NORTH ANDOVER — Many an NBA star in the 1980s wilted under the pressure from the taunts of Celtics star Cedric Maxwell.
Maxwell, who is now the Celtics radio analyst, still can trash talk with the best of them.
He joked to 8-year-old sharpshooter Brennan Heim, “Before you shoot, look around.”
“Max” tried to ice him but with about 50 people looking on, Brennan, wearing a new Celtics No. 12 jersey, hit nothing but net, christening the family’s new court in style.
The family won a new basketball hoop and court on the front driveway of their Brewster Street home, complete with a large Celtics shamrock. They also received numerous Celtic-themed gifts for Brennan’s bedroom including bedspreads, oversized wall decals, bean bag chairs and a trash can basketball hoop.
Three families won the Celtics essay contest, which was sponsored by RE/MAX of New England. Brennan’s mother, Tara Richards-Heim, wrote a touching tribute to Brennan, who has battled Legg-Calve-Perthes syndrome, a rare hip condition which has forced him to walk with a limp. Yet, Brennan always has a smile on his face, she said.
Now the envy of basketball fans across New England, Brennan had plenty to smile about yesterday.
He, along with friends, family and neighbors, got to meet Maxwell, starting guard Avery Bradley and Celtics mascot Lucky.
“I love it. I have the coolest house in the country,” gushed Brennan, who is entering the third grade at the Franklin School.
How enamored is Brennan of his new court, which was completed a few days ago?
His grandmother, Mary Anne Richards, said, “He lays down on the Celtic seal with his dog, Ellie. Isn’t this awesome?”
His mother explained, “He’s been in casts, a wheelchair, had surgery. It’s been a long journey But he wakes up every day with a smile on his face.”
A RE/MAX representative said Brennan’s story was an obvious winner. But the news was still a stunner to the family.
“I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it,” said the proud mother.
The Celtics may have to come back in a few years to repaint the shamrock. Judging by his pure jump shot, Brennan likes to shoot the basketball. And he’s on the comeback trail. His mother said optimistically by age 12 the femur in his leg could be healed and he’ll be running and jumping like the other neighborhood kids.
“I’ll use it ever day,” he promised.
The soft-spoken Bradley, who along with Maxwell, signed everything in sight, said, “It means a lot seeing the smiles on the family’s faces with all they’ve been through.”
Bradley, one of the sports top defensive players, was impressed that Brennan could laugh off Maxwell’s trash-talking to swish the shot with all eyes on him.
“Max put a lot of pressure on him,” said Bradley.