Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo
This is a photograph of Kinston, N.C.-born (1955) basketball star Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell, who played college basketball at UNC Charlotte and then went on to star with the Boston Celtics, 1977-1985. The photograph shows Maxwell on a visit to his hometown speaking with school children, probably in the Kinston High School gymnasium.
While overshadowed for much of his career by Celtics’- stars like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, Maxwell played a key role in the Celtics’ success. He was named Most Valuable Player of the 1981 National Basketball League final. Traded by the Celtics in 1985, Maxwell played with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets before retiring in 1988.
Maxwell now lives in retirement in Boston, where he is a radio broadcaster. Maxwell was given his nickname by his college teammate, Melvin Watkins, who thought Maxwell looked like the star of the movie “Cornbread, Earl and Me” in which a 12-year-old boy suffers the murder of his friend, a basketball star.
Maxwell’s high school basketball coach, Paul Jones, is visible in the background of the photograph. Jones, an East Carolina College alumnus (1954), coached at Grainger High School and Kinston High School from 1957 to 1995. A legend in North Carolina basketball history, he remains among the top five most successful basketball coaches in North Carolina history, winning a total of 662 games. In addition to Maxwell, he sent two other players to the NBA, Jerry Stackhouse and Charles Shackleford. Jones died on 17 April 2009 at age 76.