the boston celtics in the nba during the time you were there so we're gonna have to have you back on to do that but you know looking at your tenure with the boston celtics in any capacity in the time you were there the team only missed the playoffs four times so you may have been a good luck charm i know it was us but you may have at least been a good luck john

Jan Volk:

let me let me tell you what i one thing apropos of that i had a basketball i have a number of basketballs in my office but i have one particular ball was sitting on a hand like it was being shot and it had two prominent signatures on it i hate to demean people no but the two the two signatures were sydney woods and curtis row and those were the signatures that were most prominent that i could see and i would look there periodically whenever i felt like things weren't going so well i realized they could always be worse and that was a reminder for me

Joe Malkin:

well that's a that's a good way to end so jan volg former general manager of the boston celtics and a man who wore many hats with that organization and now as we've heard famously summoned by the great red our back into the boston celtics locker room to execute a trade but jen i know personally you don't have much in the way of social media but where can people find you and what are you up to

Jan Volk:

i hope they don't find me no i'm yet you know i'm very active in in local college sports with photography photography for schools for colleges and that that's a that's a job that i enjoy but it's time consuming and it and it's regular it keeps me keeps me busy so they're not probably not going to find me may you might see me you know at a at a college sporting event

Joe Malkin:

but what we always do you always show up somewhere

Unknown:

yeah yeah

Joe Malkin:

well gin up go ahead

Jan Volk:

no no that was right

Joe Malkin:

well jaywalk thank you very much for joining us here i'm missing the point for ratio buchanan dave clark and Craig D'Alessandro we thank you for listening to our interview here with former general manager the boston celtics fanvil we'll talk to you next time

Jan Volk

General Manager of the Boston Celtics from 1984-1997

Jan Volk is a former basketball executive who served as the General Manager of the Boston Celtics from 1984–1997.

Volk joined the Celtics in 1971 after graduating from Columbia Law School. His early work with the team included ticket sales director, manager of equipment purchases, traveling secretary, business manager, and general counsel. In 1976 he was promoted to vice president and in 1980 was named Assistant General Manager. When Red Auerbach announced that he would retire as Celtics general manager following the 1984 NBA Draft, he designated Volk as his preference as his successor. On July 11, 1984 Volk was officially named General Manager of the Boston Celtics