Yesterday in North Andover, Boston Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill might as well have been Red Auerbach.
It's funny what a few trades, including and especially one for Kevin Garnett, can do for someone speaking to kids, as Hill did before 108 boys and girls at the Elite Players Camp at North Andover High.
The Celtics are on the map again, with some people - call them crazy - even predicting another run at a championship banner next April and May.
And Hill could feel it.
"Sure, things are a little different around here since we made a few trades," said Hill. "But that's all good. I like the feeling. It's exciting. Expectations are higher. But I have to warn people, we have a lot of work to do."
Hill, who is good friends with NBA scout and camp director Jeff Nelson of Haverhill, made his second pit stop in the Merrimack Valley in a week. The week before he spoke at the 28th anniversary ABA Camp for underprivileged Lawrence boys at Merrimack College.
After his 45-minute lecture he was sweating as if he had played 36 minutes in an NBA game.
"I don't do a lot of this, but I love it," said Hill, who spent eight seasons in the NBA between 1976 and 1984 playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Seattle SuperSonics, San Diego Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. "I love teaching. I love working with kids."
It showed yesterday.
Hill's forte, he says, is fundamentals.
"If you don't do the little things correctly, you can't be a great player," said Hill to the campers.
He compared the careers of Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, who both came up together in the early 1980s in college and the pros.
"Dominique was at Georgia and Michael was a North Carolina. They both were incredible talents and both came into the NBA about the same," he said, holding out his two hands side-by-side.
"The difference was Michael Jordan did everything well. He could dribble. He could pass. He could shoot. He could handle the ball with his left hand. You name it, he could do it. Don't get me wrong, Dominique was a great player. I played with him his rookie year. But Michael Jordan became an all-time great, maybe the best ever."