December 27, 1988

Jimmy Rodgers was a basketball lifer. He attached his coaching career to Bill Fitch’s coattails, accompanying him to Boston in 1979.

He wisely cut those ties with Fitch, staying behind as an assistant on KC Jones’ staff when Fitch was jettisoned from Causeway St. And when Jones stepped aside, Rodgers took over as the Celtics’ head coach for two seasons.

The first was hardly the best of times. Larry Bird was hurting; before surgery for bone spurs in his heels, he played in only a half-dozen games. Predictably, the C’s disintegrated into a relentlessly mediocre 42-40.

Rodgers, understanding his team’s plight as it prepared to embark on a four-game road trip to Denver, Dallas, San Antonio and New York, tried to empower it with some positive thinking.

“The road is bad because everyone thinks it is,” Rodgers said in a Boston Globe interview. “Maybe it’s more mental than physical. I want us to get into the frame of mind that we’re going to do what we do best.”

They lost three of four before returning to the Garden to resume slogging through the rest of their lost season.