Red Auerbach, who hired the NBA's first black coach and fielded its first all-black starting five, defended Boston after Nets coach Byron Scott said the city is unwelcoming to minorities.
Responding to Scott's comments on a New York radio show calling some Boston fans "cruel" and implying they're racist, the longtime Celtics leader said, "What the hell does he know?"
"It's just a stupid remark," Auerbach said Friday. "It's as simple as that.''
Anticipating a return of the animosity from last year's Eastern Conference finals, Scott told WFAN radio earlier in the week that Celtics fans were "very cruel and they can be crazy."
"They've had their share of beers already before the game has started," Scott said. "They're not very good fans. You can have a great tradition and have a great fan without being crazy and hostile."
Scott also revived the complaint that Boston is hostile to black players.
"I don't think we're way past that," he said. "I don't think you are out of line for saying that. A lot of black players feel that way. We did in the 1980s. And I know in the 1980s, at least some of their black players still couldn't go to certain places. And that was their own players.
"Some cities or organizations or whatever you want to say haven't caught up to the year 2000 yet."
Former Celtics such as Bill Russell and Dee Brown did complain during their playing days that Boston was not the most welcoming city.
When he played for Boston in the 1990s, Brown was manhandled by suburban police looking for a bank robber.
"But I don't think any of them were unhappy they played here," Auerbach said. "They were never sorry they played here."
All in bad taste
Although Nets star Jason Kidd was booed in Friday night's game, the crowd booed loudest in the introductions for Scott. Still, there was no sign of the tastelessness prevalent on both sides in last year's playoffs, when Kidd was heckled as a "wife-beater" and a fan in New Jersey held up a sign that said, "Will someone please stab Paul Pierce."
Kidd was charged with striking his wife in 2001; the charges were dropped when Kidd underwent anger counseling and paid a fine.
Pierce was stabbed multiple times in his face, neck and back at a nightclub in 2000.
As he did last year in Game 6, Kidd decided not to bring his wife and their 3-year-old child to the game.